Archive for July, 2009

Backlist podcast

Hello friends, writers and interested parties —

Would you like to be part of a focus group for Backlist? It’s a podcast that features five-minute “audio essays” by important novelists, essayists and non-fiction writers.

Please feel free to comment on WordPress or on the Backlist pages. Note: If you’re a Windows user, you’ll have to download and install Quicktime 7.6 for Windows.

Current episodes include audio essays by:

Victor Navasky, Phillip Lopate, Joseph Berger and Peter Wortsman. Upcoming interview subjects include Dona Munker, Sophie Gee, Adam Hochschild, Terry Teachout and Mary Guterson.


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Stop blaming Skip Gates for getting PO’d

I wrote this letter in response to Skip Gates, please sit down, which appeared anonymously on, Friday, July 24, 2009.

I’ve read more than one mean-spirited article about Skip Gates, all of them from black people. Cheesh. Whatever Gates may think about himself — as a black man, a professor, a homeowner, whatever — here’s the real issue: We do not live in a police state. Once the cop saw that he had made a mistake, it was incumbent on him to back down. In this country, theoretically anyway, the burden is on the police to exercise restraint.

Professor Gates has the right to determine how he’s going to live his life and how he’s going to identify himself. If he thinks of himself primarily as an Ivy League professor, so be it. He should be free to define himself as he sees fit. An individual shouldn’t be compelled to think and behave based solely on how the police treat him and other members of his group.

NOTE: I wish I had added that the author of this article should have had the courage to identify himself. He strongly implies that Professor Gates would retaliate against him (the author) for criticizing him (Gates). Whom does the author fear more? A white cop or an influential black professor? 

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