Mark Judge

Mark Judge is a journalist and filmmaker whose writings have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Daily Caller.

On the Road

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Every year in early May, tens of thousands of people gather in Ocean City, Maryland, for Cruisin’ Ocean City, a weekend dedicated to vintage cars. For four days, Coastal Highway is jammed with classic Camaros, souped-up Corvettes, 1940s Fords, and thousands of other bold, gleaming cars. The cheering, drinking, peel-outs, and general revelry have gotten so ecstatic and voluble that there’s talk of moving the event to earlier in the year, when fewer partiers would be able to attend.

Looking through Automobile Design Graphics: A Visual History from the Golden Age to the Gas Crisis, a recent coffeetable volume published by Taschen, it becomes evident why Americans, and particularly American men, love vintage cars. On the one hand we have the nostalgia factor, a yearning for a time when U.S. manufacturing turned out quality goods at a good price, gas was cheap, and political correctness and environmental hysteria had not quashed the fun of going cruising in a sporty car.

In a larger sense, these cars resemble a kind of timeless artistry—bold archetypes that transcend a particular place and point to the power of beauty.

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Bruce Springsteen’s American Noir

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Between 1975 and 1978, one of the more unusual transformations in the history of rock and roll music took place. Bruce Springsteen, a successful and hugely popular singer and guitarist, changed the way his music sounded.

The reasons why reveal a fascinating focal point where leftist politics, depression, Catholicism, and American fiction collide. Springsteen, who recently released a biography called Born to Run, is a liberal elitist and social justice warrior who is worshiped by the Left as a savior. How he got to be that, and how American literature and his battle with depression influenced him, are much more fascinating than a simplistic political reading of the man born in Long Branch, New Jersey in 1949.

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Politico’s Lame Hair-Splitting about the Liberal Media

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H.L. Mencken, one of the great journalists of the 20th century, once said that “Half the sorrows of the world, I suppose, are caused by making false assumptions.”

Look no further than a recent article in Politico for proof that the Sage of Baltimore was right. Jack Shafer and Tucker Doherty, two reporters for the web site, have crunched a lot of numbers to come up with a thesis.

It goes like this: Media bias is caused not by how people think, or the fact that reporters get hired based on pre-existing ideology; it’s caused by the atmosphere in which reporters are enveloped. That is, reporters are liberal because of the ambient liberalism of the cities in which most of them live and work. Like soldiers stumbling under a mustard gas attack, writers go to New York or D.C. as freethinkers, only to turn into political hacks and cultural ideologues.

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Across the Fruited Plain, in Photos

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Forget about making America great again—in terms of sheer beauty, the country has always been amazing. And now there’s a book people can buy that is “armchair traveling at its best,” in the words of Reuel Golden.

Golden has edited National Geographic: The United States of America, a massive, gorgeously illustrated book that offers a state-by-state tour of the 50 states and the District of Columbia over the past 100 years. Collecting over 700 images from the archives of the D.C.-based National Geographic and accompanied by narrative captions and prefaces, the doorstopper chronicles American places over the last century from the jazz bars of New Orleans to the ski slopes of Colorado, the Hollywood Hills, the streets of Manhattan, a river baptism in Mississippi, and much more.

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“The Message Was Freedom”: Tomasz Stańko’s Anticommunist Polish Jazz

One of the most inspiring yet least known stories of resistance to communism during the Cold War is that of Poland’s Tomasz Stańko. Stańko, 74, is a jazz trumpeter whose beautiful, minimalistic and meditative style of playing is considered by many to be one of the great treasures of modern music. His new release, December Avenue, is a strong effort in what has been a remarkable series of albums over the last 15 years for the great German jazz label ECM. December Avenue is enjoyable on its own simply as a sublime record, but it takes on a dimension of historical…

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Meandering Malick

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What’s the difference between Terrence Malick and Zack Snyder?

Less than you might think.

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Camille Paglia’s Beat Goes On

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Reading the social critic Camille Paglia is like watching Keith Moon play the drums. Moon (1946-1978) was the manic drummer for the British rock band The Who. His playing was mercurial, brilliant, and unpredictable. Moon would play to the vocal instead of the beat, drift in and out of the proper time, do mind-boggling fills at odd moments, and yet through it all maintain a kind of swirling order in the chaos.

Like Moon, Paglia is manic, idiosyncratic, and sprawling. Yet at the core, her critique is chugging in a central direction. Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender and Feminism, Paglia’s new collection of essays, shows the pop culture polemicist recreating some of her greatest hits about sex, art, and feminism.

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Coopting James Baldwin

I Am Not Your Negro, a new documentary about the writer James Baldwin, is an example of sympathetic magic. More precisely, it’s an attempt at sympathetic magic. As explained by Sir James Frazier in his classic The Golden Bough, sympathetic magic is the effort to absorb the  attributes of something by contact. To gain the power of your enemy, you eat his heart. While the film’s subject is James Baldwin (1924-1987), it tries to give moral virtue to the modern Black Lives Matter movement by shoehorning footage of recent protests over police brutality with vintage footage of the New York novelist,…

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Telling the Story of the Holodomor

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In his great movies and Schindler’s List (1993) and Lincoln (2012), Steven Spielberg provided a good model for adapting tragic historic drama to celluloid. Instead of taking a sprawling subject like the Holocaust or the Civil War and trying to capture all of it, you narrowcast. Take one relatively small patch of time, such as Lincoln’s attempt to pass the Thirteenth Amendment, or a few years in the life of World War II hero Oskar Schindler, and focus on that. It sharpens the plot and suspense and intensifies the performance of the actors.

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Split and the Snowflake Generation

Film Review Split

Horror movies don’t get the respect of dramas, comedies, or even superhero movies, but in some ways they are the most daring kind of storytelling. Unlike romantic comedies or action movies, horror films are allowed to be unpredictable. Characters we’ve come to like bite the dust. Everybody knows that Spider-Man is not going to go down but in The Exorcist (1973), the leading character, a priest, does. In Drag Me to Hell (2009), a young woman who was heartless to a poor old woman gets sucked into the netherworld by demons. In Sinister (2012), one of my favorites, a writer played by Ethan Hawke realizes too late that his fascination with watching grisly movies he found in the attic of a new home is letting a sinister force into his house. That sort of thing won’t happen to Captain America.

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