Author: Michael Konik

Further Refinements to the NFL Anthem Policy

The National Football League recently announced a change in their rules regarding the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner,” that great paean to durable fabric. They understand the symbolic importance of standing and pretending to know the words to a song about a symbol. It’s symbolism: Singing a song that pays homage to a symbol...

The Denuding of Los Angeles

Before he takes his war chest of political “donations” to the national arena, where his handlers will attempt to re-package him as “presidential,” our bumbling failure of a Mayor, the man who oversees an ongoing humanitarian disaster known as “homelessness in Los Angeles,” seems determined to wreck as many neighborhoods as possible. The Eric Garcetti ethos: If a...

Henrietta Goodman’s “All That Held Us”

Henrietta Goodman’s new collection of poems, “All That Held Us,” like much modern poetry, is discursive, tangential, elliptical — but hers takes the idea of one-thing-leading-to-another to new formal heights. Each poem begins with a line or phrase from the previous poem, sometimes the last line. The “story” — an ongoing exploration into the relationship...

The Urban Farmstead

We call the place we live “Vista Street Farmstead.” It’s a house in Hollywood, one block from Sunset Boulevard, with a front and back yard, maybe 1/16th of an acre? But almost every available square foot of dirt is dedicated to growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Blessed with copious sunshine throughout the day – and...

This Beautiful Fantastic

Finally! A movie for botany nerds, for artistic landscapers, for gardeners. The unrelentingly charming film This Beautiful Fantastic, written and directed by Simon Aboud, takes a familiar tale — curmudgeonly old man’s heart melts for an impossibly lovely young woman — and makes it magical. His leads, Tom Wilkinson, as the grouchy horticulturalist, and Jessica Brown Findlay as...

Naughty Words

  The University of Michigan recently compiled the nation’s strictest set of “sensitivity guidelines” for their faculty and students. We take you to a faculty lounge on the Ann Arbor campus. INT – A faculty lounge on a Friday afternoon. Several TEACHERS gather around the water cooler. NATE:  . . .so I told Jenkins, “Hey,...

Xandria Phillips’ “Reasons for Smoking”

“I write to you from the predicament of Blackness,” is the opening line of Xandria Phillips’ new collection of poems, “Reasons for Smoking.” Unwritten, but deeply felt, is the predicament of Femaleness. And Gayness. And Differentness. All these challenges are met (and rhetorically bested) by this fierce poet’s keen sense of self and of the...

Report from the Street: Voices of the Homeless

It began as a a New Year’s resolution: “Do something each day that takes you out of your comfort zone.” Interacting with people living on the streets was at the top of that list. Like many of us who reside in proper homes, I preferred to look away. But for more than a year, I listened to homeless...

Earl Flowers Can Read

Earl Flowers can read. He can read this sentence. He can read every word on this page. If he doesn’t immediately recognize one of the words, he can sound it out phonetically – or, if it’s completely unfamiliar, he knows how to use a dictionary to teach himself. When Earl reads out loud – when...

Lance Mason’s “A Proficiency in Billiards”

Like legions of other itinerant seekers, Lance Mason has backpacked and motorcyled the world, crossed the oceans on freighter ships, seen how the rest of the planet lives. He’s got tales to tell. All traveler’s do; among the peripatetic horde, Mason is among the most gifted writers we’ve encountered. His collection of travel essays, “A Proficiency...