Monthly Archives: May 2011

Strange Fruit

In China, Watermelons Explode Like Landmines

According to NPR, farmers in China have been giving their watermelons too many “growth chemicals” resulting in weapons-grade produce. This development, however, will make this years melon harvest a very dangerous affair. One doctor described treating a severely injured rural peasant whose entire body was peppered with melon seed shrapnel. The young farmer lost both legs. He barely survived the incident thanks to the swift actions of family members and the doctors intervention. “These melons have caused serious injuries and are potentially quite lethal.” Dr. Wu told NPR.

 In response, the Chinese Central Gov,t has turned this years entire melon crop over to the Chinese equivalent of Food Not Bombs, for the purpose of feeding China’s urban poor, adding “In this particular instance, they need not choose.”

 Can Humboldt’s organic gardeners match that? Can we weaponize weed? Will my next joint of Sour Diesel blow up in my face?


On The Money


Financial Advice for the Working Class

Memorial Day

 Where would we be without Memorial Day? How would we know when to start wearing white again? How many workers would go postal without a three-day weekend between Presidents Day and Independence day? How would tourists know when to put on their dorkiest clothes and hop in the camper? Without Memorial Day, summer could sneak up and goose you out of your pale, flabby wintertime hibernation. So, I guess its important to make a big deal about it.

 Whether or not you go to one of those somber ceremonies in the cemetery, remember that people die so you can continue to enjoy this holiday. Think about it. If we hadn’t lost a single soldier in battle since WWII, what would Memorial Day look like today? When was the last time you visited your Great-Grandfather’s grave? I mean no disrespect to the dead, but after 70 years, most of us have kind of moved on.

 The President would probably say something, some geezers would get together, but the rest of us would have nothing to remember. We’d just know that it was a day to think about all the guys who died on “the Sands of Iwo Jima” to defeat Hitler. We’d know it was also for soldiers who died in all of those previous wars, but then we’re not really talking about “Memorial Day” so much as “American History Day”.

 To do Memorial Day right, you need people who remember. You need mothers who remember sons, widows who remember husbands, children who remember fathers and mothers, and people who made it back alive who remember those who didn’t. So, even if you still don’t understand how we ended up in Viet Nam and can’t think of a good reason to continue the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Remember, ultimately, its all about Memorial Day, keeping it alive, and keeping it fresh.

Other holidays pay their own way. Nobody forgets Christmas. Retailers can take that to the bank. Fireworks manufacturers, pumpkin growers and turkey farmers have all found ways to capitalize on holidays people like to remember. Memorial Day on the other hand requires enormous government subsidies…more than the Farm Bill, more than the bank bailout, more than Social Security and Medicare combined.

 Does that seem like a lot to spend on just one holiday? With everyone clamoring to reduce the National Debt, can we really afford it? We clearly need a three-day weekend at the end of May, to keep everyone from going apeshit with Spring fever. I’ve always felt that working people paid way too much for that one lousy day off, but with our nation falling deeper in debt every day, it grows ever more clear that we cannot afford the thinnest social safety net, and Memorial Day.

 How much of a burden would your aging parents be without Social Security and Medicare? How much worse would it be to have a kid with Down’s Syndrome without SSI? These programs save lives, and make life bearable for so many more. Outside of the three-day weekend, Memorial Day doesn’t do anything good for anyone. The people who have the most to remember on Memorial Day, really wish they didn’t. They’d just as soon have a barbeque with the people they remember. So if you want to balance the budget, cut Memorial Day. Its a no-brainer, really.

When people start to forget about Memorial Day, we can rename it Barbeque Day. People will remember that. Retailers of grills, patio furniture and the Cattleman’s Beef Association will happily remind them. Problem solved.

There’s a view of Memorial Day that’s On The Money.


Word Power #1


Building Your Vocabulary, One Word at a Time

Invaginate

in vag in ate (in ‘vaj in ate) v, to fold an outer surface to an inner surface.

 I’ve yet to encounter this word out side of a dictionary, but I think its time has come. Think about it. Why do we turn our clothes inside-out, when we can accomplish the same thing by simply invaginating them? When you push the flaps of a cardboard box down into the box, so as to leave the top open, you have invaginated the box. When mystics talk about being “on the outside looking in”, they can call that “an invaginated world view”. . Clearly, this word has plenty of uses in normal life, and I encourage you to use it liberally, use it often, and use it correctly.

 Use it in the interest of gender equality. We have plenty of words with the root word “penis”, like peninsula, and penetrate. I don’t know any other “vagina” based word. Vagina is even more fun to say than penis, and with widespread use of “invaginate” we could end this gender imbalance. This linguistic revolution could invaginate the world (wasn’t that fun to say). While it takes an enormous team of rocket scientists to penetrate the heavens from that peninsula called Florida. Anyone can fill a n invaginated box with invaginated clothes…perhaps left over from that big invagination party last night. How much fun was that party? I’ll leave that to your invaginated imagination.


I don’t get out much, but…

CMKT 4 Live at the Ink People’s Center for the Arts

Understanding, as I do, that people with interesting, engaging hobbies tend to spend less time absorbed in random blather on the web, I hesitate to share this with you, but I attended an interesting workshop at the Ink People’s Center for the Arts in Eureka this past Tuesday.

The Dekalb Ill. Circuit-bent rock trio CMKT 4, helped everyone in attendance build a pretty darned good sounding acoustic instrument pick-up from a few plastic bottle caps, a brass piezoelectric disk, a panel mount guitar cord jack, and a short length or wire. They have clearly made hundreds of them. They sell finished pick-ups, or contact microphones, the technical term for them, for $20, significantly less than the retail price of a similar mass produced product.

They also sell kits to build your own. These include all of the parts, including pre-drilled recycled plastic bottle caps, for $15, and also includes a beautifully illustrated assembly manual. A plaid suit-wearing character, Crème Dementia guides you through the assembly process in great detail.

Just so this isn’t wasted on you, here’s 3, 20 something guys, producing a high-tech consumer product, mostly out of post-consumer waste, and marketing it at a very competitive price, to support their band. CMKT4‘s contact mics have a certain diy aesthetic, and are just a little bigger than competing mass produced products, but for quality, durability and price, they make a very competitive product. Of course now that I know how to make them, I sure won’t need to buy another.  Here’s the one I made:

While CMKT4 did not have a cd to support their current 30 day tour, they’ve kept themselves afloat with contact microphone sales, and workshops teaching people to make them. They’ve given workshop/concerts at over 20 “Hacker Spaces.” Apparently in these places people share tools and try out ideas. They have sprung up all over the country and CMKT4 has worked the circuit on this tour. They rounded it out with performances, and a booth at both the Detroit and San Francisco “Makers Festival” sponsored by Make magazine.

As I said earlier, CMKT4 is a “circuit-bent” rock band, meaning that they augment the basic rock band arrangement of guitar, drums and bass with a whole bunch of modified electronic toys and homemade “bleep boxes”. A number of their instruments seemed to involve the tortured souls of talking teddy bears, “Furbys” and various “See and Say” educational toys. All of these toys sprouted numerous, knobs, switches, light, sound and touch sensors that indicated that these devices have undergone substantial customization. It kind of sounded like all of these talking stuffed animals had had strokes. Some babbled incessantly, some screamed intermittently and some just kept repeating themselves. This chorus of demented toys forms the foundation of CMKT4‘s sound.

 CMKT4‘s heavy churning rhythm section propels this swirling, spitting, chattering cacophony forward with a sound somewhere between Nirvana and the soundtrack to Eraserhead. I had a great time.

So, are you done playing with that Talking Elmo, kid?


A Poem

You Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover

As an autodidact, I’m not exactly scholastic.

And I’m obstreperously iconoclastic

I’m provincial, eristic and habitually bibulous

In appearance I’m nothing short of ridiculous

My modus vivendi offends the bougeois

Supercilious myrmidons that they are

They often assume that I’m less that linguistic

I like to remind them, that’s just jingoistic


Savage Henry Savaged

In the last 9 mo Savage Henry Magazine has published 33 of my original essays. As the SoHum Bureau Chief, I covered the Southern part of Humboldt County, wrote a financial advice column called “On The Money, and more. Unfortunately, contract negotiations broke down between us earlier this month. As as result, you won’t see my work in Savage Henry in the future. Instead, you can now find it here, but without all of that unfunny rubbish written by the SH editorial staff.

So, if you want to keep up on the story of one woman’s sad decline from Jewish-American Princess to White Trash Redneck, read the bland musings of an insecure barista, or just enjoy stories about their most recent trip to Vegas, by all means pick up the latest issue of Savage Henry. On the other hand, if you liked any of the dozens of short essays I wrote for them, look for more of those here.


Pabst Blue Ribbon’s Gone Hollywood


Pabst Blue Ribbon’s Gone Hollywood
Pabst Blue ribbon Brewing Company announced plans to move its headquarters, once located in Milwaukee, WI, currently in Chicago, IL, to LA. What does this mean for the future of this stalwart blue-collar beer, currently enjoying popularity among 20something hipsters? Has this new popularity gone to its head? Is PBR just the latest Midwestern dreamer to move to Hollywood seeking fortune and fame, only to end up as somebodies pool boy? Only time will tell, but in the mean time, look for good ol’ PBR to undergo some kind of image makeover.? For one, look for the red white and blue label to change to red, red and blue at first, then red, tan and blue. Maintaining that pallor was easy in the windy north, but in LA even the termites have tans.

Will PBR change its name? Lots of Midwesterners change their name when they move to Hollywood. How they change it often reveals their strategy for success. Percy Bartholomew Rothschild, putting on airs, PBR might pass himself off as a put-on heir. I doubt ol’ PBR could pull it off, with so many generations of pro-wrestling and country-western music in his veins. How about Peter B. Rosenberg? Being Jewish can be an advantage in show biz, ask Whoopie Goldberg. Actually converting, however, is a lot more of a hassle for guys than for women, I don’t know my Talmud well enough to know how that applies to beer. I suppose PBR would have to be Kosher. Maybe something less ethnic, Paul Becker Ross…punchy, tight, would look good on a marquee, yeah, I think that’s the one Look for a buff and tan Paul Becker Ross down at Venice beach working the phones on his new career in the very near future.

What will this mean for the price of PBR? You can certainly expect the price of PBR to rise in coming years. Everything costs more in LA, and PBR is gonna need cash flow. PBR will need new clothes, a new car, some swanky new digs and some spending money. You know, money to blow (for blow mostly). Sure, They’ll launch a major rebranding effort, and a cool new label, but inside, it’ll still be the same rust belt factory sweat beloved by budget-minded buzz-seekers across the land for over a century. It will just cost a lot more. “PBR firmly believes that we can maintain the loyalty of today’s 20 something hipsters as they climb the corporate ladder into higher income positions. These people can easily afford the new upscale PBR, and the familiar taste will remind them of the care-free days of their youth.” said a spokesmodel for PBR’s future image consultant Locke, Downe and Cheney. Look for the rebranded PBR, with a bold new look, dripping with LA bling at a gas station, liquor store or bait shop near you. For those 20 something hipsters who refuse to climb the corporate ladder, look for PBR’s new bargain off-brand brew, CBL (Cheap Beer for Losers) at all the same outlets.


On the Money, Financial Advice for the Working Class


Why Do You Think They Call It In-Vestment?

As we move into Spring, once again our attention returns to breasts. While breasts drives economic activity throughout the year, by about Memorial Day each Spring, we get to see how our favorite breasts have been effected by the cold weather. We also eagerly examine the robust growth of fresh new breasts that have just matured over the winter. So, as we take stock of our breast resources, I think it behooves us to consider breast futures carefully.

Whether you inherited them from family, or acquired them in a merger, you’ll find few investments more satisfying. I think everyone should be involved with breasts in one way or another because breasts offer endless opportunities for both long and short term gain. If you inherited breasts, hold on to them. If you can find a pair you like, stick with them. These long term investments pay great dividends.

In the short term, a few savvy investors have built multimillion dollar empires around a single pair of breasts. Such powerful breasts rarely occur naturally and routinely require tens of thousands of dollars to produce and promote. The payout on this investment can vary widely, with a substantial downside risk, but quick turnaround means that those breasts will reap most of their profits in the first ten years on the market.

While “flipping” breasts, that is, speculating on breasts by holding them a short while then dumping them when the opportunity to upgrade arises, can be profitable in “bubble” years (15-25), this strategy proves very expensive over the long term.

While breasts come in an astounding variety of shapes, sizes and colors, they all serve the same function, and they all make good investments. While large breasts tend to attract the most attention, possibly because you can see them from farther away, they have drawbacks, which time tends to magnify. Over the long term, large breasts display substantial Nipple Altitude Drop (NAD) over decades. In very large breasts, NAD factors of over a foot are not uncommon. In smaller breasts NAD is barely perceptible. The accessibility of small breasts, which do not require bulky, restrictive harnesses, also make them an attractive investment, so don’t overlook them.

Global Threats to Breasts.

Since most, if not all Americans hold substantial interest in breasts, it seems that we would as a nation, seek to protect this investment and valuable natural resource. Apparently not however, as our nation continues to ignore a real, looming and growing threat to breasts around the world. I’m talking about breast cancer. So, what causes breast cancer, and why do far more women get it now than in the past?

In the late ’80s, scientists working on that very question made a remarkable discovery. In their experiments, they had healthy tissue cultures growing in petri dishes. They would then expose these cultures to various substances to see if they caused the culture to get cancer. After quite a few tests, they noticed that every substance they tested seemed to cause cancer. Even their control group developed cancer at a significantly elevated rate. This made them suspicious.

So, they tried growing some cultures in old fashioned glass petri dishes and some in the new, ubiquitously used, plastic petri dishes. They discovered that plastic petri dishes caused cancer. This led to the discovery that even very stable plastics, like polycarbonate and especially PVC, leach persistent toxic chemicals into their surroundings, and that these chemicals cause cancer and birth defects at extremely low doses. These fat soluble toxins concentrate in breast tissue where they have been closely linked to breast cancer.

Meanwhile, the majority of cancer research focuses on finding a cure for cancer. The cure often starts with breast removal. If the producers of industrial plastics had to compensate breast-holders for investment losses due to cancer, you can bet we’d see a change in the way giant chemical companies do business. Instead, these same companies form medical divisions which make medical devices and treatments (and petri dishes) out of the same toxic, carcinogenic materials.

Under the current legal framework, breast-holders are lucky to escape breast cancer with their lives. On the other hand, corporations like Dow and Dupont reap windfall profits by selling carcinogenic medical equipment to people with cancer, while they suck up government grants and charitable donations to research new “cures”. Meanwhile they continue to fill the world with cheap, carcinogenic, plastic crap.

When you look at it that way, you might think it wise to dump your breasts, and buy shares of Dupont. Before you do that, think about how those stock certificates will look, bouncing up and down in a sports bra on a sunny spring day. That’s why the smart money holds on to those breasts firmly.

There’s some investment advice that’s On The Money.


A New Emerald City

So-Hum Residents Contemplate Forming Humboldt’s Eighth City

A new movement afoot here in SoHum would create Humboldt counties eighth municipality around the Garberville/ Redway area. While most cities view drug dealers as a scourge, spending millions to arrest, prosecute and incarcerate them, here in SoHum we may see the the first city in America designed by and for them. This raises many questions, for instance:

What will we call this new city?
Emerald City- At the first meeting held to discuss this issue someone suggested this name. You know, from the Wizard of Oz, the city that was supposed to be so bright and shiny that you needed to wear special sunglasses to see the place. You don’t want to visit Garberville in the summertime without sunglasses, but 101 is not exactly the Yellow Brick Road. I doubt the citizens of this new Emerald City will ever get used to being called “munchkins”, but that’s what people will call them. To avoid this embarrassment, I offer these alternatives.

Ganjaland- Same concept, no midgets. Since “Weed” is already taken, “Ganjaland” sounds like the name of a theme-park for marijuana. I think that’s what they envision. I can see tie-dyed flags on the streetlights and a big “Welcome to Ganjaland Banner across Redwood Dr. with lots of coffee shops and dispensaries for the tourists.

Italstonia- This way we can communicate the whole pot thing and also recognize this communities Italian and Estonian roots. What’s that, you didn’t know about “Little Italy” and the Estonian enclave in G,ville?

Bruno- They name some cities after prominent founding members of the community. SoHum’s most prominent founding member is undoubtedly Carol Bruno. As a founding member and long-time president of the Mateel Community Center, principle organizer of the original Reggae on the River, and as head honcho of People’s Productions, Carol Bruno has put her fingerprints on this community in ways that will last for generations. Why shouldn’t the city carry her name?

Greed- Again, since “weed” is already taken, this punchy, one syllable name suits this community to a T. While people grow marijuana all over the country, most content themselves to grow their own, and maybe a little for friends, we’re famous for growing more marijuana, and for turning homegrown pot into a multi-million dollar industry. So, lets take credit for it.

What kind of law enforcement will this new city have?
As a community of outlaws, folks in So-Hum have a healthy disdain for cops. On a recent radio show about this issue, folks danced around this issue with the phrase, (and I am not making this up) “a constabulary that reflects the values of our local community.” Like anyone wants greedy, dishonest, narcissistic cops patrolling the streets of SoHum. You sure can’t call them “constables.” If you tell someone in Garberville to look out for the constable, he’ll think you are recommending a high-fiber diet. Peace officers need a title that everyone will immediately recognize as the voice of authority, though the title might vary, depending on the choice of city name.

For instance, if we went with the brutally honest name of “Greed”, we could call them the equally honest: “Fucking Pigs.” I think “The Fucking Pigs of Greed” has a great ring to it, and would look great on the side of the squad-car. In Ganjaland, we’d call them “Peace Officers” just like everywhere else, but here they’d wear tie-dye and ride bicycles. In Bruno, the “Bully Boys of Bruno” might rough you up if you step out of line. In Italstonia, the cops drive Fiats that say “Polizie” on the side and don’t speak any English. That ought to freak people out. Finally, what else can you call the cops of Emerald City besides “Flying Monkeys”?

Will Incorporation Pay off in the Long Run?
It’s time we get to the bottom line. We shouldn’t underestimate the value of a corrupt government bureaucracy here in SoHum. As a community heavily dependent on organized crime, facing the end of marijuana prohibition, many local gangsters need a new scam. A new city government could be just the institution they need to insure a solid revenue stream into the future. If we want to keep these social parasites from moving on to greener pastures, we’ll have to make some sacrifices.

Think of all the new jobs a city government would create in SoHum: a mayor and city council, with their clerks and secretaries, cops, with dispatchers, meter maids and a motor pool, a city hall, built by contractors with a permanent maintenance staff, maybe our own planning dept. with building inspectors and attendant staff, and god knows how many departments they will create. That’ll probably depend on how many family members need jobs.

Where Will This Money Come From?
Half of the residents of Garberville and Redway subsist on SSI, Social Security and/or Veterans benefits and working people don’t fare much better. The outlaws that have driven the local economy for years, from their latifundia in the hills, will probably remain outside the city limits, and the law. Thus, the burden of paying for this new city will fall to those community members who can afford it the least.

I say “Tax the pants off of those geezers, weezers and kitchen degreasers.” When they can’t pay anymore, put them out on the street and sell their homes at tax auction. The dope yuppies can come in and buy them up for pennies on the dollar. They can pay their taxes with marijuana, which they’ll sell at the dispensary in City Hall. Yes, I really think its time that we here in SoHum, who are so proud of the community we’ve built, show the world just what kind of people we are, and what kind of city we can create.


Some of Humboldt’s Lesser Known Summer Festivals

Some of Humboldt’s Lesser Known Festivals

Well, its festival season again. Of course you’re going to Summer Arts and Music Festival, The Gaia Festival, Reggae on the River, Blues on the Bay, The Oyster Festival, North Country Fair and Burning Man, but keep these lesser known festivals in mind for those off-weekends, when you’ve got a few hundred extra bucks and nothing better to do:

The Gopherville Gopher Festival- June 30-31 This two day festival at the Gopherville Community Center, celebrates all things gopher. From the “Garden Gopher Roundup” to the gopher cook-off, you’ll see live gophers in their natural habitat, hear their pitiful screams as they get brutally slaughtered en-mass, and taste their delicious succulence as the areas best chefs compete to become to become the this year’s “King of Barbecued Gophers.” Two stages feature the best in regional underground music and 35 gopher themed craft booths include everything from gopher fur hoodies, to gopher lawn sculptures, to beautiful gopher tooth jewelry. In “Pups World”, children can pet live gophers in a petting zoo, make gopher masks, or play in the 3 acre subterranean tunnel maze. $80 for adults, $35 for children under 12, tickets include overnight camping on site.

This year, two festivals that previously competed with each other for attendees, because they both happened on the same weekend, have combined forces to create a single event that’s sure to make a big impact on the North Coast. In 2011, the “Manilla Mid-Summer Meth-Fest” and Samoa’s “Smack Daze” will combine forces to create The Humboldt Hard-Drug Hoedown. This festival promises to bring hard drug dealers and users from all over the country to the one-and-only festival of its kind in the U.S. Held at the Samoa Speedway with camping at the Dunes Boat Ramp and Campground across the street. Deep in the tsunami hazard zone, this location is almost a two hour walk from the nearest high ground. We’ll all hope for the best for this new event. It all takes place the first full weekend in August, tickets for the first Humboldt Hard-Drug Hoedown are free.

Reggae of the Right- With massive corporate sponsorship, and a huge volunteer staff of Christian fundamentalists, this festival has grown to mega-proportions in recent years. While many among the volunteer staff find the billowing clouds of ganja smoke, open drug use and uninhibited sexual activity, embarrassing, they are all happy to see so many young people embracing the violently anti-gay, anti-woman message of reggae music. Reggae of the Right prides itself on bringing only the most violent misogynous, homophobic reggae artists from around the globe, including a number of fugitives. “For security reasons, we cannot release the lineup for this year’s festival” the website proclaims “But we go to great lengths to bring attendees the worlds most wanted reggae artists.” Da riddems are hot, the lyrics are hard to understand, and the vibes are Irie, so come out to Rio Dell for Reggae of the Right on July 10, 11 and 12. tickets cost just one roll of quarters (40 pieces of silver).

With all of the festivals going on in the area, you should probably spend every weekend this summer wandering around an open field, getting drunk and sunburned while listening to a band you never heard of play through an awful sounding PA in broad daylight. Really, what else are you gonna do with what’s left of your life?


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