Essays

Many of these columns originally appeared in Flagstaff Live!, a weekly entertainment and culture publication.

Borrow, quote, steal, trade; How things really get created

Sometimes the best we can do is quote the smart, funny, insightful people we know. In the early 1980s, when Mike was in grad school working as a teaching assistant his roommate, Harry, who worked as a bartender at the Pinckney Street Hideaway in Madison, brought home...

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Big bird sunflowers in my front yard; An homage to yellow

This week’s Letter from Home is brought to you by the color yellow: egg yolks from free-range chickens, aspen leaves in the fall, and sunflowers that bloom along roadsides in August in northern Arizona, in fields and yards all over town, playing against the clear blue...

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Book of the Year; Every day is Mother’s Day

Enclosed you will find your copy of the 1959 Britannica BOOK OF THE YEAR … This handsome book provides you with unbiased, accurate information on every important phase of world affairs. It enables you to discuss current events and world developments with authority …...

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Doing battle with squirrels; On writing and not writing

My first grade teacher was scary. That’s what I remember, anyway. Mrs. Appel was old, for one thing. (Probably about my current age.) I remember her as intimidating, and not gentle or particularly kind. She was doing the best she could (aren’t we all), but she was...

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Which wolf will you feed? Working with your back to the world

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about snow, and about the color white, which led me to think about Agnes Martin and her serenely abstract (and mostly neutral) paintings. The simplicity of them caused some to discount her work, but in the end, she was...

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Success and failure; learning not to sell myself short

This past weekend I participated in a panel discussion: “Life as a Successful Artist.” When I was first asked to do this a few weeks ago, I balked. I thought about what it means to be a successful artist. And whether (or not) I feel like one. Sadly, the success label...

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