I’ve always liked maps. As a little kid I loved gas-station state maps and giant atlases, then United States Geological Survey topographical maps and Michelin maps of Europe (and Tolkien’s map of Middle-earth) when I discovered those. As an adult I always look at maps in antique shops and flea markets, and love plotting Google maps. I was excited to learn earlier this month about the four-color map theorem — that by using four different colors, a mapmaker can create a map containing an unlimited number of regions with no adjacent regions in the same color.

I’m also interested in…


Kushner in 2008, photo in Vanity Fair by Michael Sofronski

Jared Kushner, a Reuters story recently reported, “is stepping away from politics for the foreseeable future” and “re-entering the private sector.”

Which made me think: re-enter the private sector?

What does that even mean for a real estate heir married to a real estate heiress with a combined inherited fortune of $200 to $800 million that generates an income of $2 to $5 million a month? Or who as the U.S. Middle East policy czar in 2017, weeks after Qatar declined to bail out his family company’s disastrous Manhattan skyscraper investment, got his father-in-law the president to support a strange…


Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider (1969)

We’ve understood for a while now that the right to buy and tote as many guns of any kind as you like, unregistered guns that hold as many rounds as you like and fire as rapidly as you like, is the sine qua non of American freedom. During the last year, we’ve discovered that so are the rights to eschew masks and vaccines during a viral pandemic.

Since the pandemic began, I’ve spent a lot of time in rural Connecticut, where there are tons of motorcyclists. By my reckoning, half of them don’t wear helmets. Which I found surprising. Because…


The New York Times remains America’s and maybe the world’s single most influential cultural gatekeeper. It’s a last bastion in many ways. As I’m reminded whenever I come across its contortions to avoid…vulgarities.

For instance, after the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that a high school cheerleader was free to Snapchat “Fuck school fuck softball fuck cheer fuck everything,” the Times’ news story referred to it only as “a vulgar social media message.” …


Photo: Getty Images / The Washington Post

Back in 2016, as I finished writing Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, my book about our founding national weakness for mixing fiction and reality in problematic ways, I wondered if I’d attributed too much significance to postmodern professional wrestling. I wrote about how boundaries between entertainment and the rest of life were definitively dismantled in the 1980s and 90s, after which America “became an amazing coast-to-coast theme park, open twenty-four hours.” …


The author in his home office in Brooklyn, photo by Erik Tanner for The New York Times

Say that you — a different you from the one in the headline — own OK Concepts Incorporated, a business employing 250 people. Everyone does nearly all their work sitting at desks and tables, and until a year ago they (and you) did that in the expensive office space you lease downtown, three floors of a building. Since then, they and you have all worked exclusively from home. It hasn’t been ideal, but everybody adapted, and there were some silver linings. Happily, the company’s revenues ($100 million a year) and profits ($10 million) have been steady.

You’re planning to open…


A still from David Fincher’s Mank

Mank is a two-hour black-and-white movie about the real-life screenwriter (Herman Mankiewicz) of a two-hour black-and-white movie (Citizen Kane) about a real-life mogul (William Randolph Hearst) who produced movies, many of them starring his movie-star mistress. Scenes in Mank are introduced on-screen as they are in screenplays, with Courier typeface titles like EXT. — MGM STUDIOS — DAY. Citizen Kane was nominated for nine Oscars, including Best Picture and Original Screenplay, the latter of which Mankiewicz and Orson Welles won. …


I finished writing my book Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History at the beginning of 2016, when the leaders of the Republican Party were still desperately trying to keep Donald Trump from winning their presidential nomination. At the end of 2016, when he was president-elect, I retitled my last chapter “As Fantasyland Goes, So Goes the Nation.”

“During the first fifteen years of the twenty-first century,” I’d written before he was elected, “the GOP turned into the Fantasy Party, with a beleaguered reality-based wing. A far-right counterculture empowered its millions of followers and took over the American…


Dumbfounded, flabbergast, gobsmacked, mind-boggled: I’m betting you will be too if you read this New York Times Magazine story about the amazing new power and falling prices of genetic sequencing technology — how it enabled the creation of effective COVID vaccines in months instead of years, and how it’s probably about to revolutionize medicine. Yet another instance of sci-fi — in this case non-dystopian sci-fi! so far! — becoming indistinguishable from real life.

As a fiction writer, I was especially struck by the science-fictionesque nomenclature of the biotechnology companies in the Times piece and of their products: Illumina and Oxford…


It has been a month since I got the second dose. Now fully Monderna-ized, I’ve been itching to use my new superpower.

The other night, after 370-odd days (or 37-odd years; who knows for sure?) of eating every meal at home, all but a few of them exclusively with my wife, we and four vaccinated friends had a splendid dinner in a fabulous restaurant. We hugged and talked and talked and laughed and drank multiple bottles of red wine.

It feels as if I’ve just attended my first orgy.

That we were ushered into our own only semi-private space in…

Kurt Andersen

Award-winning, bestselling author (Evil Geniuses, Fantasyland, True Believers, Heyday, Turn of the Century) and creator of media (Studio 360, Inside, SPY).

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