About Me

I am Associate Professor and Chair of the History Department at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. I am also the Academic Director of the Clemente Course in the Humanities, in New Bedford MA. Author of "Social Security and the Middle Class Squeeze" (Praeger, 2005) and the forthcoming "Saul Alinsky the Dilemma of Race in the Post-War City" (University of Chicago Press), my teaching and scholarship focuses on American urban history, social policy, and politics. I am presently writing a book on home ownership in modern America, entitled "Castles Made of Sand? Home Ownership and the American Dream." I live in Providence RI, where I have served on the School Board since March 2015. All opinions posted here are my own.

Friday, September 28, 2012

If Rush Limbaugh were a Democrat and a university president, he'd be John Silber

Former BU president and Democratic Gubernatorial nominee John Silber just passed.

I do extend my sympathies to his family.

It is often said that one should not speak ill of the dead. In this particular case, however, I have been speaking ill of the deceased since the early 1990s. I see no reason to stop now.

As a public figure and academic leader, John Silber was a loathsome philistine. William Weld remains the only Republican I've ever voted for, and that is because Silber was such a racist bastard I couldn't bring myself to give him any more power than he already had.

And by the way, I personally -- privately -- heard damning judgments of the man as a college president from both Howard Zinn and philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre.

If you manage to piss off BOTH of those guys, you probably need to check yourself.

Friday, September 21, 2012

There is a crack, in everything -- Happy Birthday, Leonard Cohen!

Happy 78th birthday to Leonard Cohen.

For reasons I can't quite explain, Cohen seems to have become some sort of sensei for me at this point in my life.  Did you ever read an author, listen to a musician, or meet a person that you were suddenly -- blindingly -- convinced had something essential to teach you?

Maybe its because I'm a slowly aging Jew enticed by Buddhism, who aches in the places he used to play, like Cohen himself.

Maybe its because I, like Cohen, revel in the reality that I am a cracked vessel -- because that, as he says, is how the light gets in.

Don't know.  I do know that I'd love to spend an evening of conversation with the man, over a bottle of peaty scotch.

I will probably have to settle for seeing him in concert in Boston in December.