Long Reads

February 6, 2017

Hoisting our backpacks, my students and I start up a narrow staircase that points us left and right. In November 1820, John Keats and his friend Joseph Severn climbed these stairs to two small rooms above the Spanish Steps, ready to stay until the end, which they knew wouldn’t be far away.

October 14, 2016

Now, I am trying to imagine future memories, future happiness, what it will be like to live without her, what it will be like to have moved on. I tell myself, tell my wife, that maybe it is good that dogs don’t live for very long compared to people, so that we may know as many of them as possible, to save as many of them as we can.

New York 1980s

August 5, 2016

I always dreamt of making it out. And out meant New York. 

Photo by author

March 3, 2016

When I enter the Merrill apartment, it feels like another world. . . Ouija room to the left, Merrill’s study and library hidden behind the sliding bookcases to my right.

Photo by author

November 27, 2015

While she describes the elk as female, a cow, I’m still seeing a bull’s antlers crashing through the windshield, her body flailing as the truck rolls on its side and skids to a stop.

Old Dewey Bridge. Photo by author.

August 13, 2015

I latched onto the idea that I myself had never driven across the country before, had never experienced the typically American rite of passage known as “the road trip.” This was something I needed to do. Now. Alone.
Photo by author

February 13, 2015

Photo by author

1. Seocho via Gangnam

My family and I are struggling along Teheran Road in Seocho-dong, Seoul, and it is my fault. I should have conducted us one stop farther to Gangnam Station, where the number ten exit would have deposited us in front of our destination, but we are disoriented by the city’s newness and haven’t yet learned the subway stations, nor do we know the banks and stores and restaurants piled atop each other in metallic high-rises footnoted by cafés and tea rooms and dessert shops. It is late May, nearly summer, when people punctuate meals with shaved ice covered with red bean jelly, rice cakes, diced fruit, grain powder, green tea, condensed milk, and ice cream for more richness.

Photo by Wikipedia: File:Douglas C-47 Skytrain.jpg

January 30, 2015

Photo by Wikipedia: File:Douglas C-47 Skytrain.jpg

In Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, where I grew up, Rex Humbard was the first Pentecostal evangelist to have his own television program. Next to the Cathedral of Tomorrow, where he hosted his weekly broadcast, he also built an enormous tower—locally known as Rex’s Erection—with the intent of making one of those revolving restaurants like at Niagara Falls. But despite eventually officiating at Elvis’s funeral, Humbard ran out of money and, ever since, the tower has just stood there, tall and useless. Though my grandfather, who was a flight instructor at Kent State, once told me that pilots used the tower as a landmark when giving their coordinates over the radio.

Image by Flickr Creative Commons user UO Journal

October 3, 2014

Image by Flickr Creative Commons user UO Journal

The continent, it turned out, was not ready for people. The settlers chopped down every tree and killed every animal, then started in on each other. They hoarded finite resources—furs, lumber, ore—until there werent any left to use. Counterfeiters discovered a way to alchemize gold, bringing about hyperinflation and economic collapse. The strong terrorized the weak, not just once but repeatedly, hounding them through one life after another. Normal people became outright thugs, enacting fantasies of domination. Dominated people had a tendency to become informal police, enacting fantasies of justice. Every so often a server crash would plunge everyone weeks into the past, to the most recent backup.

Cikovsky, Nicolai; "The Inlet at Wooley Pond", 1945; Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY

August 1, 2014

Cikovsky, Nicolai; "The Inlet at Wooley Pond", 1945; Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY

When a boat dies, you usually have two choices: pay hundreds of dollars to have it hauled away, or let it molder and sink into some secluded corner of the yard. A quick tour of my wife’s parents’ town on the South Shore of Massachusetts, where I moored my boat, would suggest that the latter is the norm: those husks and dark prows entombed in plain sight beside rotting cordwood, abandoned swing-sets. Last year, when I discovered that the oaken keel of my sailboat had rotted irreparably, I embarked on my first experiment with time-lapse photography. I rented for twenty dollars a “reciprocating saw”—the contractor’s principal instrument of demolition—known as a Sawzall. After positioning my iPad on a kitchen chair in the driveway of my in-laws’ home, then unraveling forty yards of extension cord from the garage, I plugged in the nasty tool—part torpedo, part robotic swordfish—and grimly laid into the carapace of the little boat over which I had worried and fussed for almost ten years.

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