Opening Day

Another baseball season begins with nobody, including myself, expecting much of our Minnesota Twins. The satellite dish company sends a nice letter every three days urging me to hook the dish back up for a reduced rate. If they had given me the same reduced rate last August, I might have made it through the […]

Balboa Park

Downtown San Diego is so clean it sparkles. Its crown jewel is Balboa Park, a 1200-acre complex which includes fifteen museums, at least 18 gardens, and the world-renowned San Diego Zoo. Balboa Park got its start in 1835 under Mexican rule when local officials, honoring a Spanish civic tradition, set aside a large plot of […]

The California Coast

Yes, a person can get homesick every now and then when gone south for the winter. But there is a cure: call home. Doesn’t matter who. Just call any number in the 218 or 701 area code. Listen to the desperation, the depression, the rage on the other end. Feel the subzero cold pour through […]

Senility Etiquette

A question of manners: What is the proper way to inform a friend that you have already heard the story they have started to tell for the 53rd time? Equally vexing: What is the proper thing to do when the look on the faces of others makes it clear you have embarked a story they […]

Dia De Los Muertos

Twenty-four years ago, Tucson artist Susan Kay Johnson decided to honor her recently-deceased father by organizing a small procession of her friends down 4th Avenue on Dia de los Muertos, otherwise known as the Day of the Dead.  The rag-tag band carried pictures of the deceased and painted their faces white, like skeletons, in the […]

Border Crossing

Crossed into Canada and back last week, which required that I go through the checkpoints at the border, a process that undoes me every time. When I encounter people who have absolute power over the rest of my day, I seize up. Border agents don’t have to let you through, and some of them want […]

Spring Training

With fifteen major league baseball teams training in the Phoenix area, you would think that a baseball fan would be in heaven, racing from ballfield to ballfield collecting autographs and taking in the atmosphere. On that premise, I looked over the map of stadiums last week and decided to drive to see the Dodgers practice. […]


The Super Bowl rendered the usually crowded freeways of Phoenix, Arizona, as quiet as I-29 during a blizzard. Even Christmas can’t command such a complete shutdown of the American automobile as the Super Bowl. Driving up and down the silent streets on Super Bowl Sunday, the license plates on parked cars showed up in clusters. […]

Frank Lloyd Wright

As he approached his 70th year, the great architect Frank Lloyd Wright endured a bout of pneumonia during a Wisconsin winter. “You could add 20 years to his life,” his doctor told Wright’s wife, “if you could convince Frank to spend winters in the desert.” Wright eventually agreed, and in 1937 he and his assistants […]

More Miserables

On Christmas Day, several new movies hit the big screen. The most notable this year was the latest version of Les Miserables, which opened to critical acclaim. I sat in seat K2 at the 10am showing in Scottsdale, Arizona, which means I was amongst the first in this nation to see the already-fabled film. “Les […]

Old Apache Trail

To the east of the Phoenix megalopolis runs the Old Apache Trail, which starts out harmlessly enough as Highway 87. As you wind your way through ravines and red cliffs, the road gets narrower a until a sign announces: pavement ends, gravel next 22 miles. The onset of gravel gets rid of the weekend motorcyclists, […]

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