The American Purpose team is enjoying a summer break and will return, beginning August 22, with an abundance of new articles, podcasts, and timely events. In the meantime, our staff share their plans and recommendations on how to spend the final days of summer:
Jeffrey Gedmin, CEO and editor-in-chief:
I’m always thinking of Maryland crab cakes, corn on the cob—and grilled hamburgers with fresh tomatoes and Vidalia onion (my gallows meal). I plan to re-read Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, listen to John Prine—and opera. I’m watching YouTube videos of great singers in rehearsal.
Richard Aldous, host of the "Bookstack" podcast:
One of the pleasures of lockdown has been the return of live concert-going. If your tastes run to classical, head to the 32nd Bard Music Festival, which this year focuses on Rachmaninoff and his world. The setting is the Frank Gehry-designed performing arts center, set against the backdrop of the Catskill Mountains: there can’t be many more beautiful concert halls in the United States. Less than an hour away from Bard, the Tanglewood Music Festival is already in full flow.
Each year the Boston Symphony Orchestra ends its residency with Beethoven’s Choral Symphony. This year’s performance, led by Michael Tilson Thomas, promises to be a particularly moving occasion after the conductor announced he’s been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. I attended his final concert as music director of the New World Symphony Orchestra in Miami last spring and can testify that his intensity on the podium remains undiminished. It’s a reminder to us all that the show goes on.
Rebecca Burgess, senior editor:
Summers growing up in the Pacific Northwest meant endless gardening–picking raspberries and blueberries, snapping beans, perpetually "weeding" the zucchini, eating peaches—and all the canning, jam-making, and pie-baking that ensued. A real treat is canoeing on the Thompson Chain of Lakes, Montana. If I can find someone else to do the rowing, I'll be re-reading, lakeside, Margaret Visser's delightful history of the "allure and obsessions, perils and taboos of an ordinary meal," Much Depends on Dinner.
Michelle High, senior editor:
The cherry blossoms may have come and gone, but you can still catch other Washington-area blossoms. Hurry so as not to miss abundant lotus flowers and water lilies in bloom at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C., and soak in fields of sunflowers at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area from July into August. The National Arboretum offers beauty to behold all season long—download its phone app for real-time info on what’s in bloom.
Sydnee Lipset, editor, Arts and Culture:
Time magazine has called San Francisco one of the “World’s 50 Greatest Places of 2022.” I haven’t been in three years and am going in August. Plus, it’s 61 degrees there today—perfect S.F. summer weather.
Carolyn Stewart, managing editor:
Washington's humidity has me dreaming of cool modern interiors, so I’ve planned a trip to Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. The iconic glass-walled house recently reopened to the public following a two-year hiatus, allowing visitors to explore the architect’s pristine creation and troubled legacy.
Tejas Srinivasan, research associate:
I’m always looking for books that stretch my imagination on the possibilities of prose; Paula Fox’s Desperate Characters does just this in an incredibly efficient and immersive manner. The dog days of summer also require some musical comfort food. I’m returning to Schumann’s luscious Cello Concerto in A minor—Carter Brey’s New York recording for a refreshing take, and Steven Isserlis’ German recording for some extra schmaltz.
Or catch up on American Purpose. Here are a few staff favorites that pair well with warm weather and relaxed afternoons:
- Arvin Bahl’s "Marx at the Movies"
- Peter Dougherty’s “In Praise of ‘Wonderfully Arrogant’ Textbooks”
- Joseph Horowitz’ “Arts Wars”
- Azar Nafisi's discussion of her new book, Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times
- Charles Lane's conversation with Kori Schake on efforts to diversify the scope of military veterans being honored through the naming of military bases
- Richard Aldous' conversation with Lee Siegel on why argument matters
- Francis Fukuyama's conversation with Yascha Mounk on diversity and democracy
Image: Joaquin Sorolla's "Beached Boats," 1915; Spain.
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