When Rockport Was My Own

I grew up in a small town called Rockport, on the north shore of Massachusetts, home to no more than 5,000 people when we first moved there Read More


President Obama would like to eliminate most corporate tax loopholes, in exchange for a lower corporate tax rate. Read More

The Cost of Thuggish Prattle

Attempts on the lives of public figures rarely correspond directly to hate speech, but others have suffered the cost of thuggish prattle about resorting to arms. Read More

New York Was So Much Older Then

I CAME to New York, and to Columbia University, just a few years before Barack Obama arrived in 1981. Like him I was a poor boy, eager to get to the city and start my life as an adult. Read More

Before Bartman, There Was Merkle

  A hundred years later, it is still one of the most controversial games played in American professional sports — and still the only major league game ever decided by an umpire alone in his hotel room, hours after the last pitch was thrown. It set off one of the worst displays of sportsmanship ever seen in New York City. Most amazing of all, it allowed the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series, the last time they have done so. Think Chuck Knoblauch meets Steve Bartman, and you will have some idea of the immensity of Fred Merkle’s blunder. Read More

Paving Over Fun

WHERE we come from, fun is much more circumscribed,” friends from Frankfurt told me, wide-eyed, when I took them out to Coney Island a few years ago. Their amazement was understandable. Among the cacophony of the shooting galleries and the bumper car and skee-ball arcades; the majestic turns of Deno’s Wonder Wheel (New York’s only combination Ferris wheel and roller coaster!) above us; the dizzying smell of every possible kind of fried food emanating from the blocks of fast-food stands, it is easy to believe that there is nothing that quite approaches Coney Island in Frankfurt, or anywhere else in Read More

Fans of the Game

I got a chance to feel like a classic, ugly New Yorker this week. I was attending a Yankees game with my close friend, Chris; one in which we succeeded in horrifying an entire family of fans — Mom, Dad and grown daughter — with the sheer lunatic vehemence of our rooting. Read More

Behind the Curtains

A family on my block has apparently decided to live life as a performance art piece. They occupy a first-floor apartment that is long but shallow, and situated almost right at the sidewalk. The shades are up and the lights are on at all hours, so that when you walk up the street in the evening you can’t help but see them at their every activity: kids noodling on the computer, parents cooking in the kitchen or watching television. One night my wife gave a little bemused whoop as we walked home, having just seen one of the adults emerge Read More

In the Witch City

On a summer night you can see the lantern lights gliding like fireflies along the streets of Salem, Mass. They look disembodied in the late evening gloom, but when you walk closer you can discern that each lantern is held aloft by a woman in long skirts, doing her best to look like a 17th-century crone. Pulling along a tail of sheepish, smirking tourists in their T-shirts and shorts; making the rounds of the town’s “ghost sites.” I recently spent most of a week in Salem — or “the Witch City,” as it styles itself today. Each day, I would Read More