Theme for Lester

            St. Louis trumpeter Lester Bowie was a traditionalist—and a rebel. His father, grandfather, and uncles all played brass instruments, and he continued the family tradition, taking up the trumpet at the age of five. Soon he was advanced enough to study with a classical trumpeter from the St. Louis […]

What Cannot Be Spoken

    Novels, news, plays, debates, speeches, texts, films, podcasts, instructions—we move through life on a conveyor belt of words. Yet the most powerful are those that cannot be uttered. People were so terrified of bears that they created the first known euphemism, replacing the creature’s formal name with words meaning “the brown one” or […]

The Museum of Everything There Is

    Ms. Charlotte Davis wanted to show me everything. I was standing on the porch of the log cabin next to the museum, and when I turned she had appeared on the steps, an older local lady with tight white hair, asking why I had decided to visit. I had the odd feeling she […]

The Eyes that Watched Bette Davis’s Eyes

    I would not think that Bette Davis is remembered much today or much known among younger audiences. Perhaps I am wrong. I hope I am. Thirty-two years ago today, October 6, the famed actress died. The first Davis movie I ever saw was Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? in about 1963 or 1964 […]

What Side-Eye Toddler Tells Us About Ourselves

    “Finally impressed?” asked the headline in The Washington Post. The NFT (non-fungible token) of the side-eyeing toddler meme had just fetched $74,000 in cryptocurrency. “Nope,” I replied aloud, deleting the story. We—need a word for United Statesians, because I do not want to drag Canada into this mess. We are the ones who, […]

The Houston Women’s March

    A would-be participant in the Houston Women’s March for reproductive and voting rights stood in a line of three dozen people waiting to pay to park on Saturday morning, in a lot next to Minute Maid Park and a Catholic women’s prep school. She was dressed as a handmaid, from the TV adaptation […]

Holy Cow!

    A New Yorker who cycled the Katy Trail this summer told me, delight still in his voice, that the highlight of that blazing hot ride was coming upon cows swimming in a creek. Werner Lampert, an Austrian sustainability expert, used to climb to an alpine pasture and recited German Romantic poetry to the […]

The Manor to Which I Could Get Accustomed

  I live with a blessed patch of pines between me and the main road, so I do not think about traffic much until the screaming sirens fly past, quite close, and I have to wait to see if there is a problem in my neighborhood—fire, medical emergency—as they take the long way around. So […]