Busted Halo
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Mia Nussbaum :
5 article(s)

Mia Nussbaum writes from New York City.
July 6th, 2003
Paul Elie Knits Together the Lives of Four Astounding Writers
Paul Elie’s first book, The Life You Save May Be Your Own, takes its title from a short story by Flannery O’Connor. In the story a tramp named Mr. Shiftlet marries and soon abandons a deaf and mute woman. Driving off, Shiftlet comes upon a hitchhiker and a highway sign that reads: “Drive carefully. The life you save may be your own.” For O’Connor the title is literal, then ironic, and ultimately mysterious, indicative of her gothic sensibility and self-proclaimed “working knowledge of the devil.” Lives of startling graceElie uses the title earnestly as he traces the pilgrim’s progress of four Catholic American writers of the last century: Flannery O’Connor,…
April 9th, 2003
The Dull Ache of Addiction in Owning Mahowny
It’s the early 1980’s. Philip Seymour Hoffman is Dan Mahowny, a Toronto bank manager whose body is as soft and slow as his mind is sharp and quick. Mahowny moves through a geography of parking garages and offices and airplanes in grey-clad mediocrity. It’s not that he seems too kind to commit extraordinary crimes; he seems too dull. But Mahowny, whose character is based on the actual story of Brian Molony, manages to embezzle $10 million Canadian dollars. He invents clients and accounts that do not exist; he skims off the top of those that do. So we watch Mahowny whisper demands to his bookie over bank phone lines, and we watch him sweat as he fills out a bogus business loan. Lies make you hide, and…
April 4th, 2003
Def Poetry Jam on Broadway
From ghetto to ghetto In his 1990 essay “Can Poetry Matter?” Dana Gioia mourned the relegation of poetry to an “intellectual ghetto” where poets only write for other poets and the people languish on a diet of politician’s soundbites and US Magazine. In the decade since, Gioia has changed his elegy to a toast. This happy renaissance is due, in part, to the Spoken Word scene that brought poetry back to the actual ghettos in the form of “slams,” freeing it from university faculty lounges and infusing it with the fresh beats of break dancing Hip-Hop heads along the way. Russell Simmons, the man who brought us Run DMC, Kurtis Blow , Martin Lawrence, Chris Tucker and others…
April 2nd, 2003
Satire of Our Overwrought Age Lamely Delivers
Anger Management is silly and funny and deserving of such small words. Director Peter Segal serves up a campy, if homophobic, reply to our therapeutic culture and the inordinate fear of a near-apocalypse that now fills our schools and airports and offices. Adam Sandler is Dave Buznik, a meek “executive assistant” for a pet products company, who has spent the last two decades trying to blend in; still recovering from being de-pantsed just when he was about to kiss his dream girl back when Dukes of Hazzard were all that. His life is deeply dull, save for the bright brown eyes of Linda (Marisa Tomei), his devoted girlfriend. While flying from his New York home to St. Louis, Dave is belittled in the usual fashion–his…
February 7th, 2003
An Ash Smudge and the Cross of Christ
We are a smooth-skinned people. Between walnut-shell exfoliants, multivitamins, microdermabrasion and “Botox parties,” well off Americans aim to erase death line by wrinkled line. We want to look like the ageless demigods of Oscar parties, our skin as seamless as an airbrushed photo in Self. It is jarring, then, to see people—polished and otherwise—branded with an unseemly cross of ashes; their baby skin made morbid. Last Ash Wednesday in New York I walked down Broadway after a noontime Mass, surprised to see the hot dog vendor and the svelte blonde in black gabardine and the punk salesman at Tower Records all smudged and branded like myself. As a public school girl I was embarrassed by this…
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