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Writer & Historian

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Cultures

Why America Doesn’t Work

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April 24, 2018
Why America Doesn’t Work

We recently saw an Oregon Contemporary Theater production of Buried Child, the 1978 play about family dysfunction by the late American playwright and actor Sam Sheppard. In my ways it is a multi-layered statement about what’s wrong with America. In the program notes, Sheppard offers this view of the history of his country: “I...
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Coming of Age on Salt Spring – A Book Review

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April 22, 2018
Coming of Age on Salt Spring – A Book Review

Mod ‘n Lavender: Salt Spring Island in the ‘60s, by John Grain, Kelowna: Tadpole Publishing, 2017, $18.95  /  9780973863413. For some of us, remembering the 1960s is increasingly hindered by old age and failing memories. A few of us might prefer to forget parts of it. But if you’re willing, retired schoolteacher John Grain...
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March for Our Lives – A Photo Essay

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March 25, 2018
March for Our Lives – A Photo Essay

About 5,000 marchers took to the downtown streets of Eugene, Oregon, to show their support for gun control legislation on March 24 in conjunction with similar marches in hundreds of cities around the world. Young people, often wearing orange sweatshirts, led the peaceful and remarkable quiet crowd in protest against gun violence in schools....
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Invoking Labour History to Win in West Virginia – A Strike Analysis

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March 14, 2018
Invoking Labour History to Win in West Virginia – A Strike Analysis

“A union movement in America will always be a scandal (because) the subversive thing about labor is not the strike, but the idea of solidarity.” – Tom Geoghegan in Which Side Are You On? The nine-day West Virginia teachers’ strike that ended on March 7, 2018, revealed how workers can and will invoke labour history to...
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Beware the Creeping Nazi Beast – A TV Review

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February 26, 2018
Beware the Creeping Nazi Beast – A TV Review

Babylon Berlin, the 16-part TV series released on Netflix in late January 2018, may be the best television since Deadwood and possibly better that Breaking Bad, two of my favourites. Europe seems to think so and the North American reviews are generally positive. The New York Times predicts that it will become “an international...
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Black Panther Revives 1960s Memories

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February 23, 2018
Black Panther Revives 1960s Memories

Black Panther, the box office wonder of the moment, is garnering praise from many quarters and it deserves the kudos. . .for a super-hero flick, that is. Ignoring my usual tendency to avoid super-hero anything, I bought tickets to a theatre with those comfy reclining seats, slapped on a pair of 3D goggles and...
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State of the Union – What About the Mom?

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February 1, 2018
State of the Union – What About the Mom?

Trump’s first State of the Union address (Jan. 30, 2018) was expectedly filled with half-facts, false claims, and theatrical tricks designed to support various right-wing causes. They all stood out for their sheer opportunism, but one puzzled me more than the others: what did the police officer do about the opioid-addicted mother of the...
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The Post – A Film Review

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January 31, 2018
The Post – A Film Review

Steven Spielberg is the quintessential Hollywood movie director. He’s often too patriotic for my liking – Saving Private Ryan comes to mind – but sometimes he chooses topics that go beyond patriotism to real cinematic studies of historic events. The Post, about the risky publication of the Pentagon Papers, is one of those. It...
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American Expansionism Under Polk – A Book Review

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January 30, 2018
American Expansionism Under Polk – A Book Review

American expansionism is an ever-present threat in many parts of the world. Wherever, the United States has chosen to impose its democracy on a country in conflict, those populations suffer horribly. One of the early examples came in the form of the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, revisited in Peter Guardino’s The Dead March (Harvard,...
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A Funeral in Sweet Home – A Personal Reflection

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January 27, 2018

I attended a funeral a while ago. No one I knew. A friend of my wife’s family. A disabled woman. Fifty-three years old. In her fifty-fourth year, as we say. Fifty-three orbits round the sun and Lynette was gone. Cremated. A family memory of both loss and some relief. Lynette left several stuffed animals...
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Books

Venice Observed - A Travel Booklet with Photos by Ron Verzuh Radical Rag by Ron Verzuh Underground Times by Ron Verzuh Selling Labour Down Under by Ron Verzuh Changing Images by Ron Verzuh Feasting With Love by Ron Verzuh Tea Leaves by Ron Verzuh Remembering Salt by Ron Verzuh