Archive - 2007

Happy, Smart, but Still Fascinated

I was listening several days ago to a short program on KXCI, a weekly feature called "Growing Native with Petey Mesquitey". Petey is the real deal, a unique talent in residence at KXCI, the local community radio station. Every 5-minute or so episode of his show he tells a brief story about some experience he had recently out in the outdoors and what plants or animals he encountered. It might be discussing his trek out to find a christmas tree, or the blooming of some special flower, or finding some strange bug. I've listened to him several times, and even attended a live appearance he did in town, though I've not followed him obsessively or anything.

But last week I realized what makes him so unique: he's a combination of 3 characteristics that no one else I've encountered in the field (of nature writing) really brings together:
1) He obviously knows his subject. He can name the latin names of every organism he comes across, and talks extensively about the details of its appearance, behavior, life cycle, etc.
2) Despite this extensive knowledge, he is REALLY EXCITED and intrigued about everything he talks about and does, and has a deep emotional and spiritual connection to nature.
3) He's happy and optimistic about it all.

This is pretty exceptional. Many writers and thinkers about nature know the science, but are cold and clinical about nature. Others have this (occasionally wackadoo) spiritual link going on but they don't know the details, the science. And some even have both of these but they look at it all through a dark lens of "it's all going away and doomed, isn't that sad. we're fucked." Charles Bowden or Ed Abbey are good examples of the latter. They know their stuff, they feel it too, but where they go with it is pessimistic and negative.

Petey, though, somehow avoids that trap and just exalts in the beauty and simple pleasures of the outdoors.

I think this kind of take on things is really really important. People must know the threats, but they also must be inspired to simple enjoy. Otherwise, the only response can be to throw up one's hands in hopelessness.

season's shinings

Bahia de Kino - 1I have mucho things to blog about but i haven't been prioritizing it. I guess I'll start with a brief mention of our trip to Bahia de Kino for my birthday and xmas. It was awesome. Great fun, great getaway. Warm, sunny, quiet.
There are photos.

Other fascinating subjects, coming soon.

Xmas/Bday Trip to the Beach

Today through Tuesday we're going down south to the beach at Bahia Kino, Sonora, Mexico. It's about a 5 hour drive. We'll be offline and away from cell reception and it will be most probably quite wonderful.

I just woke up, a bit hungover from a late party, and I need to pack. Just wanted to sign in and say, happy holidaze and don't expect another post here till wednesday at least.

The ABCs of Fuck Myspace

Here's a really great punk critique of MySpace:

Though it's a rough draft, it's really important, important enough that I made it into a printed-out, stapled zine that I plan to put in piles at Dry River.

I can't tell you how frustrating it's been for me to see all bands and even progressive political organizations and even Dry River, this anarchist radical anticapitalist venue that I help to manage, come to depend on MySpace. It's so sick and this little zine touches on all the main reasons why.

Read it and pass it around to your musician and activist friends.

Hedges on WTR

Chris Hedges plugs war tax resistance in a comment in The Nation, December 10 issue.

A country that exists in a state of permanent war cannot exist as a democracy. Our long row of candles is being snuffed out. We may soon be in darkness. Any resistance, however symbolic, is essential. There are ways to resist without being jailed. If you owe money on your federal tax return, refuse to pay some or all of it...

For him, a war with Iran is the breaking point that will push him into that tactic. Unfortunately he fails to mention that others have been doing it since Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Vietnam... or World War 2.

Naco Wall Protest

Yesterday I went down to Naco for a protest of the border wall. A small protest. Cold and windy protest. The local paper covered it, at least.

I went down to film, and especially to interview young people from the community. There were about 5 punk or activist radical kids from Tucson, some not-so-young people like me from Tucson, a bunch of older folks from Bisbee and Naco, and that's about it, other than one 15 year old from Bisbee.

I interviewed her, but it was on a Canon XL-1 I had to borrow and I found out that XL-1s don't have built in external mic jacks, you have to buy separately a mic module that you attach. And the owner of the camera hadn't done that. We'll see how it turns out.

I had to borrow that camera because the Pan Left camera (we're down to just one now) I was going to use didn't get returned to the studio in time by the last person to use it. Really pissed me off. I'm at the point where I want to just buy my own nice camera. I just need another $2000 or so. So if you want to contribute to the Steev pro camera fund let me know, or donate online.

Woke Up This Morning

I've been keeping a journal for 21 years. This blog for 3 and a half years (and almost 1000 entries).

I can't tell you how I found this (wink) but there's an interesting piece in the New Yorker about diaries. In this text the writer, Louis Menand, makes it clear that there's a difference between a journal, a blog, and a diary, and I of course agree, though the lines blur at times. I have always called my journal a journal. Diary smacks of something more pedestrian and tacky, a slavish record of exactly what happens each day, something to be disciplined about - like being on a diet, or trying to be, Menand says - something teen girls write in and fight to keep their little brothers from reading. Journals are more literary, more discriminating. And yet Menand drifts in his examples between diaries and what seem more like journals even in his estimation.

Desert Drizzle

Lately it's been a cloudy, dreary, watery gloomworld here in Tucson. It reminds me of Portland. It reminds me of the weather I came here 2 years ago to get away from. It sucks. It makes me glum and melancholy and I know it's good for the plants and if you're from here or have been here for longer than me you can cheer but it just makes me feel down, and makes it easier for anything else that goes wrong to have a much heavier, soul-crushing import than normally. I really need the sun to come back.

Rain rain go away.

(To match the weather, by coincidence I'm currently listening to a song by the Flaming Lips called "Jesus Shooting Heroin.")

15,000 Songs

Until this spring, my mp3 collection was consisted of something like 25 GB of diskspace. It was manageable and I sort of had a handle on what I had and what I liked. It had been growing slowly, maybe 5% a year for the last 8 years or so, as I gradually converted my physical musical collection to digital files, or acquired stuff from friends.

However, starting this spring, my collection exploded in size, dramatically. It's now up to about 80 gigs! I did some trading with a friend, and then when I went to Europe I got tons of new stuff from my brother, friends in Berlin and Prague and Rostock, and then recently a harddrive was donated to Dry River that had about 30 gigs of great stuff on it (in fact, the collection on there was so great that I wish I knew who's it was because he/she might just be a really cool person) that I copied. I've been gradually importing all this new stuff into iTunes because I want to somehow keep it sort of sane, this glob of new stuff I haven't heard yet (or stuff I know but have never had a copy of)....

It's an odd experience... how does one deal with so much new culture just sitting in one huge pile?

Well, I've set up a smart playlist in iTunes that plays only stuff I've recently added, never played, and that hasn't been rated as only 1 star and has never been skipped. I'm still not quite done importing it all, but right now in this playlist I have 6 days, 19 hours and 34 minutes of this new music to listen to.


Anyway, I set it on shuffle and listen in the background all day while I work and it's great, mostly, and when I hate something I rate it 1-star or just skip it, and it varies from Alice Cooper to Thelonius Monk to Kyrgistani folk music to Wir Sind Helden and everything in between.

Nothing Will Stop It Until We Stop Destroying Their Countries

Here's a hilarious clip that demonstrates 1) again, how stupid Bush is and 2) how useless border barriers are.

And here's a pretty cool little video about local sentiment against the border wall in a small Texas town: