Short Takes

The Alligator Man and Other Delights

Okay, it isn’t a real museum—not in the modern sense of the word. No curators, no lecture halls, no yellow school buses unloading hordes of fourth-graders out on the sidewalk. Marsh’s Free Museum, located on the Washington coast, owes more to P.T. Barnum than it does to Charles Darwin, though the two-headed calf and the…

Short Takes

Just Passing Through

I’m not supposed to admit this, but there was a moment during my visit to the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument—as the trail petered out unexpectedly in an eerie blue landscape of columns and spires, where nothing but scattered tufts of grass and the wide gray morning sky overhead looked even slightly familiar—when I…

Short Takes

A Stitch in Time

The lines aren’t all entirely straight and the stitches aren’t always even, but there’s no mistaking Windsor Castle rising above the treetops or the royal coat of arms down below, beneath the slightly imperfect slogan that appears to read GODSAVE THE KING. Back in 1936 someone spent days—perhaps even weeks—memorializing with a needle a moment…

Short Takes

A White Girl Remembers Billy Frank

Originally posted May 2014 There is delicious irony in the fact of Billy Frank, Jr., lying in state this past weekend literally within a stone’s throw of the first American pioneers to settle on Puget Sound. For five hours on Saturday, friends and admirers of the most famous—and arguably most beloved—American Indian elder in the…