‘But when war come, Hunkie good enough to fight’

Men and Steel, Mary Heaton Vorse, (1920). This is a fascinating, in-the-trenches look at the 1919 national steel strike, with particular emphasis on Braddock and the pastor of the Slovak Catholic church there who stood by his congregation in the face of threats and intimidation from the steel bosses. Mary Heaton Vorse is a wonderful […]

Jane Swisshelm was a total badass

I’ve been tinkering again with The Book, and one of the rabbit holes that research dropped me into prompted the discovery that Swissvale (where I attended high school) and nearby Swisshelm Park were named after Jane Swisshelm, journalist, abolitionist, and all-around bad-ass. The Wikipedia entry on her notes she wrote an autobiography called “Half a […]

The Strange Lives of Familiar Insects

I’m watching insects through an entirely new lens on this autumn day, bathed in October Light (as John Gardner would have it). Crows raise hell in the trees on the other side of the ridge. Stanton Moore’s tribute to Allen Toussaint rolls out of the cabin in a funky tumble of brass and drums, rattling […]

Do not go gentle into that good night …

I’ve watched the entire Deadwood series at least 5 times. I’ve also rewatched John from Cincinnati multiple times. And I’m still astounded by David Milch’s writing. Who else could put a chunk of dialogue like this in a character’s mouth:  “I may have fucked up my life flatter ’n hammered shit, but I stand here […]

Back in Uvita

(To read El Gringo Feo’s Costa Rica Diary from the beginning, start here.) Sunday, October 14 I’m back in Uvita after several days in the States, and it really felt good to return here. I was dreading Friday, which was an airport gauntlet (Dubuque—>Chicago—>Miami—>San José), but the only real problem I hit was a minor delay […]