Victorino Matus

Victorino Matus is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard. With the magazine since 1996, he writes on a variety of subjects, including politics, Germany, military history, pop culture, and food and drink. His work has also appeared in Policy Review, National Review, Armed Forces Journal, the New York Post, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. He is currently working on a book, Vodka: An Illustrated History (Lyons Press, 2014). Matus is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Stories by Victorino Matus

That's the Spirit!

A study of America's drinking habits by city (aside from a lot of vodka)
4:01 PM, Dec 08, 2014

Over the weekend, the Washington Post Magazine published a survey detailing the most popular spirits in ten U.S. cities. The study, conducted by Nielsen Scarborough USA, spans a 30-day period and tracks millions of adults. The findings are intriguing.

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Vodka: How a Colorless, Odorless, Flavorless Spirit Conquered America

10:26 AM, Jul 17, 2014

Our affable colleague, senior editor Victorino Matus, is famous for his big head, big heart, big appetite—and encyclopedic knowledge of food, drink, the consumption of same, contemporary German politics, and the sociology of his native New Jersey.

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Somebody's Watching Me

A Casual coda.
7:26 AM, Jun 07, 2014

It figures. In the June 2 issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, I devoted a Casual to my inability to keep pace with technology. Try as I might, at some point in time, it gets to be a bit much (I refuse to pay anything by smartphone). But much of the column was spent poking fun at my parents for being so "out of it." My mother still refuses to use ATMs, which I deemed irrational. But then I noticed someone had been pilfering our family checking account for thousands of dollars using my debit card number. I never lost the card, but someone had been hitting up ATMs all over town. Suddenly the thought of standing in line to see a teller didn't seem so ridiculous.

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Technical Difficulties

Victorino Matus finds anachronism is relative
Jun 02, 2014

With growing amusement (and only mild alarm), my wife and I have been noticing how our parents’ quirks have gotten, well, quirkier. My mother and father, for instance, steadfastly refuse to text-message. “I don’t want to get charged,” my mother says. And besides, “Why do you need to text when you can just call me?” Of course, this assumes she hears her flip-phone at all—it’s often buried deep inside her handbag. She also has a habit of turning the phone off.

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Casual Podcast: Technical Difficulties

11:30 AM, May 30, 2014

THE WEEKLY STANDARD Casual Podcast, with Victorino Matus reading his casual essay "Technical Difficulties."

Remember, when you sign up for our digital premium access, many of our print magazine articles are available to you courtesy of our professional readers.

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In Search of Renaissance Men

Walter Isaacson delivers the 43rd Jefferson Lecture.
1:47 PM, May 13, 2014

Every so often you'll find a headline about robots that will soon resemble (replace?) humans—the technology is only 20 years away. And these robots will be able to act like us and think like us, but they'll obviously be much smarter, making calculations at the speed of light. Sort of like that futuristic buddy-cop series on Fox, Almost Human, in which an android teams up with an officer to fight crime. But at last night's Jefferson Lecture, Walter Isaacson reminded us that these much-touted developments, like the Perceptron from 1958, never seem to materialize. Fortunately, our species remains irreplaceable.

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Russia Experts Needed

1:00 PM, Mar 19, 2014

In the weekend's Washington Post, Georgetown professor Angela Stent discussed the sudden demand for Russia experts—in particular those Sovietologists and Kremlinologists who in the 1990s had been consigned to the dustbin of history (or, if they had tenure, the dustbin of history departments). But ever since Vladimir Putin annexed the Crimea, Stent and her cohort have been regaining prominence. The professor argues this should not be a passing fad.

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Notes from a White House Kitchen

What did the president eat and when did he eat it?
3:34 PM, Mar 05, 2014

Yet another damning revelation about the Clintons: Daughter Chelsea preferred imitation maple syrup over the real thing. In Dining at the White House, former presidential chef John Moeller recalls his urging another cook to give the first daughter what she wants, even if it seems just plain wrong.

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Whiskey Rebellion

Embracing America's brown spirits (though we still drink a lot of vodka).
5:37 PM, Feb 04, 2014

The big news from this morning's annual briefing by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) was that for the first time ever, sales of bourbon and Tennessee whiskey exports generated over $1 billion. Admiral Peter Cressy, president of DISCUS, referred to a "whiskey renaissance" owing to a growing middle class, a good product story (American heritage), and the spreading of cocktail culture, among other factors. Indeed, brands like Maker's Mark have experienced growth while keeping its price relatively high—normally volume declines as the price rises. But Maker's and others are now experiencing the best of both worlds.

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Got Culture?

8:12 AM, Jan 31, 2014

Dorothy Kosinski is looking forward to the release of The Monuments Men, and not just because it stars George Clooney. The director of the Phillips Collection sees the movie as a way of spreading awareness that culture matters—and is even worth fighting for. The film is based on Robert Edsel's eponymous history of the artists, architects, and historians tasked with saving works of art from the Nazis during and after World War II. And even if critics are less than enthused, the film provides more ammo in the battle over culture's importance. But how important is it?

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The Heist of a Lifetime

2:40 PM, Jan 24, 2014

The one robbery where there should have been enough for everyone. Six million dollars in cash and jewels. And yet, within days of the robbery the dream score turned into a nightmare. What should have been the crew's happiest moment turned out to be the beginning of the end. —Nicholas Pileggi on the Lufthansa Heist, Wiseguy

Yesterday the end finally came for Vincent Asaro, a 78-year-old captain in the Bonanno crime family. But Asaro should count himself lucky: Although he was handcuffed and charged in connection to the 1978 Lufthansa heist, at least he wasn't strangled, stabbed, shot, or dismembered, as happened to many of the other participants.

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Eastern Promises

Are Germany and Russia in a relationship? It's complicated.
3:45 PM, Jan 22, 2014

Now that the Grand Coalition has returned to power, will there be a thaw in German-Russian relations? The Social Democrats (SPD) have retaken the foreign ministry. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the foreign minister, gets along well with the Russians—he was once chief of staff to Gerhard Schröder, a friend of Vladimir Putin's and a pro-Russia natural gas lobbyist. But more interesting is the new German-Russian coordinator, Gernot Erler, whose views on Russia will be considerably softer than his predecessor.

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Kitchen Nightmare

A legendary chef gets skewered.
3:15 PM, Jan 15, 2014

Today would not be a good day to hang out with Michel Richard. I've been around the award-winning French chef when something's not right—the vegetables in the soup aren't fully cooked, bread is being wasted, a waiter's shirt is verging on the untucked—it's not pleasant. Normally Richard is a jovial fellow, often likened to Santa Claus. But probably not today. The New York Times finally ran its review of Villard Michel Richard, the chef's first New York outpost, located in midtown Manhattan. I read it on my phone and blamed the mobile version for the lack of graphics—why is the star rating missing? In fact, critic Pete Wells had given the restaurant zero stars.

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An 80-Year-Old Argument

3:10 PM, Nov 20, 2013

The battle over government's role in society has been raging for some time—culminating in today's clash over Obamacare. But for how long? In The New Deal & Modern Conservatism: A Defining Rivalry, Professor David Davenport, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, and Gordon Lloyd, a professor at Pepperdine University, reexamine the Hoover-Roosevelt debates of the 1930s and find not much has changed.

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Tanks for the Memories

A look back on the Dukakis debacle.
3:34 PM, Nov 18, 2013

Over at Politico, Josh King reflects on the disastrous Michael Dukakis presidential campaign—specifically the moment the Massachusetts governor donned a helmet and rode around in an M1A1 Abrams, trying to resemble a muscular commander in chief. Except he didn't.

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The Business of Europe .  .  .

Victorino Matus, Sabbath shopper
Nov 18, 2013

The Good Book tells us “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work He had done in creation.” What biblical scholars cannot tell us, however, is precisely how God spent his Sunday. Did He go for a run? Read the paper while sipping on a venti macchiato at Starbucks?

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The Little Engine That Barely Could

7:53 AM, Nov 12, 2013

Last Saturday marked the 24th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. At the International Spy Museum in downtown D.C., the day was commemorated by a parade of colorful Trabants, those wonderful symbols of East German innovation and efficiency—central planning at its best.

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A Spirited Fight

7:10 AM, Nov 11, 2013

By now we know that winning the war on terror requires a commitment to peace and stability in far-flung places—a component that goes hand-in-hand with military might. Of course this is easier said than done. Certainly there are a slew of organizations focused on relief efforts, but how many of these groups work side-by-side with U.S. forces, delivering nonlethal assistance to one village at a time, with funding from private American citizens? There's at least one—it's called Spirit of America.

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Zone Four

Now boarding everyone but you.
2:45 PM, Oct 21, 2013

The day had finally arrived—our children were embarking on their first flight. My wife and I figured that since we wouldn't have to be changing diapers in cramped quarters (our kids are five and three), the time was right. But I also presumed that since we had toddlers with us, the airline would give us some leeway in boarding ahead of others. Instead we were one of the last people to board.

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Shutdown Impacts NFL Player

1:07 PM, Oct 06, 2013

Aiming to be the next Chad Ochocinco, 49ers safety Donte Whitner announced he was legally changing his last name to Hitner. But according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the paperwork cannot be completed because of the government shutdown. In fact, it may take a few weeks before the name change and thus a lot longer before new NFL jerseys can be sold. Perhaps this waiting period will allow Whitner to reflect on his momentous decision.

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Searching for Joschka Fischer

7:05 AM, Oct 02, 2013

Lost in the shuffle of last week's German elections was the plight of the Green party. It was understandable, of course. Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats dominated. The Free Democrats fell out of the Bundestag. And the CDU is meeting with Green party officials to discuss a potential partnership in government (though a grand coalition with the Social Democrats seems more likely). Still, how did the Greens go from 24 percent support in 2011 to a meager 8.4 percent last Sunday? And why didn't the most popular Green politician stump for his own party?

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Isn't It Grand?

Free Democrats are shut out of the Bundestag.
11:23 AM, Sep 22, 2013

The results of the German election are in and, as expected, the current coalition has come to an end. Although the CDU won a solid 42.3 percent, its junior partner, the FDP, dropped to 4.5 percent, below the threshold for representation in the Bundestag--the first time in its history.

The Alternative party garnered 4.8 percent, also below the threshold but enough to do damage to the current government.

Only two options are left: a Grand Coalition or an SPD-Green-far left alliance. My bet is on the former.

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Angie in the Haus

7:25 AM, Sep 22, 2013

By noon, Eastern Standard Time, everyone will know the results of the German elections. And the most likely outcome is a grand coalition between Angela Merkel's CDU and the Social Democrats.

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Germany's Alternative Ending

7:01 AM, Sep 21, 2013

"For the first time in this election I'm feeling nervous," one FDP member just confessed. And he should be. ZDF's final poll (Politbarometer) was released, and the race could not be tighter.

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The Missing Linke

6:28 AM, Sep 20, 2013

If you couldn't tell from all the red banners this was a far-left rally, you could probably tell by the smell. It was an earthy group consisting of various age groups and even more various hair dyes. They seem to like denim. And I think I've figured out how they managed to give their blue jeans that unwashed look.

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Beer and Loathing in Germany

7:25 AM, Sep 19, 2013

Wiesbaden, Germany
In the late 18th century, the Germans built a casino in the town of Wiesbaden. It was the first of its kind. But considering the wealth of the surrounding area, it flourished. In fact, the casino is where Dostoyevsky lost a hefty amount and, according to town historian Patrick Walz, the author never paid up. Wiesbaden is also where a Free Democrat rally took place Wednesday evening. The FDP is gambling on a large turnout of its middle- and upper-middle-class supporters here, hoping to remain in power for another four years and hoping to keep its seats in the Bundestag. The economy is humming along. Unemployment is low. Most Germans could say they're better off now than they were four years ago. So why does everyone seem so anxious?

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German Election Coverage

Beer, brats, and the Bundestag. (Plus brace yourself for some of the wurst puns.)
2:40 PM, Sep 17, 2013

Beginning tomorrow and through Sunday I will be reporting on the German elections, aka Bundestagswahl 2013, from Frankfurt, Mainz, Wiesbaden, and Berlin, as part of a study group sponsored by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. The foundation is the nonprofit arm of the Free Democrat Party, the junior coalition partner of the Christian Democratic Union. Whereas the FDP won a record-setting 15 percent of the vote four years ago, this time around it is fighting for its life.

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Go Back to Russia!

Why the vodka boycott doesn't work—unless you're boycotting Connecticut.
10:45 AM, Aug 21, 2013

To counter the persecution of gays in Russia, some in the West have been calling for a boycott of Russian vodka—the idea being that if things don't improve, we ought to hit 'em where it hurts. After all, Russians drink and make a lot of vodka and there was a time (in the mid-19th century) when close to 50 percent of tax revenue came from the neutral grain spirit. But as Mark Lawrence Schrad pointed out in yesterday's New York Times, those days are long gone. Yes, the Russians still make a considerable amount of vodka, but we here in the States don't drink much of it. And no, the Stolichnaya available here is not Russian.

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We Know What's Good for You

Is school lunch reform in need of reform?
11:15 AM, Aug 19, 2013

Michelle Obama is on the cover of this week's Parade magazine. The profile by Maggie Murphy and Lynn Sherr was hard-hitting: "Posing in the formal Green Room, she appears both relaxed and invigorated, embracing the undefined (and undefinable) roles of Spouse in Chief, Role Model in Chief, and Mom in Chief. But it's the last one that makes the first lady shine brightest of all. Put her in a room with kids—whether her own or the nation's—and she glows." Tell me more!

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James Gandolfini, 1961-2013

4:25 PM, Jun 20, 2013

It is said that when jazz legend Charlie "Bird" Parker died, the coroner guessed he was in his 50s. Parker was, in fact, 34 years old. Likewise, many of us might have been surprised to learn that actor James Gandolfini, who died suddenly on Wednesday night, was a mere 51. This means that when The Sopranos first aired in 1999, Gandolfini was only 37 or 38 years old. Of course it was alcohol that led to Parker's downfall. For all I know, Gandolfini's apparent heart attack (an autopsy is scheduled) happened because the man was a hulking figure who enjoyed life—he was in Rome at the time with his 13-year-old son on his way to the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily (he suffered the heart attack in the bathroom of his suite at the five-star hotel Exedra).

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