Simon Rodberg

Simon Rodberg is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Bubba and Elvis

Double Trouble: Bill Clinton and Elvis Presley in the Land of No Alternatives , by Greil Marcus. Henry Holt and Company, 248 pages, $25.00. E ven now, it is an indelible image: Bill Clinton in sunglasses blowing "Heartbreak Hotel" through his saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1992. It was the meeting of politics and pop, Bubba and Elvis . Proof that rock 'n' roll can make a president--and, though less successfully, vice versa. If anyone can take that moment and run, across the divide between jukeboxes in small-town bars and television sets blaring The Capital Gang, it's Greil Marcus. "The spirit of freedom in Elvis's best music is a freedom of self-discovery," Marcus writes. "This night, Clinton accepted the gift, or seized it." The question that would haunt the next eight years: What would America do with what Clinton revealed about himself, and us? The author of countless music columns and several classic books, Marcus...

Bowling Together

Diners, Bowling Alleys and Trailer Parks: Chasing the American Dream in the Postwar Consumer Culture, by Andrew Hurley. Basic Books, 409 pages, $27.50. The lunch counter in my college town is called the Yankee Doodle, and its best moments come just after the 6:00 a.m. opening. Late-night partiers straggle in before bed, thesis writers on an all-night jag fuel up, and the blue-collar workers who clean the dormitories start their day with fried eggs, fried hamburgers, fried donuts, or home fries. For a few sunrise moments, class divisions drown in a sea of butter. Andrew Hurley's Diners, Bowling Alleys and Trailer Parks helps excavate this common ground. Hurley's previous work focused on urban environmental inequalities; now the historian uses suburban institutions to track a different kind of class distinction. Like bowling alleys and trailer parks, he writes, diners "make an excellent vehicle for exploring the ways that upwardly mobile Americans reconstructed their lives through their...

A Treaty on Tobacco?

The American public may think that Clinton-era lawsuits reined in Big Tobacco. After all, settlements with the industry have resulted in $240 billion for state governments and a stream of ads about the hazards of cigarettes. But the Marlboro Man and his compadres still ride roughshod over public-health policy around the world. In the past few months alone, the tobacco industry has made gains by airing child-friendly television commercials in Uruguay, reversing a ban on tobacco promotion in the United Arab Emirates only 10 days after its passage, and winning the appointment of a key ally to run the economy in Costa Rica. In early May, however, a new round of international treaty negotiations in Geneva may result in heightened awareness about tobacco promotion around the world. A network of health-conscious organizations in 45 countries is calling for teeth in the tobacco treaty, which is known as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. "It doesn't yet explicitly address the...