This week I received an email from an editor to whom I had recently submitted a piece. “This is a wonderful essay,” he wrote, “brilliantly evocative of a time and a place and a state of mind. … But, once again, we simply don't have space to publish essays of this sort these days, as we need to keep more squarely focused on events of the moment.”

I very much appreciated the editor’s thoughtfulness. Many, when they’re not interested in your submission, don’t even bother to tell you. But as gratifying as his comments were personally, they were distressing professionally. I blame the Internet and brute capitalism. In an age when readers can be counted, and views equal revenues, the most popular subjects push out everything else. And the most popular, inevitably, are the most topical. The ultimate goal of the writer – to produce work that is timeless – is now being sabotaged by the dictatorship of the timely.

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing

Woe to the writer working without a platform from a position of privilege.

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing

Cuban toast

07/19/17 08:03

Watching the insipid Weekend in Havana last night I did learn one new thing: You always toast with your left arm (faster to the heart).

By Thomas Swick • Category: Travel

music over art

07/18/17 09:02

The New Times’ Best of Miami issue, which we picked up a few weeks ago at Savor Cinema in downtown Fort Lauderdale, listed the Hollywood Art Walk as the best in South Florida, better than Wynwood’s and better than FAT Village’s. So Saturday evening we drove down to Hollywood Boulevard. Booths were set up to the south and north on 20th Avenue, selling cookies and various crafts. When we reached Harrison Street, we asked a policeman where we might find art. He pointed to the block to our right, where, he was sure, there was at least one gallery.

 There were two. One was closed – for the monthly art walk – while the other featured mostly pottery. We checked a few places for dinner, settling finally on A La Turca.

 While waiting for our food – stuffed eggplant and Beyti kebab – I noticed that the music was emanating from a DJ station in the back of the restaurant. The DJ was about four decades older than most people in that profession. A sign below him carried a list of languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Hebrew. He picked up the microphone and sang an old Spanish ballad. Then another. And another. After the fourth one, a few diners applauded. I walked up to give him a tip.

 “Where are you from?” I asked him.

 “I grew up in Bulgaria and then lived in Israel,” he said. I noticed now that the sign included even more languages, including Bulgarian and Russian. He sang Moscow Nights and then Kalinka. The table of Georgians next to us applauded loudly.

 Often at restaurants the music is overpowering and resented, because it intrudes into people’s conversations. This gentleman’s singing was just the opposite, mellow and appreciated. It made up nicely for the absence of art.  

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans


07/17/17 09:35

There may still be some debate, in some quarters, about whether Roger Federer is the GOAT, but there is no doubt that he is the BLOAT (Best Loved of All Time).

By Thomas Swick • Category: sports

the 14th

07/14/17 10:11

I’m an undemonstrative Francophile. It may be because the two months I spent in Germanic Alsace were much more meaningful than the eight months I spent in Italianate Provence. And I moan inwardly every time I walk in a bookstore and see the monopoly of books on France (and its hotter cousin Italy). Publishers, there are other countries in the world! Most of these books, of course, are about Paris or the South; my beloved Alsatians go unlimned. Toujours Provence. Jamais Alsace.

 But I admire the French, especially now that, for the first time in history (as someone has pointed out) they have a president who speaks better English than the American president. And they have other talents. Charles de Gaulle questioned how one can govern – while many visitors wonder how one can’t love – a nation with over 300 cheeses. My sister-in-law was in Paris recently with her daughter and, after a few days of patisseries and boulangeries, Elizabeth had a good question for her mother: “If you lived here, would you ever bake again?”

By Thomas Swick • Category: Uncategorized