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Philip Martin

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PHILIP MARTIN: The novel man

Tom Wolfe was nothing if not ambitious.

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SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW: Will audiences be winners or losers this season?

Lawrence Alloway, one of a couple of men accused of coining the term "Pop Art" in the 1950s, argued that a critic's job should be solely journalistic. We ought to content ourselves with "mapping the field": describing works being made and leaving the choice of winners and losers to future art historians.

PHILIP MARTIN: If life's easy, you're doing it wrong

Dear Graduates, I do not pretend to wisdom, only to experience and an increasing awareness of the provisional nature of our existence. There is nothing I can tell you that is for certain except that you will live for a time and then you will die. You have only so long to enjoy this party, so you should not defer happiness too often or for too long.

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Hunter not beach read

I've never understood the concept of beach reading, where we're supposed to select unchallenging and pulpy material for the warmer months. I try very hard not to read books I don't enjoy no matter what the season, and don't see the point in engaging with heat-and-serve intellectual fast food. So I'm not going to describe Christopher Buckley's The Judge Hunter (Simon & Schuster, $26.95) as a perfect summer read or as a species of cognitive vacation just because it's wildly entertaining.

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Personal Space

Ruthann Magness

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The phrase "May you live a long life," sounds like a blessing, but might be uttered as a curse. It isn't exactly a welcoming sound when it's pronounced by stern men in black and women in wigs to the rabbi's estranged daughter (Rachel Weisz) who, in the wake of his death, has returned to the north London Orthodox enclave she fled many years.

PHILIP MARTIN: Welcome to the Boomtown

EL DORADO--I tend to be privately pessimistic about most civic projects designed to revitalize and renew our towns and cities. I always hope they work, but the smart play is always to short the aspirations of boosters and visionaries. For nature tends toward entropy, into perfect internal disorder. Whatever we stack up will eventually fall down. It takes a lot of energy to maintain our illusions.

PHILIP MARTIN: Do you close your eyes to see miracles?

EL DORADO -- You can learn almost anything.

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Exile in Guyville: 25 years old and still counting

"Liz Phair is Rickie Lee Jones (more talked about than heard, a persona completely unrooted in substance, and a ... chore to listen to)."

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The Organizer

At 2017's Tribeca Film Festival I made a point of seeing ACORN and the Firestorm, a documentary directed by Reuben Atlas and Sam Pollard about the rise and fall of the grassroots community "committed to social and economic justice."