Monday, April 20, 2015
My friend Michael Martin has just published a book of poetry, and I would like to recommend it to anyone in need of medication or other form of reorientation. I won’t quote from a poem but will instead speak of titles. The first poem in the collection is called
On The Eve Of Her Retirement, On A Cross-Atlantic Flight, A United Airlines Stewardess Picks Up The Microphone And Says Goodbye
Public Service Announcement From Last Night’s Dream
Car Wreck Outside The Dinner Party
And so on. It’s beautiful stuff, especially if you are open for redefinitions of beauty. And you can find it: here.
Friday, April 17, 2015
I will arise and go now…
Surprisingly often, when I get up from a chair to leave a room, those six melodramatic words will unfurl in my mind. Somehow William Butler Yeats’s poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” which, like millions of other people, I first read in college, stays rooted in me:
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree…
And I’m off, not to the dentist or the shopping mall but, mentally, striding emerald slopes, making for a place of myth…
Latest piece in the NYT Travel section…
Monday, March 23, 2015
My South African pal Mike Morgan has a great memorial to a fellow Anti-Apartheid figure in “Counterpunch”…
Walking With the Angels
Remembering Anti-Apartheid Organizer Don Morton
by MIKE MORGAN
The first time I met Don was at an Indian curry parlor in Brick Lane, London. We each had a plate of Prawn Vindaloo and it was mother-in-law hot. We spent the rest of the evening cooling down on pints of John Courage. The combination of warm beer along with fire-engine red fish curry had a dire effect. But in between refills of the Directors Bitter and trips to the can, Don recruited me to come to America. That was August of 1978. I was twenty-three years of age…
go to the story
Sunday, March 8, 2015
Guilderland Public Library, Adult Book Discussion Groups
Great Books – Thursdays at 7:00 pm
Are the “classics” still worth reading? We think they are! These are the books that continue to be read in times, places and cultures far removed from those in which they were written. Since these books have had so much to say to so many different people, they’re very likely to hold meaning for us as well. Join us as we discuss books that you’ve always wanted to read, or may have read growing up but want to read again!
February 5: Silas Marner, by George Eliot
March 5: Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Franki
April 2: The Island at the Center of the World, by Russell Shorto
May 7: Henry V, by William Shakespeare
June 4: The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
Saturday, January 31, 2015
Mandred Henry was a health care sales rep from Hartford whom people often stopped on the street, saying he was a dead ringer for Morgan Freeman. Throughout his life he identified strongly with his African-American background. He was president of the local N.A.A.C.P. chapter. He remembered his mother keeping her grandmother’s slavery manumission papers in her top drawer…
My cover story in the New York Times travel section.
Monday, September 8, 2014
The calendar says that today is New York’s birthday. But is that true? See my op-ed in the New York Times.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
“You know that the first settlers called Manhattan “New Amsterdam,” right? But the Dutch didn’t just bring their sailing prowess and placenames with them. Russell Shorto thinks that liberal Dutch ideas about politics and society came too, and shaped the New World.”
Listen to a walking tour that links two cities, Amsterdam and New York.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Anyone planning a trip to Amsterdam who wants the grooviest, most historically rich and compelling tour of the city’s crannies and byways should contact tour guide par excellence Mark Law. He has put together a custom tour based on my book “Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City.” Mark will weave together the seemingly disparate tales of hash dens, the world’s first stock market, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Bed-In for Peace. Not to be missed! Click here.
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
The title of Russell Shorto’s readable, thoughtful, and personally engaged Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City immediately calls to mind two facts every student traveller knows: people aren’t going to Amsterdam coffee houses for the espresso, and those red-lit display windows aren’t advertising underwear.
Shorto, who has lived in Amsterdam for several years, is certainly aware of both the sex trade and the legal status of drugs — results of Amsterdam’s famous “tolerance.” But his title refers to something else, something much more complicated. Liberalism, as he explores, it begins with the “fault line” between modern and medieval, and the break with the idea that all “knowledge and power” stemmed from the Church and the monarchy.
For a variety of reasons, as Shorto’s book explores, the Dutch came early to “liberalism,” and to the concepts of both communalism and individualism. These — along with the cosmopolitanism of the Dutch Golden Age — produced a concept that the Dutch call gedogen. Tolerance. Or, as Shorto explains it, the idea that, yes, this may be questionable behavior but since we know we can’t stop it, we will allow it…
Thursday, July 24, 2014
A cultural conundrum that I struggled to comprehend during my six years of living in Amsterdam concerned the Dutch attitude toward celebrities. They are passionate about their own celebrities – far more than about Hollywood stars, which is fair enough – but in the midst of intensely gossiping about a homegrown film or sports personality, they will suddenly turn blasé, as if the celeb were a mere family member who had started to become uppity.
Continue reading my essay in Time.com/Zocalo Public Square.
← Older posts