Competing for a tiny crown

The Style section is turning 50. You don’t know what the Style section is. That’s fine. Most people don’t. It used to be a thing, and now kind of isn’t, even though we still talk about it here in the newsroom as a journalism ideal, and even though it comes out six-ish days a week in The Washington Post. (You don’t get The Washington Post in print. That’s fine. Most people don’t.)

I have friends — not acquaintances, but friends — who still think I write about fashion for the Post, because I once said I was based in the Style section. That’s fine. I don’t write about fashion (except when I do). I don’t really know what I write about, but then I’ve already written about how I don’t know what I write about.

I’m not going to tell you what the Style section is, because Hank Stuever did so when it turned 40, and now again as it turns 50 (⬅️ you should really read this). The Style section used to be about “competing for a tiny crown the rest of the world wasn't even aware of: Best Feature Writer in Town,” as the late Tom Wolfe (a former Post reporter) once described the wars between writers (and writers’ egos). I have worked for Style for exactly one-fifth of its existence; it was not its finest fifth, by certain measures. It was the fifth in which the ranks of Style writers and editors dwindled from 50+ to fewer than 20. It was the fifth in which Style had to accept the consequences of ceding the Internet to paperless troublemakers (like Gawker et al) for which it had paved the way. It was the fifth in which Style became Features, which made it fade into the haze of the rest of feature journalism. That’s fine. It was also the fifth that gave a 25-year-old a decade of chances.

This is from the July 1989 Washingtonian. Headline on the piece: "Style Unzipped." The deck: "Twenty Years of Romance, Profanity, Anarchy, and Bitter Profiles: The Inside Story of the Post's Style Section and How It Grew Up."

This is from the July 1989 Washingtonian. Headline on the piece: "Style Unzipped." The deck: "Twenty Years of Romance, Profanity, Anarchy, and Bitter Profiles: The Inside Story of the Post's Style Section and How It Grew Up."

For its 50th anniversary, Style resurrected and republished nine stories that exemplify what a “Style story” is. You can read them here. They range from about 800 words to about 10,000. Style used to publish 10,000-word stories! Although I say “used to” like they didn’t let me do a 9,000-worder six years ago. Anything is still possible here, in a section that redefined possibility.

For the occasion — Style’s 50th and my 10th in it — I have created two lists of my own. First are 10 of my own Style stories (well, 11) that surfaced in my brain when I thought about the last decade. These are my attempts at a good Style story.

  1. Mr. Midnight Air • June 21, 2011 • While tightening ball joints, he fantasizes. Wouldn’t it be great if he got paid by GMC to test-drive new models? If he won the lottery, he’d take trucks out to the Grand Canyon. He’d take trucks to Alaska. He’d see America from a lofty perch, at 80 mph, pulling 80,000 pounds up steep hills without slowing, a herd of horsepower at his feet.

  2. All quiet on the Mideast front • Sept. 24, 2011 • Every war has a soundtrack. This one has rolled and blundered along to Green Day and Toby Keith, Britney Spears and Linkin Park, and most recently Adele and Daughtry and “Lighters” featuring Eminem and Bruno Mars.

  3. A life between the covers • Jan. 4, 2012 • This is not a story about how books are good and the Internet is evil, nor is it about how modernity has vanquished antiquity and, therefore, doomed posterity. Although…

  4. K Street: route of all evil? • Feb. 5, 2012 • Parking garages. Bank after bank. Mediocre lunch spots. And above: the suite life — hives of office space, renting for as much as $61 per square foot (only Pennsylvania Avenue is more expensive), crammed with accountants and consultants and regulatory commissions and law firms with names that read like a roll call at a New England boarding school.

  5. Cache is king • Aug. 22, 2012 • The last several millennia, in two sentences: Man learns to make things. Things start to accumulate.

  6. All is insanity at Vanity Fair’s Oscar party • Feb. 25, 2013 • Quentin Tarantino’s lapels have run amok. There are several children walking around with Oscars. Chris Pine is next to you at the urinal. All the 20-something minglers look like they’re on “Girls.” The Burton-Bonham-Carters are sharing a booth with the Douglas-Zeta-Joneses.

  7. The quirk of the court • June 13, 2013 • The woman sounds middle-aged and weary of sweating the small stuff, like her perm has wilted and so what, okay? In a strained voice, she answers questions about her engagement with the world. When asked if she has read newspaper articles about the George Zimmerman case, potential juror B37 says: “Newspapers are used in the parrot’s cage.”

  8. Robert Gates: a man still at war • Jan 12, 2014 • Robert M. Gates is a crier. He is also an expert at restraining himself. The war is fought in the throat, and lost in the eyes.

  9. Legends of the crawl • May 8, 2014 • It was a perfect day to get tanked, trashed, blitzed, blotto, soused, schnockered, to arrive with imperial designs on life and love, to stagger away tired and emotional, libido unrequited, stomach keen on some permutation of dough, cheese and marinara.

  10. The Polaroids of the Cowboy Poet • Jan. 17, 2016 • Chris Earnshaw is an odd and brilliant and sloppy man who vibrates with great joy and grand melancholy. For decades he has ambled through bandstands, major motion pictures and demolition sites, searching for prestige and permanence, all while being ignored on the gray streets of a humdrum capital.

  11. In Weinstein accusations, patterns of abuse span 30 years (with Monica Hesse & others) • Oct. 15, 2017 • In interviews with 67 people currently or formerly in Weinstein's orbit, The Washington Post found three previously unreported allegations of sexual or physical assault — and a striking pattern, going back to the dawn of his career, of ruthlessness and manipulation.

But wait, there’s more! To help with the 50th anniversary splash page, I gave editors a larger list of 60+ stories, each by a different Style writer. I wouldn’t call this a list of the Best Ever, though some stories clearly stand out. I’d just call it a broad representation of what the Style section is, and was, and maybe will continue to be. In chronological order, with excerpts (but not all with links):

How Nixon Lives, What He Likes…

By Marie Smith

Jan. 17, 1969

 He likes ketchup on his cottage cheese but his favorite food is meat loaf. … He is never without a tape recorder within reach…


A Welcome to ‘Fat City’

By Nicholas von Hoffman

Nov. 14, 1969

Washington’s second line of defense is indifference. Washington will out-wait you; Washington will vanish until you go away. It won’t answer the phone or the door; everybody will be out of town; you will always be told you’re in the wrong office and to go down the corridor…


A Young Man Who Went to War

By Myra MacPherson

May 21, 1972

Today, he dresses sharply and immaculately, sometimes takes two baths a day, trying to forget his days of filth and imprisonment…


Rating Washington’s Architecture

By Wolf von Eckardt

Jan. 6, 1974

 …I would say that the design of the Watergate is as appropriate to its riverfront setting, next to the Kennedy Center, and with the Washington Memorial as a backdrop, as a strip dancer performing at your grandmother’s funeral.


Heading Home: Yes. It’s Bob Dylan on the Road Again

By William Crawford Woods

Jan. 13, 1974

For years we’ve publicly fondled the idea that Dylan owes us something more because he’s given us so much already. That’s the prophet-guilt: Since we forgot to stone him, he has to sing again…


Christine Chubbuck: 29, Good-Looking, Educated, A Television Personality. Dead. Live and in Color.

By Sally Quinn

Aug. 4, 1974

Her right arm stiffened. “We bring you another first.” Her voice was steady. She looked up again into the camera. Her eyes were dark, direct and challenging. “An attempted suicide.”


Roots in Dance, Rites of Fall

By Alan M. Kriegsman

Nov. 28, 1974

Actually, cheerleading connects with the most ancient roots of dance art, dance as a sacred invocation of divine powers…


London’s Mood: Looking Back

By Michael Kernan

Dec. 29, 1974

Forced to acknowledge that they no longer dominate the world, Britons seem to be reverting to insularity. More and more, as foreigners crowd in among them, they act like an island people…


Role Reversal a GoGo

By Jeannette Smyth

Feb. 25, 1975

Here are all these suburbanites out in Camp Springs, Md. – men and women who could hardly be called revolutionaries – making a burlesque of the sex roles heavy thinkers are making dialectic of. Who’s liberated? Who’s crazy? Who knows?


From ‘Super-Macho’ to ‘Pure Femininity’

By Judy Bachrach

Dec. 19, 1977

When she was a man, she says, she always had to fantasize herself a woman to achieve orgasm. Now she can have vaginal orgasms, since her prostate touches her vaginal wall…


Donna Summer: Intimate and Untouchable, Trying to Cool Her Image

By Jacqueline Trescott

April 3, 1978

She is doing all the things in public your mother forbade you to do in private…


Mirror of the Glitterati, High Judge of Pop Society

By Paul Richard

Nov. 15, 1979

He ought to be a star himself, but he isn't really. He does arrive in limousines and his entourage does glitter, but Warhol does not glow. He gets close to people because he is so juiceless and so still…


The Beach House

By Elisabeth Bumiller

July 11, 1980

The blond is tan as warm hazelnuts, surrounded by sweet beer, cocoa butter and — over there in the sand — a laughing bikini spread-eagled on some guy who’s laughing much more…


The Royal Wedding

By Nina Hyde

July 30, 1981

As Lady Diana became the princess of Wales, she wore the "fairy-tale wedding dress" she had asked for. With its ruffle-edge bare neckline, pouffy sleeves, frothy veil and absolutely endless train, it was the wedding gown every little girl (and older girls) dreams of wearing when she marries her Prince Charming.

Bob Guccione: The Power and the Pressure

By Tom Zito

April 4, 1982

There is a mythic quality about this man who left an exclusive New Jersey boy's academy to wander about Europe as an artist, started a magazine that surpassed Playboy in profits, amassed an enormous personal fortune, hired and fired and rehired employees with the insouciance of a despot, and assembled a house — filled with the treasures of kings — from which he now rarely ventures forth. It is as if he slew the keepers of the temple gates, proclaimed himself master, and now finds the furies conspiring to topple the walls about him…


Philip Roth, at Ease at Mid-Journey

By Curt Suplee

Oct. 30, 1983

Drive for hours through the tawny boscage and autumnal braes of New England, so deep into the haut-Yankee heartland of northwestern Connecticut that even the hitchhikers look like George Plimpton…


McNamara (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

By Paul Hendrickson

May 8-10, 1984

Suddenly Vietnam is in the room. It is hydra-headed and heinous, the country's grievous error, his own…


Keeping a Cool Head in Climatic Zone 7

By Henry Mitchell

Aug. 3, 1984

There is a strong connection between complaints against summer and general idiocy...


The TV Column

By John Carmody

Aug. 7, 1984

Word reached us just this weekend of an entire family of five out in Alexandria that was trapped in their breakfast nook last Friday from shortly before 7 a.m. until nearly 5 in the afternoon, when they were finally released by a worried neighbor, who had missed the glad cries of the children during the day. All five had deep strap marks to show for the frightening experience! . . . 

(Worse, the breakfast nook TV set had been inadvertently tuned that morning to a cable system and for the whole day they'd been forced to watch the House of Representatives on C-SPAN!) 


Donald Trump, Holding All the Cards

By Lois Romano

Nov. 15, 1984

The key to his psyche, says a friend, is not just a search for money, but an "insatiable" craving for recognition. Ergo, his name in bold letters on the buildings. "No, it's not that," he says…


The New Jersey Turnpike: A Love Story

By David Remnick

Dec. 20, 1984

Here is a more mordant ecosystem: one extra-large 7-Eleven Slurpee cup, a mud-caked fan belt, dead sunflowers, empty cartons of Winston cigarettes, Pathmark raisins and Milk Duds, a shattered bottle of White Rock root beer, a carpet sample the color of fresh concrete, an empty quart bottle of Bud and a discarded multicolored golf umbrella that looks like a slaughtered peacock…


Intelsat: The Space-Age Stunner

By Benjamin Forgey

Jan. 1, 1985

It looks, in fact, as if it were a glittering piece of the 21st century designed for an isolated hill in the far-out suburbs of Anywhere, U.S.A., and placed, by magnificent celestial error or mere bureaucratic foul-up, at the corner of Connecticut and Van Ness…


Madonna: Siren of Success

By Richard Harrington

June 3, 1985

Those who wrote Madonna off as a sterile studio confection or a pop tart symbolic of MTVideocy couldn't have been more wrong: she is a charismatic star with legitimate talent…


All That Glitters Is Gaudy

By Judith Martin

Sept. 7, 1986

That does it. Miss Manners has seen one diamond watch too many with a dual-color metal band and one car too many so long that it can't turn corners. She is going to start proposing sumptuary laws…


Dead Men Tell Tales

By Stephanie Mansfield

Nov. 8, 1987

She is nervous, rubbing her bony hands, flattening her Barbie Doll bouffant…


The Reagan Chart Watch

By Cynthia Gorney

May 11, 1988

The most famous astrologer in America, as of approximately 48 hours ago, is a genteel blond lady who attended the toniest of private schools, the kind with middy blouse uniforms and stone lions at the entrance, and then went off to Vassar and never married and lives with her sister in the apartment that belonged to their parents and is guarded down at the lobby by a black-suited doorman who will open the heavy glass doors just enough to stick his nose out and say, firmly, "I can't disturb her."


Memory and Anger: A Victim’s Story

By Ken Ringle

May 4, 1989

Watching as the man who tried to kill her rose to power on Capitol Hill…


Henry Mapplethorpe: a father’s tale

By Kim Masters

By May 3, 1990

Now, Robert has been dead for more than a year. But the Mapplethorpe name may be immortal. It is hissed as a synonym for pornography and perversion. It is invoked in the cry for artistic freedom. And what does Harry Mapplethorpe make of the weighty debate over censorship and free speech?

"I could care less," he says.

The Trump Comeuppance

By Howard Kurtz

June 7, 1990

It is remarkable to watch a man who blabbed about his love life on national television suddenly retreat behind a wall of tight-lipped publicists. After all, it wasn't that long ago that serious people spoke about Trump running for president…


Appreciation: Mitch Snyder’s Certain Vision

By Chuck Conconi

July 6, 1990

A number of little boys listened to the nuns and wanted to be like Saint Francis. Some would even quietly pray in chapel for the wonderful gift of a stigmata — the bleeding wounds of Christ. But little boys grow up and become capitalists, wanting cars and homes and expensive college educations for their children. Apprentice sainthood doesn't work very well in the modern world.

Mitch Snyder didn't grow up…


‘Rocky V’: The Midlife Crisis

By Rita Kempley

Nov. 16, 1990

In "Rock V," the underdog is officially diagnosed as "brain damaged." Yo. So what else is new?

The Elevator Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore

By Richard Leiby

June 23, 1991

Ten miles out of Austin down Highway 71, in a one-bedroom apartment subsidized by the government, you can visit a rock-and-roll genius, a musician whose talents are ranked with such legends as Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin. He's been called the most influential singer, songwriter and guitarist to emerge from Texas since Buddy Holly…

Robert Gates and the neverending story 

By Marjorie Williams

Sept. 19, 1991

It comes down to this: a small, gray man of almost eerily symmetrical features, his face schooled into an expression of rigorous blandness, looking up at the red-draped dais of his inquisitors. In a resting state his lips seem slightly pursed, as though he balances an ice cube on the tip of his tongue…

The Credible Accuser

By Donna Britt

Oct. 10, 1991

The hearings to unearth what actually happened between [Anita Hill] and [Clarence] Thomas assure that millions more Americans will see what viewers of her Monday press conference already saw: Hill's cultured voice cracking just so; the pained, pretty face that refused to dissolve into messy, female tears. She was perfect.

She better have been.

It's a hell of a thing, being female, black and credible all at once, a feat sort of on par with running a marathon while singing an aria…


‘I thought, therefore I was’

By Sharon Waxman

Nov. 28, 1991

The collapse of communism in its birthplace, the Soviet Union, has left French intellectuals with little to say, as if suddenly the horizon of ideas has revealed itself to be a barren landscape. In a country where the thinking elite has for decades drawn its moral strength from the ideals of the left — Marxism, Leninism, Maoism, Trotskyism, anarchism — the end of communism has toppled the framework of debate. Ideology has little meaning anymore. And new "isms" hardly seem to be the answer the world wants to hear to the question: What next? 

Home Is Where the Heartache Is

By Jura Koncius

Feb. 16, 1992

In 10 minutes, he will walk out onto the tarmac as a national hero, stepping upon the soil of a country so new, so fetal, that the first McDonald's has yet to locate there… 


Hillary Clinton’s Inner Politics

By Martha Sherrill

May 6, 1992

Way in the future, when she's old and probably legendary, Hillary Clinton wants to be able to look back and feel that she led "an integrated life," she says, sitting in her West Wing office last week. She wants to have felt unified, whole. She wants her emotional life and physical life, her spiritual life and political life all to fit together, in sync, an orchestra sitting down to play the same song…


Second Wind: The Resurrection of South Florida

By Joel Achenbach

Sept. 6, 1992

When the winds died, the people found themselves in a state of nature, side by side with beasts…


The Gay Moment

April 25, 1993

By Elizabeth Kastor

Just as AIDS abbreviates the human lifespan, so too has it distorted historical time, allowing a movement to grow at a pace no one could have predicted…


The Amazing Gergen!

By Lloyd Grove

July 6, 1993

You know you've been gergenized when abject flattery begins to sound like candor; when feelings of anger, defensiveness and dread — only recently so pervasive in Bill Clinton's White House — are replaced by a sensation of inner calm.

When cynicism about human motives is washed clean by a bracing wave of idealism and sincerity. When nothing could seem more natural than a onetime operative for three Republican presidents suddenly sliding into the confidence of the nation's top Democrat.

By then, of course, it's too late. He's got you, and it's useless trying to break free…

‘Crooklyn’: A Musical Spin on Life

By Desson Thompson

May 13, 1994

Spike Lee has a heedless, jazzy instinct. Unconstrained by compulsive discipline, almost arrogantly confident in his instincts, he blunders forward with jagged inspiration…


Jamalot: A Brief History of the Next 20 Years

By Frank Ahrens

Nov. 27, 1994

Washington is down, deflated, flatter than a Fig Newton under a '44 Ford full of fat guys in fedoras.


In an instant of unspeakable horror, a roomful of toddlers became America’s kids

By Tamara Jones

April 28, 1995

The day-care center's entire north wall, at the front of the building, was glass. Anyone looking in from the street would have seen a long row of cribs with mobiles spinning overhead… 


Bread’s Last Jam (Part 1, Part 2)

By Mary Ann French and Craig Herndon

May 21, 1995

Dwayne Williams, alias Whitebread, was an urban gunslinger. The law didn’t catch up with him, but his enemies did. He was sentenced to the chair…


A Death in the Cold

By Laura Blumenfeld

Feb. 5, 1995

She had a famous father who always saved her the seat next to his. She had worked on Capitol Hill and in day care centers and in a hospice for terminally ill cancer patients. She was intelligent, funny, generous, charismatic, tender. She was a flop-down doorstep drunk…


A Chronicle of Obsession

By Marc Fisher

Nov. 26, 1995

But children go astray, possessions have a way of vanishing, and deeds are no more permanent than the memories of those who witness them. Even tombstone epitaphs fade with time.

No, man discovered from his earliest moments of conscious thought, if I am to be remembered, it must be by my words…


The Legacy
By Roxanne Roberts

May 19, 1996

Suicide is desperate. It is hostile. It is tragic. But mostly, it is a bloody mess…


Death of the salesman

By Henry Allen

July 11, 1996

Everybody hates car salesmen.

Fine. Everybody hates everybody nowadays…

The White Hose Scandal

By Robin Givhan

May 23, 1997

Horror has many faces. This one has legs. Everywhere in Washington, there are women wearing sheer, ghostly white pantyhose…


The Collector

By Eric L. Wee

June 28, 1998

Some of these memories we strive to recover. Often they are recollections of simpler and happier times. They let us revisit a moment when everything was new. They let us close our eyes and again smell the warm summer air of our youth…


A Real Piece of Work

By Peter Carlson

July 13, 1998

Bill Clinton is a piece of work. Al Gore is not a piece of work. Jack Nicholson is a piece of work. Harrison Ford is not a piece of work.


Tears for Audrey

By Gene Weingarten

July 19, 1998

Mysterious events have been occurring in this home. Communion wafers have been said to ooze blood.. Statues have been said to move on their own when no one is looking, pivoting to face sanctified objects. Chalices have been said to suddenly fill with sweet-scented oil. Sick people who have come here say they have been healed…

Kathie Lee? Bah Humbug!

By Tom Shales

Dec. 14, 1998

What's the difference between the 24-hour flu and a Kathie Lee Gifford Christmas special? Twenty-three hours…


The Siege of Little Rock

By Linton Weeks

March 27, 1999

Maybe there were some sweetheart deals, some stupid loans, some indiscreet dalliances. So damn what? people are saying. You can feel the city's chronic fatigue. You can taste the disgust…


E-Male: Bryan Winter May Never Find a Date Again

By Amy Argetsinger

May 29, 1999

Who is Bryan Winter? Three weeks after his words exploded through the District, his identity is still a mystery…


White Girl?

By Lonnae O’Neal Parker

Aug. 8, 1999

I have a 20-year-old white girl living in my basement. She happens to be my first cousin. I happen to be black…


Chewing the Fat

By Megan Rosenfeld

Oct. 12, 1999

Seems like everywhere you go, someone has stopped eating carbohydrates. Your sister-in-law, who heard about it from a friend, has lost 12 pounds on Dr. Atkins; two of your friend's office mates are doing Protein Power; the guy you talk to at a cocktail party has lost 25 pounds; the woman your husband had lunch with is doing The Zone…


Shades of Gray Matter

By Kevin Merida

Jan. 19, 2000

The governor of Texas strides into the atrium of his mansion, extends a hand, takes a seat, slouches into the fabric, crosses his legs. His eyes sparkle, and his thin smile never leaves him. His entire mien says: I am comfortable with who I am. Bring it on, son.


The Couch That Warped Space-Time

By Hank Stuever

Feb. 23, 2000

First the love story, a love-in-Washington story, a love-in-Washington story that is also about space and matter and furniture…


Love in the Time of AIDS

Sept. 10, 2000

By Neely Tucker

By noon, the ants found the girl-child. Left to die on the day she was born, she lay in the high grass under an acacia tree in the highlands of central Zimbabwe… 



By Michael Powell

Nov. 19, 2000

CEDAR COUNTY, Iowa — Dogs bark; winds howl; cows stare. Look out Evelyn Clark's door and see dark and fallow fields stretching taut to every horizon, as if a giant rake had scraped them raw.

Clark, 72, isn't going anywhere in the wintry twilight. So her son handles the farm chores while she monitors this Bush-Gore business. She's a Democrat and her forefinger zaps the channel changer whenever George W.'s image appears on the TV screen…

Learning to Read Laura Bush

By Ann Gerhart

March 22, 2001

She has stopped Cloroxing the cupboards to relax, Mrs. Bush says, with her ready laugh. But she continues to perfect her retreat…

Just resin

By Hank Stuever

May 31, 2001

There's something about the plastic patio chair.

No, there's not.

And that's what it is about them…

Under a Cloud of Evil

By David Montgomery

Sept. 12, 2001

Everyone started preparing for something, but didn't quite know what. In McLean, the local Giant was swamped with shoppers stocking up, as if bracing for some kind of disaster. Former defense secretary William Cohen and his wife wheeled a cart of groceries to their car. "We didn't have any food in the house," he said…


Losing the Race with Death

By Phil McCombs

Oct. 23, 2002

Jim Robey is a trauma surgeon, and his job — his joy, his "calling" — is to save lives.

But so far, the sniper has beaten him every time…


The One Ring, the True Sword

By Stephen Hunter

Dec. 17, 2002

Other than a distressing lack of quality hair care products, things are fine in Middle Earth. Good is still cute, bad is still monstro-evil, the landscapes still green, the Hobbits barefoot and dressed like Victorian squires, the warriors handsome, the milieu kitschy…


Strutting Season

By Libby Copeland

July 6, 2003

Guidos belong to summer, and summer belongs to the guidos…


The Strong, Silent Type

By Mark Leibovich

Jan. 18, 2004

As a rule, Dick Cheney doesn't like to talk unless he has to. He sits for long stretches of conversation, holding his fingertips together at his lips, peering over his glasses. When he does speak, it is in a brisk cadence and often in partial sentences, as if to conserve every word…


Reading Bob Woodward

By Bob Thompson

July 5, 2005

It may well have been reported before, but it was certainly news to me that Bob Woodward once got so drunk he couldn't walk…


Signs of Progress

By Jose Antonio Vargas

July 23, 2005

Once upon a gay time, before the Stonewall riots in New York, before gay marriage, gay adoption and gay real estate, before "Will & Grace," "The L Word" and cable channels called Logo and Here!, before everyone had a gay relative, there was a man who led a picket line in front of the White House. It was 1965, and the man was Franklin E. Kameny…


Just What Is This Strange Effect Claire Danes Has on Men? Don’t Ask Her.

By Darragh Johnson

Oct. 27, 2005

Danes spent two years at Yale. Where's the conversational brio? Where's the analytical discourse that even half of an Ivy League education would seem to confer? Do we really have 35 minutes left of this? 


Urban Legend

By David Segal

July 3, 2006

Cory Booker, who was inaugurated on Saturday as this city's new Democratic mayor, likes to tell stories, and nearly every one of them will make you sick. Not nauseated sick, but something that is both deeper and more fleeting — the feeling that you are a cynical, selfish jerk and you ought to be ashamed, and you are ashamed. But only for a few minutes, because that's how selfish and cynical you are…


What Makes Andy Dick Tick?

By William Booth

Oct. 8, 2006

Successful comedic actors in L.A. don't live in apartments with numbers like 8. So you get a bad feeling…


Waiting for ‘Action!’

By Ann Hornaday

July 10, 2007

A Woolworth's lunch counter. A bus in Montgomery. The Edmund Pettus Bridge. All evoke the kind of epic, good-vs.-evil showdown that movies are made for -- when they're John Wayne westerns.

So why, with such promising stories, such larger-than-life characters and such historic sweep and importance, hasn't the civil rights era been captured in a feature film?


As Gourd As It Gets

By Adrian Higgins

Oct. 8, 2007

The pedigree of every super-size pumpkin is known, and can be traced back for generations with as much precision as bloodlines in thoroughbred racehorses…


Deere John: It’s Been a Good Ride

July 19, 2008

By Joel Garreau

The riding lawn mower has long been a barometer of the American dream, been a symbol of having arrived in the suburban middle class. It says, "I have so much lawn to mow, I need to sit down."


A Butler Well Served by this Election

By Wil Haygood

Nov. 7, 2008

His is a story from the back pages of history. A figure in the tiniest of print. The man in the kitchen…


George Jones

Dec. 7, 2008

By J. Freedom du Lac

It's difficult to say which is more remarkable: that Jones finally got himself straightened up, or that he lived long enough to do so. For he's spent a lifetime cheating death…


Poor? Pay Up

By DeNeen Brown

May 18, 2009

You have to be rich to be poor. That's what some people who have never lived below the poverty line don't understand…


A One-Man Movement

By Sarah Kaufman

July 11, 2009

A person's way of moving through space tells us something on a base, primitive level. It's animal to animal. It's something so subtle you may not consciously notice it, but when an actor moves honestly and with intention, your eye will follow him anywhere…



By Ellen McCarthy

Feb. 14, 2010

It's time to slip into Delilah's world, a schmaltzy, airbrushed place where love is all that matters, although it's often tragic or just out of reach…


The Mothership, Lost in Space

April 12, 2010

By Chris Richards

It might be the most awe-inspiring stage prop in the history of American music and it belonged to funk legends Parliament-Funkadelic…


Grace under Fire

By Paul Farhi

Oct. 14, 2010

The shot peppered Whittington in the face, neck and torso. The shooter was Dick Cheney, the vice president of the United States…


Paula, How We’ve Missed You

By Lisa de Moraes

Jan. 5, 2011

The seal clap, the Mad-Hatter's-tea-party-esque-speak, the ants-in-her-pants gyrations from the judges' desk, the too-glitzy-for-prime-time outfits.

Paula Abdul is back…


DNC’s show of power

By Peter Marks

Sept. 6, 2012

To borrow a phrase from the theater, the Democratic convention was having second-act problems. After the oratorical studliness of night one … the second night was shaping up to be about as galvanizing as a zoning board hearing on height variances…


Why Do We Stare?

By Philip Kennicott

Dec. 27, 2012

The year 2012 was rich in images of ugliness, not just photographs and video of people suffering and dying, but images that allowed us to enjoy the discomfiture of our enemies, to feel better about ourselves by enjoying the ridiculousness of other people, to confirm easy and unconsidered prejudices about the world and our brothers and sisters upon it…


Love and Fire

By Monica Hesse

April 9, 2014

This was a county that didn’t have much, and what it didn’t have was burning down… 


The Way Forward

By Caitlin Gibson

July 19, 2015

The judge helped a quadriplegic man become a lawyer. Could he help her recover from a catastrophic fall?


13, Right Now

By Jessica Contrera

May 25, 2016

She opens Instagram. She opens the NBA app. She shuts the screen off. She turns it back on. She opens Spotify. Opens Fitbit. She has 7,427 steps. Opens Instagram again. Opens Snapchat. She watches a sparkly rainbow flow from her friend’s mouth…


90 Years Old and Still Zinging

By Karen Heller

May 26, 2016

His offstage attire is country-club gentleman. His voice is a rasp of a whisper. But he can slay without words: His eyebrows are semaphores, his left hand a weapon that can dismiss a subject with a quiver.


How did we get so clueless about news?

By Margaret Sullivan

Sept. 11, 2016

Citizens who don’t know much, and don’t care to find out, will get the government they deserve…

An unconventional legend

By Anne Midgette

Dec. 2, 2016

Trying to pin her down for an interview seems impossible. She is said to give interviews only rarely, with reluctance. To get her to talk in 2008, Gramophone magazine enlisted the help of the pianist Stephen Kovacevich, one of the three fathers of her three daughters, who has been called the great love of her life, although they broke up for the last time in the 1970s. Even with Kovacevich there, she became physically ill at ease when the tape recorder was switched on. Yet when an interview time is eventually named, and a number dialed, there she is, on the phone from her oldest daughter’s house in Switzerland, speaking in a lilting, girlish voice, sounding warm and natural and utterly unlike a formidable reclusive genius…

A second-by-second breakdown of Kendall Jenner’s unspeakably tone-deaf Pepsi ad

By Elahe Izadi

April 5, 2017

In the midst of all these people standing up for Important Things, there are still ladies out here brunching… 


The sweet smell of the suburban American casino

By Lavanya Ramanathan

July 31, 2017

For two generations, the seedy allure of blackjack and roulette and women and money made Las Vegas the nation’s swingingest tourist destination. But Americans, ever the descendants of Puritans, were uneasy with the notion of gamblers in their own back yards…


PS, I love you (to a degree)

By Maura Judkis

Sept. 13, 2017

Pumpkin spice is not a flavor, it's a lifestyle. Its mantra is the crackle of fallen leaves and bonfires. "Sweater weather" is its holy creed…


The Mysterious Madame Giselle

By Manuel Roig-Franzia

Sept. 19, 2017

…it’s a story about friendship and trust, about what we can make ourselves believe and how we can sometimes suspend disbelief when dreams are in sight….


Losing the Part

By Geoff Edgers

Sept. 27, 2017

Just before airtime, Hammond has a panic attack and can’t remember his lines. He lays out a gauze pad, slices his arm, patches the wound and puts on his finely tailored suit.


‘Always remember: You’re a Madison’

By Krissah Thompson

Nov. 14, 2017

In her mind’s eye, Bettye Kearse could see her ancestor walking the worn path that led from the big house to the slave quarters.


Where they all want to say, ‘Veni, video, vici’

By Abby Ohlheiser

June 26, 2018

The fans who approached Conan Gray wanted to give their whole selves to him in a moment. He handled the crying, shaking ones with warmth and patience, the skills required to defuse this particular bomb…


Sobering Truths

By Emily Yahr

July 1, 2018

Decades ago, when the country format was scorned as niche music of the working class, the prominence of alcohol fed into the cliche of drowning your sorrows at a honky-tonk. Now, it's the reverse…


Kellyanne and George: No, really, it’s a love story

By Ben Terris

Aug. 15, 2018

The Conways, like the rest of the country, have been jolted by the Trump presidency. They love each other, are exasperated by each other, talk about each other behind each other’s backs. They share a roof and live in different bunkers…


‘Being Me’: A TV host’s staying power

By Bethonie Butler

Aug. 26, 2018

The host narrows her eyes, opens her mouth slightly, placing her bottom lip into a sort-of downward curl and perches her hands in midair - like claws at ease - and asks, in a sultry voice, "How you doin'?"