Play Ball

Play Ball

By Tom Robotham  For the past year or so, my life has been marked by a series of unsettling disruptions. It all started last spring when my 15-year-old car, which I loved, finally bit the dust. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that big a deal. But it turned...
Politics in the Classroom

Politics in the Classroom

By Tom Robotham  Recently an old friend shared on Facebook a link to a two-year-old article in The Staten Island Advance—a paper for which I used to work—about a New York City resident who was upset by a vocabulary question on his 11-year-old daughter’s homework...
A Nation in Denial

A Nation in Denial

By Tom Robotham Two years ago, I delivered a talk at the Tidewater Community College Literary Festival called “Scenes from a White Boy’s Life,” in which I reflected on my lifelong efforts to understand “the problem of the color line,” as W.E.B Du Bois put it. I talked...
A Kinder, Gentler Nation

A Kinder, Gentler Nation

When George H.W. Bush died, I watched with mixed feelings as pundits lionized him. I couldn’t help thinking about a book I’d read while W. was president: American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush, by Kevin Phillips, a...
ESSAY: Why I Teach Popular Culture

ESSAY: Why I Teach Popular Culture

By Tom Robotham The other day in a class I teach at ODU called Music, Culture & Media, I asked the students if any of them had heard of Pete Seeger.  “Is he related to Bob Seger?” one of them asked.  I thought the anecdote was sufficiently amusing to share it on...