Publications
Fraudsters Print E-mail
San Diego Reader

20210506(San Diego Reader May 6, 2021)

White-collar criminals come in all sizes and styles but they share an overarching motive: to steal money. Anyone’s stash will do. According to the FBI, they are experts at “deceit, concealment, [and] violation of trust.” Of the lot, the most complex to prosecute and the likeliest to weasel a light or “deferred” sentence are the fraudsters whose open secret is to appear legitimate, the neighborly crook, the good egg from church. Money launderers, work-site embezzlers, pyramid scammers, phony security traders—nice folk like Gina Champion-Cain. The latest basket term for crimes perpetrated on the near and maybe dear is “affinity fraud,” tricking those the swindler knows, often intimately.

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Hal Holbrook and Clara Clemens Samossud Print E-mail
Articles

Hal Holbrook As Samuel Clemens As Mark Twain(Times of San Diego March 20, 2021)

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, among the greatest and most widely read authors in history, is known everywhere by his pen name, Mark Twain. This was the nom de plume Clemens adopted in 1863 as a frontier columnist for The Virginian, a Nevada newspaper. There, he wrote satires and caricatures, bald hoaxes and ironic stories of the wild pioneers he met and whose tales he embellished even further. His writerly persona came alive when he began lecturing and yarn spinning from a podium.

Over time, his lowkey delivery, his deft timing, coupled with the wizened bumptiousness of a country orator in a white linen suit, captivated audiences in America and Europe, and on world tours. No one has embodied America, in its feral enthusiasms and its institutional hypocrisies, better than Clemens. Dying at 74 in 1910, he played Twain—rather, he became him—for 47 years.

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I Assert the Right to Live Free from Disinformation Print E-mail
Articles

Covid a Lie(Times of San Diego January 28, 2021)

For those of us who classify ourselves as Nones—about 27 percent of the population, a broadminded, semi-coalition of nonreligious people—we must often remind the God-fearing that our goal is to live free from the fake martyrdom of those who say their right to worship and proselytize their faith is being denied. The allegation of censorship that many religions promulgate against the nonreligious has been a reliable untruth since the nation’s founding. But it seems never as hyped as it has been recently.

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Time & Tide Waits on No One: Beach Erosion Print E-mail
San Diego Reader

20210113(San Diego Reader January 13, 2021)

The Sand at Encinitas

Jayme Timberlake—tide-watcher, restoration ecologist, avid surfer—light-foots it down Encinitas’s iconic Stone Steps. She’s barefoot, kicking off her shoes and leaving them on the sand-dusted floor of her truck cab. Desk-chained me follows, white legs and black tennies. We gaze up at the sentinel sandstone cliff-backs beside us and their telltale, sharp-edged furrows or rills of erosion. The sight feels perilous: 100-foot escarpments, topped by private homes, the occasional railroad-tie buttress, and a rare American flag—as if signaling to offshore pirates their onshore enemy.

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Fair Is Foul, Foul Is Fair: Trump's Final Soliloquy Print E-mail
Articles

birth cert(3QuarksDaily November 30, 2020)

In a statement made to MSNBC's “Morning Joe,” April 11, 2011, Donald Trump continued to promote his fake "birther controversy" against President Barack Obama; he falsely quoted Obama’s “grandmother in Kenya who said, ‘Oh, no, he was born in Kenya and I was there and I witnessed the birth.’ She’s on tape,” Trump went on. “I think that tape’s going to be produced fairly soon. Somebody is coming out with a book in two weeks, it will be very interesting.”

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Emma's Graveyard Moan: Thomas Hardy's Elegies for his Dead Wife Print E-mail
Essays and Memoirs

Hardy and Emma(3QuarksDaily November 2, 2020)

In 1874, Thomas Hardy married Emma Gifford, a woman who never let her novelist husband forget that she was born of a higher class than he, ever his superior in taste and breeding. After her death he got back at her—poetically—in a big way. And she at him.

The pair began with a pre-marital affair, fervent and soulful, as intellectual companions; not long after, they were quarantined in thirty-eight years of a childless and mutually regrettable marriage. When Emma died of a bad heart and impacted gallstones (she wrote treacly poems, many published, and suffered from delusions of grandeur), Hardy at sixty-two composed a loose sequence of verse, “Poems of 1912-1913.” These twenty-one rhyming, pithy elegies, among the finest in English, conjure the ghost of his first wife as the means of grieving his loss in a fatalistic anti-theism that feels downright religious.

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A Plurality of Traditions: Anthony Davis and the Social Justice Opera Print E-mail
Criticism

central park five(Los Angeles Review of Books October 17, 2020)

Anthony Davis, winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his opera The Central Park Five, is a composer with a great future behind him. Five is his eighth opera, and during those labors, spanning four decades, he’s found the time and talent to write orchestral pieces and music for plays, to record solo piano albums, to gig widely, and to make records with his group, Episteme. Under the microscope, Davis, who is 68 and a professor at the University of California at San Diego, reveals a rare strain of the American composer’s DNA, a synthesis of the diasporic music of African descendants and the uncompromising voice of contemporary opera.

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