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Summer Blues

I have to admit I’ve been a World Cup potato for the past week. I saw a lot of games, not all, but probably too many! Felt most sorry for Ivory Coast who were great, so I’m now counting on them for 2010 in South Africa. In general I root for underdogs, but still have a soft spot for Brazil. The World Cup is really the best sports event every four years.

I’ve fallen into another period of deep sadness so my normal exuberance is a missing resource for keeping this blog going. I’ve been reading a lot, of course, so I’ll give a few short reports by way of saying hello to all. First I read Atomik Aztex, a wild novel by Sesshu Foster. It tells a very strange hybrid story whipping back and forth between an Aztek warrior brigade fighting against the Nazis in Stalingrad during WWII, to an Aztek who is having delusions of being a guy working in a pork slaughterhouse in contemporary East L.A. Or is he a guy working in a slaughterhouse in East LA who has weird dreams of a parallel universe in which the Azteks defeated the Spanish and control North America? That’s the fun, and Foster’s literary pleasure in playing with spelling and language is very entertaining. I recommend this book even though I didn’t think it as great as it might have been.

My friend Heather Rogers published a book last year to accompany her documentary video of the same name, “Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage.” (The website at that link is really worth a visit!) The book reads really well, does a great job of giving the history of trash and garbage management, and debunks the simplistic views that a lot of folks have about recycling (while still endorsing some aspects of a public engagement with recycling as better than not having that!). I particularly liked her ability to smoothly integrate a historic look at the various technological “fixes” for garbage (from incineration to sanitary landfill) with the critical understanding of the rise of consumerism and waste as social policy. She leans on the work of Stewart Ewen, who has several very important books about the origins of the advertising industry (Channels of Desire, Captains of Consciousness, SPIN!). His work, in turn, was taken by Adam Curtis for some of his four-part BBC documentary “Century of the Self“ which traces the career of Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud who gets a lot of credit for inventing modern techniques of opinion management. Anyway, Heather makes visible the always denied and invisible mountains of garbage that our daily lives create. Any thorough-going effort to redesign our lives will have to take on this overlooked nightmare, and the sooner the better!

I got sucked in to a very popular series, Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials“ books, starting with book one, The Golden Compass. It has all the qualities that you want from this kind of thing, great characters, a twisting and unpredictable plot, and crisp writing. I found myself looking forward to curling up with this book each night for the past week as I dashed through it (but only before falling asleep). Now I’m on to the second volume, and will carry on through. The usual spate of magazines and articles and chapters in books too, of course, but they’ll get a more ample treatment in a later post. I strongly recommend reading Chris Clarke’s editorial introducing the new fall 06 issue of Earth Island Journal (they haven’t posted the piece yet). A breath of fresh sanity” he goes after the basic stupidity of the economy as a worthy way of measuring our lives. Extremely concise and on the point. Check it out!

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5 Responses to “Summer Blues”

  1. 1
    hibiscus:

    i would like to point out the very happy timing of an argentina-brazil-ecuador attack on the later tournament in terms of politics in south and central america at the moment. also that under the schedule, argentina and brazil can’t play until the finals, and it would be the first all-americas final since 1950. (and much to the pleasure of spanish-speakers, brazil would be the one playing uphill.)

  2. 2
    hibiscus:

    (“can’t” assumes both come in first in their groups.)

  3. 3
    s0metim3s:

    from one soccer potato to another …

    Ah, but Ghana! What style.

  4. 4
    hibiscus:

    ghana, ghana, let’s see. i don’t… ah, found them. what are they doing filed under “brazil”? that’s CRAZY.

  5. 5
    Jym:

    =v= You know Heather Rogers? I met her through Brooklyn Greens. Scary movie.

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