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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Voodoo Sacrifice.


In Forest Park there is a place atop a little glacial hill where the ground levels out briefly into a small platform; many decades ago, probably before the park was owned by the city, a small concrete basin was poured there, which was never removed.  It made a convenient pit for fires, and became the […]

The Federation of Black Cowboys.


So I’m walking out of Forest Park, and what do I see?  A big red trailer with a bunch of horses on it – with the logo The Federation of Black Cowboys.

The Bayside Prophet.


Stumbled across the writings of Veronica Leuken, the authoress of a series of mad, mildly sadistic and occasionally humorous prophecies revealed to her by the Blessed Virgin and Jesus in – where else? – Bayside, Queens.  As with all prophecies – one of the very worst habits of the Biblical tradition – they are a […]

Queens NY.


Jamaica Avenue, old siding under the El.



From the Charles Gray Dept.: I think my greatest accomplishment of 2011 – certainly the one Thoreau would most approve of – is not purchasing a single article of clothing – no coats, no hats, no gloves, no shirts, no underwear, no socks, no shoes, no belts, nothing.  “Beware any enterprise that requires new clothes.” […]

It’s the Sermons and Music, Stupid!


When you talk to Catholics about the problem with mass, they really say the same thing all the time: the sermons and the music are terrible.  The sermon is the main problem, and is often offensively dumb and bigoted, and the music is just bad.  I had a brilliant idea: since everyone agrees about this […]

Catholic Charities on the Dole.


Catholic Charities in Illinois has closed down all its foster-care operations rather than comply with new regulations allowing same-sex couples to adopt.  The bishops’ lawyers are out, contesting that they have a First Amendment right to freedom of religion, and hence do not have to abide by state regulations; which sounds mildly plausible, until you […]

Probing Contemplation of Place.


I’ve been flirting with the idea of pulling up the roots and heading out West – an idea which maybe all Americans entertain at some point or other – and Arizona has been particularly on my mind.  The Boston Globe has a curiosity-provoking review of my friend Tom Zoellner’s book A Safeway in Arizona – […]

On Writers Not Finishing Things.


“But I now leave my cetological System standing thus unfinished, even as the great Cathedral of Cologne was left, with the crane still standing upon the top of the uncompleted tower. For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity. God keep me from […]

Greatest Hits of 2011 at the University Bookman.


The editor of the University Bookman sent out a list of the most-read pieces on the site in 2011, and the interview I gave there was one of them.  The top five pieces are all excellent and I recommend them all: “Tyranny of the Herd.” By Paul Beston. “Live Where We Are.” By John […]