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Veteran journalist on the highs and lows of 50 years in Asia

Tables were thumped, bottles were emptied and off-key songs resounded in Seoul’s La Cantina – the oldest Italian restaurant in South Korea – on Saturday evening as foreign correspondents gathered to celebrate the 80th birthday of one of their number: Don Kirk, an American journalist who has been reporting on Asia since 1965.

Since that year, the still-working old Asia hand has built up a formidable clipping file of stories covering everything from Vietnam’s Tet offensive to Korea’s “Economic Miracle,” while also finding time to pen a shelfful of books and amass families on three continents.

Then it was Indonesia, where an abortive coup took place. For the chaotic island nation, this would be “The Year of Living Dangerously.”

“I was stringing for a bunch of papers including the New York Times, the Washington Star and the Daily Telegraph, traveling around Indonesia,” he recalled. “About 300,000 people were killed in that bloodbath.” Despite the scale of the carnage, he was not unduly traumatized, courtesy of prior experience in inner cities in the US. “I had previously covered stories in Chicago and New York, so had covered the run of fire, police and scandal.”

Attribution: Andrew Salmon,
Full article: Don Kirk 80th Birthday

Classmates who barely knew each other celebrate life after kidney transplant surgery

Ken Walker & Charlie Bell - Classmates who
barely knew each other celebrate life
after kidney transplant surgery
(The George Washington University Hospital)
Kenneth Walker and Charlie Ball walked down the hallway at The George Washington University Hospital together Thursday, just three days after they went under the knife when Charlie donated his kidney to Kenneth.

"You feel better instantly," Walker said. "You really never or rarely get a new lease on life. I got one, and I'll be grateful for the rest of my life."

Walker had been on dialysis for the past 18 months. He was seeking out a new a kidney everywhere and then he went on the listserv of the all-male class of 1969 at D.C.'s Archbishop Carroll High School and asked for help.

His former classmate, Charlie, who is now living in California, did not remember Kenneth but volunteered anyway. They later discovered they were a match.

"I didn't feel nervous at all," Ball said. "I just feel blessed to be able to do something extraordinary."

"Was it rough?" ABC7's Sam Ford asked the two former classmates turned friends.

"Day by day the recovery is slow, but it's good," said Ball.

Attribution:  Sam Ford/ABC7,
Full Story: Surgery

MCANA's Second Annual Best New Opera Award Goes To David Hertzberg's 'The Wake World'

MCANA is the only North American organization for professional classical music critics. The association was incorporated in 1957, and early members included leading critics such as Paul Hume of the Washington Post, Irving Lowens of the Washington Star, Miles Kastendieck of the New York Herald Tribune and Harold C. Schonberg of the New York Times. Current members include critics at the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Montreal Gazette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, San Francisco Chronicle, Toronto Star, and Washington Post; regular contributors to the Wall Street Journal, Gramophone,, Musical Toronto and Opera News; as well as program annotators and broadcast journalists. The organization is a member of the National Music Council. In 2013, MCANA launched Classical Voice North America, a web publication for reviews, features, and commentary with readers in 87 countries.

Attribution: Opera News Desk,
Full story: MCANA

‘The mayor saw it with his own eyes:’ Reporter chronicles 1968 chaos of DC riots

Earlier that Thursday evening, [Paul] Delaney, a City Hall beat reporter, had filed his story for the day and headed out with colleagues to a Pennsylvania Avenue haunt, the Hawk ‘n’ Dove. They had a few post-deadline drinks and had just put in their dinner orders when the waiter came rushing back to the table: Martin Luther King had been shot in Memphis.

“We told them, cancel dinner! We jumped up and went back to the paper,” Delaney recalled.
After Delaney learned of King’s killing, he and his fellow City Hall reporter, Ron Sarrow[sp], headed right for 14th and U.
Attribution:Jack Moore -
Full story: Delaney

‘Everything was on fire’ — remembering the DC riots 50 years later

Walter Gold was then a nightbeat reporter for The Washington Star, familiar with the seedier sides of 14th Street. (“I knew the bootleggers, the prostitutes … They accepted me, and I accepted them,” he recalled).

After the riots broke out, he was on his feet in the streets for 18 hours straight. On the second day, as black smoke choked the horizon, he recalled climbing 13th Street where it rises steeply to a hill.

“You could pretty well see all of downtown Washington,” he said. “And to see the heavy smoke coming out of those areas: 14th Street; H Street; 7th Street. You figured, ‘Oh my God: Are we being invaded?’ … And there was some fear that this would lead to some terrible catastrophe for Washington.”

Attribution: Jack Moore,
Full Story: MLK

The Innovator Who Introduced Cherry Blossoms to the U.S.A.

In late March 1908 Fairchild gave a series of lectures in the D.C. area. He described his travels and recalled his first view of the sakura in Japan. He ended each lecture by displaying a photograph of the unsightly speedway near the Washington Monument. What an excellent place, he mused, to plant cherry blossom trees. Shortly after, in the Washington Star, Fairchild’s thought was given front‑page treatment. If the trees were planted soon around the Tidal Basin’s speedway, they could bloom the following spring; and not long after, the newspaper reported, “Washington would one day be famous for its flowering cherry trees.”

Attribution: Daniel Stone,
Full Story: Cherry Blossoms