Crossing the Wide Missouri

  In the late fifties, San Francisco’s North Beach lay at the edge of history, as though the half-millennium of westward migration had halted a few blocks from the Pacific to spawn this subterranean frontier.  From doorways along the teeming sidewalks, the sounds came floating into the night—a cool … [Read more...]

Radio Days

While my father trudged through the French winter, fearing he would not survive the war, it was my mother who died of lupus in sunny Pasadena where we had settled for her health.  My grandmother, who had been taking care of her, was afraid to tell a five-year-old the truth.  So she took me back to … [Read more...]

Fragments of Eden

The images are indelible: eighty-five elephants bathing in the river in late afternoon light, a stone's throw from our launch; a pride of lions at the edge of a lake, devouring their kill in the sunset; a giraffe poised in a meadow on the end of a rainbow.  The experience of Africa is essential to … [Read more...]

Detritus

As the last of four generations of only-children, I inherited all my grandmother’s belongings when she died in 1965, along with those she had kept of my mother’s, who died when I was five, and another vanload of things left by my great-grandmother.  It all arrived one Tuesday morning, piled in the … [Read more...]

Strange Attractor

  Every day is Spring, while we’re young. None can refuse, time flies so fast! Too dear to lose, an’ too sweet to last! ―"While We’re Young,” featured in     Barry’s Hollywood Bowl … [Read more...]

An American Motif: The Steam Locomotive in the Collective Imagination

  Like the giant reptiles, the great steam locomotives no longer roam the earth.  Those massive hulks of sooty iron, cluttered with snarls of piping and valves, were the consummation of crude mechanical power.  Though technology, like evolution, has since turned from quantitative to more … [Read more...]