Monthly Archives: April 2016

Reading the Landscape: 10

A cool, rainy day in April. Dark clouds hung over the center of town like a floating canopy.

Rosa Luxemburg (1986)

Rosa Luxemburg was the anti-Hillary Clinton. Born in 1871, the year of the Paris Commune, to a Jewish family in Zamosc, Poland, she was one of the first women in Western Europe to earn a doctoral degree. Considering her brilliance as an economist, she could have probably become wealthy. Instead she chose to fight for […]

The Sopranos (1999-2007)

People who write for TV shows, like Victorian novelists, get paid by the word. As long as the show gets ratings and makes money, it will go on. The Sopranos, like the loaf of bread Karl Marx famously talks about in the first volume of Das Kapital, contains almost as much sawdust as it does […]

Reading the Landscape: 9

Wychwood is a turn of the (last) century gated community in the West Fields of Elizabethtown, New Jersey. Originally built for rich New York commuters who wanted to live inside a Thomas Kinkade painting, it featured a Tudor Revival gatehouse that stood at its entrance for many years before it burned down in 2013. I […]

Reading the Landscape: 8

All through the interminable Presidential election of 2015 and 2016 I have ridden my bike through Union County, New Jersey. I have seen the Democratic strongholds of Elizabeth, Linden, Union, Rahway, Hillside and Roselle. I have climbed the Watchung Mountains into Republican Summit, New Providence and Berkeley Heights. I have explored Clark, Kenilworth, Plainfield, Scotch […]

Reading the Landscape: 7

I know the different kinds of orchids well. I studied them once for several days in the wonderful hothouses at Frankfort-on-the-Main, where a whole section is filled with them. It was after the trial in which I was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment. Their slender grace and their fantastic, almost unnatural forms make them seem […]

Reading the Landscape: 6

My mother, who was raised in the Presbyterian church, once told me that “Catholics are just like Protestants, except they worship idols.” It’s probably more accurate to say that in suburban America everybody is basically an idol worshiping Presbyterian, the idol being money. At what point do you become rich enough where you can leave […]

Reading the Landcape: 5

Someone in my neighborhood chalked up the sidewalk in solidarity with the Verizon strike. I’m not sure why. There isn’t a lot of foot traffic. You have to stop and look carefully before you realize what it’s all about. Yet it obviously took a lot of work. Maybe chalking in solidarity with the labor movement […]

Reading the Landscape: 4

“The rich are different from you and me,” F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said. As for me, I’m never quite sure where the upper-middle-class ends, and the rich begin. According to the Internet, this Gilded Age mansion in New Jersey is valued at a little over a million dollars, about the same price as a studio […]

Reading the Landscape: 3

A photograph will capture light and shadow. It will not capture the warmth of a Spring day, the sweet fragrance of the flowers, or the pleasant fatigue of a thirty mile bicycle ride.