Author: Tom Robotham

The Rail Way - Left Side

Some years ago, when Norfolk’s elected officials were considering how best to provide enough parking in the downtown area, someone proposed consolidation of garages: the city should have a few large garages on downtown’s outskirts, this person suggested, and provide…

Views On Vouchers - Left Side

When my daughter was 5, her mom and I briefly considered sending her to private school. In the end, we opted for public education. Today, nearly 20 years later, I remain convinced that we made the right decision. In sharing…

Mind Your Business - Left Side

Let me get one thing out of the way upfront: I like some national chain stores. I’ve been to Target, for instance, more times than I can count, for everything from blue jeans to Blu-ray discs. I also like Barnes…

Healthcare: At What Cost? Left Side

Conservative politicians and commentators are fond of proclaiming that the United States has the best healthcare system in the world. But study after study in recent years has demonstrated that this simply isn’t true. On the contrary, a 2010 report…

A Major Deal - Left Side

Twenty years ago, shortly after I moved to Norfolk, I had lunch with my friend Marc, with whom I had once worked at a newspaper in New York City. We’d both grown up there and shared, among other things, a…

Robotham - Back To School

Last summer, when my son Sam was preparing to go off to college, I told him I might join him. “We could take over three or four adjacent dorm rooms,” I suggested, “knock down the walls and create a huge party…

Robotham - Mad About Mad Men

When Mad Men premiered in July 2007, my friend Alexis sent me an email asking if I’d seen it. “It’s absolutely brilliant,” she said. Two years later, I started watching reruns with my girlfriend at the time, and before we…

Robotham - Channel Surfing

Like most American children of the Baby Boom generation, I watched a lot of television while I was growing up. Indeed, I can'’t remember a day without it. As a young child, I couldn'’t bear to miss Roy Rogers and…

Thank you, Mr. Gutenberg

In my column in the October issue—an essay about a local stained-glass artist—I noted that I am fascinated by practitioners of traditional crafts of all kinds. They remind us of the value of slowing down, paying attention to aesthetics and…

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

When I was in graduate school, I wrote a paper about the role of white “liberals” in the Civil Rights movement. The gist of my argument was that in some respects they were a greater hindrance to the advancement of…

No Mere Frill

The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, strategems and spoils; the motions of his spirit are dull as night, and his affections dark as Erebus; let…

Glass Masters

I’'ve always admired people who practice traditional crafts. Indeed, through future columns or feature stories, I hope to introduce you to a variety of artisans in Hampton Roads. I’m especially interested in the letter-press operation at Old Dominion University. I’d…

Get Up and Sing

I have a confession to make: About a year ago, I fell in love with karaoke. Yeah, go ahead—snicker if you want to. A lot of people do. “Really,” one smirking friend said to me recently when I told him…

Inner Order

Early in March, as Old Dominion University’s spring break was approaching, I thought a lot about what I should do with my week off from teaching. The winter of 2011 was difficult for me. Perhaps I suffer from seasonal affective…

The Kindle Revolution

A couple of months ago, I was seized by a strange and inexplicable desire: I decided that I wanted a Kindle. That might not seem particularly strange to you. After all, Amazon sold about 2.5 million Kindles in 2009 and…

Saddle Up

I’'ve loved horses for as long as I can remember—and yet, as a child, I rarely encountered them. The seeds of my passion were planted by television shows, movies and books. I longed to ride like Roy Rogers—or better yet,…