May Day rally at DHS office, Chicago, 2018 (photo by the author, edited with Deep Dream)

May Day was weird again this year. No parades but just a typical Saturday of grocery shopping and yard maintenance. Then a lovely little happy hour on our neighbor friends’ backyard deck. But then a sudden bolt of not entirely surprising but heartbreaking news from an old close friend of his ailing wife’s death. So much death over this pandemic period. Not so much from covid, in our circle, but the grim specter of aging out is stacked on top of the pile-on of horror and frustration over these past 14 months.

In some ways it was alot like a…


Press briefing by former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany (Photo by Patrick Semansky, AP)

While we can appreciate that the print medium is supposed to be a dying industry, the profound effects from the routine disdain that the publishers, editors and scribes at the New York Post proudly show for journalistic ethics should really be a scandal worthy of a much higher degree of respect; or at least a little attention from the electorate.

In the weeks leading up to Election Day, 2020, the New York Post ran a story on a tip from pan-national fascist Steve Bannon and perverted pseudo-patriot Rudy Giuliani about Hunter Biden and his alleged laptop that turned up in…


Still frame from an InfoWars video (YouTube)

Journamalism (noun): animal, minimal, journalistic; suggestive of barely articulated and uninformed opinions; a sorry state of news gathering emblematic of the current domination by a punditocracy of a regulatory landscape wherein, “even assuming, arguendo, that each of the statements alleged in the Complaint could be proved true or false, no reasonable person would conclude that the statements were truly statements of fact.”

The Associated Press reported on April 18 that at least eight defendants arrested and charged with crimes from the January 6 Capitol riot have claimed to be reporters or documentary filmmakers working on the first draft of history…


Calavera Ciclista in a Yellow Jersey on the Great Western Trail (Deep Dream filtered photo by Barry Dredze)

Happy Bicycle Day! April 19 brings the occasion to celebrate Dr. Albert Hofmann’s discovery of the recipe for lysergic acid diethylamide and his psychedelic bike ride home while blazing on the world’s first intentional acid trip.

Out of this discovery, there have grown essentially two schools of Psychedelia. There is the scientific orthodoxy of Harvard professors Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (aka Ram Das), Stanislav Grof and Thomas Roberts. And then there is the Rock’n’Roll ecstasy of Owsley Stanley, Ken Kesey, Hunter S. Thompson and the Haight-Ashbury scene.

It seems most vital yet futile to celebrate such a historic affirmation…


Norman Rockwell Visits a Country Editor, by Norman Rockwell (1946)

“Fundamentally,” said Mordecai Richler, “all writing is about the same thing; it’s about dying, about the brief flicker of time we have here, and the frustration that it creates.”

Journalism is not creative writing. Journalism is a discipline that is taught and learned. To recognize solid journalistic ethics look for multiple primary sources and solidly supported facts, from the public record to the level of consistency across primary sources. As the informal creed of the old City News Bureau in Chicago put it, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

Mechanics: Lead paragraph — short, around 25…


Unite The Right marchers, University of Virginia at Charlottesville, Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 (Photo by Andrew Shurtleff/The Daily Progress)

“You very likely will not be flattened by the news that Economic Insecurity does not hold a prominent place in the data,” wrote Charlie Pierce in Esquire about Robert Pape’s recent University of Chicago study of Capitol rioters arrested during the January 6 insurrection. “Neither will you be stunned by what form of insecurity actually does.”

It is largely about race. But even as all of this plays out against the backdrop of the Derek Chauvin trial for the murder of George Floyd, ongoing violence against Asian Americans and perennial panic over Central American refugees crossing the southern border, huge…


Satan Presenting His City to the Children by Michael Hutter

I was raised in a town made famous for fighting Nazis in court, so we wouldn’t have to fight them in the streets. I went away to college, returned to a cable TV internship and then moved away to a small suburban town where the residents were supposed to bow down to every idea and opinion of the guys who inherited third generation family businesses that they hadn’t yet run into the ground or sold out. It was there that I started my first newspaper, which ultimately suffered from the common lack of advertising support from local business. …


April Fool’s Day in a land with its sense of humor on the decline. Humor is important. It can liberate us from the limitations of our conceits.

If anyone ever wrote a history of April Fool’s Day, no one would believe it. And that would not be a bad thing, because we now really live in a land where one of our two ruling parties routinely tricks a solid half of our participating electorate into believing absurdities. For example, as the nation’s president and the federal legislative leadership try to advance legislation making it easier for the electorate to vote…


Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signing Voter Suppression bill into law at his office hearth beneath plantation portrait and Georgia’s state flag modeled after the national flag of the Confederacy (Photo: Office of Gov. Brian Kemp)

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp posted the above photo to his Twitter feed, upon signing his state legislature’s new voter suppression bill into law on Thursday, March 25.

Among the elements that jump out of that photo is the plantation portrait hanging above the Georgia Governor’s office hearth. Flanking the hearth are the flags of the United States and the State of Georgia.

That flag we see in Kemp’s photo was adopted in 2003, replacing the previous design that represented the state since 1956 — two years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision that desegregated schools:


Parson Weems’ Fable by Grant Wood (1939)

“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” George Washington, Farewell Address (1796)

You likely recognize that scene above in Grant Wood’s Parson Weems’ Fable where George Washington in his youth, confronted by his father upon being caught in the act of chopping down the legendary cherry tree, uttered his fabled confession, “I cannot tell a lie.” Wood made his name in American modern art when his American Gothic won $300 and a solid degree of fame at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1930. …

Barry Dredze

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store