A Happy Reunion

serendipity in Costa Rica

I arrived at my little paradise of Playa Lagartillo on Costa Rica’s west coast a few days ago, where I resumed my cherished simple routine of rising with the sun and strolling the dusty, 150-meter-long path to the beach…

Mustard Seed

I keep this photo on my laptop desktop. It captures a banal moment in my peripatetic life. Taken on the S-Bahn (commuter train) between Berlin and Potsdam, I love it because of the way its significance has metamorphosed over time….

Waldorf Salad

Waldorf Salad (invented—where else?— at the Waldorf Astoria when it was a grand Park Avenue hotel) was one of my mother’s favorite lunches and one of those dishes that my father refused to eat. His favorite lunch was, strangely, a banana sandwich (ideally on Pepperidge Farm white), which naturally I thought was a normal kind… Continue reading Waldorf Salad

Vanishing Social Spaces

Recently, I sat in my office preparing a lecture. New slide, copy, paste, insert text. Powerpoint transformed the lives of art historians when it was introduced at colleges and universities circa 2000. It was revolutionary, life-changing, for that discipline in ways unknown to scholars in other fields. Some older art historians even retired earlier than… Continue reading Vanishing Social Spaces

An Accidental Martyr

The Eiffel Tower in Paris darkened in honor of teacher S. Paty executed by Islamic terrorists.

Here’s a 21 October 2020 excerpt from my forthcoming An American in Pandemic Paris. A Coming-of-Retirement-Age Memoir, available at your favorite book-purchasing location by 25 November. “It’s strange walking to the 8 p.m. Eiffel Tower twinkle in the streetlight-lit night. Instead of studying architectural details, I now focus on shop windows and apartments. I adore… Continue reading An Accidental Martyr

Wondering About Wu

Around 10 p.m., the doorman rang to ask if he should allow a Chinese gentleman up, and a few minutes later, Professor Wu rang my tenth-floor doorbell. Professor Wu spoke little English, and I had trouble understanding why such a well-dressed (he always wore a suit and tie) Chinese bureaucrat would need to crash with a stranger…