12 Poems I’ve Enjoyed Recently

My wife is the best. This pandemic time has been pretty hard on both of us, but she has managed to find little ways to help beat back the dreariness, including sending me occasional poems. Some days, these have felt like precious little gifts. Poems, said Mary Oliver, “are not words, after all, but fires …

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Desolation Revisited: A Moderately Insane 120-Song Bob Dylan Playlist for Dark Times, Pt. 2/7

Hey folks! This is a passion project I started working on a few months ago and then took a break from for awhile. I'm still a LONG way from finishing the whole annotated playlist and can't say when I'll be done with it, but if you want to know the context and motivation behind the …

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National Geographic’s Dan Buettner on Why Trying Harder Won’t Help You Be Happier, Healthier, or Live to 100—and What Will

It may feel like bad news for many of us, but decades of global research into longevity have now demonstrated that where we live and our social environments are much more important factors in determining our long-term health and happiness than anything we can do for ourselves as individuals. This was the overarching takeaway from …

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James Baldwin on the “Question [Every] Answer Hides” and the Role of Artists in Society

Nina Simone and James Baldwin in the 1960s. We of the craft are all crazy… some are affected by gaiety, others by melancholy, but all are more or less touched.-- Lord Byron, 1836 Look, it bugs me a little bit how much we sometimes glorify artists, at least the famous ones. In a professional sense, …

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10 Emily Dickinson Poems

A daguerrotype of Dickinson at age 16, displayed at the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst. Anyone familiar with America’s favorite 19th-century recluse poet knows that she spent her life obsessed with matters of faith, death, spirituality, the divine, and the wonders of nature. Naturally, therefore, I’m a big fan. A little farther down the road …

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Channeling Richard Rohr: Is Our Current Political Moment Partly a Crisis of Identity?

Rake the muck this way. Rake the muck that way. It will still be muck. In the time you are brooding, you could be stringing pearls for the delight of heaven.— a Hasidic saying I don’t know about you, but on top of everything else I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of brooding …

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When Lee Atwater Spilled the Beans on the Dark Secret at the Heart of 40 Years of Republican Policy

You start out in 1954 by saying, 'N****r, n****r, n****r.' By 1968 you can’t say 'n****r'—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, 'forced busing, states’ rights,' and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now you’re talking about 'cutting taxes'—and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things, and …

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Desolation Revisited: A Moderately Insane 120-Song Bob Dylan Playlist for Dark Times, Pt. 1/7

The thing that struck me about Bobby was his despair, that deathlike quality about him… People live with hope for green trees and beautiful flowers… but Dylan seems to lack that sort of simple hope.– Suze Rotolo, in No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan (1986) Ain’t talkin’, just walkin’Up the road …

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A Few Interesting Articles from the News, Pt. 2

Like I said last week, I read a lot of articles and sometimes I like to share what I find. Here’s another batch of interesting and/or fun things I’ve come across recently in the news, mostly from the past week: 1.) “How the Pandemic Defeated America” – by Ed Yong, The Atlantic, Sept. 2020 [Note: …

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Andrew Sullivan on “The Roots of Wokeness”

There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it. —Quirrell quoting Voldemort, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone For those not familiar with him, Andrew Sullivan is a controversial political/cultural commentator from the more libertarian end of the spectrum. For perhaps a decade now, I have …

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