1. "Just a chat with your friendly neighborhood president." President Obama spent an hour Friday in a garage in Highland Park with comedian Marc Maron, taping an episode of Maron's "WTF" podcast.
"There were limits, of course. An unguarded politician is a contradiction in terms, where oversharing is a comic's stock in trade: You take your darkest garbage and spread it around on the table for a laugh. And yet the curious mix of introspection and extroversion that creates a comic is surely not foreign to many politicians—though one senses from this president that, like some performers and politicians, he does not need to look for approval outside himself. (Obama: 'Stuff that was buggin' ya, by the time you're 53, either you've worked it out or you've just forgiven yourself and you've said, 'Look, this is who I am.' 'Maron: 'Oh, I've got to write that down—I can just forgive myself?') Politicians live in the future; they plan, they predict, they promise. What the president says in light of a tragedy like the Charleston shootings, which the two discussed, has to consider both the awfulness of the moment and the better, saner place we might get to; declaring himself an optimist, Obama described Americans as 'overwhelmingly good, decent generous people' who are divided by politics and 'a media that is so splintered now that we're not in a common conversation.' Comedy can also take you to a better, saner place, by making you think and by making you laugh, but it is not in the business of delivering hope. It has a different slant on the human condition."