Honestly, I’ll be really bummed if not a single reader of The American Scene comes to this panel on Thursday.


MAY 21, 7-9 PM
The Space
903 N. Street NW, Washington, DC

Are bloggers the new community organizers? Join Next American City and Greater Greater Washington at our salon, “Blogging in the City: the Internet and Urban Advocacy.” Moderator Diana Lind and a panel of bloggers — Ben Adler of americancity.org, David Alpert of greatergreaterwashington.com, Sommer Mathis of DCist.com, Reihan Salam of theamericanscene.com and Matthew Yglesias of thinkprogress.org — will analyze the role of the blogosphere’s urban policy activists.

Admission is free for subscribers. Admission for non-subscribers is $15 in advance or $20 at the door and includes a 1-year subscription to Next American City and entry to all NAC events and free food and drinks. RSVP and subscribe atamericancity.org/urbanexus/dc.

Yes, you’ll have to pay. But Next American City is a non-profit that is doing good and valuable work.

If you’re going to donate to an urban non-profit, you might also consider donating to the Center for Urban Pedagogy, which is run by two of my good friends.

So the panel: why come? We’ll get to “hang”! “But wait — that’s a reason for me not to come!” Good point. We don’t have to hang. The other members of the panel are pretty scintillating, and I mean that only in the basest, most salacious sense. And honestly, I intend to hold it down. I just had my red vinyl jacket dry-cleaned. There is about an 85 percent I’m going to breakdance on stage in homage to the Rocksteady Crew scene in Flashdance It will be a live-action shot-by-shot remake. Also, Diana is pretty rad.

Also, you know foxy people will be there — it’s about urbanism, yo.

In re: my life and times: I am joining New America as a full-time fellow in September, writing columns for Forbes.com and The Daily Beast, starting a blog for National Review Online that will have a policy focus over the summer, helping Yuval Levin on a very exciting new project, doing some neat stuff with Foreign Policy, and ironing out a couple of other mini-gigs. I’m also working on a TAS revamp — TAS 3.0 will be worth the wait, I hope — and, together with a pair of radio veterans a podcast, though those projects are still in embryo. I feel maniacally happy and productive, and my main inclination is to hope that my luck holds. My troublingly good mood probably has a lot to do with the weather, which is gorgeous. I had an amazing night just now.

When I was younger, I thought that my parents were a little clueless about my line of work, as it operated according to different sensibilities and rules from their own. But I’ve since come to believe that the opposite is true: I was the clueless one, and they, as ever, were tremendously wise. In their working lives, my parents have always been very careful to identify the things they care about most — autonomy, flexibility, and cultivating strong relationships with clients that amount to really robust friendships — and to pursue them with crazy energy. My mother, who worked two jobs for most of my childhood, eventually found colleagues who trusted and valued her work, and she’s been with them ever since. My father left a good and stable job to try his hand at building a small tax practice, and he’s been working seven days a week ever since. When I go to my father’s office, I see this incredible whirl of activity surrounding a trim, white-haired guy who is well over twice my age but has the energy of a plucky 10-year-old on a sugar rush. If I manage to work with some small slice of the creativity and integrity and stick-to-it-iveness of the elder Salams, I will be pretty proud. We’ll see. It’s a tall order.

This comes to mind in part because I am giving a very short talk at a high school career fair in New York. One of my best friends is a high school teacher, and I’ve wanted to meet her charges for years now. Now I have my chance! A lot of other friends will be there, many of whom do truly amazing work — a pair of brilliant furniture-makers, a gut-bustingly hilarious TV producer, a hypnotically charismatic Slavic literature prof — so I’m really looking forward to it. Another reason you should come to Urbanexus: I’m schlepping to New York in the morning and schlepping back for the panel. That’s dedication.