My sisters Anya and Corinne pushed the whole town uphill through failed fire inspections, endless phone calls and dozens of rushed meetings to throw a benefit tonight for Haiti. They assembled a bake sale, a silent auction, an art show, musicians, speakers and the mayor of less than a week into an orderly if passionate response to the destruction and ongoing needs. The process was brilliant to watch. This afternoon, Anya and Corinne burst into the back hallway of the family store and blurted, “What’s for lunch?” I said, “Triscuits, caponata, fresh yogurt and popcorn.” They stared because they were kidding. “It’s just like you to throw a benefit to feed people and forget to eat all day.” Then I nearly had to beat up Corinne when grabbed the yogurt, caponata and a spoon and ran for the door.
I drag around a buttload of stuff on my bike, but this is amazing.
On any given day in Northampton, Massachusetts, you might see something that would raise eyebrows elsewhere: Someone on a bike, pulling a giant trailer heaped with trash. You’ll see this in rain, snow, or heat and humidity; on residential streets and on Main Street; even going uphill in traffic.
Since late 2002, the Pedal People have picked up and hauled more than 341,000 cubic feet of trash, recyclables, and compost, replacing big loud fuel-burning garbage trucks with…bicycles (at prices competitive with the trucks). It’s not a viable model everywhere, and nobody’s getting rich doing this, but it’s the sort of carbon footprint-reducing business we should look at as a model for the places it would work.
You might think a bicycle hauling business wouldn’t be viable everywhere because of weather – that it would only work in extremely mild climates. But Northampton gets snow in the winter and has real summers, and the Pedal People rarely delay pickups due to weather.
If there’s a town small enough for this service, it’s the microdot on the map I live in! But wait – Northampton’s not the only steamy composting hotspot.
The Pedal to Petal process is a closed cycle, from food to compost to soil and back to food again, all without the use of fossil fuel dependent vehicles and machines.
Pedal to Petal members are involved in the creation and maintainance of organic edible landscapes throughout the city of Victoria. The compost created through this project will feed the soil and feed the city. An increase in locally produced food will mean a decrease in the amount of food imported from off-island. This further reduces the amount of fossil fuels being used in the course of providing ourselves with sustainance. Not only that, but small-scale organic agriculture has far less of an impact on the environment than farms that rely on the use of heavy machinery. We turn the compost piles by hand and use a method of cultivation that eliminates the need for roto-tilling. Once again, a vast reduction in fossil fuel use.
This is such an exciting, sensible idea. If I were an enterprising, underemployed bicycle owner with a big yard, I’d go into stinky business for myself. Some composting afficionadas go big and get a truck.
EARTHGIRL COMPOSTING will provide you with a five gallon bucket. We will pick up your full bucket weekly, biweekly or monthly, leave you an empty clean bucket and deliver your waste to Vermont Compost Company and/or Intervale Compost Products.
YOU DECIDE how often and we will do the rest.
When you compost with EARTHGIRL COMPOSTING you are making a difference.
Vermont Compost Company was founded by organic crop growing professionals to meet the need for high quality composts and compost based living soil mixes for certified organic plant production. Vermont Compost Company recycles over 400 tons of food residuals annually and relies on bio-fuels, non-toxic lubricants, and plant-based oils for all of the equipment on the farm.
Intervale Compost Products supports our community and sustainable agriculture by turning waste into compost and selling that compost to organic farmers, gardeners, and landscapers.
Startling use of capital letters aside, that’s a wild idea come to efficient fruition. Check this out:
We provide participants in the compost program with their own post-consumer, recycled compost bucket, free of charge. Each bucket comes lined with a completely compostable cornstarch bag.
On the appropriate collection night, participants place their buckets on their front porch. We empty the contents of each bucket into our collection truck, replace the bag, and put the bucket back on the participant’s porch, ready to receive another week’s compost.
The collected compost is then taken to a city composting site, managed by the Department of Parks and Horticulture, where it is processed for re-integration into the ecosystem. The following spring, we deliver finished compost from the site to participants in the program, free-of-charge.
Montreal returns compost to participants, which is either great or a great threat. Weren’t expecting buckets of nutrient-rich compost on your doorstep? Surprise! Goo for you! Were you to, say, Google compost services, you would find such services listed all over the place.
I’m not saying you should consider this an investment opportunity, but I am saying that in 2010, there is money to be made in dirt that can clean up your karma.
Alleging a plot to tamper with phones in Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office in the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown New Orleans, the FBI arrested four people Monday, including James O’Keefe, 25, a conservative filmmaker whose undercover videos at ACORN field offices severely damaged the advocacy group’s credibility.
Also arrested were Joseph Basel, Stan Dai and Robert Flanagan, all 24. Flanagan is the son of William Flanagan, who is the acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. All four men were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.
An official close to the investigation said one of the four was arrested with a listening device in a car blocks from the senator’s offices.
– via C & L where – omigod, I can’t breathe!
Dave N.: Hmmm. Wonder how Andrew Breitbart and Glenn Beck – who have relied heavily on O’Keefe’s work to smear ACORN – will respond. One can only imagine the cries of persecution that will be erupting shortly.
One can’t help but be impressed by O’Keefe’s investigative-journalism technique. If only the rest of us poor schlubs had realized something O’Keefe obviously learned the first time around: You can get away with breaking the law if you can get it up on Fox News first.
I’m sure O’Keefe was banking on that this time around, too. Ooopsie.
Unfortunately, Jon Stewart fell for this shit. It’s time for him to retract The Audacity of Hos.
Recently, video of that radio comedy troupe I was in turned up on YouTube. The videos are of shows we did while working up new material for the radio show or because we were too bleary to refuse a request. Sometimes they’re funny. Sometimes they’re true dogs. This is all from a time just before I lost my memory, so I don’t remember a whole lot about it except that when the wild ride ended suddenly, I felt lost without the constant companionship.
Even so, the past is the past. I kind of wish it had stayed there, but history is fluid. Sometimes history shows up whether you like it or not. You know who should feel my pain? Jim DeMint – he won’t even notice, and that should be funnier.
The vet diagnosed Topaz’s smelly breath and seeming fever as a painful gum condition that causes inflammation and makes veterinarians weepy. I listened to him talk about treatments, feeling like I’d been punched in the gut. I took the prescription to the drug store near my house, where times have changed. For years, I tricked the departed Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, into taking stinky medicine because the fish flavorings were ungodly expensive. Now, flavoring is $3 and the medicine is not even all that expensive. For about a week, we’ve mostly tricked Topaz into taking medicine mixed with tuna water – but it has to be fresh. Yesterday’s chilled tuna water will not do. Because Topaz is getting tuna water, Sweetpea must have it, so now it’s a treat and Topaz wants more.
In other news: tuna salad on crackers, tuna sandwiches, tomatoey tuna surprise.
Let us say you are experiencing a context shift, by which I mean you suddenly are not where you usually are, under circumstances that are out of your control. Perhaps you’re stuck in this new place for your own good; perhaps you find yourself lost and awaiting rescue. Be patient, if you can, with those who seek to comfort you. An hour will come when lightness arrives. Do not forget that someone is longing for you.
I do three stupid things before breakfast every day, which makes me an authority on the forehead slap, a world class practitioner of Let Me Rephrase That Last Dumbass Remark, and a gold medal winner in the all-around I Meant To Do That. Thus, I can spot a talented fuckup from a safe distance. Ladies and gentlemen, someone at Mexico – One Plate At A Time – some writer, producer, guest or star – has gone pro. From season 5, the episode called Modern Mayan:
Rick finds wandering through the ancient Mayan ruins of Uxmal a humbling and inspiring experience. The Mayans built a great civilization with pyramids, temples, plazas and breathtaking expanses. And their spirit lives on—and it’s experiencing a rebirth in the Yucatan today—in revitalized food, art and architecture. We get a glimpse of the rebirth at Los Dos, a cooking school in Merida, run by David Sterling, which specializes in classic Mayan food updated for this century. Rick joins David at his beautiful school as he teaches his chilled version of Sopa de Lima topped with a panucho of lime-marinated chicken salad. Then we look at the high-style of the Riviera Maya from the rooftop of the ultra-modern Hotel Básico in Playa del Carmen. Back on the ground in Merida, the cuisine of Nectar Restaurant soars. This ultra-modern dining room with its open-air kitchen is run by two chefs that study with some of the most inventive rule-breaking chefs in the world. Rick samples their Consommé of Cochinita Pibil and Oat Risotto with Recado Negro. Energized by Mexico, Rick takes us behind the scenes at his fine-dining restaurant, Topolobampo, to show us his own thrilling modern Mayan dish, Cilantro Salmon with Smoky Tomato-Habanero Lasagne.
I shut off this episode and flounced around my living room in a flamboyant huff. Now: this may come as a shock to you because it has often come as one to me, but every minute of every day, I live in a woman’s body. I have to think about what that means every day, all the time. I can mostly understand the cultural experience of certain kinds of men – not men of color and not gay men – because the dominant culture forces that default white male perspective on those of us who are along for the dominant culture’s ride, but I am always aware that woman-ness is a filter that picks out big honking chunks of cultural detritus that might fuck me up. That filter translates the words classic…updated for this century into a white man is about to appropriate the work of indigenous women and turn it into a paycheck and a high-end reputation. Fuck that guy! Words aside, the images were even worse.
This is what the cooking school guy saw. They’re very nice pictures full of beautiful fruit. I saw this:
Wrought iron window guards on the outside of the cooking school, which after I saw them covered in ground glass in Ecuador, read as If you break into my house you will die. Inside: a cooking class taught by a transplanted white American man of white American students and the show’s white American host, while two indigenous women dressed in what the TV viewer must assume is native costume make panuchos. The teacher rambles a bit about how this preparation is thousands of years old, then escorts the whole class into the kitchen to learn his updated way. The teacher describes his method for making his sopa di lima, which sounds like it might be tasty, if the prep sounds arcane. In the shadows, the two women hand him lima juice, other ingredients. The students assemble soup plates and updated panuchos and are seen heading toward a dining room.
The next shot: teacher, students and show host are seated at a long dining room table, toasting their sopa while the two women stand in the doorway with hands clasped humbly.
In art school, you learn stuff like Whose eyes am I seeing this scene through? and What is happening in this picture? Goddamnit, I hate when I’m forced to join someone else’s war on the poor, which is exactly what happens in this final shot. It’s one thing to hire a capable staff you treat decently and trust not to spit in your chicken stock. It’s quite another to employ people so you can rub their faces in their servitude. Those clasped hands told me the whole story. Those women could have been somewhere else, doing something else, but no. They are a set decoration, there to visually reinforce for the American viewing audience that the appropriation of their work and their culture is right and just. Rick Bayless is often tone deaf about class, imperialism and economics, but this is freaking ridiculous.
Crap. I feel like I have to break up with my supercute new boyfriend before French class because he said the superstupid words freedom fries and I knew what he meant.
Earlier today, Dr. Mark Hyman’s bleakly titled article at the Huffington Post caught my eye. Haiti Journal: Hacksaws and Vodka was everything you might expect about the grimness of the field hospitals, but also gently heartening. The situation is slowly improving. The coverage of the crisis has been bugging the shit out of me, and at the bottom of Hyman’s page, we find a striking image of why.
In the first days, I noticed two stories: black people trapped, injured, starving and white people shaken but unharmed. Black people looting. White people, well-fed and healthy, clucking about horror. Black bodies are loaded onto dumptrucks with bulldozers. White missionaries in Connecticut tell Haitians they’ll be back. Bill Clinton keeps a straight face. Wyclef Jean is in tears. It couldn’t be more obvious, but nobody says a word, and the media seems not to realize it runs this script over and over again, every few years, somewhere in the world.
The tiny town in which I live, like other tiny towns all over the country, maintains a food pantry. Twice in the last year, calls went out that the pantry was empty and our neighbors were in trouble. The first time was startling. I didn’t know we had a food pantry. Volunteers and donations turned up; the pantry shelves filled up nicely and overflowed into a storage closet in the senior center. Today on the second day of the second food drive, when I pushed open the door, the room was full of smiling, eager volunteers, many of whom I’d seen before. The shelves were clean and carefully organized, but there were empty spaces.
The town is holding a meeting about teaching children to garden. Do you suppose gardening gloves come in opera length?
Yesterday, I got a survey and solicitation from the DNC, and those asslicking pigfuckers have a lot of nerve asking me for a list of my priorities and a wad of money after they spent the last year fucking pigs, licking asses and punching hippies like me. So I sent back a mostly completed survey and a paint-peeling description of why I will never give the party another red cent. If you receive a survey and solicitation, I urge you not to discard it. The DNC’s list of 2009 accomplishments is a real knee-slapper, deserving of a hot retort or two. Answer the questions, tell the asslicking pigfuckers how you really feel and tell them why you’re keeping your pin money. If you’ve been reading PIC for more than a few minutes, you know exactly why despite the fact that I am married to a man I wrote in black marker: The GayTM is closed.
I am no longer hostage to idea that I have nowhere else to go. I found somewhere else and went there. And I won’t be back while the corporatists control the party. When the Democrats remember they are the party of labor, women, minorities, LGBTQs and seniors, the party of social justice and a strong safety net, we may talk again. Maybe. But don’t count on it.
Not this time.