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John Prine: American Oracle
The New York Times, 22 October 2018

Nine songs into his sold-out show at the Ryman Auditorium here on Oct. 5, John Prine stopped singing long enough to give some context for a song he wrote 50 years ago, during the height of the Vietnam War. “I wrote this next one as a protest song,” he said. “It was 1968, and at the time we had a real jerk in the White House.” He paused before voicing what I was already thinking: “What a coincidence.” (more….)

Journey to a Night Flower
The New York Times, 24 September 2018

For decades, my grandmother was the caretaker of a gangly, disorganized houseplant with nothing, so far as I could see, to recommend it. The plant was ugly, an awkward tangle of greenery fashioned from what seemed to be spare botanical parts: long stems that reached out in a vaguely threatening way and generated new stems, randomly, from within their own stretching expanses. As a little girl, I thought it might bite me. (more….)

America Has Stopped Being a Civilized Nation
The New York Times, 12 August 2018

On Thursday morning, The Knoxville News Sentinel published a front-page story by Matt Lakin about the imminent execution of Billy Ray Irick. The inmate had been on death row since 1986, a year after he confessed to raping and murdering a 7-year-old child left in his care. The little girl was named Paula Dyer. She called her murderer “Uncle Bill.” The print headline read, “Paula Dyer’s last day on Earth.” (more….)