Tuesday, August 30, 2011

more on the storm damage in the Catskills

our good friend and fellow transplanted Southerner Richard Giles talks about the recent flood damage to his Lucky Dog Farm in Hamden, New York
(video courtesy of the fine folks at the Watershed Post)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Irene Is Not Over

the towns of Margaretville and Fleischmanns are under water, all Delaware County roads are closed and people are being evacuated by helicopter.

go to the Watershed Post for updates and send your thoughts and prayers towards the Catskills.

more videos from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene (Astoria, New York)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

pre-Irene grocery shopping

so yes, our plans have changed.

my mother-in-law celebrates a birthday on Monday so the original intent was a trip to New Jersey on Friday, back to the city on Sunday evening for a birthday dinner (David Burke Townhouse), then Monday morning you sure look fine blah blah blah.

but Hurricane Irene suggests that she may visit this weekend so we go to New Jersey a little earlier on Friday, buy health food store groceries before dinner, take the train back immediately following dinner (A Toute Huere in Cranford (thanks Alex!)) and a stop at local grocery store on the way home.
we buy peas and Mountain Dew and peanut butter and peanut butter and water and water and potato chips.
we do not buy bread or Coke Zero because they are completely out of both.

this is not a complaint.
this is not a problem.
we're not going to starve (though it might help to have a little more caffeine in the house).
we're fine.
and we decide to go to another grocery store this morning for bread and Coke Zero.

which we do.

they have Coke Zero (I grab three 2-liters).
we think they have bread because we see it in a passing grocery cart, but we don't actually make it over to the bread section of the store because there are 20+ people in the Express Line.
it runs out the aisle, past the Entenmann's, past the refrigerated Pillsbury biscuits, past the eggs (white, brown, organic and cage-free and factory) and the cottage cheese and the ricotta cheese and the block cheese and the shredded cheese.
it runs past the Weight Watchers and Healthy Choices, past the frozen pizzas (Celeste and Jeno's and Ellio's) and fifty-seven different kinds of popsicles all the way to the Ben & Jerry's and Haagen-Dazs and Breyer's.
we leave the store empty-handed.
(the above video is from grocery store #2 which, you can tell, we also left empty-handed)

we're home now, and may actually stay.

Monday, August 22, 2011

the last book I ever read

from Barry Estabrook's Tomatoland:

Less than an hour after leaving Naples, you round a long curve and enter the city of Immokalee (pronounced broccoli). A few years ago, county officials attempted to bring a veneer of vaguely Latino urbanity to the main drag by laying down a paving-stone median and crosswalks, planting some small palms, and erecting fake antique streetlights. Maybe the hope was that tourists passing through would not notice conditions a block or so away. Downtown Immokalee is a warren of potholed lanes leading past boarded-up bars and abandoned bodegas, moldering trailers, and sagging, decrepit shacks. The area is populated mostly by Hispanic men, although you will see the occasional Haitian woman (a holdover of an earlier wave of ethnic farm laborers) walking along the sandy paths that pass for sidewalks with a loaded basket of groceries balances on her head. Scrawny chickens peck in the sandy yards, and packs of mongrels patrol the gaps between dwellings, sniffing at the contents of overturned garbage cans. Vultures squabble over a run-over cat lying in the middle of a street. Immokalee's per capita income is only $9,700 a year, about one-quarter of the national average. Half of the people in the city of fifteen thousand live below the federal poverty line. Two-thirds of the children who enter kindergarten drop out of school without high school diplomas. Your chances of becoming a victim of violent crime in Immokalee are six times greater than they are in the average American municipality. On the crime index, where zero is the rating given to the most dangerous areas in the United States and one hundred is the rating given to the safest, Immokalee comes in at one. Even the police there are sometimes criminals. Glendell Edison, a deputy sheriff who patrolled Immokalee for fifteen years, was sentenced to ten years in prison after being convicted for extorting money from drug pushers and possessing cocaine and crack. Florida's largest farmworker community, Immokalee is the town that tomatoes built.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

how Walker Percy might fit in all of this (part two)

we've talked before about how Walker Percy might fit in all of this, specifically about The Last Physician: Walker Percy & the Moral Life of Medicine, the book that Carl Elliott co-edited, and the foreword where Carl writes about his decision to turn away from medicine (I was never faced with that decision, by the way, so this isn't like an example of parallels, or at least not neat ones).

and, as mentioned before, there's a chapter by filmmaker Ross McElwee (McElwee's Time Indefinite is the last movie I ever saw, though I've certainly seen it before), whose father and brother were doctors, entitled "The Act of Seeing with One's Own Eyes," part of which goes like this:

Writing would provide for Percy what medicine could not: a way to undertake that "search" that Binx Bolling would describe in The Moviegoer. It would give rein to all of Percy's observational powers, powers that he could train on his personal past in his death-haunted South, as well as into the future on the possibility of finding some sort of redemption.

soon (very soon) I'll be revisiting Conversations with Walker Percy for my final prep for my final 49 year old interview.

rock and roll hoochie coo
lawdy mama bite my shoes

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

a little more help, please

The barbecue’s been ordered.
Thank you.

And this afternoon I interviewed two-time Space Shuttle astronaut, four-time mother Susan Still Kilrain.
Susan was my 225th 49 year old interviewed and, except for talking to myself tomorrow evening (an occurrence more rare than some of you might suspect), I may be done.
And I’m okay with that.
In fact, I feel pretty good about it.
Thank you.

But as we close in on the final hours of a rather involved project as well as a certain segment of life, it doesn’t surprise (me at least) that a certain woulda shoulda coulda tone has poked its nose through the barely open window.
And I’m okay with that.
In fact, I feel pretty good about it.

Along the way more than one person remarked how wonderful it woulda shoulda coulda been if this project had been filmed, made into a movie of sorts (maybe because people don’t read anymore (damn video games)) and I’ve never disagreed. I mean, sure it woulda shoulda coulda been completely impossible to cover 225 interviews with me and the 225 participants spread, literally, all across the world, but it sure woulda shoulda coulda been nice.

But Thursday we’ll be involved in some version of a celebration and I’ll be meeting, face-to-face, a number of the 225 49 year olds who were kind enough to share their thoughts and time and feelings with me for the very first time.
And that can be filmed and perhaps put to good use at a later time.

Does anyone have thoughts, time, feelings, suggestions and/or advice on how to locate someone (preferably with a video camera and some kind of talent to stand behind it) willing to affordably shoot a couple hours on the Lower East Side this Thursday evening in a grasp for the larger, artistic good?

Thank you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

is nothing sacred?

on the off chance that the constant churn of our country's political and economic systems is not quite enough to make you get in touch with your *nauseated self, know that Mitch Easter, Let's Active founder, co-producer/co-engineer of R.E.M.'s Murmur and Chris Stamey's right-hand man for the recent Big Star's Third tribute, has had seven guitars stolen (follow the link for serial numbers and descriptions).

Monday, August 8, 2011

Michelle's Must-Read List

the August 15th issue of the New Yorker contains Ryan Lizza's Leap of Faith: The Making of a Republican Frontrunner, a rather extensive history of how and why and when Michelle Bachmann came to her core beliefs.

Bachmann, a Republican Presidential candidate and Tea Party darling, has stumbled over more than a few facts during her campaign, but has thus far managed a bit more grace in replacing some of the obviously divisive language of her far right-wing Christian beliefs (she got her law degree at Oral Roberts University, her husband gained his "pray the gay away" counseling degree at Pat Robertson's Regents University and the couple just recently withdrew their membership from the Salem Lutheran Church, a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod whose tenets suggest that the Pope is the Anti-Christ) with more inclusive terms like "liberty." you know, kind of like when George Wallace adopted the phrase "states rights" (wink wink).

yes, a more or less successful transformation, as long as you don't believe that anything more than the word liberty is actually inclusive.

according to Lizza, Bachmann's State Senate campaign website (about 10 years ago) contained book recommendations under the heading "Michelle's Must-Read List," and number three on that list was the 1997 biography Call of Duty: The Sterling Nobility of Robert E. Lee by J. Steven Wilkins, a graduate of the University of Alabama, the pastor of the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church of Monroe, Louisiana since 1989, as well as "the leading proponent of the theory that the South was an orthodox Christian nation unjustly attacked by the godless North."

the Wilkins book, the book listed as number three on Bachmann's posted "must-read list" just about a decade ago, suggests that "Slavery, as it operated in the pervasively Christian society which was the old South, was not an adversarial relationship founded upon racial animosity. In fact, it bred on the whole, not contempt, but, over time, mutual respect. This produced a mutual esteem of the sort that always results when men give themselves to a common cause. The credit for this startling reality must go to the Christian faith. . . . The unity and companionship that existed between the races in the South prior to the war was the fruit of a common faith."

and you probably didn't have to look at the picture of Wilkins above to tell he was a white man, did you?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

not that you asked . . .

but we're 75% through the weekend (more or less) and it's hot and sticky both inside and out though a little more rain's in the forecast.

and we're getting closer and closer to a number of ends and a few beginnings and since waking up Saturday morning I've had hour long conversations with both 2008 Tony Award winner Stew (who is in Berlin) and Poison drummer Rikki Rockett (who will turn 50 tomorrow within the confines of South Dakota).

I've also consumed Thai food, gone for a walk, rewritten a brief album review for Spin and watched Just Go With It, which was the least enjoyable of the six activities by far (though rewrites are hardly ever my first choice for any day).

Monday, August 1, 2011

we've got trouble, right here in Kings of Leon City

so according to Rolling Stone (Matthew Perpetua has the scoop), the Kings of Leon have canceled their remaining U.S. tour dates, which should come as no surprise to anyone paying any recent attention at all to the band.

and though the Followills have previously participated in familial fisticuffs, it sounds like the more recent, less physical conflicts may ultimately prove more damaging.

I wrote a KoL piece back in the day (2007) when the band was wondering when, if ever, they would hit in America, that was picked up by a number of alt-weeklies (St. Louis and Kansas City and Houston and . . . ).
and then I was in the photographer's pit (see above) at Madison Square Garden on the night that their stateside ascension became undeniable.

but in between, just before they "broke" actually, I interviewed lead singer and songwriter Caleb Followill (recently married and, if the rumors are true, the central figure in the band's recent trials) for the Village Voice in what very well may be his longest published conversation.

of course, long does not always mean good, but I'm sure you can make the compromise later in some kind of super committee.