Issue 302 | The Sun Magazine

February 2001

Readers Write

Staying Awake

A still birth, a recipe for orange duck, a young professional pianist

By Our Readers
Sy Safransky's Notebook

February 2001

I don’t believe that clothes make the man. Then why am I still a little proud that I own only one suit?

By Sy Safransky


Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams.

Mary Ellen Kelly

The Sun Interview

Road To Ruin

An Interview With Jan Lundberg

State and federal expenditures on highways and major roads total more than $160 million a day. The Cyprus Freeway in Oakland, for example, cost taxpayers thirty-five hundred dollars per inch. Simply to maintain U.S. roads in their current poor state would cost taxpayers about $25 billion per year. Yet we typically spend only $16 billion per year on maintenance, thus assuring that existing roads will deteriorate. Meanwhile, we spend more than $60 billion per year to widen existing roads and build new ones. Even from a strictly fiscal standpoint, it makes no sense to build more roads when we’re not maintaining the ones we’ve got.

By Derrick Jensen
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Slave Chair

On a spring day in 1958, I circled the table in my grandmother’s dining room, trying to figure out one of her “test tables.” The test-table challenge worked like this: My grandmother set a formal table, purposely committing an array of errors so subtle even Emily Post couldn’t spot them — turning a knife blade in the wrong direction, placing an iced-tea spoon where a soup spoon should be. My job was to do what Emily Post could not.

By Sue Monk Kidd
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


Dispatches From The Nader Campaign

Nobody wants Al Gore to be president. Democrats will vote for Al Gore for only one reason: they hate George Bush. They hate Bush so much they would vote for anyone else — even someone with a record of voting pro-life; even someone who’s in favor of more military spending and against universal healthcare; even someone who supports capital punishment and other forms of institutionalized racism. By accepting all of this, the Democrats have sold their ideals down the river. Their candidates are obvious crooks. At least the Republicans mean it when they say something stupid. The Democrats just say stupid things because they think that’s what the voters want to hear.

By Stephen Elliott
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Halfway Home

I’m on my way back to my native Illinois to begin the second half of my life. At this moment, my wife is getting settled into our new home, with our mismatched furniture and 126 boxes of stuff. We are returning to the Midwest to care for ill and aging parents, to create fresh memories with them, and to repay the unspoken debts we as children owe. With only the memory of what I am leaving, and little knowledge of what’s ahead, I’m running on faith.

By Stephen J. Lyons


The strangest remnant of William was a red party balloon that he had inflated and given to Gary as a joke on his fifteenth birthday, long after Gary had outgrown balloons. William’s sense of humor had been peculiar, but well-meaning. The balloon said, Happy Birthday. Gary stared through the stretched membrane at the invisible breath of his dead father.

By John Fulton

Joyful Noise

As a child, you followed the rules — that was your job. It was wrong to hit your little sister, to giggle or tickle or otherwise revel in pleasure, to take — or even want — the biggest piece. It was right to let your friends go first, to think of other people before yourself, to sit up straight and use the proper fork. It was downright dangerous to disagree.

By Maggie Kast