Griffith Film Theater, Duke University—Every Tuesday and Saturday, award-winning journalist Bob Herbert publishes a 700-word column in The New York Times. These 1,400 words compose the most incisive, succinct and colorful analysis thinking people will read all week.
Unapologetically liberal, but not an ideologue—he criticizes Democrats when the party falls off the rails—Herbert distinguishes himself from his conservative counterparts (read: George Will) by buttressing his arguments with facts, not a perversion of them.
He defoliates the conservative underbrush, exposing such follies as John McCain's campaign tactics, trickle-down economics and the Iraq war for what they are: frauds.
Last month, in his column "The Same Old Song," he wrote: "This is a party that, given a choice between Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, would choose Ronald Reagan in a heartbeat."
He's fearless. He's funny. And he likely has an FBI file.
Herbert's talk, "A Call to Civic Engagement," starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Bryan Center's Griffith Film Theater, on Duke's West Campus. The event is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the parking garage next to the Bryan Center. —Lisa Sorg
Richard White Lecture Hall, Duke Campus—It was an 11-year gap between his short story collection Drown and his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, but Junot Díaz found it was worth the wait. Wao, published in late 2007, won the Pulitzer Prize for literature, the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize and a shelf full of other awards. Yet Díaz, who's currently in the midst of a world tour of readings and signings, doesn't feel his life has changed that much: "They have another Pulitzer in a few months, so I'll get to get off the track, and someone else gets to run around for a while." Read our interview with Díaz, who speaks and signs at 6 p.m. For more information, visit latino.aas.duke.edu. The event is free. —Zack Smith
The Pink Floyd Experience
Memorial Auditorium, Progress Energy Center—Beatles cover bands and tribute acts don't bother me so much. Same for Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Guns n' Roses. Fans of those bands, I think, have followed the progression of the respective musical landscape their heroes helped create enough to know that things have changed. That is, a fan of The Beatles likely has at least a passing familiarity with modern pop, just as devotees of the latter triumvirate probably know a modern rock hook when they hear it. But Pink Floyd—for many, the paragon of out-bound, psychedelic music—is an endpoint, as weird as music could ever care to get. If either "Echoes," the 23-minute B-side of Meddle, or those door close-open effects on Wish You Were Here still qualify as heady or trippy or far-out in your book, I wish you would hear this: At some point, every gateway becomes but another trapdoor, a trap clinching the curious in a sea of what becomes cliché. Enjoying a Pink Floyd tribute as some real trip, then, reflects middle-aged cultural disengagement in its most egregious form, where the desire for something exploratory remains but the wherewithal and energy to pursue it are harder to find than the $20-$55 a seat at tonight's show requires. And, in this economy, letting your adventurous spirit stand in for your comfortably numb spending is probably a good call. That said, if you're into totally crazy light rigs and a cover of "Have a Cigar," another damn Pink Floyd tribute is in town tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin