Issue 205 | The Sun Magazine

January 1993

Readers Write

The American Dream

A tricycle, a mobile home, a company man

By Our Readers


When you’ve parked the second car in the garage, and installed the hot tub, and skied in Colorado, and wind-surfed in the Caribbean, when you’ve had your first love affair and your second and your third, the question will remain, where does the dream end?

Mario Cuomo

The Sun Interview

When A Tree Falls In The Forest

An Interview With John Seed

Let me give an example of the scale of the destruction that’s going on. We know that the amount of solar energy necessary to sustain the hydrological cycle in the Amazon jungle — the energy necessary to lift that water into the atmosphere — is equivalent to the energy put out by two thousand hydrogen bombs a day. The vegetation that grows there captures that much energy. It creates a huge heat engine that drives the winds of the world, those winds that the ancient mariners knew, and the same winds that deliver moisture regularly and predictably to North America and to Europe. Those winds don’t simply exist — they’re continuously being created and maintained by large biological systems. The Amazon is one of the vital organs of the living planet.

By Ram Dass
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

How To Kiss The American Dream Goodbye

Here’s one small metaphorical leap from travel literature: the journey of life can be enjoyed even in cheap hotels. This idea is standard in any folk philosophy — better to have modest means and do what you enjoy. Even in the carpeted corridors of yuppiedom, people are considering “downsizing” their frenetic careers, although this is more a search for sanity than the pursuit of an ideal. What I advocate is more radical than winching down from six digits of income to five.

By Patrick Nelson
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Vet

Facing Mike on my doorstep, dressed in my Lands’ End polo shirt and my all-cotton cargo shorts, I felt I was being visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past. Looking at this man, who must have been born in the late forties or early fifties, a man who grew up, as I did, on hula hoops and Twinkies and later the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and who now looked immeasurably old and broken, I knew we were feeling a similar pain just then. I knew he understood that we’d been through the same time and had come out differently.

By Owen E. Dell
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Saturday Matinee

I don’t recall what film was showing that day. I like to remember it as a John Wayne epic, fairly spurting with cinematic testosterone. My platoon was too busy pelting uniformed enemy personnel and innocent bystanders alike with a merciless fusillade of navy beans. The cavernous Birmingham held more than a thousand kids, so there was plenty of chaos to camouflage our bean-shooter blitzkrieg. There’s nothing like the havoc wreaked by smooth-bore bean shooters in the free-fire zone of a dark, crowded, noisy theater.

By Travis Charbeneau
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Call When You Get There

There are no plants, no posters, no homey touches at the driver’s license bureau, just a few desks jammed together under the harsh glare of fluorescents, and seated behind them, in starchy uniforms and neckties, the examiners. The women examiners wear ties, too, though theirs are shorter than the men’s — either as a concession to fashion or evidence of the usual pecking order.

By Sy Safransky

Small Favors

I started using carry-out at the grocery store when I got pregnant. Even when I could still lift the bags, I decided not to. Having put off pregnancy until forty, I didn’t want to take any risks. After a month or two, Cao showed up. He looked Vietnamese, his black hair slicked back, new-employee shiny. At first I didn’t care who carried my groceries, but then I started lining up for the registers he worked. Cao made the extra effort.

By Linda Foust

My Life As Giselle

Giselle didn’t get up and leave when people started talking about the war. She stayed in the conversation, switched to waving her hands in front of other people’s faces instead of her own. When she listened in on the next table, she leaned over and said Pardonnez-moi before offering a pithy rejoinder to something she’d overheard. These talks were possible because people all around her were thinking, she was thinking, it was understood that everyone was thinking, that everyone should think.

By Dana Branscum

Gestures Of Protection

“It’s like a spiritual cruise ship, a love boat,” says Joan. She’s determined to be positive. The lounge on the first floor is decorated with large posters of attractive, radiantly smiling men and women who have given money to the ashram.

By Frances Stokes Hoekstra