Thomas Frank Op-Ed in Today’s NY Times

Thomas Frank’s most recent book, What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America preciently explains phenomenon of “moral values” that polls show played a pivotal role in Tuesday’s election.

Frank has an op-ed piece in today’s Times, basically restating the argument conveyed in his book. Frank, who also wrote One Market Under God seems to think that moral/cultural values should always be trumped by economic values. But yet how to make the evangelical Christians and the people in the middle of the country care about the economy or foreign policy of health care or education?

Frank writes:

To short-circuit the Republican appeals to blue-collar constituents, Democrats must confront the cultural populism of the wedge issues with genuine economic populism. They must dust off their own majoritarian militancy instead of suppressing it; sharpen the distinctions between the parties instead of minimizing them; emphasize the contradictions of culture-war populism instead of ignoring them; and speak forthrightly about who gains and who loses from conservative economic policy.

What is more likely, of course, is that Democratic officialdom will simply see this week’s disaster as a reason to redouble their efforts to move to the right. They will give in on, say, Social Security privatization or income tax “reform” and will continue to dream their happy dreams about becoming the party of the enlightened corporate class. And they will be surprised all over again two or four years from now when the conservative populists of the Red America, poorer and angrier than ever, deal the “party of the people” yet another stunning blow.

Peter Beinart calls for a similar Democratic focus on economic issues in The New Republic:

It is true that Kerry failed to win back many lunch-pail, working-class former Democrats. But, instead of focusing merely on why those voters were alienated by the Democrats’ cultural message, party strategists need to pay more attention to why they weren’t attracted by its economic message.

Jonathan Lethem and Thomas Keller appearances

Lethem and Keller are both making Bay Area appearances next week. Lethem will be in conversation with Daniel Handler a.k.a Lemony Snicket at a City Arts and Lectures event on Monday, November 8. Lethem’s short story collection Men and Cartoons was just released. Moreover, advance copies of his essay collection The Disappointment Artist are making their way to reviewers. The book is scheduled for publication in April 2005. I’ve seen Lethem in conversation twice in the past year, and I encourage people to attend this event.

Thomas Keller is touring to support his new Bouchon cookbook and will be making an appearance at Kepler’s on Wednesday, November 10. Let’s hope he brings some food to sample!

Moral values

Are the people who voted for Bush on moral/cultural issues every going to get what they think they voted for?

Has anyone been more hesitant to call states tonight than The New York Times?

Has Dan Rather ever heard of a touch screen? He just called his an “electronic gadget.” CBS just gave Hawaii to Kerry. Then Rather said, “If this thing gets any closer, we’ll have to call 911, call a nurse, call somebody.” Boy, it might be time to go back to NPR’s coverage.

Is there still hope for Kerry in Ohio? I despair and try to sleep.

People, People—Get out and vote!

That especially means you, Democrats in swing states! I will post my selections from the California ballot later today. Which media sources will people be using to follow the election? (Leave some comments.) Boone and I will be out and about in San Francisco—meet us there.

The Chronicle noted this morning that we should have some clues as to who’s going to win the Presidential election around 4 pm PST.

*Update 11:29 am*
Joel went out to the polls this morning and said the lines were moving very, very slowly.

The Griffin radioShark

Griffin Technology has released a new product called the radioShark. It’s like TiVo for the radio, for your computer. You can record radio broadcasts directly to your computer for later listening. I’ve been looking for something like this for a while because I would like to record NPR programming—Fresh Air, City Arts and Lectures, All Things Considered—to listen to on my iPod while I’m driving. Moreover, I can record KZSU’s broadcast of the Stanford game, if I’m going to miss it. Until now, my only option has been Audio Hijack, which is glitchy and requires more maintenance. With the radioShark, you can program it to record any station at any time while you’re gone. Is this not awesome? The downside, of course, is that it works only for FM/AM radio broadcasts, while Audio Hijack remains the best option for recording internet streams or anything else that plays on your computer.

Safran Foer’s new novel

Jonathan Safran Foer’s new novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is due out from Houghton Mifflin in April. I heard him read an excerpt at Symphony Space in New York earlier this year, and am eagerly awaiting a chance to read the whole thing. The book is narrated by a child with a tendency toward French sayings—It is funny, trust me. If you liked Alex’s use of language in Everything is Illuminated, you’ll love this kid.—whose father dies in the WTC on 9/11. Does anyone know if ARC’s are out there yet? Has anyone read it? Use the comments link below to respond.

Murakami’s new novel due in January

The English translation of Haruki Murakami’s new novel Kafka on the Shore is due from Knopf in January. Advance copies are out there, however. Please post some comments if you’ve read the novel already. I’m totally late to the party on Murakami, but I’m planning to catch up and read the new one soon.

On a related note, the Summer 2004 issue of The Paris Review contains a very good interview with Murakami in which he discusses Kafka–Franz Kafka, that is–and Radiohead among other subjects.

New Dave Eggers collection out

Dave Eggers has a new collection of short stories out titled How We Are Hungry. I picked up signed copy at ACWLP in San Francisco last week, and am just starting to read through it. I recognized some of the stories from their previous incarnations in The New Yorker, Zoetrope, and the Nick Hornby-edited collection Speaking With the Angel. John Freeman praised Eggers’ book in The San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday. Here is a brief excerpt from his review:

Like Lorrie Moore in “Birds of America,” Eggers understands how movement from one place to the next can put us off balance and make us kiss the Blarney Stone out of our own neediness. In “The Only Meaning of Oil-Wet Water,” a woman flies down to Costa Rica to figure out whether her friend Hand (who reappears from “Velocity”) is a lover or merely a friend. It’s a heartbreaking little story because — if you’re the kind of person who takes time seriously — it reminds you how many near misses you have when searching for the One. What do you do with all those moments so indelibly remembered?

And here is where Eggers takes his writing to a whole new level. In “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,” Eggers’ grief over his parents’ deaths was fried in a vat of irony; in contrast, these stories are raw, unfiltered but have the same quivering texture of lived experience.

Athletes and Politics

A story on the AP wire today provides further details about Curt Shilling’s campaigning for George W. Bush. After endorsing Bush during an interview last week and subsequently apologizing for having taken a public political stand, Shilling has now recorded a telephone message for voters in three swing states. Part of his message:

These past couple of weeks, Sox fans … trusted me when it was my turn on the mound. Now you can trust me on this: President Bush is the right leader for our country.

Shilling was initially supposed to make a few campaign stops with Bush, but had to cancel due to his upcoming surgery.

It’s too bad that Shilling is supporting the wrong candidate. Fortunately, Boston’s general magager Theo Epstein has made an appearance with John Kerry. I guess the smart people in baseball really are in the front office.

What disappoints me most about this whole story is not that Shilling supports Bush, but rather that he felt he needed to apologize for expressing that support during an interview. Athletes should use their public platform to express their opinions on political issues, just as so many musicians and writers and actors have during this campaign season. A couple weeks ago I saw Michael Stipe sporting a Kerry t-shirt during R.E.M.’s concert in Berkeley; perhaps, in 2008 we’ll see Johnny Damon doing the same during the Red Sox World Series victory parade. Then again, maybe asking for athletes to take a stand and for a second Red Sox championship in 90 years is a little too much.

More on Nike’s Fenway Park Ad

Nike ran a very well-done advertisement on FOX following the final games of the ALCS and the World Series. In today’s New York Times, Stuart Elliot comments on the marketing viability of the Red Sox following their World Series victory. He points out that Nike had actually developed the Fenway Park commercial for last year’s ALCS, but had to shelve it after Aaron Boone’s homerun sent the Yankees on to the World Series. The ad, which was created by Wiedland + Kennedy, can be seen at Nike’s website. This commercial is not to be missed. If you missed it, we encourage you to check it out. You will not be disappointed.

People of Earth

The Red Sox have won the World Series, and so we thought it would be a good time to start blogging. Here we go—

About Me

Ricky Opaterny has worked variously as a literary agent, book designer, journalist, editor, and producer. He is currently working on a novel about four friends from San Francisco, one of whom is compelled by his wife’s death to live his life in reverse. Ricky attended attended UC Berkeley, where he studied modern American literature as a Regents Scholar, and NYU’s Stern School of Business, where he was an InSITE Fellow. His work has recently appeared in Eat Me, the New York Times, U.25, and the book Surviving Justice: America’s Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated. Ricky previously worked for Google, an Internet search engine company, where he was the executive producer of Google’s series of conversations, lectures, and concerts called @Google. While at Google, he also launched the company’s initiative to provide free online advertising and education in online marketing to businesses in the developing world. He is currently the program manager at TuneIn, where he manages an editorial team and messes around with SQL. He is also a founding board member of Twenty Summers, an art-type concern on Cape Cod.

He used to work at the following places related to books and publishing:
San Francisco magazine
Metropol Literary
Housing Works
McSweeney’s
The Believer

Here is an old passport photo of Ricky.

Here is an article about what this blog did in the summer of 2005 to save Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park, California.

Here is an article about what he did from 2005-2008.

Email him if you have any further questions.

This is Ricky’s personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are his alone and not those of his employer.