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good.jpgFor years now, whenever my mother would lament my dismal church attendance record, I would point to my religious reading of Randy Cohen’s The Ethicist column. Though there was no eternal salvation on offer, I always felt that its example was a weekly sermon that guided me towards moral honesty and perhaps kept me from impinging on the goodness of this world while I was on it.

So it was with some audible shock that I opened the Times site this morning to see Cohen’s simply headlined “Goodbye” column: after 12 years, he is moving on to other projects.

I have an abiding love for all sorts of advice columns (a reading woman’s Oprah?), but Cohen always inspired me to make a personal examination rather than gawk at the problems of others. I’ll miss his insight when it comes to examining the small decisions that ultimately shape and define our lives.

And if you’re wondering what any of this has to do with music and culture, I fully admit the link is tenuous. And yet, after consuming yet another week of arts coverage filled with musicians on strike and legislative threats to public funding, I think maybe a broader check-in regarding conduct and the public good as we plunge into the next debate is a stop worth making.


  1. I, too, read that column as a lurch in my personal world. I’m glad to see the Times has not let the column drop.

    You’re right that a conversation about the public good is long overdue in this country—but I think we’ll be waiting a while longer…

  2. Joshua Kosman in the San Francisco Chronicle”

    “To exempt music, and art in general, from moral considerations is not to protect it at all, but to marginalize it and rob it of any ability to engage on a human level.”

    Full article here:

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