For a Kinder, Cooler America
America wants its respect.
— Tupac Shakur

Welcome to The Attic

                                                                      Jasper Johns, "Three Flags," 1958

                                                                      Jasper Johns, "Three Flags," 1958

When you lose something, sooner or later you look in the attic.  From old photos to kids' toys, from fans in winter to coats in summer, attics are where keep what we don't want but don't want to lose.  So welcome to The Attic, a place to find what we have lost as Americans – our memory. 

The Attic is a pile of stories and other stuff about America, stories you won't find in the news, stuff left in the attic lest it be lost.  In a nation that invites its heritage to the table only to rant or to pledge allegiance, wonders can be found in The Attic.  It's time to go up there and look.

The Attic is largely apolitical, and when not, mostly bipartisan.  Its focus, updated weekly, is on Americans of all stripes -- American originals, geniuses, fools, folks you would have a beer with and folks you'd just gawk at.  Reading The Attic, you might hear bluesman Blind Willie Johnson one week, remember the movie "Network" the next.  You will fall in love with America's names and meet the woman who ran for president -- in 1872.  You'll find little-known but wise books about America and see photos of American faces and places.  You will look at America through unique personal lenses.  And like Walt Whitman, you will hear America singing.  But you will also hear America thinking, writing, planning, dreaming...

Time was when newspapers and dinner conversation nurtured such stories.  Two magazines I often wrote for, Smithsonian and American Heritage, explored this space before one globalized and the other folded.  But screens have silenced those American voices.  The result is a nation of sniping rather than sympathy, of opinions hardening in the cement of isolation and resentment.  If you are tired of all this and yearn for a kinder, cooler America, join me in The Attic.  Here you will find out where we've been, chart the rambling paths we've taken, and explore how we, the people, formed this imperfect union called America. 

The Attic does not suggest where America should be headed;  it only captures the human interest of being American.  The question is as old as the nation.  In 1782, Letters from an American Farmer asked, "What then is this new thing, this American?"   Answers from The Attic will surprise you.

                                                                                                                                                         Jasper Johns, "Map," 1961

                                                                                                                                                         Jasper Johns, "Map," 1961