Selected Writings

When I started writing professionally, the manual typewriter had not yet faded entirely into the sunset, and the editing systems used at most newspapers were proprietary mainframe systems whose only export format was strips of cold type ready for the waxer. Therefore, until I scan or type in some of my old clips, this is necessarily limited to work since 1990 and a few pieces I wrote at my college paper after we converted it to a Macintosh typesetting system.

Some of my more recent writing can be found on my blog; I've also selected favorites in both music and politics.


Guitar Heroines, or Lack Thereof? Blog post in response to a Washington Post article about the alleged dearth of great woman guitarists.

Straight From the Horse's Mouth (Well, Almost): A look into the origins of the line about all music being folk music ("Horses don't sing.")

John Lee Hooker: An essay about the tribute concert for him held in New York City in October 1990, reposted to blues-l when he died in June, 2001.

Peter Tosh: Obituary of the reggae singer, assassinated in 1987. Published in Kingsman, Brooklyn College's newspaper.

Rap and Blues: Is rap music the blues of the 1990s? Published in the Johnson County (Iowa) Blues Society Newsletter.

I'd Rather Be the Devil: Review of Stephen Calt's biography of the blues guitarist. Published in the Johnson County (Iowa) Blues Society Newsletter.

Calt's book characterizes the 1960s blues revival scene very negatively, a depiction that has been called into question by many of the participants. Dick Waterman, who was part of that scene, sued Calt and his publisher for libel. You should also read Waterman's description of the basis and outcome of the suit. Finally, Tom Jacobson, who knew and corresponded with James in the sixties, posted a series of recollections to blues-l in March 1998.

Junior Wells: Obituary of the blues harp player.

Yoko Ono: Review of her outstanding 1996 album, Rising.

Jerry Lee Lewis: Review of a surprisingly good collection of 1979-80 material, originally published in the Online Digital Music Review, 1991.

Enya: Review of her 1990 album, originally published in the Online Digital Music Review, 1991.

Southern Journey: Series of posts to the blues-l mailing list reviewing the Southern Journey series of Alan Lomax's field recordings.

Also see selected music entries from my blog

Programming and Online Publishing

Top Ten Reasons For Reading a Newspaper: My response to's "Top Ten Reasons For Reading a News Site." I have spent more than fifteen years in online news publishing, but that doesn't mean I believe newspapers are about to disappear. They may change drastically, just as radio did after television was born, but there are many reasons to read on paper rather than reading on screen.

Translating the Angle Bracket Crowd: I collaborated on this pair of articles with Barry Bealer, a content-management consultant. My half discusses the frustration publishers and editors have with the idealistic approach of many content-management gurus. The "angle bracket crowd" is a reference to experts in various forms of markup languages, most of which use < and > to delineate their tags. Published in the April/May 2005 issue of the Software and Information Industry's Upgrade magazine.

The Craft of Programming: Software is a craft, and if more programmers thought like craftspeople, software wouldn't be so bad. Unpublished and evolving essay.

Web Publishing: Should fiction available only on the web be eligible for literary awards given to fiction published in print?

The Cruelty of Software Testing: I wrote and posted this to Usenet in 1993, just after I started a software testing lab at work, and it has since been reposted all over the net.

Mail Filtering: Spam and some ideas for dealing with it. Originally published in The Wall Street Journal Online. Also see an essay on "friendly-fire" spam.

Politics and Journalism

The Rudy Moment: NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani: The quality of whose life? Series of essays and observations published in Bob Howe's Fetish Weather Forecast in the late '90s.

Christopher Columbus: A column written during the anniversary in 1992. Collaboration with Bob Howe.

Daily News: Reaction to the New York Daily News strike of late 1990, at a time when it looked as if the paper would close for sure. Published in the Brooklyn Free Press.

The Butcher: The closing of the last butcher store in Brooklyn Heights. Published in The Brooklyn Paper.

True Names: Review of Vernor Vinge's True Names and Other Dangers, published in Fantasy Review.

Also see selected politics entries from my blog