Category: America

On Not Getting Old

Last night I saw my friend Linda Hopkins, the legendary blues singer, whose star on the Hollywood walk of fame commemorates her lifetime of entertaining on Broadway, record albums, and in concert halls around the world. She looked luminous. Her big smile illuminated the room, a nightclub on the Sunset Strip where once a month...

Moderation in All Things

The goldfinches that inhabit the trees in my back yard are some of the plumpest birds I’ve seen in the wild. Unlike Antarctic emperor penguins, these little creatures aren’t storing up enough belly fat to make it through a winter-long trek across glacial desolation. They live in Hollywood, and they’re just fat. It’s probably my...

Keeping the World Safe with the Patriot Act?

Your elected representatives voted yesterday to renew the so-called Patriot Act, the noxious piece of legislation originally penned in the weeks following the September, 2001 terrorist attacks. The new version, we are assured by our senators, is a vast improvement over the old version, which granted the federal authorities unprecedented powers to seize and imprison...

The Tyranny of Democracy

The latest and most persistent reason given from Washington for America’s entanglement in Iraq is “democracy building.” Our holy mission, which has gone from disarming a brutal tyrant harboring weapons of mass destruction to something intangible and sublime, is meant to liberate Iraqis from themselves. Provided with the cleansing salve of free elections and representative...

State of the Union

Our union, intended as the felicitous conjoining of disparate states into one cooperative congregation of like-minded souls, is badly disjointed, fractured and splayed worse than perhaps any time in American history since the Civil War. The last presidential election cleaved the country into two: those who endorsed the antics of George W. Bush and those...

To Kill a Mockingbird, Revisited

The plot of Harper Lee’s book about racism, childhood, and paternal love revolves around the rape trial of a black man, Tom Robinson, defended by a white lawyer, played in the movie version with transcendent nobleness by Gregory Peck. In both the novel and the movie, the evidence strongly suggests that Robinson is innocent and...

Giving Thanks

The Bible reminds us to give thanks for everything, always, because gratitude is one of the finest attributes a godly man can have. On Thursday, we formally acknowledge all that we should probably be appreciating the rest of the year. When we do, let us remember that the people presently controlling our nation view any...

Rosa Parks, Shirley Horn, and America’s Enduring Schism

Rosa Parks, an unintentional maker of history, was buried this weekend. She was an ordinary citizen of the United States who did something extraordinary, something that today seems so normal and reasonable that the courage Parks must have summoned at the time is easily forgotten. She refused to abideĀ a transparently unjust law, and she was...

Fast Food

On a recent scorching day, I was riding my bike to an appointment, feeling parched. I had an urge to drink one of those semi-frozen concoctions known on “The Simpsons” as a “squishy.” I’ve heard them called “slurpees” and “icees,” and I recall my notoriously strict anti-sugar parents allowing my brother and I to have...

Fighting City Hall

Last month my car was towed from a Hollywood street and placed in impound, where I was forced to pay a $177 ransom to liberate it. The car was found by an enterprising (and rather imaginative) traffic officer to be illegally parked, allegedly blocking a residential driveway. Based on the officer’s curious powers of observation...