Cautionary tales

Just ten days after watching my first Open Yale Courses lecture, I was talking with Zachary after services and found out that he had studied with Professor Christine Hayes from the Introduction to the Hebrew Bible videos. He invited me to a weekly Talmud study group to talk about whether or not chicken parm is …

Introduction to the New Testament

I bought my first Christian Bible at a used bookstore. It felt like buying porn. It was difficult to overcome my reluctance to read the New Testament, almost a superstitious avoidance of a bunch of words on the page. I was only willing to confront the text through the prophylactic of an academic experience, done …

“How do you do, fellow kids?”

Yesterday, I posted a book review from six years ago on Mitchell Duneier’s Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea. Reading old work can be, as the kids say, cringe. And I expect this very post will make me cringe in 2028. My cringeworthy book review contains hip-hop lyrics, extended digressions …

If you ain’t ever been to the ghetto

Originally published at The Seattle Review of Books, June 8, 2016. If you ain’t ever been to the ghettoDon’t ever come to the ghetto’Cause you wouldn’t understand the ghettoAnd stay the **** out of the ghetto “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” (1991), Naughty by Nature Mitchell Duneier’s Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an …

Smokey and the Bandit 2027 (a 50th anniversary reboot)

“In Smokey and the Bandit (1977), the overweight southern cop – so long an image of racialized abuse and white supremacy, and played brilliantly by Rod Steiger in In the Heat of the Night (1967) – became a comic figure who pursued white bandits, not black men or civil rights workers.” Deborah Barker & Kathryn …

Don’t Call Me Woke. I’m Sleepless.

Adapted from 2015 journals “Cast down your bucket where you are.” – Booker T. Washington, 1895. Borrowing a stack of books on African American History. The university librarian at the desk turns deliberately and carefully through all the pages, annotating existing marks. The unspoken message: If you damage these pages, it’s on you. As difficult …