Saturday, December 10, 2016

Edible Silicon Valley Magazine: A New Article by Robin Chapman on A New Way to Look at Green

A glimpse of the Taylor Street Farm in San Jose, California, where both greens and flowers are grown for sale in the middle of the city.

I've recently been doing some writing for a friend of mine who is the new publisher of Edible Silicon Valley, a magazine for the popular food/lifestyle/locavore culture that is a big part of life in the San Francisco Bay Area. In working on ideas for her magazine, we came across something called Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones, and she asked me to turn it into an article for her magazine.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Mystery in the Glomerata: Uncovered After Seven Decades

The 1939 Glomerata, Auburn's yearbook. 

My father's college yearbooks have been in our hall bookcase as long as I can remember. And as long as I can remember, my father never opened them. He was not a man to live in the past. He lived in the present--every single day. One hundred percent. 

After he died, I gave away quite a few of his old books, but not his yearbooks from Auburn. You just can't give away a yearbook with the improbable name "The Glomerata."

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Neighbors Working Together Can Make a Difference

A vintage postcard of Santa Clara Valley's orchards, from my book California Apricots: the Lost Orchards of Silicon Valley, published by the History Press.

I was very discouraged when I wrote the post in February, about the lastest proposal to redevelop the property where my small town has preserved a small Heritage Apricot Orchard for more than half a century.

When I stopped being discouraged, I joined forces with a number of my neighbors and got back to the work of saving it. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Discouraged by Democracy: Voices From a Small Town

An artist paints in our city's heritage orchard, named a City Historic Landmark.

We've all read the articles during this 2016 U.S. presidential election that this is the year of the angry voter. This growing citizen frustration has become the big story to the observers inside the Beltway, where I once worked as a reporter. 

The result of this citizen anger has certainly been an unpredictable set of candidates. I've covered a lot of presidential elections and I've never seen anything it. But beyond the voter frustration reporters have uncovered at the national level,  I believe we're seeing an anger toward every level of government. Why? In city, county, state and federal halls of power, there is a growing sense that the mighty get what they want, and the rest of the folks can lump it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Let the Israeli Prime Minister Be Heard

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As a television reporter in Washington D.C., I was sent one day to interview the Israeli Ambassador to the United States. Israel's new embassy had just been completed, not far from our newsroom, near Connecticut Avenue NW and Van Ness. I remember thinking how much the place looked like a fortress.

More surprising to me, in those days when nobody even glanced in my handbag as I walked into the U.S. Capitol, the security at the Embassy of Israel was even more imposing than the building.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Remembering Rod McKuen (And a Tale Not Yet Told)

Rod McKuen, seen here in a 1960s photo taken for Life Magazine, died this week at the age of 81.

More than a year ago, I came across a copy, on one of my bookshelves, of Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows, a very successful book of poems by Rod McKuen. Curious about this once-famous man, I started nosing about on the Internet to find out what had happened to him. It appeared he was living in quiet retirement in Southern California in a home he shared with his brother. I thought it would be an absolutely delightful thing to find him and interview him again with the idea that his life story would make a fascinating book. 

As often happens with creative impulses we don't pursue, the moment has passed. Rod McKuen died this week at the age of 81. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

William Randolph Hearst: Time to Take a Second Look

This biography of William Randolph Hearst was published in 2001. Amazon now has nine pages of books about this larger-than-life character. 

In the popular media, big almost always equals important. In the world of journalism, publisher William Randolph Hearst has long been considered a giant. Born in 1863 in San Francisco he died in Los Angeles in 1951. And still his legend seems to grow. 

His fortune was big, his empire was big, his family was big. His famous house, Hearst Castle, was really, really big and filled with what may be the largest, most jumbled, most ferociously acquired collection of art and architectural antiques the world has ever seen. A man like this just has to be important, doesn't he?