Nota Bene #91: No Joke

Well I figured I’d give you all a break Continue reading

D.C.—part one: "A strong and active faith"

The crickets and katydids still trade chirps between the trees and the bushes that line the Potomac River’s great tidal basin. As I walk along the basin toward the FDR Memorial, the insect song see-saws back and forth—but then it’s drowned out completely by the rumble of a low-flying jet making its descent toward Ronald Reagan International Airport on the far side of the river.

FDR-wheelchairIt’s 7:00 p.m. The last trickle of the evening commute has drained from the capital, and the busloads of school groups haven’t yet arrived from dinner. It’s the perfect time to visit. It’s me and the insects and perhaps ten other visitors. Three Muslim women walk past me, their heads covered with scarves so brightly colored I can see them in the dark.

And there’s the president—a bronze, life-sized statue of FDR in a wheelchair that sits near the entrance to the memorial. Writer Christopher Buckley once said the statue looked “exactly like James Joyce on the toilet,” an image I can now never shake from my mind. What a way to dethrone one of the Twentieth Century’s towering figures. Continue reading

Sustainability, localism, community and the dignity of work: In praise of Wendell Berry

Here’s what Ken Kesey had to say about Wendell Berry:

“Wendell Berry is the Sargeant York charging unnatural odds across our no-man’s-land of ecology. Conveying the same limber innocence of young Gary Cooper, Wendell advances on the current crop of Krauts armed with naught but his pen and his mythic ridgerunner righteousness. One after the other he picks them off, from the flying bridges of their pleasure boats as they roar through his native Kentucky rivers, from beneath the hard hats in the Hazard county strip mines, from the swivel chairs in the Pentagon where they weigh the various ways to wage war on all forms of enemy life beyond the end of their own friendly chin. He’s a crackshot essayist and, for those given to capture, a genial and captivating poet. He boasts a formidable arsenal of novels, speeches, articles, stories and poems from his outpost in one of the world’s most ravaged battlefields where he writes the good fight and tends his family and his honeybees. Consider him an ally.”

The thing is, Kesey said this in 1971. Continue reading

Tournament of Rock – Legends: Bruce Springsteen vs The Who

Welcome back to the Scholars & Rogues quest for the greatest band of all time. Let the Sweet 16 commence. It’s now one-on-one, and our first head-to-head features two of the most dynamic bands – both in the studio and in concert – in history. Your contestants:

#2 Bruce Springsteen/E Street Band: Listen #3 The Who: Listen

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