I made another soundscape, this one more ethereal, cleaner, less ragged. “Three Letters” is a reference to my current fiction project of the same name. It’s the last composition of one of the characters. for whom the three letters are USA, though each listener can imagine their own.
I’ve published it elsewhere under the old title “Bell and Sword.”
I’ve been experimenting with improvised, time-altered patterns on drums and other percussion to build evocative soundscapes, taking advantage of accidental discoveries along the way. The music resulting from this process aims to grab the listener’s attention with unusual sounds, suggest cinematic images in their imagination and slow the listener’s mind to a more contemplative state. In editing I choose passages that suggest transformation – moving from conflict to calm, for example, or hearing angelic voices amid violence. Each listener will project their own stories onto the music.
I haven’t stopped writing. But this is a very enjoyable way of clearing my mind and exercising other imaginative muscles, so to speak. Working across different media is an exciting extension of writing across different genres, as I have done before. Let’s see where it goes. Enjoy!
I joined Reuters, the international news service, when I was 25. I did some thrilling, fascinating, challenging, occasionally terrifying things over the subsequent three and a bit decades. I got to be a foreign correspondent, an editor, a mentor and a member of journalistic teams large and small in a dozen countries, mostly in the Americas. I was also at times their leader. It was a privilege to work with some fabulous people throughout that time. Now I’m off on new adventures, the exact nature of which will become clearer in the months to come. I don’t yet know myself, but that’s part of it. Still based in New York, blessed in family and friends. May the next 30 years be as exciting as the last 30. Today is day one.
The world is ever more connected via the internet, from cars and power grids to home appliances and toys. That means ever more things are dangerously hackable, security expert Bruce Schneier writes in “Click Here to Kill Everybody.” The title is hyperbolic, but not by much. In some ways, the attack of the killer fridges has already begun. Here’s my review.
Mexico and the U.S. share complex, ever-deeper ties that contradict Donald Trump’s hostile rhetoric, Andrew Selee writes in “Vanishing Frontiers.” Bicultural businesses, movies and even co-hosting soccer’s 2026 World Cup are better signposts to the future than nationalist rants. Read my review.
My review of Michael Reid’s excellent “Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America.”
Dictators and demagogues have come and gone; progress in the region has been impressive. Still, rule of law and effective institutions still lack, Michael Reid writes in “Forgotten Continent.” That makes the next steps toward prosperity harder.
The charismatic Cuban leader resembled other paternalistic caudillos of right and left in his outsized ego, which ultimately stymied his people. Cubans, like other Latin Americans, need institutions more than saviors like Fidel. Venezuela’s leaders are another example.
Shot last summer, the segment on the Central Park obelisk gave me a chance to talk about one of the more Dan Brown-ish background elements of “The Malice Box” without sounding utterly bonkers, so thanks, Indigo Productions! That doomy silhouette standing and turning in front of the obelisk in the trailer is yours truly, putting to use years of doomy-silhouette training at last. It aired last week, I learned today. Watch out for re-runs!
In “Brazillionaires,” Alex Cuadros explores Latin America’s biggest economy through its wealthiest citizens, whose fortunes he tracked as a reporter. It’s a tale of boom, bust and back-scratching among moguls and politicos that sheds a telling light on the nation’s current woes. Read my review.
“Narconomics” by Tom Wainwright is both an extended black joke and a hard-headed analysis of the drug trade as a business (almost) like any other. A largely persuasive case for legalization, and funny to boot. Read my review.