Posts

Recollections Called Forth by the Closing of America’s St. Petersburg Consulate

U.S. consulate-general, St. Petersburg, Russia The U.S. consulate-general in St. Petersburg became a casualty this week of the current escalation of tensions between the West and Vladimir Putin’s Russia, following the attempted assassination in England of former double agent Alexander Litvinenko and his daughter by Russia’s FSB (successor to the USSR’s notorious KGB). Putin ordered […]

How to Be the World’s Coolest Dad

Romanesque Grotesque It’s probably a little harder to achieve Coolest Dad status today than it was in 1983, but I found a quick and easy way to do it back then. At the time, I was a single dad, living just outside Washington, D.C., and sharing custody of my two (at that time) kids with […]

The Ambassador Wanted My Scalp

Train following the Rhine, like the one on which I came down with chicken pox You’re getting ready for next week’s business trip to Europe and your kid comes down with the chicken pox. You don’t remember ever having had chicken pox when you were a kid. What do you do? Well, that’s what happened […]

Beethoven Would Not Have Survived This Recital, But …

the pianist did, and so did I – barely! This was the piano recital to top them all! No, it wasn’t exactly Vladimir Horowitz or Arthur Rubenstein at Carnegie Hall. In fact, it took place long enough ago (1974 or thereabouts) that the stalwart pianist’s name has, regrettably, faded from memory.1 But I retain a […]

A Great Cup of Coffee

If faithful readers of this blog (yes, it appears there actually are a few of you) are tiring of tales from the time I spent in Leningrad, here’s a change of pace – a story from Brazil. And what could be more authentically Brazilian than a story about that fascinating country’s best-known export – other than samba […]

‘You’ve Got Communism’

Soviet propaganda poster: “Forward. To the victory of communism!” Banner shows profiles of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin. Foreground figures are idealized representations of a laborer and a collective farmer in the “workers’ paradise.” On the eve of Labor Day, I’m reminded of an incident that took place back in early 1978, when I was posted to […]

Helping Bring Progress to the Third World & Crack Open the Iron Curtain

The following are some thoughts I was invited to write about “national service” – in view of my having served in the Peace Corps and the U.S. Foreign Service – for inclusion in the Class Book of the Yale University Class of 1966, in preparation for our 50th reunion next weekend (June 3-5, 2016): Don’t […]

‘One of the Cowboy States’

My last Foreign Service overseas assignment was to Japan in 1985. This was no ordinary assignment to our embassy in Tokyo or one of the U.S. consulates around the country. No, this assignment was to the U.S. Pavilion at an international exposition, Tsukuba Expo ’85 (http://bit.ly/1RweFds), held that summer in Tsukuba Science City, 35 miles […]