David Bouchier

Commentator

David began as a print journalist in London and taught at a British university for almost twenty years. After coming to the United States in 1986 he continued to teach and to publish a regular humor column in The New York Times regional edition.  He joined WSHU as a weekly commentator in 1992, becoming host of Sunday Matinee in 1996. His latest book of essays, Peripheral Vision, was published in 2011. His other books include A Few Well Chosen Words, The Song of Suburbia, The Cats and the Water Bottles, The Accidental Immigrant and Writer at Work. He lives in Stony Brook, New York, with his wife who is a professor at Stony Brook University, and two un-musical cats.

Charlie Riedel / AP

The driver’s side window of my car stuck in the open position during a rainstorm last week, so I drove rather damply to my usual mechanic. He inhabits a workshop in one of those areas where automotive businesses seem to cluster, rather the way doctors’ offices cluster around a hospital. It’s reassuring in a way. If one practitionar can’t fix your problem, the one on the next block probably can.

Ricardo Liberato / Flickr

Christopher Columbus, whose bold and erratic voyages we celebrate today, began his career as a trader and business agent. He knew the value of money, and he knew how hard it was to persuade people to part with it. His fantasy, based on a study of unreliable old maps and books, was to find a direct sea route from Europe to the Far East, where fabulous riches were believed to be had for the taking. As we now know, he was badly mistaken. A huge continent blocked the way between Europe and Asia, and Columbus sailed right into it.

U.S. Department of Defense

Fifty years ago I lived for a while in California, and spent as much time as possible hanging around in San Francisco. This was not because of any special devotion to picturesque cable cars or overpriced fish restaurants. At that time San Francisco was ground zero for the hippie phenomenon. Young people had flocked there from all over America, and the world, to create what they called a counterculture, and 1967 was the Summer of Love. What could be more counter to our regular culture than love?

A few days before school.started here on Long Island I went to a big office supply store in search of something old-fashioned, like filing folders or yellow pads. Dozens of eager young scholars and their teachers were there before me, stocking up for that long-awaited back-to-school moment. The mass of shoppers didn’t worry me, because I assumed they would be crowding the aisles of computers and electronic gadgets. But no, they were interested only in paper, and all the charming products that accompany paper – pens and pencils, crayons, glue sticks, and folders in many colors.

Mark Lennihan / AP

We have so many anniversaries, big and small, happy and sad, that it’s hard to keep up with them all. Every day is the anniversary of something or someone, and most of them, we are willing to forget. But not this one, not yet.

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