The CEO of PEN America, she has good news and bad news. “We’re not seeing a lot of book burning, thankfully, but we are seeing a kind of forest fire of book banning rippling it way across the United States.” Actually, that’s simply bad news.
Affectionately called “Train Daddy,” he has run transit systems in London, Toronto, and New York, where few people in such jobs are affectionately called anything. He reflects with feeling on subways, seaports, and the almost moral duty to support your home team. “You can’t chop and change.”
This heroic Brandeis professor explains how sexual-harassment law derives from civil-rights law: “There was the sense that, OK, now we’ve tackled one area of equality, we’ve prevailed to some extent, let’s build on it.” One right leads to another. Or used to. In ancient days. (Sigh.) Plus, the difference between baggage and luggage.
Founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, a human-rights organization in Montgomery, he embodies the radical power of hope, of working for social change, even when there is no evidence that you will succeed: “Hope is kind of an orientation of the spirit; it’s how you position yourself in places where there’s a lot of despair.”
A Russia specialist at the Brookings Institution, she testified at the House impeachment hearings with erudition, integrity, and courage. She got her start as a child dominoes hustler at a miners’ pub in the north of England. “My granddad would have me play and bet on me, and every time I won I would get …
After serving as Secretary of Labor, he resumed teaching at UC Berkeley, gracefully relinquishing power, like Cincinnatus returning to the plow. Or not. “Actually,“ he says, “I have much more power as a professor than I did as a cabinet secretary.” Training a student cadre in the Oakland hills? Encouraging rigorous thought? One of those.
He leads New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection, managing the finest municipal water system in America, despite much of it flowing through century-old cast-iron pipes. He told the Municipal Archives, “The pipe under 42nd Street goes back to the time when John Wilkes Booth’s brother was acting as Hamlet on Broadway.” Yes, he dates infrastructure …
He wrote Ken Russell’s Women in Love, geeze, 50 years ago, then wrote plays (The Normal Heart) and novels (Faggots). Amidst the emerging AIDS epidemic, he helped found the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and Act Up. Accomplished, right? Not according to him. “I feel like I failed,” he says. A life examined.
As U.S. courts veer to the right, lesser souls (OK, me) grow discouraged, but the president of the International Women’s Health Coalition is undaunted: “There’s lots of things you can do. The women’s movement is very resourceful.” Smart, committed, and cheerful? I’m so confused. Music: Dan Kassel
She entered UCLA law school in 1952, one of only two women in her class, and went on to become a dean at USC’s law school, a federal appellate court judge, and a skeptic of our adversary system: “There had to be a better way to resolve conflict.” And she found it.
Despite a distinguished career in health policy, he calls hurling “one of the greatest loves of my life.” It is Ireland’s national sport, a game of speed, skill, and impressive injuries. Or maybe because of that career: “You’ve got to be in great shape to play this,” he tells the Irish Arts Center. Music: Those Sensible Shoes.
Still in his twenties when he prosecuted a war crimes case at the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague, he’s come to believe that social justice will not come through courts or politics. To change the world we must first change ourselves, if I can reduce a lifetime’s work to one glib phrase. A conversation …