Friday, 12 April 2013
Announcing a Summer Poetry Workshop in Jackson Heights, Queens
This summer I'll be continuing the theme of The Poet's Notebook with an emphasis on The Five Senses. The class will run for ten weeks, with a sequence of two week segments exploring the fields of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.
We'll experiment with braille and sign language and synesthesia, and we will think about our habits as writers (what sensory information do we favor? what sensory information do we ignore?).
The class is open to creative people of all kinds, and the dates of meetings are Mondays (6 pm to 8:30 pm):
June 3, 10, 17, 24,
July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29,
Fee for the class is $300 ($275 for returning students) and the class will be held in Jackson Heights, Queens.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Wednesday, 3 April 2013
From The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter:
Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin, of the University of Chicago, studied the greenhouse gases emitted by the production of animal products, and concluded that the typical US diet , about 28 percent of which comes from animal sources, generates the equivalent of nearly 1.5 tons more carbon dioxide per year than a vegan diet with the same number of calories. (240)
The prevailing Western ethic assumes that human interests must always prevail over the comparable interests of members of other species. Since the rise of the modern animal movement in the 1970s, however, this ethic has been on the defensive. The argument is that, despite obvious differences between human and nonhuman animals, we share a capacity to suffer, and this means that they, like us, have interests. If we ignore or discount their interests simply on the grounds that they are not members of our species, the logic of our position is similar to that of the most blatant racists or sexists— those who think that to be white, or male, is to be inherently superior in moral status, irrespective of other characteristics or qualities. (246)
According to Dr Timothy Jones, an archaeologist at the University of Arizona who led a US government funded study of food waste, more than 40 percent of the food grown in the United States is lost or thrown away— that's about $100 billion of wasted food a year. (268)
Reasons I'm Becoming Veganlike
I read Peter Singer and Jim Mason's The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter, and as I said to my friend Evan today, I don't think a book has changed my life so much since I read Ulysses.
In our household we've eaten sustainable meat and dairy for some time (coming from local farmers at our Green Market or from Amish farmers who also deliver raw milk to us). That felt like a step in the right direction.
We assumed that the animals were better cared for than factory farmed animals (and this was confirmed by word-of-mouth from friends who had visited the farms, and from website information about the farmers' practices.)
A couple things came up in Peter Singer's book that revised our food-thinking yet again. Firstly, we don't own a car and don't drive because of its impact on the environment. I've always thought of that as a basic important step I can take to help. But cow-eating (and milk-drinking) has as much of an impact on the environment as car-driving. So now I ask, do I really need to eat cows? The answer is no. Chickens? Well chickens are treated really poorly, sometimes even in "organic" farming contexts. Cage-free doesn't mean free-range; it can mean that the chicken is kept in a shed in close proximity to a lot of other chickens with its beak clipped off. It can not see sunlight and still be cage-free. So, this is a bummer, as they say. Fish? Forget it. Fishing is almost entirely not-sustainable in the 21st Century. Our old friend salmon is either farmed (requiring tons to fish-food which is trawled from the ocean in the form of fish that are then ground up and processed to feed the salmon fish-pellets) or mislabeled as "wild" when often it is farmed. Turkeys: see Chickens. Pigs: pigs have really awful lives in captivity, and yes, they are pretty smart.
I'm always trying to conserve. (I take public transport, I turn off lights, I dislike plastic bags, etc. etc.) It's nothing radical, and in most of the world it's really just the way things are (in Europe people are food and energy conscious, in the Third World they don't have choices— they eat less meat because they can't afford it or can't access it.) But the impact of animal-eating on land, water reserves, and oil energy (pesticides are oil-based and necessary to grow cattle-feed) is phenomenal. The impact of vegetable and fruit eating is usually three times less and sometimes ten times less than the impact of meat eating. Under these circumstances, I think I shouldn't eat meat. I certainly don't need cow milk. I might still eat some goat cheese. And eggs, yes, I use them for our morning pancakes, but I have an egg connection, and I know those chickens personally. (They're pretty happy girls.)
This is the news from the Lisablog headquarters. I think everyone should read The Way We Eat. I think people should stop eating cows too. I mean people who are worried about global warming need to stop eating cows. People who are worried about corral reefs should stop eating fish and shrimp. People who are worried about global warming and about corral reefs should just give up and become vegetarians.
More on this soon. Meanwhile, keep eating the rich!
Sunday, 17 March 2013
Food is pretty much most of what we think about these days at the Lisablog Offices. Between the three of us, we are not eating various combinations of gluten and sugar, and we're all off meats and dairy that come from factory farms. As for me, I'm reading Peter Singer's book What We Eat and of course, it's a major downer for the meat eaters in the crowd. The bright side is that we still have a lot to eat. The winter has been filled with apples and carrots from the neighborhood green market. The end of gluten has brought us back in touch with our love for rice. The spring brings greens, little radishes, and still more apples and carrots and potatoes. A friend from California sent ducks that he shot— mallards, spoonbills, and teal. So that's a weird, wooly, wonderful addition to our dinners.
What's a little startling—after years of diet modifications to eat right and avoid harming others— is that there's almost nothing we can eat that comes from an American supermarket or restaurant. Corn and corn products and soy and soy products are genetically modified, chickens and cows and pigs are fed antibiotics, factory farmed milk (this includes the Horizon Organic) comes from places where male calves go straight to the garbage heap or the veal bin, and eggs (even cage free) come from chickens who have their beaks seared off. So, yeah, no wonder people go vegan.
Our local diet is becoming more extreme, in a good way. Even at the green market we're asking about where pigs live and what they do with their days, and we're (just speaking for Lisa of the Blog here) cutting back on meat in radical ways. How radical? After the mallards go, the meat is done. And cow milk for the kid is being replaced by goat or sheep milk. And eggs are coming only from our friends in Brooklyn with chickens in their yards. And maybe still from our clandestine Amish source, but only after we visit their farm.
And by the way, what the hell do vegan people feed their pets? Is there any ethical cat food? Of course this leads back to why did you domesticate the cat for your own pleasure anyway?
Yes, I could be lured into a rant here. My favorite childhood place, Lake Erie, is turning into a swamp because of the factory farm chicken shit phosphorus run-off in Ohio. My kid gets hives from a/ food intolerances? b/ environmental pollution? c/ a long line of exposures to toxins beginning with vaccinations that we selectively agreed to (and really if we had had done our homework would have skipped entirely). And then every time we go to a restaurant the kid gets a dose of antibiotics from the meat. And every time I've been given a medication the doctor or dentist says it doesn't really affect the breast-feeding kid. Okay, so I'm kind of mad, not because I expect the powers that be to be accountable, but because I wish there was a corner of ethicality in this nation. And it occurs to me that the logic of "send your kid to school" chimes with "get your kid vaccinated" and "support our troops". If the word "fringe" applies to everyone who allows a child an autonomous education and recognizes that pharmaceutical companies and farming corporations and the military industrial complex don't have our best interests in mind, then the world is in a sad state. Enough said. Peace out.
Wednesday, 20 February 2013
We Were Away
We went to yoga class today and Bea explained that we'd been away to Buffalo, London, and Chicago. That's also part of the reason we've been away from the blog, but the every day of "just being" is really what keeps us away from the blog lately. It's more and more delightful to be offline, which raises a bunch of questions. We dumped Facebook and have forgotten about the chatter on the various neighborhood listservs and really somehow don't miss even the New York Times, but would like to stay informed about meteors striking the earth. Also we dumped Youtube, for the sake of the kid (and the sake of my sanity because My Little Pony was full of baloney.) This has made family movie time a lot more exciting. We watch together on a big screen (not very big.) Our friends Kent and Tara and Lyv and Fyo have a projector for their wall. Hmm. Well, it's a thought. And Thomas brought home some Buster Keaton the other night, which had Bea cackling like a mongoose.
So what is the universe about? Mostly cooking and autonomous learning. (The term "unschooling" increasingly bristles in that it implies that school is a grid from which to "un-".) We're really using schools as places to poach from and doing something that suits us as learners. Art classes, yoga, museum tours. It's all around us and we tend to come and go as we please, depending on what time the kid wakes up and what kind of mood we're in. But let me say now that I hope Bea never wants to go to school because I so much love our lazy morning wake up and variable breakfast-time.) We did talk about "what-school-is" the other day and she said it wouldn't work for her if she couldn't be naked there. Fair enough.
As for breakfasts, we're getting hot and heavy with the gluten-free pancakes. Here's one recipe we've been making use of:
tablespoon of honey
teaspoon of vanilla
teaspoon of baking powder (the hippie non-aluminum kind)
a handful of walnuts
a blended apple
1/2 cup of coconut flour
1/2 cup of raw milk or coconut milk or bone broth
heap up in big silver dollar shapes, slow fry in butter or coconut oil.
And yes! We just got bucket of organic coconut oil and a pound of raw cacoa powder. It's heaven.
We'll be back in a month, give or take a few weeks. And here are some pictures. Peace out people.
Central Park Snow Drops, February
Pool hall at the University of Chicago
Monday, 4 February 2013
Announcing a Poetry Workshop in Jackson Heights, Queens
In the autumn I ran a workshop with the theme "poet's notebooks" and
it went really well. I'm hoping to do part 2 of the class on mondays
6-8:30 from Feb 25 to April 29 at my apartment in Jackson Heights,
Queens. I will see if I can get 7 students-- I think that's a good
number. It would be $300 for new students, $275 for returning
students. I want to run the class as a theater performance of sorts.
There will be five topics that we'll focus on in notebook writing:
State dept (current international affairs)
And we will spend two weeks on each topic. The goal is to write
obsessively in the notebook about the topic in an "as if" mode.
(during these two weeks I AM an architect or I AM fluent in Japanese,
or I AM a state dept official.) I'm thinking of the workshop meetings
as a kind of salon, where we come in, have a glass of wine, (or tea),
and talk about our discoveries, read from our notebooks, and spin off
into in-class writing exercises inspired by the information we've
Please let me know if you're interested, and please forward this to
Monday, 7 January 2013
Whit asked about Defiant Lightness, which was on my vision list for the new year. I stole the phrase from the Burmese Prince, who had it on his vision list last year. It's just what it is, a bouncy step heading around town, like Frank O'Hara.
If you can't get enough of this silly blog news, see also the Poetry Foundation. I'm guest blogging on Harriet the Blog during the month of January: Harriet
Also, on Wednesday night there's an excellent Robert Duncan Birthday Party at the Poetry Project. We will be there, you should be there too: Po Project January 9th
Also, also, fermented applesauce. Yes, that's what I said:
Pardon its sidewaysness. A glitch in the machine.
The Jackson Heights Farmers Market has been a remarkable find in this new neighborhood of ours. It turns out that we can do all our shopping there, once a week, and we can stick with a diet of local seasonal food, which is where it's at. Winter makes eating easier: fewer choices, predictable food prep routines. We've settled on one chicken, some beef stock bones, many apples, many carrots, many sweet potatoes, some squash, some brussel sprouts, yogurt, and milk as our winter staples. With the fermenting kit (pictured above) we end up with a couple jars of fermented apple sauce every week too. After years of experimenting, it feels like we've arrived at a mix of healthy and tasty stuff that feeds the family well. Sugar and wheat are out. (Okay, not entirely true: the kid is a sugar magnet: she sneaks treats whenever she can.) Canned food is out (eliminating the BPA issue). Processed food is out. No boxes, no cans. Just the real deal. What I'm happy about is the foundation this gives the kid re: comfort food routines. She really chomps away on the raw carrots and apple and peanut butter treats. Bone broths with rice noodles are also a big hit. Voila, kid nutrition is under control. (And we're tossing in some fermented cod liver oil with raw butter here and there, just to keep our fur shiny.)
Meanwhile, we are settled in Jackson Heights, but why are we in America and how long will we stay here? In New York City we don't so keenly feel the madness of guns and Jesus, but we know they are lurking just outside the city limits. (Actually Jesus is in our neighborhood pretty heavily because of the stupid Spanish converting everyone south of the border.)
We also ponder issues of community and the communal, and the differences in the social contracts UK versus USA. Americans (especially New Yorkers) may know you for years without asking where you came from, where you went to school, what your family is about, and what your experiences of the world are.
I often feel guilty of being an American in a particular social shyness. Is it a lack of interest in my neighbors? Is it that the pubs of Britain lubricate the social contract with stout? Is it that the UK and Europe are simply more socialist? (I mean the social contract triumphs over the wild western individualism.) Look around you. Who do you know and what do you know about them? I have one project in the works that has helped me to rethink people and why I love them. I've started a CIA file style notebook, a list of all my friends and acquaintances. Alphabetical by first name. Every person gets a page, and on that page I take notes about the details of the person's life. Creepy? Not really meant to be. It's more of a love affair with community. It's nice to know that so and so has eight step-sisters and that madame x spent a year in south america. who would have thought that jane doe's neurosis started with her mother who was an orphan.
Talking to people about who they are seems like a basic human activity, but I can think of twenty years worth of experiences in New York City where talk has been more about commodity experience (where did you get those shoes?) and foody culture (where did you get that sushi?) and snarkiness (a's big butt, b's drinking problem, and c and d's lousy marriage).
And now it's time to say good day. Back soon. Peace out.
Monday, 31 December 2012
Last year at the New Year the Burmese Prince made a list called "Fifty Things", not of things he particularly wished to do, but of things he grooved on. I made a list of Fifty Things that was more goal-oriented, which is my way of being— like a hamster on a wheel. Last year's list had some nice things on it. Fermenting food (we've really had fun with that, and this week we came up with an excellent fermented applesauce that tastes like fizzy thick apple cider.) Baking bread— we gave up on that one as we don't eat wheat anymore, and the alternative bread-types are so odd and complicated (though a pie crust of almond flour and coconut oil is pretty fantastic). Buying a house in the Bronx. Well, we did buy an apartment in Jackson Heights, so that's the big deal for this year: having a homestead that is lovely and lovable. And then there was the theme of birds. In 2012 we learned to identify a lot of birds in the course of our Central Park walks: the titmouse, the chickadee (an old favorite from childhood in upstate New York), the house finch, the chipping sparrow, the golden crested kinglet, the downy woodpecker, the grackle, the wood duck, the northern shoveler, and so on and so forth.
The theme lately has been simplicity, so in 2013 our Fifty Things will become Ten Things. Here it is.
Old English could be on the list too. Ancient Greek? Back to that soon.
Meanwhile, Happy New Year to all our peops here there and everywhere. And a heads up to the UK crew: we arrive January 19.
Sunday, 23 December 2012
In an effort to be cheerful despite the upcoming Consumer-Family Holiday, here is a photo essay.
On a side street here there is good weird cheer (the santa pig is charming). The Beast and I took a stroll along this route the other night on our way home from the park. Jackson Heights continues to delight (and Bea actually now calls the neighborhood Jackson Lights).
Milk and Cookies. In an effort to curb the kid's sugar consumption, we've instituted an afternoon milk and cookies ritual. We even found gluten free cookies so that I can join in (wheat has been out of circulation for some months here as it gives me wicked headaches). Instead of having a treat in the morning or a treat on the way home from the park, we wait til we're home and at the dining room table to break out the snacks.
A tufted titmouse in the Ramble, Central Park. The last few weeks have been filled with winter bird sightings in the park. The Forest Nursery kids are now pretty clear about what's a woodpecker and what's a sparrow and what's a starling. As for pigeons, Bea refers to them as Rock Doves, which is what they are. And the toe action of the pigeon? Well, any Forest Nursery three year old can tell you that the pigeon foot is pretty similar to the T Rex or Allosaurus foot. The "unschooling" thing comes together organically, which is why we don't want to call it "unschooling"-- we're not "un-ing" anything and we're not relying on the apparatus known as "school". Learning all the time, autonomously, yes, but that's not radical, it's just what humans do. The Burmese Prince appreciates "defiant lightness" as a principle of being. That's how life-plus-kid-minus-school feels: defiantly light.
This photo, well, I just like it. Leela (age 8) took it the other day when we had a mini-party with Miku, Yui, Toby, and Aisha.
The other miscellaneousness of the season is related to food. Shredded beets, carrots, and ginger are fermenting, and two more projects of fermented apple sauce and pickled turnips are on the schedule for tomorrow's kitchen experiments.
The news of the world is still the news of the world: haunting really, with massive ice melt stories (can't wait to see what the next hurricane season brings) and as for guns and the NRA, holy shit as my friend Bernadette would say. Because after all, if you're going to send your kid to school, you want to be sure they have the opportunity to see good guys shooting bad guys. (And you can imagine the mental state of any "good guy" who wants to volunteer his time to stalk around the outside of a school with a gun.)
We're pretty depressed about the fact that the victims list for Sandy Hook has been officially set at 26. Victim number 1, Adam Lanza's mom gets left off the victim list, as does victim number 28, Adam Lanza. The Guardian ran a good editorial piece on this part of the story:
Peace people, and eat the NRA (remove the buckshot first).
Saturday, 15 December 2012
In America, about 9,000 people a year are killed by guns.
In the United Kingdom the number is about 40.
In the United States, every year about 300,000 violent crimes are committed with guns.
In Japan, in 2008 there were 11 homicides by gun. Eleven.
In America the number was 11,000. Eleven thousand.
Here's a chart:
Gun deaths per 100,000 population (for the year indicated):
| ||Homicide||Suicide||Other (inc Accident)|
| || || || |
|USA (2001) ||3.98 ||5.92||0.36|
|Italy (1997) ||0.81||1.1||0.07|
|Switzerland (1998)||0.50 ||5.8 ||0.10|
In the midst of this crappy weekend, we simply don't understand how people can continue to say gun control is not the answer. People with guns sometimes shoot other people. People with semi-automatic military rifles (apparently a legal and desirable accessory in a suburban connecticut household) sometimes shoot a lot of people. People without guns do not accidentally shoot themselves or other people. People in affluent suburbs do not need guns. If you're that paranoid about escapees from the local prison, build yourself one of those safe rooms inside your house.
We'd meant to write about fermented carrots and cooperative housing today, but bigger things loom. The Burmese Prince, who can hardly believe he lives in a country where "school shooting" is a normal part of the vocabulary, is just about ready to catch the next ship home.
Perhaps if nothing else we have another reason not to send our kid to school. But mostly this weekend we feel like we have a whole lot of nothing.
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