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Sunday, April 23, 2017
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 . . .
  • “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 . . .
  • CAMDEN. There is always a slight foreboding as I negotiate that steep, last step down to Laite Beach. Behind lies the civilization of warm car interior . . .
  • MANHATTAN. I have spent much of my adult life abroad, away from America. I have been "fato profugus," as Virgil said of Aeneas. "Blown onward by fate." Or in my case, drawn forward by the opportunity to work in Central Europe emerging from the Soviet shadows and in China emerging from totalitarian . . .
  • SHANGHAI. When we finally arrived for the concert, we were quite wet from the rain, and rather cross. Shanghai has four major concert halls. Three of them are located in the western half of the city where we live and work, in the district called Puxi, meaning west (xi) of the Huang Pu river. One is the gleaming new . . .
  • SHANGHAI. Like the turning mill-wheel, the year rounds on itself again, and again it is April. As in most years, according to the Jewish and Christian calendars, April is the month for Passover, and - the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the spring equinox - for Easter. In the historical American . . .
  • SINGAPORE. He was not religious, so if he dreamt in his final days, while rumors and nurses ran through the corridors of the world-class hospital, he dreamt not of heaven, but of an extraordinary life. His face always had a lion's cast. As a teenager, he evaded massacre in the Japanese occupation. After the war, young . . .
  • Beijing. At first, after the film starts streaming, all you see is a chart of Beijing air pollution and all you hear is a woman's voice. Then you see the woman speaking, alone on a bare stage, in jeans and a white blouse, a thin microphone curving round her face. Her audience of young Chinese know her well. Her name . . .
  • MOSCOW. In the winter and spring of 1992, just weeks after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, in a street market in Moscow overlooking the Kremlin and Red Square, a young international lawyer, an American in Russia for the first time, could buy a babushka doll to take home as a keepsake. . . .
  • PARIS. Recent events remind me how Miss Moore, our high school Latin teacher, made the class recite the description in the Commentaries of Julius . . .
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