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Monday, March 18, 2019
Thursday, January 19, 2017 10:54 AM
We Americans are not a servile people. We did not, this last November, anoint a new master, some deus ex machina to descend into our midst to rule us, or bless us, to determine our passive fate by scribbling it on the back of a . . .
  • About two years ago, a flash of bright yellow amid the green trees of the former French Concession alerted me to a previously unknown species of bicycle. Not just unknown, but unowned — at least by its riders
  • BUDAPEST, HUNGARY. Politics is usually invisible. Its realm is language and stories in the hidden minds of the people. Economics is less mysterious, I thought, as my train from Munich pulled into Keleti Station in Hungary’s capital city . . .
  • A COUNTRY ROAD. My son and I are enjoying the drive through this northwest corner of Connecticut even though it is a grey winter’s day. The two of us are in high spirits, searching on the radio for mutually congenial music, and having a laugh . . .
  • MUNICH, GERMANY. I love cities with trams. Often the newer parts of European cities have underground subways or metros, built long after the second Great War that convulsed the continent. But the older parts of cities, the parts that we . . .
  • Some father and daughter time had been scheduled, because she was leaving soon for the West Coast and a first job out of college. Father was trying to be wise and encouraging but not really succeeding. So there we were, sitting by the window . . .
  • If you are standing in the orderly and rapidly advancing lines at passport control in Shanghai airport, wondering why our American airports cannot be more efficient, and if you don’t read Chinese, you might be curious about a video of . . .
  • It is unsettling at midnight to look down from a seventh- floor apartment and see an ambulance being consumed by fire in the middle of the street. That was two months ago in New York, and the three of us stood all suddenly alert . . .
  • Last winter in a subway station in Shanghai I fell flat on my face. Young Chinese commuters pulled me to my feet. After a few minutes of adjusting the bent frames of my glasses, I re-entered the surging crowd. But I felt strange and . . .
  • “Will there be snow?” The children — alas, but thank goodness, but really alas, no longer children — always ask about the snow as we drive up from New York, usually about the time we cross the Piscataqua Bridge and come into . . .
  • SHANGHAI. The Shanghai subway system is the largest in the world. It carries 10 million people a day over 588 kilometers of track to 364 stations under the surface of this teeming city. The stations are clean. The riders are well dressed . . .
  • I remember riding in the car one summer morning in the early 1960s and my mother pointing over the suburban trees: “See the flag over there? That’s where you’ll start elementary school in the fall.” It seemed to this American . . .
  • NAGASAKI, JAPAN. In the Cartesian coordinates of local space and time, I am standing in the same spot on the “space axis,” at the hypocenter, where an atom bomb was last dropped on human beings. . . .
  • NEW YORK. Not much news here, except to say that last year we bought a small apartment in the 70s between Columbus and Amsterdam. The contractors (Polish immigrants all, speaking Polish at work, but excellent English . . .)
  • ROCKPORT. The other day, around mid-afternoon, I went outside without my watch. It was one of those beautiful days we have had so many of this summer, and I found myself without anything pressing to do . . .
  • He must have been conspicuous, 36 years ago, in the fall of 1980 when he arrived in El Progreso, Honduras, and even when he left nine months later, the gringo, the young American, riding his bicycle or walking the unnamed, unpaved . . .
  • CENTRAL PARK, NEW YORK CITY. The streets are never completely silent or empty, even at dawn. There are garbage trucks and delivery trucks making their stops, and subways rumbling down below . . .
  • A league at sea is three nautical miles, or about the distance from Curtis Island Light to Mark Island. That is about the distance a cannonball could be launched from shore during the age of sail and exploration . . .
  • SHANGHAI. “That’s so Chinese!” foreigners here often remark among themselves, about aspects of Chinese life that we cannot imagine encountering back home. . . .
  • ROCKPORT. “Dad, I don’t believe you.” My credibility is often challenged within the family. Usually with great success, which seems to please everyone else. But recently I persuaded my college-bound son . . .
  • ROCKPORT. Van Gogh’s famous painting of the night sky was painted from memory, in daylight. Of course, it had to be. Candlelight or gaslight would . . .
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