Acrylic on canvas/gunther


September 16, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III

CHANGE OF PACE: Song lyrics (mine) instead of an essay…


I locked the door last night, though it never had a key. You are gone, and I must forget.

Forget the soulful moments, the depth we reached without a word said.

Forget you in my arms, so well-fitted that your heart was in mine, my soul with yours, facing eternity.

Forget our plans together, though I never cared for detail as long as you were here.

Forget your eyes were blue and magnetic, that looking into them made me feel weak but so warm.

I locked the door last night, though it never had a key. You are gone, and I must forget.

Forget the calm we were at, our silence speaking for us.

Forget that being together was a book of understanding. 

Forget I came upon old doubt and could not trust real emotion. I left the embrace and could not return. 

Now I have locked the door, and there is no key.

You have gone away, and I must forget.



The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached at ahgunther@yahoo.com His work can be republished in any form, with credit given.



September 9, 2019

‘Lean on Me’/photograph/gunther

By Arthur H. Gunther III


(also on Facebook)


     Depending on the individual, “pride” is a variable. Some are too proud to accept help of any sort. Others extend their hands in need.

     Truth is, this is an interdependent world, more so every day, and despite the success, even necessity,  of rugged individualism, the idea that it “takes a village to …” is increasingly evident.

    “Lean on me” sometimes not a bad idea.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com, Facebook Messenger.

‘MEDIA’ and discourse today

     Recently, the writer/artist Bill Batson wonderfully cajoled me into speaking before his great Learning Collaborative class of inquisitive adults, at the New City, N.Y., Jewish Center. He asked that my remarks be posted via my essay site. Thanks, Bill, for the invite.

     The topic was “The Changing Role of the ‘Media’ in Social and Civic Discourse Today.”

     Well — “media,” first we have to describe that word, that term. It’s one I have never used, for to lump all information sources under one umbrella blurs individual assets.

 I toiled quite happily for 42 years at the now-defunct Rockland Journal-News out of Nyack, first as a copyboy, then as a photographer, at various editorships, then 20 years as editorial page editor and 25 as a columnist. I continue my column online. I was a newspaperman, I still am, period. Irreverent, rough hewn at times, distrusting of all “facts,” but as sentimental as my mother would want me to be. Never did I think of myself as “media,” nor do I recall that term being used to describe news services until perhaps the 1990s when ever-bigger corporations, many without newspaper portfolio, began to buy news outlets for profit only, involving themselves in newsrooms that publishers generally used to leave alone. And for good reason — it was so as not to disturb fact-gathering.

My friends at magazines were magazine journalists. In radio, then still a strong medium, they were broadcasters but journalists first. People like Ed Murrow and Walt Cronkite. Those types moved to TV where they were newscasters but remained journalists. They were not news readers nor pretty “talking heads.” None of those people back then would have said they were in the “media.”

 They were in their professions to get the facts as they observed them, the journalists’ biblical requirement of “who, what, where, when, how and why.” There was bias then, of course, and newspapers, magazines, radio and TV all reflected that. Yet by reporting relentlessly, the education process continued, affecting social and civic discourse. There was light in darkness, and so progress in civic and social discourse.

When they did the job right, when I did it right, and maybe that was on average 60 percent without luck and 80 with, and despite blatant prejudices of the time, reflected in our work, we helped shape the national and local social and civic discourse of the time simply by reporting on everything we could, from international/national concerns like war, dictatorships, the economy, to local matters such as spot zoning, crooked politicians, wasted taxpayer money, school sports, community doings, so-called “good news.”

Editorialists and other commentators took the facts as reported and presented and offered opinion, which also shaped mores, social and civic discourse.

That was then, the better part of the last half century. Now, with  threats to the

 must-have search for truth that is the spotlight against democracy dying in darkness, we must all be worried. Not only about social/civic discourse but about deliberately planted misinformation, disinformation, prejudice and jingoism, citing media sources as “enemy of the people,” as two world leaders have done in the last 90 years. One was Hitler, the other Trump. 

“Media” — back to that term — has become a lump-them-all-in-one term describing means of communication, yes, but 

seemingly assuming that every information outlet cherishes the same purpose: to inform. Not so. Now  special interests are at work, too. And, without going over to a “deep-state conspiracy,” there is an ever-increasing effort to limit information, controlling the flow through so-called public relations set-ups, through Internet restriction, through dropping press conferences at the present White House. They don’t want questions asked. Even the decline of newspapers is taking advantage of by special interests that do not want the people to know what is happening.

With the increasing loss of print journalism, especially local newspapers and invaluable college sheets, too, with social media such as Twitter offering twits a chance to espouse as well as those who seek to inform, with foreign powers like the Russians, and who knows, with perhaps even embedded nationalists in our government trying to shape opinion in what is becoming an oligarchy, with ever-larger public relations firms blocking access to top executives, school administrators and public officials, we must be concerned about the management of news and the effect on social and civic discourse. Big Brother, with siblings, is in the house.

     What to do?

    The role of news and information-gathering going forward is as it has always been, media label or not. They must inform as much as possible on as much as possible, with no bias, no opinion allowed into the reports. And there must be recognition that the media cannot be the parent. Civility in particular must come from our institutions — religious houses, schools  and the home. And from the standards that communities must insist upon.

We in news-gathering/reporting, and that includes “citizen journalists” today who take to Facebook, Medium, Twitter and other social media, must be the “mirror” of what is happening in social/civic discourse.

And we must do this job relentlessly because even as we speak there are sinister people seeking to tear away the First Amendment draping on Lady Liberty. For our own good, you see.

We readers/viewers must police ourselves, being the buyer who knows to beware, who questions even to the point of the old newspaperman’s irreverence. That is vital given the deliberate planting of falsehoods and social media posts dredging up past comments by journalists and re-quoting out of context.

We must not let up on key issues, such as mass shootings, which fade in the seven-day news cycle. The sinister ones count on that.

They court distraction. We must be an example of civility and open discourse.

We must demand that social media such as Facebook vet their advertisers, to determine if there is dark money behind undue influence-buying. The postings must have disclaimers.  We must press all information sources to cover key issues, not just those that are tabloid sexy or that grab attention for the moment.

(An example of this might be the recent lack of coverage over the mass burning of the invaluable Amazon rain forest versus the short-lived but intensive spotlight on the sad fire at Notre Dame.)

Find news sources you can trust and support them through paid circulation, paid digital, and urge taxpayer-funded national and local news-gathering that is operated in blind trust to avoid government influence. Every county should have such an information source. An ombudsman for unfettered information-gathering, you could say.

Poison spreads in gossip, deliberate or otherwise. Reject it. Know the sources.

Reject, too, insults, half-truths, showboating. This is not who we are.

This great American experiment was initially given nerve juice by such writings as Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.” Over the centuries, newspapers have reported on the doings of the experiment, its failures, its hopes. Letters to the editor have added the voice  of the people. Radio, TV, magazines have joined the march. Now there is social media.

But no matter what you use to obtain information, no matter what opinion you absorb, it is up to the individual to apply common sense to set social and civic discourse.

And do that every day. Demand information. Question. Express yourself. Be responsible. Show class.

Remember, the baddies are multiplying like cockroaches, led by a pied piper. Don’t  be baited. We are all the “media” now, and we must guard the beliefs of the nation’s Founders, working toward a “more perfect union.” Seek the facts. Digest with care. Think for yourselves.



LETTER TO LIA’/acrylic/gunther


September 2, 2019

 By Arthur H. Gunther III


(also on Facebook)


     How many have received the letter Lia has let slip to the floor, her thoughts now focused beyond that red window?

     She has not dropped the envelope, perhaps unable to completely part from the moment. Is the message a sad break or is it offering joy? Is Lia mad — “seeing red” — or is this the red of romance?

     The window is big, the room is wide with blank space, and there is a hallway. All in Lia’s life, too.

    The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com. 



‘BARN DOOR’/acrylic/gunther

August 26, 2019

 By Arthur H. Gunther III


(also on Facebook)

     There probably is a barn in most people’s youth, whether you live on a farm, or you pass the iconic red structures as you grow up. Barns mean work for farmers’ kids but also a distinct playground for childhood imagination, and, later, an irreplaceable repository for memories.

     Those who just pass by can conjure up their own thoughts about throwing hay at one another or boarding animals. You do not have to own a barn to experience the imagination. 

     Barns make a nation, for we cannot exist without food, without farms, without the practicality and essential ingredient that as a barn is to a farm, a farm is to life.

    Barns are usually red because the color was once easiest to mix and durable, but there are other hues, too, just like people. 

Just like emotions.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com. 


‘WASH IN THE FIELD’/acrylic/gunther

August 19, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III


(also on Facebook)

     Imagine all the conversations at the clothesline that women have had in urban/suburban/rural areas; count the dreams/thoughts of so many women hanging wash by themselves. Now you have more talk, more dreams/thought than clothes left to dry.

    There is work in hanging wash, relieved for some today by clothes dryers, but there is escape, too, away from the indoor household routine, even in this routine.

     Words shared over urban clotheslines tethered to a common pole, women pulling the day’s wash on squeaky pulleys from tenement windows; the solitary thought of a woman, or man, or child gathering a wind and cold-stiffened shirt from a line, clothespins reset one after another, all this: reaffirming existence itself.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com, Facebook Messenger.   




‘WHITE ON RED VASE’/acrylic/gunther

August 12, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III


(also on Facebook)

     What is it about white hair?  Mark of maturity, gathered wisdom? Life having lived in depth now aging toward its natural finish? Distinction? 

     Grandma? Encouragement for the young that they, too, can achieve?

     Sacrifice? Selflessness? The lady who bakes great cookies? The man who can fix anything?

     Yes, a topping well-earned, it is hoped. Yet, below the mane can remain the brilliant color of youthful vigor, exuberance, enthusiasm. Life is not over until the finish.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com, Facebook Messenger.


In the corner

‘IN THE CORNER’/acrylic/gunther


August 5, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III


No one should be pushed into a corner — by anyone or even yourself — because that is not the place to make the best decisions. Instead, corners should be of welcome and mystery, of imagination and whimsey, of curiosity and adventure. And not only for children playing games.

     Maybe that is why corners should have cabinets. Open the door and. ….

The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com




July 29, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III


(also on Facebook)

     These two women are in Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home. One is white, prosperous. One is black, African-American, a slave. Presumably, they speak to one another.

   They are at the dawn of a new age, this political, social, economic, human experiment called the American republic, in which “all men are created equal.”

     But not blacks, still slaves. Not women. Not Indians, Native Americans, increasingly dispossessed of their ancient lands in the continuing march of “progress” and manifest destiny. Not the coming waves of immigrants, from whom most of us descend. Not the elderly. Not the addicted.

     The women at the window in 1800 see beyond the Virginia landscape toward a frontier hardly begun. If they were seers, they would also see violence, bloodshed, prejudice, crooked politicians in special interest, human abuse even as the ever-proud, ever-changing flag of a new, emerging nation goes forth, held high, but just for some.

     They know, these two women then of unequal standing, but each unequal to men, that there is already proclaimed justification for the ceaseless frontier and its mistakes as well as its achievements, in the very language of the revolutionary men who by the skin of their teeth won independence. “Toward a more perfect union,” the Preamble to the Constitution reads. There is no second line: “Yet progress must not be so rapid that people are bulldozed aside.”

     The women who stand at this Jefferson window, in the home of the brilliant man who employed his mastery at writing to set the nation’s mission statement but who was also a slaveholder and flawed as leaders are, these women of the nurturing sex in 1800 are in place today, challenging an incomplete march to achieve equality, not only for females but for men, for all races, for the poor, for the forgotten middle class, for immigrants, for the sick and the infirm, for those shoved aside one way or another.

      They will not long remain at the window of 2019 and beyond. They will go forth and become the masters of the American republic’s true manifest destiny. Their time has come.     

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@yahoo.com, Facebook Messenger.



July 22, 2019

By Arthur H. Gunther III


(also on Facebook)

     This is Sarah, but it could be you. She could anyone — of any sex, age, ethnicity, race, belief. Sarah is alone, but not alone. She is with her thoughts, her “me time,” in her space beyond a door.

     There is no competition for her moment alone, no distractions, no need for a lock on the door. No paintings on the wall to detour her imagination. Sarah simply can be with herself — in neutral while the rest of her world is in gear.

     She comes to her room often, even when she is away, for it also exists in her mind, a necessary refuge, when necessary.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman, ahgunther@yahoo.com, Facebook Messenger.