Diciembre 29, 2007

Happy, Smart, but Still Fascinated

I was listening several days ago to a short program on KXCI, a weekly feature called "Growing Native with Petey Mesquitey". Petey is the real deal, a unique talent in residence at KXCI, the local community radio station. Every 5-minute or so episode of his show he tells a brief story about some experience he had recently out in the outdoors and what plants or animals he encountered. It might be discussing his trek out to find a christmas tree, or the blooming of some special flower, or finding some strange bug. I've listened to him several times, and even attended a live appearance he did in town, though I've not followed him obsessively or anything.

But last week I realized what makes him so unique: he's a combination of 3 characteristics that no one else I've encountered in the field (of nature writing) really brings together:
1) He obviously knows his subject. He can name the latin names of every organism he comes across, and talks extensively about the details of its appearance, behavior, life cycle, etc.
2) Despite this extensive knowledge, he is REALLY EXCITED and intrigued about everything he talks about and does, and has a deep emotional and spiritual connection to nature.
3) He's happy and optimistic about it all.

This is pretty exceptional. Many writers and thinkers about nature know the science, but are cold and clinical about nature. Others have this (occasionally wackadoo) spiritual link going on but they don't know the details, the science. And some even have both of these but they look at it all through a dark lens of "it's all going away and doomed, isn't that sad. we're fucked." Charles Bowden or Ed Abbey are good examples of the latter. They know their stuff, they feel it too, but where they go with it is pessimistic and negative.

Petey, though, somehow avoids that trap and just exalts in the beauty and simple pleasures of the outdoors.

I think this kind of take on things is really really important. People must know the threats, but they also must be inspired to simple enjoy. Otherwise, the only response can be to throw up one's hands in hopelessness.

Posted by steev at 08:02 PM | Comments (0)

season's shinings

Bahia de Kino - 1I have mucho things to blog about but i haven't been prioritizing it. I guess I'll start with a brief mention of our trip to Bahia de Kino for my birthday and xmas. It was awesome. Great fun, great getaway. Warm, sunny, quiet.
There are photos.

Other fascinating subjects, coming soon.

Posted by steev at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

Diciembre 22, 2007

Xmas/Bday Trip to the Beach

Today through Tuesday we're going down south to the beach at Bahia Kino, Sonora, Mexico. It's about a 5 hour drive. We'll be offline and away from cell reception and it will be most probably quite wonderful.

I just woke up, a bit hungover from a late party, and I need to pack. Just wanted to sign in and say, happy holidaze and don't expect another post here till wednesday at least.

Posted by steev at 08:32 AM | Comments (0)

Diciembre 20, 2007

The ABCs of Fuck Myspace

Here's a really great punk critique of MySpace:


Though it's a rough draft, it's really important, important enough that I made it into a printed-out, stapled zine that I plan to put in piles at Dry River.

I can't tell you how frustrating it's been for me to see all bands and even progressive political organizations and even Dry River, this anarchist radical anticapitalist venue that I help to manage, come to depend on MySpace. It's so sick and this little zine touches on all the main reasons why.

Read it and pass it around to your musician and activist friends.

Posted by steev at 10:49 AM | Comments (1)

Diciembre 19, 2007

Hedges on WTR

Chris Hedges plugs war tax resistance in a comment in The Nation, December 10 issue.

A country that exists in a state of permanent war cannot exist as a democracy. Our long row of candles is being snuffed out. We may soon be in darkness. Any resistance, however symbolic, is essential. There are ways to resist without being jailed. If you owe money on your federal tax return, refuse to pay some or all of it...
For him, a war with Iran is the breaking point that will push him into that tactic. Unfortunately he fails to mention that others have been doing it since Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Vietnam... or World War 2.

Posted by steev at 06:58 AM | Comments (0)

Diciembre 17, 2007

Naco Wall Protest

Yesterday I went down to Naco for a protest of the border wall. A small protest. Cold and windy protest. The local paper covered it, at least.

I went down to film, and especially to interview young people from the community. There were about 5 punk or activist radical kids from Tucson, some not-so-young people like me from Tucson, a bunch of older folks from Bisbee and Naco, and that's about it, other than one 15 year old from Bisbee.

I interviewed her, but it was on a Canon XL-1 I had to borrow and I found out that XL-1s don't have built in external mic jacks, you have to buy separately a mic module that you attach. And the owner of the camera hadn't done that. We'll see how it turns out.

I had to borrow that camera because the Pan Left camera (we're down to just one now) I was going to use didn't get returned to the studio in time by the last person to use it. Really pissed me off. I'm at the point where I want to just buy my own nice camera. I just need another $2000 or so. So if you want to contribute to the Steev pro camera fund let me know, or donate online.

Posted by steev at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

Diciembre 12, 2007

Woke Up This Morning

I've been keeping a journal for 21 years. This blog for 3 and a half years (and almost 1000 entries).

I can't tell you how I found this (wink) but there's an interesting piece in the New Yorker about diaries. In this text the writer, Louis Menand, makes it clear that there's a difference between a journal, a blog, and a diary, and I of course agree, though the lines blur at times. I have always called my journal a journal. Diary smacks of something more pedestrian and tacky, a slavish record of exactly what happens each day, something to be disciplined about - like being on a diet, or trying to be, Menand says - something teen girls write in and fight to keep their little brothers from reading. Journals are more literary, more discriminating. And yet Menand drifts in his examples between diaries and what seem more like journals even in his estimation.

Journaling has never been something I have to make myself do, nor blogging, which is one reason I always find it slightly amusing and highly unnecessary when bloggers (or zinesters, for that matter) apologize for not blogging in a while. It's not my job, it's not even a new year's resolution. I don't do it or not do it because I feel obliged to, as if, like Menand says, I feel

"that diarizing is a natural, healthy thing, a sign of vigor and purpose, a statement, about life, that we care, and that non-diarizing or, worse, failed diarizing is a confession of moral inertia, an acknowledgment, even, of the ultimate pointlessness of one’s being in the world."
So why do I do it? The reasons for journaling and blogging are pretty different. Menand presents the interesting set of theories that people keep diaries, and stop keeping them, for 3 reasons: the ego, the id, and the superego:
The ego theory holds that maintaining a diary demands a level of vanity and self-importance that is simply too great for most people to sustain for long periods of time. It obliges you to believe that the stuff that happened to you is worth writing down because it happened to you.... The id theory, on the other hand, states that people use diaries to record wishes and desires that they need to keep secret, and to list failures and disappointments that they cannot admit publicly have given them pain.... And the superego theory, of course, is the theory that diaries are really written for the eyes of others. They are exercises in self-justification. When we describe the day’s events and our management of them, we have in mind a wise and benevolent reader who will someday see that we played, on the whole, and despite the best efforts of selfish and unworthy colleagues and relations, a creditable game with the hand we were dealt.

There are elements of all those reasons in my journaling and blogging, in different proportions. Blogging of course can be extremely different from writing in a diary. Some blogs have nothing at all to do with the writer's personal life. They may be a periodic holding forth on a topic of interest or expertise (either professed or real), or news that only the author and his immediate locality witnessed, that is being underreported by "mainstream media"... my blog is a mix of this and the personal. It's done mostly for others, to keep them informed of my life if they care (so, the Ego reason above), and to get the word out, indymedia-style, about things they should care about (which doesn't really fit into any of Menand's 3 categories, does it? Or does it?)

My journal is more like a diary and hence is more relevant to his 3 types. I would say that contrary to my blog it's more a mix of the Id and Superego types... sometimes, I write in it the most private and tortured diatribes, merely as catharsis, to empty my brain of the toxins it has collected.... Other times I have in mind, in the back of my head, an image of some studious anthropologist, historian, or biographer, sitting in a dusty basement reading and cataloging my scribbled volumes... because...?

Either it's because I've somehow become famous (i now tread into ego again), or it's just because I'm an example of a life from the past...

Overall, I envision that journalling is part of my overall quest to a) leave this world a better place than when I got here and b) have an interesting life (if I've suceeded in these things, people, or at least myself in the future, will want to read about it, right?). And as I go, it aids me in these efforts - Journalling helps me plan and evaluate where I've been and where I'm going, a true "bitacora" - the old spanish word that was used for diaries but originally meant the box you keep a ship's compass in - and it helps (my conceit imagines) those that come after to learn and guide themselves too, but also (and here back to the superego we climb) it helps those others to see that yes, I DID have an interesting and worthwhile life, and I really tried hard at it... "he was evidently a good and ethical man, that Steev," they'll say, someday... heh...

Ultimately it keeps me sane, one way or the other, just as healthy balance between ego, id, and superego keeps one sane (if those Freudian constructs have any bearing on reality or current accepted psychiatric theory), and it's something I NEED to do, and I just do it, that I don't MAKE myself do.

So, if blogging or journalling is something you make yourself do, maybe you should stop, unless you get paid to do it. But if, like me, it's effortless, and you do it because you have to, from some inner fire, then great. Your saner psyche, and future scholars striving to somehow make sense of this insane time, will thank you.

Posted by steev at 07:39 AM | Comments (1)

Diciembre 11, 2007

Desert Drizzle

Lately it's been a cloudy, dreary, watery gloomworld here in Tucson. It reminds me of Portland. It reminds me of the weather I came here 2 years ago to get away from. It sucks. It makes me glum and melancholy and I know it's good for the plants and if you're from here or have been here for longer than me you can cheer but it just makes me feel down, and makes it easier for anything else that goes wrong to have a much heavier, soul-crushing import than normally. I really need the sun to come back.

Rain rain go away.

(To match the weather, by coincidence I'm currently listening to a song by the Flaming Lips called "Jesus Shooting Heroin.")

Posted by steev at 08:02 PM | Comments (0)

Diciembre 05, 2007

15,000 Songs

Until this spring, my mp3 collection was consisted of something like 25 GB of diskspace. It was manageable and I sort of had a handle on what I had and what I liked. It had been growing slowly, maybe 5% a year for the last 8 years or so, as I gradually converted my physical musical collection to digital files, or acquired stuff from friends.

However, starting this spring, my collection exploded in size, dramatically. It's now up to about 80 gigs! I did some trading with a friend, and then when I went to Europe I got tons of new stuff from my brother, friends in Berlin and Prague and Rostock, and then recently a harddrive was donated to Dry River that had about 30 gigs of great stuff on it (in fact, the collection on there was so great that I wish I knew who's it was because he/she might just be a really cool person) that I copied. I've been gradually importing all this new stuff into iTunes because I want to somehow keep it sort of sane, this glob of new stuff I haven't heard yet (or stuff I know but have never had a copy of)....

It's an odd experience... how does one deal with so much new culture just sitting in one huge pile?

Well, I've set up a smart playlist in iTunes that plays only stuff I've recently added, never played, and that hasn't been rated as only 1 star and has never been skipped. I'm still not quite done importing it all, but right now in this playlist I have 6 days, 19 hours and 34 minutes of this new music to listen to.


Anyway, I set it on shuffle and listen in the background all day while I work and it's great, mostly, and when I hate something I rate it 1-star or just skip it, and it varies from Alice Cooper to Thelonius Monk to Kyrgistani folk music to Wir Sind Helden and everything in between.

Posted by steev at 09:21 PM | Comments (1)

Diciembre 04, 2007

Nothing Will Stop It Until We Stop Destroying Their Countries

Here's a hilarious clip that demonstrates 1) again, how stupid Bush is and 2) how useless border barriers are.

And here's a pretty cool little video about local sentiment against the border wall in a small Texas town:

Posted by steev at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)