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  • Trent Reznor Hangs Up His Nails

    Long known as one of rock's angriest men, the Nine Inch Nails frontman is engaged to be married and is planning to put his band on hiatus after a summer tour. He spoke with NEWSWEEK'S Seth Colter Walls about life after angst. ...
  • Iraq's City of Death

    Gaze over the road circling the Iraqi city of Najaf's compact center and it's clear that this spiritual capital of Shiite Islam is first and foremost a vast cemetery. Shiite forefather Imam Ali is said to have been buried here after his assassination in A.D. 661, and since then Shiites from Mesopotamia to Afghanistan have followed suit so Ali can vouch for their souls in heaven. Najaf's houses, shops and hotels rose on top of the graves—some still have crypts below or behind them—and the ayatollahs built their seminaries from the pilgrims' tithes. Last year about 40,000 people were laid to rest here, down from 50,000 in each of the two violent years before.In its disorienting enormity, the "Valley of Peace" conjures both robust collective permanence and humbling individual transience. Crumbling headstones, too close to walk between, wrap snugly around the city's plateau, forming an endless collection of tilted columns and pitted slabs spanning the desert—a mesmeric panorama of...
  • Rumsfeld the Warrior

    Donald Rumsfeld may be the most tarnished figure from the George W. Bush administration—his theories of warfare discredited, his swagger undercut, his managerial renown in tatters—so it's fair to ask if an 800-page biography is warranted. Bradley Graham, The Washington Post's former Pentagon reporter, gives the task a full-throttled go, with mixed results.Graham is most engaging in the early chapters of By His Own Rules, which reveal his subject as remarkably unevolved. Throughout his life—as a Princeton wrestler, Navy pilot, Illinois congressman, White House aide and corporate CEO, no less than as a two-time secretary of defense—Rumsfeld has been a self-promoter, intolerant of slights or dissent, and driven more by the love of a brawl than by any goal. Richard Nixon, who knew of what he spoke on such matters, once called him as a "ruthless bastard." That was a compliment.This is a man who refused to renew a commander's term in Iraq because he didn't sit next to Rumsfeld during a...
  • HBO's Penis Envy

    In "Impossible to Tell," former poet laureate Robert Pinsky refers to "the rude, full-scale joke, impossible to tell in writing." Hung, a new HBO dramedy, is that kind of rude, full-scale joke. It stars Thomas Jane as Ray Drecker, a high-school basketball coach with the luck of Job: his wife leaves him for a smug dermatologist. (Anne Heche plays said wife as such a brittle, overbearing person that it seems Ray caught a break, but in voice-over, he tells us this is a bad thing.) The lakefront home he grew up in burns down, and as he has no insurance, he ends up living in a tent on the lawn. Penniless and powerless, he colludes with Tanya (the invaluable Jane Adams), a woman he meets in a class on how to get rich by marketing yourself, to market the only thing he has left: his gigantic penis. Don't feel bad if you didn't anticipate this based on the title. It could have been about an art gallery. ...
  • Letters: Stephen Colbert, Guest Editor (Seriously)

    Too bad Stephen Colbert wasn't around for Vietnam. He might have made some sense of why we were there.Jack Dubose (Chief Master Sgt., USAF, Ret.), Conway, Ariz.The Colbert issue arrived on the one-year anniversary of my son's deployment to Iraq. Thank you for remembering. Others like me—parents, friends, relatives—have not forgotten. We worry, feel helpless, wait for phone calls or any kind of contact, but we do not forget.Cookie Nokes, Huntington Beach, Calif.I don't enjoy your guest editor's humor, nor do I watch his TV programs. It serves him well that he goes to Iraq, but I still don't find him funny.Gilda Taylor, Portland, Ore.I'm a 40-year-old woman headed to medical school, and to save money I decided to cancel my cable television. I knew the only part I'd miss is having Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to keep me sane each night. Thanks to NEWSWEEK for giving me my fix! It was a great issue—fun, interesting and for a great cause.Julie Coyle, South Bend, Ind.Thank you for...
  • Meacham: The Micawbers and Mrs. Roosevelt

    The numbers are, by and large, pretty good. In the Gallup poll, President Obama's job-approval rating in May averaged 65 percent, a figure that puts him in good company. Only three other presidents elected to their first terms—Eisenhower, Kennedy and Reagan—have scored higher, and Obama's average tops those of his most recent predecessors: the two Bushes and Clinton. But while 55 percent have a favorable view of his stewardship of the economy in general, there are two troubling figures that foreshadow political problems for the president and, more important, intractable problems for all of us: 48 percent disapprove of his handling of the federal budget deficit, and 51 percent are unhappy with his control of federal spending. (Or, as Republicans would say, his lack thereof.)Research by Bill McInturff and Peter Hart cited by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation puts the matter in even more telling perspective: 66 percent of registered voters say the deficit and debt pose a "very big...
  • A Filipino Director Dares Viewers Not to Look Away

    Brillante Mendoza's film Kinatay(Slaughtered) is so grim and gruesome that it didn't even divide audiences and critics when it screened at Cannes last month; it united them in hatred and disgust. Shot on film and video, the Philippine director's latest offering is about a young police cadet who finds himself participating in the grisly murder of a prostitute. Stark and unrelenting, it presents torture, rape and mutilation in a manner reminiscent of snuff movies. Viewers booed it and reviewers described it as "horrible"; the American critic Roger Ebert pronounced it the worst film ever to screen at the festival.The furor only grew after Mendoza won the festival's best-director award. Jury member Nuri Bilge Ceylan called it "one of the most powerful, original films in the competition." For all its nastiness, Kinatay is a fiercely moral condemnation of corruption, brutality and indifference. Filipinos felt deeply conflicted; on the one hand, the prize represented an honor for their...
  • Ray Romano's Favorite Shows Ever

    You remember Ray Romano as the whiny guy at the dysfunctional center of Everybody Loves Raymond. Your kids remember him as the equally whiny Manny in the Ice Age movies (the third one, Dawn of the Dinosaurs, comes out next month, so consider yourself warned). And Romano remembers?.?.?.?well, we asked him what he remembers most fondly from TV land: THE SHOW THAT MADE ME WANT TO BE A COMIC Johnny Carson's Tonight Show
  • 'Do The Right Thing' Turns 20

    Considering all the effort put into shrouding Barack Obama in swarthy otherness during the election, it's a wonder that one biographical factoid went without much scrutiny. On their first date, he took Michelle to see Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, the dystopian meditation on race relations that, a full 20 years after its release, remains the hottest firebomb in Lee's provocative filmography. Never mind Jeremiah Wright and Michelle's Princeton thesis; if anything would have given "hardworking white Americans" pause, it's the thought of their president and first lady courting at a film that features a black mob gleefully torching a white man's business. There's even a recitation of a Louis Farrakhan quote about how the black man will one day "rise and rule the earth as we did in our glorious past," but Obama wasn't asked to reject or denounce his choice of date movie. (Story continued below...)That the film never came up is more surprising considering that the two decades since Do...
  • Kevin Smith Plays Carnegie Hall

    Kevin Smith has been performing a sort of unplugged stand-up act since his movie Clerks came out in 1994. He started by traveling to college campuses to talk about the movie. That evolved into a verbal burlesque where he'd stand onstage answering anything and everything, even if it took eight hours. "The caliber of questions starts sucking at hour six," Smith says, "when people are going, boxers or briefs? Batman or Superman? It sounds kind of staid and dry, but it doesn't feel like a normal Q&A." At a Vancouver event recently, a guy got up with a bucket list of 100 things he had to do before he died, including getting naked in front of a large audience. "I was like, 'Get the f--k up here now'," Smith says. "The audience went crazy." The act has taken him as far as London's Piccadilly Circus and sold-out Canadian opera houses. And on June 17 he's playing Carnegie Hall. That's right, Carnegie Hall—and you're not the only one who's shocked. "I don't even know how it happened,"...
  • Jada Pinkett Smith Plays Nurse

    On a set in Inglewood, Calif., will Smith busts out of his trailer door and yells at the top of his lungs, "Woman, come rub my feet!" He's speaking, loudly and in jest, to his dynamo of a wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who proceeds to dismiss him by saying, "Don't pay that fool any attention—he has no sense." She should know. She is his boss. In a bit of role reversal, Smith is working on the set of his wife's new project, Hawthorne, a TNT drama about a nurse in your typically (make that stereotypically) chaotic urban hospital. Pinkett Smith, 37, is both the show's star and co–executive producer (along with Will). If the show succeeds, she will arguably become the most powerful black woman in prime-time TV. Before Hawthorne and HBO's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency debuted a few months ago (starring Jill Scott), it had been 35 years since an African-American woman was the lead in a TV drama (Teresa Graves in Get Christie Love!). (Story continued below...)None of this history is lost...
  • Julia Reed on Summer Cocktails

    The summers of my youth were spent largely at the house of our neighbors, who had six children (including three good-looking, much older and very funny boys) and a playroom with a pool table, card table, stereo and ancient refrigerator. Depending on the summer, I was invariably in love with one of the brothers or their friends, and it was in their company that I picked up the skills that have contributed to my good health and happiness ever since: how to kiss, play poker, hold my beer—and hum along to pretty much every song on a nonstop vinyl soundtrack that included, but was not limited to, the Allman Brothers, the Rolling Stones and the Sir Douglas Quintet.The most memorable summer was marked by the introduction of the Yucca Flats—not the nuke site, but a passion-inducing concoction mixed in metal trash cans with floating handfuls of squeezed citrus, and I've always wondered what else, exactly, was in there.The good (and scary) thing about the Internet is that you can locate not...
  • My Turn: A Nanny's Diary

    Taking care of another woman's child was supposed to be a temporary situation as I figured out my next career move. But have I found a calling?