I Want the Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth. So Help Me.

Columns & Essays

I was an award-winning columnist at the Bloomsburg Press-Enterprise and have published scores of columns and essays as a freelancer. Here are some recent (and a few not-so-recent) pieces.

The Map is Not the Territory

The map imposed upon us by Siri is utterly foreign to our own humanity, a rigid amalgam of GPS coordinates and heartless algorithms.

North by Southwest

Travels in search of America

Not quite 50 years ago, the tagline of the iconic counter-culture road movie Easy Rider was: “A man went looking for America and couldn’t find it anywhere.” On the roads I traveled, I was heartened to find it everywhere.

The First Freedom (No, not that one)

In popular culture, youthful freedom begins when one is handed a set of car keys (or today’s far-less-romantic equivalent, a fob). But those of us of a certain age know that the car is only a promotion: Our first real taste of freedom had only two wheels.

You Can’t Go Home Again (And Why Would You?)

With the exception of Pittsburgh, where inter-generational families cling to each other like refugees in a lifeboat, a preponderance of Americans, particularly the college-educated, eventually leave their hometowns behind. You can find no end of sociological studies (and lamentations) online about the decline of the geographically proximate extended family.


Travels with Duquesne University

Big Data is watching you!

I grew up in a different era than my students, in a time when the adventures described by wanderers like Hemingway or Kerouac still seemed plausible; like, okay, the world has changed quite a bit since then, and there are more channels on television, but leaving the world of what you know and getting lost in the elsewhere is still possible.

That magic moment

I hope it will happen on every trip. And it always does. But until it does I don’t really believe it will. It’s that magic moment when you feel you are not just far from home but have transcended the concepts of far and near and strange and familiar and are embraced – just embraced, not immersed – in the place where you are.

Ink-Stained Tales

The Perfect Murder? Prologue

One of the strangest stories I ever covered was the disappearance of industrialist Joe Derr in Acapulco, Mexico – and the ensuing tug of war between his prospective benefactors: Donald Baggett, his albino bodybuilder lover and accused killer, and the small Pennsylvania town that exiled him for being a homosexual when he was a boy.Continue reading “The Perfect Murder? Prologue”

Chapter 1: Red Room

This is a true story. It must be. It was in the newspaper. I put it there. So. One evening in 1987, someone called my newsroom to tip us that the tiny town of Benton, Pa., had inherited something close to a million dollars. It was bequeathed by a man no one in Benton atContinue reading “Chapter 1: Red Room”

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