An Immigrant, an Artist and an American Mythmaker

Two hundred years ago 17-year-old Thomas Cole emigrated from England to the United States, where he would revolutionize painting in his new country by creating “wild landscapes that were unmistakably American.” Born at the onset of the industrial revolution, Cole discovered in the American wilderness an antidote to the polluted rivers, poisoned air, and exploited working people that he had witnessed in the land of his birth.

Politics is fleeting, art endures

In Kalman Aron’s life, art quite literally prevailed over power, allowing him to survive in a place where he was powerless. On a broader level, I wonder whether there may yet be a role for art in a world in which power is the supreme – and increasingly the only – value.

Draft 'em all: an appeal for universal service (Part 1)

Amid plans for an imperial military parade currently being drawn up at the Pentagon (which you would hope had better things to do) and Erik Prince’s lingering proposal to privatize the war in Afghanistan (which Sen. Lindsay Graham called, “something that would come from a bad soldier of fortune novel”), this seems a good time to revisit the idea of universal service for America’s youth.

Looking for America: Portland’s melting pot (a series)

Many supporters of Maine’s governor and America’s president would have you believe that the changes are not a good thing, that they exemplify the shifting demographics that are making the country increasingly unrecognizable to them. Others would argue that Portland’s vitality – and its continuing attraction to young people – derives in no small part from its diversity.

Looking for America: Beauty and the Bomb Cyclone (a series)

I lugged what seemed like the 800th load of wood to feed the fireplace’s insatiable appetite, shoveled paths to the car, the compost, and the wood pile, endured two frozen pipes, two nights without heat, and two days when the thermometer never got above single digits . . . and that was just a warm-up (if that’s the word I’m looking for) to the “Bomb Cyclone,” which was heading up the coast of Maine with sub-zero temperatures trailing in its wake.

Looking for America, from Tombstone to the Lincoln Memorial (a series)

Most Americans know about the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, when 250,000 people marched for “Jobs and Freedom.” The march ended at the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the speech that would define his legacy, with gospel singer Mahalia Jackson standing behind him saying, “Tell ‘em about the dream, Martin, tell ‘em about the dream!” – and he did.