American Weekend (RIP)

“If you had tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’” – John Lennon “If you want to know about American greatness, go back and read all the work that Jimmy [Breslin] wrote” – Michael Daly “I would have the knees of a twelve-year-old now if I hadn’t danced […]

Beauty and the Shopping Piece

In “the transformative power of classical music,” Benjamin Zander describes and plays a two-minute piece by Chopin. He asks his audience to “think of somebody who you adore who’s no longer there [and] bring that person into your mind and at the same time, follow the line all the way from B to E, and […]

Animal Kingdom Farm Plantation

“In wildness is the preservation of the world,” Henry David Thoreau One of the often-uncounted costs of human progress has been the replacement of wild places with a world completely subjugated by humans. But consider what we are losing with the vanishing wilderness – from its value as a garden of medicinal plants to a […]

The Rebirth of Hubris

We appear to have reached the end of a 50-year era of environmental awareness, a time that had its coming of age on Earth Day 1970, and that spawned the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts, as well as the EPA, which is now itself on the endangered list. It was a bipartisan […]

Born in the Country

“The United States was born in the country and moved to the city.” Richard Hofstadter, The Age of Reform Some years ago in a class on Environmental Issues and Social Justice, I assigned Jane Jacobs’ “Cities First – Rural Development Later” a chapter from her book, The Economy of Cities. In a nutshell, Jacobs argues […]

Of Migrants, Immigrants and Refugees

With the deportation machinery kicking into gear, I came across this passage from The Grapes of Wrath, whose author would have turned 115 a week ago today: The cars of the migrant people crawled out of the side roads onto the great cross-country highway, and they took the migrant way to the West. . . […]

The Enemies of the People

“I think the press has to fit in somewhere in the mission statement,” wrote a reader about the ongoing series to define a mission statement – or describe a common mythology – that can begin to bind this disparate nation together. He attached this editorial from The Dallas News: “What you need to know about […]

We Have Crossed the Line

“I am the son of an immigrant and the husband of an immigrant. I live in a county where half of the residents were born in a foreign country and three-quarters of us were born someplace else – here not by chance but by choice, striving to lead better, healthier, more successful American lives. Welcome […]

Building an American Myth

How do you make a mission statement for a country? has been the theme of my last few posts. How can we recreate a unifying national myth to which all of us can resonate? What follows is a list of eight possible components of an American identity. These are not simple things – they contain […]

Identity Politics

We hear a lot about “identity politics” these days, and most of it is bad. The basic image is of ever-more strident and intolerant groups who are interested only in airing their grievances, establishing their victimhood, furthering their agendas, and shouting down anyone who disagrees – all at the expense of the greater good. But […]