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International New York Times - 28 April 2018

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PAGE 8 |
Italy’s snub
of the E.U.?
Not so fast
is crossing
the next
Korea line
Beppe Severgnini
Contributing Writer
In meeting, leaders set
bold goals for final peace
and no nuclear arms
MILAN Eight weeks after Italy’s elec-
tion, it’s still possible that a government
will be formed by the Five Star Movement and the League, two parties that
have campaigned passionately against
Brussels and the European Union in the
past. In the last few days they have
quarreled, but it seems sure that one of
them, maybe both, will be the force
driving Italy’s next government, with
the question before it being whether to
continue on that anti-European path.
Speaking in the European Parliament
in February, the League’s leader, Matteo
Salvini, likened the European Union to
“the Titanic about to sink.” The views of
Five Star are less clear cut. Its leaders
have changed their
minds several
Recently, half
times about the
of the voters
euro, and at the
chose Euromoment, it seems
skeptic parties.
that they’d like to
But that doesn’t stay in the union.
But they might well
mean Italy will
change their minds
abandon the
again. After all,
Treaty of
Beppe Grillo, the
founder and ultimate authority,
once shouted, “Italy should leave the
euro as soon as possible!” Others are on
the record as saying that “the euro has
destroyed us” and that “it will eventually make southern Italy a wasteland.”
On March 4, Election Day, Five Star
attracted 32 percent of the vote. The
League got 17 percent, and a third, even
more Euroskeptic party — the rightwing Brothers of Italy — polled 4 percent. That means that more than half of
Italian voters turned against Europe.
Does it follow that the European
Union is now at risk? Well, not yet. Do
not expect Italy to drop the euro or leave
the union anytime soon. The price
would be way too high. Nevertheless,
it’s a fact: The continent’s most Europhile country has lost faith in Europe’s ability to solve Italy’s problems.
A Euroskeptic Italy is almost an
oxymoron. Italy is one of the six founding nations of the European Union,
The New York Times publishes opinion
from a wide range of perspectives in
hopes of promoting constructive debate
about consequential questions.
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, walked across the inter-Korean border to meet the South’s president, Moon Jae-in. No North Korean leader had made the journey before.
Keeping the men relaxed
Some Chinese start-ups
hire female ‘motivators’ to
ease programmers’ stress
China’s vibrant technology scene is
searching for people like Shen Yue.
Qualifications: Must be attractive, know
how to charm socially awkward programmers and give relaxing massages.
Ms. Shen is a “programmer motivator,” as they are known in China. Part
psychologist, part cheerleader, the
women are hired to chat up and calm
stressed-out coders. The jobs are proliferating in a society that largely adheres
to gender stereotypes and believes that
male programmers are “zhai,” or nerds
who have no social lives.
“They really need someone to talk to
them from time to time and to organize
activities for them to ease some of the
pressure,” said Ms. Shen, a 25-year-old
who has a degree in civil engineering
from a university in Beijing.
Chinese women have made great
strides in the workplace. The country
has the world’s largest number of selfmade female billionaires, while many
start-ups have women in senior roles.
But at a time when the United States and
other countries are directly confronting
the #MeToo movement, the inequalities
and biases in China are rarely discussed
openly and remain entrenched.
The country’s laws against gender
discrimination are not often enforced.
Many companies are direct in their job
ads. Males preferred. Only good-looking
women need apply. With programmer
motivators, it’s more explicit, putting
women in subservient positions to men.
While China’s tech scene has
Shen Yue massaging one of her colleagues at in Beijing, part of her job as
a “programmer motivator” to the company’s male employees.
Singer emerges from shadow of her alter ego
Janelle Monáe reveals
a more authentic self on
her first album in 5 years
Janelle Monáe at an Academy Awards party last month. Her new album, “Dirty Computer,” seems to signal a new willingness to present herself to the public.
Y(1J85IC*KKNPKP( +.!z!?!#!/
On a hot December afternoon, with the
sky hazy from wildfires raging just beyond the Los Angeles city limits, a handful of people gathered outside a Super 8
motel off Sunset Boulevard. Nearly all
were dressed head to toe in black: elegant crepe shirts, fitted leather pants,
wide-brimmed hats. They made their
way inside to the Girl at the White
Horse, a discreet bar nestled in the
space below the motel. Here, the air was
still hazy — the synthetic kind, from a
machine — and lights tinted the room
pink and red, colors of the heart. Low vibrational tones, not unlike those coaxed
out of Tibetan singing bowls, droned in
the background. Most of those who had
been invited worked for radio stations,
record labels or awards shows, and
while they waited, they ordered cocktails created for the event: “Pynk”
(rosé, gin, aperol and grapefruit) or
“Screwed” (pineapple-infused tequila,
lime, agave with a touch of pepper).
As the sounds faded, the guests
turned their attention to the eight women marching into the bar. Each wore aviators, leather jackets over black bodysuits and brightly colored tights. They
struck dramatic poses — an arm flung
over an eye, a hand on a cocked hip, a leg
held askew — and paused as the singer
Janelle Monáe strolled into the room
and took her place in the middle. She
was dressed in a studded motorcycle
jacket over a white crop top, black palazzo pants, suspenders, a derby wool hat
and mirrored sunglasses. A navellength ombré rattail snaked over her
shoulder. For a moment, she stood perfectly still, letting the room drink her in.
Monáe was presenting a preview of
“Dirty Computer,” her first solo studio
album in five years, and the anticipation
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As Kim Jong-un became the first North
Korean leader to set foot in South Korean-controlled territory, crossing for a
summit meeting with the South’s president, he faced a test of his willingness to
bargain away his nuclear weapons.
Mr. Kim’s crossing of the line at the
heart of the world’s most heavily armed
border zone, something that seemed unthinkable just a few months ago, was
broadcast live on Friday in South Korea,
where a riveted nation sought to discern
the intentions of the North’s 34-year-old
For South Korea’s president, Moon
Jae-in, who has placed himself at the
center of diplomacy to end the nuclear
standoff with the North, the meeting
presented a formidable task: finding a
middle ground between a cunning enemy to the North and an impulsive ally in
the United States.
By the end of the day, the leaders had
agreed to work to remove all nuclear
weapons from the Korean Peninsula
and, within the year, pursue talks with
the United States to declare an official
end to the Korean War that ravaged the
two nations from 1950 to 1953.
“South and North Korea confirmed
the common goal of realizing, through
complete denuclearization, a nuclearfree Korean Peninsula,” read a statement signed by Mr. Kim and Mr. Moon.
The meeting was convivial and at
times jocular but also marked by sweeping pledges, with Mr. Kim saying, “I
came here to put an end to the history of
The event, at the Peace House, a conference building on the South Korean
side of the border village of Panmunjom,
could set the tone for an even more critical meeting planned between Mr. Kim
and President Trump.
While Mr. Moon’s meeting with Mr.
Kim on Friday — their first face-to-face
talk — was rich with symbolism, Mr.
Kim was not expected to capitulate on
Mr. Trump’s key demand: total and immediate nuclear disarmament.
Mr. Moon’s other challenge, with Mr.
Trump, turns on how best to deal with
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SATURDAY-SUNDAY, APRIL 28-29, 2018 | 3
‘Brother, we need Greenpeace out here’
With ice roads melting,
Siberian truck drivers are
climate-change believers
At a truck stop at the northern terminus
of the Vilyui ice highway in northeastern
Siberia, drivers make small talk, not
about life on the road but rather the life
of the road.
It might last another week, suggested
one driver casually, tucking into a
steaming plate of meatballs.
“Not likely,” countered Maxim A. Andreyevsky, 31, the driver of a crude oil
tanker truck. “Didn’t you see the shimmer on the surface? It will be gone in a
day or two.”
Every spring, thousands of miles of
so-called winter highway in Russia,
mostly serving oil and mining towns in
Siberia and far northern European Russia, melt back into the swamps from
which they were conjured up the previous fall. And every year, it seems to the
men whose livelihoods depend upon it,
the road of ice melts earlier.
That insight has turned Tas-Yuryakh,
a tiny village of log cabins that depends
on the ice highway for business at its
truck stop and gas station — the last gas
for 508 miles — into a hotbed of true believers in the human contribution to climate change.
“Of course people are to blame,” Mr.
Andreyevsky said. “They pump so
much gas, they pump so much oil.
Brother, we need Greenpeace out here.”
With highways made of ice, including
the icy surfaces of deep lakes and rivers,
all it takes is one pleasantly warm
spring day for the highway to vanish.
Every year, officials say, at least one big
rig goes through the ice of a lake or big
“The danger is always with the daring
truck drivers,” said Aleksandr A. Kondratyev, the director of the regional department of roads in Mirny, a diamondmining town in northeastern Siberia
linked to the rest of Russia to the south
only by the ice road. Most of the time, he
said, they escape with their lives.
When the Vilyui ice highway first
opened in 1976, its builders celebrated
the occasion on Revolution Day, Nov. 7,
Mr. Kondratyev said. These days, the
road rarely opens before mid-December, he said, and it now typically closes
on April 1, about a month earlier than in
former years.
For truck drivers in this part of Siberia, the Plate, the truck stop that marks
the Vilyui highway’s northern end, is an
island of comfort in a sea of snow.
Drivers stepped in, kicked snow off
their boots and lined up at a counter to
order their last restaurant meal for
three days, the typical time it takes to
drive over the ice to the next gravel
road. Outside, a skinny, angry Siberian
husky tied to a tree barked fiercely at
anybody who came near.
Ice highways are integral to Russia’s
mining and oil economy in the Far
North, as they are in Canada and
Alaska, where ice roads are also freez-
Clockwise from top: Every spring, thousands of miles of winter highways in Siberia and in the far north of European Russia melt back into the swamps; Aleksandr G. Potashov in
the cab of his truck; changing a tire on an oil tanker. When a truck breaks the ice on a river, “you don’t hear anything,” Mr. Potashov said. “You just feel the truck collapsing in.”
ing later and melting earlier. The highways are surfaced with ice either
graded by a bulldozer from frozen
swamp or formed by spraying river water onto the intended site of the road and
allowing it to freeze.
The winter roads take shortcuts
across frozen lakes and rivers but
mostly traverse permafrost, the layer of
frozen, prehistoric swamp that when
melted resembles frozen spinach after a
spell in the microwave.
Permafrost is mostly composed of
mud and vegetation but includes the occasional frozen mammoth. It is typically
hundreds of yards deep, and in places in
Siberia penetrates nearly a mile into the
earth, rendering it impossible to dig
down to bedrock to build a road.
At the top is what is known as the active layer, or the upper five to 10 feet that
thaws and refreezes every year. In the
fall, this layer becomes construction
material for Russia’s ice road builders.
The first crews arrive in a “light column” of bulldozers traveling on the still
boggy ground to plow insulating snow
from the future road, exposing the soil to
cold air and hastening a deep freeze. A
bulldozer makes a final pass to smooth it
off and the road is done — until the first
warm spring day.
This road is in fact a 508-mile long ice
rink, hard and slippery under a coating
of blown snow, connecting the Yakutsk
and Irkutsk regions of Siberia. When the
road melts, the Plate truck stop shutters
for the summer.
Late in the season, Siberian trucking
companies raise fees for drivers to compensate for the danger and difficulty of
driving during the spring thaw. Ice
trucking is in any case handsomely compensated, by Russian standards.
In the dead of winter, drivers at the
Plate said, shipping companies pay
about $500 for a one-way run over the
Vilyui highway. After mid-April, the rate
goes above $700. But it’s hard work. The
wife of one truck driver on the Vilyui
highway wrote a book about his life with
the title, “Territory of Risk.”
When a truck breaks the ice on a river
crossing, “you don’t hear anything,” in
the cab over the thrum of the motor, said
Aleksandr G. Potashov, nursing a cup of
tea at the Plate before setting off. “You
just feel the truck collapsing in.”
On an ice road river crossing, drivers
say, seatbelts must be unfastened, to allow a quick escape in the event of a
Another hazard is meltwater pooling
on the icy road surface, rendering it too
slippery to ascend grades and reflecting
light in the shimmer that Mr. Andreyevsky said he had noticed on the road.
Out on an ice road, a warm spring day
is a curse.
Polishing off their meals, drivers recalled melts of years past. In 1996, an unexpectedly warm spring stranded dozens of truckers along hundreds of miles
of the Vilyui highway.
In these cases, the trucks and their
cargo stay put until the next winter.
Drivers fell trees and build platforms of
logs for the trucks, lest the vehicles sink
Ruslan A. Sizonov, a director of logistics at the Alrosa mining company, who
said the warming winters were shrinking the window for hauling in heavy
equipment and fuel, even as the cost of
the road remained the same. Russia’s
federal government contracts with the
mining company to build the road, at an
annual cost of about $3,050 per mile at
the current exchange rate.
The Arctic has been warming twice as
fast as the rest of Earth, scientists say.
Last month, the maximum extent of
Arctic Ocean ice cover was the second
lowest since satellite record-keeping began in the 1970s.
Russian energy companies are,
though, seeing an upside to the thaw.
Last year, a Russian-operated liquefied
natural gas tanker, the Christophe de
Margerie, made its maiden voyage carrying fuel to Asia over the thawing Arctic Ocean, which is opening as a new
shipping route to the east.
This year, Mr. Andreyevsky set off in
his Renault truck on March 29, two days
before the official closure of the road on
April 1. While a few warm days came
earlier last month, on that day the temperature was a safe -10 degrees Fahrenheit.
The plan was to make it to the graveled surface in the south before the melt.
If he makes it out with his crude oil
load, Mr. Andreyevsky joked, he would
only be adding to the road’s woes.
“Of course there is an effect,” on the
climate from burning oil, he said. “The
exhaust pipes are smoking.”
Tensions between Greece and Turkey focus on tiny islands
In the narrow Mediterranean strait between the easternmost islands of
Greece and the shoreline of western
Turkey, Kostas Raftis steered his fishing
dinghy along the invisible maritime border dividing the two countries. Usually,
this is a placid spot where Mr. Raftis
fishes for red mullet and snapper. Now it
is rising as a geopolitical flash point.
This month, a low-flying Turkish helicopter had passed provocatively close
to a military base on the nearby Greek
island of Ro, drawing warning shots
from soldiers. That incident was followed three days later by the death of a
Greek fighter pilot who crashed, his government said, after attempting to intercept a Turkish aircraft that had entered
the country’s airspace.
The number of incursions by Turkish
military ships and jets into Greek territory has spiked in recent months, according to Greek officials, stoking concerns of a new military conflict in a region where Turkey is already embroiled
in the war raging in Syria.
The biggest uncertainty involves Turkey’s strongman president, Recep
Tayyip Erdogan, and whether his ambitions are fueling renewed claims to
these Greek isles — particularly after he
embarked on Wednesday on an election
campaign in which he is expected to
play heavily on nationalistic sentiment.
“With the people of Turkey, we don’t
have problems,” said Mr. Raftis, 58. “The
problem is with Erdogan, with the Turkish government. They want to make
Turkey bigger.”
Indeed, though the border issue has
simmered for nearly a century, analysts
worry that the unpredictable nature of
Mr. Erdogan makes the situation more
volatile than ever between the coun-
Kastellorizo, a Greek island of about 300 permanent residents near the Turkish mainland, is at the center of a volatile border issue that has simmered for nearly a century.
tries, nominal NATO allies, who almost
fought a war over an uninhabited island
in nearby waters two decades ago.
In December, to the surprise of his
hosts, Mr. Erdogan used the occasion of
the first visit to Greece by a Turkish
president in 65 years to call for a redrawing of the border. That did not go down
In recent years, Mr. Erdogan has often stoked tensions overseas in order to
bolster his domestic standing, insulting
several European governments, deploying troops in Syria, and lashing out at
the United States.
“Erdogan is a little bit out of control —
he’s picking a lot of fights, and there is a
lot of uncertainty about how far he’s prepared to go,” said Nikos Tsafos, who researches the politics of the eastern Mediterranean at the Center for Strategic
and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.
“The odds of something going wrong
are increasing on a weekly basis,” he
The border issue has its roots in the
collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the
aftermath of World War I and in subsequent international treaties that gave
many islands that had once belonged to
the Ottoman Empire — including
Kastellorizo, the nearest permanently
inhabited island to Ro — to other European powers.
Today, Turkey — which was formed
from the rump of the Ottoman Empire —
sovereignty. But the government feels it
is unfair that Greece should have the
right to potentially exploit energy resources in parts of the Mediterranean
seabed that lie within sight of Turkey.
Other recent developments have
compounded the decades-old disagreement. Talks have broken down over the
status of the island of Cyprus, which is
divided between a Greek-backed and internationally recognized state in the
south, and a Turkish-backed breakaway
state in the north.
Greece declined to extradite eight
Turkish servicemen who had fled following a failed coup in 2016; and the
Turkish government has arrested two
Greek border guards, seemingly in response.
“The potential for a military conflict
between Greece and Turkey has never
seemed as close since the 1990s,” said
Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish
Research Program at the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy.
The Turkish government says Greece
is to blame for the spike in tensions.
“The Greeks always want attention,”
said a senior Turkish official who asked
not to be named in accordance with
Turkish protocol. “They’re like babies,
and it’s always been like that.”
But statistics released by Greece suggest a different narrative. According to
the Greek military, Turkish incursions
into Greek airspace rose to 3,317 in 2017
from 1,269 in 2014, while maritime incursions rose to 1,998 from 371 in the same
The Greek and Turkish prime ministers, Alexis Tsipras and Binali
Yildirim, appeared to calm tensions with
a phone call after the two incidents over
Ro this month.
On April 16, the situation worsened
again when Turkey said it had sent its
Coast Guard to remove several Greek
flags that had been planted on an islet in
a Greek island group within sight of the
Turkish coast.
Less than 24 hours later, Mr. Tsipras
had flown to Kastellorizo — nominally to
open a desalination plant, but in reality
to send a strong signal on Greek sovereignty.
“Greece can defend its sovereign
rights from one end of this country to the
other,” said Mr. Tsipras, as the cliffs of
Turkey loomed in the distance over his
right shoulder. “We won’t negotiate, we
won’t bargain, we won’t cede an inch of
Kastellorizo land.”
But Turkey did not seem to get the
message. After Mr. Tsipras started his
journey home, his helicopter pilot was
radioed by Turkish air traffic controllers, who accused the pilot of flying into
Turkish airspace, a Greek military official said.
After Mr. Erdogan raised the issue of
redrawing the border during his December visit, the Greek defense minister,
Panos Kammenos, accused the Turkish
“The potential for a military
conflict between Greece and
Turkey has never seemed as
close since the 1990s.”
leadership of stupidity, described its military as enfeebled, and reminded Turkey of a humiliating Ottoman defeat in
the 19th century.
In response, Mr. Yildirim taunted
Greece over its retreat from Asia Minor
in 1922, while the leader of the Turkish
opposition, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, attempted to go one better by suggesting
that Turkey invade no less than 18 Greek
Were such an unlikely scenario to occur, Kastellorizo and Ro would most
likely be on Mr. Kilicdaroglu’s list.
Ro is a hallowed place for many Greek
patriots: In 1927, a woman from an old
Kastellorizo family, Despina Achladioti,
moved there and kept a Greek flag flying until her death in 1982 — enshrining
her in national folklore as “the Lady of
For all the rhetoric, many of Kastellorizo’s 300 permanent residents, as
well their Turkish neighbors across the
water, feel the tensions have been exaggerated by the news media — and by attention-seeking politicians.
“We’ve had news like this for years,
but we’ve never had an actual problem,”
said Dimitris Achladiotis, the island’s
deputy mayor, who is a great-nephew of
the Lady of Ro. “Until we see a Turkish
military boat in the port of Kastellorizo,
we will not be scared.”
Further round the island’s horseshoe
harbor, a bar owner told the story of how
he met his Turkish wife in Kas, the Turkish town that lies a short ride across the
sea. Many Kastellorizo residents buy
their weekly shopping from Kas’s market on Fridays, while a ferry service
brings more than 20,000 people in the
other direction every year.
“We all coexist and are similar in lots
of respects,” said Kikkos Magiafis, the
bar owner with a Turkish wife.
This was a sentiment echoed in Kas,
even among Turkish nationalists. The
islanders on Kastellorizo “are normal
people like us, civilians living their lives
like us,” said Ismail Sah Yilmaz, the head
of the local branch of the Iyi Party, a
Turkish nationalist group.
But strolling along the quay at Kastellorizo this month, patting a few toddlers
and listening to their parents’ gripes
about island life, Mr. Tsipras appeared to
have other ideas.
“You are the guardians of Thermopylae,” he told several islanders — though
presumably he did not mean it literally.
According to myth, it was at the Battle
of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. that a few
hundred Greeks held off tens of thousands of soldiers from the East — before
being betrayed and slaughtered.
Iliana Magra contributed reporting from
Kastellorizo, and Niki Kitsantonis from
SATURDAY-SUNDAY, APRIL 28-29, 2018 | 5
A revolutionary hero becomes a target
“Leadership is necessary, and Daniel’s leadership is necessary,” said Alejandro Martínez Cuenca, a Sandinista
economist. “It would be an error to disregard his presence, when we know this
is a country that can easily fall into anarchy.”
He credited Mr. Ortega with “building
a new model” for Nicaragua that included economic growth and a reduction in
poverty. Nicaragua is safer than most
Central American countries, and its residents have not fled to the United States
border seeking better lives like their
neighbors in El Salvador, Guatemala
and Honduras have.
But even Mr. Ortega’s remaining supporters acknowledge that he erred
badly in giving so much power to his
wife, Rosario Murillo, who is also his
vice president. Few decisions seem to be
made without her approval, making it
clear that she is calling the shots.
The couple made institutional
changes that allowed them to control the
Supreme Court and the National Assembly and were accused of rampant elec-
toral fraud that gave them power over
the nation’s city halls, too.
“He made some very serious errors,”
said Jaime Wheelock, one of the original
nine Sandinista commanders. “One
good thing about Daniel is that if he’s not
right, he’ll back down.”
Mr. Wheelock cited Mr. Ortega’s willingness to dole out land titles and social
welfare benefits. But critics say that
while the president used money and oil
from Venezuela to win over the poor, he
also bought up television stations and
took others off the air.
He gave plum jobs to union officials,
effectively silencing voices of dissent.
Middle-class groups and opposition parties often held protests, but they were
beaten back by pro-government mobs
and largely stifled.
So it was all the more remarkable this
month when Mr. Ortega’s unpopular
changes to social security became the
detonator for such an enormous movement. Protests exploded.
Mr. Ortega’s changes to the broken social security system required workers to
pay more and retirees to receive less.
University students, who were already
angry over a forest fire at a natural reserve that the government failed to extinguish, rallied against the changes.
Then they were met by pro-government
mobs that attacked them.
Students died at the hands of the police, human rights groups say, inciting
even more protests. Then Mr. Ortega
and Ms. Murillo dismissed the protesters as groups of right-wing gangs.
“That just made us even more indignant,” said Enma Gutiérrez, a youth organizer.
More and more people joined the protests. And while the opposition movement is huge, it does not have any clear,
national leaders, making it even more
difficult for Mr. Ortega to tamp down.
On April 22, when Mr. Ortega rescinded the social security measures, he
failed to mention the students who died
in the protests, focusing instead on how
the demonstrations had been infiltrated
by gangs that looted stores.
The speeches by Mr. Ortega and Ms.
Murillo “are adding gasoline to the fire,”
Mr. Carrión said. “If these people, this
couple, were firefighters, they would be
lighting the place on fire.”
Nicaraguans are furious that Mr. Ortega has not vowed to investigate the
student deaths, although he released
jailed students in the past week and put
a cable news station back on air. He was
meeting some central demands, but students insisted that it was not enough.
At the Polytechnic University in the
capital, students had refused to leave
and instead gathered in small groups
last weekend making homemade fire
bombs. The residents of the Monimbó
neighborhood of the city of Masaya also
dug in their heels.
“They say this town was the cradle of
Daniel Ortega and where he took his
first steps,” said Mayra Pabón, a longtime supporter of the president who protested in Monimbó. “Well, he died here
too in the moment that he ordered the
killings of so many young people with
such bright futures ahead of them.”
“He cannot step foot in Masaya ever
publicly discuss their cases so as not to
inadvertently contradict themselves
when they spoke with the American border authorities.
More than 300 people were expected
in Tijuana. Another 300 or so were in the
northern city of Hermosillo, organizers
said, and many of them planned to seek
protection in Mexico.
In Tijuana, the migrants have
squeezed into two shelters in a scrappy
neighborhood wedged between the
city’s red-light district and the United
States border.
With only a few possessions stuffed in
battered knapsacks and plastic bags,
they have bedded down on blankets on
the tile floors of one shelter, and in tents
pitched on a cement floor of another. The
nights have been cold, and a flulike illness has circulated for weeks. The state
health authorities in Sonora diagnosed
four people with tuberculosis, according
to officials here in Baja California.
The location of the Tijuana shelters
has made the migrants’ yearning even
more intense. From the sidewalk in
front of one shelter, the migrants can see
the steel border fence and the United
States beyond.
Organizers say they never expected
this many caravan participants to make
it so far together. They had predicted
that the vast majority would drop out
along the way, and even announced at
one point that the caravan would officially dissolve in Mexico City. But Mr.
Trump’s efforts to break it up may actually have created the opposite outcome.
Organizers expect that many, if not
most, of the remaining caravan participants would apply for asylum. And over
the next two days, organizers plan to
hold know-your-rights workshops and
schedule one-on-one conferences between migrants and volunteer lawyers
and paralegals from the United States.
Gaining asylum in the United States
has never been easy. Applicants must
prove they have been persecuted or fear
persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political belief or membership in a particular group.
By law, people who request protection
at a United States entry point must first
be referred for a screening, known as a
credible-fear interview, with an asylum
If the officer finds that an applicant
has a chance of proving fear of persecution back home, the person can apply for
asylum before a judge.
In recent years, judges have approved fewer than half of all asylum requests. Among Central American petitioners, the approval rate is substantially lower.
This month, the Trump administration announced a new push for legislation that would make it more difficult to
obtain refuge. Mr. Trump has said that
overly permissive laws have drawn a
flood of migrants to the nation’s borders.
The president’s aggressive approach
to the caravan appears to have worn
down the resolve of some members.
Several people in Tijuana, even after
having traveled so far, wondered aloud
about the wisdom of applying for asylum, considering the possibility that
they could be detained and separated
from their children for a prolonged period while their cases were pending.
Fathers were considering letting their
families go on without them in the belief
that the American authorities might
look more kindly on women and children than on men.
“I’m so scared,” said Daisy Guardado,
40, who fled Honduras with her three
daughters after a gang attacked one and
killed her brother. Her three sons remain in Honduras, in hiding.
Lawyers have told her she has a solid
case for protection in the United States,
yet Mr. Trump’s statements have rattled
her. “I don’t know what to do,” she said.
Still, most planned to press on with
their asylum cases.
Ignacio Villatoro, José Villatoro’s father, said he thought his family had a
persuasive case. Facing a gang’s extortion threats, the family had closed their
bakery in Coatepeque, Guatemala, and
“If Trump allows his heart to open,”
Mr. Villatoro said, “my wife and kids will
have a chance to cross.”
Nicaragua’s president faces
surging dissent in country’s
biggest uprising in decades
The revolutionary, many Nicaraguans
say, is suddenly facing a revolution of his
The insurrection that led to the rise of
President Daniel Ortega and his Cold
War struggles with the United States began here in Masaya 40 years ago. Mr. Ortega’s brother died fighting in this town,
and an old national guard post still
stands as a landmark to the uprising
that brought their leftist guerrilla movement to power.
But in recent days, the guard post has
been turned into a charred, vandalized
mess. Protesters have even taken a famous war slogan and spray-painted it
on the walls in a mocking warning to Mr.
“Let your momma surrender,” it says.
Nicaragua is undergoing its biggest
uprising since the civil war ended in
Faced with a presidential couple that
controls virtually every branch of government and the news media, young
people across the nation are carrying
out their own version of an Arab Spring.
Armed with cellphones and social media
skills, their challenge to the government
has astonished residents who lived
through Mr. Ortega’s revolution in the
1970s, the civil war in the ’80s and the 30
years since then.
Demonstrators — many of them
members of Mr. Ortega’s own party —
have burned vehicles and barricaded intersections. Thousands have swarmed
streets around the country, condemning
government censorship and the killing
of protesters. After fighting two wars,
winning multiple elections and exerting
very tight control over the country for
years, Mr. Ortega has lost his grip on the
masses and suddenly seems to be on the
“I have only ever voted for Daniel Ortega,” said Reynaldo Gaitán, 32, a baker
who took to the streets in this town’s historic Monimbó neighborhood to denounce his former hero. “Daniel is over.
His term ends here.”
In surprising fashion, Mr. Ortega —
whose sway over judges and lawmakers
has enabled him to stay in power by reinterpreting the Constitution and scrapping term limits — gave in to demand after demand from the protesters in the
past week. Still, students who had taken
over a local university were refusing to
back down.
“Nicaragua changed,” said José Adán
Aguerri, president of Cosep, the country’s influential business organization,
which is pushing for dialogue with the
government. “The Nicaragua of a week
ago no longer exists.”
The protests started with a relatively
narrow issue — changes to the social security system — but they quickly rose to
a national boil when students began to
die. Human rights organizations say
Clockwise from top left: Violent street protests in Managua, the Nicaraguan capital; President Daniel Ortega, and Rosario Murillo, the first lady and vice president, in 2016; a
barricade placed by protesting students at a university entrance; and a funeral in Jinotepe for a police officer who died after being wounded during protests.
that dozens have been killed, including
at the hands of the police. A journalist
and two police officers are also among
the dead.
The sweeping protests have started
to have international ripples as well.
Just weeks after Travel and Leisure
magazine called Nicaragua’s Corn Island “an underrated Caribbean paradise,” the State Department pulled the
families of its embassy personnel from
the country, and cruise ships were
changing course to avoid docking here.
“They’re destroying the image of
Nicaragua, with all that it cost us to construct that image,” Mr. Ortega said in a
televised speech. “The image of
Nicaragua was an image of war. War.
Death. How much tourism and investment and jobs will this cost us?”
The Roman Catholic Church has
agreed to serve as a mediator and a witness to talks, but the students who took
over the Polytechnic University in the
capital, Managua, had said they would
not negotiate while the president was
still in office. They decided to join the
discussions, providing certain conditions were met.
“We don’t want Daniel,” said Lester
Hamilton, 35, who was struck by rubber
bullets in protests this month and remained encamped at the university.
He was referring to Mr. Ortega, the
former guerrilla fighter who was a main
figure in the revolution against the
right-wing dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza.
The Sandinista guerrillas declared
victory in 1979. Mr. Ortega then ruled
Nicaragua throughout the 1980s, but
war continued to rage, as counterrevolutionary forces tried to topple him. His
adversaries, known as the Contras, received secret, illicit financing by the
Reagan administration, leading to one of
the biggest American scandals of the
Mr. Ortega agreed to elections in 1990
and lost. But even after giving up the
presidency, he never gave up power. The
Sandinistas still controlled student
groups and unions and exercised important influence over the police, army and
Even Daniel Ortega’s remaining
supporters acknowledge that
he erred badly in giving so
much power to his wife, who
is also vice president.
judiciary. If presidents enacted policies
that Mr. Ortega disagreed with, he
would unleash students or unions to protest.
“He always had veto power,” said
Gonzalo Carrión, president of the
Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights.
“If he didn’t rule from above, he ruled
from the bottom.”
A pact with an opposing party
brought electoral law changes that allowed Mr. Ortega to take office again in
2007, after three consecutive losses at
the ballot box.
Once president for a second time, he
made important alliances with his former enemies, letting big business flourish while he tightened his grip on power.
Migrants from caravan face a big obstacle: Trump
The uncomfortable and dangerous rides
atop freight trains are now in the past.
So are the cold nights sleeping in parks,
the hot days walking in the unforgiving
sun and the unpredictability of the next
meal or bath.
Yet for hundreds of migrants who arrived in the border city of Tijuana in the
past week after a month of traveling en
masse across Mexico, perhaps the hardest part is to come. The hope of sanctuary in the United States sustained them
throughout the trip, and for many one
person now stood in the way: the president of the United States.
“He doesn’t want anyone to enter,”
said José Ignacio Villatoro, 20, who said
he had fled gang violence in Guatemala
with his parents and three siblings. Mr.
Villatoro was standing within sight of
the border fence, weighing what he had
been through and the effort that was still
“I’m thinking about how to enter, because it’s not at all easy,” he said, looking
at his shoes. “I really don’t know what’s
going to happen.”
This has now become the defining
challenge of the migrant caravan.
The group was planning to walk en
masse on Sunday to the border crossing
leading to southern San Diego, with
those planning to petition for asylum
presenting themselves to American border officials and making their case for
The caravan’s push north began on
March 25 in Tapachula, a city on Mexico’s border with Guatemala. These
group migrations have become something of an annual event in Mexico, intended to provide security in numbers
for participants and draw attention to
the migrants’ plight.
The participants, the vast majority
fleeing poverty and violence in Central
America, numbered upward of 1,200 in
the initial stages of the journey, perhaps
the largest such caravan yet.
Central American migrants in Tijuana. Some of the hundreds who arrived plan to petition for United States asylum.
Still, the group might have passed
mostly unnoticed, like those in the past,
had President Trump not caught wind of
Mr. Trump posted tweet after tweet on
the subject, portraying the caravan as a
danger to the United States and evidence of lax immigration enforcement
in Mexico. He used it as grounds to deploy National Guard troops to the southwest border.
In recent days, as the caravan neared
the northern border of Mexico, the
Trump administration ordered additional judges, prosecutors and asylum
officers to staff precincts on the United
States’ southwest border ahead of its arrival.
Mr. Trump mobilized his cabinet as
well, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling the caravan “a deliberate
attempt to undermine our laws and
overwhelm our system,” and Homeland
Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen issuing two statements, the latest on
Wednesday, threatening prosecution for
anyone who illegally entered the United
States or made “a false immigration
Mr. Trump’s comments have filtered
down to the caravan by way of relatives’
phone messages and word-of-mouth,
and via reporters from time to time.
“The person in power decides things,”
said Plutarco Libni Vásquez, 29, who
traveled from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, with his partner, Orfa Marín, and
her three children. “We are just simple
workers who want to get ahead.”
The family members said they were
fleeing violence in their homeland, their
lives having been touched by extortion
and a gang’s threats of rape and murder,
among other traumas.
But they guarded the details of their
plight. Lawyers who met with members
of the group in the city of Puebla earlier
in their migration counseled them not to
6 | SATURDAY-SUNDAY, APRIL 28-29, 2018
The forever campaign
No candidate has delighted
as visibly as Trump did in
his run for the presidency
It was in the last half-hour of Donald
Trump’s speech in Moon Township, Pa.,
that a sense of what exactly it was that I
was watching — what I and everyone
else had been watching throughout
Trump’s presidency to that point — finally clicked into place with startling
clarity. This was in early March, in an
unexpectedly pristine hangar by the
Pittsburgh airport, its white floor buffed
to a shine in which I could make out my
reflection. Trump was talking about
Peggy Noonan, the conservative Wall
Street Journal columnist. Noonan had
apparently written something, or (more
likely) said something on cable news,
where she appears often as a pearlnecklaced avatar of political normalcy,
about Trump’s appearing inadequately
“I’m very presidential!” Trump told
us, with mock indignation. Then he stiffened in his suit and adopted a stentorian
tone, like a fourth grader doing an impression of his school principal.
“Laaaadies and gentlemen,” he intoned,
“thank you for being here tonight. Rick
Saccone” — the Republican candidate
for Congress who would lose a special
election in Pennsylvania three days later — “will be a great, great congressman. He will help me very much. He’s a
fine man, and Yong is a wonderful wife. I
just want to tell you on behalf of the
United States of America that we appreciate your service. And to all of the military out there, we respect you very
much. Thank you. Thank you.” He broke
character for a second: “And then you
go, ‘God bless you, and God bless the
United States of America, thank you
very much.’” He turned and faced the
V.I.P. guests in the riser behind him and
did a sort of rigid penguin walk.
The crowd whooped and laughed —
not the cruel laughter you come to know
at Trump rallies but real belly laughter,
for what was a genuinely funny bit.
Trump, who loves nothing more than being loved, kept penguin-walking, and everyone kept laughing. It took a few more
seconds for the spectacular strangeness
of the moment to settle in: We were
watching a sitting American president
imitating an American president.
The president in Trump’s impression
was an authority figure experienced at
Olympian, inhuman remove. All of us in
the hangar, Trump included, were accustomed to the presence of this person:
to admiring or lampooning him, loving
or hating him, but always having him
Except now, he wasn’t. Watching
Trump step into the archetype momentarily and then just as quickly step out, it
hit me: Even in Trump’s mind, that president was someone else, somewhere
else. It was as if I were sitting on a commercial flight, at cruising altitude, when
the pilot suddenly plopped down in the
next seat, commiserated about the tarmac delays and poor in-flight service,
then popped an Ambien and went to
widely held theory that Donald Trump did not, and maybe still does
not, really want to be president.
Whether or not this is true, what can be
ventured with greater certainty is that
no candidate has ever delighted as visibly as Trump did in campaigning to be
president and that his having been
elected was the period at the end of a
sentence that he would happily have let
run on forever. For Trump, the campaign trail was a place of self-actualization. On the stage was where he seemed
most himself — so much so that not even
a full day after his election, the president-elect mused to his staff about another series of rallies.
By the time the first dates of the tour
were announced, on Nov. 29, 2016, it had
been christened a “thank-you tour”:
nine rallies in nine states throughout
December. After taking a few weeks in
January and February 2017 to be inaugurated and acquaint himself with the
business of running the country, Trump
held another rally. He has been holding
them regularly ever since, sometimes
as often as twice a month. They amount
to one of the few sustained, continuous
projects of his presidency and represent
a genuinely novel contribution to the
theater of American politics: a neverending tour with stakes perpetually unclear.
These rallies rarely produce news,
and what news they produce is usually
limited to something Trump says, which
President Trump, above, in Moon Township, Pa., in March. He has been president for more than a year, but still thrives on rallies and the outpouring of support from the crowds as he asks, “Do you like me?”
means you can just as easily cover it
from the comfort of your own couch,
thanks to the handful of live-broadcasting TV crews always packed onto a riser
in the back of the venue, serving double
duty as a hate totem for the events, the
most reliable targets for ritual humiliation from the stage. But there is something about these rallies that you can’t
see from your couch.
I have never interviewed Trump, but
people I know who have often remark on
an uncanny element of the experience:
the absence of any indication of an offlimits private self distinct from his public image. The phenomenon feels radically postmodern: a complete communion of the thing with its representation,
officiated by an audience of millions
over the course of nearly four decades.
The tens of thousands of people who
came to see him speak at campaign
events might have numbered well below
the millions who had watched him on
TV, but the sheer physical fact of them
seemed to entrance him. “Celebrity is a
mask that eats into the face,” John Updike once wrote — but with Trump, it
was hard to imagine the face ever having been there at all. To feel as if you
were witnessing something essential
and true about Barack Obama, you
would have had to see him alone in his
study late at night. To witness the same
of Trump, you have to stand among
thousands gathered to see him — and
see him seeing you seeing him.
pointing to a man in
the crowd. “I just saw him on television
— he said: ‘I love Trump! Let Trump do
what he has to do!’”
This was in Melbourne, Fla., in February 2017 — Trump’s first rally after taking office. He was in Mar-a-Lago mode,
open-collared and visibly at ease, more
so than he had been at any point since
Inauguration Day. “Come here — let him
up, I’m not worried about him,” he said
as the man made his way to the stage.
“Hop over the fence! He can do it — look,
this guy’s in great shape. This guy is
great — don’t worry about him.”
The man’s name, it would later be ascertained, was Gene Huber. He was a
car salesman from Boynton Beach, Fla.,
very tan, with a close-cropped corona of
graying hair, in good shape just as the
president said, wearing a commemorative T-shirt from Trump’s inauguration
featuring the same presidential seal as
the lectern behind which he now embraced Trump in a bear hug. “This guy!
He’s been all over television, saying the
best things,” Trump said. “Say a couple
“Mr. President, thank you, sir!” Hu“YOU!” TRUMP SAID,
monologue. He was a guy on a stage, improvising, trying to hold the crowd, trying to figure out what they liked and how
to give them more of it. The applause for
clean coal was tepid, so he moved on. He
talked about the health care economist
Jonathan Gruber, but no one seemed to
know who that was, so he reached into
the tangle of Fox News chyrons balled
up in the back of his head and came up
with something about all the people who
wanted to tear down George Washington statues, and the crowd roared its indignation at this movement that did not,
in any meaningful sense, exist. These
moments have political consequences,
but when you are watching them in person, the imperatives at play seem
mostly emotional; the needs on display
are raw and visible, and curiously small.
he asked us in the airplane hangar in Moon. He looked as if he
was feeling good — certainly better than
in Phoenix. The crowd liked him, and
cheered. “I like you, too,” he said. “I love
you! I love you! So — is there any more
fun than at a Trump rally? You know, a
lot of times, I have to do, like, readings —
we’ll pass an environmental bill, they’ll
want me to go to a — I’m very spoiled, if I
go to a small place, and they have 2,000
people, it’s like, why don’t we open a stadium or something? We’re spoiled.
Other guys, they go out, they get 50 people, they’re satisfied. We. Need. Crowds.
Like. This. In fact, the fire marshal was
fantastic. You know, they had a lot of
people out — and he’s a great guy, I don’t
want to get him in trouble, but he opened
up those doors, and he let most of the
people that were sent away, he got ’em —
look at those corners! Those cameras
are never going to cover those corners.
They’re never going to cover the corners. They’re never going to cover —
they never show the crowds. They never
like to show the crowds, ever! The only
thing is the noise. You can’t imitate — it
sounds like a Penn State football game.
It sounds like an Ohio State football
game! I’ll say to friends, ‘Did you see my
speech last night?’ ‘Yes.’ I have to say it:
‘How good was I? How good?’ And they
say, ‘Good.’ I say, ‘Did they show the
crowd?’ ‘No, they didn’t. But you know
what, I could tell by the noise, that crowd
was really big.’ You can’t hide that. You
can’t hide that.”
I was there, and I can report that yes,
the crowd was really big. You couldn’t
hide that.
ber said, slightly wild-eyed with adrenaline, looking not at Trump but at the
cameras. “We the people, our movement, is the reason why our president of
the United States is standing in front of
us today. When President Trump, during the election, promised all these
things he was going to do for us, I knew
he was going to do this for us.”
Huber yielded the microphone and
exited the stage. “A star is born, a star is
born,” Trump said. “I wouldn’t say that
Secret Service was thrilled with that,
but we know our people, right? We know
our people. A great guy — and so many
others, I see some others, they’re being
interviewed. The media will give them
no credit.” He shook his head at the
treatment of this man, who had been
rendered real to Trump by his appearance on television, whom the media
would diligently and regularly interview henceforth, when they recognized
him at the subsequent rallies that Huber
religiously attended after quitting his
car business post-Melbourne to dedicate himself full time to supporting the
president, a cardboard cutout of whom,
Huber told CNN, he kept at home and
saluted every day. Like Trump himself,
Huber was now famous for being famous, and in June reporters found him
camped out in line the night before
At one rally this year,
the crowd was watching
a sitting American president
imitating an American
Trump’s rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa,
wearing a T-shirt printed with a photograph of himself hugging Trump on the
stage in Melbourne, beneath the words
ON AUG. 12, white supremacists marched
and then rioted in Charlottesville, Va.,
one of them running over a woman with
his car and killing her. Asked about the
episode in a news conference at Trump
Tower, Trump insisted that “I think
there’s blame on both sides” and described some of the white supremacists
as “very fine people,” and amid the backlash that inevitably ensued, Donald J.
Trump for President Inc. awakened, as
it seems to do in times of trouble, to announce that on Aug. 22, there would be
another rally, this one in Phoenix.
Onstage in Phoenix, he recited from
all of his post-Charlottesville news releases; he had them printed out. “I said,
‘Racism is evil.’ Now they only choose,
you know, like a half a sentence here or
there, and then they just go on this long
rampage, or they put on these real
lightweights all around a table that nobody ever heard of, and they all say what
a bad guy I am.”
Watching a public eruption of self-pity
is an awkward experience, particularly
when it is the president of the United
States doing it. Even the crowd in
Phoenix seemed a little unsure what to
do with it. “Now, you know, I was a good
student,” he went on. “I always hear
about the elite. You know, the elite.
They’re elite? I went to better schools
than they did! I was a better student
than they were! I live in a bigger, more
beautiful apartment, and I live in the
White House too, which is really great. I
think — you know what? I think we’re
the elites. They’re not the elites.”
It is hard to get through a Trump rally
now without thinking of Rodrigo
Duterte of the Philippines, or Recep
Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey or the other
authoritarians for whom Trump has
openly expressed his admiration. And
yet, watching Trump in Phoenix, the instincts he was following seemed to be
much more those of an entertainer than
those of a demagogue. It had the feel of
being in the studio audience for an unusually angry late-night host’s opening
Adapted from an article that originally
appeared in The New York Times Magazine. Charles Homans is the politics editor for the magazine.
SATURDAY-SUNDAY, APRIL 28-29, 2018 | 7
When all proven drugs fail
Some doctors are turning
to immunotherapy in a
desperate bid to save lives
Dr. Oliver Sartor has a provocative
question for his patients who are running out of time.
Most are dying of prostate cancer.
They have tried every standard treatment, to no avail. New immunotherapy
drugs, which can work miracles against
a few types of cancer, are not known to
work for this kind.
Still, Dr. Sartor, assistant dean for oncology at Tulane University School of
Medicine in New Orleans, asks a diplomatic version of this: Do you want to try
an immunotherapy drug before you die?
The chance such a drug will help is
vanishingly small — but not zero. “Under rules of desperation oncology, you
engage in a different kind of oncology
than the rational guideline thought,” Dr.
Sartor said.
The promise of immunotherapy has
drawn cancer specialists into a conundrum.
When the drugs work, a cancer may
seem to melt away overnight. But little
is known about which patients might
benefit and from which drugs.
Some oncologists choose not to mention immunotherapy to dying patients,
arguing that scientists first must gather
rigorous evidence about the benefits
and pitfalls and that treating patients
experimentally outside a clinical trial is
perilous business.
But others, like Dr. Sartor, are offering
the drugs to some terminal patients as a
roll of the dice. If the patient is dying and
there’s a remote chance the drug will
help, then why not?
Cancer doctors are well aware of the
pitfalls of treating patients before all the
evidence is in.
Many still shudder at the fiasco that
unfolded in the 1980s and 1990s, when
doctors started giving women with
breast cancer extremely high doses of
chemotherapy and radiation on the theory that more must be better.
Then a clinical trial found that this
treatment was much worse than the
conventional one — the cancers remained just as deadly when treated with
high doses, and the regimen itself killed
or maimed women.
But immunotherapy is like no cancer
treatment ever seen. It can work no matter what kind of tumor a person has. All
that matters is that the immune system
be trained to see the tumor as a foreign
Tumors have mutations that stud
them with bizarre proteins. The white
blood cells of the immune system try to
attack but are repelled by a molecular
shield created by the tumors. The new
drugs allow white blood cells to pierce
that shield and destroy the tumors.
This month brought yet another example of the surprising power of this approach. Lung cancer patients who normally would receive only chemotherapy
lived longer when immunotherapy was
added, researchers reported in a clinical
But the drugs are exorbitantly expensive. One that Dr. Sartor often uses costs
$9,000 per dose if used once every three
weeks and $7,000 if used once every two
weeks. Often, he and other doctors persuade a patient’s insurer to pay. If that
fails, sometimes the maker will provide
the drug free of charge.
Immunotherapy drugs can have severe side effects that can even lead to
death. Once the immune system is activated, it may attack normal tissues as
well as tumors. The result can be holes
in the intestines, liver failure, nerve
damage that can cause paralysis, serious rashes and eye problems, and problems with the pituitary, adrenal or thyroid glands. Side effects can arise during
treatment or after the treatment is finished.
For most patients, though, there are
no side effects or only minor ones. That
makes giving an immunotherapy drug
to a dying patient different from trying a
harsh experimental chemotherapy or a
treatment like intense radiation.
The problem is deciding ahead of time
if an immunotherapy drug will help.
Doctors check biomarkers, chemical
Bill Cosby’s sickest joke
was his signature TV role
Dr. Oliver Sartor, a cancer specialist, reviewing patient notes with Dr. Brian Lewis and Mary Livaudais, a nurse.
Fran Villere’s husband, George, tried an immunotherapy drug after conventional treatment failed. It didn’t work and he died in 2016.
With the possibility of a dramatic
response, “how can you ethically
deny this to patients?”
signals like proteins that arise when the
immune system is trying to attack. But
they are not very reliable.
“A positive biomarker does not guarantee that a patient will benefit, and a
negative biomarker does not mean a patient will not benefit,” said Dr. Richard
Schilsky, senior vice president and chief
medical officer of the American Society
of Clinical Oncology.
It was this problem, described at a
medical conference a couple of years
ago, that led Dr. Sartor to begin offering
immunotherapy to dying patients.
“I was thinking, ‘My God, these tests
that are used to drive clinical decision
making are not worth a damn,’” he said.
“These are peoples’ lives here. We are
playing with the highest of stakes.”
“For certain people it is like, bingo,
you give the drug to them and they have
a long-lasting and positive benefit,” he
added. “When our knowledge is not sufficient to inform our decisions, then we
have an ethical conundrum.”
Out of curiosity, Dr. Sartor emailed
eight prominent prostate cancer specialists asking if they, too, offered immunotherapy drugs to patients on the offchance the treatments would help.
Five said they offer it, with a variety of
provisos, offering comments like, “If I
was a patient, I want my doc to do everything.”
Dr. Daniel George, at Duke University, said he does not offer immunotherapy to every man who is dying of
prostate cancer. But, he said, “for those
patients who want to do everything they
possibly can, that’s the group where we
try checkpoint inhibitors,” a type of immunotherapy.
To the others — the majority of his patients with metastatic prostate cancer
— he does not mention immunotherapy.
“We have to balance between hope
and reality,” he said. “The most difficult
conversation we have with patients is
when we have to tell them that more
treatment is actually hurting them more
than the cancer.”
Dr. Daniel Petrylak, a prostate cancer
specialist at Yale, said his inclination
was to offer immunotherapy only to
those rare patients whose tumors have a
genetic marker indicating the immune
system is trying to attack — already an
approved indication for prostate cancer,
he noted. But this strategy gives him a
rationale for trying the drugs on patients with other cancers.
With the possibility of a dramatic and
prolonged response, he said in an interview, “how can you ethically deny this to
At the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
in Boston, Dr. Christopher Sweeney said
he petitions an insurance company to
get an immunotherapy drug when the
patient has a genetic marker predicting
a possible response — an indicator the
drug might work even if there is as yet
no clinical trial evidence that it will —
and is strong enough to tolerate the
But if those conditions do not apply, as
is usually the case, Dr. Sweeney only
gives the drugs to patients if he can do so
as part of a clinical trial.
And if there is no clinical trial for the
patient? “I basically say I don’t have any
approved therapies,” Dr. Sweeney said.
“Here’s the truth — most patients don’t
benefit from these drugs.”
Dr. Sartor disagreed with the approach. “I would love for every patient
to be on a clinical trial,” he said. “But
does that mean I shouldn’t try because I
don’t have a trial?”
One of the first patients Dr. Sartor
treated with immunotherapy was
George Villere, a retired investment adviser who lived in New Orleans.
Mr. Villere had bladder cancer and
had tried chemotherapy. It didn’t work,
so Dr. Sartor told Mr. Villere that he had
run out of conventional options and
asked if he wanted to try immunotherapy. At the time, the drugs had not been
approved for bladder cancer.
Mr. Villere and his wife, Fran, thought
it over, asking themselves whether they
would regret it if they did not try. “I
thought we would,” Mrs. Villere recalled
in an interview.
Their insurance agreed to pay, and
Mr. Villere took the drug for several
months. Nonetheless, he died on Nov. 15,
2016, at age 72.
“He had no side effects,” Mrs. Villere
said. “But the drug didn’t do a damn
Then there is Clark Gordin, 67, who
lives in Ocean Springs, Miss. He had
metastatic prostate cancer, “a bad deck
of cards,” he said in an interview.
Dr. Sartor tried conventional treatments, but they didn’t work for Mr.
Gordin. Finally, the doctor suggested
There was a chance Mr. Gordin might
respond to immunotherapy, because he
had a rare mutation. So his insurer
agreed to pay.
Immediately after taking the drugs,
Mr. Gordin’s PSA level — an indicator of
the cancer’s presence — went down to
nearly zero.
“Makes my heart nearly stop every
time I think about it,” Dr. Sartor said.
“Life sometimes hangs on a thin
If a sexual predator wanted to come up
with a smoke screen for his ghastly
conquests, he couldn’t do better than
Cliff Huxtable, played by Bill Cosby in
“The Cosby Show,” which ran for eight
seasons on American television beginning in 1984.
Cliff was affable, patient, wise and,
where Mrs. Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad) was concerned, justly deferential. His wit was quick, his sweaters
roomy and kaleidoscopic. He could be
romantic. Cliff should have been the
envy of any father ever to appear on a
sitcom. He was vertiginously dadly.
Cliff is the reason for the cognitive
dissonance we’ve been experiencing
for the last three or four years. He
seemed inseparable from the man who
portrayed him.
Bill Cosby was good at his job. That
sums up why a Pennsylvania jury’s
verdict in the past week that he was
guilty of sexually assaulting a woman
is depressing — depressing not for its
shock but for the work the verdict now
requires me to do. The discarding and
condemning and reconsidering — of
the shows, the albums, the movies. But
I don’t need to watch them anymore.
It’s too late. I’ve seen them. I’ve absorbed them. I’ve lived them. I’m a
black man, so I am them.
If Judge Steven T. O’Neill sent Mr.
Cosby away for the rest of his life, that
sentence couldn’t undo what he’s convicted of having done to Andrea Constand, his accuser in two trials. It also
can’t undo what he once did for me,
which was to make me believe in myself. This is foundational, elemental,
cellular stuff. There is no surgical
procedure to rid me of it. Anyway, I
don’t want to lose that belief, just the
man who ennobled me to possess it in
the first place. Maybe we’re all compartmentalizing.
“America’s Dad” is what we called
Bill Cosby. And we called him that
because, well, what a revolutionary
way to put it. Through him, we were
thumbing our noses at the long, dreary
history for black men in America by
elevating this one to a paternal Olympus. In the 1980s he made the black
American family seem “just like us.”
(That’s how a recent episode of the
reborn, reactionary “Roseanne”
snidely described nonwhite families
currently on television.)
The Huxtables laughed and bonded
and debated and lip-synced. They were
glamorous and simple and extraordinarily human. And affluent. And educated. And so many different kinds of
black. You’d think that all of that would
make them the Howard University of
African-American family life. But white
people wanted to matriculate, too. So
they became its Harvard. For a decade, I filed an emotional application. I
had a biological family, and this TV
one, a dream family, the fiction against
which I measured my blood.
“Just like us” was the dream of the
show, right? “Best behavior” blackness. That’s one way to think about it,
the cynical, uncharitable, myopic way,
the way you’d think about it if you
wanted to psychologize Bill Cosby as
Cliff Huxtable.
I couldn’t have known how vertiginous the entire Huxtable project was. I
was, like, 10, 13, 15 years old when the
show was a thing. But eventually, I
could see that Cliff became a play for
respectability. This is how you comport
yourself among white people, young
black child. Take a little bit of Howard
with you on your way to Harvard. But
then, in 2004, at an NAACP ceremony
commemorating 50 years since the
Brown v. Board of Education decision,
he gave the notorious “Pound Cake”
speech, where prodding for a particular kind of self-betterment turned tsk-y.
He compared incarcerated black men
to jailed civil rights activists, the apples and oranges of the black criminaljustice crisis. He ruminated on names
that didn’t seem, to him, like Bill.
“We are not Africans,” he said.
“Those people are not Africans, they
don’t know a damned thing about
Africa. With names like Shaniqua,
Shaligua, Mohammed, and all that crap
and all of them are in jail.” Maybe this
was Cliff unplugged — and unhinged.
Mohammed? But it was a dare to flirt
with distance, to reconsider all those
applications I filed, to see Bill Cosby as
someone who, despite hours of comedy
like “Bill Cosby Is Not Himself These
Days” and “Bill Cosby: Himself,” might
not be willing or able to see who “himself” actually is. I called this a speech,
but he performed it like another standup special.
This is the heavy thing about this
verdict. The sorting of the ironies has
been left to us. Mr. Cosby made blackness palatable to a country historically
conditioned to think the worst of black
people. And to pull that off, he had to
find a morally impeccable presentation
of himself and his race. This is what
Sidney Poitier, his friend and movie
partner, was always up against: inhabiting the superhumanly unimpeachable. But Mr. Cosby might have managed to pull a fast one, using his power
and wealth to become the predator
that white America mythologized in a
campaign to terrorize, torture and kill
black people for centuries. Mr. Cosby
told lots of jokes. This was his sickest.
Mr. Cosby’s guilty verdict happened
to fall during a week in which Kanye
West brought a lot of people a lot more
grief, not with new music but with a
blizzard of tweets that included an
expressed affinity for President
Trump, right down to wearing a Make
America Great Again cap of his own.
Mr. West began his career as a kind of
black-sheep Huxtable. (His first album
was “The College Dropout.”) But he
eventually gathered a sense of politics
— racialized, pro-black politics. And
then he married into the Kardashian
family and things got as vivid and
incoherent as one of Cliff’s Van Den
Akker sweaters. This is how you get a
blistering indictment of racial closedmindedness like 2013’s “Black Skinhead” but also an embrace of people
who’ve been reluctant to shame white
This seems like a reasonable moment to wonder whether the Huxtable
mold is one that needs breaking — or
at least expansion. Mr. West presents a
new vexation that’s the opposite of Mr.
Cosby’s stringent black conservatism.
He can be offensive and self-aggrandizing. But that mind-set also feels like
a way to move beyond America’s Dad.
Disrespectability politics.
We’re in a moment of cleaving terrible people from their great work. It’s a
luxury conundrum, one that feels like a
mockery of tremendous human suffering. With Mr. Cosby, though, these are
questions worth seriously considering.
How do I, at least, cleave this man
from the man he seduced me into
Bill Cosby leaving court after being found guilty of sexual assault.
SATURDAY-SUNDAY, APRIL 28-29, 2018 | 17
The candidate
who wouldn’t talk
Chasing Hillary: Ten Years,
Two Presidential Campaigns,
and One Intact Glass Ceiling
By Amy Chozick. 382 pp. Harper/HarperCollins Publishers. $27.99.
For many female journalists, covering
the 2016 election meant facing a particular professional conundrum: Are you
a reporter first, or a woman first? How
do you stay neutral while covering a
unique moment in women’s history?
Which do you use: your head or your
In her funny and insightful memoir,
“Chasing Hillary,” the journalist Amy
Chozick grapples with this question
while also providing a much-needed
exploration of Hillary Clinton’s antagonistic relationship with the press.
Unlike “Shattered,” by Jonathan Allen
and Amie Parnes, which provided an
inside look at Clinton’s dysfunctional
campaign, or “What Happened,” which
was a reckoning from the candidate
herself, “Chasing Hillary” doesn’t
attempt to assess why Clinton lost the
election. Instead, it’s a first-person
account of Chozick’s failed 10-year
quest to see the “real” Hillary, a
quixotic mission that is as revealing in
defeat as it would have been in victory.
The Impressionist Claude Monet
never painted haystacks; he painted
the rain, sleet and sunshine between
his eyes and the haystacks. In “Chasing Hillary,” Chozick has written neither a raw personal memoir nor a
biography of Clinton, but rather an
account of all the elements that came
between Clinton and the journalists
condemned to cover her. Her impressions of Clinton are less about the
woman herself and more about the
brutally effective apparatus that
shielded her from public view.
People who know Clinton often
complain that the press, and therefore
the public, never gets to see how warm
and funny she is in person. “Chasing
Hillary” is the best explanation so far
of why that is. Chozick describes Clinton’s press shop (which she calls “The
Guys”) as an anonymous gang of
manipulative, unresponsive and
vaguely menacing apparatchiks who
alternate between denying her interview requests (47 in total, by her
count), bullying her in retaliation for
perceived negative coverage (“You’ve
got a target on your back,” one of them
tells her) and exploiting her insecurities about keeping up with her (often
male) colleagues. The campaign quar-
antined the press on a separate bus
and, later, a separate plane, often
without even an accompanying representative to answer basic questions. It
denied Chozick’s interview requests
even for positive stories, like a piece
about Clinton’s experience in the early
1970s going undercover to expose
school segregation in the South, and
refused to confirm the most minor
details, like whether Clinton ate a
chicken wing or not.
It seems clear from Chozick’s account that Clinton thought of her traveling press corps as more buzzard than
human (although she did write Chozick
a note when her grandmother died).
Bill Clinton also had troubles with the
press, but at least he would say hello at
events or tell a long-winded story.
Even Trump, who spent the campaign
railing against the “fake news” media,
seemed to intuit that a cordial relationship with reporters was essential to
managing his public image. Trump
once called Chozick out of the blue to
provide a comment for an article, and
they ended up chatting about “The
Apprentice.” So grateful to be actually
speaking to a candidate (in nearly 10
years, Clinton had never called her),
Chozick made the mistake of telling
him that Clinton hadn’t had a news
conference in months. Shortly afterward, the Trump campaign began
blasting that Clinton was “hiding” from
the press.
In fact, Chozick spoke with Clinton
so infrequently that their entire personal relationship can be summed up
in a half-dozen interactions that are
shockingly banal: the time Clinton said
“hi” to her in Iowa, one 14-minute
phone interview, the time Clinton
accidentally walked in on her in the
bathroom. The fact that Chozick interacted so rarely with Clinton over
nearly 10 years of covering her for The
Wall Street Journal and then The New
York Times is perhaps the most damning evidence of Clinton’s self-destructive relationship with the press. “How
could we communicate Hillary’s ‘funny,
wicked and wacky’ side to voters,” she
asks, “if we never saw it for ourselves?”
Chozick’s own funny, wicked and
wacky side is on full display, with
well-drawn sketches of individuals
from fresh-faced campaign interns to
the candidates themselves. With the
author’s lively voice and eye for detail,
“Chasing Hillary” is an enjoyable read,
like “The Devil Wears Prada” meets
“The Boys on the Bus.” Watching
Clinton during a town hall gathering
was like “catching up with an old girlfriend who cites G.D.P. statistics over
brunch”; going to meet Bernie Sanders
Hillary Clinton
giving a concession speech to her
campaign staff and
supporters on Nov.
9, 2016.
This is an
account of all
the elements
that came
Clinton and
What books do you think best capture your own political principles?
I have always been fascinated by this
quip famously attributed to Mark
Twain: “It ain’t what you don’t know
that gets you into trouble. It’s what
you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
Charlotte Alter is a national correspondent at Time currently working on
a book about young politicians.
Edited by Will Shortz
Poirot (who appears in over 30 of her
novels), but I confess my small collection is gathering dust as British
television created a wonderful series
with David Suchet. I find it particularly
hilarious that Christie described Poirot
as “insufferable” and a “detestable,
bombastic, tiresome, egocentric little
What books are on your nightstand?
Jeff Hobbs’s “The Short and Tragic
Life of Robert Peace.” I wept throughout. It is the true story of the life (and
untimely death) of an amazing young
black man as told by his white Yale
roommate and best friend. His struggle with straddling different cultures
— Newark’s drug-fueled and gangridden streets versus Yale’s establishment and world of legacies — resonated with my own travails of being
born and raised in Africa and living in
Europe and the United States. Tragically, he did not escape his demons.
This book impacted me in a deeply
profound way.
Their ambitions were aligned — had
Clinton won, Chozick would very likely
have been given the historic opportunity to cover the first woman president. But Chozick devotes only a few
lines to exploring the broader significance of Clinton’s loss beyond what it
means for her own career, despite the
global implications of the outcome.
She records the facts of her life as they
occurred during that period (including
personal details about her marriage
and her fertility) but rarely grapples
with the larger contradictions of being
an ambitious woman journalist covering an ambitious woman candidate.
And even as she documents a campaign that floundered because it had
too much head and not enough heart,
Chozick risks falling into the same
trap: In trying to outwork her male
colleagues and outwit The Guys, Chozick at times seems to lose track of the
emotional arc of Clinton’s rise and fall.
“Chasing Hillary” is a portrait of
two women with shared hopes and
weaknesses, both driven and blinded
by an ambition that could be possible
only in the 21st century, bound by
history but not by love. This book
won’t make you know Hillary any
better. But it will help you understand
why you don’t.
The economist and author, most recently, of “Edge of Chaos” loves Agatha
Christie’s “detestable, bombastic, tiresome, egocentric little creep,” Hercule
Tell us about the last great book you
phering her various pseudonyms for
Clinton staffers, history junkies will
find a valuable first-person account of
an extraordinary campaign, media
junkies will devour the backstage
antics of the traveling press corps.
(Chozick names names only when
she’s complimenting her colleagues;
when she complains, she uses pseudonyms.)
The problem, of course, is that not
everybody is a junkie. And while the
chattering class may be intrigued by,
for example, Clinton’s flirtation with
ABC’s David Muir, ordinary readers
may find themselves swimming in
references to journalists and staffers
who are far from household names.
To her credit, Chozick opens up
about her own attitudes toward Clinton
more than most political reporters
would. Despite the campaign’s skepticism of her, it’s clear that she admired
Clinton. She is acutely aware of the
sexist double standards Clinton faced
(though readers may rightly wonder
why this appeared so rarely in her
coverage). She’s inspired by the historic nature of the campaign, and hurt
by Clinton’s iciness toward her. Chozick
recalls that the first time she saw
Clinton at a town hall, when she was
covering her for The Journal in 2007,
she stood up and clapped (a huge faux
pas among journalists). For her, Clinton’s loss is both a personal and a
professional blow.
the sunday crossword
By the Book
Dambisa Moyo
A mishmash of books that reflect my
interests — Hal Higdon’s “Marathon”;
Chris Bower’s “Federer”; William N.
Thorndike’s “The Outsiders: Eight
Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success”;
Graham Allison’s “Destined for War:
Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?”; “The Beekeeper’s
Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes and Other
Home Uses,” by Richard Jones and
Sharon Sweeney-Lynch; Robert J.
Gordon’s “The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of
Living Since the Civil War”; “The
Government Inspector,” by Nikolai
Gogol; and, hot off the presses, Iris
Apfel’s “Accidental Icon: Musings of a
Geriatric Starlet.”
Oh, and a King James Bible just in
case my mother comes by for a visit.
felt like “when my mom made me visit
her emphysemic Aunt Shirley.” Her
recollections of her adolescence in
Texas and early jobs in journalism are
just as spirited: After she told her
fourth-grade class that she supported
a Democratic candidate, “I might as
well have pulled on a skullcap and
recited my haftorah.”
Chozick admits that she should have
done a few things differently. There
are stories she wishes she hadn’t
written, questions she wishes she
hadn’t asked. While she rejects the
Clinton campaign’s insistence that the
private email server was a nonstory,
she regrets that Emailgate became a
dominant narrative of the campaign.
And in a chapter about The Times’s
coverage of the hacked John Podesta
emails, Chozick writes that she landed
on “the wrong side of history” because
of her own journalistic ambition. “I
didn’t raise the possibility that we’d
become puppets in Putin’s shadowy
campaign,” she says. “I chose the
byline. I always chose the byline.”
But “Chasing Hillary” is not a mea
culpa, for Chozick or for The Times.
Instead, it’s a behind-the-scenes director’s cut for readers who closely followed the 2016 political coverage. You
may have read articles she wrote on
the floor of the Orlando airport, in Las
Vegas next to a “Sex and the City” slot
machine, on a crosstown New York
bus. Political junkies will enjoy deci-
What kind of reader were you as a
child? Which childhood books and
authors stick with you most?
So I tend to gravitate to books (and
people) that question ideology and
challenge sacred cows, which means
no one book could capture my political
I do find Jonathan Haidt’s book “The
Righteous Mind: Why Good People
Are Divided by Politics and Religion”
captivating. I am intrigued by the fact
that a self-described liberal (at least he
was in 2009) has the temerity to investigate why people (in particular working-class Americans) vote Republican.
His answer? Human nature. In particular he argues that people are fundamentally emotional, not rational. This
argument flies in the face of all the
economics I have been taught, which
rests on the foundation that people
(economic agents) are rational. For
anyone who wants to understand why
liberal thinking can be unappealing at
the polls (and what to do about it),
read this.
Which historians and biographers do
you most admire?
As far as contemporary biographers
go, I believe Walter Isaacson is in a
class by himself. Leonardo da Vinci,
Steve Jobs, Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Kissinger, take your pick — all
What book might people be surprised
to find on your shelves?
Murder mysteries! I love Agatha
Christie’s Belgian character Hercule
I was born and raised on a healthy diet
of the African Writers Series. Flora
Nwapa’s “Efuru,” Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s
“The River Between” and, of course,
Chinua Achebe’s “No Longer at Ease”
and “Things Fall Apart” will forever be
etched in my mind as shaping my
formative years.
You’re organizing a literary dinner
party. Which three writers, dead or
alive, do you invite?
1) Vikram Seth, the economist turned
novelist. His “A Suitable Boy” remains
one of my all-time favorite books. 2)
Ayn Rand, the philosopher and novelist. I am drawn to her irreverence —
a woman ahead of her time. 3) Maya
Angelou, the poet who penned “Still I
Rise” and “Phenomenal Woman” . . .
enough said.
Of the books you’ve written, which is
your favorite or the most personally
That’s a hard question — I imagine it is
like picking your favorite child. I write
the books I want to read so I am genuinely curious and intrigued by all the
subjects I write on. But I suppose
“Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working
and How There Is a Better Way for
Africa” is the most poignant.
For me, finding a sustainable solution to Africa’s woes is a personal
quest. Having been raised in one of the
poorest countries in the world, I feel a
strong desire to help families like my
own, who continue to suffer the consequences of economic failure every day
of their lives. In “Dead Aid,” I offer a
5Nowhere close
11First name on
the Supreme
18Supercollider bit
19Online tracker
20Country whose
capital lent its
name to a fabric
21“____ reading
too much into
22Meadows filled
with loos?
26Bar that might
be dangerous
28Be agreeable
35Old letter opener
38Where sailors
recover from
their injuries?
42No longer edible
43Square figure
44Actor Paul of
“There Will Be
45Lead-in to
48Chart again
offense, for
55Goings-on in
61“My man”
62Subject for
The Source
63Sch. of
30,000+ on the
64Bill’s support
65It dethroned
Sophia as the #1
baby girl’s name
in the U.S. in
67Home for a
Roman emperor
69Onetime Bond
girl ____ Wood
71“So obvious!”
74Common core?
76Prime-time time
80Dog that doesn’t
offend people?
87Come down
hard, as hail
88Barnyard male
89First name on
the Supreme
90Dreyfus Affair
91Subject for Ken
Burns, briefly
96Went by air?
99Dorm monitors
100Cry of devotion
from a nonacademy
105Source of the
line “They
shall beat their
swords into
106Things that may
be rolled or wild
107Soprano Tebaldi
108Some fasteners
110They aid in
A.C.L. tears
112Funny face?
116Old White House
117Morning zoo
123Panama City
state: Abbr.
125“Don’t doubt
127Divinity sch.
128Chatty bird
129Provider of aerial
football views
130Actress Kendrick
1Best Picture
nominee with
three sequels
2Pac-12 school
that’s not really
near the Pacific
3Completely, after
4Like wet makeup
5Media watchdog
6Parent co. of
7Hundred Acre
Wood denizen
8Agrees to
9Lord’s domain
11Slice for a
12Things that have
Solution to puzzle of April 21-22
11 12 13 14
31 32 33 34
38 39
56 57
94 95
97 98
113 114 115
119 120 121 122
13With nothing out
of place
14“What other
explanation is
15Former “Today”
show host
16Word before pan
or after Spanish
20GMC truck
23Like poor
months for
oysters, it’s said
24Mentally wiped
31Sch. with an
annual Mystery
32Words of
34Weak period
36“Fifty Shades of
Grey” subject,
38Symbol of China
39Onetime Blu-ray
77 78 79
83 84 85 86
53 54
100 101
67 68
58 59
71 72 73
15 16 17
successor as
secretary of
42Craft shop item
47“The Sweetest
Taboo” singer,
49Combo bets
56Queens player,
for short
58____ Poly
59Green org.
66Some neckwear
67Italy’s ____
68Laid up
70Second U.S.
computeranimated movie,
after “Toy Story”
71Modern subject
of reviews
72Row maker
73Elite court group
coastal province
known for its
79Some future
81Inclined to
82Bygone gas
brand with a
torch in its logo
83Druid’s head
84Studio sign
86Boca ____
922007 female
inductee into the
National Soccer
Hall of Fame
95Our, in Tours
97“Uncle Tom’s
Cabin” girl
98Stave off
100Rice dishes
101Of service
102Gore’s successor
as vice president
god of the
109“____ Against
Evil” (IFC series)
111Totally awesome,
in slang
113Role in “Thor,”
114Islamic spirit
115Second letter
after 118-Down
118Second letter
before 115Down
119Word with camp
or care
120L.L.C. alternative
121That: Sp.
122Dr. ____
SATURDAY-SUNDAY, APRIL 28-29, 2018 | 19
Dark musicals shine
on German stages
Productions in Munich,
Regensburg and Stuttgart
are bleak yet vibrant
Top, Patrick Nellessen, left,
Vanessa Eckart
and Nick-Robin
Dietrich in “Alice,”
at Munich’s
Above, Verena
Maria Bauer in
“The Black Rider,”
at the Theater
Regensburg Velodrom.
Jan Langenheim stages “The Black
Rider” at a former indoor racetrack, the
Velodrom. His production exploits the
vast venue, which takes on a circuslike
character in this flashy and colorful
Like “Alice,” “The Black Rider” has
rarely been performed in the United
States, and its wheezy carnival songs
are known mostly from Mr. Waits’s 1993
album of the same name. It has been far
more successful in Germany — perhaps
owing to the “Freischütz” connection.
“November,” “The Briar and the
Rose” and “The Last Rose of Summer”
are among the show’s best-known
features some
of Tom Waits’s
finest songs.
In the final years of the Weimar Republic, Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht pushed
musical theater in a radically new direction, with collaborations like “The
Threepenny Opera” that remain a highwater mark for musical sophistication,
dramatic daring and unsparingly dark
In the early 1990s, Tom Waits and
Robert Wilson teamed up in Hamburg
for two productions at the Thalia Theater that brought the promise of Weill
and Brecht’s savage, sardonic approach
into the modern era. This spring, new
productions of the Waits-Wilson collaborations are among several glitteringly
dark musicals to be found in sunny
southern Germany.
“Alice,” a very adult riff on “Alice in
Wonderland” that had its premiere in
1992, is the hit of the season at Munich’s
Metropoltheater, an independent theater in the residential neighborhood of
Freimann. The show plumbs the mind of
Charles Dodgson — the logician, photographer and church deacon better
known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll
— and his obsession with the 11-year-old
Alice Liddell. Paul Schmidt’s free-associative book interprets “Wonderland” as
a surreal fantasy concocted by the writer to protect Alice from his sexually aggressive desire. It features some of Mr.
Waits’s finest songs (co-written with his
wife and frequent collaborator, Kathleen
Brennan), but aside from a performance
in Brooklyn in 1995, “Alice” has gone
pretty much unseen in the United States
over the past two decades.
The young German director Philipp
Moschitz’s intimate and intricate staging, coupled with the company’s high
production values, makes a strong argument for increased public support for
this small, innovative theater. Dominating the stage is a rust-colored wheel that
churns like a windmill and has adjustable shelves for the actors to support
themselves (sets are by Thomas Flach).
The actors largely speak in German
and sing in English. Vanessa Eckart
plays Alice with a mixture of innocent
curiosity and precociousness hinted at
by her dusky voice. Paired with Thomas
Schrimm’s tortured, vocally frail Dodgson, her portrayal has the psychological
focus required to ground what is largely
a collection of hallucinatory episodes.
The musicians and supporting cast
bring regular infusions of manic energy
with their precisely choreographed antics, but the theatrics never overwhelm
the show’s haunting exploration of forbidden longing and the loss of innocence. At the end of the show, Alice, projected many years into the future, sings
of how Dodgson made her his creature
— “You dreamed me up and left me
here” — an accusation that mixes heartache with bitterness.
The first reviews of “Alice” out of
Hamburg in 1992 were far from positive.
At the time, it was widely judged as inferior to Mr. Waits and Mr. Wilson’s “The
Black Rider,” which had its premiere two
years earlier and is currently being
staged in Regensburg. The desolately
beautiful songs notwithstanding, the
critics had a point: The interior, brooding “Alice” lacks the theatrical overdrive
of “The Black Rider,” a robust musical
adaptation of Carl Maria von Weber’s
opera “Der Freischütz” featuring an
acid-laced book by William S. Burroughs.
A heroin addict who accidentally shot
and killed his second wife, Burroughs
found inspiration in the German legend
of a marksman who makes a pact with
the devil. The magic bullets that the
young hunter procures turn into an allconsuming addiction, culminating in his
beloved’s death during a shooting contest where the devil himself guides the
lethal shot.
Rose des vents collection
Yellow gold, diamonds and mother-of-pearl.
songs, and Theater Regensburg’s ensemble belts and croons them with
gusto, if not always with musical finesse.
Then again, vocal refinement is not exactly what one expects when one thinks
of Mr. Waits’s gravelly voice, a sort of hybrid of Satchmo and Oscar the Grouch.
As such, scrappy singing is not out of
place in these drunken, demonic ballads
of loneliness, insanity and murder. The
most spirited howling comes from Sebastian M. Winkler as the Mephisto-like
Pegleg (a role inhabited by Marianne
Faithfull in the 2004 English-language
premiere of the original Wilson production), while Verena Maria Bauer and
Ruth Müller show surprising vocal loveliness as the sacrificial bride and her
mother. In the role of the oafish hunter
Kuno, Gunnar Blume’s expressive gruffness is an asset, while no amount of theatrical determination can compensate
for Matthias Zera’s vocally wobbly performance as the lovesick addict Wilhelm. You don’t need a classically
trained voice for “Lucky Day,” Wilhelm’s
closing anthem, but Mr. Zera’s underpowered rendition of that wild, ferocious
number is one of the few points where
this production misses the mark.
It has been nearly two decades since
Mr. Waits and Mr. Wilson worked together (their most recent collaboration
was a version of Georg Büchner’s
“Woyzeck” in 2000). Nowadays, the
British band the Tiger Lillies may be the
closest thing there is to a successor to
Weill and Brecht’s musical tradition.
The punk cabaret trio, best known for
their 1998 Olivier-winning “junk opera,”
“Shockheaded Peter” (which later enjoyed a successful Off Broadway run),
combine Grand Guignol and nightclub
in a Victorian horror film aesthetic all
their own.
For another dose of macabre nastiness after “Alice” and “The Black Rider,”
head to Schauspiel Stuttgart, where the
Tiger Lillies’ “Lulu,” originally performed in Britain by Opera North in
2014, has been given a grueling and acrobatic production. Performed in the intimate Nord black-box theater and directed by the company’s departing intendant, Armin Petras, it is a dizzying,
in-your-face spectacle. The Tiger Lillies’
“rock vaudeville” is a frequently vulgar
song cycle about a complex, fascinating
heroine: a woman who is a both sexual
victim and perpetrator; a femme fatale
who is at once a projection screen for
male fantasies and a manipulative agent
of destruction.
The Opera North production carried
the subtitle “A Murder Ballad” and featured the Tiger Lillies’ frontman, the
singer and accordionist Martyn
Jacques, growling and warbling (often
in his signature falsetto) while the dramatic scenes came to life behind him in a
choreographed pantomime. In Stuttgart, Mr. Petras directs a furiously vigorous seven-person cast, who are called
on to climb, leap, crawl and bang against
the various sets and props in this
breathlessly paced evening. They also
play a variety of instruments, including
piano, cello, guitar and drums. Much of
“Lulu” is performed at a fever pitch,
with the actors — led by the intense Sandra Gerling in the title role — performing inches from the audience. Yet as dynamic as the production is, “Lulu” falls
flat as a piece of musical storytelling
without Mr. Jacques’s dry voice and razor-sharp wit to hold it together.
“Lulu” was savaged by the local critics, but the entire run is virtually sold
out, and the performance I attended met
with thunderous applause — a healthy
indication that Stuttgarters are more curious about what Mr. Petras is up to in
his last season than in what the professional tastemakers have to say.
Beyond that, the success of these
dark, musical explorations is proof that
German audiences can stomach more
complex and adult fare than one would
ever hope to find on Broadway or the
West End.
SATURDAY-SUNDAY, APRIL 28-29, 2018 | 21
her voice,
one album
at a time
was as palpable as the smoke filling the
room. On an indiscernible cue, an apocalyptic electropop bop about partying in a
dystopian world began to play: “I hear
the sirens calling, and the bombs start
falling, but it feels so good.” The women
broke into choreographed moves — toe
stands, neck rolls, Michael Jackson
spins, footwork that summoned the
Charleston and James Brown. The room
was mesmerized, feeding off the energy
emitted by Monáe and her backup dancers. An oversize man in loafers aggressively played air guitar. Others
bounced their shoulders, nodded their
heads, shuffled their feet in a two-step.
Few stood still.
The performance reached its peak on
a song called “I Got the Juice.” During
the chorus — a percussive trap riff that
will be best appreciated blasting out of
an expensive car stereo — Monáe
dropped to her knees below a disco ball
as her dancers swarmed around her,
fanning her with large exaggerated motions, less to cool her off than to emphasize the white-hot intensity of her
moves. As the song trilled its last few
beats, Monáe and her dancers slowed,
laughing and wiping their brows. The
room burst into applause.
Monáe took a bow and picked up a microphone. “I just had a lot of fun,” she
said. “I’m very excited about where
we’re going this time.” Then she took a
beat to breathe. Her body was still heaving from the dancing, but she suddenly
looked grim, transformed from artist to
activist. “This is the first time I’ve felt
threatened and unsafe as a young black
woman, growing up in America,” she
said. “This is the first time that I released something with a lot of emotion.
The people I love feel threatened. I’ve always understood the responsibility of
an artist — but I feel it even greater now.
And I don’t want to stay angry, but write
and feel triumphant.”
Monáe released her official debut EP,
“Metropolis,” in 2007, when she was just
21. The cover showed her head topped
with an elaborate pompadour, attached
to a robotic female torso in disrepair —
“Right now I’m
escaping the
gravity of the
labels that
people have
tried to place
on me.”
frayed wires snaked out of arm sockets
and beneath a breastplate. “Metropolis”
was “West Side Story” for the cyberage
— instantly earning fans among R. & B.
and psychedelic-rock listeners, not to
mention young black girls like myself,
who saw themselves equally in Pink
Floyd and TLC and were hungry for narratives starring women who weren’t hypersexualized and perhaps even a bit
The album earned Monáe a Grammy
nomination for the song “Many Moons.”
She would go on to collect five more
nominations across two more albums,
both of which starred her time-traveling
alter-ego, the android Cindi Mayweather. For years, Monáe remained
safely cocooned within the character.
“Cindi helps me talk more,” she said;
through Mayweather, she could address
things she didn’t feel comfortable talking about directly. “You can parallel the
other in the android to being a black
woman right now, to being a part of the
L.G.B.T.Q. community,” she said. “What
it feels like to be called a nigger by your
oppressor.” Mayweather was a proxy for
all the things about Monaé that made
others uncomfortable, like her androgyny, her opaque sexual identity, her gender fluidity — her defiance of easy categorization.
But then Monáe shifted her attention
to acting. She made her film debut as the
de facto surrogate mother of a young
black boy in “Moonlight,” which won the
Oscar for Best Picture last year; she
starred, with Octavia Spencer and Taraji
Clockwise from
top: Janelle Monáe
in April; performing in New York
City; with her
“Hidden Figures”
co-stars, Taraji P.
Henson, center,
and Octavia
Spencer; and with
Gloria Steinem,
left, and Cecile
Richards, the head
of Planned Parenthood.
P. Henson, in the blockbuster “Hidden
Figures,” about early black female
mathematicians. Fans wondered if she
would commit to films, where she could
attain a level of fame that can be elusive
in music. But part of the reason she was
slow to return, she told me, is that her
mentor, Prince, died unexpectedly. They
were working together closely on what
would become “Dirty Computer.”
The music Monáe introduced on that
dusty afternoon in Los Angeles marked
her highly anticipated return. “Dirty
Computer,” a celebratory ode to femininity and queer people, seems to signal a
new era in her career: If in the past she
seemed distant, using Mayweather to
stand in for the real Monáe, she now
seems ready to present herself to the
public. “Right now I’m escaping the
gravity of the labels that people have
tried to place on me that have stopped
my evolution,” she told me. “You have to
go ahead and soar, and not be afraid to
jump — and I’m jumping right now.”
Two months later, in February, I was
in the back of an Uber, riding southwest
toward a subdivision of Atlanta. After a
pause at a security gate, the car drove
through an upscale, predominantly
black community, past typical suburban
scenes — teenagers shooting hoops,
people taking out their garbage, men
working on their cars. I was heading to
Wondaland Arts Society, Monáe’s creative headquarters. Its inspiration is
Paisley Park, the elaborate compound
outside Minneapolis that housed
Prince’s rehearsal space, recording
rooms, concert venue and countless parties. Several years ago, Monáe established the Wondaland label — she was
one of the few black women to have a label of her own — and signed several acts,
including the band St. Beauty (one
member, Isis Valentino, was a backup
singer for Monáe) and the singer and
rapper Jidenna.
Monáe, who is now 32, told me that
she has been circling the themes explored on “Dirty Computer” for at least a
decade, but that earlier it felt safer to
package herself in metaphors. “I knew I
needed to make this album, and I put it
off and put it off because the subject is
Janelle Monáe.” She’s still having a conversation with herself, she said, about
who she wants to be when she’s in the
At its core, “Dirty Computer” is a
homage to women and the spectrum of
sexual identities. “The first songs deal
with realizing that this is how society
sees me,” she said. “This is how I’m
viewed. I’m a ‘dirty computer,’ it’s clear.
I’m going to be pushed to the margins,
outside margins, of the world.” “D’Jango
Jane” is an ode to black power and pride
that is also a dirge about the struggles
that come with that heritage. The middle
half of the album is a raucous party. “It’s
like, O.K., these are the cards I’ve been
dealt,” she said. These songs include
“Make Me Feel” and “Pynk” — the sizzling, sex-drenched songs that titillated
the internet when they were released
this year. The album winds down with
an anthem about being an American,
whose sound evokes Prince’s “Let’s Go
Crazy,” with lyrics like “love me for who
I am,” and “cross my heart and hope to
die, I’m a big old piece of American pie.”
Monáe has spent a lifetime perfecting
the art of being a pop star who isn’t a
sexual object. Discretion is a survival
strategy, a coping mechanism especially useful for black women living in
the public eye. But she has now made an
explicit album about sexual expression
and identity that is somehow still
shrouded in ambiguity. In 2018, empowerment isn’t a color — it’s a call to action.
It’s Cardi B talking about how much she
loves her vagina, not holding a neon sign
explaining that she has one. On “Dirty
Computer,” it still feels as if Monáe is deciding which version of herself to show
the world — or that this is the tentative
beginning of a larger reveal.
Throughout my conversations with
Monáe, she talked about her dedication
to lifting up women. She emerged as an
activist in August 2015, at a demonstration in Philadelphia she led in support of
the local Black Lives Matter movement.
There’s a photo of Monáe surrounded by
most of the artists in the Wondaland collective: Jidenna, St. Beauty, Roman
GianArthur, Chuck Lightning and the
producer Nana Kwabena. Their mouths
are open, midchant, and the look on
their faces is determined. They are holding drums, signs, one another. For
Monáe, the times were too urgent to ignore.
Her highest-profile moment came
with the 2017 presidential inauguration.
Monáe was invited to speak — as well as
sing — at the Women’s March by Ginny
Suss, a member of the organizing committee in charge of music. Suss wanted
artists whose music reflected their personal politic. “When you look at the arc
of her career, there has always been a
moral core and ethical center to her music, that breaks down constructions of
race and gender in our society,” Suss
told me. “It’s a tool to imagine the world
we want through the accessibility of pop
music. Having her stand up and have
that voice at the march was amazing.”
She appeared calm as she addressed
the enormous crowd. “Women will be
hidden no more,” she said. “We have
names. We are complete human beings.”
For many people, the speech cast
Monáe in a new light: she became more
than a psychedelic Tim Burton character. The response galvanized her. “I just
had to speak from my heart,” she said.
“Not a lot of artists do it.”
This January, she took the stage at the
Grammys, where she delivered a short
speech to introduce the singer Kesha,
who’d had a legal battle with her former
producer Dr. Luke. A member of TimesUp, a Hollywood initiative to fight sexual harassment, Monáe wore its pin
proudly on her black suit as she called
out the music industry for its epidemic
patterns of sexual harassment and assault. “We come in peace, but we mean
business,” she said to the crowd. “Just as
we have the power to shape culture, we
also have the power to undo the culture
that does not serve us well.”
In Atlanta, after our conversation at
Wondaland, Monáe seemed to get a second wind. The band upstairs had resumed practicing for her forthcoming
tour, and she wanted to check in on their
progress. She invited me to join her. If
the basement was where ideas began to
gestate, then the room she led me to was
where they were polished before leaving the house. It had a ballet barre and
floor-to-ceiling mirrors. She disappeared for a few minutes before returning in black leggings and the same
cropped moto jacket from the presentation in Los Angeles.
Monáe greeted everyone in her band
— the drummer, keyboard player, guitarist and two backup singers — hugging them and taking a few moments to
inquire about their health, their families,
their side projects, before taking her position in front of them. She patted her
pockets, searching for a missing item,
which she spied on a speaker: mirrored
sunglasses. She put them on and nodded
to the band. They launched into “Make
Me Feel” and then “I Got the Juice,” and
she ran through them a few times, losing
herself a little more in the music during
each performance.
Despite the accolades and Grammy
nominations, Monáe has yet to achieve
significant commercial success. If
there’s a moment that her entire discography has been building toward, it is
right now, with this release. Her desire
for a win shone nakedly. She sneaked
coy peeks at me to see if I was paying
attention. It was impossible to tear my
eyes away, not to want for her what she
so clearly wants for herself.
In all our encounters, Monáe seemed
as if she was bracing herself for anything, including the worst — harsh reviews, irrelevancy, dismissals. But all
that carefully maintained composure
fell away as she twirled and dropped to
her knees. Earlier, I asked her what she
ultimately wanted: awards? Album
sales? Money? She referred to Prince
again: He was in that “free [expletive]
category,” she said. “That’s where I
want to be. That’s where I want to ultimately be.”
Adapted from an article that originally
appeared in The New York Times Magazine. Jenna Wortham is a staff writer for
the magazine and co-host of the podcast
“Still Processing.”
22 | SATURDAY-SUNDAY, APRIL 28-29, 2018
Flying close
to temptation
A woman worries that her sobriety
will end after her wife gets bad news
Modern Love
I always said I would drink again only
if Sarah got cancer, which was my way
of saying I would never drink again.
The possibility of anything bad happening to her seemed remote and
decades away.
Imagine my surprise when a mere
six weeks into our marriage, she called
me at work to say, “The doctor found
The din of midday Manhattan swallowed her words. A routine exam a
week earlier had found a lump, and the
results from her mammogram had
been concerning enough that the doctor immediately picked up the phone
and called her.
I left my office to meet her, unsure
what to expect. Some people exude
resilience and fortitude in the midst of
adversity. I am not one of them. My
first thought is of certain and immediate death, followed by a maudlin song
orchestrating a montage of good moments. I don’t call my smartest doctor
friend and ask him what to do. I start
writing the eulogy.
Sarah and I met outside a church on
Fifth Avenue, her eyes already steeled
with resolve.
“I’ve emailed my boss and will go to
Germany tomorrow as planned,” she
said. “You’ll still meet me in Italy.”
Our honeymoon in Venice was two
days away. We had planned it to coincide with one of her business trips;
she would fly over first, and I would
take the red-eye two days later. Even
before we had the confirmation that it
was cancer, we knew it was, and I
immediately started thinking about a
drink. It was a benchmark I had never
wanted to hit, and here it was, staring
me down.
Sarah and I were set up on a blind
date. I was in New York for work, and
at one of my meetings, a man I barely
knew asked me if I was seeing anyone.
He was about to get married, and I
was petrified this would turn into one
of those exchanges in which the happy
person assures the single person:
“There’s hope for you yet.”
He had little interest in my explanation (“Single, yes, but fulfilled!”) and
much more interest in the truth: Yes, I
was as single as single could be.
“I want you to meet a friend of
mine,” he said. “I think you’d get
along.” He swiftly arranged for us to
meet that day.
Later I walked into a bar off Central
Park and was shocked to find a gorgeous woman, complete with perfectly
styled hair and makeup, waiting at the
bar. This couldn’t possibly be my date.
Half of my head was buzzed, and I was
hanging on to my baby fat not in a
baby-cute way.
Something important to know about
me: I am not set up with beautiful
women. My forays into setups had
been little more than a friend bringing
together the only two gay women she
knew. Once, I was even set up with a
gay man.
She ordered a club soda with a
splash of cranberry. I ordered wine.
Twice. The first question she asked
was why I had moved from New York,
and for some reason the answer that
came out was: “Love, but not great
love, because less than a year later I
was dumped naked.”
She sat there politely, and I realized
with growing horror that we were both
picturing me getting dumped naked.
“I live in a sublet in Long Island
City,” she finally said. “And sometimes
I go grocery shopping at the Mobile
She was as kind as she was pretty. I
may have been dumped naked, but at
least I could get myself to a proper
grocery store.
We left after an hour and I went
uptown, embarking on the exact kind
of New York night that made me miss
the city so badly. I assumed we didn’t
have much of a future: We were 10
years apart, shared no hobbies, and I
drank. What fun could possibly come
from sobriety?
A few weeks into our courtship —
started mainly because we kept responding to each other’s emails — we
were walking through Chelsea Market.
Our hands grazed, and as I glimpsed
up at the back of her head, I had this
feeling deep in my gut that I would
love her. Not in that moment, not yet,
but I knew in the way seasons change
that I would love her before this one
I asked her early on why she had
stopped drinking, and she described
feeling as if everyone around her had
known to get on a train moving forward, but she was watching from the
road as these people slowly passed her
I took stock of my life: a new relationship, wonderful friends, a rewarding job. Drinking had not kept me off
the train. My heart exhaled; maybe I
was safe.
A few months later, I was out late,
propelled by a thirst to belong, and I
walked unsteadily into the bathroom.
The mirror caught my reflection, and
suddenly I was squinting into my eyes,
trying to figure out how I could be
madly in love with someone but know
in my core that if the person I was
drinking with at this bar made a move,
I would go along with it.
The next morning, I called Sarah. “I
don’t have a healthy relationship with
alcohol,” I said, cursing myself for
saying it out loud because I knew she
could never unhear it. But I knew: If I
drank, I would cheat, and she would
leave. She had the tools and presence
to move on, and I didn’t. She would be
the one who got away.
So I stopped drinking, and my life
jolted forward at an unbelievable clip:
a cross-country move, a career change,
cohabitation, another career change,
an engagement, homeownership,
marriage. Also: death, professional
challenges, family politics gone awry,
The thing I
prized most
about our
was that Sarah
about me —
and loved me
financial anxiety, actual anxiety and,
now, cancer.
Two days later, I sat in the United
lounge, looking at fellow travelers, the
clock, my phone and my club soda. A
man with a fedora sipped something
brown on the rocks; a woman left
smudged lipstick on what looked like a
wine spritzer. A little boy watched his
parents drink, his eyes moving from
her red wine to his beer, his head moving slightly between the two. I saw a
young couple — honeymooners, too?
— toast with champagne flutes. I
looked down at my club soda. The ice
was mostly melted.
If I drank now, could I pause my life
again? Could Sarah and I go back to
that first summer, when everything
was still a possibility? I imagined the
coldness of the chardonnay leaving an
imprint on every cell as it traveled
down my throat. My back would loosen, my thoughts would get fuzzy in the
best way.
I could call an old friend, chat about
mindless gossip as I waited to board.
I’m 73 and a cancer survivor.
Can I accept a kidney?
The Ethicist
Over the past eight years I underwent
two stem-cell transplants, each preceded by intense chemotherapy. My
oncologist believes I am probably cured.
The chemotherapy damaged my kidneys to the point that I am now on
dialysis, and other systems are affected
as well. There is also a small but significant risk that other malignancies may
occur in the future as a result of the
Kidney-transplant recipients live
longer than those on chronic dialysis
and generally feel better. They also have
a much better quality of life when freed
from the logistical constraints and
discomfort that any form of dialysis
I am on a transplant waiting list but
have been told that it could be 10 years
before I reach the top of the list. I have
no relatives or friends who could donate, but I have become aware of a
group of altruistic individuals willing to
donate a kidney.
I am 73 and, despite the damage
from my treatment, have much that I
want to do and am capable of doing. I
would certainly love to receive a kidney
transplant, with all the advantages for
me and a better life for my wife. My
concern is whether it is ethical to ask a
healthy volunteer to undergo the pain
The bartender wouldn’t think twice
about giving me a pour for the road.
The flight attendant wouldn’t cock her
head when I asked if I could have both
red and white with dinner. Sarah would
never have to know. No one would.
Except, I would know. The thing I
prized most about our relationship was
that Sarah knew everything about me
— and loved me anyway. If I were to
drink, that secret would be the first
brick in a wall between us.
Suddenly, I felt as if I were back in
that bathroom, squinting at my eyes.
This wasn’t about just my own life. We
had a life now, and the only way I was
going to be the wife she needed was if I
stayed in the moment. We don’t get to
rewind the clock, and we don’t get to
rewind our self-awareness. Honesty is
I thought about that night in the
bathroom and how scared I was that
Sarah might be really sick. For me to
escape into drinking now would be to
leave her alone.
I watched the wall grow, brick by
as well as the immediate and long-term
risks of kidney donation considering my
age and medical history. My family and
friends think I should. Am I overthinking it? Name Withheld
gests, there are many complex ethical
issues involved in trying to assign
organs fairly.)
Outside the national organ-sharing
system, what matters is that you are
medically eligible for a kidney transplant and have an informed donor who
is capable of making a reasonable
assessment of his or her risks and of
your benefits. Giving you a kidney is
that person’s choice, and you can
gratefully accept it.
what you’re thinking:
You would be increasing the quantity
and quality of your remaining years,
but the donor would incur increased
health risks, and his or her kidney
could be in service longer if it went to a
younger and otherwise healthier recipient. The first point should not weigh
heavily. Tens of thousands of people
have chosen to be living kidney donors
— there are now more than 5,000 living
donations a year in the United States
— which suggests that people have
decided that the risks, for anyone
judged medically suitable as a donor,
are modest.
How modest? One large-scale American study showed little evidence of
higher long-term mortality for donors
than for similar nondonors. A smaller
Norwegian study suggested some
increase in mortality among donors
(although 80 percent of the donors in
that study were close relatives of the
recipient, and it’s hard to correct for
the confounding effect of familial risk
of kidney disease). Each study suggested a significant increase in the risk
of end-stage renal disease among
donors, but the total numbers affected
were very small: 0.04 percent in the
American study, 0.06 in the Norwegian.
Of course, surgery always carries
some risks: You yourself are not assured of a successful outcome. Still, the
My family and I recently called Uber to
get from Manhattan’s financial district
to an apartment in the West Village
where we were staying. The driver took
a while to arrive and appeared flustered, telling us of the traffic and construction that led to the delay. He spoke
little English and his GPS was instructing him in a different language. I was in
the front seat while my wife and children were in the back, and I was surprised by the route he was taking.
At a certain point it started to look as
if we were going toward the entrance to
the Holland Tunnel, and I soon realized
we were about to head into it with no
chance to turn away. I told the driver to
illegally pull over to a restricted area so
we could get out before we ended up in
New Jersey, which would have led to
our getting home up to an hour later.
He started to pull over when an N.Y.P.D.
officer yelled at him to keep driving.
The driver turned to me, and I firmly
told him to pull over. With me and the
officer giving him contradictory instructions, he pulled into the restricted area.
Two cops approached and demanded
his license. While one cop was running
his license, we explained to the other
what had happened. The cop asked,
“Are you going to pay the ticket for
him?” Luckily, the N.Y.P.D. officers let
the driver off with only a warning, but I
wondered whether I would have been
brick. My stomach clenched at the
thought of Sarah sitting in a doctor’s
chair, wondering where I had gone. I
thought of months down the road,
when we would get test results back
saying she would need surgery and
chemotherapy and radiation — neither
of us knowing at the time that she
would come through it and be fine.
All I could see was Sarah reaching
for my hand, and there I would be,
locked up with my secrets, navigating
a dark cave while wishing I had chosen
the brighter path.
A ding and a scratchy female voice
announced that my flight was starting
to board.
I didn’t want to escape, regardless of
what may be hiding in the future. The
flight passed unremarkably: I watched
a movie, slept, ignored the wine cart at
dinnertime. And in the morning, Sarah
was waiting at my gate in Milan, cappuccino and croissant in hand.
Liz Parker is a literary agent in New
York City.
ethically responsible for paying his
fine? I did instruct him to commit an
illegal act, but it was because of his
mistake and of almost taking me far
out of my way. Further, he did not have
to commit the illegal maneuver simply
because I told him to. Had he gotten a
ticket, I would have paid it because I
have the means, but would it have been
my ethical responsibility? Alex Ruttenberg, New Jersey
driver’s responsibility to
understand the GPS; he shouldn’t have
offered to drive people if he didn’t. Had
you not known about the risks of being
sucked into the maw of the Holland
Tunnel, he would have been taking you
for a long ride through New Jersey.
Nevertheless, you might think commanding an immigrant driver into an
altercation with a New York police
officer risked a situation that could
have escalated badly out of control. I
would probably have sucked up the
unnecessary hour in New Jersey. In
the end, though, the decision was his
and had he been fined, I don’t believe
you would have had a moral obligation
to cover his costs.
Still, you could afford a fine far better than he, no doubt, and, for this
reason, you say, you would have offered to pay. The fact that you cowed
him into a risky situation lends further
support, I think, to that decision. Your
main duty, though, was to indicate on
the app that you had a bad experience
or, at the very least, not to pretend that
you had a good one. Your driver
sounds as though he wasn’t up to the
job. It’s a public service to let others
know that.
likeliest outcome is that your donor
has a long, healthy life and that the
rest of your life will indeed be improved.
What about the question of how a
donated kidney should be used? The
United States population is aging, and
the National Institutes of Health says
that nearly 19 percent of those on the
kidney-transplant list are over 65. The
national transplant system tries to
allocate kidneys that are expected to
last the longest to patients expected to
need them the longest. But the system
isn’t designed solely to optimize the
expected “net lifetime survival benefit”; otherwise, society might give
lower priority to black recipients, say,
because on average they don’t survive
as long as white ones. (As this sug-
Kwame Anthony Appiah teaches philosophy at N.Y.U. He is the author of “Cosmopolitanism” and “The Honor Code:
How Moral Revolutions Happen.”
24 | SATURDAY-SUNDAY, APRIL 28-29, 2018
Old Europe charm,
freshly transformed
The wine and seafood still amaze,
augmented by fresh takes on coffee,
design, craft beer and museums
36 Hours
Forget Lisbon as the budget capital of
Europe. Yes, the seafood is still (relatively) cheap, as is the wine. The old canary-yellow trams still rattle along
steep hills, and you’ll never pay more
than a euro and change for a pastéis de
nata, the classic Portuguese pastry. But
today the Portuguese capital is better
known for its red-hot culinary scene and
fine cultural institutions, including a
new world-class museum on the waterfront. The faded Old Europe charm remains, but with a stream of exciting
openings and fresh inspiration drawn
from across the Atlantic, Lisbon seems
primed for a new golden era.
Hilltop highs 2 p.m.
To gain some perspective on Lisbon’s
undulating terrain, ascend the city’s
highest hill into the Graça district. Start
at the Graça Convent, whose tiled chapel and Baroque cloister opened to the
public for the first time after recent
restorations (free). Then head outside
to admire one of the city’s finest viewpoints. Afterward, on the steep descent,
peek inside Surrealejos, a closet-size
atelier producing surrealist tiles — one
series depicts an anthropomorphic
panda — that are a twist on Portuguese
azulejos (traditional painted tiles).
Portraits of an artist 5 p.m.
Getting to know Fernando Pessoa, the
shape-shifting writer who is considered
one of Portugal’s greatest poets, is no
easy task. But that’s the goal of Casa
Fernando Pessoa, a museum and cultural center in the residential Campo de
Ourique neighborhood. Situated in the
final home of the bespectacled author,
the site is a treasure trove of Pessoa’s
early 20th-century works — most published posthumously — including poems written under three well-developed
heteronyms. Through interactive exhibits, engage with the poet’s language:
“I’m beginning to know myself. I don’t
exist.” There’s also a collection of portraits of Pessoa — fittingly, in diverse
styles — including paintings by Júlio Pomar. Admission, €3, or about $3.70.
Petisco plates 8:30 p.m.
For a feast of seafood petiscos (Portuguese tapas), reserve a table at
Peixaria da Esquina. Opened in 2015 by
Pub Lisboeta in
the Príncipe Real
district serves a
variety of Portuguese craft
the acclaimed chef Vítor Sobral, this
low-key restaurant on a quiet corner of
Campo de Ourique serves fresh-caught
seafood raw, cured, marinated, grilled —
you name it. Start with a glass of Douro
branco and paper-thin octopus carpaccio topped with cilantro, sweet potato
chips and a drizzle of olive oil (€13.50).
Then move on to the marinated dishes,
like citrusy salmon with passion fruit,
ginger and cilantro (€9.60), followed by
Sobral’s superlative version of amêijoas
à Bulhão Pato — a steaming bowl of
plump clams seasoned simply with lemon, garlic and more cilantro (€17.50).
Drink in the view 11 p.m.
Lisbon’s night life reached new heights
when a wave of rooftop bars opened
around the city. Squirreled away on the
Terraços do Carmo, Topo Chiado is an
open-air lounge serving cocktails to tables overlooking the castle and the neoGothic, wrought-iron Santa Justa Lift.
For more al fresco night life, venture
west to Rio Maravilha, a new fourthfloor hangout in the resurgent LX Factory area. This sprawling industrial
space offers live music, two outdoor terraces and a much-photographed rooftop
sculpture. Order a porto tónico — white
port and tonic — and head to the roof
and its dazzling views of the Tagus River
and the 25 de Abril Bridge, a doppelgänger of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Sugar rush 10 a.m.
In the canon of Portuguese pastries, the
most storied sweet is the pastéis de
nata, a flaky, palm-size tart with creamy
egg-custard filling. At Pastelaria Alcôa,
a standing-room-only pastry shop that
opened last year in a prime location in
the bustling Chiado district, rows of
those golden tarts are displayed alongside a variety of other so-called monastic pastries whose centuries-old recipes
originated in Catholic monasteries and
convents. Pair a pastéis de nata with one
of the lesser-known specialties, like the
Torresmo do Céu, a sweeter cousin of
the egg tart featuring a rich almondand-citrus filling.
Put a cork in it 11 a.m.
Home to a third of the world’s cork oak
forests, Portugal has dreamed up myriad uses for the natural, sustainable material. Shop for cork-centric souvenirs
that extend beyond the bottle stopper at
Cork & Co, a bi-level store filled with ecoconscious designs, from decorative
bowls to stylish wine coolers carved
from the lightweight material. A short
walk north, find more innovative cork
products at Pelcor, a boutique stocked
with cork-lined golf bags and umbrellas
made from naturally water-resistant
cork skin.
Ceviche supreme 1 p.m.
If there’s a line outside A Cevicheria, a
popular Peruvian restaurant opened by
the chef Kiko Martins in 2014, order a
frothy pisco sour and wait — it’s worth it.
Inside the bright, white-tiled restaurant,
a giant foam octopus hangs from the
ceiling above a handful of tables and bar
seats around a horseshoe-shaped
counter. On the menu, you’ll find ceviches and causas, smaller dishes to
share, including an excellent barbecued
roast octopus with black mashed potatoes. One must-order dish is the transportive ceviche puro of white fish in lime
juice with red onion, tiger’s milk and rich
dollops of mashed sweet potato crowned
with sweet-potato chips. Lunch for two,
about €50.
Belém beauties 4 p.m.
Southwest of the city center, the pretty
riverfront Belém district is defined by
its landmarks: the Manueline-style
Jerónimos Monastery, the 16th-century
Belém Tower and, since 2016, the futuristic facade of MAAT, the Museum of
Art, Architecture and Technology. The
latter takes a page from other European
capitals — see London’s Tate Modern
and Rome’s Centrale Montemartini —
by repurposing a former power plant, in
addition to that newly constructed exhibition hall encased in gleaming white
tile, for showcasing world-class art. Visit
both buildings to explore contemporary
art installations, interactive science exhibits and video works displayed amid
the plant’s hulking, well-preserved machinery (admission, €9).
Top taberna 9 p.m.
Located in a former grocery store,
Taberna da Rua das Flores has the wellworn atmosphere of an old Lisbon tavern, with tile floors, wooden chairs and
marble-topped tables. What distinguishes this homey taberna is its innovative, market-driven cuisine. The daily
menu — scribbled on a large blackboard
and patiently explained by servers —
recently included wasabi-spiced oysters, bright mackerel tartare with seaweed and crunchy dried shrimp, and a
flavorful pile of matchstick potatoes and
local trumpet mushrooms. Add to that a
bottle of Tejo tinto and some Portuguese
sheep’s-milk cheese for dessert, and a
satisfying dinner for two is about €50
(cash only).
Príncipe nights 11 p.m.
After dinner, swing by Pub Lisboeta in
the increasingly lively Príncipe Real district. This cozy, narrow bar opened a few
years ago with crowded tables, an emerald-tiled bar, and a variety of Portuguese
craft beers — try the kölsch from Lisbon’s Oitava Colina brewery. For something stronger, continue down the street
to Gin Lovers, an elegant back-room bar
within a 19th-century palace-turnedshopping complex. The menu lists over
50 varieties of gin and tonic, served
Spanish-style in bulbous glasses.
Caffeine nation 11 a.m.
In Portugal, as in Italy, coffee means
espresso. For a wider variety of caffeinated options, start the morning at
Fábrica Coffee Roasters. Established in
2015, this specialty coffee purveyor operates two cafes that serve traditional
shots as well as cold brews, pour-overs
and frothy cappuccini. At the spacious
Chiado locale, order a velvety flat white,
take a seat amid the plants, put away the
phone (there’s no Wi-Fi) and savor your
Carioca casa 1 p.m.
In an impressive show of reverse colonization, Brazil has taken over a magnificent mansion in Príncipe Real. Opened
in April 2017, Casa Pau-Brasil is a concept shop and showroom for top Brazilian designers and brands spanning
fashion, home furnishings, stationery,
soaps and more. Ascend the elegant
staircase to explore the maze of rooms
that recently displayed Lenny Niemeyer’s fashionable swimsuits, orangetrimmed Panama hats from Frescobol
Carioca, bars of Rio’s Q chocolate, and
exquisite polished-wood armchairs designed by Sérgio Rodrigues.
Quiosque time 3:30 p.m.
A local initiative begun in 2009 to revive
the city’s many abandoned quiosques de
refresco (refreshment kiosks) is today a
resounding success. With attractive Art
Nouveau architecture and prime locations throughout the city, these popular
kiosks are natural gathering points from
sunup to sundown. Join the local crowd
sipping ginja, a traditional sour-cherry
liqueur, at purple tables beside the restored quiosque in Praça das Flores, a
small, leafy park with a central fountain
that doubles as a watering hole for
neighborhood cats. In inclement
weather, take cover at Cerveteca Lisboa, a quiet beer bar across the street
pouring hard-to-find brews from Portuguese craft breweries, like Dois Corvos and Passarola Brewing.
One of the defining
features of the
riverfront Belém
district in Lisbon
is the 16th-century
Belém Tower. In
the background is
the 25 de Abril
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