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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Simon Smithson

On Change

November 8th, 2009
by Simon Smithson

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-

A friend of mine doesn’t meet new people easily. It’s possible he may be suffering from a touch of Asperger’s (if there is such a thing as a ‘touch’ of Asperger’s). In familiar situations, he likes to dominate - by putdowns, by attack, by withholding attention. But as soon as a random, unknown element - a new person, for example - is introduced, the strength and the bluster vanish from him. He goes strangely quiet; backs down like a loudly-barking Chihuahua suddenly confronted with a pit bull. The more distinct and different a stranger, and their appearance and lifestyle, is from my friend and his, the more difficulty he has meeting their eyes. In the absence of common ground, my friend becomes unsure, and intimidated. He has no way of bridging the gap, and suddenly his confidence in his own position collapses like a house of cards. Those of us who know him well can see the uncertainty and the fear creeping up in him until, finally, when we are alone, he will confide in us ‘I didn’t like that guy.’ (more…)


Ryan Day

Marketocracy

November 6th, 2009
by Ryan Day

PHOENIX, AZ-

I am, unfortunately, in no position to refuse $75 for one hour of my time, pretty much no matter what the the contents of that hour. They could have asked me to drink six bottles of catsup (ketchup?). They could have asked me to have tea with Glen Beck and soothe his uniquely bruised ego with prefabricated whispers about the peaceful forces at the center of the conservative universe (you are a child of the marketplace… the invisible hand will always lead you towards the light of the DOW…). I would have mowed lawns, bagged leaves (though I imagine the going rate of yard maintenance is somewhat lower), run backwards into the weird smelling basin at the end of the Salt River. But, alas, all they wanted was that I watch some movie trailers and tell them, no matter what I really thought, that the Rock was just the actor to breath renewed life into that excalibur of cinematic roles, the Tooth Fairy. (more…)


Steve Sparshott

Access Small Areas

November 2nd, 2009
by Steve Sparshott

LONDON, ENGLAND-

Being disabled and not being a billionaire evil genius is a shite state of affairs.

After a six year trial period, I’ve decided it’s not for me. The problem is context—context being, supposedly, everything. You see, I didn’t spec my environment; I don’t have a hollowed-out island full of boiler-suited minions, with smooth floors and rapid, spacious lifts. I have London, and it’s a fucking disgrace.
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Erika Rae

Harvest Time! Or, My Democratic Carrots Have Genitalia. What Have Yours Got?

October 25th, 2009
by Erika Rae

BOULDER, CO-

This year, being the proud Obamabot that I am, I eagerly followed the left wing conspiracy all the way to my garden. Never mind the fact that I live at 9000 ft in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and get exactly 11.3 weeks of contiguous summer. The White House grounds currently survive an inordinate measure of chill under the scrutiny of the GOP. If Michelle could do it, I reasoned, so could I.

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Brandon Gorrell

The Gimmicks of American Apparel vs. the Gimmicks of Urban Outfitters

October 21st, 2009
by Brandon Gorrell

SEATTLE, WA-

I have listed comparisons of what I feel are significant gimmicks of American Apparel and Urban Outfitters.

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Tyler Stoddard Smith

How to Write, Or Not

October 4th, 2009
by Tyler Stoddard Smith

AUSTIN, TX-

They tell me you should write about what you know. I’ve always had a problem with that. I may know some things other people don’t, but in writing that down, what good does that do me? Not much. I already know it. I want to write about things I don’t know about. I want to learn things about what I don’t think, how people I don’t know don’t act and why. Perhaps I say this because I don’t know much. I know a lot of facts about arcane things, but I already know them and I already know that nobody, unless they are short of Trivial Pursuit cards, wants to hear that kind of bilge. However, I don’t know one thing that I think will serve me well in my writing career: I don’t know how to write.

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Don Mitchell

Tsunami

September 30th, 2009
by Don Mitchell

COLDEN, NY-

I wrote this some time ago and had no thought of posting it, but because the tsunami that hit the Samoas has been in the news and in my thoughts today, I dragged it out, made cuts, and offer it as a first-person tsunami account.

On Monday, May 23, 1960, in Hilo, Hawai’i, I was nearly killed through my own foolishness, and then, not an hour later, I began rescuing people who were already dead. I was 16.
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Don Mitchell

.308 Winchester

September 18th, 2009
by Don Mitchell

COLDEN, NY-

The summer after my father lost his business in the great tsunami of 1960 we were cash-poor. I was just 17 and managed to get a job with the Hawai’i State Department of Fish & Game, which oversaw much of Mauna Kea, a large mountain with a lot of wildlife on it, out of a ramshackle camp at Pohakuloa.
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Richard Cox

A Thousand Words: Emergence - From Simple Lessons Arise Unexpected Results

September 15th, 2009
by Richard Cox

TULSA, OK-

The first memory I have of my father is my earliest image of anything, a thunderous voice demanding I finish some long-forgotten meal. I was still in a high chair then, and the world was binary, black and white, yes or no. Mostly no. If you were uncertain about whether a particular action was permissible, you didn’t have to wait long to find out. The loud voice made the world exceedingly simple.

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David S. Wills

A Thousand Words: Wilderness Kicks

September 14th, 2009
by David S. Wills

BIG SUR, CALIFORNIA -

I used to work on an organic farm in California, living in a barn full of horses and riding tractors through fields under the warmth of a gentle fall sun. I was a Beatnik then more than now – among hippies and flower children, believing everything I was told and digging all the world in some glorious young innocence.

I was obsessed with Kerouac and Ginsberg, and with the notion of wilderness. I read too much for my own good; my head full of dreams and naïve thoughts. I’d read Into the Wild, a lot of London and some Thoreau. I was obsessed with Big Sur and becoming free of the constraints of humanity. I loved the idea of the writer disappearing into nature.

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Peter Gajdics

Gender: Weltanschauung

September 13th, 2009
by Peter Gajdics

VANCOUVER, BC

After a nearly twenty year hiatus I am back in University, continuing my undergraduate degree in the only field of academia that makes sense to me to study as a 44-year old gay man who’s spent much of his adult life struggling with issues related to sexuality: gender studies. Assignment number one was to ask as many people as possible: What makes a “real man,” what makes a “real woman”? Naturally, I asked all my friends. Responses ranged from the straightforward (“this is pretty simple to me”), to the more complex (“this really is an existential question”). They also seemed reflective of the two broad camps of evolutionary thought: the “nature” (men and woman are fundamentally biologically different) vs. “nurture” (men and women are socially constructed to be different) argument. (more…)


Rob Delaney

The Grimmest Squat in London

September 5th, 2009
by Rob Delaney

LONDON-

It had been a bad morning, the day I went out to look at the squat. I’d had a bitter fight with Binh and then she had a violent premonition: she saw me, she said, lying in a pool of blood; there were spilled pills and a crack of gunshot. It was, I had thought, a fairly stylised, cinematic instance of clairvoyance, but it chilled me nonetheless. It’s the East in her, these depths and silences I don’t understand.

I met Noel, an anarchist colleague from the school where I’d recently found a job, out in East London. Tower Hamlets, the place was called, allegedly the poorest area in Britain.

The high-rise was as long as the street, with five floors, and the whole building had been squatted. It was grey, desolate and forbidding, like a Communist residential block in Eastern Europe fallen into post-Soviet, feral abandonment. Slogans had been daubed in big letters along the balconies on the higher floors:

 

SQUATTERS’ CITY OF PEACE; GOD IS SQUATTING HERE WITH US

 

(more…)


Kip Tobin

Mil Palabras: Guadalajaran Trees

August 30th, 2009
by Kip Tobin

August 30, 2029

GUADALAJARA, Mexico

In those days, I was finishing up a degree in the Spanish language in Guadalajara, Mexico, riding the wave of what was left of my mid-life postponement, wedged between two countries, two languages, girlfriends, professions, et al. I remember I turned 36 there, straddling the fence between youth and middle-age, having just moved from Madrid where I had lived for almost six years, and the six weeks in Mexico was an understated adjustment, preceded by the initial shock that Mexico was not even second but third world.

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Matthew Gavin Frank

Evolution

August 24th, 2009
by Matthew Gavin Frank

BAROLO, ITALY-

At the end of Via Crosia, at least a kilometer past the Macelleria, but before the vineyards, the street’s rose cobblestone is cracked with anthills.  Surely these bugs are, right now even, communing under the town, perhaps under a single block, waiting to bore holes through the bathtubs of Barolo.

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Don Mitchell

Badass Pink Chevy

August 18th, 2009
by Don Mitchell

COLDEN, NY -

Prologue: I’m getting worried about the Simon Smithson Effect (SSE). This afternoon I was fiddling with this piece, which is a companion to the earlier “I Don’t Brake for Mongoose,” both belonging to a larger work called “The Dump,” when in comes an email from the guy in Hilo who’s been using my trailer, telling me that this morning at sparrowfart, when he was least expecting it, he was stopped by a cop and told to register the trailer or face a $100 fine. SSE? WTF? LOL! Read on.
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Paul Clayton

Le Voisinage de Monsieur Roger, First Blood, Part I, Chapter 7, addendum 1.2, or Wally Gator gets down with the crew at the sauna…

August 17th, 2009
by Paul Clayton

SAN FRANCISCO-

As usual, I drove to the municipal pool last Sunday.  My route takes me past the soccer field.  A game was in progress, one team wearing green shorts and jerseys, the other blue.  Soccer is really big here in South City with the Mexicans and Central Americans.  They’re out there most Sundays, their families picnicking on the grounds, watching.  There’s always a truck parked alongside the field selling burritos and tacos.  We also have a baseball field adjoining that.  They usually play Saturday and some evenings under the lights. (more…)


J.E. Fishman

At Loggerheads

August 11th, 2009
by J.E. Fishman

BALD HEAD ISLAND, NC—

We left home for Bald Head Island under an invasion of gnats.  They started turning up in the master bathroom, and it got to the point where I was killing a dozen or more a day.  The slaughter was not traumatic for me in any way.  The gnats were slow, unthreatening.  You could close your hand around them or — my preferred method — wait for one to land and crush it neatly under a fingertip.  If one alit in the sink, you might end its existence with a splash.

I didn’t think of the gnats again until we were well ensconced on Bald Head, until we saw the baby sea turtles.

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Kristen Elde

Big Sky

August 4th, 2009
by Kristen Elde

MISSOULA, MT-

September 2003

It’s late, 12:30-late, and I’m just now pulling into the parking lot of Hubbard’s Ponderosa Lodge in Missoula. The toll of a thousand straight miles on the road won’t register for a while yet: I’m still carrying a charge.

“Hi. I’d like a room—two nights, one person.”

I’m traveling by myself, my preference from the age of five, a time when my version of a solo vacation was putting Mom and Dad thirty feet at my back, all but forgetting them as I crouched low, sifting through frosted sea glass and limpet shells with glossy, purplish undersides—alone on the beach with a green plastic bucket and an active imagination.

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Doug Mulliken

Not a Thousand Words: Marvin Gaye, Mexico, and Patriotism

August 1st, 2009
by Doug Mulliken

United States of America, North America, the World -

I am an American.  I am an American because I was born in the United States of America.  I was born in the United States of America because my parents, and their parents, and their parents’ parents, and their parents’ parents’ parents, were born in the United States.  My family can trace its genealogy in this country back to a man named Robert Mulliken who was born in Scotland and arrived in the Massachusetts Bay colony in the 1680s.  Think about that for a second.  My family has been in this country since the 17th century.  I am about as American as you can get.  My ancestors may have come from Scotland or Ireland or wherever, but for me to suggest that I am a “hyphenated American” would be a slap in the face to those Americans whose connection to the country of their ancestors is, say, three years instead of three centuries.  I’m not Scottish-American, or Irish-American; I’m just American.  And yet I feel no connection to my country.

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Shya Scanlon

Five Thoughts Upon the Eve of my 34th Birthday

July 27th, 2009
by Shya Scanlon

LOWER EAST SIDE, MANHATTAN-

On Water

I’ve become pretty water-savvy over the past few years. Who hasn’t? Spring water, sparkling water, water from the quickly disappearing glaciers of Alaska – we’ve all been drinking more bottled water. I know some people who have stopped drinking tap water altogether. They say they don’t like the taste, but I think it’s actually a matter of trust. I drink it, but I probably shouldn’t. When I order tap water in restaurants, it’s slightly embarrassing. Can’t I afford the bottled water? Am I making some kind of statement? (Sometimes when the refrigerator in my kitchen kicks in, the lights in my apartment dim a little, and I feel my eyelids dip to match the encroaching darkness as though they’re struggling to blur the line between what they guard and what they guard against.)

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