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Thomas Frank on “Listen, Liberal”

Cambridge, Massachusetts
04.08.2016
By the time early April rolls around, we might know the identities of the Democratic and Republican nominees, but we suspect that the oddities and confusions of this presidential election season will persist for a while longer. So please mark on your calendar Friday, April 8, 7 p.m. Thomas Frank, The Baffler’s founding editor, will speak at First Parish Church in Harvard Square about his coruscating new book, Listen, Liberal: or What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?  That’s right, Massachusetts Democrats, he’s looking at you. Chapter 9, entitled “The Blue State Model” rests on spade work that Tom did during a visit to Greater Boston, and makes some pretty surprising points about inequality and the Innovation Economy. Come out to the event and join the real conversation. In the meantime, please read an excerpt from Listen, Liberal in The Baffler‘s current issue no. 30 “Panic! Room”.  This event is co-sponsored by Harvard Book Store; please purchase your ticket for a measly $5 here.
Join Baffler editor in chief John Summers, author Christopher Kloeble, and translator Aaron Kerner for a free conversation about Kloeble’s latest novel, Almost Everything Very Fast, at the Goethe-Institut in Boston. Poets & Thinkers Wednesday, February 10, 2016, 7:00 pm Goethe-Institut Boston, 170 Beacon Street, Boston Author Reading in German, with English translation on-screen Admission free, please rsvp Info: +1 (617) 262-6050 or [email protected] All his life Albert had to be a father to his father: Fred is a child trapped in the body of an old man. He spends his time reading encyclopedias, waves at green cars, and is known as the hero of a tragic bus accident. With time working against them, Albert and Fred set out on an adventurous voyage of discovery that leads them via the underground sewers into the distant past—all the way back to a night in August 1912, and to the story of a forbidden love. Charming and suspenseful, with a dark secret at its heart, this sensitive and dramatic family saga and page-turning road novel is Christopher Kloeble’s third book and U.S. debut. Translated from the German by Aaron Kerner. Christopher Kloeble (novelist, playwright, scriptwriter) born in Munich/Germany, studied in Dublin, at the German Creative Writing Program Leipzig and at the University for Film and Television in Munich. He has written for the Süddeutsche Zeitung, DIE ZEIT and tageszeitung. His plays U-Turn and Memory have been staged at major theatres in Vienna, Munich, Heidelberg and Nuremberg. For his first novel Amongst Loners he won the Juergen Ponto-Stiftung prize for best debut 2008; his second book A Knock at the Door was published in 2009. The third, Almost Everything Very Fast, appeared in March 2012. His first film script, Inclusion, was produced in 2011 and nominated for the Prix Europa 2012 for Best Movie Script. He lives in Berlin and Delhi.
The Baffler invites you to a free public discussion of Aaron Swartz’s life, ideals, and prosecution upon the third anniversary of his untimely death.  On January 28, at 7 p.m., John Summers and Justin Peters will discuss his new book, The Idealist: Aaron Swartz and the Rise of Free Culture on the Internet. Peters shows how the causes for which Swartz fought and the injustices that derailed him preceded and outlived him. Summers will remember Swartz’s contributions to The Baffler, where he was a contributing editor, and say mean things about the United States Attorney who made an example of him. Join us this evening in the People’s Republic of Zuckerstan to honor and assess our shared struggle for a more democratic culture, online and off. Warning: no clichés admitted. This event is cosponsored with Harvard Book Store. More information about Justin Peters’s The Idealist is available from Simon & Schuster.  To remember the connection between Aaron Swartz’s prosecution and his suicide on January 11, 2013, read our assessment, or review this selection of opinion in the days that immediately followed: “Ortiz’s vindictiveness toward Swartz may have seemed shocking given that even the victim of Swartz’s alleged offense—the academic publisher JSTOR—did not wish to press charges. But it was no surprise to those of us who have been observing Ortiz’s official conduct as the top federal prosecutor in Boston. . . . The case she was pursuing against Swartz was wildly disproportionate, and illustrated much that is wrong with our system of justice. Nothing good can come from his death. But at the very least it should prompt consideration of why such brutality has become a routine part of the American system of justice.” —Journalism professor Dan Kennedy, Huffington Post, Jan. 13, 2013 “The DOJ threw the book at him. . . . Swartz was destroyed by a ‘justice’ system that fully protects the most egregious criminals as long as they are members of or useful to the nation’s most powerful factions, but punishes with incomparable mercilessness and harshness those who lack power and, most of all, those who challenge power.”  —Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian, Jan. 12, 2013 “Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.” Statement released by Aaron’s family, Jan. 12, 2013 “When he was downloading a large number of old journal articles, he was arrested at MIT. I was shocked by this. When I was at MIT, if someone went to hack the system, say by downloading databases to play with them, [he] might be called a hero, get a degree, and start a company—but they called the cops on him. Cops.  MIT used to protect us when we transgressed the traditional. Despite many of us supporting the lawyers for Aaron, he was still hounded by prosecutors.” —Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, Jan. 12, 2013 “It’s hard to imagine his looming prosecution wasn’t a factor. . . . Whether or not it contributed to his suicide, the federal government’s prosecution of Swartz was a grotesque miscarriage of justice. Aaron shouldn’t have plugged his laptop into MITs network without permission, but that’s not the sort of crime that deserves a multi-year, to say nothing of multi-decade, prison sentence. We should pay tribute to Aaron’s memory by reforming the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to prevent such disproportionate prosecutions from happening in the future.” —Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, Jan. 12, 2013

The Baffler at The City Club of San Diego

San Diego, California
01.16.2016
“Quarterlies: The Story of America’s Literary Underground,” a City Club of San Diego conversation with John Summers Athens Market Saturday, January 16, 2016, 6:30 p.m. 109 West F Street San Diego, CA 92101  What does The Baffler hope to accomplish? Come to a dinner in San Diego, where John Summers will reel off our resolutions for 2016—the year we put our spurtive publication schedule behind us, and become a punctual quarterly. At very least, you’ll walk away with a complimentary issue of our latest issue, no. 29. Please RSVP directly with the City Club by phone at 619-235-4041, or by email at on the City Club’s website.  

The Baffler at The Denver Forum

Denver, Colorado
01.14.2016
“Quarterlies: The Story of America’s Literary Underground,” a Denver Forum conversation with John Summers Denver Athletic Club (DAC) Thursday, January 14, 2016, 12 p.m. 1325 Glenarm Place Denver, CO 80204 What does The Baffler hope to accomplish? Come to a lunch in Denver where John Summers will reel off our resolutions for 2016—the year we put our spurtive publication schedule behind us, and become a punctual quarterly. At very least, you’ll walk away with a complimentary issue of our latest issue, no. 29. Please RSVP directly with the Denver Forum by phone to 303-832-9030, or by email at [email protected] Full details are available at the Denver Forum’s website.   
Presented by International House at the University of Chicago Global Voices Program and The Baffler, in partnership with Seminary Co-op Bookstores International House University of Chicago Saturday, October 17, 3 p.m. 1414 East 59th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 Join us for an afternoon discussion of Rick Perlstein’s “There Goes the Neighborhood: The Obama Library Lands on Chicago,” a shocking tale from The Baffler’s new issue (no. 28), along with Chris Lehmann’s “Having Their Cake and Eating Ours Too,” mordant observations on the emerging mutant donor class in America. Not enough fun to drag you off your couch? Writer and attorney Tom Geoghegan will discuss the case of and against the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. Activitst Jitu Brown recently helped lead a hunger strike to save historic Dyett High School, located in Washington Park, the probable location of the Obama Library. Come, all ye faithful defenders of clean air, lake water, and natural light, gas up the The Baffler’s bullshitdozer and join us for an afternoon of talk about politics, art, vanity, social class, and developmental disorder in Chicago.  There is no charge to attend this event. Your RSVP is requested, but not required. Be there or be run over by a bulldozer Rick Perlstein is contributing editor of The Baffler and author of three books: The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan, Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, and Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus. A contributing writer at The Nation, former chief national correspondent for the Village Voice, and a former online columnist for the New Republic and Rolling Stone, his journalism and essays have appeared in Newsweek, the New York Times, and many other publications. Politico called him the “chronicler extraordinaire of American conservatism,” who “offers a hint of how interesting the political and intellectual dialogue might be if he could attract some mimics.” The Nation called him the “hypercaffeinated Herodotus of the American century.” He lives in Chicago.  Thomas H. Geoghegan is an attorney who specializes in labor and employment law, civil rights, consumer fraud, voting rights, and other constitutional rights litigation. He has argued before the United States Supreme Court in Union Pacific Railroad Company v. Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, in which his firm won a 9-0 decision. With his colleagues, he is currently representing the League of Women Voters of Chicago in a challenge to gerrymandering by the City Council of Chicago. He has written six books, including Which Side Are You On? (1991), cited as one of the best five nonfiction books in that year by the National Book Critics Circle. He has written for the New York Times, The Nation, Harper’s, Slate, Bloomberg View, and other publications. His latest book, Only One Thing Can Save Us: Why America Needs a New Kind of Labor Movement, was released in December 2014. He lives in Chicago. Chris Lehmann is senior editor of The Baffler and the magazine’s Dollar Debauch columnist. He has been an editor for NewsdayNew York magazine, the Washington Post, and Congressional Quarterly. After the great reckoning of 2008, he found himself laid off and writing a bitter online column about the casual idolatry of market values in America; eventually, that therapeutic pursuit became a book, Rich People Things: Real-Life Secrets of the Predator Class (2011). After one final and predictably disastrous encounter with new media boosterism at Yahoo News, he recognized that he should throw in with The Baffler, and his other cherished extramural editing gig at Bookforum, on a full-time basis. He lives in Washington, DC.   Jitu Brown is the National Director of the Journey For Justice Alliance and the Education Organizer for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO). He also teaches African-American history at St. Leonards Adult High School. Jitu helped develop the Mid-South Education Association, a grassroots advocacy group working to meet the needs of schools in the area. His work has been published in Rethinking Schools and Ebony magazine, and he has appeared on several talk shows, including WBEZ’s Community Voice, CLTV’s Gerard McClendon Live, and Democracy Now. He lives in Chicago.    Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Office of Programs & External Relations in advance of the program at 773-753-2274.

Three Cheers for George Scialabba—and You’re Invited!

Cambridge, Massachusetts
09.10.2015
Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, Thomas Frank, Rick Perlstein, and Nikil Saval are coming to the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, September 10   The Baffler is convening a star-studded party at the Brattle Theatre on September 10 to pay tribute to the legendary critic and essayist George Scialabba on the occasion of his retirement from clerical work at Harvard and entry into the uncertain world of writing for his supper.  September 10 has been designated George Scialabba Day by the Cambridge City Council. That evening, his friends and admirers are coming together to toast the unlikely achievements of this quiet, unassuming man who spent 9,135 days booking rooms as a scheduling assistant for Harvard’s Center for Government and International Studies, all the while “staring unflinchingly into the abyss and reporting what he has found there in sensitive, true, and graceful prose,” according to the City Council’s resolution honoring his wide-ranging career. Come for the lark, the live speakers, the tribute film, the balloons, or the brass band. If you can’t attend, you can still support George by giving generously to his favorite charity, the Baffler Foundation (all donations are fully tax-deductible). We are in the midst of forming a Committee to Preserve George Scialabba and Others Like Him (If Any). Join us in celebrating independent thought in the age of Trumpism.   For the complete details on this once-in-a-lifetime event, click here.   Extra Credit   • Not yet a subscriber? Bury your head in shame, then join us here. • Already a subscriber? Alert your friends to George’s celebration on Twitter and Facebook. • Feeling flush? Support your favorite magazine (and George’s favorite charity).  
Editor John Summers and contributor Alex Pareene will discuss “Battle Hymns,” The Baffler’s new issue on violence, at Red Emma’s on Friday, July 31. A number of un-funny things happened on the way to “Battle Hymns,” The Baffler no. 28. We began our planning in the Spring with a somewhat hifalutin phrase bandying about our brains: “the dialectic of violence and empathy.” Over the jagged months of writing, illustrating, and editing the issue, however, the deaths of Walter Scott in Charleston and Freddie Gray in Baltimore seemed to fill America with more violence than empathy—more menace and mayhem than penance and amen. We wound up with a hard-bitten issue (the largest in our history, incidentally) containing stories, essays, and poems documenting, protesting, and analyzing the coordinates of our country’s worst domestic racial unrest in more than twenty years. Now we bring two of these “Battle Hymns” to Baltimore, a scene of the crime, to talk things over. Alex Pareene will discuss his “Cable News Charnel” (“right on the money,” says Matt Taibbi), which dissects media coverage of Baltimore’s unrest as a prime example of the exploitation of violence for the cheap spectacle of the status quo. Pareene writes:   John Summers will discuss the surprising relevance of Richard Hofstadter’s “Reflections on Violence in the United States,” abridged and republished in “Battle Hymns.” “Today,” Hofstadter writes (in 1970), “we are not only aware of our own violence, we are frightened by it.” Yeah, no kidding! Summers can only shudder to imagine how the great twentieth-century historian would roll over in his grave if recordings of Wolf Blitzer and Don Lemon were somehow piped into his casket. Hofstadter, writing at the end of another period of racially motivated civil unrest, ascertained the sources of violence in the ruling elites. “The primary precedent and the primary rationale for violence comes from the established order itself. Violence is, so to speak, an official reality.” Come and join the unofficial reality of The Baffler at Red Emma’s on Friday, July 31, 7:30 p.m. If you purchase a new subscription now, you’ll have the issue before the event.

Man Is Not a Rock, by Joseph Brodsky

New York, New York
05.31.2015
 “The question is, what should we remain alive for? Man is not a rock, he can’t exist just for his own sake. There’s always the ‘what for.’” —Joseph Brodsky “Man is Not a Rock” is a conversation between Joseph Brodsky, the Russian poet, U.S. Poet Laureate, and winner of the 1987 Nobel Prize in Literature, and the Austrian writer and translator Elizabeth Markstein in Vienna during the summer of 1972—Brodsky’s first recorded interview after being expelled from the Soviet Union. Privately held until Markstein’s death in Vienna on October 15, 2013, the recording, along with a transcript, was published two weeks later in Russia. The first English translation, from which this theatrical production is adapted, appears in the current issue of The Baffler. “What should we remain alive for”? Thank The Museum of Interesting Things, an independent monthly museum of rare historical artifacts and oddities, for hosting this event, and come to this Secret Speakeasy. Maybe you’ll find out. This project is part of COJECO BluePrint Fellowship funded by the UJA-Federation of New York and Genesis Philanthropy Group.          

The Baffler Happy Hour

Cambridge, Massachusetts
04.27.2015
This is a convivial happy hour for baffled, discontented, or overeducated professionals with a sense of humor and spirit as yet unbroken.  Venus in Furs, our new issue, will be up for discussion with contributors John Summers, Eugenia Williamson, George Scialabba, and Catherine Tumber. And Charles Pierce, of Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce on Politics blog, will be on hand and in the mix. No readings/lectures/speeches on the menu, friends; this is informal, and fun. The Baffler crew and you. Come by, join the conversation. 
Venus in Furs, The Baffler no. 27 release party, with Lucy Ellmann, Ann Friedman, and Eugenia Williamson. Moderated by Anna Holmes.   A trio of contributors to The Baffler’s first-ever fashion issue, Lucy Ellmann (“Three Strikes”), Ann Friedman (“Idle Threads”), and Eugenia Williamson (“The Revolution Will Probably Wear Mom Jeans”) will be on hand this evening to discuss the finer and grosser points of dress and deportment in America’s crumbling empire—and a possible way out through a reign of female supremacy. Join them and the rest of The Baffler crew to hash it out. By all means, come as you are! (le) Poisson Rouge 158 Bleecker St New York, NY 10012 212-505-FISH   ************************** TABLE SEATING POLICY Table seating for all seated shows is reserved exclusively for ticket holders who purchase “Table Seating” tickets. By purchasing a “Table Seating” ticket you agree to also purchase a minimum of two food and/or beverage items per person. Table seating is first come, first seated. Please arrive early for the best choice of available seats. Seating begins when doors open. Tables are communal so you may be seated with other patrons. We do not take table reservations.   A standing room area is available by the bar for all guests who purchase “Standing Room” tickets. Food and beverage can be purchased at the bar but there is no minimum purchase required in this area. 18+. Doors open at 6, event begins at 7. All tickets sales are final. No refund or credits.

The Tsarnaev Trial and the Rest of Us, with Noam Chomsky

Cambridge, Massachusetts
01.22.2015
As Dzhokhar Tsarnaev goes on trial for the bombing of the Boston Marathon, Paris shakes from the assassination of French magazine journalists. “A New Era of Terrorism” has commenced, according to the New York Times. Governments emit loose talk of “fundamental values.” Patriotic slogans such as “Boston Strong” paper over global anxiety, as everyone prepares for further massacres and retributions. Welcome to the new world order. On Thursday, January 22, The Baffler magazine sponsors The Tsarnaev Trial and the Rest of Us, a neighborhood forum on the war on terror and the rule of law. We present Noam Chomsky, author of 9/11, and Kade Crockford, director of the ACLU of Massachusetts’ Technology for Liberty Project, for a discussion moderated by Baffler editor John Summers in the heart of Inman Square—the very neighborhood in which Dzhokhar and his alleged co-conspirator and older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, lived, worked, shopped, and worshipped among us. The discussion begins at 7 p.m. Stick around for music, drinks, and conversation about domestic terrorism, criminal justice—and the rest of us. Disclaimer: Sacred cows will be turned away at the door.   [Tickets are FREE but you must sign up at Eventbrite.] Photos of this event can be perused right here, and videos here.