The Beloved Poet-King Eddie Balchowsky

    What does a musical artist do in the midst of a bloody war? Eddie Balchowsky was twenty-one and planning on a future as a concert pianist. He had studied three years at the University of Illinois (before getting booted because he had broken into a music studio). He wound up in Chicago, working […]

Goodwill to All

        My younger son wanted to visit the Goodwill Outlet in the city before he goes back to school. He convinced me to drive by saying they would have wall mirrors, which I collect from Facebook Marketplace, and even possibly a chair. He wanted to look for thrifted clothing. Teens love washed-out […]

How Zero-Sum Thinking Divides Us

    I used to wonder if politics boiled down to temperament. Were liberals just bleeding hearts who preferred compassion to logic? Were conservatives just devoted rule followers nervous about change? Then my mental diagram turned into a wild doodle, with fat circles at the edges for those even more rigid or more woke, and […]

Sandra Day O’Connor Shamed Me by Example

    She served on the highest court of the land as its first female justice. She sustained a “nondoctrinaire, context-attentive approach,” rare today, that kept her decisions aligned with the social consensus. A moderate Republican appointed by President Ronald Reagan, she received the nation’s highest medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from Democratic President […]

How Black Migration in St. Louis Sparked Generation Nope

        During the early days of the pandemic, my ex-partner passed time by tracing his family heritage back four generations. The majority of his relatives, he claimed, did not have ties to the Deep South and they were not remembered as poor slaves or sharecroppers. They lived comfortably as farmers in Ironton, […]

Five Reasons Black St. Louisans Are Migrating from St. Louis

    The mass exodus of Black St. Louisans in recent years continues to raise eyebrows and stir concerns that question where longtime residents are going, but mostly, why they are leaving. This city’s complexities regarding race, class, and land further muddle the reasoning behind Black residents’ migratory patterns and their move to St. Louis […]

Letter to a Young Leftist

      I will begin by apologizing: surely “leftist” is no longer the right word. Is “progressive”? You know how old liberals grumble about new vocabulary; we are as grumpy as the other side these days. But geez. Instead of allowing helpful new words to take root, you guys swing them like police batons. […]

What Made Americans So Lonely

    Parks are lonely places in November, washed in cold gray. The dog and I are the only large, readily visible creatures for miles. But we are together. When there is no “together,” life takes on an unwelcome austerity. And that is happening all over the country. Loneliness, the media tell us, is epidemic. […]

White Lies Seem Civilized—But They Drive Us Apart

    I was raised to tell white lies. To tell White lies, the sort my people use to shelter one another from unpleasant truths. No raw honesty seeped into our proper world, just bland assurances and an endless trove of compliments. For some, the goal was simply the expectation: nicey-nice. For my mother, though, […]

Jerry Seinfeld Hates Everything, but He Is Good at It

      According to Jerry Seinfeld, St. Louis is (sort of) his alpha and omega. He was in town for a standup concert last night at the Enterprise Center, an 18,000-seat venue where the St. Louis Blues play. Seinfeld said when his sitcom “bombed” originally, appearing in a bad slot midweek after Unsolved Mysteries, […]