SANTA MARIA NOVELLA: THE WORLD’S OLDEST APOTHECARY

There are deep burgundy bags of potpourri, fragrance diffusers, and cleansing sprays–a different scent and mood for each season of the year. You can buy Iris Toothpaste (20 bucks a tube), Crema de Barba (shaving cream) at 71 dollars a pop, and Sapone allo Zolfo—sulphur soap—with which to scrub off after, say, an exorcism.

THE GLOBAL GARAGE SALE

“Before the 1960s, Japanese had a feeling of mottainai, a difficult-to-translate Japanese word that expresses a sense of regret over waste, as well as a desire to conserve,” reports Rina Hamada, editor of Japan’s Reuse Business Journal. But that was before the living standard in Japan shot sky-high. Now people are way more acquisitive, though they’ll buy second-hand if it’s of high quality.

SPIKY, HAIRY, SHINY: INSECTS OF LA

Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins: “Meet your neighbors!” invites the Natural History Museum, but they’re not talking about the people next door. The exhibit “Spiky, Hairy, Shiny: Insects of LA,” runs through April 1, 2022. All over the city, for the last 10 years people have gathered insects to help the […]

NOTHIING BUT THEE

One year the Catholic Press Association had me as a speaker for their annual awards conference. I went up after some guy from EWTN who crowed about having recently expanded the station’s reach to 18 trillion or something like that. When I got up there, I laughed, “Well, my own media empire is a bit smaller…I operate it from a desk in my bedroom that’s about four feet long”…

EVOLUTION AND FAITH

Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins: “Evolution and Faith: What Is the Problem?”, an essay by Georgetown University Distinguished Professor of theology John F. Haught, was published earlier this year by the Portsmouth [RI] Institute for Faith and Culture.  Having asked the same question myself many times, I read the article with […]

RESURRECTION, REPARATION, AND RECOVERY

“Mea culpa” without Christ becomes a kind of travesty. Snitching, shaming, the imposition of groupthink, the hatred and fear of truth, especially from the safe preserve of online anonymity, simply gouge the original wound deeper.

In fact, the credo behind woke culture’s judge-jury-and-executioner modus operandi isn’t “My fault” at all, but rather “YOUR fault.”

FEMALE VISIONARIES WHO SAVED THE WORLD

Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins: Visionary Women: How Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall and Alice Waters Changed Our World (2018), by journalist Andrea Barnet, is a fascinating read. Rachel Carson (1907-1964) parlayed her curiosity and love for the outdoor, in particular the ocean into an important and lasting contribution to […]

STAINED GLASS FROM GOTHIC TO STREET STYLE

Don’t make the mistake of associating stained glass only with churches. “The second gallery is the new, hip cutting-edge pieces that are really exciting.”

“If you love traditional stained glass, there’s plenty of it and you can get up close. If you like graffiti and street art, conceptual art, sci-fi—come and check out the second gallery. This is stained glass like you’ve never seen it before.”

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH AN ART INSTALLER

The real thrill is getting to put (gloved) hands on these works. “In a gallery there’s often a stanchion or a tape line on the floor. We have the luxury and honor of being the people who are actually allowed up close. Are these D-rings strong enough? What if a viewer inadvertently jostles this pedestal: is the work sufficiently secured?”