Connecting California, Featured »

What Californians Can Learn From South Korea’s Nuclear Cool

By | November 13, 2017

Can Californians learn to be as cool as Koreans in the face of nuclear annihilation?
Visiting Seoul last week, I asked people how they stay sane while living within range of North Korea’s weapons. After all, Kim Jong Un’s capital, Pyongyang, is just 120 miles from Seoul—the same meager distance protecting San Diego from Los Angeles.
Seoul’s regional population is now 25 million, about half of …

Headline, What It Means to Be American »

The Southern Writers Who Defined America

By | November 13, 2017

Tell about the South. What’s it like there? What do they do there? Why do they live there? Why do they live at all?
           —Shreve McCannon, to Quentin Compson
Struggling in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! to field these questions, flung at him by his Harvard roommate on a snowy evening in 1910, the young Mississippian Quentin Compson plunges into the history of …

Featured, Poetry »

I was part of his vision of a wind-whipped Schwinn #poem

By | November 10, 2017

I
It was a beginning like any other which isn’t
quite the way it was. With beginnings,
where to start? The house that was my first
was a house that Daddy brought to Virgil
atop a flatbed truck. He made his boys fix
it to the foundation, then do whatever else
was necessary to create a kind of permanence.
I wasn’t there then. Then I was, driving Daddy
through the old neighborhood where the …

Essay, Headline »

We Shouldn’t Rely on Politicians to Memorialize Our Fallen Soldiers

By | November 10, 2017

Five U.S. infantry soldiers died on June 21, 2007, when their 30-ton Bradley tracked vehicle hit a deep-buried bomb in Adhamiyah, Iraq.
I was embedded as a reporter with their unit when they died, and I watched as the men who served with them rallied.
They reached out to the mothers and fathers and wives, offering and seeking comfort, but also saying what they believed needed to …

Headline, What It Means to Be American »

The “Crying Indian” Ad That Fooled the Environmental Movement

By | November 9, 2017

It’s probably the most famous tear in American history: Iron Eyes Cody, an actor in Native American garb, paddles a birch bark canoe on water that seems, at first, tranquil and pristine, but that becomes increasingly polluted along his journey. He pulls his boat ashore and walks toward a bustling freeway. As the lone Indian ponders the polluted landscape, a passenger hurls a paper bag …

Essay, Headline »

The Origins of Burma’s Old and Dangerous Hatred

By | November 8, 2017

In a recent interview with a Guardian journalist, the Burmese monk U Rarzar expressed his country’s rationale for fearing and repressing its Muslim minority. “[The] Ma Ba Tha is protecting people from terrorists like ISIS,” U Rarzar told the British newspaper. “Muslims always start the problems, such as rape and violence.” While U Rarzar’s comments might seem shocking, they repeat a script that Burmese Buddhists …

Essay, Headline »

How Fishing Created Civilization

By | November 7, 2017

Of the three ancient ways of obtaining food—hunting, plant foraging, and fishing—only the last remained important after the development of agriculture and livestock raising in Southwest Asia some 12,000 years ago.
Yet ancient fisher folk and their communities have almost entirely escaped scholarly study. Why? Such communities held their knowledge close to their chests and seldom gave birth to powerful monarchs or divine rulers. And …

Connecting California, Featured »

How Data Is Making California’s Water Wars Worse

By | November 6, 2017

If you thought California’s famously bitter water wars were hard-fought, just wait until you see our water data wars.
Californians fight over water because we all need it and there is rarely enough to satisfy the full needs of many competing interests—farmers and fishermen, environmentalists and industry, state and local water agencies, and, of course, residents. In this way, California water history mirrors that of the …

Headline, What It Means to Be American »

When Variety Theaters Tantalized the Frontier West

By | November 6, 2017

In the spring of 1897, Spokane, Washington’s Spokesman-Review published an exposé of its city’s thriving red light district—known as Howard Street. The newspaper lingered on distasteful scenes in variety theaters with names like the Comique or the Coeur d’Alene: Places where a man could pick up a game of keno, watch a show, and—for the cost of a drink—enjoy the flirtations of “waiter girls” in …

Featured, Poetry »

You & me knew/ this would happen eventually #poem

By | November 3, 2017

We cross the Vincent Thomas bridge
in our Hyundai Santa Fe. We’re on our way
to my grandparents’ house
& then the market to get husks for the tamales.
Our car begins to shake
& the ground beneath seems to wiggle.
It is time for the bridge to collapse
after 83 years. Cars begin careening
off, some hang over the edge like they’re about
to go skydiving but not quite ready to jump. Some …

BROUGHT TO YOU BY