In my day NYU was one of three destination schools for theater majors. The others were UCLA and USC, so if you wanted to be on the east coast, NYU was the destination. No surprise, then, that I attended college with dozens of aspiring actors. Most would have been better off investing their tuition in therapy; their motives for becoming actors had more to do with their need for attention than their need to make art.

That came to mind while The Fabulous Wife and I watched the third and final season of Netflix’s The Kominsky Method. Michael Douglas, in…


One of the French teachers in my public high school had a Ph.D. I was never assigned to her classes but she supervised one of my study halls, where she let us smug teens chatter away. We got to talking about how screwed up capitalism was. She didn’t usually join our conversations, but this time she did. “Capitalism is all but impossible to overthrow,” she cautioned. “What?” we cried, half in disbelief, half in challenge. “It can absorb anything,” she explained, “even anti-capitalist art like the music you love. …


No, that’s not what Elon Musk named his kid. It might have been a candidate, though, because it’s Drake’s Equation, known to outer space enthusiasts as the best attempt to estimate the number of civilizations in the Milky Way capable of interstellar communication.

I learned of Drake’s Equation more than forty years ago, when I fulfilled my college science requirement by taking a course called Intelligent Life in the Universe. (And yes, we all asked what you are now: is there even intelligent life on earth?) It was an easy course, a gentle way of introducing humanities majors swept up…


Could the dividing line between America’s two tribes be how deeply they read?

Deep reading is the subject of a recent article in National Affairs by foreign policy scholar Adam Garfinkle. His thesis: more people than ever can read, but due largely to the dominance of attention-span-eroding television and the internet, fewer can deep read, defined (my paraphrase) as taking the time necessary to understand a complicated text, then weighing the writer’s arguments and either changing one’s ideas, refuting the writer’s ideas, or arriving at a synthesis through sound, non-defensive reasoning.

According to Garfinkle, “Deep literacy has wondrous effects, nurturing…


My mom had a good but incurious mind. In conversation she would skitter from one subject to another without examining any of them deeply. She treated any reference remotely redolent of philosophy, politics, art, or spirituality as so much mud on her pristine floors (she was the Queen of Clean), and though she read voraciously, she seldom ventured beyond romance novels.

When forced to think, however, she fired true. After my father died and I turned into a headstrong teenager, she concluded it was better to let me have my independence, putting faith in my character and her own efforts…


I became a vegetarian my sophomore year of college. For my last meal of animal flesh, my roommate and I rode the subway to Coney Island and treated ourselves to Nathan’s hot dogs.

Veganism didn’t exist then (at least by that name) so vegetarianism was the most radical statement you could make with your diet. I was called on it often, especially by my elders, many of whom didn’t go a meal without meat. I gave them a lengthy explanation for my decision, roughly in this order: meat sat in my gut for days and made me feel logy; a…


The Fabulous Wife and I received our second dose of the Pfizer vaccine yesterday. Our side effects have been mild: the injection site aches and our get-up-and-go seems to have got up and went. The Fabulous Wife may be slightly feverish.

Our understanding is that it takes two weeks to build full immunity. That makes May 7 our personal liberation day from COVID-19.

So now we have a new anxiety, admittedly nowhere near as serious as our previous anxiety about getting or spreading the virus: after 15 months of home confinement, how do we re-integrate into society? I’m a hard-core…


The third season of Shtisel, the Israeli television series about a Haredi (ultra-orthodox) Jerusalem family, recently debuted on Netflix. Created by Yehonatan Indursky and Ori Elon, both from orthodox backgrounds, the show has been hailed as a bridge between the country’s estranged secular and religious cultures. But when I watched (and reviewed) the first two seasons a couple of years ago, I saw Shtisel as more than that, a meditation on two paths to salvation: religion and art.

The third season continues the juxtaposition of religion and art. As earlier, art prevails. Nuchem, younger brother of the show’s central character…


Over the last week The Fabulous Wife and I started counting how many Teslas we see during our morning walks. Not long ago, the number would have been zero, perhaps one. Now we routinely spot a dozen or more. There are usually two parked just a block away, and we don’t live in an upscale neighborhood.

Or do we?

Teslas are not cheap. According to Motor Trend, Tesla’s low-end car, the Model 3, starts at over $38,000. I can understand how Teslas might appeal to eco-conscious commuters and tech geeks. …


Earlier today The Fabulous Wife and I received our first COVID-19 vaccination (the Pfizer).

We went to a supersite a five-minute drive from our home. The process rolls smoothly. The hardest part is following the right set of orange cones lining the enormous lot. Your first stop is a windswept post where a lone employee assures you you’ve come to the right place and directs you to a four-lane reception center.

The receptionist types in your appointment number on a mobile device and checks your ID. The Fabulous Wife assumed the receptionists would have scanners, but I insisted we make…

Andy Goldblatt

Former Risk Manager at UC Berkeley, author of four books, ectomorphic introvert.

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