My Memories of Anthony Lewis

My old teacher Anthony Lewis died this week, and a melancholy descended on me, along with a sense of gratitude for my luck in experiencing his intelligence and insight directly.

I first experienced him personally in Columbia Journalism School in 1988. He taught the required 1st Amendment law course with Vincent Blasi, a noted attorney on the subject. Every Friday, I think it was, we would trudge over to the Law school and get to sit in one of the amphitheater shaped classrooms while Lewis and Blasi taught us through the Socratic method. Based on assigned readings of cases, the two would take us through a series of questions that would lead us to the heart of the case’s importance and central issues. It was my first experience with the Socratic method, and I loved it. I was an avid participant, despite not having always read the cases thoroughly. At the end of the year, I mailed Lewis a letter expressing my appreciation.

I’m Tall and Worth Reading, Says Mr. Luzzatto!

Donald Luzzatto, the editorial page editor of The Virginian-Pilot, had a really nice column about both me and my new book, The Surprising Design of Market Economies. A really nice summary of the book and of me, and he drew links between economic and religious thinking that was stimulating. Check out the column here. The Virginian-Pilot is my hometown newspaper and where I worked as a reporter for a decade.

Food Czars and Food Markets

Julia Vitullo-Martin, in the newsletter I edit, had a great piece about cities that take big approaches to the business of food, making themselves even more into food cities. London, Portland and others have done this. Should New York? Check it outhere, in Spotlight on the Region of the Regional Plan Association. 

The piece dovetailed with an excellent piece this morning by New York Times’ Mark Bittman about establishing a new City Market, ala Pike Place or Barcelona’s covered market, down on Fulton Street. This is such a great idea. I would sacrifice much to see this happen.

From Cuba, A Dispatch from 1988

Back in 1988, just after graduating from Columbia Journalism School, I traveled to Cuba for two weeks as part of a small group of students from the school. We had received a license to visit the country. We had two weeks of interviews and meetings, but also substantial time to wander around Havana by ourselves. Being pretty fluent in Spanish, I took advantage of this and did my best to take the measure of the country, talking to many people in and around the streets. Sometimes I would knock on people’s doors. The story I wrote was published in The Virginian-Pilot and The San Francisco Chronicle. It was basically the first big story I had written outside school, and even vaguely then, I was surprised at how well it read. It hold up pretty well now. I did not have a digital copy of the San Francisco Chronicle version, so my friend John King, the architecture critic for the Chronicle, tracked one down for me. Here it is below, in full text. I may have a visit again to Cuba in my near future, so I wanted to put this up. I’m sure the Chronicle won’t mind.