June 26, 2009
Ed McMahon/Johnny Carson
It can only be with sadness that one learns of the passing of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. In terms of life cut short one must feel sorriest for that latter two. 50 is clearly way to young to die and 62 after battling cancer for three years is just plain tragic. Ed got to live a long life.
But in terms of artistry, I may be alone here, but I’ll miss Ed McMahon the most. I rarely watched Charlie’s Angels. The story lines were thin and the only reason I watched - which the producers knew all too well and which the media knew too (after all, I recollect it wasn’t called “jiggle” television for nothing) – was that the show had three good/ OKAY great looking women. These days if I want to watch good looking women on TV I watch the women’s draw at Wimbledon.
For me crime drama begins with the Rockford Files, from the opening phone messages (“Jim, Mancuso’s average in the Series was .315, not .310 – YOU OWE ME FIVE BUCKS. And oh, yeah, Fran and I are getting divorced.”) to his love for his salt-of-the earth trucker father to his practicality (he’s the only detective I know who when caught in a high-speed chase would ram his car into a police car thus “saving his life” and nabbing the bad-guys at the same time)
Michael Jackson. I liked him most when he was young and singing with his family five. Those songs appealed. The latter stuff, the moon walk, the glove on only one hand, the videos – call me old fashioned but I prefer the people whose voice makes you wonder how they do that – from Nat King Cole to Frank (no need for a last name) to Josh Groban. If I could afford it I’d love to have a subscription series to the Metropolitan Opera. There’s singing! And for me, great spectacle.
Ed McMahon. He’s the one of the three I think I might have wanted to know. Well, Ok maybe mostly to ask him about Johnny. But everyone has to like a straight man. There’s a line in John Sayles movie The Last of the Seacaucus Seven in which one of the characters says “friends are people you don’t have to explain your jokes to.” Johnny never had to explain his jokes to Ed. My favorite exchange was when Ed would hand Carnac the Magnificent/Johnny the sealed envelopes and give Carnac the punchline/answer and Carnac would have to come up with the question. Answer – Sis Boom Baaaah. Question. What sound does a sheep make before it explodes? A good sense of humor, a million dollar hand-out, American Idol before there was American Idol. Those I’ll miss.
Sad times all-around. But what the hey, we’ll probably be nuked by North Korea and democracy just took a nose-dive in Iran. So a little perspective please. Plus, worst of all, my Phillies just lost 10 out of 12.
On the plus side I always wondered how Michael and Elvis would perform in a duet. Now that would be a “Thriller.” Well, that plus imagining Michael with Farrah’s hair.
Joseph Glantz is consulting editor of Wild River Review. His book, Philadelphia Originals, will be published by Schiffer Books, this fall. He also writes the column Interviews with the Famously Departed
June 24, 2009
Wild River talks to Sherry Dudas, Farm Planner for the largest Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiative in the United States
by Kim Nagy
“Welcome to the era of food activism,” announces the WorldWatch Institute (an independent research organization based out of Washington, D.C., which focuses on the 21st century challenges of climate change, resource degradation, population growth, and poverty). “More than ever before, how we farm and feed ourselves is how we change the world around us.”
Honey Brook Organic Farm
As Honey Brook Organic farm explains in their brochure, “Community supported agriculture is an attempt to address the manifold problems of modern industrialized agriculture by redefining the relationship between farmer, consumer and the natural, biological systems which comprise a farm.” The organic label is not only nutritionally important but important to the health of our soil and water. Indeed “normal” farms (and agribusiness at large) remain major water polluters due to pesticide run-off but that’s food for another blog.
Of course, food is not just political, but deeply personal.
I might not have changed the world as much as I’d like through multiple years of CSA farm “membership” but I do like that just once in a while I can answer my six-year old daughter with precision (without a blink!) when she asks, “Mommy, where does that food actually come from?”
And I do know that heading to the farm (every week over summer and fall) has changed my life and deeply intensified my passion for cooking. Do I start with my indulgent use of fresh basil, dill, and cilantro in ever-changing dishes? Words are not enough. Or the way I’ve watched my daughter stuff herself on sugar snap peas, strawberries and more strawberries (her shirt drenched in strawberry juice) straight from the fields? Or how I just like the look of red and green lettuce, broccoli, spinach, kale, cabbage and garlicscapes scattered all over my kitchen counter?
Honey Brook Organic Farm located in Central New Jersey, is the largest Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiative of its kind in the United States. Wild River Review asked Sherry Dudas, Honey Brook’s Farm Planner a few questions about the challenges and rewards of working on an organic CSA farm.
You are on the largest CSA’s in the country…To what do you attribute your success? Location, location, location as well as offering tasty, high quality locally grown certified organic produce for a reasonable price.
What can the ordinary person do to support local agriculture? Become customers of local farmers, refrain from complaining about noise or smells generated by farmers, and lending support when they need approvals from local officials to do projects like drill irrigation wells, improve their farm markets or expand their parking lots.
Doesn’t it cost too much? Our customers don’t think so – we have a 400 person waiting list at the moment. It’s not just a consumer transaction here – our members are looking for an experience — interacting with other members, watching ladybugs on the bean plants with their grandchildren, maybe stealing a smooch from their spouse in the PYO flowers. It’s the kind of place lasting memories are made, and it’s rare that we get any complaints about the price of membership.
What don’t people know about organic farmers? That we are chronically sleep-deprived during the growing season.
What disheartens you most about agricultural policy in the United States? Federal programs designed to help farmers conserve soil and water are underfunded, so less conservation work gets done as a result.
What inspires you most about your work? It’s got to be the joy it inspires in children. In fact, last week a boy (about 4 years old) hugged me when he found out I was one of the farmers here. I didn’t get that kind of appreciation when I worked at a desk job!
Sherry Dudas is Farm Planner for Honey Brook Organic Farm. She came to Honey Brook with over 10 years of conservation and farmland preservation experience, and is responsible for managing the farm’s marketing and promotion, special event planning, community outreach and related farm business and land use planning activities.
Kim Nagy is Executive Editor of Wild River Review
June 19, 2009
by William Irwin Thompson
“We Irish think otherwise” Bishop Berkeley
Sappho and Erinna, Simeon Solomon, Tate Gallery
It was the Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Eliot Trudeau who first fought off the hordes of the self-righteous who rose to the attack of homosexuality by insisting that “The State had no business in the bedrooms of the nation.” In the evolution of culture since the sixties—and because of the sixties, I might add—we have made some progress and people have come to accept homosexuality as a cultural reality and not simply as an “abomination in the eyes of the Lord.” Or, at least, those sensible people who prefer to live in a culture and not a cult have come to be more tolerant and pluralistic in their acceptance of tempora et mores.
So let us take a step back to look at the issue of Gay marriage from an evolutionary point of view, both cultural and biological—although these two are never really separated in human reality. If, in the terms of Natural Selection, homosexuals do not reproduce, what possible selective pressure can there be that enables homosexuals to survive over the millennia? They should have died out long ago as a kinky approach to orgasm that arose when we all had to huddle together in caves in the Ice Age and no one really knew late at night what was going on under all those furs. By the time of the sunlit nuclear families of the Neolithic, when houses shifted from round to square and had an extra room for individual food storage and private property, people began to domesticate animals and notice which black goat sired more black goats, and paternity reared its—well, you get the idea.
Homosexuality should have disappeared, but in fact most of those Abrahamic cultures of the Middle East and Central Asia have strong traditions of boy love, and those love poems of Hafez that celebrate the beauty of the “slim Turk,” are not talking about women. Across the vast continent of Eurasia to the Greeks and Romans, and up to the birth of Latin poetry with Catullus, poetry is celebrating homosexuality and bisexuality. And if we go back even further to the Gilgamesh Epic, we find a celebration of the love of men for men. When Gilgamesh couples with women, it is merely the relief of a biological drive, but his intense love for Enkidu is a sublime love of a higher order. Homosexuality has been with us for a long time and probably antedates the institution and so-called “sanctity of marriage.”
So we have to ask ourselves, what selective pressure exists for the continuation of homosexuality when it is obviously not an agency of reproduction? The answer is, of course, that there is a process of Baldwinian Evolution going on, and that the selective pressure is cultural. The homosexual is the magical “wounded healer,” the man with the vulva that heals itself. From the dawn of culture, vulvas were inscribed on rocks and cave walls, and the figurines of the Great Mother, like the Venus of Laussel, were daubed with red ochre to signify the menstrual blood. The vulva was the wound that healed itself in rhythm with the lunar cycle. The man with the vulva was the shaman, the wounded healer who had knowledge of animals and stars, healing and weather. When Christ shows the labial-shaped wound in his side to the doubting Thomas, he is showing that he is the vulva-man, the wounded healer who has healed death itself in his resurrection.
Androgynous men were often selected in early adolescence and marked out in their femininity for training as future shamans. So it is cultural selection and not simply natural selection that produces the selective pressure that insures the continuation of the homosexual. Unconsciously this is why Roman Catholic priests wear soutanes, Bishops and Cardinals dress in colorful and outrageously draggish clothes, and have a fondness for altar boys. It is naïve to think that child abuse is merely a case of a few bad apples; it is basic to the institution of priesthood. It is the boy love culture of Eurasia surviving into our day under wraps.
But as society evolves through the cultural vehicle of the city, from Athens to Rome to London to New York, the shaman also evolves from the sacerdotal figure to the artist. The small town or village still was religious and ignorant, so the Gay man, a Walt Whitman or a Hart Crane, had to move to the Big City. And what was true of Gay men was also true of Lesbian women, from Sappho to Yourcenar. In a more secular society, the shaman becomes the artist.
So if we are going to invoke tradition as the foundational justification of the family, then we had better be sure we know what our traditions really are.
But really–as Trudeau said–the State has no business in any of this. The State may need to issue certificates for birth and death, but certainly not for baptism or extreme unction. And so it is for marriage or confirmation and Bar Mitzvah. The State should issue certificates for civil unions that have to do with property rights and medical visitation rights, and that is all. After one receives a birth certificate from the State, one’s parents can choose to take one to church to be baptized. And so it should be for marriage: after you have been to City Hall, then you can go to whatever religious institution you choose that is willing to bless your union. If you are, for example, a Catholic or Evangelical, and your Church won’t accept your union, then that is grounds for divorce—from either your partner or your religion.
Not the organ answering Job out of the whirlwind,
nor the tiny pointed notes of the harpsichord–
metallic and discrete as knights in armories
unfurled and elevated above the clubbed blood
of churlish battle or bones struck on mammoth skulls,
nor the sun’s arteries drained in stained glass truncheons;
bound in cassocks to their claustral occulted place
where priestly functions anoint the choir boys’ throats
in rituals thousands of years before the Mass,
cherub buttocks lean on the misericord’s hard love
tangled in wings of the dove and coils of the snake
that soon break sunset’s shaft on the rising full moon;
but now the pianoforte in thundering halls
breaks gods’ hold in revolution’s noisy applause.
Cultural philosopher and poet, William Irwin Thompson, is founder of the Lindisfarne Fellowship. He became nationally known as a writer for his best-selling book on contemporary affairs, At the Edge of History, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He received the Oslo International Poetry Festival Award for his science fiction fantasy novel Islands Out of Time and has published four books of poetry. As a cultural historian, he is most widely known for his books, The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality, and the Origins of Culture and Coming into Being: Artifacts and Texts in the Evolution of Consciousness. His collection of poems, Still Travels, will be published by Wild River Books, an imprint of Wild River Review, this summer.
June 16, 2009
by Warren Bobrow
It’s amazing to me how a sip of a wine can vividly recreate a memory of a place.
I was tasting Sauvignon Blancs the other day at the wine shop CoolVines where I work part time. As soon as the crisp, cool, fermented liquid touched my lips, the resin quality and razor sharp acidity reminded me of a trip to Damariscotta, Maine about 23 years before.
We were were sitting on the deck at one of the seafood pubs that graced the once-working waterfront. I was a chef at that time, working for Jim Ledue at Alberta’s one of the first gastro-pubs located in Portland, Maine. We changed our menu daily depending on what was fresh from the local farms and piers. He encouraged his cooks and all of his staff to taste food, preferably from near and also from places like Damariscotta way Down East. We were blessed in Maine to have a wealth of some of the freshest seafood-much of it shipped overnight to Japan for waiting diners.
Jim Ledue had told me about a place up the coast a piece that served Pouilly Fumé -not the maligned “Chablis” in the box that was and still is served with every fish “suppuh” meal up and down the Maine Coast. This special place was known for its wine list, especially the French wines from the Loire Valley that went with a very specific kind of food, Belon Oysters brought over from Brittany in France to be ntroduced, then grown in vast beds surrounding the Damariscotta River.
In those pristine waters, many types of seafood are found living their lives far from the frantic pace of modernization. The relentless tides which churn and combine brackish mineral-laden river and icy cold ocean salt water only improves the specific terroir of the water-bound place. Tides rise and fall 20 feet or more with a frothing power.
Just north of the town of Damariscotta the products that are raised in tidal inlets produce whelks, lobster, clams, sea urchins, peeky-toe crabmeat and Belons. These were the usual fare at the restaurant we were sitting in. A stainless steel plate of oysters sat in front of me amid a swirl of locally collected and very colorful Dulse Seaweeds. The oysters were set haphazardly over the plate overflowing with roughly cut ice were lemon chunks, a red wine mignonette, and freshly ground horseradish.
I could smell the seaweed, saline-sweet and fresh. It stung my nose the moment we arrived having just been delivered from a local fisherman. An ancient wooden skiff was tied roughly to the deck. Wooden boxes of local seaweeds and urchins were being off-loaded.
I ordered a bottle of a mineral-tinged Sauvignon Blanc. Our feast was to be a few plates (then a few more) of several local varieties of oysters. I raised my tiny seafood fork to my mouth. All at once the taste of cool icy briny salt water rushed into my palate, cleaning it of the wine, immediately followed closely by deeper foam, all framed by a brackish sea-charged, living finish creating a vivant tabla rasa for the next taste. This oyster was deeply creamy with its liquor tasting of freshly raked grey fleur de sel- more liquid saline and life spilling out.
This stirred some of my deepest cravings. There is no wonder to me that crisp, acidic steely Sauvignon Blancs we drank that day were the perfect foil to this primal food. I dipped my oyster into the shallot and cracked pepper-infused mignonette, squeezed fresh lemon over it and chewed – breathing in the tang of the sea, then the softly yielding creaminess of its texture, its very soul so to speak, as this oyster was alive, unable to escape from my tongue and teeth.
I devoured every morsel on my plate and ordered another dozen, then another… Seagulls yelled for handouts. Sipping more of the wine I took in the day around me-a salt infused breeze that blew in as fog off the coast.
Behind the counter at CoolVines, I took another sip of Sauvignon Blanc reluctant to leave the realm of a perfect memory.
Raised on an organic farm in Morristown, NJ, food writer and photographer, Warren Bobrow, often wished for a time when he could express his life experiences through his inner eye and enticing adjectives. Bobrow now strives to create words as visual metaphors through his written pieces.
June 11, 2009
by Beata Palya
Women have been stopping me in the streets in Hungary to thank me for my song, How to give birth (lyrics posted in full in earlier blog post dated May 28th) in which I simply proposed in a funny kind of way that women should know and trust their bodies. They say to me when they stop me, “normally I do not do this, go up and talk to the famous singer, but this song, “How to give birth” touches me so much, thank you…”.
I see aglow faces, beautiful women, I read the long letters about women in the countryside who try to accentuate the natural side of birth, quite against the “normal” medical view of giving birth, or I read their stories about giving birth with the help of other women-and how these circles of women around them give them strength. Beautiful, open-hearted people.
I find that women in Hungary, women usually – are not encouraged to read the signals of their body, and surely not to dare speak out loud about their feelings, to dare name the different part of our different organs, especially down there…(a little boy sees his, a little girl does not see hers…) So we do not have our own words. What we have instead is the black mantle of Shame, which covers up so much of our true words, of our true feelings.
Men and women are the same in that Shame point of view. What will others say? What will others think? Well, what does our body and soul say to us? Do we listen to that? Do we have the real heart-hearing to that?
Many times, in many topics -how to give birth is only one example – it seems (at least here in Hungary) that men feel they possess the real or only Truth. It is a truth, that feels like an old armchair, unmovable, a truth surrounded by men’s fear…
A fantastic doctor – gynecologist for 40 years – explained to me that most doctors have pathology-centered education: they need to recognize the bad thing, the sick thing, and try to fix it, help it. If they can’t find it – they do not find their own place and worth in their career and this makes them feel insecure.
Well, what if the birth of a baby goes without problem? It still seems that doctors (usually a he in Hungary) demand a main role in the event. Perhaps the doctor – again most of the time a he – feels that he might lose his place, his position, the aim of his whole long education so that is why he might try and defend the point of view of only being able to give birth in hospital, of cutting the place down there between the vagina and the anus, and giving an injection of anesthesia to the spine etc.
Anyway, I understand both sides, if there even are two sides. (Hospital-birth and home-birth sides.)
I believe men and women are for each other, neither is stronger or better, but they are who they are. Women perhaps reach more courageously towards self-knowledge, women let themselves appear weak which is actually a place of great strength – men have a harder time doing that. But that is also changing. (Dear mother of our ages, do you let your little son cry, or you say “a real boy does not cry..”?)
The paradigm has shifted, certainly. A Hungarian women friend, around 40, with two big children, – both of whom were born at home – was shocked when she first heard my song because in her time, giving birth at home, (in the early 90s!) was practically a crime. And now, a singer can sing a song like this…
Why do I write all this?
Well, I do it from the inside. From love. I love all men, and all women, I wish so much to understand them more. And to understand what they do not understand of each other… I also hope that after so many years of fighting, people, doctors, midwives, women, men, women start to speak to each other in genuine ways. To talk freely about their fears, their desires, their injuries… and face and open unknown areas of themselves – ourselves — and discover what is beyond.
Award-winning singer and writer Beata Palya recently released an album (Sony, May 2009) called Just One Voice.
June 4, 2009
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by Terrence Cheromcka
This past year I was a freshman at New York University.
The liberal arts college I attend within the university requires students to complete a humanities course called “Conversations of the West” in which we explore texts that have become the vertebrae of our culture’s thinking.
One of the texts I read was Friedrich Nietzsche’s “On the Genealogy of Morality.” He employed a concept named for the French world, Resseniment , which is the sense of blame that results from one’s frustrations. This force manifests itself internally or externally and either way becomes an enemy.
Yesterday, I was struck when a newscaster on National Public Radio reported that political measures had been taken in China in response to June 4th twenty-year anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre: China shut down blogging sites such as Twitter (oh no!) and many, many more blogging outlets.
I call them outlets because they are just that: Through the creation of a blog entry an idea or memory or image developing within one’s mind can be processed and released into infinite space (the web, for my purposes).
But what happens when some authoritative power seizes control of these operations? They become like an active kink in the hose or a clamp in the wire. But, like a stream of water or electricity navigating its way simply by undeniable physical laws, the human mind and emotional body do not stop flowing.
So where is all the grief surrounding the Tiananmen Square Massacre going to end up?
And what about the expectant Chinese mother who gives birth today and would like to use her Twitter account to share that beauty with the world–or at least her family across the nation? And shouldn’t the relatives of someone lost in the massacre twenty years ago today be allowed to share this day in the grieving process? What will this drastic measure mean?
Perhaps this measure seems much more drastic to me, a nineteen-year-old raised literally alongside the World Wide Web.
But, I would like to call your attention to an event that took place in Washington Square on New York University’s Campus – the Take Back NYU Project. It was the culmination of a social-justice project that has been developing in the blogging world for some time.
Concerned students had a list of over a decade of demands including University scholarships for Pakistani youth, making the private University’s library public, publicly releasing the University’s budget and endowment, and stabilizing tuition rates.
The physical protest went on for several nights and days and YouTube video hours, and finally ended when the crowd turned violently on the police.
At the time of the protest I stayed far away. I was just down the block from the fiasco at least a dozen times, but I never made it over there to see it– to experience it. But I could follow it on the web, anyway.
When news of the blog shut-down in China rang through my ears, it struck a cord inside me. And if I had never had the NYU blogging experience I may not have realized the connective “why?”
The Take Back NYU Project was part of my freshman year in college and although I could have, I never went and saw it for myself! I missed out by playing it safe and claiming disinterest. The truth is I wasn’t disinterested and because the protest was online, I was able to watch it from afar.
Terrence Cheromcka’s last piece for Wild River Review featured artist, Cassie Jones.
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