What's What & Where to Find It

Portico is a work in progress that, while it may some day appear to be complete, can't ever be finished. Like its author, it steers clear of accomplishment.

The site is divided into eight branches, and each branch is further divided into three areas, or frames. The frame to the left contains navigational information (menus, links). The frame to the right contains new material of a topical nature; older material of a topical nature can be accessed by clicking on the Archive link on the left-hand menu (if there is one). The writing in the center frame takes a longer view (which is why there's less of it). 

Branches: Reading the red banner at the top of each page, from left to right:

CV. No summary of credentials, Curriculum Vitae is a resting place for autobiographical anecdotes. Once upon a time, my dear wife misread a plaque on the nightstand in a hotel room. It thanked us for not smoking, but to Kathleen's hasty eye it said 'Thank You For Not Sharing.' I try to keep this bit of advice in mind.  

Big Ideas. Avoiding achievement has left me with plenty of time for thinking, and for thinking à la longue durée. If I were a scholar, I would be a historian, because nothing fascinates me more than the evolving nature of human society. I believe that human nature has changed for the better (if something less than dramatically) since the invention of writing, and I expect it to continue to improve. Believing that evolution operates on human character as thoroughly as it does upon all life, I don't see the need for revolutions; about most things, I'm a gradualist. The principal exception is race relations in general and ending racism in particular, but in the absence of any big ideas about these issues, I haven't addressed them here. 

Words. No two words mean precisely the same thing; there are no true synonyms. The writer must say what he means and mean what he says, and the reader must be on the lookout for writerly lapses. The implications of these immutable laws can never be sufficiently explored. 

Dates, Dates, Dates. Long after the rest of the site assumed some heft, this section retains a fledgling air. As of this writing, the next entry will be 1766, the year in which the first restaurant ever opened in Paris. 

Reading Matter. People used to talk about 'the arts and literature,' implying that literature is something different, and it's too bad that they've stopped. At least two factors distinguish the pleasures of literature from those of music, painting, the theatre, and so on. First, everybody traffics in the literature's medium, language. We all speak, and most of us can read and even write. Literature may or may not be as difficult to command as the arts, but its territory grades imperceptibly into the commerce of everyday social life. Second, the writer writes in solitude, as does the reader read.  

Audience. This department gives me the biggest headache, because I am not a journalist. I won't say anything unkind about journalism, and I would be a hypocrite if I did, for I consume great quantities of it. But my sense of time and timing is not that of a journalist. The journalist's 'au courant' is my obsolescence. It is not my intention to write reviews of anything.  

Music. Once upon a time, I was the music director of Houston's commercial classical radio station, KLEF-FM. As a graduate of the Liner Note Academy of Music Appreciation, I have a brain that's stuffed with factoids about great composers, which I try very hard to keep off the site.

Culinarion. There used to be a culinary shop in Paris that went by this name (indeed, it may still be there), and I appropriated the name because, well, even I am susceptible to the cool. This section of the site is about home cooking, fine dining, and culinary literature (a field that comprises, needless to say, the history of cooking).

Links & Letters. For further natterings on these matters, click here. Check out the links. Then complain about how few there are by dropping me a line!