The Corporate/Medical Threat

1 May 2014


Misuse of prescription drugs and opportunism by drug companies has hit the headlines in a big way as people try to figure out how this happened and what to do about it.  The answers aren’t clear yet, but the damage surely is.  Last night as I was listening to the news, I was carried back to the time I quit smoking by throwing a nearly full carton of Chesterfields into my fireplace.  Continue reading

My World’s Fair – 1939


19 April 2014

Newspapers are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the New York World’s Fair.  I remember buying a cold hamburger from a man who promised that if I put it in “this box” it would be edible in less than a minute.  In one instant, that prototype microwave oven became an exciting promise to anyone who didn’t like to cook.  But that’s not the World’s Fair I remember.  Mine was The New York World’s Fair of 1939, also in Flushing Meadows, and I think of it several times each year and whenever I am scared.  I was eight.

My mother had shown me pictures of the Trylon and Perisphere that trumpeted “The World of Tomorrow.”  We were going, she said, and so we did.  What I didn’t understand for at least seven decades afterward was that my mother loved being thrilled and my father hated the very idea of it.  “Oh Alfred, haul the sail in, here comes a real gust.” I heard versions of that throughout my childhood.  I was told by others of her driving, newly engaged to my father, to pick him up at the railroad station and flipping her red convertible.  “Oh, I loved the wind in my hair.”  Continue reading

Just Another Day at the Office: Damien Echols, Alvin Ailey and the Pedicab


12 December 12

In its early stages, Friday December 7th shaped up this way.  The Count Basie Theater had asked if I would interview Damien Echols, the principal figure in the new documentary West of Memphis.  Yes, I would. The roundtable press interview would take place in New York.    In preparation, I read Life after Death, Echols’ account of his eighteen years in an Arkansas prison for a crime he says he did not commit.  The press conference, held on the 15th floor of the Regency Hotel in New York, put me smack in the middle of a real life story that puts movie scripts to shame.   Continue reading

Tell Me Anything, But Don’t Tell Me What To Think

3 April 14

An intuitive guideline has always told me that religion and patriotism are private questions, two areas we have to figure out for ourselves.  Because that felt right for me, I have always shied away from involvement in organized religion or patriotic spectacle.  Each of these triggers my distrust of any crowd anointed authority that believes it knows what’s right in the world of either God or Country.  That’s the pleasure of both, isn’t it, that each one of us can walk around with beliefs we have reasoned, modified, and changed as we go through life.  God and Country are rooted in shadings, not absolutes.   Continue reading