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

Sentimental for the Stones Ages

George Nikitin/Invision/AP
AP Photo/Schroer 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...

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
AP Photo 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...

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 "Who would you be happiest to find out did it?" an old friend jumpily asked on the phone the day after the Boston Marathon bombing. Considering that he and I have vied since the first Gulf War to see who can sound more banteringly cynical about whatever shock to the heart cable news has just smacked everyone with, I knew that wasn't his true self talking. There are ups and downs to feeling most comfortable around gamy Howard Hawks fans, and most of my male friendships have been about indulging each other's disguises in the full awareness that that's all they are. Even so, for a change, I wasn't in the mood. After a second or two, I coughed up a negative wish that it wasn't Al-Qaeda or some other Islamist group. Muslims have been demonized enough, blah blah, and can we please change the subject? So we awkwardly shifted back to the latest books and movies, always our neutral ground. Our strange satisfaction about both art forms' increasing irrelevance...

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. Selina's efforts don't stop the White House from going into meltdown mode once its Congressional majority heads into the dumpster. But she's done well enough at stanching the hemorrhage to try parlaying her success into more clout inside the administration. That puts her at loggerheads with a new nemesis: Gary Cole as hired-gun polling guru Kent Davidson, brought in to cynically shore things up à la Dick Morris after Bill Clinton's 1994 midterm drubbing. Cole is one reason this is a new and improved Veep. Starting with gaffe-prone,...

Roger Ebert, the People's Movie Critic

Remembering the reviewer adored by movie lovers obsessive and recreational alike

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
AP Photo/DOUGLAS C. PIZAC On my long-ago virgin trip to the Toronto Film Festival, a friend who'd done TIFF many times by then pointed out a gold star with Roger Ebert's name on it. The star was embedded in the sidewalk in splendid isolation outside an unprepossessing Chinese restaurant near my hotel. That puckish marker commemorated a banquet held there in his honor some years earlier. Today, I can't think of another critic for whom such a droll tribute—at once tongue-in-cheek and hand on heart—would be so fitting. Pauline Kael might have been happier with an arrogant bust of herself in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Andrew Sarris, with a school of cinema studies named for him that spelled "Sarris" wrong. As for David Thomson, he just wants an island where he gets to be the benign version of Dr. Moreau. But Ebert, the greatest popularizer of serious movie love ever, belonged on a thoroughfare. That's because he should be equally present in all his glory for...