At some point inequity and anonymity overwhelm you. I am sure you understand. Maybe as a kid you caught a fat river catfish only to have your bullying brother snatch it from your slippery hands and insist his line hooked it. Then he ran home to show your parents what he brought for supper. Maybe you didn’t get the top prize for 9th grade mathematics because Henry Schmidt cheated on the big test. Principal Wagner was so impressed by Henry’s “achievement” that he ran out of superlatives as he pinned the ribbon on that cheater’s shirt. Maybe you agonized for weeks to gather the courage to ask Emma Meier to walk the midway with you at the county fair. When she agreed, but later changed her mind after that dim-witted George Smith asked her, you thought your heart would wither and die. It did not help seeing George and Emma hold hands for the next three months. Maybe whenever Mama baked a fresh loaf of bread and passed it around the table your gluttonous, greedy siblings ripped off chunks the size of small animals for themselves. By the time it got to you only crumbs remained, barely enough to feed the mice that scampered across the attic at night. If you complained Read the rest of this entry »

It is easy to imagine Somerville as the romanticized epitome of a certain type of early 20th century American small town, the kind featured in Norman Rockwell’s art, novels like Ragtime, and films such as The Music Man and It’s a Wonderful Life. A town filled with tree-lined streets and well-spaced grand houses. In those houses lived Father, Mother, and their four children, along with cranky Grampa or plucky Aunt Sarah or (occasionally) Mother’s rogue brother Charlie. After supper families would greet neighbors and window shop as they Read the rest of this entry »

Several months ago Amazon announced they planned to open a second corporate headquarters in either the United States or Canada. They named this new venture HQ2, not to be confused with the old school television shopping channels HSN and QVC. (2-3 weeks for delivery? How quaint!) Metropolitan areas were invited to pitch their “Pick Me!” stories. 238 proposals were received. Amazon promptly placed them in the “Save for Later” section of their shopping cart and continued their hugely successful mission to keep cardboard manufacturers busy.

Well, “later” has arrived. Sorta. The top 20 finalists were announced today. It is an understandably exciting time for these hopefuls. Amazon projects Read the rest of this entry »


Rapperswil is part of a municipality in northeast Switzerland. It is *not* a questionable brand of bathtub gin marketed to struggling rap artists. You may think offering that lame pun in a local tavern will elicit good-natured laughter, but the only thing you’ll receive is the dreaded Swiss death stare. It is exactly the same look you get when you kid about money with a wealth manager from Credit Suisse. Switzerland may be famously neutral and their knives more functional than deadly, but their aloof contemplation can be withering. So do yourself a favor. Resist the urge to make a bad Rapperswil joke, especially while in Rapperswil. Don’t be the Ugly American.

Rapperswil was settled many centuries ago and for a long, long time was its own thing. Oh sure, an occasional power struggle erupted to keep things interesting, but Read the rest of this entry »

New Jersey, along with a large portion of the eastern United States, is in the midst of a “bomb cyclone.” Bomb cyclone grabs your attention, doesn’t it? It commands a serious and dramatic response. It also sounds like a new film by Roland Emmerich or an especially potent libation at “The Bunker”, the Pentagon’s underground officer’s lounge. Naturally, real meteorologists don’t call it this. They prefer “explosive cyclogenesis.” For them explosive cyclogenesis more concisely explains what it is happening. Conveniently, it also helps justify debt incurred through years of graduate and post-graduate study.

Weather events like these are very technical, but a winning topic of conversation among attendees of the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society. Those folks Read the rest of this entry »


Tom Petty has been gone for three months, but it still doesn’t feel real. Since the mid-70’s he has always been there doing his thing without much fanfare, like bedrock. His songs, especially the earlier ones, routinely pop up on classic rock stations. Whenever that happens the volume gets boosted a bit. Part of the reason is the songs are solid; the other is they offer warm familiarity. This may be true of all music you enjoyed as a kid, but not of all that music endures. Petty endures, like bedrock.

I was never a superfan, but I like a lot of his work – and love some of it. I saw him live for the first and only time in 1979. Back then huge video screens did not flank the stage, so unless Read the rest of this entry »

Man, the years keep on keeping on, don’t they? It seems like just yesterday when 2016 exploded into 2017 and the prospect of the new year brought with it an impending sense of doom which lurked just around the corner of January and 20th. We use “impending” as a harbinger, a warning that it is time to prepare for bad, bad juju because it will soon be spewing from every crevice and pore. One does not think of an impending ice cream cone or an impending night out at the cinema. No sir. Impending is saved for the serious shit – an impending Read the rest of this entry »

Chest thumps spreading just like wildfire
An imaginary war grows
Yule-tide ornaments hang from every wire
But the outraged see only foes

Everybody knows that it’s Christmastime Read the rest of this entry »

Not so very long ago Americans knew who Charles Whitman was. On August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman shot 46 people from the 27th floor of the University of Texas Tower in Austin. Fifteen died. It shocked the country. The following week the cover of Life magazine was a sobering photograph of the UT Tower through a window with two bullet holes. The shooting was so horrifying and unique that the two major wire news organizations Read the rest of this entry »

Many years ago, I was traveling from Dallas, Texas to Norman, Oklahoma. It was the familiar interstate route, a straight shot north. It was also dull and repetitive, so I decided to hop onto the local roads and find my way across the state border at a new unknown spot, a pioneer in a Plymouth Fury. The Texas blacktop led me through small cow towns where experience told me my New Jersey accent would not be an asset. I double-checked my fuel gauge to ensure I could make it into Oklahoma without Read the rest of this entry »