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Writer & Historian

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Musings

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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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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Critics Misjudge Vietnam War Series – A Film Review

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January 9, 2018
Critics Misjudge Vietnam War Series – A Film Review

The other day a friend at the gym mentioned that he had been watching the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick documentary The Vietnam War. “I was on the wrong side,” he concluded repeating a phrase heard in the film. “We didn’t know what we were fighting for and they had everything to fight for.” Not all...
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Vietnam War Truths vs. Iraq War Propaganda

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January 9, 2018
Vietnam War Truths  vs. Iraq War Propaganda

America is a confusing place to live at the best of times, but in Trump times it gets even more puzzling. Are we really back to Cold War nuclear arms rattling? Are the top generals serious about reviving the notion of a winnable nuclear war? Are we any safer in this Twitter-riddled circus than...
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Hip Capitalist Journalism – A Book Review

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December 25, 2017
Hip Capitalist Journalism – A Book Review

I just resurfaced from reading 500 pages of a new biography on Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner. It’s called Sticky Fingers and my fingers are definitely feeling sticky. In fact, I feel icky all over after learning who Wenner has been all these years: unpleasant, greedy, boastful, untrustworthy, a cheat, and it goes on...
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City Slicker Goes Under Ground – A Coal Mine Article

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December 5, 2017
City Slicker Goes Under Ground – A Coal Mine Article

Twenty years ago, I found myself in a coal mine two kilometers under the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Recently I was reminded of the experience and the article I wrote about it. The Cape Breton Post reprinted the piece under the headline “City Slicker Goes Under Ground.” The article begins as...
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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