Dick, This is Woodrow. Did I Wake You?

(The following is a text written 21 years ago on the occasion of a commemoration of Woodrow Borah, the Shepherd Professor, Emeritus, at Berkeley. I didn’t go, but someone–who knows, delivered it. It is verbatim. Borah once called me on a Saturday morning at 10:00 A.M. The title was his memorable opening sally. I hadContinue reading “Dick, This is Woodrow. Did I Wake You?”

Hello, Dick. What’s Up?

Earlier this year, I published an In Memoriam for my thesis supervisor, Stanley J. Stein, who died at 99. It was not easy to write. All the difficulties of graduate education, and they range from personal to professional, come back to you when you are asked to write a memorial. And there is one youContinue reading “Hello, Dick. What’s Up?”

Bless Me, Father, For I Have Sinned

If you were born sometime between 1945 and 1955, more or less, you remember the drill. On Saturday afternoon you summoned up your courage and went to church. Not just any church. You went to your parish church. And with seriousness of purpose. Because you were going to Confession. It was a familiar sacrament ofContinue reading “Bless Me, Father, For I Have Sinned”

The Ice of Texas Is Upon You

Baby, it’s cold outside. Well, finally, after a week, not really. And if you live in places where frozen precipitation and subfreezing temperatures are still part of the natural cycle, global warming or not, you’re thinking “What’s the big freaking deal? A little snow and ice and they go nuts? Like, up in the PanhandleContinue reading “The Ice of Texas Is Upon You”

Pay me or trade me

Man, if you want to stop rational conversation in the United States, talk about rent control, taxes, or the minimum wage. “If we don’t do this, the world will end.” “If we do this, the world will end.” And in the background, some talking head, usually male, but nowadays, maybe a woman, saying the exactContinue reading “Pay me or trade me”

Lizardi, Egania (sic) and Forstall

One of the nice things about what I do–what exactly is it that I do?–is that I get to poke in around people’s lives. These people, God love ’em, are usually long departed. They had no idea that anyone would ever care about them, much less write about them, although I suspect a couple wouldn’tContinue reading “Lizardi, Egania (sic) and Forstall”