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

Da Gr8 Gatsbee

Nobody's going to mistake Baz Luhrman's adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic for a great movie. But, there's no doubt it's a fun ride.

AP Photo, File

The book will still be around in the morning. That's the best advice I can give anyone appalled by the mere existence of director Baz Luhrman's 3-D, darn near transcendently tasteless screen adaptation of The Great Gatsby—or Da Gr8 Gatsbee, as I've grown fond of calling Luhrman's version.

For once, I find myself almost envying people who've never read Fitzgerald's novel. Free of literacy's inner censure, untroubled by invidious comparisons, they can just let the whole whooshing, clamorous debauch run them over like a fire truck tearing after a burning Christmas tree, emerging dazed but sated. Then again, ex-English major or no, that was pretty much my own reaction.

Sentimental for the Stones Ages

George Nikitin/Invision/AP

The Rolling Stones aren't playing anywhere within 900 miles of New Orleans on their "50 And Counting" tour, so it's not exactly as if I have an anguished decision to make now that the Feds have confiscated my Lear jet. But unless offered a free ticket, I doubt I'd have felt any qualms about staying home with Philip Larkin's Collected Poems and my toenail clippers even if the boys had taken it into their heads to headline JazzFest in NOLA last week. (This year's crowd had to settle for lesser dinosaurs: Billy Joel, Hall and Oates, Fleetwood Mac. Word is that Billy—now inching his way back into critical respectability, since you can't deny Mr. Glibmeister's songcraft—knocked it right out of the park.)

Not that I ever saw them in their prime. My one and only Stones concert was in 1994, by which time I was being paid to go and wouldn't have considered attending otherwise. As intense as it was—defining my high-school and college years from the moment a 15-year-old me bought their Hot Rocks greatest-hits compilation at, ahem, the Guantanamo PX—my version of Stones-mania was all about the records, above all the great run from 1968's Beggars Banquet to 1972's Exile on Main Street.

Thanks to my genius for timing—or my parents', anyway—those albums were already back catalog by the time I discovered them. The first Stones release I bought when it was new was Goats Head Soup, and talk about a letdown. But just when I was getting fed up with their slipshod Seventies crapola, 1978's Some Girls renewed my fanhood—for a while, anyway.

When Rock Criticism Found Its Voice

A new book charts the intellectual history of the Village Voice's towering rock critics, as well as the community that sprung up around them.

flickr/Doctor Noe

Newly out from University of Massachusetts Press, Devon Powers's Writing The Record: The Village Voice and The Birth of Rock Criticism—which'll cost you a whopping $80 for its 160 pages in hardcover, making the paperback's $22.95 price tag seem almost reasonable—is the first work of intellectual history I know of whose heroes are a couple of guys I used to see around the office during my own tenderfoot days at the paper in question. Don't blame me for both being uncommonly interested and feeling time's icy fingers do the Charleston on the nape of my neck. Reading Rick Perlstein's Nixonland was weird enough; that Perlstein was too young to have any first-hand memories of the Nixon era demanded a certain, how you say, adjustment. Still, it's not as if I used to run into Tricky Dick at the soda machine.

So let's get my personal acquaintance with Powers's two protagonists out of the way. Richard Goldstein, author of the Voice's seminal "Pop Eye" column from 1966 to 1969, is someone I never exchanged more than a few pleasantries with during my later stints at the paper. On the other hand, Robert Christgau, the Voice's rock-crit colossus for almost 40 years until he got the boot in 2006, not only gave me my start as a reviewer but remains a valued friend, albeit one I'm lucky to see once a year. Fortunately, Powers's time frame—mid-'60s to early '70s, with considerable and shrewd preliminary sussing of the Village's history as a bohemian lodestar and the Voice's Ike-era origins—cuts off well before the punk-crazed batch of Voice contributors I belonged to came into the picture.

Iron-Willed Town, Iron-Willed Lady

How Margaret Thatcher's death muted our critic's need to sift through the politics of Boston's tragedy.

Christopher Furlong/PA Wire

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

Veep's Much Improved Trash-Talking Minuet

AP Photo/HBO, Bill Gray

The second season of Veep kicks off on Sunday with a very entertaining montage of Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia-Louis Dreyfus) on the campaign trail. She's delivering a clunker of a stump speech—"Freedom isn't 'Me-dom.' It's 'We-dom'!"—that climaxes with a peachy parody of the Anecdotal American our pols so love to describe encountering when being out on the hustings pokes a hole in their bubble. Yes, it's midterm-elections time.

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