Who are you?

Matt Bai, and I’m a political writer for the New York Times magazine and author of the book, “The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics”. I was born and grew up in Trumbull, Connecticut, which is a little town just outside of Bridgeport. I think anybody who spent any time in Bridgeport . . . It’s not far from here. It makes me a Yankee fan. You know but I think anyone who has spent any time in Bridgeport or in any of the industrial cities of the Northeast would understand how, you know . . . where my worldview is formed. Because you know for me, I grew up around . . . in pockets of affluence huddled around these old, great industrial cities that were just rotting; and that were unsafe; and that were uninhabitable; and where . . . and where the economies and the social order had fallen into great sort of chaotic disrepair. And . . . and I was always told there were places you could go and there were places you couldn’t. So I could take the train to New York City, and I could see Yankee Stadium from the train. But you never got out in Harlem because Lord knows what would happen to you if you got out in Harlem. And I grew up wondering why you couldn’t go to those places and what had created those conditions. And as soon as I was . . . started to get into journalism that’s where I went. I went first to the South Bronx, then to the Boston Globe to cover the projects in Boston. And I was often . . . Somebody asked me recently . . . I won’t go on and on with all questions, but this one matters to me. Somebody asked me recently . . . I did an interview with a book site, and they said, “What writers influence you?” you know. And I had to think about it for a while, and I said, “It’s not political books.” I can’t think of many political books that have been influential to me. But novelists who have understood much better than non-fiction writers, than journalists have, the condition of sort of dying industrial America and what it means to us as a country. And so, you know, people like Richard Russo who writes about this over and over again; and Philip Roth who wrote “American Pastoral”; people who’ve, you know, who’ve captured this moment at the end of the industrial age that sort of defines where we are. So I grew up right at the heart of that moment.

Recorded on: 12/13/07

 

From small town Connecticut to the New York Times.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending.

Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Photo: Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less