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The Guitar Player

The practicality of the first Black bookstore owner, the role of ex-presidents, and more about libraries and erasing history: newsletter, July 31, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,550) on Friday, July 31, 2020.   As with much of the rest of the world, Americans continue to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic. Should we send children to school? Can professional sports maintain a schedule? Is it safe to go to a restaurant or […]

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Georges Simenon

Baseball finally, the massive output of Georges Simenon, and the need for some creative thinking: newsletter, July 24, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,5xx) on Friday, July 24, 2020.   A memory rattled through my brain this week of a newspaper column I read many years ago. It was in the 1960s, and the column was by Russell Baker in the New York Times (I’m pretty sure), and […]

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Arc de Tromple

Changing American attitudes toward slavery, police reporting reconsidered, and reader reactions: newsletter, July 17, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,5xx) on Friday, July 17, 2020.   The world gets crazier and the pandemic, in America, gets worse. My heart is with those who have to make difficult decisions, from sending their kids to school to ordering businesses to shut down. I pray for their […]

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Calton Hill, Edinburgh

The real Mary Westmacott, capitalizing Black when referring to race, Tennessee Vietnam War Roundtable meeting: newsletter, July 10, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,557) on Friday, July 10, 2020. “The Best Year Ever” is probably not a description that you are willing to apply to 2020 just yet, but that thought occurred to me this week as I was gathering in the bounty from our garden. We are […]

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VietnamVoices-frontcover

Hugh Walpole, reactions to masks and COVID-19, First Amendment violations, and an international watercolor conspiracy: newsletter, July 3, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,5xx) on Friday, July 3, 2020.   An international cabal of industrialists and watercolorists has met in secret (not sure when, probably at night; not sure where, probably Switzerland) and decided that July will be International Watercolor Month. I will continue my investigations and report my […]

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Boyd's barbershop

An admiral floats while multiple writers write the same story, the scientific method, and more reasons to stay home and read a good book: newsletter, June 26, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,573) on Friday, June 26, 2020.   A few weeks ago in the newsletter, I mentioned blackberry winter. Well, it is now officially blackberry summer here in East Tennessee. I have declared it so this week. The wild blackberries are  bright red, and a few are […]

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AnOldFriend

Cornelius Ryan and the origins of the New Journalism, a new branch of Vietnam Voices, and some of Motown’s one-hit wonders: newsletter, June 19, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,5xx) on Friday, June 19, 2020. We started something a couple of weeks ago called the Tennessee Vietnam War Roundtable. It’s explained more fully below. I wanted to take this space this week to urge you to join the roundtable. You don’t have to be from Tennessee, and […]

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WilliamMcIlvanney

The name we should know besides Stradivarius, the fascination of the garden, “tartan noir,” and more: newsletter, June 12, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,569) on Friday, June 12, 2020.   We are well into the garden season, and tomatoes are appearing on the vines and blooms on the bean plants. Potatoes, sometimes, produce a single, beautiful blossom late in the life of the plant. I say “sometimes” because […]

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DanielDafoe

Defoe’s chronicle of an earlier plague, the Four Tops, and the coming crisis for libraries: newsletter, June 5, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,5xx) on Friday, June 5, 2020.   One of the great thrills for a beekeeper is to capture a swarm. A swarm occurs when a hive develops a new queen, and the old queen leaves and takes part of the hive (maybe 25 to 50 […]

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DamonRunyon

The world of Damon Runyon, a bee inspection report, and the best girl group of them all: newsletter, May 29, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,575) on Friday, May 29, 2020.   One of the delights of doing this newsletter is the response I get from you readers — something I have mentioned several times previously. Where it’s appropriate, and it usually is, I try to share most of those […]

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HouseinBrooklyn

Marguerite Higgins finds a place for a woman in a combat zone, Stevie Wonder, and what Lincoln looked like: newsletter, May 22, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,5xx) on Friday, May 22, 2020. This summer is likely to turn into my Wolf Hall summer. I have waited too long to dive into Hilary Mantel’s widely-acclaimed trilogy of historical fiction about the life of Thomas Cromwell. Mantel published the third volume of the trilogy (The […]

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GeneralStore

Presidential candidates who stayed put and the one who didn’t, Smokey Robinson, and the no-tears absence of baseball: newsletter, May 15, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,579) on Friday, May 15, 2020.     One of the bright spots we had going for us this spring — among so many spots that were not quite so bright — is the garden, which with plenty of rain and somewhat cooler temperatures had […]

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TheTemptations

Clare Hollingsworth’s ‘scoop’ of the century, William Styron’s ‘mistakes,’ the Temptations, and reader reaction: newsletter, May 8, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,5xx) on Friday, May 8, 2020.   {% endif %}One of the most enjoyable things about woodworking — besides completing a project itself — is something I had never really articulated before this week. I was watching one of Steve Ramsey‘s YouTube videos, and he managed […]

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MarthaandtheVandellas

Martha and the Vandellas go dancing in the streets, Wordsworth’s 250th, checking on your local bookstore, and time in the workshop: newsletter, May 1, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,587) on Friday, May 1, 2020.       Whatever your circumstances are during this pandemic and isolation period, chances are there are folks who are a lot worse off than you are. Finding ways to help those folks, rather than simply amusing ourselves, should […]

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MortDrucker

America’s chief subversive, more on the bees, the Marvelettes, and talking ourselves into infirmities: newsletter, April 17, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,590) on Friday, April 17, 2020. \   Not being able to grieve properly and not being able to express sympathy in person are two of the chief difficulties of our current situation. I mentioned those last week, and a friend who is a minister […]

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MarvinGaye

An artist and the FBI, Marvin Gaye, Woody Allen, and the first modern detective: newsletter, April 10, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,5xx) on Friday, April 10, 2020. A friend has died of COVID-19. He was not a close friend but someone I had known for just a few months. I would see him once a week at a group I met with — before we stopped […]

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MarvinGaye

Bach’s letter of application, the challenge of new words, Handel washed up, and more on Ida Tarbell; newsletter, April 3, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,592) on Friday, April 3, 2020.   During the last couple of years, sometime before Easter, I have included in this newsletter a post about George Frederick Handel and the condition of his life just before he wrote his most famous oratorio, The Messiah. I have included that […]

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7roses

A founder of modern true-crime writing, the poison pen in real life, more on Ida Tarbell, and podcast recommendations: newsletter, March 27, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,597) on Friday, March 27, 2020.   I’ve quoted Shane Parish of the Farnam Street blog several times over the past few weeks, but I couldn’t let this pass by without sharing it with you: We’ve aged a generation in the past three weeks. What matters has sharply come […]

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Onthewaytothemountains1

The sharp words of Ida Tarbell, the dilemma of Woody Allen, more on cultural appropriation, and reader reaction: newsletter, March 20, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,597) on Friday, March 20, 2020. The magnitude and rapidity with which the world has changed in the last week lies beyond our complete understanding. Those things that we could confidently predict — high school graduations, opening day of the baseball season, the church service […]

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Hellman-McCarthy

The Hellman-McCarthy suit, apostrophes again, and an easy-to-use thesaurus: newsletter, March 13, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,601) on Friday, March 13, 2020.     The threat of the coronavirus that is now spreading through the United States and other western nations brings to mind other contagions that have plagued human beings throughout our history. Sometimes they have colorful names; sometimes they […]

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