Category: “Newspaper-Columns”

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Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

Why were Americans not as outraged by the Charlie Hebdo shootings as were Europeans? If anything, the reaction in the U.S. has been strikingly muted. Here there were no mass demonstrations anywhere close to the scale of the Paris march where the absence of President Obama and other top-tier administration of officials was noted with dismay. 

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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Green Phoenix

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Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

“Princeton is in the at midlands of New Jersey, rising, a green Phoenix, out of the ugliest country in the world.”

That’s how F. Scott Fitzgerald described this university town in 1927.

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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The Absolute Elsewhere

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Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

In 1930, the British satirical magazine Punch published a cartoon of a boy, lying on his side on the lawn, reading a book on relativity. When asked where his sister is, he replies, “Somewhere in the absolute elsewhere.”

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

I have come from far away, but now I’m finally on the Olympus of American journalism: the famous high-modernist Time-Life building in midtown Manhattan. Here the magazines that I grew up with — Life, Time, People — were published. They determined my image of America and the world. It is no coincidence that this beautiful skyscraper is used for the exterior shots on Mad Men, so aptly does it bring to life the 1960s.

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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Why Lost Words Matter

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Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

I recently visited the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, the oldest learned society in the country. There I saw an extraordinary document: one of the surviving original journals of Lewis and Clark. 

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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Memorial Day

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Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

The official kickoff for the American summer was Memorial Day. Steaks are slapped on the barbecue, swimming pools are opened. The grass, which a couple of weeks ago was still hidden under a blanket of snow, has reasserted itself. America remembers its soldiers killed in action, preferably with a parade, which, surprisingly enough, is a festive event. And my new home town of Princeton, NJ, where I moved two years ago from Holland, is no exception. I take my place on Nassau Street, next to a couple of children. They’re carrying little flags that are being handed out for free a short distance away. The man on the sidewalk across from me is carrying a piece of cardboard with “Vietnam veteran” scratched onto it in pencil. He looks pretty seedy with his long, stringy hair and dirty clothes. 

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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In a New York Minute

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Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

I was sitting with my young children in Amsterdam on a hot day in July, when a florid-faced man holding a crumpled map sat down next to me. He wiped his brow and said his name was Howard. He was a tourist from Texas. He told me that I lived in a great city. You take your time here, he said. But Howard said he would only spend one day in Amsterdam. Tomorrow he would do Paris.

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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In the Labyrinth

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Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

Dorothea von Moltke is the co- owner of Labyrinth Books, the high-quality bookstore in my home town of Princeton, NJ. She speaks with a slight German accent, even though she was born in America. As we walk among the shelves of her store, she explains its name: “A labyrinth is a place to look and get lost. To gather knowledge, to weigh conflicting ideas against each other and find beliefs. But a labyrinth without minotaur is just a maze. Books should also let you struggle with the unknown, with your own demons, so you find out who you truly are.”

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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Saving Charlotte: A Mother and the Power of Intuition
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