Photo by the author
August 2nd, 2013 | 8:00am


Over the past forty years, Industrial Realty Group has acquired over a billion dollars of America’s obsolete industrial complexes, former military bases, and corporate campuses for retrofitting, conversion, and privatization. In 2007, the firm acquired the newly closed Hoover Plant, two blocks from my high school. Hoover once made the world’s most famous vacuums, and its old headquarters are still tremendous, a magnificent crowd of red brick and white windowpanes that run along a green lawn and announce themselves in white letters, “The Home of Hoover Fine Appliances.”

Photo by the author
July 31st, 2013 | 8:00am

Photo by the author

I got caught in a deluge the other night, and when it hit me, it hit me just like that, italicized, like the rain was coming down so hard even the words to describe it were soaked and falling to the ground. I was in the back streets of Sheung Wan, an old part of town on the outskirts of Central that rests against the side of a hill. Steep stone staircases run up and down and through the area, and on a sunny Sunday morning you can play snakes and ladders with the past, sliding down to a street of antique stores that sell Bruce Lee posters from the 60s and twin-lens reflex cameras from the 30s, or climbing up to peek inside the few Edwardian mansions that remain, the once proud homes not of colonial officials, but of the Chinese compradors who even then—or maybe especially then—had a thing about putting the white man in his place.

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons User macwagen
July 30th, 2013 | 8:00am

Speaking of Southern Illinois and fishing and smoking cigars and praying when you don’t believe in anything, I got a call last week from my neighbor Larry who was having a porn barbecue. “Every year is a gift,” he told me, when he turned thirty-four. That was forty years ago. He was always convinced he’d die young, or die middle-aged, or die a few weeks after he retired. He’d more or less been planning on it forever. In the past five years he’d sold his books. He’d sold his collection of toy figures. He’d burned most of his poems. “Nothing I can do about the published ones,” he’d said. “That’s my own little punishment from God.”

reviewed by Patrick Meighan
July 29th, 2013 | 12:00pm

Gregory Orr is a meditative poet. In his new book, River Inside the River, Orr again turns his inner eye to the power of words to reveal the essence of a thing, a movement, an emotion. He writes:

            River inside the river.

            World within the world.


All we have is words


July 24th, 2013 | 8:00am

On my final day in Malaysia I visited the Great Cave near the town of Niah, site of the oldest human remains in all of Southeast Asia.  To get there, I took a bus from Miri, a city not far from the Brunei border, which brought me close to the main entrance of an unceremonious national park.  At the museum, I glanced through photos of Englishmen joylessly separating ceramic from bone, and I studied brochures on the local economy, which runs on bird’s nests and guano.  Then I walked through a rainforest thick with cicadas until I reached the mouth of the cave, which looked like a secret airport hangar or a decommissioned gateway to hell.  Armed with a flashlight and an outdated map, I followed a mossy path through the darkness and breathed in the prehistoric funk.  By sunset, I found myself back at the entrance, where swiftlets and bats converged on each other in a giant black cloud above my head.