It's as hard to imagine Baltimore without The Sun as a day without daylight. The newspaper’s motto, after all, is “Light For All,” an elegant and egalitarian expression of the desire to keep Baltimoreans and Marylanders as informed as good citizenship requires. Arunah Abell, the top-hatted founder of The Sun in 1837 (at center in … Continue reading Toward a brighter Sun
The subject of Aaron Yealdall’s song and music video, “Wide Awake,” is what the Navy calls “unidentified aerial phenomena,” or what we’ve always called UFOs. My reaction to Aaron’s song is much like my reaction to UFOs — I neither accept nor understand it all, but I believe there’s something deep there and I’m intrigued. … Continue reading Wide Awake: Great song, and now an unearthly video to go with it
Five Baltimore pastors who once led the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance released a statement Tuesday bemoaning the IMA's diminished role in civic life and its process for endorsing a mayoral candidate in the June 2 primary election. I refer to this in my May 20 Sun column, but not at the length it deserves. So I … Continue reading Past presidents of Baltimore ministers alliance protest its leadership, endorsement process
I didn't think about it at the time I interviewed her, but Downing Kay lived long enough to have survived the pandemic of 1918-1920 and to have seen the arrival of another. I didn't put that together until news arrived Friday night of Mrs. Kay's death at 112, and it would not have occurred to … Continue reading Unforgettable: Downing Kay passes on at 112
Jack Kramer, my college roommate and co-editor of the University of Bridgeport student newspaper way back when, has died at the age of 65, and I didn’t get to say goodbye, and that’s what you get for not staying in better touch. Except . . . I had been in touch as recently as April. … Continue reading Jack Kramer’s Gift: A farewell letter that champions local news
Regarding Rep. Andy Harris, the Freedom Caucus Republican and Donald Trump Mini-Me urging constituents to protest the coronavirus shutdown in Maryland, I’d just like to point out his hypocrisy: This right-wing politician, who compares Gov. Larry Hogan’s emergency order to something that might happen in China or North Korea, is the same right-wing politician who … Continue reading Rep. Andy Harris embraces Hungary’s dictator while chiding Maryland’s governor over loss of freedoms in health emergency. What a hypocrite.
May marks 80 years since the start of Hitler’s invasion of France and his establishment of Festung Europa, the Nazi plan to fortify the whole of occupied Europe against a counterinvasion by the Allies in World War II. The rest is history, as every American high school graduate knows: The war went on for five … Continue reading Europe cares for its own more than we do; with Trump, McConnell we will never catch up
What was that? You're still thinking of voting for Trump? He just suggested that ultraviolet light and the ingestion of disinfectant could kill the coronavirus in people. You did hear that, right? Everyone did, unfortunately. People were calling emergency hotlines on Friday to ask about it, and companies that produce disinfectants had to put out … Continue reading What? You still support Trump because you think Biden will be worse?
People in Maryland, and the Baltimore area, in particular, go a little nutty when there's snow in the forecast. Between 1989 and 1993, when I hosted evening shows on WBAL-AM, I used to have to read weather-related cancellations, and there were a lot of them: Chair-caning classes, meetings of Overeaters Anonymous, yoga classes, lamaze classes, … Continue reading Nesting and fixing stuff during the pandemic
Trump and his crowd want to defy governors who have issued stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives. Maryland’s only Republican member of Congress, the extreme conservative Andy Harris, is among those saying it’s time to loosen things up and let people return to work. (Harris has a medical degree and … Continue reading The Trump crowd hates the smart people, even in a matter of life or death
Because Trump is such a fool, and because he and his administration delayed — with willful ignorance and claims of hoax and media sensationalism — our nation’s response to the coronavirus, I went back to 2014, Obama and Ebola. I had to. I wanted (needed) to review how a wise and well-informed American president responded … Continue reading Comparative history: How Obama managed the Ebola outbreak
The two brothers are on their backs in the grass, talking about what they’d like to be when they grow up. “What are you gonna be?” the older brother, Norman Maclean, asks the younger. “A professional fly-fisherman,” says Paul. “There's no such thing,” Norman snaps. “There isn't?” Of course, that would have been Paul Maclean’s … Continue reading Living the dream: An inspiring film about a professional fly fisherman
If you want to be comforted in this terrible time in American life, I recommend watching 85-year-old Gina Petitti cook Italian comfort food on her Buon-A-Petitti YouTube channel. These 15- to 35-minute videos are well-produced, but without a lot of slick editing. They are shot almost in real-time, in Grandma Gina's home in New Jersey, … Continue reading Need comforting? Watch Grandma Gina cook Italian comfort food
Ever go up there? Ever go up past the bend in the river, up past the section you’ve fished many times before? You almost always catch fish within 200 yards of the parking lot, so why bother? Why go up there? No one else ever does. There are probably no trails; you'll get caught in … Continue reading On the river: Why go up there?
I don't usually pull columns from the old days, but this is the one I wrote on 9/11/2001 for the Baltimore Sun print edition of 9/12/2001, and it came to mind as the coronavirus pandemic became very real here in Maryland across the United States. I wrote the column at my desk in the Sun … Continue reading Remember that 9/11 feeling? Feeling something like that again?
Just as a followup to my March 3 column, about Trump's attacks on the "bad people" -- read that "disloyal people" -- he claims to have purged from the federal government, let me offer this: Trump brags about spending billions more on national defense and building a border wall, yet he shuttered a special unit … Continue reading Trump’s assault on good government, science and expertise
Trump’s smearing of career intelligence officials, FBI agents and federal prosecutors -- his hounding of the bloodhounds -- is repugnant, and it remains stunning to me that the Republican Party, once the law-and-order party, stands by and lets this happen. Trump's trashing of honorable federal employees inflicts profound damage -- and not just superficial wounds -- … Continue reading Damages: Trump’s costly smears of honorable public employees
Now that Bernie Sanders has come out on top in New Hampshire, after a strong showing in Iowa, Democrats are supposedly panic-stricken at the prospect of the senior senator from Vermont getting the party’s nomination. I’m not sure what it is -- that we are approaching the most important presidential election in American history? -- … Continue reading Stop with the panic talk, it’s primary season
It's official: Whatever light leash was on Trump is gone. The “grownups in the room,” the generals, John McCain and the Republicans McCain might have pushed toward the last line of moderation and bipartisanship in the Senate -- all gone. On Friday, Trump started a purge of witnesses who testified in the House impeachment hearings: … Continue reading Trump Unleashed
Headline in today’s New York Times: “Trump Claims End of ‘American Decline’” and isn’t that a lovely thought? Among the many lies in Trump’s State of the Union speech, his assertion that the nation’s days of decline are over -- and all because of his presidency -- might be the mother of them all. We … Continue reading Under Trump, Senate Republicans hasten a country’s decline
For my Sun column today about Trump's impeachment, I went to former Rep. Wayne Gilchrest. He was a long-time Republican, a thoughtful moderate who served Maryland's 1st District for 18 years, and he was in Washington as the nation became increasingly polarized, bringing us on a 25-year journey to Trump, his corrupt presidency, and now … Continue reading Wayne Gilchrest leaves a party lacking in courage, integrity, morality and justice
A little pop psychology during a break in Trump's trial . . . . An essay in Psychology Today about the lizard brain in all of us got me thinking about the one inside Trump, how it gained him so many zealous followers, and why, as I lamented in my Baltimore Sun column, Republican senators … Continue reading Trump, the Lizard Brain and Survival of the Spineless
Before I leave the subject, until next time, a further thought about the boys and young men who offer to wash car windshields at a few busy Baltimore intersections -- the squeegee workers. This issue is so fraught with race, politics and class dynamics, it’s hard to have a civil discussion about it. On Sunday, after … Continue reading Why some people resent the ‘squeegee boys’ of Baltimore
“Every war is ironic because every war is worse than expected. Every war constitutes an irony of situation because its means are so melodramatically disproportionate to its presumed ends.” -- Paul Fussell
A new film, “Just Mercy,” tells the story of the extraordinary efforts of a young attorney, Bryan Stevenson, to save the life of an innocent man, Walter McMillian, who had been placed on Alabama’s Death Row even before his wrongful conviction for murder in 1988. The movie, starring Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan, lands … Continue reading ‘Just Mercy’ and the work of justice crusaders
While Trump’s election was a truly tragic development, it was not until his decision to kill Suleimani and provoke retaliation from -- if not war with -- Iran that we could see Trump’s psychological condition fully deployed and dangerous. The United States has a narcissist for president. The motivation for everything he does is fed … Continue reading The psychological mess of a man in the White House takes us to Code Red
Whenever I wander into pines, either a natural forest or state park or a grove that some landowner planted years ago, I feel a sense of secluded comfort, even with houses and rural roads nearby. Pines grow close and they grow tall, and if you walk among them, or through them, they will protect you … Continue reading The pines at dusk: Joe Meyers’ spirit-home
This is a 2007 column I wrote about the felon "call-in" approach to stopping violence, referenced in a more recent piece for The Sun. I attended my first felon "call-in" the other night, and came away thinking: Why haven't we been doing this, once a month in every Baltimore police district, for the last 20 years? … Continue reading From the archives: A violence intervention program that worked in Baltimore
A narrative memoir about fly fishing, fatherhood and finding your last best place on Earth. Published by Apprentice House Books at Loyola University Maryland. Available now in softcover and hardcover. Publication date: May 2019. Foreword by Lefty Kreh. . . . . . "Where would you want to be if you knew the world would … Continue reading Father’s Day Creek: A book for outdoors lovers, anglers, and anyone who had a father.
I only fished with Randy Julius one time. It was on Cape Cod, and it only lasted a couple of hours, but it was such a good experience I have savored it for years: Late morning in East Sandwich, maybe 200 yards from the beach, on a tidal creek, fly fishing for striped bass, or … Continue reading Randy Julius: Stripers swimming backwards
Nobody asked me, but . . . The three divisional teams Tom Brady has played against since becoming the New England Patriots starting quarterback -- that is, the teams he’s played against the most in the NFL regular seasons since 2001 -- have a combined record of 401 wins and 512 losses. That’s a winning … Continue reading Had the Ravens and Patriots been division rivals, Tom Brady would have been retired by now
There might be nothing that stops online consumerism from consuming all of human civilization as we know it. The way retail stores have been closing, it seems possible that, less than a decade from now, you won’t have to go anywhere for anything and look at anybody. While I have not been to see my … Continue reading No Cyber Monday for Me: Amazon Aversion Syndrome
Sad news this week with the passing of another excellent journalist and former colleague, the editorial cartoonist Mike Lane. He created daily cartoons for the Baltimore Evening Sun from the early 1970s, giving him a chance to include Richard Nixon among his subjects, into the 1990s, after the afternoon paper merged with the morning edition. … Continue reading On the passing of cartoonist Mike Lane
I am not a trog. I like technology, and use it every day. But I don’t automatically concede that all technology is good. Shopping online might be fun and convenient, and there are people who absolutely love getting packages delivered at home; they adore Amazon. But online shopping is killing local retailers, and here in … Continue reading Technology is great, but humans still have the power to discern what’s good, what’s bad for us — and for others
“'The Shawshank Redemption' is such a popular movie. Do Americans really believe in forgiveness and redemption?” “Yes, for me, but not for thee.” By 2005, I had been a reporter and columnist for 32 years, and I had written numerous stories about crime and covered criminal trials. I had written some stories about prisons and … Continue reading Real-life Shawshank: Aging inmates, punishment and redemption
I need to make a clarification about the story I told the other day in my Baltimore Sun column about the Korner Boyz startup - the new venture of mentored squeegee boys into the bottled water business and eventually off the streets. I used the word “wholesale” to describe the nature of this new business, … Continue reading Follow-up to my Korner Boyz column
I will be speaking about my book, reading passages and talking about fly fishing (and life) at two events within a few days in November: BRILLIANT BALTIMORE: On Saturday, Nov. 2, at 3 pm, I will be on the Inspire Stage at the Top of the World, the World Trade Center in Baltimore, right on … Continue reading Two engagements coming up for ‘Father’s Day Creek’
We gathered at Pierpoint restaurant in Fells Point to try Chef Nancy Longo’s take on the Baltimore Crab Corn Coddie. She took my work-in-progress to a new level, bringing her years of experience to the mixing bowl, refining the recipe and offering the new concoction as the Wednesday night special with French fries and coleslaw. … Continue reading The Crab Corn Coddie is a hit at Pierpoint
Guess what: Trump might have suggested something that wasn't true: "It's time for us to come home," he said, defending his removal of U.S. troops from Syria. But the troops he claimed to be bringing home from “endless wars” are not coming home. A few thousands went recently to Saudi Arabia, and now a Pentagon … Continue reading Trump lies again. He’s not bringing troops home from ‘endless wars’
Trump will never admit a mistake, never own up to doing wrong. Even in reversing the decision to host next year’s G-7 summit at his Doral country club -- a blatant example of the self-dealing that Rep. Elijah Cummings, among others, warned us about after Trump’s election -- this corrupt president can’t concede bad judgement. … Continue reading Trump reverses plans to host G-7 at Doral, but his bad instincts — and their consequences — remain in plain sight
That hot Saturday in July started with Trump’s ugly tweet-storm about Baltimore and rats. It ended with a standing ovation for Elijah Cummings. The story by now is familiar: Trump saw a typically distorted and simplistic FOX report that included video of trash and rats in Baltimore, so he decided that the nation needed to … Continue reading An ovation for Elijah Cummings on the Day of the Rat
Dear Trump supporter: You must realize by now that, whatever you were thinking in November 2016, your vote for Donald Trump that month turned out to be a vote for a disaster of a president. You see that, right? I know it’s a hard thing to admit, and even if you had a moment of … Continue reading Trump supporter: Are you ready for recovery?
There is a lot to like about Elizabeth Warren as a presidential candidate. She's well-versed in facts and policy and understanding problems. She’s right about income inequality, financial corruption and the need to expand health insurance to every American. Her rise in polling of likely Democratic voters suggests she could be the one who surpasses … Continue reading Next time she’s tempted to zing, Elizabeth Warren might want to ask: What would the Obamas say?
Hard to say when we've reached bottom, isn't it? There are so many things about the Trump administration that offend human sensibilities, our sense of American decency and our understanding of Democratic principles that it's hard to single out one of Trump’s actions or one of his tweets as the worst. Separating migrant children from … Continue reading Betrayal of Kurds by Trump will beget more refugees that we won’t take in
We caught rockfish on the fly last fall along the rocky banks of West Covington Park in South Baltimore, to the east of the Hanover Street Bridge. To be more specific, that’s the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River, and I'll probably hit it again this month and next. When I mention this, people ask … Continue reading Catching (but not so much eating yet) fish from urban waters
David Warren, the subject of my column -- online now, in print this coming week -- has to be one of the most successful defendants in recent Maryland history. His record of arrest for crimes of violence is extensive, and yet the state has only a couple of convictions to show for it. Last Tuesday, … Continue reading Epilogue: The state’s missed opportunities in the life of David Warren
I don't know if this is the year to be suggesting it -- with the moderate drought conditions in the mid-Atlantic, it's hard to imagine what the foliage will be like this fall, if at all -- but I did not want to let October pass without telling you about this again. It's the big … Continue reading Seasonal reminder: Best view from a deck in Maryland, open to the public
A senior citizen shared this mailing with me, a solicitation of donations for something called the Liberty Guard in Merrifield, Va. It claims that Trump has been the subject of an attempted coup d’etat and asks for donations to bring “Team Obama” to justice. The organization is run by Bob Barr, a former Republican congressman … Continue reading The crazy right’s strategy: Trump’s conduct is indefensible. So let’s accuse Obama and Clinton of something
People who decry Baltimore’s vacant houses and who say, “Tear them down,” or “Give them away,” do not understand the complicated legal nature of ownership, much less the desire for historic preservation or the matter of market conditions and the availability of capital. They also seem perplexed that there are so many vacants in the … Continue reading The little house Malachi Mills built in West Baltimore in 1843 still stands
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which begins Sunday evening, September 29, has a ritual that brings people to the water's edge for a spiritual experience. It's called Tashlikh, and I'm a Catholic who has developed a keen appreciation for it. I first witnessed Tashlikh one autumn afternoon along Cross Country Boulevard in Northwest Baltimore, … Continue reading The sweet release of a Jewish ritual at the water’s edge