Why It’s Okay To Mourn, To Cry For, The Passing Of Strangers

Many silly things are written when celebrities die. One is that you cannot speak ill of the dead. Another is that you cannot mourn for those whom you did not know personally. A variant of this is that visible expressions of grief for those you did not have personal acquaintance with are ersatz, inauthentic, aContinue reading “Why It’s Okay To Mourn, To Cry For, The Passing Of Strangers”

The Pleasures Of Comfort Reading

We eat comfort food when we are sick, angry, depressed, or unhappy: chicken soup, chocolates, <insert your own, idiosyncratic favorite here>, substances that satisfy cravings which tap into some deep nexus of the mind and body and momentarily elevate our mood. Comfort food is comfortable because it is ‘easy’; it does not tax you unduly;Continue reading “The Pleasures Of Comfort Reading”

Of Pilots’ Comrades And Young Imaginations

On Father’s Day, like last year, I posted a photograph of my father on Facebook. This one shows him as a young pilot, standing in his flying overalls next to a fighter jet; he stands proud and erect, carrying his flying helmet tucked under his arm. Here it is: the man, his steed, the glamourContinue reading “Of Pilots’ Comrades And Young Imaginations”

Military Brats And Shoe Shines

A good shoe shine isn’t easy to pull off. You have to do a preliminary cleaning of the shoe first: a removal of the dust and grime that has accumulated on the shoe’s precious leather exterior, perhaps with a cloth or with a spare brush. Then, you apply the polish itself with another small brushContinue reading “Military Brats And Shoe Shines”

Bowe Bergdahl and the Military: An Unhappy Marriage

Bowe Bergdahl has always been a very interesting young man. As this profile by Kirk Johnson and Matt Furber makes clear, he carried around with him, as interesting people invariably do, a divided self, one drawn in several different directions all at once. Some psychic currents pulled him in the direction of spirituality and bookishContinue reading “Bowe Bergdahl and the Military: An Unhappy Marriage”

A Smoking Career, Suspended

A New York Times article that wonders, ‘Why Smokers Still Smoke‘ set me to thinking: Why did I smoke? For as long as I did? I smoked my first cigarette in my teen years. My father smoked, as did many of the men–all Air Force pilots–that I idolized. There was glamour and masculinity written allContinue reading “A Smoking Career, Suspended”

Shrapnel is Still Deadly, No Matter Where It Strikes

Many years ago, while talking to my father and some of his air force mates, I stumbled into a conversation about munitions. ┬áThere was talk of rockets, shells, casings, high-explosive rounds, tracer bullets, napalm, and all of the rest. Realizing I was in the right company, I asked if someone could tell me what ‘shrapnel’Continue reading “Shrapnel is Still Deadly, No Matter Where It Strikes”

My Father’s Aviator Sunglasses

As a young boy I loved and admired many things about my father. Foremost among them was the fact that he was an Air Force pilot, a decorated one, one who had fought in two wars, capable of feats of valor and skill that boggled my juvenile mind. He seemed impossibly charismatic. How could heContinue reading “My Father’s Aviator Sunglasses”