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?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

CALIFORNIA APRICOTS at the Sunnyvale Historical Society

I wanted to make sure all the readers of my blog in the region south of San Francisco, knew about this upcoming event at the Sunnyval Historical Society. You don't have to be a Sunnyvale resident to attend: the talk is about the orchards of the region, not just the town of Sunnyvale.

Sunnyvale, however, has done a great job of preserving its history. The city has a heritage apricot orchard, a museum and a wonderful historical society. I'll be signing books at the talk with the proceeds going to support their programs.

So,  I wanted to make sure I spread the word. I'll be speaking at Sunnyvale's Heritage Park Museum, Monday, June 9, 2014, 7:30 p.m. at 570 E. Remington Drive, Sunnyvale. And here's a link to the Society's web site for more info. We're expecting a good crowd so come early!

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Crazy Time at UC Santa Barbara

I am an alumnus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I got my undergraduate degree before going to UCLA for my Masters.

There was a shooting rampage at UCSB this weekend that has devastated the school. This message, from the UCSB Chancellor, went out to all of us this weekend.  Very sad story indeed: