Sunday Morning on the Planet: Buster Keaton

One of the most original and lovable of all Americans, sez me, is the great star of vaudeville and movies, Buster Keaton, a master of paradox. When I was a student in New York City years ago, the 8th Avenue Cinema downtown near the Village used to run Buster Keaton movies every Sunday. With aContinue reading “Sunday Morning on the Planet: Buster Keaton”

James Madison: We Can Scarcely Be Warranted in Supposing…

"Address to the Agricultural Society of Albemarle, Virginia" (1818). "One of the landmarks of American nature writing, delivered not long after he retired to "Montpelier," his Orange county estate, James Madison’s "Address to the Agricultural Society of Albemarle" is an early argument for an "ecological" method of agriculture in Virginia. In his address, Madison diagnosesContinue reading “James Madison: We Can Scarcely Be Warranted in Supposing…”

The Fires of Life: Colin Fletcher, R.I.P.

When I was twelve or so, I stumbled across Welsh hiker Colin Fletcher’s classic book, The Complete Walker. Its blend of practicality and lyricism helped inspire me to become a somewhat-nervous young backpacker, mostly with friends and family. Later I headed off on my own, which for Fletcher was always the best way to go.Continue reading “The Fires of Life: Colin Fletcher, R.I.P.”

The Standard for Good Fathering Today

Joel Achenbach is a hugely popular blogger and writer for the Washington Post. Nonetheless, sometimes I just can’t resist quoting him: In generations past, there were many men who did not see their role in society as one that involved the direct nurturing of children. Some vanished into their jobs. Some dedicated their lives toContinue reading “The Standard for Good Fathering Today”

Rachel Carson: This Particular Instant of Time

Sunday was the 100th birthday of Rachel Carson, the science writer who more than anyone else awakened the world to the risk of what the New Yorker once called our "effluent society." The U.S. Senate was prepared to honor her this year, but that effort was blocked by Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, because Carson spokeContinue reading “Rachel Carson: This Particular Instant of Time”

Hellraiser Ain’t Quitting

Ten years ago in December a wildlife biologist named Roy Van de Hoek was arrested, thrown face down, and handcuffed forcutting non-native shrubs out of the legendarily wild and beautiful Carrizo Plain. He faced twelve misdemeanor charges, but eventually was given three years probation. That’s according to a Mother Jones "hellraiser" piece on Van deContinue reading “Hellraiser Ain’t Quitting”

Sunday Morning on the Planet (Dawn and Gustavo edition)

From the incandescent performance of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ayre last month in Ojai, featuring Dawn Upshaw and Gustavo Santaolalla. (Contemporary classical music has at last shaken off the 20th-century pretention that atonality is progress. Noise-shy audiences are slow to realize this, unfortunately, but with the possible exception of some of Lou Harrison’s work, I can’t thinkContinue reading “Sunday Morning on the Planet (Dawn and Gustavo edition)”