Scenes from a Life

citybeat dillinger cover

Today, Michael Mann’s Public Enemies opens nationwide, and I’ve got a couple of new stories tying into it.

First, there’s this Cincinnati CityBeat cover story on “the Dillinger legend”—and by that, I mean not only the historical person, but also the previous movies about (and by!) Dillinger and the Depp-mania surrounding Public Enemies‘ filming in small towns like Crown Point, Indiana. (I have yet to see the movie or read many reviews, and I’m actually a little leery of the Depp casting, but count me in for Billy Crudup as J. Edgar Hoover.)

Second, and spun off from the first, I’ve got a review-slash-essay at The Rumpus of Dillinger: The Untold Story. It’s the first book you should read if Public Enemies piques your interest about Dillinger and his era.

So, if you need help planning your Fourth of July weekend: read the CityBeat story, watch Public Enemies, then read my book review and its subject. (For extra credit: there’s a lot of great stuff on 1930s gangster movies I couldn’t squeeze into the CityBeat story, but I highly recommend this NYRB essay on “pre-Code” Hollywood. Well worth the $3 micropayment.)


The Miseducation of Shelby Knox


Recently, Hulu started streaming documentaries on its site—something Netflix has been doing for a while now. In fact, Netflix offers more documentaries than any other genre, and I’ve got some thoughts about that, and a film titled The Education of Shelby Knox, over at Patrol Magazine.

Pull quote:

Documentarians often struggle with distribution: there’s a whole world of quirky subjects and cheap camcorders, but how to get the finished product to the masses? Netflix provides a cheap, inclusive answer. Since they’re often lo-fi to begin with, documentaries also suffer less on the smallest screen, and their shorter running times makes them perfect for online viewing.

Cornfed Comedy

[The Shield]

Tonight at 8:30, NBC will premiere a new comedy, Parks and Recreation, which is ostensibly set in Indiana. This show comes from the people behind The Office, but where that show takes place in the real-life locale of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Parks and Recreation will occur in the fictional town of “Pawnee.”

Believe it or not, this might actually matter, and I try to explain why in an op-ed for my old college paper, The Shield.

(Hint: it has to do with Elkhart—and with my hope that the city will one day be known for more than being the birthplace of that modern-day Abraham, Shawn Kemp.)

Obama’s Ayers Problem


Nobody knows if/when/how the Republicans will bring up Obama’s tenuous link to Bill Ayers, but that hasn’t stopped everybody from speculating. One thing getting overlooked, though, is The Weather Underground, an Oscar-nominated documentary on Ayers’s days as a ’60s radical. I reconsider the film, and what it might say about the Obama connection and the Obama campaign, in a new essay for Gelf Magazine .