First Person

To live life unburdened by stuff

I really did love my stuff. I even used a lot of it. And I had a lot: My gorgeous Victorian home in downtown Sacramento held closets full of clothes, a kitchen crammed with utensils, a garage full of sporting gear, a formal dining room, a roomful of records, even a library, floor to ceiling with books. So much stuff. These days, I have a backpack and a duffel bag

I heart New York, I heart Sacramento

New York City was the dream. I visited here dozens of times, got married here in 1983 and came here to blow off steam when I was divorced 12 years later. I overstayed my welcome with some friends and pushed it with others. I took a year off in 2006 and sublet a place on the Upper West Side. So, when I finally signed a lease last fall, it was a beginning, but it also felt like the realization of a decades-old dream. After numerous tentative starts, I can finally call myself a New Yorker.

Hurricane Sandy & climate change

By the end of the week, this storm revealed the extent to which climate change may soon be affecting many millions of people—because it already has. The deniers will continue to deny—it’s what they do—but if Manhattan is not safe, if the “Capital of the World” can be plunged into darkness so quickly, so completely, what does the future hold for other cities?

A Life without Artifacts

Six months ago, I was living in a 1,600-square-foot, two-bedroom 1880 Victorian, with a formal dining room, a huge kitchen and bathroom, a foyer, a parlor and a library. A library full of books. Beautiful books, some mine for 30 years, some my grandfather’s for much longer. But after two years of dealing with the twenty-first century American Nightmare—bad loans, unemployment, short sale, foreclosure—along with a perfect storm of even more personal losses of family and friends—I’ve had to learn to let go.
So I’m letting go with a vengeance.

What I Saw at the Hyperlocal Revolution

Much of this piece, which was intended to be about journalism, is instead about money. Perhaps that’s the ultimate message, as journalists everywhere are discovering. As journalists, we’re nothing if we don’t tell the truth, backed up by solid reporting. But unless someone, somewhere, is bringing money to the table, our political insights or critical acumen or familiarity with the machinations of city hall are mere dinner party—or Facebook—fodder. Without the money, we don’t have jobs. And “citizen journalism” notwithstanding, without journalism jobs, we don’t have journalism.

Underground Dining in Oakland

The Host greets us at the door. We’ve met him before, when he was wearing a T-shirt, handing out handbills at a music festival. But now he’s wearing a black dress shirt and colorful tie, and his manner is gracious and welcoming.
He is fairly beaming with pride, for we have arrived at our undisclosed location. The air smells of onion, cumin and candle wax. We have found The Restaurant.

Pumped and Pampered in Palm Springs

You don’t have to play golf, or be retired, to have fun in Palm Springs. If you play your cards right, you can finish a week in Palm Springs in dire need of a vacation. If you’re an athletic thrill-seeker of any age, you can beat yourself up here, but good. Fortunately, you can also pamper yourself within an inch of heaven. By alternating the two – activity and passivity, the hard and the soft, the challenging and the relaxing – one can theoretically find a blissful middle ground of total physical satisfaction.