Most of us never see artists at work. Most of us never want to see artists at work. The process of visualizing, creating, refining, and polishing is the best left in the shadows. The multiple iterations required to arrive at a completed piece are neither appealing or interesting to most of us. The mental and emotional gyrations which spun and swirled in Van Gogh’s head and hand as he accelerated towards The Starry Night or Café Terrace at Night may fascinate, but they hardly make good viewing. Bach’s endless tinkering with notes and sounds while he composed the Brandenburg Concertos may appeal to the musicologist, but the rest of us are satisfied listening to the music. Nobody wants to see Meryl Streep stand in front of a mirror practicing gestures, accents, and tone while preparing for a role. The image of Anne Coates viewing reels of film in a cramped editing room, then manipulating them in search of the proper pacing for Lawrence of Arabia, is best left to film students. We just want to see the movie. The effort behind Read the rest of this entry »

we watch

Posted: August 27, 2020 in Observations and Commentary
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We watch the world like it is a video game, full of carnage and mayhem, but never tactile or real. We watch chaos erupt in metropolises, cities, and towns. We watch protectors turn aggressor. We watch frustration turn to anger and anger turn to rage and rage turn to destruction. We watch military grade weapons filter into the hands of the unprepared and unstable. We watch youthful fervor morph into Read the rest of this entry »

the hot dog man

Posted: August 22, 2020 in Traskland
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Winter officially ended when Luke materialized with his hot dog cart. He pushed the old wagon down 4th street, staying as close as possible to the parked cars. He paused when a car approached to let it pass. Drivers dramatically swerved and honked their horn in frustration. Every so often he received the one-finger salute. Luke didn’t appear to care. He kept to the street. The sidewalk was too risky, too full of potential mishaps. It was narrow, uneven, and dangerous. One false step, one small crack in the pavement, and the wagon would surely topple over. When it hit the ground, it would burst like a water balloon. A few angry gestures were nothing compared to that.

not Luke

It was easy to understand Luke’s caution. The cart looked incredibly fragile. The wheels screeched like they had never heard of WD-40. The body was heavily dented and disturbingly rusted. Duct tape was everywhere. The chrome finish was matte, no longer shiny. The yellow Sabretts umbrella tilted too much and threatened to ruin the wagon’s delicate balance. If he unexpectedly hit a dip in the road Read the rest of this entry »

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 »