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Of Flags and Faith and James Baldwin in His 90th Birthday Year

After the outbreak of war in April of 1861, students at Princeton (then the College of New Jersey) raised the Union flag over Nassau Hall. According to the Mudd Manuscript…

Rocked by “Game of Thrones” — The Fine Art of Going to Extremes

Take a walk with me down by Avalon… — Sir Van Morrison, from “Summertime in England” According to the June 17 New York Times, the Season Five finale of Game of…

On Stravinsky’s Birthday, “Dance, Dance, Wherever You May Be”

Today is Igor Stravinsky’s 134th birthday. The facts say that he died in 1971 but here he is on YouTube in a shipboard afterlife. While everyone else is assembling for…

No Turning Back — Hiking Through “Augie March” On Saul Bellow’s Centenary

Saul Bellow, who was born 100 years ago today in a suburb of Montreal, began his breakthrough novel The Adventures of Augie March in Paris in 1948 and finished it…

“Too Deep for Tears” — The Long Journey of John and Alicia Nash

Responding to the deaths of John and Alicia Nash in a May 23 accident on the New Jersey Turnpike, Jennifer Connelly, the actress who won an Oscar playing Alicia in…

Don Draper’s California Dream: Is It a Smile, a Half-Smile, or a Smirk? 

Mad Man begins and ends with Don Draper, formerly Dick Whitman, alone, and yet not alone. In the opening scene of the pilot, it’s the dawn of the sixties, he’s…

“Strange Days Indeed” — John Lennon, Kathmandu, and Loud Mouth Lime

The other night I found John Lennon alive and well online singing “There’s a little yellow idol to the north of Kathmandu” from “Nobody Told Me,” a song brimming over…

In a New York Moment: Having It Both Ways on Samuel Beckett’s Other Birthday

Except for the lack of a parking spot on Charlie Parker Place, the transition from Princeton to Manhattan has never been smoother, turnpike to tunnel, uptown, crosstown to a bench…

The Fate of Gil Hodges and Other Strange Doings On the Field of Dreams

It was like playing in a ghost town. — Baltimore pitcher Zach Britton You’ve heard of the Ship without a Crew. Last Wednesday it was the Game without a Crowd, Camden…

Celebrating Ellington’s Birthday and Strayhorn’s Centenary: “They Could Read Each Other’s Minds”

Someone should write a blues for the lonely offline souls suddenly bereft of all access, thwarted by codes, passwords, various unknowns. One minute you have the lyrics to Billy Strayhorn’s…

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