In 1965, James Baldwin, by then internationally famous, faced off against William F. Buckley Jr., one of the leading voices of American conservatism, in a debate hosted by the Cambridge Union in England. The debate proposition before the house was: “The American dream is at the expense of the American Negro.”
Nicholas Buccola’s “The Fire Is Upon Us” tells the story of that intellectual prizefight as well as the larger story of Buckley’s and Baldwin’s lives.
Lauren lived his life as a character in his own movie, and his clothes allowed his customers to do the same. Some days he was Rick from Casablanca, dressed in a double-breasted white dinner jacket, and other days he was a cowboy, wearing jeans and cowboy boots with a blazer.
Ralph Lauren is “zee American designer,” says Karl Lagerfeld in Very Ralph, a new HBO documentary on the Bronx-born fashion icon. Coming from zee most prolific French designer of the 20th and 21st centuries, that’s saying a lot. But the film, which premiers today, supports that statement, illustrating with interviews and archival footage how he’s successfully sold an American fantasy to a global audience for over 50 years.
In Ian Fleming’s From Russia, With Love, there is a terrific exchange between James Bond and Tatiana Romanova — a Soviet corporal who takes up with the British agent. On a sleeper train out of Turkey, the two are readying themselves for the day ahead and Romanova, noticing that 007 doesn’t wear cologne, asks him why this is.
“We wash,” replies Bond, drier than a martini. And this clean-cut, neatly clipped and slightly stinging response sums up the superspy’s attitude to his grooming routine. It’s a thoroughly English approach; leaning on trusted, heritage brands — and not preoccupied with overly strong scents or convoluted bits of kit. So this got us thinking: if a pared-back, simple grooming routine was good enough for MI6’s finest, surely it should be good enough for us?
Copenhagen’s legendary bicycle setup has been propelled by all of these aspirations, but the critical element is the simplest: People here eagerly use their bicycles — in any weather, carrying the young, the infirm, the elderly and the dead — because it is typically the easiest way to get around.
Copenhagen’s status as a global exemplar of bicycle culture owes to the accommodating flatness of the terrain and the lack of a Danish auto industry, which might have hijacked the policy levers. Trouble also played a role.
Nearly half of all journeys to school and work in Copenhagen take place on bicycles. And people like it that way.
The global oil shock of the 1970s lifted the price of gasoline, making driving exorbitantly costly. A dismal economy in the 1980s brought the city to the brink of bankruptcy, depriving it of finance to build roads, and making bicycle lanes an appealingly thrifty alternative.
Most historical accounts of slavery were written by colonists and planters. Researchers are now using the tools of archaeology to learn more about the day-to-day lives of enslaved Africans—how they survived the conditions of slavery, how they participated in local economies, and how they maintained their own agency. Host Sarah Crespi talks with Contributing Correspondent Lizzie Wade about a Caribbean archaeology project based on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and launched by the founders of the Society for Black Archaeologists that aims to unearth these details. Watch a related video here.
Sarah also talks with Jonathan Schulz, a professor in the Department of Economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, about a role for the medieval Roman Catholic Church in so-called WEIRD psychology—western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic. The bulk of psychology experiments have used participants that could be described as WEIRD, and according to many psychological measures, WEIRD subjects tend to have some extreme traits, like a stronger tendency toward individuality and more friendliness with strangers. Schulz and colleagues used historical maps and measures of kinship structure to tie these traits to strict marriage rules enforced by the medieval Catholic Church in Western Europe. Read related commentary.
This week our correspondent joined Emmanuel Macron on his visit to China. The French president is stretching his diplomatic wings, and has some striking views about Europe’s place in the world. The state of Texas has been reliably Republican for decades, but its demographics are changing; could it at last turn blue? And how Japan is dealing with its epidemic of public-transport groping.