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Atlanta Constitution editorial room, with copy desk in the background, Nov. 25, 1947. (AP Photo via Poynter)

An old deadline snuck up on him one dark and windy day,

Just like a thousand other times when life got in the way,

When all at once the mighty words as fast as he could think

Went flyin’ past his fevered brain

In letters and dry ink.

Yippie eye yay, yippie eye oh,

The ghost writers in the sky.

Their faces gaunt their eyes were blurred and shirts all soaked with sweat,

They’re writin’ hard to catch the words but they ain’t caught ’em yet

‘Cos they hunt and peck forever on their keys up in the sky,

But…


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Carol’s Pub, a genuine surviving Chicago honky tonk (photo by Chrissy Slaton, Time Out Chicago)

Bob Boyd of The Sundowners, the house band at the “Bar Double R,” once a subcultural and subterranean downtown Chicago institution, flipped through the pages of a songbook on a music stand and then, with his reading glasses set on the end of his nose, strummed his rhythm guitar and started singing “When I was a child my family would travel down to Western Kentucky where my parents were born….”

It was some drunken weeknight in give-or-take 1988, overstaying yet another happy hour, that I made my way down the long narrow staircase near the Greyhound station on Randolph Street…


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SNL Weekend Update anchor Michael Che (still frame from YouTube video via Israeli news medium Haaretz)

Happy Purim, everyone! At the end of a week where the Associated Press reported that Israel faced international criticism for excluding Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza from its successful covid-19 vaccination campaign while Israeli legislators argued that availability for the vaccine should be exploited for leverage against Gaza’s Hamas rulers, Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update anchorperson Michael Che joked, “Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population. I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half.”

The joke was roundly condemned as “antisemitic” by the alphabet soup of American Jewish establishment organizations, most notably the American…


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The Nov. 22, 2000, Florida Brooks Brothers Riot disrupting the mandatory Bush-Gore recount in a Miami-Dade County polling office (Photo by Colin Braley for Reuters).

While the culture navigated its way though the AIDS pandemic, union busting and environmental stress, punk rock and rap were giving the music some renewable juice. From the Punky Reggae Party that was Rock Against Racism in the UK and USA to the fall of Soviet totalitarianism in the rubble of the Berlin Wall, the 80s were pretty fun.

The 90s had so much potential, from “peace dividends” to the birth of the European Union and its common markets and open borders; from a “bridge to the 21st century to the development of the information superhighway.

It all went south…


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Forward Pass by Thomas Hart Benton (1971)

While American football may not be everyone’s cup of amusement, understanding the mysterious ways of the National Football League may help to understand America.

The plague of a global pandemic and the ongoing atrocity of extrajudicial killings leading to widespread Black Lives Matter demonstrations exposes an unflattering view of American culture right in its own mirror. With travel halted and populations quarantined over the past year (so far), the whole show finally seems played out. We are the Land of the Free and we don’t even have a firm grip on what freedom means, let alone what it costs. The…


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Oft-captioned photo mischaracterized as vintage football helmet testing but still a great shot for discussing football fans. (Wikimedia Commons: “In a 1912 issue of Flight magazine, British inventor W.T. Warren’s invention, a protective flight helmet, is demonstrated.”)

Heading into the last week in January with Groundhog Day just around the corner, the Green Bay Packers played another conference title game.

The qualifier for the NFL Super Bowl has been a recurring nightmare for the Green & Gold for several seasons over the past decade. Last season, Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur led the storied franchise to a division title and the NFL semi-final conference title game in only his first year in a head coaching job. …


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“Dedicated to the Chicago Convention,” by Thomas Nast, Harper’s Weekly, Sept. 3, 1864. (Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress)

The South is different by virtue of identity politics.

You will hear people suggest that “identity politics” is something that leftist radical hippies invented in the Sixties. In fact, in his 1861 “Cornerstone Speech,” Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens said,

“The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the [slavery] institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It…


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Burial party, site of a Civil War battlefield at Cold Harbor, Virginia, April 1865. (Photo by John Reekie)

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 2021, found the FBI assisting the Pentagon with the vetting of about 25,000 National Guard troops called up to Washington, DC, to boost security for the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in response to violent threats from homegrown American fascists, who want to believe that they are the only true patriots left in the country, because Republican lawmakers refuse to accept the integrity of the very same ballots upon which many of them were elected and sent to Congress from cynically gerrymandered districts.

Only the week before, the House of…


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A Rebel Guerrilla Raid In A Western Town by Thomas Nast (Harper’s Weekly, 1862)

If you haven’t already, you will hear and see arguments from the Party of Lincoln about how the politicians and voters of the Democratic Party are the “real racists” in our two-party system because it was historically the party of slavery, secession and the Ku Klux Klan back in the 19th Century. Republicans like to bring this history up because over the same course of our history their party had dramatically devolved from the abolitionist roots of its founding in Ripon, Wisconsin, in 1854. Republicans today might even have a sound argument about their Democratic Party rivals had they themselves…


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Recruitment poster by Howard Chandler Christy, 1917 (Museum of Modern Art)

Alarming statistics are increasingly published suggesting that our nation is in danger of creating a military class in this country, if we have not already created one.

“The Iraq and Afghan campaigns represent the first protracted, large-scale conflicts since our Revolutionary War fought entirely by volunteers,” Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said in a speech at Duke University in September, 2010. “Indeed, no major war in our history has been fought with a smaller percentage of this country’s citizens in uniform full-time, roughly 2.4 …

Barry Dredze

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