Christopher Sandford

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Seattle’s Summer of Hate
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Seattle’s Summer of Hate

“We’ve got four blocks in Seattle that you just saw pictures of that  is more like a block party atmosphere. It’s not an armed takeover… We could have the Summer of Love.”
—Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan
 

These sanguine and rather 

Is Seattle Dying?
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Is Seattle Dying?

Not long ago, I found myself sitting one sunny Friday afternoon in the Unity Museum in Seattle, notebook in hand, as a group of fresh-faced college undergraduates participated in a debate over whether or not their city is dying. The

Lost and Found in America
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Lost and Found in America

One Saturday night last summer I found myself sitting on a warm, grassy knoll outside Missoula, Montana, watching a blood-red sun set behind a cup in the hills with the snow-fringed Bitterroot Mountains beyond, while in the foreground an elfin,

Ask Jeeves
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Ask Jeeves

Some of the best-loved characters in English literature are observed only dimly through the eyes of an unreliable first-person narrator; like fish seen through the glass of a tank, they swim toward us, momentarily dazzling in their colors, before receding

American Artisan
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American Artisan

Whenever Robert Valade embarked on a commissioned piece, or simply took his hammer and chisel to cut an exquisitely fashioned design into a gift for a friend, he first bowed his large head and prayed to God to help him

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Gone to Pot

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From the December 2016 issue of Chronicles.

It is seven o’clock on a peaceful late-summer evening here in suburban Seattle, and I’m sitting in my back garden smoking marijuana.

Passively smoking, I should add, lest I shock any reader by

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To See and to Speak

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From the June 2012 issue of Chronicles.

Most retrospectives take the Swinging Sixties, and more particularly Swinging London, on their own terms.  “Society was shaken to its foundations!” a 2011 BBC documentary on the subject shouted.  “All the rules came

Khrushchev and Me
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Khrushchev and Me

Around 50 years ago Basil D’Oliveira, a South African-born, olive-skinned professional cricketer who emigrated to England and qualified to play for his adopted home’s national team, was as controversial a sportsman in his way as Muhammad Ali, or Tommie Smith

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True Grit

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A remark one often hears from the current crop of film critics is that John Wayne might indeed merit the iconographic status conferred on him by tens of millions of ordinary cinemagoers around the world, were it not for the

Sicced on Citizens
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Sicced on Citizens

Nowadays, the federal government is the closest thing many Americans have to a religion, with those employed by it regarding themselves as a priesthood.  Blind faith, if not dependency, tends to take over from observation.  But there are other likenesses:

The Satan Club
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The Satan Club

At last, the Tacoma Public Schools’ board has recognized the obvious educational potential of the Prince of Darkness.  For years, this hopelessly hidebound and reactionary institution has restricted itself to providing what it calls “a welcoming, nurturing environment [to] .

Sounds of the Sixties
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Sounds of the Sixties

To address the main question first: Yes, they really can.

That’s the definitive answer to America’s burning cultural debate of the 1960’s about whether or not the Monkees could actually play their musical instruments.  Perhaps you remember the general contours

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Our Progressive Sexual Apartheid

I recently attended a rock concert where the headline act—an artful blend of political correctness and antic comedy dressed in a leopard-skin overcoat under a silver wig—lectured us at some length on the need to respect women.  His remarks were

Gone to Pot
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Gone to Pot

It is seven o’clock on a peaceful late-summer evening here in suburban Seattle, and I’m sitting in my back garden smoking marijuana.

Passively smoking, I should add, lest I shock any reader by this sorry lapse, but smoking nonetheless.  This

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Pomp and Circumstance

The red-faced, middle-aged man with the bullhorn standing in London’s Oxford Street cut straight to the chase.  “If,” he shouted, “Oliver Cromwell had been here today and had seen us all bowing and scraping to this ridiculous old woman and

The Sentinel
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The Sentinel

“Don’t mention the war,” my grandfather told me a few minutes before our guest, an old friend from the Business Administration faculty at the nearby university, joined us for lunch.  This was in Tacoma, Washington, in the summer of 1975,

Sizing Up the Feline Uproar
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Sizing Up the Feline Uproar

We all have our perspectives.  In London recently, I found that many of the locals had stayed up until the early hours of a wet Monday morning to watch Super Bowl 50 on television, and judging from the T-shirts being

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EMP (“Are You Experienced?”)

Is rock music truly an art?  This question has never met with a straightforward answer, either by the musicians themselves or the many who venerate them, and it hangs over the massive bulk of the Experience Music Project and the

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The Future of Publishing

In 2004, a middle-aged English businessman named George Courtauld decided to put together a slim, illustrated album for his three young sons.  It was called The Pocket Book of Patriotism.  The original idea had come to him on a

Pax in Our Times
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Pax in Our Times

In 1970’s London, things were a bit more rudimentary than they are today: You considered yourself lucky to get through 24 hours without losing your electricity thanks to the latest “industrial action” (strike, to you and me), the trains were

Britain Decides
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Britain Decides

There’s something admirably old-fashioned about a British general election.  Instead of the two years of incessant blather we get over here (“Just 11 weeks until the first GOP debate!” I heard recently on FOX News), the whole thing is over

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Trashed

This is a tale of two cultures.  The first is that of the 1960’s Britain where I grew up.  By and large, the taxpaying householder was still the unchallenged master of his domain.  The phrase “An Englishman’s home is his

Detroit: The Calm After the Storm
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Detroit: The Calm After the Storm

The message on the downtown wall was brief, and the writer got straight to the point.  “Whitey,” it read, “Get out!  Your [sic] stupid f–ken [sic] prejudice [sic]!  Hit Eight Mile Road!”  After a

Brian Williams’ Job
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Brian Williams’ Job

You know within a few moments of meeting him whether a “celebrity” is going to be a regular guy.  It’s not just the winning smile, or his willingness to pose for endless selfies; it is whether or not he’s matured

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It’s a Drag

That characteristic feature of our age, the impressively feckless adolescent indulged by a craven and cynical media, reared its head this past October 15 in the rural community of Randle, Washington.  For reasons known only to themselves, the authorities at

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Delivering the Goods

My local post office in suburban Seattle seems to be rigged to discourage customers these days.  When you ask for the slightest bit of “consumer assistance”—as their cheerful mission statement on the wall promises they’re only too happy to provide—they

A Very American Hotel
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A Very American Hotel

Forty years is a long enough stretch, but it seems far less than half a lifetime ago when, as a surly British teenager, I found myself clutching an all-day pass to the 1974 World’s Fair in Spokane, Washington.  I

Middle-Class Pretensions
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Middle-Class Pretensions

When I was growing up in England 50 years ago, the newspapers still periodically caused a certain amount of mirth by “outing” a national figure as not some impeccably Eton-reared patrician, as his public image seemed to imply, but a

That Special Relationship
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That Special Relationship

John Kennedy and Harold Macmillan were the odd couple of the Special Relationship.  Conjuring a picture of them from the cuttings files and obituaries, they seem almost comically mismatched.  For much of the three years that they overlapped in their

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My Big Brother

Not long ago, while reading A.J.P. Taylor’s impressively turgid English History: 1914-1945, I found, suspended in the tepid depths of all the fussily annotated tables and statistics, a sentence that all but knocked me out of my chair.  It

Mick Jagger at 70
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Mick Jagger at 70

“Ooh ooh baby, I got a message for you,” Sir Mick Jagger croons, among other endearments, on the most recent Rolling Stones single, the aptly titled “One More Shot.”  The creative muse may have gone south for Jagger and the

Never See His Kind Again
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Never See His Kind Again

My father, Sefton Sandford, died last November 11, which somehow appropriately was Veterans Day.  He was 87.  Any child’s judgment is apt to be subjective on these occasions, but I remain stubbornly of the opinion that he was a

Frost/Nixon
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Frost/Nixon

David Frost is a schizophrenic.  His creative personality bestrides the Atlantic ocean.  When he’s at home in England, Sir David, as he’s known, fronts daytime-television panels and gives splendid summer parties at the country home he shares with his wife,

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High Times for Democracy

When George McGovern died, aged 90, two weeks before the last general election, the obituaries rightly praised his long and fitfully distinguished record as a U.S. representative and senator, his years of military service, his plucky presidential campaign against Richard

Piltdown Man
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Piltdown Man

Virginia Woolf once wrote that human nature suddenly changed in the year 1912.  Such things tend to be at the whim of later generations of critics, but there’s no doubt that the idea of an acceptable form of public entertainment

Julian Maclaren-Ross
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Julian Maclaren-Ross

Probably the first thing that ought to be said about the quintessentially flamboyant, hard-drinking, and doomed British author Julian Maclaren-Ross (1912-64) is that he could really write.  Anyone familiar with the genre will know that there’s a long if not

The Soldier’s Soldier
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The Soldier’s Soldier

At 9:40 p.m. on Friday, October 23, 1942, the night sky on the Egyptian coast west of Alexandria was suddenly lit by three red flares, followed, a moment later, by the unearthly screech of 882 phosphorus-shell launchers and other heavy-artillery

Boyhood and Single-Sex Education
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Boyhood and Single-Sex Education

In Britain, the late 1940’s and early 50’s were probably the hardest years of the 20th century.  For millions of people, the postwar decade was one of icy nights in gaslit rooms, interminable queues, and meals composed of whale fat

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A Mayor for London

Welcome to Britain.  The day I arrived, just as London’s mayor officially declared the city open for the Olympic Games, there were two-hour lines to pass through border controls at Heathrow, and that was just for us lucky British passport

To See and to Speak
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To See and to Speak

Most retrospectives take the Swinging Sixties, and more particularly Swinging London, on their own terms.  “Society was shaken to its foundations!” a 2011 BBC documentary on the subject shouted.  “All the rules came off, all the brakes came off .

Get Back
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Get Back

For some time now, I’ve had it in mind to write a book called Everything You Know Is Wrong.  Among other areas, it would visit various modern celebrities whose fame, it could be said, is more a function of

My IRS Hell
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My IRS Hell

There are better ways to start the week than to walk down to the mailbox on a Monday morning and find a letter bearing the return address “Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation Division.”

The whole ghastly business had its origins in

Scott of the Antarctic
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Scott of the Antarctic

Very long ago, when I was at boarding school in England in the 1960’s, we had a Sunday-morning ritual following chapel.  Mr. Gervis, our remote and forbidding headmaster, assembled everyone in the big hall and read to us from an

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Conan Doyle

On the evening of September 7, 1919, 60-year-old Arthur Conan Doyle sat down in a darkened room in Portsmouth, England, to speak with his son Kingsley, who had died in the Spanish-influenza epidemic ten months earlier.  “We had strong phenomena

Ron Sims
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Ron Sims

People call me up and say they want to beat me to a pulp.  I am, they tell me, a lowlife muckraker, and obviously a racist to boot.  Some of my closest friends express doubts about my sanity.  An apparently

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That Wedding

“She’s such an inspiration.  She’s class.”  That’s how 17-year-old Bianca, in her gold-lamé miniskirt, summed up Kate Middleton, 90 minutes before the British royal wedding.  Like many others, Bianca was positioned alongside the Mall in central London, but unlike most

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Growing Up Too Fast

In 2008, a young friend from the Czech Republic spent six months in the United States, in part to help me research a book on Roman Polanski and the mores of Hollywood in general.  At first she was highly impressed

Johnny Johnson
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Johnny Johnson

For Johnny Johnson, it was always Saturday night.  He was the stuff of fictional heroes who prevail over their circumstances.  A British army doctor who later joined the Royal Navy, Johnny came from a broken home, never married, and eventually

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That Election

The Cabinet Office in London’s White­­hall is not generally a hotbed of tourist activity.  The building’s squat, granite façade is screened from public view by a somehow incongruously lush row of elm trees, and, within, it’s a warren of nondescript,