January 27, 2023

Gabrielle Gray Shifts Over to Weave A New Story in American Bluegrass Music

OWENSBORO, KY — There was a big change today in American bluegrass music here in this Ohio River city, which over the last decade has established itself as a global center of the quintessential American music born in western Kentucky. The board of trustees of the International Bluegrass Music Museum announced that Gabrielle M. Gray,  the museum’s chief executive, ends her exceptional 12-year tenure as the museum’s capable and creative leader and steps down as …

Read More

White Plains High School 40th Reunion

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — “So who’d you see?” my mother asked. We’d just sipped from our drinks – hers a nice white wine, mine an imported German beer — at a fine restaurant on 84th and Madison. “A lot of people you know,” I said. Recalling names by neighborhood I diligently listed all of the fun, accomplished, and at times trouble making friends that she knew back in the day. “Eddie Weil and Lisa Schwatertzenberg. …

Read More

Corvette Museum’s Crushed Cars, Closing Sinkhole As American Metaphor

BOWLING GREEN, KY. — Seven months after a sinkhole opened in the wee hours in a wing of the National Corvette Museum, collapsing a concrete floor and swallowing eight sports cars, museum executives in September announced they would fill the hole, repair two cars, and move on. In every way, the Earth’s swift unbuttoning of the ground, the muddy ruin it caused to valuable machines, the attention the injury-free event attracted, and the decision to …

Read More

ROMP Bluegrass Festival Honors The Masters and Advances Compelling New Artists

OWENSBORO, KY — Bill Monroe, a virtuoso mandolin player and the father of bluegrass music, was born in 1911 and raised on a ridgetop near Rosine, Kentucky about 40 miles south of the bluff on the Ohio River where Owensboro is located. With every passing year the connection between Monroe, his birthplace, and this river city gets closer. That’s never more true than during the last weekend in June when Owensboro hosts ROMP, the River …

Read More

LeBron James’ Letter Is Celebration of Superb Writing

Four years ago, when he both challenged the self-effacing values of his Midwestern roots and embraced the youthful self-absorption of his generation, LeBron James announced his departure from Cleveland in a nationally televised broadcast viewed by millions. I was in a diner in Antrim County, Michigan watching the interview while hydrating with a cool beer after a 60-mile summer bike ride. On Friday James explained his return to Northeast Ohio, his intent to finish his …

Read More

Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ Is Fun and, Perhaps, Something More

Pharrell Williams was born and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where his friends and family knew from his earliest days as a percussionist in the school band, and his singing performances in school plays, that the artist with the top song on worldwide pop charts for the last 10 weeks would amount to something rare. Even before Pharrell posted the ‘Happy’ dance video last October, he’d won seven Grammy Awards for songwriting, production, and performance, …

Read More

The Michigan Land Use Institute Considers Changing Its Name — For What?

BENZONIA, MI — On April 16, 1995, in one of my last articles as a staff correspondent with the New York Times, I wrote this assessment of American environmentalism’s evolving challenges. “The movement that changed the nation’s environmental ethic a generation ago is reshaping itself, and the most important aspect of that effort is a new openness to what works and what doesn’t in environmental protection.” Six days later, on the 25th anniversary of Earth …

Read More

Jeremy Lin Is Big Brand In China

Though no longer a New York Knick, Jeremy Lin is a brand in China as big as this building sign in Qingdao. Photo/Keith Schneider QINGDAO — Granted I’ve spent decades loving the New York Knicks, even though they’ve been hapless for over a decade. Plus, I’m convinced the NBA is the most exciting sports league in the world. Yet even with such personal predilections, it’s easy to argue that the best story in America this …

Read More

Annals of Excess in China: The $317,000 Wedding Cake

SHENYANG, China — Does excess consumerism represent the measure of a great nation? Or does it portend something darker, a treacherous crack opening in society? Either way, the wedding cakes for sale at the Black Swan bakery here in Liaoning’s provincial capital are a clear reflection of 1) the astounding wealth some attain in China’s bursting economy, and 2) the indecorous way that the rich communicate their separate stature. The biggest cake, aswirl in swans …

Read More

Energy, Food and Melting Ice

I read with interest the interviews with Bill McKibben and Amory Lovins that Yale Environment 360 posted today and in February. Good stuff. Perplexing and nerve-wracking all at the same time. Amory’s optimism about the prospects for clean energy, in its consistency over the last 30 years, reminds me of Lester Brown’s equally long-term pessimism about the world’s capacity to feed itself. Both have the technical details in place to make plausible cases but the …

Read More