Category: Online

Primum Non Nocere

Film scholars have commented upon the native power of the documentary medium to convey the impression of unmanipulated reality. The intimation of ‘truthiness’ – Steve Colbert’s delectable mot – becomes especially pernicious in a thankfully rare subgenre I’ll call the ‘ill-intentioned’ documentary. Here, the maker’s attitude towards some painful psycho-social problem is subverted by the […]

On Massacres, “Slaughterfest,” and the Goldwater Rule

A new patient in a state of high agita pleads – “Doctor, you must help me! I’m tormented by a nameless fear!!” “Please don’t worry, sir,” replies the psychiatrist soothingly. “We have a name for everything.” The perpetrator of the recent shootings in Isla Vista, California, had been diagnosed with just about everything from the […]

Psychological Notes on the Aftermath of Flight 370’s Disappearance: “Cans’t Thou Draw Out Leviathan With A Hook?”

On September 12th, 2001, I joined a busload of mental health workers dispatched by the Red Cross to Manhattan’s 23rd Street Armory, where we were to render help to families of missing 9/11 victims. We arrived at twilight, and were promptly greeted by a horde of reporters bawling inane, insensitive questions. Inside the Armory’s cavernous […]

Oklahoma’s Botched Execution–A Post-Mortem on the Death Penalty

On April 29, 2014, Oklahoma prison officials administered an untested mixture of 3 drugs to Clayton Lockett, a convicted murderer and rapist. The new cocktail was deemed necessary because European companies that once supplied chemicals used for US lethal injections refused to sell them to states that still sanction the death penalty. The execution went […]

Fake Signing at the Mandela Memorial

FAKE SIGNING AT THE MANDELA MEMORIAL: BECAUSE IT WAS NOT THOUGHT UPON In Act I, Scene 4, of Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II (1593), the Earls of Mortimer and Lancaster debate whether Edward’s detested low-born lover, Gaveston, should be brought back from exile. The return has been proposed to reconcile the besotted king with his angry […]


Bully, a film directed by Lee Hirsch. At one time, it was received truth that a documentary comprised the obverse of the Hollywood fiction feature. By its very nature, the documentary discovered the world, whatever world, as it ‘really’ was. The idea documentian, from this perspective, was like a Taoist master: an absolute neutral, like […]

Multiplex Mayhem

I’ve always savored a movie theater’s magical cocooning—that ineffable sense of being whisked away from mundane reality into the film’s seductive realm. Snuggled into your seat like a swaddled babe, your safety seems implicit. It’s utterly unimaginable that danger could ever be lurking in that enchanted darkness – except for the people on the screen. […]

Hail Caesar!

Sid Caesar died on February 12, at 91. From 1950 through 1954, he starred on NYC-TV’s Saturday evening Your Show of Shows. Previous variety programming relied heavily on vaudeville antecedents. A banana-peel laugh rioteer like Milton Berle performed broad slapshtick in the midst of an omnium gatherum of acrobats, animal acts, anemic tenors, and second […]

I Will Never Speak A Word

Published originally: | October 17, 2013 | Psychiatric Times At the end of Othello, a Venetian nobleman angrily demands that Iago disclose the reasons for his wicked deeds. His reply: Demand me nothing What you know, you know: From this time forth I never will speak word. Iago’s stubborn silence came to mind as I sifted the […]

‘Behind the Candelabra’: Insincerely Yours

I’ve been going to Las Vegas regularly for 30 years, to play poker and gratify a lifelong fascination with raffish milieus. In the latter context, a visit to the Liberace Museum was inevitable. I visited it in 1997, a decade after the entertainer died of complications from AIDS. I came to scoff, having deemed Liberace […]