Some Thoughts #65

On This Issue
    First of all let me tell you about this issue.  I should be used to the up and down flow of each issue, but none the less each time it seems new.  Last time around I had barely enough ads to get the issue together, and this time around I had almost too many.  I had to raise the ad rates because I have been losing money on the past several issues.  In the past 2 years - postage rates increased (overseas drastically) and shipping rates and printing rates have gone up 3 times.  So I was forced to accommodate those increases by charging more for the ads.  Each issue presents me with the same manic drive to get as many things reviewed as I can.  For about 3 weeks straight I live and breath reviews.  I even start to review older tapes that I listen to and any random piece of media that comes my way.  I forsake spending time with friends on weekends and push myself to do more and more reviews.  And then I run out of words.  I try to push myself a bit further and then when it comes time to flow the reviews into the space provided - they always run over.  So with each issue the type gets a bit smaller and it seems I have to start butchering out words to save lines of space and then I end up chopping out reviews all together.  So it’s a never-ending quest to find the balance - to get all the work done and then to fit it in the space provided.  I should know the pattern by now - but each time it seems to come a new.  I can’t add pages (even if I do get enough advertising) because one more set of pages would increase the postage so much that the whole thing would fall apart.  This issue I have a new section - the local punks guide to... which is an attempt to list some of those things that you would look for when you are traveling to a new place.  It’s not intended to be for booking shows or a “book your own life” type thing, more for getting your bearings in a new place - or even being inspired to travel to other places. 
On Books, Inspiration and Sanity
    I had also really wanted to include more book reviews but I saved that for last and then ran out of space before I got to it, so instead I’ll just tell you about some of the books I’ve been reading:
    Dr. Judith Boice, who wrote one of my favorite books, “The Art of Daily Activism”, has a new book called “But My Doctor Never Told Me That! Secrets for Lifelong Health.”  I’ve already found that I relate to her writing voice quite a bit and this time with a straight up health book, once again I found myself really relating.  She practices naturopathic medicine and what I’m learning is that all those seemingly unrelated conditions are actually very much connected - in a way that the “give antibiotics for everything” doctor would never tell you about because they are treating symptoms rather than causes.  This book looks at integrating the whole and I’m finding the big picture gets smaller.
    Another book I happened upon is “Ecology of a Cracker Childhood” by Janisse Ray.  She weaves together a memoir of growing up in a poor Georgia backwoods family on a junkyard with her appreciation for the land (not really taught in her childhood).  She alternates from stories of her father who could fix absolutely anything, and the history of mental illness, with stories of the ecology of the region, of the longleaf pines and the timber industries destruction of an ecosystem.  She writes in a very easy manner and I’m been completely swept up in it.
    “Homage to Chipas: The New Indigenous Struggles In Mexico” by Bill Weinberg, the latest from Verso Press, arrived in my box much to my delight.  This is a gorgeous looking book (like all of Verso’s books).  I started in on the introduction and was immediately captivated by his easy writing style which made me realize that he is Weinberg is the editor of the “Avante Gardening” book from Autonomedia Press that I have loved so much.  I’m looking forward to spending the necessary time with this book.
    While on the political platform, I was also really excited to get a hold of “Globalize This! The Battle Against the World Trade Organization and Corporate Rule” edited by Kevin Danaher and Robert Burback.  I had the opportunity to see Kevin Danaher speak this past spring and was really inspired by his dynamic presence.  He works with Global Exchange and has been involved with a lot of the “within the system” acts of protest this past year - and whether you agree with the tactics or not - I was super impressed when he told of Global Exchanges campaign to get Starbucks to integrate a program of using Fair Trade Coffee by a certain date, or else they would initiate a full scale advertising campaign promoting Starbucks as supporting Sweatshop coffee.  I can’t tell you how excited I was when on the very day he said the ads would start NPR announced Starbucks decision to integrate Fair Trade coffee.  (Of course they didn’t mention the pressure they received to do so, but I knew the deal).  I was impressed.  “Globalize This” starts out with an excellent essay, perhaps the best I read on the WTO protests in Seattle, that was originally printed in the Sun.  I’m really looking forward to get into the rest of this book.  Also worth noting is a book on a similar topic edited by Danaher called “Corporations Are Gonna Get Your Mama”.
    I’m really into books on herbs and natural healing and I’m always on a bit of quest of find good books on the subject, written in a like-minded voice.  I found this very much so in “Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs” by Gail Faith Edwards.  The book is published by Ash Tree Publishing - the same people who do Susun Weed’s books - and it’s no surprise that this book follows the Wise Woman path of healing.  It’s a very nice feeling book that looks at a number of wild-growing herbs - how to understand plant energy and power from the sacred trees to the healing herbs - with advice on gathering and medicine making.  I was extra excited to find out that she also studied under Swami Satchidananda (the founder of the Integral Yoga Institute) - the sort of yoga that I study - the headquarters of which are only about an hour from here.  I love when multiple angels of interest come together in one place - in that “it just makes sense” kind of way.  I’m going to keep this book on hand along with Judith Berger’s “Herbal Rituals” the book that has seriously kept me sane for the past year.  She works through each month focusing on a couple of herbs and plants, weaving in a dense amount of history, folklore and practical information and she really gets into the moods of the months and seasons.  The ability to transform my seasonal sensitivities to a point of embracing the changes and utilizing herbs and teas that flow with those changes is really empowering.
    Karoline picked up a book for me called “Slug Bread & Beheaded Thistles: Amusing and Useful Techniques for Nontoxic Housekeeping and Gardening” by Ellen Sanbeck.  She couldn’t resist the Slug in the title, especially connected to the battle against pests in the house and garden, of which I have been an absolute warrior of this summer.  This book is full of tid-bits and awesome old-style clip art.  This goes well with another book I recently picked up, “It’s So Natural: An A-Z of Environmentally Friendly Hints, Tips & Remedies for Home, Health and Garden.”.  The title says it all really.  The information is taken from a weekly column by Alan Hayes in Australia.  The info is good and the layout and recipes are too.  I love this kind of stuff.
Changing Seasons
    So now I find myself in another one of my favorite seasons.  Summer has been mild, but overnight it has turned to fall.  I got quite a nostalgic kick out of the fact that the day after labor day (the traditional back to school day) brought in this crisp cool autumn air.  Since then we’ve had some really gorgeous perfect fall days - mostly it still feels like summer but without the stifling humidity.  The crisp air and golden glow of the sunlight give me a lot of energy and makes me want to get outside and enjoy the days.  I’m turning my attention towards the fall garden - planting cool weather vegetables - lettuce and leafy greens.  My tomatoes are bearing the last of their fruits though the peppers are still rockin out.  The herbs have started to shoot forth new growth again and soon I’ll be thinking about planting some flower bulbs to bloom in the early spring.  I say it every time - but it’s always so hard to imagine the opposite season while in the midst of one.  Meaning - when it’s hot and sultry it’s so hard to imagine being cold and curled up in a sweater.  But these days we’ve got that change coming on a day to day basis.  One day the air conditioning is running the next I want to put the heat on.  I’m already anticipating the depression that comes as the plants finish out their season and die off.  But I savor in the fact that Richmond has a longer growing season and a shorter winter than my northeast roots.  And I’m continually trying to find ways to combat these little moods - finding the plants that grow best year round - getting fall flowers in the garden and on the porch as the summer ones are giving up. 
    My best friend Karoline came to visit for my birthday (on the 13th with a full moon - I turned 29) and that was rad.  I love birthdays.  I am not one to ever want to be in the center of attention - but damn if I want to have a big bash of a birthday party each year.  When I was young in school I always got the brunt of the birthday party - cause my birthday came too early in the school year.  I’ve tried to make up for it in recent years - organizing parties for myself, asking for surprise parties.  Sometimes it works.  This year is did on a small scale.  It doesn’t help at all when you birthday falls on a Wednesday and you work at night.  But the right people did the right things and it was a special day for me.  I got to spend time with Karoline which is always a treat since she lives in San Francisco and we have less opportunities to see each other now that we’re not both nomadic half the year.  Having her here for those 5 days was like putting me all back on track -- refueling my passion for life and tapping all of my inspiration.  Remembering how great it is to have that best friend next to you to share everything with - even if only for a few days.  It ruled!  And now she’s so cool that she if off to Japan for 3 1/2 weeks with What Happens Next?  I have never known anyone to go to Japan for that long - especially on a band tour (which is usually only a week to 10 days) and I just think it’s so cool that they are going to hit all the possible places you can - even if it means a 14 hour train ride for one show!
At War with Ants
    I have been at war with ants all summer.  I’ve had insect and pest problems of all sorts.  Mice and voles burrowing in the garden (and even in the house plants and cabinets).  And the damn ants.  I swear I have never felt like such a warrior as I do in combating these damn ants.  It seems that every time I turn around I find a new ant nest.  It started in the garden in the spring.  I planted mint and penny royal which is supposed to deter them.  It did not.  But we found an agreement where they weren’t really damaging the plants.  But then I would move a potted plant on the porch and find an ant nest.  Got the point where I would have to move all the pots around weekly to get rid of the ant farms.  Then they would erupt in the kitchen.  I would even find them crawling on me randomly.   I haven’t been this freaked out about bugs since I had cockroaches in NYC.  Talk about something that will stop you dead in your tracks and take instant action.  Sadly I had to give in to some toxic roach spray - such was the degree of my battle.  The final straw was when I went to dig up an old tape in the garage (where I have hundreds of tapes in boxes stored away) and I discovered that the ants had taken a liking to my tapes as well.  There is really nothing more disgusting that the maggoty like nests of ant larvae inside a tape case and all through the tape itself.  Good bye Winter demo, good bye Born Against demo -- there is no saving those tapes.  So my battle took me through each and every tape to find those beyond saving.  Ever since then I’ve been a bit of a freak about the ants - they pop up everywhere.  I’m not a fan of Mrs. mouse either who’s nest of babies I found in my cabinet.  I couldn’t take action against them, but my dog Phooka did, not exactly to my pleasure.  I’m still in the process of plasticing and tinning up everything in my food cabinet as I try to win the battle against momma mouse.
To Vote or Not to Vote
    For as long as I can remember there has been heated debates in punk circles over the issue of voting.  There are those who want to work completely outside of the system, to whom voting would be partaking, and there are those who are willing to work within the system as a part of the attempt to voice their concerns and take what power they are allotted and feel they can do something with it.  I have always had mixed feelings on the subject, though ultimately I think that any real change comes about as a product of both - working with in and outside of the system of the usual channels.  What comes to mind recently, after seeing the effects of activist organizing at the WTO and IMF protests as well as at the party conventions is that with as much organizing that is happening behind these rallies - that if these same masses decided to rally behind someone to elect as a president - a wave could be made.  And for that matter rallying behind local elections would and could be even more important - since this is often where the real impact lies.  It seems that most of the people who don’t want to vote, or who refuse to participate in the system of elections don’t like the two-party system and feel that there is little difference anyway.  So with that in mind - think of the possibilities of organizing to the point of making a statement against the two -party system.  Ralph Nader is someone who is sort of in this position.  And I’ve been pretty excited to see that Michael Moore has been promoting much of this idea - in his encouragement of voting for Ralph Nader if for no other reason than to make this point.  It’s always an exciting moment when you find someone who is very able to articulate themselves to say something which you have been thinking, much better and to a much that you ever could and to a winder audience.  Not to say that this is some unique idea that I had.  But I do know it’s something I’ve thought for years and since Michael Moore has voiced this point of view - it seems that there are a lot of people looking at the idea of voting from a completely new angle.  It’s something to think about at least - as this voting season is about to knock us over on our heads.
    The one thing which really freaks me out about the coming election is the debate of abortion rights which has been brought into the spotlight, although kept on the quiet due to it being quite controversial.  Bush has all out said that he will vote and pass legislation to make abortions illegal if he comes to office.  As far as I’m concerned this is reason enough to vote, and to vote against him.  Though the evils are much thicker than that with all of his ties to corporate big business - the corruption is thick.  I just don’t see how after so many years of fight for rights which I think should so clearly be up to the women who must decide what is right for their lives and their bodies - how the government could possibility attempt to take away these rights.  It really sends a chill through me - as it’s only one area in which the government has that ability to silence and stifle our freedoms.  The way in which they are out to persecute anyone seen as an “organizer” in the many demonstrations of the past year - is another  chilling forecast of the attempt to silence all dissident.
Local News
    On an exciting note - The People’s Resource Center has been open here in Richmond since July and it’s been quite exciting to see an idea (and dream) come into being and be successful thus far.  I have been a firm believer in the fact that having a place as a central focus of a scene or community is a  really big boost to unifying as well as to organizing.  Because it provides an actual tangible place that people can gather - get information - find out about events - and get to know people.  If you are traveling, or new to the place with a centralized gathering spot - you can stop by and get a grasp of what is happening and where it is going on.  And though I find myself more lost in my own world of neurotic self-induced stress which keeps me busy on my work-a-holic path and seldom out mingling with the world, I have been doing what I can to help get the shelves at the PRC stocked with books and provide what resources I can.  I am so excited to see the place come together and take off.  Each time I’m there I feel this surge of energy and excitement and that gives me a lot of hope for the seasons to come.  If you are in Richmond - stop by and check it out - 818 W. Broad St. @ Laurel.
    And with that I think it’s time for me to shake off the chain of the computer, send this off to print and get out there in the golden glow of the autumn sun and play in the garden.