Photo by the author.

I picked up a bottle of Montepulciano this morning.

The only reason that’s remarkable is it’s a sort of thing I haven’t done in more than a year. Meaning, run out to pick up a bottle of wine to bring to a dinner with friends.

Everything in the past year has been carefully managed to minimize the number of visits to places where I might encounter other human beings. We do errands on days when the stores tend to be uncrowded, and stick with what’s on the list. …


The Republicans won’t leave much once they’ve made off with your right to vote. Here’s what you need to know and say.

Photo by Elliott Stallion on Unsplash

Disenfranchisement doesn’t really roll off the tongue, does it?

That’s a problem.

The word is unhurried. Academic. Writing out all eighteen letters feels like sitting down to read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment while burglars are kicking in the front door and making off with your TV.

What’s needed here are words that fit the urgency of the situation.

Republican legislators in 43 states have introduced more than 250 bills designed to make it harder for you to vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at N.Y.U.’s law school. …


There's some decent evidence Neanderthals were driven to extinction because our more direct ancestors were better able to organize themselves into functional groups, sort of like how Democrats are better than Republican governors at things like public health. Maybe Biden was saying more than he knew.


Here’s an idea that just might make our hope for better days ahead a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Photo by Josh Johnson on Unsplash

There’s something in us that likes to name historical eras, at least the big ones.

The Kennedy administration became Camelot in our collective memory. The American Civil War was followed by Reconstruction. Hear the word “Victorian” and it’s easy to conjure up images of laced-up corsets and drafty houses with colorful paint, even if you don’t know much about the monarch who presided over the high water mark of the British Empire.

Assigning a name to an era is probably something best left to historians. But I’m going to go out on a limb here as a lowly ad guy…


A global pandemic teaches humility about one’s contribution.

Photo by Alessandro Bianchi on Unsplash

It’s a month into the new year. The snow is piling up in my home state of Minnesota. With each new snowfall I clear a path across the front yard to make things easier for the young man who delivers our mail.

In a normal year this eventually becomes a contest between the crumbling vertebrae in my lower back and the relative youth of his legs. The snow keeps arriving and at some point the complaints of the vertebrae win out and I become less diligent about the path.

But the events of the past year will keep me on…


It get’s cold here, but I love burrowing into the city’s beauty and rich culture.

Photo by Dr. Kevin Buda

The temperature has nudged a bit above ten degrees, so it’s time to go for a morning run. It would be warmer if I waited until afternoon, but by then we’re supposed to get snow. Maybe a lot of snow.

Typical winter morning in Minneapolis MN.

Running in ten-degree weather — and I’m talking degrees Fahrenheit here — has its challenges. If the year’s cold weather has come too abruptly your lungs ache the first few times out in it. Luckily winter has arrived on a long, gentle trajectory this year, giving us runners plenty of time to acclimate.

You…


The Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol was a shock but it shouldn’t have been a surprise.

We’ve seen the true colors of the Republican Party. Photo by Dalton Caraway on Unsplash

Right from the start we’ve struggled to define the Trump Administration’s particular brand of populism. Chaos. Authoritarianism. A con. A cult. An alternate reality. White nationalism. Fascism.

Finally we just called it Trumpism.

On January 6 we saw it for what it really is. Mob rule.

It took the brutalization of one of our most sacred democratic shrines to understand that. But look back over the past four years. Trump’s populist rhetoric has always been a thin veneer over something that operated more on the level of the barbarians sacking Rome.

Now the veneer is off. The lies spread by…


An ambitious senator has betrayed our democracy. We should all vow that he will never lead our country.

The United States Capitol in a dignified moment, despite Republicans efforts to turn it into a circus tent. Photo by MIKE STOLL on Unsplash.

America’s fondest hope for 2021 was to get back to something approximating normal life. Maybe even normal politics. And yet, with the new year hardly begun, we are betrayed.

Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri has announced his intention to object when Congress meets to confirm Joe Biden as our next president, joining a group of noisome backbenchers from the House to give one last wheezing gasp to Donald Trump’s fantasy of overturning his defeat at the hands of the people.

The senator’s antics are destined to fail, accomplishing little more than to elevate the stress level of a nation in…


But somehow the Christmas spirit found us anyway.

Christmas is supposed to be about peace, and I guess we got that. Me, my beautiful wife and our geriatric dog.

Home alone, only without even the excitement of an inept burglar duo trying to break in like the storyline of the iconic holiday movie.

Silent night. Silent Christmas morning.

What excitement we had was entirely provided by the dog.

He has decided Christmas is his holiday. His memory seems to be fading along with his vision and his hearing. …


Me and a camel, on location filming a TV commercial.

Sometimes I think each of us is a soul surrounded by a dense and indifferent forest. Writers are the ones who’ve learned to use storytelling to create a pathway in.

That’s the reverse of the more typical view writing — something inside, aching to be let out.

But for me being a writer is all about inviting the outside world in. Giving it a glimpse of what’s buried in all the layers of me. Hoping the world will find something worth attending to. Maybe even taking to heart.

When I was a kid my parents gave me a book of…

Sheldon Clay

Writer. Observer of mass culture, communications and creativity.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store