Wangari Maathai, rest in peace

The great tree-planter and feminist, Wangari Maathai, Nobel Prize winner, died yesterday. We were fortunate enough to see her speak a few years ago, and I was frankly awed by her ability to find simple, enduring truths in complicated, desperate situations.  Even today, speaking about the unhappiness of development in Kenya, her words resonate withContinue reading “Wangari Maathai, rest in peace”

Tennessee Williams: Sex positive activist

Although considered politically naive by some, Tennessee Williams did know how to make a scene. Especially when it came to love.  If you want the unbuttoned Tennessee Williams, you have to read Dotson Rader's entertaining Cry of the Heart. It's a wonderfully breezy and entertaining book about the mature Tennessee Williams, but even better, it's a sortContinue reading “Tennessee Williams: Sex positive activist”

Journalism today: Don’t wait your turn (Robert Krulwich)

In which Robert Krulwich, of the excellent Radiolab, gives a speech to the newly-minted graduates of UC Berkeley's journalism school, and inspires even old guys like me. Here's the conclusion: So for this age, for your time, I want you to just think about this: Think about NOT waiting your turn. Instead, think about gettingContinue reading “Journalism today: Don’t wait your turn (Robert Krulwich)”

The refrains of nature: Rachel Carson

If we think of Rachel Carson, we probably remember her for alerting us to the massacre of the birds by DDT in Silent Spring,  and overlook her earlier, more poetic works, such as her bestseller The Sea Around Us, which was excerpted in The New Yorker, won the National Book Award, and numerous other prizes.  YetContinue reading “The refrains of nature: Rachel Carson”

Rachel Carson on how to introduce children to nature

At a lecture attended recently by a thousand or so people at UC Santa Barbara, the great E.O. Wilson was asked an open-ended question about introducing children to nature. Wilson took it as a "how to" question. He mentioned that he was "one of two living persons who worked with Rachel Carson," and made aContinue reading “Rachel Carson on how to introduce children to nature”

The lives of the harvesters

Grist features a photographic essay about the immigrant farmworkers who harvest the fruits and vegetables in California, earning little, working hard, feeding the nation.  According to The Migrant Project, California agriculture produces about fifty percent of the nation's food supply, which means that these folks do about half the fieldwork in the country.  The photoContinue reading “The lives of the harvesters”

Writer vs. Critic 2010-2011

Patrick Goldstein, who might be the single best blogger at the LA Times, covers Hollywood, and in his case, that means interviewing influential people in Hollywood. Most of them, because they're in the Industry, cannot stand — for professional reasons — to be disliked, and will not be quoted by name. But Goldstein knows how toContinue reading “Writer vs. Critic 2010-2011”

Another gay hero saves the day

The great interviewer, reporter, and columnist Patt Morrison lays it down again, as always finding a fresh take on a big subject. Here's a taste of her newest story, to intrigue you:  A 20-year-old congressional college intern with only five days on the job saved Gabrielle Giffords’ life. Daniel Hernandez ran toward the sound ofContinue reading “Another gay hero saves the day”

The tea maker, thirty years later…and Yoko

About ten years ago, astonishingly, I got a call from Yoko Ono. I happened to have written a magazine story about the time she spent with John Lennon in the little town of Ojai, in the mid-70's, after he and Yoko were driven out of Greenwich Village by FBI and NYPD surveillance and harassment. They bought a stationContinue reading “The tea maker, thirty years later…and Yoko”