David Bouchier

StockSnap from Pixabay

It is the symbolic start of summer, and thousands of people will be heading to the beaches this week, restrictions or no restrictions. There's something magnetic about the seashore. Seventy-five percent of Americans choose to live within fifty miles of the coast. We are especially lucky on Long Island because the whole place is basically nothing but a beach, a narrow finger of sand, getting narrower every year. So we are never far from the sea just as we are never far from a pizza place. We scarcely ever see the sea, because so much of the shoreline is private property.

Nam Y. Huh / AP

At last my favorite barbershop has reopened. On the first day, when Long Island moved into Stage Two of the return to normal life, I drove over to the shop to see if this was real. A crowd of disheveled men waited outside, while in the interior I could see a busy scene of tonsorial activity, with every other chair occupied. This was a great relief. My small crop of hair has flourished mightily so that I look like a hedgehog with curls.

Wikimedia Commons

One of my quarantine projects has been to catch up with my serious reading, and now I have an unread book on my mind, a splendid and impossible book, "Ulysses" by James Joyce. But why now? Because every year in the middle of June, and uniquely in literature, this book has a special commemorative day known as “Bloomsday.”

School Bus Children
Rodrigo Abd / AP

In 1995 the cultural critic Neil Postman published a book with the provocative title "The End of Education," arguing that the public school system had fundamentally failed. Others have taken up the same theme over the years. Ivan Ilyich in "De-Schooling Society" advocated the abolition of schools altogether, and H.L.Mencken, the satirical Baltimore columnist, when asked what should be done to improve public education, said: “Burn the buildings and hang the professors.”

Bebeto Matthews / AP

One of the earliest human discoveries must have been how to build a defensive wall. Archaeologists, looking for traces of ancient human occupation, always look first for signs of stone walls, or wooden palisades, or earthen mounds thrown up to keep those inside safe from those outside. It seems that we were even less neighborly in prehistoric times than we are now.

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