Month: April 2015

Remembering Oklahoma City

Twenty years ago today, an unspeakable horror took place at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Five years ago, I visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial, erected to memorialize the lives lost, and wrote this post about that place and the need for remembrance. In his recent series about Why Old Places Matter?, my  colleague Tom Mayes wrote about the importance of memory.  He quotes Randall Mason in noting that “Memory is an essential part of consciousness….”  Tom adds, “Memory contributes to the sense of continuity. Memory also gives people identity—both individual identity and a collective identity.” No place demonstrates that better than the Oklahoma City National Memorial. At the 20th anniversary of the events of April 19, 1995, this memorial continues to help us to remember, while also helping us to regain the consciousness we need as humans. More to come… DJB

Religious Freedom 101: A Lesson from Old Places

We are hearing a great deal these days about religious freedom. Much of it comes from individuals who appear – from their comments – to know little of our country’s history.  For the past three days, I’ve been immersed in a state where all Americans would be well advised to come for a class on Religious Freedom 101. One of the truly misunderstood stories in American history is that of Rhode Island and the establishment of religious freedom. My father – that lonely breed of Southern Christian liberal – has spent the past decade or more writing letters to the editor that remind his fellow church-goers of the importance of the separation of church and state. For my part, I’ve been in Providence and Newport this week, and took the time to visit two of the landmarks of the nation’s move to ensure that all had religious freedom, including the right not to worship. Friday, I was in Newport for a series of meetings that began at Touro Synagogue, a National Historic Landmark and an …

Baseball vs. Golf. No contest.

Spring is a weird time for sports. First, there are lots of changing seasons.  Playoffs are just starting in hockey and basketball. (Do you know that WWII wasn’t as long as the NBA playoffs?) Baseball is in its first week. Golf begins to come back onto the radar screen. And those folks who think football is the only game get all excited about…the draft.  (Please. Get a life, people.) This afternoon, I watched about all the golf I will take in on television over the course of the year – the last nine holes of the Masters.  It takes me about an hour of CBS coverage of the Masters to remind myself why I think golf is so damn pretentious and full of itself.  The hushed tones, the endless references to history, the endless paeans to Phil (I make millions of dollars, but I still complain about having to pay taxes) Mickelson. (The guy actually wears logos of a bank and an auditing firm.  That should tell you something about this “game.”) Give me a …

Tut Taylor, R.I.P.

This week we lost the third member of the Aereoplane Band when “The Flatpickin’ Dobro Man” Tut Taylor passed away at age 91. Taylor, along with the late Vassar Clements, Norman Blake, and Randy Scruggs made up the Aereoplane Band that helped the late John Hartford record his ground-breaking album Aereo-Plain – which I once highlighted as my favorite album of all time.  (And yes, the name of the album is spelled differently from the title cut.  Hey, it was the 70s.)  I heard Tut play with Hartford’s band (Earl Scruggs opened for Hartford, if you can believe that) about 40 years ago, and I most recently heard him at MerleFest, where he was a mainstay. Much has been written about Taylor’s unique style of playing the Dobro with a flatpick, as opposed to the finger picks used by every well-known Dobro player from Uncle Josh Graves to Jerry Douglas.  Tut Taylor was unique, and his bluesy style fit well with the fiddling of Vassar Clements and the stellar guitar work of Norman Blake.  This …

Good-bye Basketball, Hello Baseball

It is a good thing I don’t bet on sports. Last weekend, as college basketball teams were playing to reach the Final Four, I found myself in a strange position: leading my office “friendly” pool after three of the four teams had been decided.  I had Kentucky and Wisconsin. I even picked Michigan State to make it.  I never win March Madness pools or similar challenges, I don’t play fantasy anything, and I don’t bet.  (Andrew’s godfather – John Lane – says it best:  “I have the same chance of winning the lottery whether I buy a ticket or not!) But here I was, getting giddy at the prospect of leading our pool going into the final four games. And then my head lost out to my heart. I so wanted Gonzaga to get into the final weekend.  I so did not want to see another Duke team in the Final Four – even if I thought they had the best chance to beat hated Kentucky. So I went with my heart…and got bumped from …