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Nowtopian

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Physical collapses! The Planet and Me!

Yup, that’s me, bedridden as of two days ago, with an unbelievably painful sciatica. So I’m eating at the trough, here enjoying a Pad Thai and glass of wine brought over by good friends last night. Being stuck in bed has allowed me to put the laptop on my lap (of all places!) and finish the last pass through Nowtopia, and catch up on lots of net surfing.

Last weekend I went to Atlanta with Adriana to visit some old friends of hers. I can’t say I fell in love with Atlanta, which is about as unlovable an urban space as I can remember visiting. Still, we managed to make it an interesting 3 days. I read an article on Tomgram a couple of weeks ago, about the remarkably severe drought in the southeast. But as you can see in his piece, there are severe droughts going on in many places around the world, and we’re having a lot of trouble as human society wrapping our heads around the unfolding collapse of modern life. I cite and quote another article below that is even more thorough at collecting the signals of irreversible physical collapse globally, but first let me show some pictures of Atlanta. Here’s a shot of their Olympic-inspired Centennial Park, right in downtown beneath the looming CNN world HQ (where we also took the tour, an 8-story descent through the CNN universe of 24/7 infotainment).

Apparently this brown lawn and the dry fountains around the park are symptoms of the severe drought. The governor of Georgia recently held a rally to pray for rain, which our hosts held in reasonable contempt, since there’s been very little practical preparation for coping with the water crisis. I recommend the Englehart piece cited above because he returns repeatedly to the basic question: what happens if the water runs out? No one wants to think about that. In some ways our entire global climate change crisis is similar, insofar as we just can’t imagine life as we know it changing in significant ways, and yet it’s clear that water and agricultural productivity are both in serious jeopardy in the coming years. I’ll come back to this below…

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Grounding by Rolling

Just can’t seem to get to blogging these days. But a few quick items to mention. Last Friday’s Critical Mass, falling after Thanksgiving weekend for a change, was a spirited good one, with a second consecutive month going down Lombard Street (!), a lot of high energy, and I was happy to be a part of it. Here’s a couple of shots of the ride after we had been all over downtown, Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, Russian Hill, both tunnels, and here we are buzzing through the xmas shoppers on Stockton Street.

Part of what made it such a gratifying ride was the reappearance of some cool xerocracy. I got flyered for three related activities: one to join in to the organizing for a direct action campaign against the war corresponding to the upcoming 5th anniversary in March (takedirectaction@riseup.net). Another to join a bicycle contingent to protest the xtian Right that is coming to SF again on Sat. Jan. 19 in their 4th annual “walk for life” wherein they bus in 10,000 fundies to taunt liberal San Francisco. More info here. And lastly there was an invite to a ride on Dec. 15 with artist Amber Hasselbring, who is trying to create a Mission Greenbelt, consisting of a continuous sidewalk garden from Dolores Park at 19th and Dolores to Franklin Square at 17th and Bryant. More info here.

Also, Mona Caron was in Sao Paolo, Brazil, for Critical Mass down there. Some lovely images of the ride and a small mural she painted during it are here. And the 17 km route through Sao Paolo is shown here.

My Thanksgiving was spent, as I have for the past 9 years, at Saratoga Springs with about 100 great friends. I’m not posting any of the dozens of photos that various friends took, nor did I make a video of semi-naked men dancing while doing dishes this year (you can still find that on Youtoob from last year though). But here’s a nice image of the box canyon in which all the fun happens, taken from the eastern ridge above the resort.

I am in the midst of an insanely busy period. Happily I’ll soon be finished with teaching at New College (especially since they bounced their last paycheck to me, and still owe me more than half of the measly $2400 I was supposed to be paid for this semester). Turns out that teaching takes a lot more time and thought than I really want to dedicate to that. I’m glad to have tried that experiment, but I don’t think I’ll be hurrying to get any further teaching gigs any time soon.

I’m aalllmooosst finished with Nowtopia. Hope to get that wrapped up and sent over to AK Press in a week or so. And I’m working on several overlapping aspects of Shaping San Francisco‘s big push into next year’s 10th anniversary–the wiki, the proposal to the future SF Museum, a fundraising campaign to finally get a small part-time paid staff in place to work on it (as well as maintaining the Talks, producing radio shows from them, giving bike tours), and…. there are TONS of items in the pipeline piled up over the past few years.

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Arts Ecology

Autumn is the time for endless conflicts over what to do and see. San Francisco is overrun with great shows and performances. I was blessed this past weekend with free tix to a couple of stellar shows, first Cirque de Soleil’s latest show, Kooza., and then last night at the SF Jazz Festival we caught a fantastic set by Brazil’s Caetano Veloso.

I’m actually not as wild about Cirque de Soleil as some folks are, but there’s no question that they’re a major step up from other circuses. I think it’s mainly attributable to the fact that they have so much money, relative to other performance groups. If you ever wanted to peer into the methodology of today’s “Arts Success,” Cirque de Soleil must be the best place to look. There are corporate sponsors names on every exit of their fancy hi-tech tent/stage. There is an incredible mini-mall of merchandise, from show-related schwag to well-designed, comfortable good looking clothing. There are music CDs, video DVDs, masks, puppets, bags, coffee mugs, kitchen goods, you name it. You can’t approach the actual tent for the performance without passing through the merch tent first.

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