Studs Terkel Tonight I went to see Studs Terkel speak at the Union Square Barnes & Noble. He is on a small book tour for his newest book, Hope Dies Last. It was easily the best book reading I've ever been to, and only a few paragraphs were read and none of them by Studs himself.

I am no expert on Terkel, but I can tell you that he is a brilliant author, orator, thinker, and human being. His work focuses on, in his own words, "celebrating the non-celebrated." His most famous book, Working, is a shining example of this, as he looks at how people feel about their jobs.

Throughout the talk, he had some wonderful moments. A few of the funniest had to do with his incredibly poor hearing, which he considers a strength at some points. When Bush had just declared that the U.S. was victorious in Iraq there was some mention of embedded journalists. Studs heard him say "in bed with journalists." The other bit happened throughout the night. Due to his poor hearing he had another man on stage with him helping out. An audience member would ask a question and the helper would yell it in his ear. Studs was always overjoyed when he heard the question, even if he had no plans on answering it. "Oh boy, I'm glad you asked that question!"

The most poignant thing he spoke about was the evil of banality. This is when we accept the status quo because it is the status quo. His example was Arnold Shwarzenegger (whom he referred to as "the musclehead who became governor) on the Oprah Winfrey show. On most programs we expect competing candidates to get equal time, but since Arnold is a celebrity we let it gloss over. We're used to seeing him on tv so we don't think much about it. To me, this idea, the evil of banality, is at the core of what's wrong with society. It's nice to know that a man of ninety-one years agrees.

I am so happy I was able to see him speak and I plan to pick up my copy of Working and starting reading it again. If you'd like to know more, there's plenty to read on the internet.