Category Archives: cities

learning from Las Vegas

Las Vegas–I am here for a gathering of the alumni of YouthBuild USA. More about that tomorrow. Meanwhile, unlike Boston, Milwaukee, or Atlanta, Las Vegas makes you ask: Is this the real America? Is this our distilled essence? It is … Continue reading

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trying to look at the Empire State Building

(Washington, DC) Over the weekend, I finished Mark Kingwell’s excellent book Nearest Thing to Heaven: The Empire State Building and American Dreams. By coincidence, I spent today in an office three blocks south of the actual Empire State Building. I … Continue reading

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in praise of Glurns

We are back from an Alpine driving vacation. I don’t post travelogues on my blog, but I will mention a highlight to give a flavor of our trip. The little Italian town of Glurns is missing from many guidebooks but … Continue reading

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in London

I am on a long journey: Boston -> Washington -> Boston -> London -> Lisbon, all within 48 hours. I had a layover at Heathrow that was long enough to allow me a quick trip to Paddington and then back … Continue reading

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in the crypt of the Medinaceli

A little more than a week ago, we were in Toledo, that ancient city where Muslim, Catholic, and Jewish faiths and cultures flourished and intermingled between the years 1000 and 1500. We spent the day wandering into cathedrals, mosques, and … Continue reading

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my past from the air

(In DC for the Everyday Democracy board meeting): We landed through clouds that ripped open just as we passed above the Kennedy Center, revealing Northwest DC spread out over the airplane wing. It was my seventh landing in DC this … Continue reading

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Istanbul melancholy

The theme of Orhan Pamuk’s autobiographical book Istanbul: Memories of the City is hüzün. That is a Turkish word for melancholy, but it doesn’t mean a private sadness that causes one to retreat by oneself. It is a communal sadness, … Continue reading

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the romance of production

This is a tiny scene from the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, which I visited last week with my 10-year-old. The museum contains 27,000 square feet of model train layouts, the largest collection in the world. The tracks and dioramas … Continue reading

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an introduction to Prague

I think few people really enjoy visits to beautiful old places, and they’re not helped by most guide books and tours, which just attach dates, artists’ names, and styles to the objects on view. Guides also tell anecdotes about events … Continue reading

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New York’s golden age

A very brief stop in Manhattan last Friday prompted some thoughts about what New York City represents. Between 1920 and 1960, the apogee of American civilization was built in that place, or so I would argue. I acknowledge some bias, … Continue reading

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