Thirty years ago, I thought I had all the answers. At 21, life seemed simple in some ways. Economically, things sucked—I was working at a job that paid 25 cents above minimum wage and I had a newborn son and wife to take care of. I was 1,500 miles from my family and support system in a post-industrial part of the country where the unemployment rate was hovering around 15 percent. But I was okay because I was in the center of God’s will.
It’s interesting when you believe that the answers to life’s questions are contained in a book that was written by men who lived 2,000 years ago. Whenever things didn’t go right for Mary and me, the solution offered by our spiritual leaders was to pray, give more money to Jack Hyles, and drag a few more converts down the aisle to get baptized at First Baptist Church of Hammond. Continue reading →
For six years now, I’ve traveled to Boston to spend an October Saturday in Copley Square. The occasion has always been centered on books, writers, and publishers. There’s also a “streak thing” going on, too.
Books galore in Copley Square (#BBF2014).
I attended the inaugural Boston Book Festival in 2009, and each subsequent one. I always meet up with my son, Mark, and we spend the day listening to authors, perusing book tables, talking about writing (along with sports and politics), and scouting out the best offerings of the myriad of publishers who set up shop in one of the Boston’s celebrated public squares, a patch of real estate hearkening back to the city’s storied past. Continue reading →
I’ve been thinking about this phrase since yesterday when I heard news that affected me and some of the things that I hold dear. If I were to voice my thoughts this morning—when everything seems a jumble and so uncertain—most readers (mainly the drive-by types) would just utter, “so what?”.
Most of the time, the things that matter to me don’t seem to affect others. It’s that “out of the mainstream” orientation that I’ve held for most of my life. I’m not a fan of the status quo because in most cases, it rarely gets to the core of the matter. Continue reading →
For six months, I’ve been writing a monthly feature story called Explore for the Lewiston Sun-Journal. Once a month, I spend a few hours in a particular locale and dig beneath the obvious to capture elements of the town that I’m writing about.
Each time I’ve done this, I came away with a much richer appreciation of the community I was profiling. Several times, I’ve featured towns that I regularly drove through, but from the high-speed highways that often whisk us through these places, I knew little or nothing about the town other than what the typical roadside detritus that most communities are afflicted by during our era of Happy Motoring, offered. Discovery always occurs when we slow down, take a look around, and real exploring begins on foot. At least that’s been my experience.
I often wonder what motivates most people—is it purely the love of money—in a capitalistic society that would make sense. What makes people do what they do, and often act in such a way that seems to undercut others? Greed is one of the seven deadly sins afflicting all of us at times.
Philosophers have written volumes about motives—whether it’s possible for them to be pure, or not. Unfortunately, Google isn’t like a library—it’s hard to bring up information about “pure motives” that isn’t oriented towards the Biblical, instead of the philosophical. I do know that Immanuel Kant (and Freud) observed that people’s true motives may be hidden, even from themselves. Even when it seems that people are acting solely to further another person’s good, that might not be the real case. Continue reading →
In the world of alternative weeklies, topics covered aren’t usually the same ones that the mainstream dailies cover. If they are, there’s often more depth in reporting, or, a slightly different angle offered. Writing for an alternative weekly (or monthly) often allows a bit more leeway, also.
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I have the 3,000-word front page feature in this week’s Portland Phoenix. It’s about growth in the city of Portland, the current frenzy of real estate development, and whether or not this is best for all of the city’s residents, or just the few that are able to extract value from the current assets.
The article also looks backward, considering past boondoggles in order to have a better understanding of what might be the best way forward. I also am pretty upfront that I’m not enamored with most of the development ideas and plans coming from city hall.
My first extensive piece of writing about Portland and its economy was published back in 2004. It was about Hadlock Field. It’s hard to believe 10 years have passed on this. I’m still employing the same tools of the trade—research, putting boots on the ground and talking with those on the street, and remaining diligent in finding the narrative thread for the story I’m working on. No one has ever bothered to get this kind of up-close-and-personal look at baseball and whether it’s an economic benefit to the city, or not.
The June 2004 cover story in the late, great Portland Pigeon. “Direct Action Journalism” indeed!
My Tuesday/Friday self-imposed blogging deadlines have been helpful. They’ve developed the capacity to meet other deadlines as a writer—the kind that actually help in paying my bills. It’s one of the reasons I established them, back before I was getting paid to write regularly.
As a result, this morning’s post is a truncated one, as I’m on assignment, and on a tight deadline for today, with others looming ahead.
Seeing contrasts and picking out patterns often requires time and distance from the object. Perspective is often missing in the short-term. Comparisons and even side-by-sides appear strikingly different 10 months later, versus one day later.
Sometimes life presents vivid examples—we just require months (and even years) to recognize them.
Coming to the same place (Rangeley) every other week for 10 months has allowed me to observe this in snapshots of the natural world. Continue reading →