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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….)

The Call of the American Lotus
The New York Times, 9 July 2018

From the middle of its namesake delta, the city of Mobile, Ala., looks like a mythical place: shiny skyscrapers framed by cattails and marsh grass, a city that reaches into a sky so vast it holds all the weather there is — bright sun and cottony clouds and pregnant thunderheads and torrential rain — and all at one time. From the middle of that magnificent delta, Mobile could be Atlantis rising from the sea or the Emerald City of Oz. (more….)

The Spider in My Life
The New York Times, 23 July 2018

A small gray spider has pitched an elaborate camp at my work space in the family room. She is not an orb-weaver like E.B. White’s famous Charlotte. This spider’s web is a multilayered hammock-like construction strung between the leaves of the orchid I got for Mother’s Day and anchored by silken strands to the window frame in back and to an African violet and a desk lamp on either side. (more….)

An American Tragedy in Nashville
The New York Times, 23 April 2018

There is something fundamentally democratic about a Waffle House restaurant in the wee hours of the morning. It’s a place where people working the late shift can stop for a hot meal on the way home, where high school kids can extend prom night just an hour longer, where 20-somethings jazzed on live music can wind down after a night on the town. It’s a uniquely American place. (more….)