If the Nationals trade Juan Soto, they are not a serious ballclub

July 17, 2022

With reports that the
Washington Nationals are exploring their options for trading young superstar Juan Soto, it is worth stating plainly that this is a travesty because the team will almost certainly be better off paying the man what he has asked for rather than trading him for a collection of players who, because most of the other teams in Major League Baseball are run by reasonably intelligent people, will face extremely long odds of ever producing as much on-field value as Soto, combined, let alone individually.

One person’s humanitarian crisis is another’s footnote

July 13, 2022

In the summer of 2003, I spent six weeks with a study abroad program in London. I attended wonderful Shakespeare productions, traveled one weekend to Paris and another to Dublin, met a whole bunch of cool people — including Will, who gifted us with his pronunciation of “pendulous” while reading aloud from a trashy romance novel — and in almost all ways had a lovely time.

However, I also remember something that did not stick in the American popular memory: that summer, a deadly heatwave hit Europe for weeks.

'This Land Is Your Land': The national anthem we need

July 4, 2022

Whitney Houston sang the hell out of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” So did Marvin Gaye. The Grateful Dead’s a capella version is both straightforwardly traditional and layered with Deadness. Huey Lewis and the News’s a capella rendition is slicker and swings a little. Of course, Jimi Hendrix kicked the song’s ass.

But lyrically, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a maudlin paean to military might. While a good portion of the country is certainly happy with this particular song as the American national anthem, count me in the segment that believes our nation’s anthem should express something other than a martial warning and that it is long past time we had a serious movement to change it and rethink its role in civic life.

There is no shortage of songs that would be better than “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Obvious possibilities include “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful,” and “America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee).” I have also seen less-obvious suggestions like “Lean On Me” or the much more obscure “The House I Live In.” However, the best choice is a song that evokes American promise and potential, and ultimately calls for its citizens to take care of each other: “This Land Is Your Land.”