Stage Names: What Martin Luther King, Jr. tells us from Portland Stage

PORTLAND – About halfway through Portland Stage’s current production,  “The Mountaintop,” a fictional, near-fantasy account by Katori Hall of the last night of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life in a Memphis motel room, I heard the echo of Greek novelist Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) : “This is not a biography; is the confession of every man who struggles.” Those words, […]

Patti Stevens found suicide in the realm of tortured souls

The recent tragic case of Patti Stevens, the Dallas, Texas area woman who took her own life on Oct. 25 in the wake of her husband Dave’s brutal murder by schizophrenic former Texas A&M football player Thomas Johnson, once again brought the scourge of suicide to the national spotlight. Indeed, in an eerie parallel to Andy Warhol’s  alleged “15 […]

Seared in memory: What were you doing on 9/11?

In my lifetime, there have arguably been three events considered show-stopping cultural icons; instances when, years later, someone might ask: “Where were you when … ?” or “What were you doing when … ?” The first was President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963. As a young boy not yet in school, I didn’t grasp […]

On Labor Day, a journalist cleans out his files of nuggets and gems

A journalist’s research, fact-checking and interview leftovers often provide a treasure trove of information the public never sees. On any given week, I’m working on a handful of writing and editing assignments for a variety of publications. Periodically my files – both paper and automated – require purging. It’s something I like to do on […]

Caribbean wedding conundrum

A few years ago, I received an invitation to a wedding of some distant cousin-in-law taking place in the British Virgin Islands. It was the fourth such request I had received that year. My friend Bill happened to be the groom in one of these weddings. It didn’t escape me that in each of those […]

Zaftig zucchini, anyone?

A few days ago, I texted my friend Amanda (side note: a captain on U Maine’s cheerleading squad in the 1980s), and asked her how her famous gardens were doing, specifically her zucchini. Her answer back was telling: “I don’t do zukes because there are always fools like you growing them, and giving them away.” […]

Looking into the eyes of freedom

Whenever I walk the Revolutionary battlefield in Concord, Mass., I’m heartened by our nation’s resilience. Studying the world-famous Minuteman statue, and on the same ground where, in the spring of 1775, a hastily formed American militia awaited King George’s troops, I can’t help but value the cost of freedom. This drive for liberty, however, was nothing […]

Father’s Day: Pitching to Jason

  Ten years ago, I sat down one afternoon to relax with Donald Hall’s classic book on sport, Fathers Playing Catch with Sons, one of my all-time favorites. While reading one of its essays, I was interrupted by the clicking of a computer keyboard from across the room. My son Jason, then in his first year of […]

Memorial Day: The loneliness of the funeral officer

In 430 B.C., after the first year of the Peloponnesian War – arguably history’s most devastating civil conflict, between Athens and Sparta – the Athenians gathered to bury their dead and hear a eulogy by the general and statesman Pericles. In what has been described as the paradigm for Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, he uttered these […]

Where have you gone, Bobby Fischer?

Many years ago, while on vacation in Mallorca, I bought a chessboard, an inlaid mahogany slate with tournament-caliber playing pieces. The purchase was impulsive, and a nostalgic salute to my adolescent fervor for the royal game – along with an attempt to motivate myself back to regular play. While the latter never transpired, recently I came […]