Wearing the comic title of “Inspector General of Homeland Security,” a man whose actual name is Mark Skinner came on the TV news this week to answer questions about a problem that has arisen with nearly 11,000 motor homes (don’t call them trailers) that have no place to go. FEMA bought them – each 80’ long and wide-bodied – to serve as housing for the people who lost their homes to Katrina. Each trailer is fully furnished and includes a plasma TV. The whole lot cost FEMA $431 million dollars. Continue reading
In 2002, I assumed in an article that Hollywood would temper its violence after 9/11. Later that year, in disappointment, I wrote again. As long as violence stuffs Hollywood pockets with money, none of the players, it seems, will step forward to condemn it. Has anything changed? No. When I wrote the second time, the Columbine shootings and the Dartmouth murders were in the headlines. In 2012, after a decade sprinkled with random murders of innocent people, the tragedy of Newtown came from the mind and hand of a student who spent his days with video games. This morning, on the first anniversary of Newtown, the papers report another school shooting in Colorado. We don’t need regulation or censorship. We need moral leadership. Continue reading
As a complete and lifelong failure as a cook (ask my family), I have just been given a gift of incalculable wonder by the Quaker Oats Company. It is a small plastic cup of rolled oats weighing 1.69 oz. (contents included) that sits on the shelves of that dreaded but unavoidable place, the grocery store. Continue reading
A few months ago, for some unfathomable reason, my iPhone started to play America the Beautiful. This was not something I had ever recorded, nor was it something I would have chosen to listen to while prowling the aisles of the A& P. But there, or in a restaurant, or at a meeting, it boomed, uninvited, from my pocket at unexpected and irregular moments. I sought help from grandchildren who told me how to turn it off only to have it reappear at the oddest of times. In case you think I was butt dialing, the same thing happened repeatedly when the phone lay untouched in my pocketbook. Needless to say, the song, when it played, never matched the circumstance. Continue reading
It was one of those half serious suggestions we drop into conversation from time to time: “I’d love to spend time in Gettysburg someday.” My youngest son, Kevin, responded with “Let’s do it,” and on a Thursday in November eight of us made our way from scattered points to the Wyndham Hotel in Gettysburg. My two boys – Kevin and Corky – a friend of theirs, Tiger Kite, my brother Al and his wife, Ann, and Vermont Civil War historian Howard Coffin with his wife Sue.
It’s important to say that the fields that make up the scene of those battles are breathtaking in their simplicity, preserved as they were in 1862, rimmed with the original cannons and defined by fences built with an intricacy that kept soldiers from tearing them down. Howard Coffin is a 7th generation Vermonter who made the fields jump alive with quiet, powerful words. Without him, we would have been moved by the beauty, with him we were reduced to silence as he painted the picture of what happened wherever we stood. Continue reading