Slate’s Culture Gabfest on HBO’s The Normal Heart, commencement addresses, and the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

Is It Too Soon for a 9/11 Museum?

Is It Too Soon for a 9/11 Museum?

Slate's weekly roundtable.
May 28 2014 1:33 PM

The Culture Gabfest “Sadness as the Bread” Edition

Slate’s Culture Gabfest on HBO’s The Normal Heart, commencement speeches, and the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

The Culture Gabfest has moved! Find new episodes here.

Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 297 with Dan Kois, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner with the audio player below.

And join the lively conversation on the Culturefest Facebook page here:


The sponsors of this week’s show are Harry’s and Audible. Go to and use the promo code “cultural” to save $5 on an elegant razor and shaving kit that’s cheaper and better than drugstore competitors. Get a free audiobook from Audible’s collection of more than 150,000 titles and a subscription to a daily audio digest when you sign up for a 30-day free trial at This week’s pick for the Culture Gabfest Bucket List—the books you’ve got to read to be a smarter culture hound—is And the Band Played On: Politics People and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts, read by Victor Bevine.

Sign up for Slate Plus to get ad-free podcasts, special bonus segments, discounted event tickets, a streamlined Slate reading experience, and more. Go to to learn more and join today. (You’ll also see a video from Steve, Dana, and Julia welcoming you to the program.)

Culturefest is on the radio! “Gabfest Radio” combines Slate’s Culture and Political Gabfests in one show—listen on Saturdays at 7 a.m. and Sundays at 6 p.m. on WNYC’s AM820.

And don’t forget you can find Culture Gabfest T-shirts for sale in the Slate store.


On this week’s episode, the critics discuss The Normal Heart, an HBO film adaptation of Larry Kramer’s 1985 play about the AIDS epidemic in New York and how the gay community mobilized a response. Next, inspired by the spate of student protests of graduation speakers at elite colleges, the gabbers discuss commencement addresses, a literary form destined to make even the best writers banal. And finally, the critics tour the 9/11 Memorial Museum, which opened on May 21 in lower Manhattan. Is it too soon to create a history museum of this tragedy?

Links to some of the things we discussed this week follow:



Dana: Penciltopia, a group that teaches kids to create stop-motion animation and Claymation.

Dan: “Bud,” an essay in The Common by Nalini Jones about her relationship with an anonymous folk singer, and the 1989 album Standing Eight by that singer Bill Morrissey.

Julia: Wild, Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

You can email us at

This podcast was produced by Chris Wade. Our intern is Anna Shechtman.

Follow us on Twitter. And please like the Culture Gabfest on Facebook.

Dan Kois edits and writes for Slate’s human interest and culture departments. He’s the co-author, with Isaac Butler, of The World Only Spins Forward, a history of Angels in America, and is writing a book called How to Be a Family.

Dana Stevens is Slate’s movie critic.

Julia Turner, the former editor in chief of Slate, is a regular on Slate’s Culture Gabfest podcast.