Cruising the Green of Second Avenue

Wild Child Publishing has issued the second volume of short stories in Cruising the Green of Second Avenue. The tales take up where Vol. I left off — bringing back Klein the Biker, Straight Charlie and Sammy the Madman while introducing new characters stumbling over life’s difficulties in the late 60s. Vol. II is an e-book published by Wild Child Publishing that you can download, save as a pdf (Adobe) file and print. Read both volumes and see that life isn't all that serious. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other online book sellers.

Monday, January 26, 2009

History Talks to Me. (You? Us?)

Someone—Alexis de Toqueville?—called Americans autodidacts. We teach ourselves and proudly ignore authority. But something in that description made me dig around to find out who that English aristocrat was who rebelled against the Crown in 1675-76 Virginia, burned Jamestown, and attacked Native American camps with abandon. His actions—known as “Bacon’s Rebellion”—capture the tenor of the times. They may also be applicable to our world today as we struggle to regain control of government.

My synthesis is that it’s difficult to look at 17th century American history without generalizing the clash of cultures as “grasping Europeans annihilating the Native American” or “angry savages attacking innocent settlers.” Neither was the case, of course. Theirs was a power struggle between strong egos representing established government, populist immigrants and indigenous peoples.

The article (and photos posted with the footnotes) can be read at

On another historical note, I was pleased to have my article on “Barrancas: The First Shots Fired in the Civil War” reprinted in the Camp Chase Gazette, a reenactors magazine. The piece—as above, written because of curiosity—was first carried in Military History Online ( Originally published in Jan. 2005, “Barrancas” is a review of the initial assault on a Union fort, four months prior to the fall of Fort Sumter. That dramatic confrontation included a four-month stand-off and spies who aided the Union cause. Among all the statues and medals for heroism, I don't think there's any comparable testimonial to the intrepid courage of Lt. Adam Slemmer and 82 Union troops.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Who Was that Masterful Writer and Illustrator?

A nice incident came around this past week as the American Book Collectors of Children’s Literature newsletter carried my longish piece on children’s book author/illustrator Holling Clancy Holling. (See and click on Vol. 20 No. 2 in the Archives.) HCH has fascinated me since childhood, as much for his magnificent drawings as for the curiosity of a man who named himself twice. Paddle-to-the-Sea, Tree in the Trail, Seabird and the other Houghton-Mifflin titles are luxurious in their drawings and sidebar intelligence.

This was a writer whose books are still in print almost 70 years after winning a Caldecott prize. Curiously, there’s very little in print about HCH, and biographies are limited to the most obvious details. However, a librarian near Holling’s home county came to my rescue with “hometown” information, and a researcher at the Leslie (MI) Area Historical Museum offered a bounty of undiscovered details. After more than a year of doing detective work into his life, I’m sure there’s a great deal I still don’t know about him. But it’s this serendipity in tracking down clues and details that made this a rewarding project.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happiest of New Years

Here’s wishing everyone a healthy, bountiful New Year. May your favorite bookstore remain a welcoming hearth through these perilous times, may all your rejections from editors and agents be positive and constructive, and any gift cards you received continue to be negotiable. To Barack Obama, here’s hoping his new home at 1600 Pennsylvania is fulfilling, and that a dictionary there shows him the word is not pronounced “ir-re-VOC-able. To departing Dick Cheney, an invitation to take up water boarding, assuming there’s no surfboarding in Wyoming. And, let us all have a moment of silence for the demise of Polaroid film before cheering the advent of phonographs that convert our 33 and 45 rpm records to digital files and CDs.