Recent Stories: Opinion

April 11, 2018
Representative Zeldin calls Trump “the ultimate dealmaker,” but both seem indifferent to the damage even a successful deal with the Chinese would do to American consumers.

Any trade policy should put American workers and small businesses first. But President Trump’s attempt to launch a trade war with China, backed by Representative Lee Zeldin, hurts American workers, farmers, and businesses. 

April 4, 2018
Both young and old experience a heightened push-pull between the desire to stand on our own and our need to rely on others.

I was completely rattled when it happened — a young man in his 20s offered me a seat on the bus. I turned, sure that he was speaking to the person beside me. But no, he clearly meant me as he stood up. I demurred. Certainly I was not yet ready for the kindness of strangers.

At home a glance in the mirror does not lie. Some mornings I barely recognize the drawn, craggy face I see there. How did this happen, I ask myself even as I note that the face looking back at me is fast becoming the face of my father and his five siblings, three of whom lived into their 90s. This patrilineal resemblance, less frequently glimpsed when I was younger, was once a source of curiosity, belonging, even reassurance.

March 28, 2018
Not only is life better when we live to chase the question mark, questions drive us to be creative.

Though she is only 2 1/2 years old, my daughter, Lilah, has begun to master the art of questioning. I never expected the depth of her curiosity. She has proven to be able to see even the most mundane parts of the world as worthy of inquiry. Picking up a dead crab at the beach, she’ll stare inquisitively at me and ask, “What is this?” My paternal instinct kicks in with the response, “Don’t touch that, it’s disgusting!” It takes me a few moments to catch myself before realizing the importance of the mere act of her asking a question. 

March 21, 2018
I have the teaching experience, the education, and the dedication, but I have no gun. So why do I want a gun? Let me count the ways . . .

I’ve been a teacher for a long time — an adjunct professor at private, state, and community colleges. I have the work experience, the education, and the dedication, but I have no gun. So why do I want a gun?

I want a gun to make my job easier. It takes far too much time and effort to create a safe, nurturing classroom in which my students can write and speak freely. Obstreperous student? Take aim and send her out the door. Baseball-capped snoozer in the back row? A chest prod with my AK-47 should do the trick. Class discussion getting too passionate? Just shoot off a round.

March 14, 2018
With sensible legislation, the gun violence afflicting too many of our neighborhoods and schools doesn't have to be routine. Kids don't have to keep dying. (Guestwords by State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.)

When it comes to gun violence, we need more than thoughts and prayers.

Again and again, senseless gun violence takes innocent lives, leaving agony, heartbreak, and indescribable grief in its wake. But as the brave survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., have made clear, there can be no excuse for inaction. These tragedies — whether it’s the headline-grabbing mass shootings or the day-to-day gun violence that afflicts some of our neighborhoods — don’t have to be routine. Kids don’t have to die. 

March 7, 2018
In his hard-knocks early years, Rocky Graziano was headed for a life of nothing but crime and incarceration, but the legendary puncher turned it around, winning the middleweight crown in 1947, earning a parade and a telegram from President Truman.

By the late 1940s, Rocky Graziano and Frank Sinatra were the two most popular Italian-Americans in the United States. Looking at the early life of Graziano, originally named Thomas Rocco Barbella, very few people would have thought that he could have avoided a life of crime and intermittent incarcerations.

February 28, 2018
In the mountains there is no doubt as to global warming’s effects: Glaciers that were once tourist attractions have disappeared and famous peaks like Eiger and Matterhorn are coming apart.

In August 2017, the mountain world witnessed an impressive manifestation of global warming. An entire mountainside in the Swiss Alps broke loose and crashed into the Bondasca valley. The mountain is called Piz Cengalo and is next to Piz Badile, both of fame among the world’s top rock climbers.

The crumbling of an entire mountainside is extraordinary. You might want to take a look at the live videos on YouTube, or Google “Cengalo rockslide.”

February 21, 2018
In January I was sentenced for protesting the black bear hunt in New Jersey. I hope my experience proves useful.

In 1997, when I lived in New Jersey, I read about the state’s proposal to hold black bear hunts. I was becoming very concerned about the well-being of nonhuman animals, and I testified against the proposal at public hearings. After the hunts began, in 2003, I participated in protests every year and was arrested several times for civil disobedience. Typically, I stepped outside an area designated for protesters. 

Star Staff
February 20, 2018
The Star welcomes submissions of essays for its “Guestwords” column of between 700 and 1,200 words. Submissions can be sent for review by email, in text or Word format, to

The Star welcomes submissions of essays for its “Guestwords” column of between 700 and 1,200 words. Submissions can be sent for review by email, in text or Word format, to

Please include a short biographical author’s note. Submissions should be final drafts. We cannot accept multiple versions of a piece. Selected work will be published in the newspaper as well as on our website,

February 14, 2018
I don’t need to be reminded I’m getting old when I’m on a pleasant afternoon jaunt shopping for dinner with friends in blissful, if temporary, obliviousness to the passage of time and the nearness of death.

You are walking out of a gourmet market with a chockablock shopping bag in either hand when an employee holds the door open and says, “Have a great day, young fella.”

You halt in your tracks. The tone is polite and the intention well meaning, but the millennial gent knows full well you are not a “young fella.” You are a 72-year-old fella who knows the definition of sarcasm is the use of irony to mock or convey contempt, and the definition of irony is stating the opposite of the truth for humor or emphasis. 

February 7, 2018
Ah, the largely independent joys of this thing they call an apartnership.

In this newish century, who needs marriage? Eight of my closest friends are in four marriages, each of which has lasted more than half a century. Admitting that fact is designed to dispose of any suspicions that I don’t support conventional marriage — if that’s what you think you want.

January 31, 2018
If you knew what’s really in those detergents and softeners, you might change your laundry routine forever.

Have you ever wondered what’s in that bottle of detergent or softener you pour into your washing machine, or on that fragrant dryer sheet you throw into your dryer? Well, it’s time you did, because the truth about your laundry products might make you change your laundry routine forever.

January 24, 2018
In hindsight, the Beatles were as Nobel worthy as Bob Dylan or Albert Einstein. Original, thoughtful, creative rebels, they rejected what came before them.

In hindsight, the Beatles were as Nobel worthy as Bob Dylan or Albert Einstein.

They’re always quoted. Their words mutate, not into gold, like a surreal version of the Midas touch, but into printer’s ink. They inspire intense admiration. They stand on tall pedestals. They display outrageous behavior. Boldness. Notoriety. Irreverence. Blasphemy. Albert Einstein, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan inhabit public universes linked by Google. 

January 17, 2018
Bernadette Peters with me in the audience? On two opening nights 20 years apart? And now she’s got her own opening night in “Hello, Dolly!” on Jan. 20.

I love musicals. Maybe you’ve seen my writing about them here. My encounters with Stephen Sondheim, my adoration of Kander and Ebb. And now, how much I also love Jerry Herman, with “Hello, Dolly!” hitting the big-bucks time with the revival (tickets top a grand, I just read). I’ve seen it twice. Once with the Divine Miss M, and then with the lesser but equally fabulous other Miss M, Donna Murphy.


January 10, 2018
A First Congressional District candidate with a scientific background emphasizes environmental protection.

Like many of you, when I was growing up, all the outdoors was my playground. From the rocks left behind by long-ago glaciers to the mysterious seashells washed ashore on the beach, this dynamic environment of ours has always fascinated me. That fascination with nature turned into my pursuit of science. Physics led me to a world of problem solving; biology reaffirmed my reasons for trying harder to understand our world and to make it a better place. 

Bruce Buschel
January 3, 2018
If “battling cancer” has long been a misguided metaphor, it seems spectacularly inapposite in connection with the redoubtable John McCain.

Whatever transpires in 2018, cancer will not defeat John McCain. 

Cancer is neither an opponent nor a binary condition, and the sooner we stop pitting humans against a disease, stop using war metaphors in the field of medicine, the better off we all shall be, especially cancer patients and their loved ones. Many a mislabeled loser has been quietly valiant and privately heroic.

December 27, 2017
Will we no longer be able to read or see work by thieves like Jean Genet, sex offenders like Roman Polanski, or bigots like Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot?

I am sending a letter of resignation to Minnesota Public Radio, the three major networks, CNN, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Washington Post in anticipation of allegations that I might harass someone if I were hired to become part of their staffs. Harassment is viral and I am no longer certain my autonomic nervous system can be relied on in situations where there are other bodies in an enclosed space. After all, it’s by definition autonomic, right? It’s easy to forget that man’s an animal as well as a conscious being.

December 20, 2017
It's time to get back to the divinity who inspired us originally — to love and forgiveness, to turning the other cheek and total nonviolence.

I am 76 years old and I have been listening to sermons for all those 76 years. My religiously devout parents took me to church from the get-go. I had the longest string of perfect attendance pins in the history of the Oak Park Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia — one of the longest strings of perfect attendance pins in the whole of the U.S.A. I have heard thousands of sermons, sung millions of hymns, and heard the Bible explained in trillions of ways.

Often while listening or singing I have wished I had a basket of rotten fruit to heave at the pulpit and express my opinion of the preacher — such nonsense from the pulpit, such pap in the hymns, such utter confusion in Bible spinning. 

Amanda M. Fairbanks
December 13, 2017
Walking into the garage and dusting off our box of Christmas decorations moved me, unexpectedly, to tears.

“Moving to California is a lot like living in the future,” my friend Peter said to me, as I was fresh from the trauma of moving from Sag Harbor to Marin County one year ago. 

Though Los Angeles runs through both sides of my family for generations, our relocation to Northern California couldn’t have come as more of a shock. The early days of moving felt a bit like trying on a foreign country for size — learning new ways of dressing (Patagonia and Birkenstocks) and socializing (make plans but don’t commit too forcefully). Also, fragrance is forbidden, and recreational cannabis has replaced the evening cocktail.

December 6, 2017
When I was diagnosed with lymphoma eight years ago, my search for strength and solace involved bringing as much music into my life as possible.

Those of us who’ve been there know where the mind goes when the words “It’s cancer, I’m so sorry” become an indelible part of one’s story. I won’t even try to cover the possible reactions we experience, whether the news refers to us or to a loved one. But the shock passes and the acceptance slowly takes over, and the search for strength and solace begins.

November 29, 2017
In the wake of Brown v. Board of Education, a grad student's deep dive into the question of equal protection vis-a-vis the integration of public schools.

When I entered grad school at the University of Wisconsin in the fall of 1956, my graduate professor in American history asked if I had a thesis subject in mind. I said I didn’t yet have one, and he asked if I would take a project on. Then he explained what it was.

November 22, 2017
During this 200th anniversary of Henry David Thoreau's birth, let's rededicate ourselves to the high value he placed on childhood.

This year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Henry David Thoreau. In recognition of the occasion, celebrations have highlighted the better-known aspects of his life and work. For example, events have featured Thoreau’s two years of spartan existence at Walden Pond and his decision to go to jail rather than pay taxes to support the Mexican-American War and slavery.

I would like to call attention to a relatively neglected theme in Thoreau’s thinking: The high value he placed on childhood.

November 16, 2017
I don’t think I can take another Thanksgiving with my overzealous, politically inclined relatives.

I wonder if it would be socially acceptable to dump my family and invite myself to eat the holiday feast with the Johnsons, total strangers who live down the block — ’cause I don’t think I can take another year with my overzealous, politically inclined relatives. And I predict this year will be a doozy.

Besides, I hear the Johnsons are politically apathetic. So what if the cooking is bland? I can picture my surrogate relations now — they’ll have mellow yellow candles glowing in each window. Zen music will be coming from every orifice of their walls. Maybe all they’ll argue about over dinner is the wishbone. 

November 9, 2017
We don’t need Facebook or Twitter to teach us about the timeless harassment of women. Just open up the Bible.

The harrowing tales of sexual assault and harassment have continuously bombarded my computer screen for the last two weeks. I knew this kind of abuse was happening throughout the world, but I didn’t know how ingrained it was in the everyday lives of American women. I thought Harvey Weinstein, who tyrannically harassed and assaulted Hollywood actresses, was a phenomenon, but I was wrong. The trending #MeToo has opened my eyes to see that sexual violence, assault, and harassment are far too common. 

Yet we don’t need Facebook or Twitter to teach us about the timeless harassment of women. Just open up the Bible.

#MeToo: Sarah is forcefully inducted into the harems of Pharaoh and Abimelech (Genesis 12 and Genesis 20).