Publications
What's in His Wallet? An Addendum to the Texas Abortion Law Print E-mail
Articles

6c4d22f7c2a14f7c1a701e281e06dc54(First published in Times of San Diego September 9, 2021, later revised)

Everyone knows—or should know—how burdensome a pregnancy is on a woman. It’s especially hard now if you live in Texas where a fetal heartbeat detected at six weeks means by law the woman cannot terminate her pregnancy; she must carry it to term. The burden of having a child, whether planned for or forced, is made worse by the financial responsibility of raising that offspring, for parents and families, through childhood and adolescence, the next eighteen years. Would any man argue that such a load, for poor women in particular, is among the toughest things she’ll ever face?

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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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Affinity & Ambiguity: Writing & Music Print E-mail
Essays and Memoirs

continuity arthur dove(The Nonconformist April 5, 2021)

I want to be an honest man and a good writer.
—James Baldwin

My affinity for language is a given. But how it was given — and revealed more than other affinities that may have had it out for me as well — is a mystery I’m trying to solve. My hunch is that an affinity for words was present at birth, then snapped-to early on by seductive teachers who assigned adventure narratives and lyric poems, and later the stories of Stephen Crane, the novels of Thomas Hardy, the poetry of Robert Frost and Edna St. Vincent Millay (her marquee name was a poem in itself).

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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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One Afternoon in the Annals of Marriage Therapy Print E-mail
Essays and Memoirs

Quentin Massys 030(Helix Literary Magazine March 12, 2021)

It’s Monday, 1:45, and six men and I sit in a circle with our German-trained psychotherapist, an imperious woman who reminds us that she is here to help or offer guidance only if we get bogged down and that we men need to find our own way through our turmoil, which is the point of the group and the point of each of us paying $3000 per year. I’m fairly new, so before I speak, I’m seeking some level of comfort or commonality among them, and every week I come up short. I’m not yet adjusted and unsure what I should be adjusting to.

Obviously, I don’t know these men. And I doubt I’d associate with them outside this forum or be in a social situation where we’d meet. Case in point, the tanned man (our real names cannot be shared). The tanned man has the time-clocked sadness my father had at fifty-five; the greying hair above his ears, the loyalty to a global corporation and the ease of leveraged investments about him; a man who regards his goldenness as some golf-cart anhedonia, with his deck shoes, velour pullover, browning legs, white ankles, and baggy, bluish shorts; and his marriage run aground, whose chassis has been scraping the gravel for a couple years now.

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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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