Journalists have an old rule of thumb: When in doubt, interview a senior citizen. Even if nothing interesting has happened to them recently, they always have a good story from sometime in their life.
As he turns 90, Clayton Meech has more than his share of good stories. I’ve heard a few of them over [...]Continue Reading →
Eleanor Colbert Beckwith never stopped learning.
My grandmother was born Sunday, April 10, 1921, in Stanton, Nebraska, one of a string of dusty farm towns nestled between the railroad and the Elkhorn River a hundred miles northwest of Omaha. Her father, Leon Colbert, was a rural mailman and an Army veteran; her mother, Arlotta, raised [...]Continue Reading →
For posterity’s sake, I collected a few of the nice things people said about Under the Dome while I was running it.
“It’s the Jon Stewart version of the venerable political column. Political junkies will enjoy Dome, of course, but so will others who don’t care as much about politics as they do about issues, [...]Continue Reading →
The News & Observer, Dec. 25, 2005
Book critics fantasize about sitting down with J.D. Salinger to chat about “Catcher in the Rye.” Crime reporters daydream about grilling Ted Kaczynski in the prison cafeteria.
I wanted to interview Santa Claus.
He’s the [...]Continue Reading →
The News & Observer, June 20, 2004
My family doesn’t write letters.
My mother sends greeting cards for every birthday, notable anniversary, major religious celebration and second-rate federal holiday, signed only “Love, Mom and Dad.” My father, taking after his parents, sends newspaper clippings.
In fact, my father has made it a full-time hobby. Partly [...]Continue Reading →
The News & Observer, June 13, 2004
A hundred years ago Wednesday, an ad salesman named Leopold Bloom fried a kidney for breakfast, went to a funeral, ran a few errands around Dublin, got into an argument at a pub, visited a brothel and took a drunk friend home.
These rather mundane events — related [...]Continue Reading →
The News & Observer, July 27, 2003
In the distance, a plane takes off. Rick Blaine turns to Capt. Renault, about to say something about friendship. A woman appears out of the mist. It is Ilsa.
“The only thing I would regret,” she tells Rick, “is not staying with you.” The music swells. The credits [...]Continue Reading →
The Poynter Institute, Feb. 20, 2003
In journalism school, I heard a lot about the importance of shoe leather. There’s just no substitute, my professors preached, for getting out there and meeting people face-to-face. So, when I found myself without a job after graduation, I decided to try that approach to finding work.
I spent [...]Continue Reading →
The King of Crown Heights: The Rise and Fall of the Real Estate Rabbi
Columbia School of Journalism, March 25, 2002
For a lawyer, Israel Weinstock doesn’t have much faith in his profession.
Sitting at a reproduction Louis XVI desk in his office in Rockaway Beach, the 65-year-old attorney tells the story of two businessmen who [...]Continue Reading →
The Daily World, Sept. 16, 2001
“The city, for the first time in its history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality [...]Continue Reading →
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