By Ted Streuli
Three-dot journalism isn’t something you much anymore. The master was the San Francisco Chronicle’s columnist Herb Caen, who could string together an off-beat anecdote, a weird pun and a bit of political commentary and turn them into a special Pulitzer Prize, which he only referred to as his Pullet Surprise. A series of items and sightems and bumper snickers, each separated from the one that came before with – you guessed it – three dots.
The Robert Durst saga might have finally come to an end Oct. 14 when a jury sentenced the New York real estate scion to life in prison without parole for the 2000 murder of Susan Berman. Durst was hanging out with her in SoCal because things in Connecticut had heated up; authorities couldn’t find a trace of Durt’s wife and they were looking closely at him. It was only nine months after Berman was killed that Morris Black’s body parts started washing ashore in Galveston, and yours truly happened to be the reporter on duty when the eighth grader out fishing with his dad reeled in the first of the garbage bags. Durst, who posed as a deaf, mute woman using the name Dorothy Ciner when he rented a room across the hall from Black, jumped bail only to be caught shoplifting a sandwich and a newspaper in Pennsylvania, was acquitted in that one. But as we say in the news business, that story had legs, and hopefully it has now come to an end. Money might not buy happiness, but it bought Durst some pretty good legal representation over the past couple of decades.
One of the first Reflections I penned for the Club 29 Newsletter was about our ad hoc book club, which consisted of Russ Florence and me and whoever else was in ear shot swapping book recommendations at 15-second reviews. Russ had recommended “Beartown,” for which I remain grateful. I added “The Light Between Oceans” and “All the Light we Cannot See,” for which I’m sure many of you are grateful. The ad hoc Unofficial Rotary Book Club didn’t meet much during the pandemic, so no doubt you’ve struggled to find more great novels. Fear not. Get a copy of “Where the Crawdads Sing,” which is the very best book I’ve read since my 2017 selections. “The Dutch House” is worth your time. “Win” is a Harlan Coben spinoff from his Myron Bolitar series and one of his best if you like quirky-character-detective stories. To participate in the Unofficial Rotary Book Club, put a couple of recommendations in the comments. Or come find us before we eat.
Kudos to our Program Committee, which has delivered some gems. I especially enjoyed hearing former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine talk about our space program. I didn’t get my hand up fast enough for a turn at the mic, but I wanted his thoughts on how the 2001 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster affected public support for NASA in contrast to its highs of the late 1960s. It happened that I was the reporter on duty for that one too, and the personal toll at Johnson Space Center was enormous.
Gotta love the Tulsa driver whose has a license plate on an Infinity that reads N BYOND. And the Norman motorist whose plate asks: TX WHO. As for me, that’s ALL4NOW.
A Gentleman inMoscow – Amor Towles
Klara and the Sun – Kazuo Ishiguro
“The Ambassador: Joe Kennedy at the Court of St James.”
( If not to promote politics in Rotary)