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July 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Authors John Kenneth Galbraith and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.



Upon entering the Presidential Suite of the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I was immediately struck by the imposing figure of famed economist John Kenneth Galbraith engaged in conversation with renowned historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Galbraith’s towering presence at six-feet-nine made me momentarily forget that this man of 90 plus-years was still making the rounds at publishing events. It was almost twenty years ago when he was the guest speaker at Houghton Mifflin’s national sales conference meeting.

During his long, illustrious career, many of his books had been published by our company and that evening’s cocktail party held in his honor afforded us an opportunity to meet the former Ambassador to India and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Read more


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June 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

By Bob Vickrey

For many of us of a certain age, the year 1968 was a year like no other.

The Vietnam War had quickly escalated after the January “Tet Offensive” by the North Vietnamese army, and at one point that year, more than 500 American soldiers were losing their lives each week in a war that had already been deemed by many Pentagon officials as “unwinnable.”

Back home, college students were staging protests against the war on campuses all across the country. Civil unrest in our cities had often turned confrontational and violent.

Civil Rights demonstrations were being met with police resistance, as they resorted to fire hoses and batons in their attempt to quell protesters. Read more

Tom Brokaw hit on #MeToo when I was a young reporter

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June 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Mary Reinholz

First published May 1, 2018, in The Villager, A Manhattan weekly.

Tom Brokaw

[The writer says when she was a reporter in Los Angeles, Tom Brokaw — after helping her get a police report for a story she was doing for the L.A. Free Press — made a sudden unwanted sexual advance: He tried to put the moves on her, abruptly embracing and French kissing her, she said.]

A recent e-mail from the Newswomen’s Club of New York reminded me that I had been confirmed to attend an April 5 panel discussion called “#MeToo for Journalists: Where have we come from and where are we going?” at The New York Times’ skyscraper, that glassy and classy 52-story edifice at Eighth Ave. and 40th St. Read more

Dunga Brook Diary: BINGO

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June 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Vicki Whicker

May, 2011

After a sparse farm to table dinner, and after a mean (Jim=ruthless) game of BOGGLE, in the semi-dark of his “rustic” farmhouse (because, no electricity/no running water), right before I’m to trudge up the dark and dusty stairs for an unsteady sleep on an unstable old bed, Jim nonchalantly says, “I’m leaving at four a.m. for The City, can you feed Ichabod, tomorrow?”

Did he say leaving? At four a.m.? He’s leaving? For The City? This house has no locks, is missing windows, and he’s leaving at four a.m.? For NYC? That means I’m going to be asleep, no, scratch that, lying awake in the dark for at least two more hours before sunrise…ALONE. And then, if I’m not murdered, I have to go to that barn? For three feedings? Holy F! I can hardly say no, right? I can’t be responsible for the death of a baby goat, can I?

“Sure, no problem.” I hear myself saying. “But I’m staying at a BNB tomorrow night, so…I won’t be around to take care of Ichabod after that…I’m catching my flight back to L.A.” Read more


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June 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Photos by Barry Stein.


Los Angeles has to be the only city in the world where a 35 year-old restaurant could be described as a “landmark” institution.

I’m reminded of Steve Martin’s character in the 1991 satirical comedy “L.A. Story,” as he toured the city while hosting his British girlfriend. He described the sights they witnessed with wonder and awe, as he pointed out the city landscape to his friend, “Some of these buildings are more than 20 years-old!”

Our monthly lunch club decided to dig not-so-deeply into LA’s culinary history for one of those “landmarks,” as we chose The Ivy on Robertson Boulevard for our May dining destination. The Ivy opened in 1983, a year many L.A. residents consider to have occurred sometime during the Paleolithic Age. Read more


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May 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 



Houghton Mifflin Publishing offices at Two Park Street in Boston (in the right foreground.) Picture taken in the 1920’s.


By Bob Vickrey

As I reported for my first day of work in October 1972, and entered the creaky Boston office headquarters of America’s oldest publishing house, I thought perhaps that I had stepped back into the 19th Century.

Houghton Mifflin had indeed been linked to that century by publishing authors such as Emerson, Thoreau, Longfellow and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

One could witness the history preserved there by simply walking the hallways of this 100-year-old charming, but well-worn brick structure located on Park Street just down the block from the ornate Massachusetts State House. The front side faced Boston Common and the backside office windows looked out on the Boston Granary, which was home to considerable Colonial history, including the gravesites of Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Read more

Dunga Brook Diary: Green Acres

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May 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 


Vicki Whicker

Mother’s Day, 2011

Before we open the front-door, Jim says,

“It’s pretty bad inside— the squatters pulled the electrical panels out and, for some reason, they took the stairs, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed.“

My new/old house:

An 1820’s Federal-style farmhouse cloaked in dirty-white siding, surrounded by hundreds of acres of farmland, situated on a two-lane “county highway” in the wilds of central New York.

Awhile back, a friend in L.A. bought a house (it was the 80’s, when you could still afford to buy a house) and called it “my new/old house.” It was probably built in the 60’s but, you know, old for L.A. Read more


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May 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Photos by Barry Stein


When it was suggested that our monthly lunch club try The Grill on the Alley in Beverly Hills, I had to admit that I had never heard of it.

But after learning The Grill was a favorite haunt for show business executives, I understood why I had completely missed this industry hideaway that some refer to as “The Commissary.” Having called L.A. my home for almost 40 years now, I have been living with the shame and humiliation of never having once produced a major movie or successful television series. And what’s worse, I never even tried.

In times past, Los Angeles was recognized for having such celebrated restaurants as The Brown Derby, Chasen’s and Morton’s. And these days, many fans of The Grill have compared it favorably to those classic bistros of bygone years. A few old-timers have even compared it to the venerable Musso & Frank’s Grill in Hollywood, (which officially turns 100 next year). Read more

Dunga Brook Diary: April Fools

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April 2, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 



Vicki Whicker

Central New York, Mother’s Day, 2011.

We’re walking across the field from Jim’s farmhouse to my farmhouse. I’ve got butterflies. I’m about to ditch LA for this.

I’m about to pull a geographic— Palisades cottage to 1820s farmhouse. From the trendy West to the forgotten Northeast. From bone-dry to lush. Hip to hillbilly. Known to unknown. Read more

Mrs. Brown and the Walk Uptown

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April 1, 2018 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Ralls County Courthouse, New London, Missouri

Baylis Glascock

Mrs. Brown was my seventh-grade teacher, a single mother of two, who dressed in the straight skirts of the day with matching jackets. It was 1953. She occasionally spoke of her late husband. He had died unexpectedly of a heart attack. She drove a ’49 Ford, lived in Hannibal, and drove the ten miles to New London and back each day, bringing the two children with her. While having little occasion to discuss politics in the classroom, she did make known, more than once during the year, her profound dislike of Harry S. Truman for having fired General MacArthur, whom she regarded as a true American hero and patriot. I had no opinion about MacArthur, but my father, having taken the train to Washington, D.C., for Truman’s inauguration, and having had seating within about 75 feet of the ceremony, quite a bit closer than county assessor Jack Briscoe, who perceived himself to be well connected in Democratic political circles, made Dad speak of Truman with great respect. Also, Truman, like George Washington, was a Mason: Dad was a 32nd degree Mason and Grand Master of the local Masonic Lodge. So, I did have a generally positive feeling about the 33rd president, but I never made a point of making my preferences in the matter known. Read more

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