Jeffrey Toobin on Clarence Thomas's Silence -
As of this Saturday, February 22nd, eight years will have passed since Clarence Thomas last asked a question during a Supreme Court oral argument. His behavior on the bench has gone from curious to bizarre to downright embarrassing, for himself and for the institution he represents.
There’s a reason the phrase “your day in court” resonates. It is an indispensable part of the legal system.
But the process works only if the Justices engage. The current Supreme Court is almost too ready to do so, and sometimes lawyers have a hard time getting a word in edgewise. In question-and-answer sessions at law schools, Thomas has said that his colleagues talk too much, that he wants to let the lawyers say their piece, and that the briefs tell him all he needs to know. But this—as his colleagues’ ability to provoke revealing exchanges demonstrates—is nonsense. Thomas is simply not doing his job.
By refusing to acknowledge the advocates or his fellow-Justices, Thomas treats them all with disrespect. It would be one thing if Thomas’s petulance reflected badly only on himself, which it did for the first few years of his ludicrous behavior. But at this point, eight years on, Thomas is demeaning the Court. Imagine, for a moment, if all nine Justices behaved as Thomas does on the bench. The public would rightly, and immediately, lose all faith in the Supreme Court. Instead, the public has lost, and should lose, any confidence it might have in Clarence Thomas.
How Top Chef’s finale tarnished its brand -
But the story model doesn’t succeed here, because Elmi can’t fill the Talented Jerk’s shoes. He wobbled through most of the competition, narrowly escaped elimination a few times, occasionally behaved like a dick, and sent someone else home for his crappy dish. In his final service, Elmi characteristically under-seasons, serves unchewable meat, and berates servers loud enough for diners to hear it. Still, Colicchio backs Elmi emphatically, and when his stumping is juxtaposed with the rest of Nick’s edit, it reads as though Colicchio decided Elmi should be Top Chef and overruled the other judges. It’s a result that lacks the basic ring of fairness, especially given the optics of a white male winning over two women of color (Compton and second runner-up Shirley Chung) who spent the season steamrolling him.
Meryl Streep on Woody Allen -
From Grantland’s Molly Lambert:
The exceptions to the rule about actresses are touted as though they are symbolic of the whole industry, but even Meryl Streep knows she is a token. Streep played one of Woody’s indelible intellectual women in Manhattan, but she is not among his defenders. In 1980, she told Ladies’ Home Journal, “I don’t think Woody Allen even remembers me. I went to see Manhattan and I felt like I wasn’t even in it. I was pleased with the film because I looked pretty in it and I thought it was entertaining. But I only worked on the film for three days and I didn’t get to know Woody. Who gets to know Woody? He’s very much a womanizer; very self-involved. On a certain level, the film offends me because it’s all about these people whose sole concern is discussing their emotional states or their neuroses. It’s sad because Woody has the potential to be America’s Chekhov. But instead, he’s still caught up in the jet-set crowd type of life, trivializing his talent.”
David Ehrlich on The Grand Budapest Hotel -
Of course, at the end of the day it’s really pretty simple: either you want to see a movie in which a bearded Jeff Goldblum plays a character named Deputy Vilmos Kovacs, or you don’t. But trust me, you do. You really do.
February 1, 1902: Langston Hughes Is Born
On this day in 1902, James Mercer Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri. A poet and novelist, he became known as the “Shakespeare of Harlem” during the 1920s and 1930s.
Originally from the Midwest, Hughes traveled the world and worked in a great variety of jobs. He is especially well-known for his perceptive and sympathetic portrayals of life in black America.
Learn more about Langston Hughes with Masterpiece's Langston Hughes biography.
Photo: Langston Hughes photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1936 (Wikimedia Commons).
Palm trees, truck stop, Colby, Kansas
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