Tom Carson

Tom Carson won two National Magazine Awards during his stint as Esquire's "Screen" columnist and has been nominated twice more as GQ's movie reviewer. Formerly a staff writer at LA Weekly and The Village Voice, he is the author of Gilligan's Wake (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year for 2003) and Daisy Buchanan's Daughter.

Recent Articles

Mr. Caro's Opus

Some observations on the fourth installment of The Years of Lyndon Johnson

(Courtesy of Vintage Press)

You've got no secrets from me this week. Unless you were one of the early birds who devoured the thing in vast, debilitating insomniac gobs after clawing the Amazon.com box open on publication day, you are now somewhere between page 300 and 500 of Robert A. Caro's The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. IV. (Spoiler alert: JFK doesn't make it.) And you're so engrossed that you're ignoring your significant other's timid semaphore signals—ah, can't beds can be as wide as the Atlantic sometimes?—to the general effect that he or she misses sex. 

Meals, too, and dammit, Joey. Isn't it your turn to walk Bowser? 

Coming to Dinner at Clooney's?

(AP Photo/Jonathan Short)

As you may have heard, Michelle Obama recently invited me to have dinner with George Clooney. And her own hubby too, of course—not that I think Barack really wants to hear my two cents about NDAA.  As it happens, I know already that Clooney doesn't have a whole hell of a lot of use for my advice about his acting career.

Pretty charming invite, though. Here's what FLOTUS wrote, in an email subject-lined "A Little Fun":

"Thomas [she always calls me that, like a stern middle-school teacher. Does The Mich know how to tap my fantasies, or what?] —

"Barack and I know how hard so many of you are working on this campaign—and we're grateful for it.

"But sometimes you just need to have a little fun, too . . ."

Levon Helm's Last Waltz

Where does rock and roll stand after the death of the great Band drummer?

(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Except, possibly, to his onetime musical cohort Robbie Robertson—who may be glumly realizing that people will be unlikely to get this choked up when he passes—the outpouring of online love for ex-Band drummer Levon Helm, who died last Thursday after a 14-year battle with cancer, was no surprise. Even so, I'd have bet anything my own mourning would stay on the remote side. Live and learn. 

Calling myself only a very occasional fan of the Band would be an understatement. True, they were one of the first acts I saw live back in the Pleistocene era—with Aerosmith opening for them, in hindsight the night's most piquant joke. But they were never renowned for fireworks in concert, and their show was pretty dull.

There's No Politics Like Show Politics

You'll have a better time watching Veep if you don't expect the show to tell you much about the real or even "real" Washington.

(AP Photo/Matt Sayles, file)

Brought to us by The Thick of It and In The Loop creator Armando Ianucci and starring Julia-Louis Dreyfus as ditzy, vainglorious Vice President Selina Meyer, Veep, which premieres Sunday, is HBO's bid to break TV's long-standing jinx on shows about politics. And ... jinx, you ask? Hey, bub, what about The West Wing?

That's just it. The hat trick of The West Wing—which was at its worst and least convincing, you may recall, when obliged to gingerly dramatize Jed Bartlet's re-election campaign—was that it wasn't about politics at all. Certainly not in that greasy-pole way Disraeli told us about and that Robert A. Caro, whatever his frighteningly humorless virtues, fails to enjoy.  

The Nuclear Politics of a Poem

A look at the poem that led the Israeli government to declare Gunter Grass a persona non grata.

(AP Photo/Fritz Reiss)

As you may have read in last Sunday's New York Times, the government of Israel has declared German Nobel laureate Gunter Grass persona non grata because of a poem. True, it's a pretty lousy poem: "What Must Be Said," it's called, and that "Must" tells old Grass hands that it's musty Gunter Gasbag time. But literary criticism has never been a big priority for Benjamin Netanyahu, who followed up his Interior Ministry's PNG announcement with his own condemnation of Grass: "Shameful."

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