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Celebrating Vivekananda’s American Adventure on His 150th Birthday

If you want to know India, study Vivekananda.  —Rabindranath Tagore to Romain Rolland The song really came from Swami Vivekananda, who said, ‘If there is a God, we must see…

Live From Detroit: Standing in the Shadows Searching for a Silver Lining

Everything good about Detroit is available on iTunes. —post on New York Times blog “When the nation catches a cold, Detroit gets pneumonia,” people would say during the Depression, with…

Before Sunrise to Sunset to Midnight — The Chemistry of Connection

I knew, the first time I saw Before Sunrise, that here was a film for which I felt not only interest or admiration but love; a film I would want…

Sleeping on Hallowed Ground: A Gettysburg Seance With Stephen Crane

She was at last looking upon those curious beings who rode down from the North — those men of legend and colossal tale — they who were possessed of such…

“Time Is a Very Considerable Place” — Beethoven Plays an Adagio for Proust’s Birthday

I can be visited in bed by the brook and the birds of the Pastoral Symphony, which poor Beethoven enjoyed no more directly than I do since he was completely…

On His 130th Birthday — A Little Touch of Kafka in the Night

While today, July 3, is Franz Kafka’s 130th birthday, the shadow of his name continues to spread, stretching on either side of his birth and death dates, 1883 and 1924.…

Don’t Stop Believing — James Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano Lives On and On and On and On

The magnitude of the response to James Gandolfini’s death in Rome last Wednesday is clearly also a tribute to a fictional character and a television series created by David Chase…

Sneaking Through Baltimore With Lincoln, Pinkerton, and America’s First Female Private Eye

He reached the Capital as the poor, hunted fugitive slave reaches the North, in disguise, seeking concealment, evading pursuers … crawling and dodging under the sable wing of night. He…

Reading Brooklyn Without a Map, or Henry Miller Saves the Day

The largest and most unknown continent of all is Brooklyn. You can say that I’ve gone out into the wilderness five hundred times armed with a trusty map, now worn…

Light and Dark: Themes and Anthems for a European Tour

The first real summer vacation I ever had was two and a half months in Europe with a student tour called the Golden Bear. I picked that particular tour because…