Greenwood Cemetery

The Long, Rugged Life of Greenwood Cemetery

Greenwood Cemetery welcomes historians just as it welcomes first-grade classes learning about significant people in history. It welcomed Shelley and Raphael Morris in 1999, now leaders of the cemetery, and it welcomed me in the summer of 2023 as I sought to learn more about this burgeoning Saint Louis stronghold.

William Dean Howells

The Problem of the Summer

There is really an infinite variety of pleasant resorts of all kinds now, and one could quite safely leave it to the man in the ticket-office where one should go, and check one’s baggage accordingly. I think the chances of an agreeable summer would be as good in that way as in making a hard-and-fast choice of a certain place and sticking to it. My own experience is that in these things chance makes a very good choice for one, as it does in most non-moral things.

Artist(s) John Dempsey/Billy Tokyo

Inventing Selves Through Psychological Cell Division

Dempsey’s website claims “[b]oth artists share a studio” near Chicago’s Loop, but as with so many things, this is a goof. John Dempsey and Billy Tokyo live and work in the same mind. In broad strokes, the difference between the styles of John Dempsey and Billy Tokyo is that Dempsey’s paintings are abstract—arcs and loops given depth by layered media—and Billy Tokyo’s are figurative (“but ‘Pop-py,’” Dempsey insisted) with distorted settings.

Collecting illustration

Our Obsession with the Passion of Possession  

Adam, the first collector, got to label every other creature, creating the first taxonomy. Collectors ever since have catalogued their finds, documented their history, identified subtle differences. By the nineteenth century, people saw collections as symbolic worlds, full of clues to other places and other times.

Variations on the Theme of Silence

Silences that close us off, refusing connection, shoring up the ego at others’ expense—those are dead silences. But the letting-go sort, the silences that hold space or keep vigil for someone else? They are alive.

A Nonprofit Trying to Make Health Care Not a Choice Between Bankruptcy or Suicide

The word “stories” was used often at the annual NABIP Capitol Conference, held in the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, February 25-28, 2024. I went because I have my own stories of frustration with health care, and because I am interested when someone seems ready to try to make things better in the largely incomprehensible and vaguely menacing system we all rely on.