Flying in 2022

November 29, 2022

IS IT JUST ME, or is the entire air travel experience broken right now?

Security lines are endless, terminals are noisier and more crowded than ever, airport lounges have become overcrowded feeding troughs, onboard service isn’t half of what it was pre-pandemic, delays and cancellations are rampant. And so on; it’s across the board.

Initially, as the COVID-19 fiasco wound down, most of the trouble could be blamed on a lack of staffing. Passengers came back faster than expected, and the industry wasn’t ready. The resulting chaos was unpleasant, but was expected to be temporary. Yet here we are on the cusp of 2023, and although things aren’t as dysfunctional as they were six or eight months ago, they still feel badly off-kilter.

What troubles me most is that we seem to be resigning ourselves to it. I fear that we’re plateauing at a sort of “new

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RIP Lou Reed

The Velvet Underground in Gerard Malanga’s famous photograph:
Sterling Morrison, Maureen Tucker, Lou Reed and John Cale

October 27, 2013

LOU REED, founding member of the Velvet Underground and one of rock’s most influential musicians, died Sunday on Long Island at age 71. Reed had been ill for some time, and had undergone a liver transplant earlier this year.

This is the saddest news in music since the death of the great Joe Strummer in 2002.

Lou Reed’s career spanned close to five decades. Debating what was or wasn’t his most important work is of course a subjective and perhaps pointless exercise, but in my opinion Reed was responsible for three of the best rock songs of all time. Those would be “Sweet Jane,” “Rock & Roll,” and the seven-minute ode, “Oh! Sweet Nuthin!”

Remarkably, all three of these songs appear on the same album, 1970’s Loaded. The first

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Permanent Mystery

March 14, 2022

I WAS AT A WINERY outside Porto, Portugal, when the phone rang. I took the call and walked out front to the parking lot. It was a Sunday afternoon, March 9th, 2014. The sun was out.

It was a woman from the BBC. A Malaysia Airlines plane had gone missing, she explained. It had vanished the night before, somewhere over the ocean near Vietnam. That’s all anyone knew, really.

With almost nothing to go on, I didn’t know what to say. “I’m sure they’ll find it within a day or two,” I told her. Other accidents came to mind — planes that had fallen into the ocean. Just a few years earlier had been the Air France crash off Brazil, for instance. It took a little while, but they found it.

But then a day became two days, became three days, became a week. The possibility struck

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