Up there, in the mist and passing clouds, is a yellow crane: not the bird, but the manmade mechanism whose arm rises as it lifts heavy objects, moves sideways somewhere, then lowers as it deposits them. How can a heavy machine like a crane stay so
A beloved uncle and aunt, husband-and-wife farmers, named their first cow Rebecca, a lovely, sweet-tempered red and white Ayrshire, and we all fell for her. My uncle and aunt couldn’t bring themselves to have her killed, and so she died of old age.
I’ve just finished reading the 2018 edition of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s venerable Best American Short Stories (BASS), and I feel I’ve been brought up to date with my politics, above all, the political grievances I ought to feel. But should
Did Mark Twain say, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”? The quotation was included one morning in a post to a list for writers that I belong to. A man I’ll call Pangloss, after the
Stephen Colbert looks at a black man and declares, “I don’t see race.” Don Quixote catches sight of windmills and sees giants, along with the opportunity for a glorious knight’s errand. The idealism in both instances is both laughable and laudable.
Most history books focus on the ideas of great thinkers, the bravery of warriors, the charity of saints and the creativity of artists. They have much to tell about the weaving and unravelling of social structures, about the rise and fall of empires,
In 1974, I took a bus to Montreal from a distant part of New England. At the time, I was a British citizen with alien status in the United States. In this excerpt from my unpublished memoir, Spiral to Edinburgh, I describe my encounter with Quebecois
Just as we choose our friends but not our family members, as children we don’t choose where we live. Only as adults can we make that decision, even if our options are limited. And just as we might love family members we don’t much like, along with
That Friday afternoon last month, a Green-Wood Cemetery employee named Katie escorted Laura and me as we toured options for our future remains. We walked from buildings to open areas with ponds and vistas, on to another building, and then to yet
I’ve had this website for nearly a year, and I’ve been posting on my blog since July. As I assess my hopes for this project, I have reconsidered the text on my homepage, and specifically the discussion of the role of blindness in my work. On the one
“We go to the top of the fifth, and once again here’s the voice of the Manhattan Madisons, Clint Hill.” “Why, thank you, Pete Gray. We’re coming to you today from the Loco Foto Booth. Loco Foto, the photo-sharing service that lets you spread your
We treasure our regrets. It ought to make no sense. Sadness causes pain. There have been times when something I wish I hadn’t said or done comes to mind and I wince or, even more embarrassing, groan aloud. Soldiers have regrets for actions committed
It’s said that comedy comes from a place of hurt, so that if the humor seems hurtful, no one is more hurt than the comedian. Still, when a white standup comic mimics some stereotype of a black man in a mocking way, is he bringing out the prejudices
After recently adding a “subscribe” feature to my website, I discovered that WordPress’s initial form reply to people who sign up begins, “Howdy.” I like people who say “Howdy,” especially friends from places like Texas and California. But it isn’t
It’s still February, but on Saturday we were given a glimpse of spring here in the improbably rural ambiance of a ninth floor terrace in Brooklyn Heights, across the East River from Wall Street. Already for a few days, a mourning dove had been cooing
Troglodytes were a tribe of cave dwellers. One of their descendants is American patriot Trumplodyte, living in a gold cave in the sky over Fifth Avenue. He loves his fellow Americans so much that he offered to come down and reign over them, even
Here are two headlines from the New York Times in the past two months: “Kids Can’t Learn Who Can’t See” (May 15, 2015, an opinion piece promoting early vision care) “Blind to a Child’s Obesity” (June 16, 2015, about parents who
The gulf in experience between Grandma Spratt and me is captured in two words from her letter of July 18, 1977: “at Wisconsin.” She lived in the town of Darlington, England. When I was four, my parents, brother and I, who were all born there, moved
Is it lack of imagination that makes us come to imagined places, not just stay at home? —Elizabeth Bishop, “Questions of Travel” I concluded the “Cathedral Town” essay I posted just before our (my first) trip to
A+. The grade I gave myself in the friendly confines of Fox Television for my performance as president; equivalent to my Wharton MBA. See “Fox Television”; cf. “Wharton.” Attorney General. My personal lawyer. See “personal lawyer”; cf.
1 Bonnie and I were close my freshman year of college, her senior year at a neighboring women’s college. She came from a traditional military family and had traveled around the world, not just with her family—in fact, mostly on her own. My feelings
Reading Yukio Mishima’s novel, Runaway Horses, about failed Samurai rebellions in nineteenth and twentieth century Japan, has caused me to look at ISIS from a safe distance. In both cases, the ideology is violent and the premature deaths of its
Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to put obstacles in the way of disabled people seeking freedom of access under the Americans with Disabilities Act. See these articles from The Hill and the Washington Post. I’m re-posting the article I
Even though I used to find public speaking a nightmare, I consented to be the senior speaker at my Amherst College commencement. I say “consented” because I’d promised Andy, the friend who nominated me, that I would go ahead if elected, as I was.
Gavin Kane was a Democratic member of a majority Democratic city council. His colleagues warned him against inflammatory tweets. “We’re in charge,” they said. “It was one thing to throw T-bombs when we were in the minority and couldn’t do anything