This article was written for Syracuse New Times, July 23, 1986, and rewritten for the Song Mountain Brewfest program in 1997. * * * The Empire State’s recorded brewing history begins with the Dutch colonists on Manhattan Island, soon to be home to New Amsterdam and eventually New York City. The settlers’ homebrewed beer, which […]


Mail art by George Henry Edwards, 1900 Whenever I read that mail art began “in the 1960s,” I roll my eyes. Mail art has been around as long as creative people have been mailing, and wonderful examples from the 19th and 20th century abound, as single items and as books devoted to the genre. [1] […]

This past week, we noticed the presence of mice in our basement. In one way, I like mice. They’re cute, plump and furry. I understand why they want to join us. It’s cold outside and there’s not much food. Inside, it’s warm and we have lots of food. They’re just trying to get along. But […]

On July 14, 1840, Theodore Hook sent, and received, the first hand-drawn, hand-colored postcard. Mailed to Fulham, in southwest London, with a recently issued Penny Black stamp, the card features caricatures of post office clerks sitting around a giant ink well. It is the first known postcard, and therefore the earliest example of a postcard […]

“I took the expressway out to the track, driving very fast and jumping the monster car back and forth between lanes, driving with a beer in one hand and my mind so muddled that I almost crushed a Volkswagen full of nuns when I swerved to catch the right exit.” Hunter S. Thompson, “The Kentucky […]

Recently, as I researched mail art created in the 19th and early 20th century, I came across a woodblock print postcard. And I learned that in the early 1900s, paper companies – such as A.H. Abbott in Chicago and Reeves & Sons in London – sold blank postcards especially for watercolor and pen & ink. […]

Three stories about abortion: My parents listened to the news on the radio during breakfast and read the morning paper. I remember hearing reports of women found dead in hotel rooms, and reading about them, victims of botched abortions. Abortion was illegal, hence a lucrative sideline for organized crime, for doctors who had lost their […]

The AR-15 is made to kill people, many people in a short period of time. It is not made for hunting game, target shooting or home defense. There are guns specifically designed for those tasks. I grew up with guns. In the bedroom I shared with my brother, there was a gun rack over his […]

“It was recognized even in the eighteen-sixties that collectors had to contend with not only forgeries of government-issued postage stamps but also stamps whose validity existed only in the imagination of their producers.”– Cinderella Stamps (1970) by L.N. and M. Williams I love mail, mail art, the post office, postage stamps, rubber stamps. All of […]

On April 15, 1952, someone had 36 envelopes sealed, stamped and postmarked. In 1981, we bought their house and found a file cabinet in the basement, with the envelopes. As I was dabbling in mail art then, I thought there might be some use for the cancelled stamps; I liked the way they were alike, […]