I’m Jonathan Alter and like many of you, I’m often at my happiest when experiencing what the writer Diana Trilling called “a life of significant contention.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean arguing, just conversing about what’s important and compelling instead of trivial and boring.

I launched OLD GOATS to host fun yet meaningful conversations among people who’ve been around for a while.

This country has always been fascinated by what’s new, and recently we’ve begun listening to younger, more diverse voices. I think we can all agree that’s great.

But I’m in my mid-60s and still get up most mornings with some things I want to say—many of them rooted in what’s old. 

I like to use the past to help me think more clearly about the present and the future. 

As Dwight Hansen, the otherwise despicable father played by Robert De Niro in This Boy’s Life, puts it: “I know a thing or two about a thing or two.”

I imagine you do, too. Plenty of old goats aren’t ready to be put out to pasture.

I can see the eyeball-rolling now: OK, boomer. OK, wise janitor (the character in Not Another Teen Movie satirizing the old guy at the high school dispensing pearls of wisdom to teenagers). OK, original gangster.

But you know what? We’re still here. Per Hamlet, we’re not ready to “shuffle off this mortal coil” —or to a shuffleboard court.


When the inter-generational tension fades, we all know that OGs in any realm have a lot to teach each other and younger people.

This newsletters provide a forum for that and a little counter-programming to society’s constant focus on the new.

I’m still immersed in the present, and post periodically about how our Old-Goat-in-Chief is handling himself, among other subjects, usually, I hope, with some historical perspective.

Nearly every week, I “ruminate” with compelling people who have a little mileage on the odometer - but still know a thing or two about a thing or two

I’ve broadened the conversation to my paid subscribers, so members of this community can burrow into it with me  — and with each other.

If this community was an investment, it might be called a “wisdom play.” I hope you’ll stumble on a few good stories and fresh insights that --with any luck-- could help make you a little wiser and better-informed.

Most online interviews and exchanges nowadays are podcasts and videos. They’re great, but hard to scan through.

Old Goats conversations are presented to you in written form so you can skip ahead or linger at will. That also allows me and my guests to pause and think a little longer about what we mean to say—another advantage over podcasts.

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WHAT YOU WILL GET when you subscribe:

-Every Thursday, I post a conversation and rumination with a smart friend or acquaintance who has been alive for more than half a century, a few of whom may even qualify as a true GOAT (Greatest Of All Time).

=All subscribers--paid and free-- get these weekly conversations, plus my occasional "Between the Lines" column on something in the news.  

EXTRAS for paid subscribers:

-Access to the full archive of timeless conversations with a variety of fascinating, accomplished people.

-The chance to share your insights, stories and wisdom with other members of the OG community.

-Access to small remote sessions with Jonathan Alter and a few others to discuss the issues of the day.

$6 a month

$60 a year (two months free)


I was born and raised in a politically-active family on the North Side of Chicago. As a child, I loved American presidents the way other kids obsessed over dinosaurs and grew up to interview nine of them (either before, during or after their presidencies) and write books about Franklin Roosevelt, Barack Obama and, most recently, Jimmy Carter. After college, a series of odd jobs and training at The Washington Monthly, I spent 28 years at Newsweek, most of it as a columnist and senior editor, covering a wide variety of stories at home and abroad. I’ve worked part-time for NBC News and MSNBC for 25 years as a contributing correspondent and political analyst. I’ve written for The New York Times, The Washington Post and many other publications and in recent years branched out and became a documentary filmmaker, a producer of a scripted Amazon television series, and co-host with our three children (Charlotte, Tommy and Molly) of a weekly SiriusXM radio show where we sit around and talk as if we were at the dinner table. 

Twitter: @jonathanalter

Website: jonathanalter.com

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