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A Black Turtle Crossed My Path!

Yep, probably good luck too. I was pedaling through the Cape Cod National seashore’s charming paved bike way, first undulating through dunes and scrub forest and then into a deep, gorgeous beech forest, and suddenly we screeched to halt to avoid this noble resident:

Given my recent musings on the Tortoise and the Super Hero (manifesto-like writings to follow), this seemed portentous. In fact, the day at Cape Cod was beautiful and a welcome respite from four straight nights of speaking publicly. (more photos below) The New England leg of the tour wasn’t quite as “successful” as New York City or the mid-Atlantic. I had good conversations in 3 out of 4 stops up here, but the turnout was notably less than previously. In Amherst, at one of the best bookstores I’ve seen in a long time, Food for Thought Books, a crowd a bit under 20 was attentive and provided a stimulating conversation afterwards too. A couple of skeptics raised the temperature a bit, which I enjoyed enormously, especially a woman who accused me of “pitching a lifestyle” which is far from the case. In fact, she provided me with the perfect foil to launch on my ongoing campaign against subcultural exclusivity, but as a new friend Hannah noted in Boston two nights later, my tour consists of the same kinds of small anarchist infoshops and lefty bookstores that tend to remain isolated from the rest of the population…. ouch! but true in its own way. Then again, part of my take on all this is that what I’m arguing is so different than most anarchists or lefties have tended to, that it’s a challenge and a break even for so-called predictable audiences. I wonder if I could attract any sizable audiences at mainstream stops anyway; the two Symposium Bookstores, both pretty “mainstream” in spite of their owners and employees, both failed to attract anyone to hear my presentation.

Here’s the crowd at Food for Thought in Amherst and a shot of it from the outside too:

At Symposium Books in Boston, on Kenmore Square across from Barnes & Noble, around the corner from Fenway Park (where thousands of anxious Sox fans were headed, streaming past the front door of the bookstore) only one person showed up so I gave my talk to him and the two folks who worked there. They were pretty engaged with it, so it ended up being a fun evening in spite of no audience really. I really liked David and Emily who worked there, and the store is full of fantastic discounted books so I didn’t feel too bad. I figured everyone would come the next night to Lucy Parsons, the overtly lefty bookshop in Boston. We stayed with good friends Monty and Shelley and enjoyed George Caffentzis and Silvia Federici coming over for a presumed planning meeting for a resuscitated Midnight Notes (their 30th anniversary is approaching) during Saturday afternoon. Then they came to the evening’s talk, but once again, only about 11 people showed up. I’d have to say that either the publicity was abysmal (the event was listed in various papers and online lists, so that doesn’t seem to be the case), the logical youthful audience was mostly taken up with finals, or there just isn’t that much interest in that area. Perhaps the book sounds too new-age or something?… Anyway, I did the talk at Lucy Parsons and you can see George and Silvia sitting on the right side of the couch (next to Becky Sutton, looking over her shoulder away from the camera, who was one of my best editors and came in from a farm in upstate NY to see the show), Monty behind them a bit. I felt happy that they didn’t beat the hell out of me afterwards, in fact they were all pretty enthused. Silvia especially seemed likely to pick me apart, given her awesome work in Caliban and the Witch and lifelong radical thinking, but she was very enthusiastic, much to my happiness.

We had a day off before going to Providence to hit the next Symposium Books, and once we got there, again there was only one person in the store to attend. So this time I cancelled and we headed back to New York, even though as we gathered ourselves to leave a half hour after the starting time, three other people straggled in… too late! off we went… but the day was great, after spending the night in Provincetown (Gay Mecca on the east coast) we rented bikes on a amazingly crisp sunny spring Monday morning and rode around for two hours. Here’s a few photos:

There were a few steep hills, but nothing like San Francisco. Still, I had a blast whipping around some tight turns and in and out of the dunes…

It was great having Adriana along on this leg of the trip… here she is bombing along in Cape Cod:

Earlier, at Amherst, we stayed with Ted White and his family, Katie, Beckett and Eve. Ted is an old friend, prominently featured in the bike chapter but also elsewhere in Nowtopia, and is a serious Nowtopian stalwart! He took us on bikes to visit a land-trust farm he’s co-prez of, North Amherst Community Farm, where we came upon a mobile chicken coop with some gorgeous Rhode Island Reds…

After lovely visits and some worthy book flogging, we’re back in NYC until tomorrow, when I leave for Italy and Adriana returns to SF. I’m very excited since on Saturday in Milano I’ll be riding with a bunch of the zany Critical Massers there to a place called Torchiera Cottage and giving the Talk to them, simultaneously translated…

next blog from the other side of the Atlantic…

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