We Love Enthusiasm…& If They Tell You People Don’t Read, They Lie, They Lie.

Pablo Kjolseth, this issue’s BEER & MOVIES guest editor, and John Adams, the talent behind the photo that illustrates it (and he did that one with one hand tied behind his back, probably while also cooking dinner and drinking a beer), are two of the most passionate people I know—passionate about beer and movies, especially. Now, I drink wine, and you know, for all my years in indie film, I would much rather stay home and read a book than head out for a film (except for “Singing in the Rain”), and yet…the enthusiasm of these guys for these subjects is contagious…and I do love the contagion of enthusiasm that comes from the heart. So thanks, everyone who participated in their issue, and if you’re in Boulder, Colorado, check out the International Film Series, at Muenzinger Hall, on the CU Boulder campus, because there’s always something fascinating going on there. You’ll almost always see Pablo there, making sure everything is as it should be. And you’ll definitely see John, sitting front and center, first row, in his favorite seat. You might even see me, even it’s NOT “Singing in the Rain” night. Because Pablo is well aware of my tastes, and if he tells me I’m going to be enthralled by some film that he’s programmed, I know he’s always right. And he programs some enthralling films. Thanks for that, Pab.

Speaking of enthusiasm, and how much I love it wherever I find it, I do have to share a conversation I had while driving across the country from Oregon to Boulder. The dog and I like to stay at this one kind of down-home casino in Sparks, Nevada, right across from a vast manmade lake that features a dog park. It’s comfortable and inexpensive, two things anyone who reads the JAM TODAY books knows is halfway to my Holy Grail, and its many restaurants are nice and friendly. I like the coffee shop the best. It’s filled with lots of locals (especially viewed on one memorable Mother’s Day when I happened to be passing through), and everyone who works there is always in a good mood.

So this time, when I was paying my check, the cashier, a lovely young man of, I would judge, not more than twenty years, noticed I was carrying a book. Louis Armstrong’s memoirs, in fact, “Satchmo.” The cashier, whose nametag said he was “Adrian” said, “Is that a good book?” I said it was, we got into a conversation about it, because of course, being somewhere around twenty, Adrian had never heard of the great man.

Then I said, “Do you like to read?” He lit up and nodded. “What are you reading now?”

“Well,” he said, looking around to make sure there was no one behind me in line (and lucky for me there wasn’t). “I’m reading this book called ‘The Prince’ by a guy named Machiavelli. Ever heard of that?”

Oh yeah. Now I’m interested. “What do you think of it?”

“Man, I’m really into it. I was going to go to the library and get a copy out, but I started reading it on my phone, and I just can’t stop.”

“Do you like libraries?”

“Oh yeah! I go to ours all the time!”

I said, “Libraries forever, Adrian!” And we fist bumped. I walked out of there, well fed in all sorts of ways, and I thought you librarians especially should know that if they tell you there’s no enthusiasm among the young for those musty old books, they lie, they lie.

Happy autumn, All, and welcome back.

Posted in Todblog | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Stories, Delivered.

One of the great pleasures–and also one of the great pains–of being the editorial director of Exterminating Angel Press is getting to read the amazing work coming out of like minds everywhere…the pleasure is obvious, the pain comes from not being able to publish everything we love. The online magazine, of course, is great for that. We can support any books there, and give a little extra breeze for their sails as they head out onto that uncertain sea.

When they find port, no one is happier than us. And we like to spread the word. Books like Ken Womack’s novel Playing the Angel, and Ralph Dartford’s beautiful Cigarettes, Beer & Love among many others (but both of those I have a particular soft spot for, as who wouldn’t who read them?).

And then there’s Hannah, Delivered, by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew. The story of a woman who delivers her true self in learning to deliver the children of others is not just a lovely, sometimes wrenching but always hopeful, tale, it looks at the world surrounding it and tilts the vision to a better one. That’s what EAP likes: tilting our everyday vision to a better one. Washing the windows of the culture, as it were. Making things a little clearer. What gets a little clearer in Hannah, Delivered is the importance of supporting every individual in their own autonomy, in their own birth. And it’s a great read. Have a look and see if I’m not right. See if you don’t love my favorite character: a man in a sarong who trains to be a midwife right along with the heroine. And why not? Why can’t men be as nurturing and caring as women? Why can’t we allow them that, in fiction as in all else?

No reason that I can see. Can you?

Meanwhile, in Jam Today Too: The Revolution Will Not Be Catered land, I’m still on the road with a book tour, and will be at the wonderful, tremendous, beautiful Gallery Bookshop, on the headland in Mendocino, California, meeting and greeting on Sunday, July 27, from 2 pm to 4 pm. Love those meetings and greetings with foodlovers of like mind…

Cheers, All.

Posted in Todblog | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

Three Cheers for Guest Editors.

I’m quite enthusiastic about this guest editorship thing we have going on EAP: The Magazine. For those of you who’ve come in late, when we did our Indiegogo funding push, one of the surprisingly popular perks was said editorship. This issue is our second, with one more to go, and both so far have been unmitigated pleasure for the host editor (ie me).

Aside from the fact that Ken Womack, and Kate and Mark Tallman, are all affable, curious, and highly literary, there was a small surprise hidden in each collaboration.

Backing up, let me mention again the rather odd way EAP works. We’re a trade publisher, distributed, both domestically and internationally, by the wonderful Consortium Book Sales (cbsd.com). But we don’t just take manuscripts over the virtual transom, as I seem to never tire of politely telling writers and agents of said manuscripts: we develop relationships. We’re looking for like-minded writers, people who are passionate about their subject, whatever that might be…and whose subject is some aspect of our main question: why is our cultural default setting the one it is? What would happen if it were different? What would happen if we stepped outside of the seemingly endless circle we are socially churning in, the one that says the free market is the only motor a culture can have, the one that says someone’s always got to be on the top and someone always on the bottom, the one that says someone’s always got to win and someone’s always got to lose. That kind of thing.

We develop these relationships on the online magazine. We’re not just looking for the Next Best Thing…in fact, we have a great distrust of the Next Best Anything. We’re looking for serious but joyful, hard-working but playful, thoughtful but exuberant, creative but practical kinds of people. The ones, as EAP’s incredibly joyful, hard-working, and practical Creative Director Mike Madrid describes this way: “If you ask them which of the Seven Dwarves they most relate to, they always say ‘Doc’.”

I shouldn’t have been surprised when all our guest editors turned out to be ‘Doc’.

And so, no surprise, we’re exploring book ideas with all of them. With Ken Womack, a book about The Beatles, and all the unsung people and events that went in to making them the phenomenon they were (Ken, this year’s Penn State Laureate, is an expert on this; look for him speaking about it at a university campus near you). With Mark Tallman, whose work focuses on international security and disaster management, a book about the limits of what we can achieve in security…and why finding and acting on those limits could possibly be—could they?— a matter for celebration rather than fear.

I can’t wait to see what the collaboration with Pablo Kjolseth brings. Pablo runs the International Film Series at the University of Colorado Boulder, so naturally his chosen theme is “Beer & Movies.” Knowing Pablo, and how he seems to pack 48 hours of work into 24 already, I doubt we’ll come up with a book idea between us. But I know for sure we’ll have fun. And, as I pointed out recently to a very interesting writer whose book we, alas, could not afford to publish, “None of us is making any money, so we might as well consider ourselves free.” And free to have fun is one of the most creative positions I know.

So there.

(And MEANWHILE, speaking of my having fun, my second cookbook/memoir, Jam Today Too: The Revolution Will Not Be Catered comes out in June, and I’ll be meandering around the west to different indie bookstores talking about food and sharing a glass of wine with interested parties. Our kick off is on publication day, Tuesday, June 10, at the wondrous Omnivore Books, in San Francisco, from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Come by, say hi, have a glass, tell me what you’ve been eating lately. I really want to know.)

Posted in Todblog | Comments Off

Happy Everything…and Thank You…

A very merry and happy everything to everyone from EAP. As you can see from Mike Madrid’s droll photo on EAP: The Magazine, we’re heading into it with a twist and shout. And with this idea: that in order to get anything done, you have to risk looking a little dumb, taking a pratfall, or even two. Have we all got that? Good.

Special thanks to everyone who contributed so much support (and supportive messages) during our Indiegogo campaign. We were almost overwhelmed. But not quite. We can take it. Feel free to send more.

One of our key supporters was Ken Womack, author, professor, and present day Penn State Laureate. Ken is guest editor of this LIBERTY & LYRICS issue, and I had a delightful time exchanging correspondence with him about it.  We both were particularly taken with Boff Whalley’s contribution, “Anger is Energy.” Since Boff is one of the founding members of the anarchist punk rock group Chumbawamba, as well as one of the most energetically fun people I’ve ever met (the whole group is like that, come to think of it), he REALLY knows whereof he speaks.

And EAP’s favorite writing partnership, Marie Davis & Margaret Hultz, four hands with but a single voice, also supported our Indiegogo push, and asked for, as their perk, a phone call with me to talk over what was in their refrigerator and what they could make out of it for dinner. Well, they were humoring me. They really should be telling me what to eat. As you can see by what we did come up with in “Jam Today: Kentucky Curry.” A version of the same recipe will be in the new Jam Today: The Revolution Will Not Be Catered, coming in June 2014 to all the usual bricks and mortar, virtual, and electronic book habitats, but especially to indie bookstores near you.

We’ve got two more guest editor issues coming up, Spring 2014 will be hosted by Kate Tallman and Mark Tallman, one a librarian and the other a political science professor, who recently were flooded out of their canyon home in the great Boulder flood of 2013. So it’s probably not a suprise that the theme they’ve chosen is “Disasters: Natural and Un.” We’ve already had quite a few great contributions on that theme, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Then, the Fall 2014 issue will be guest editored by the ineffable, inestimable, incredible Pablo Kjolseth, who runs the International Film Series at CU Boulder practically single handedly. How he has time to interact with us, I’ll never know. He’s pondering his theme even as we speak, but last I heard, he was leaning toward one that showcases two of his favorite things: Beer and Movies. He is probably also trying to work Cats in there, but as of press time that’s still undecided.

Welcome back, and, it bears repeating: a safe, sane, creative, joyous 2014 to all reading this, and to all you love, too.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Two Encounters

I’m stuck in Ely, Nevada–giant unforeseen snowstorm rose up and blocked the highway west, where I’m heading–although ‘stuck’ is the wrong verb; I’ve always really liked Ely. I highly recommend the La Quinta here, especially if you’re traveling with dogs. And then it’s right next door fro a 24 hour market, in the same parking lot, actually, which is quite handy in a snowstorm. So while the lads at the hotel were digging out my parking space, I went over to the market to try to get some canned dog food, or ‘dog fast food’ as it’s known to my dogs, who really enjoy getting off their normal diet of Tod made stodge once in awhile.

I looked at the dog food on the shelves, and automatically checked the ingredients. Needless to say, they were a mess. No kind of meat was ever the first ingredient, unless it was the ominously named ‘Chicken By Products.’ There was this long list of gluten and corn and etc., all of which was undoubtedly of GMO origin. And then a whole bunch of words I didn’t have the faintest idea what they meant.

Ominous, like I said.

I was going to get  a couple of cans, why not? I thought. The same as eating at a Burger King along the road. But something stopped me. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I thought about the dogs’ normal diet, of a mix of dried food and the Dog Stodge I make from our household vegetable peelings, oatmeal, and whatever is the cheapest decent looking meat on offer (our local butcher makes up packages of ground misc. meat from their cuts, beef, lamb, game in season, all for 99 cents a pound, for which I am profoundly grateful). Their normal food is a lot cheaper, even if (or because) homemade, but that wasn’t the problem. I just couldn’t bring myself to feed them this crap, even for an emergency. So I had a brain wave. I went over to the canned soup/stew aisle to have a look for some human canned stew to give them.  Twice, even three times as expensive as the dog food,  I noticed when I got there. But just this once…

Then I looked at the ingredients. They were, if possible, about as revolting as the list on the dog food cans. And not so very often was the first ingredient listed as meat. There were a lot of by-products, and gluten, and undoubtedly GMO corn, and there was that list of chemicals I’d never heard of. I looked at this and I revolted against how revolting it was. I looked around at all the young families stocking up against the storm, and I thought, “I literally wouldn’t feed this to a dog.”

So my only recourse was to head over to the meat aisle, and eye the ground meat, picking out a package that would feed the dogs. While I was there, I got in a conversation with the butcher. In a low voice I told him what I was doing, and he, looking around him to make sure no one was listening, said, “That’s all right to give them; it’s pretty clean stuff.”

He told me he used to own his own butcher shop in Reno, and he told me it just got too hard to keep it going, people didn’t appreciate what they had. We talked about how young people were thankfully getting back into butchering, and small lots of humanely raised meat, and knowing where the meat was coming from, and he looked around his shoulder again and muttered, “Part of the problem is you can’t sell all the parts of the animal, not legally.” I said (equally low in voice) that again thankfully there were beginning to be informal chains of distribution for that kind of thing, and more activism. He said, “And we gotta educate people about what they’re eating, how there’s great stuff if they’d only give up bad habits, and about how they can be eating better for less money.” And I agreed.

We parted with expressions of mutual esteem, and that warmed me, which was good because I saw a young mother, holding her well wrapped up baby, struggling to figure out what to buy from shelves and shelves of crap, and I just wanted to weep.

That was the first encounter.

The second actually had happened awhile ago, when I was heading into Minneapolis for a sales conference, and hurried, at the airport, to get into the people mover that takes you to the light rail into town. I just made it before the doors closed, jumping on behind a young black man, just a kid I thought at first look, and we both laughed about having just made it, and he said, “Man, I want to get out of here, I just got off my shift, been here since 5 am.” Where do you work? “Chick Fil-A, over in the terminal. 5 am to 1 pm. I used to work 1 pm to 10 pm, but I got two kids, and I never saw them. This way I’m home after they have lunch, and we can have time together.”

I wish now that I’d said what I wanted to. At the time, I choked it back, it seemed so patronizing to me. What I wanted to say was, “Your kids must be so proud of you.”

What’s that got to do with books, you’re thinking if you’re still with me this far. Maybe she should have put this in the cooking blog. But I’ll tell you what it’s got to do with books. Books are our collective memory of what has been, and what can be. Books, at their best, keep alive, at very low cost, in a very effective technology, the idea that we are a community, a web, and that what is done to the least of us is done to all of us (and who said that? oh, yeah…he said a lot of good things, I read it in a book somewhere…).

Posted in Todblog | Comments Off

Why There Are No Postmenopausal Superheroines.

The Mountains and Plains Indie Booksellers Tradeshow was last week, in Denver, and, as in years past, I joined our fantastic western sales rep, Dory Dutton, at her table (she reps everything from Tuttle origami books to Lonely Planet guides…and a lot of other stuff in between, so we were an eclectic bunch), joined by another Consortium distributed press Torrey House Press, and three of their new authors. A raucous time was had by all. And I do mean All…I’ve been going to this for three years now, and this time there was a kind of fizz and sparkle going on that was everywhere remarked. (“Do we have a better spot this year? Is it the good canapes?” “No! It’s just everyone is happier and more energized, how did this happen?” ” Don’t ask, just enjoy it!”) The place was hopping. New bookstores had apparently sprouted overnight, young volunteers looked up at us with shining faces and admitted they loved books more than food, booksellers talked seriously about how they adored getting the right books into the right hands…it was a party.

I kept swapping hats between being the publisher of Exterminating Angel Press, and the writer of JAM TODAY and the soon to come JAM TODAY TOO, sometimes balancing both hats atop the head, sometimes doffing both of them to the hard working Torrey House authors next to me. Torrey House specializes in literary fiction and creative nonfiction that exemplify a love of the west and its environment, and judging from their authors, we might be running out of water in the west, but we aren’t short on charm. Scott Graham, who wrote the Grand Canyon set mystery CANYON SACRIFICE, Charlie Quimby of the already much talked about novel MONUMENT ROAD, and Kayann Short…who not only wrote A BUSHEL’S WORTH, but lives the life on a ten acre farm saved from urban sprawl just north of Boulder, where I write this. She and John, her husband, are examples of what I think of as the New American Culture–educated, cultivated people who live and feel deeply in and about rural areas. There are so many examples of this in my home base of Colestin Valley, Oregon (and I write about them in JAM TODAY TOO), and so many people like this coming up with new ways of being and seeing, and new stories to tell. The capital cities no longer hold a monopoly on our cultural story–and a good thing too. The prairie mustangs have a thing or two (or three) to teach the thoroughbreds about survival. And it’s those kinds of lessons about self-reliance, and about the necessity of self-knowledge, that we all need to learn over and over again.

And then there were the booksellers. It’s always a kind of bliss to hang out with indie booksellers (and librarians, but that’s another story). Imagine my extra added delight at discovering a place in Denver (just down the road! yes!) called BookBar that combines, yes, that’s right, wait for it, A BOOKSTORE WITH A WINE BAR. I just looked at the two owners who stood smiling in front of me and gasped, “Oh my, I am so THERE.” I signed two copies of JAM TODAY for them, and they told me they had a kitchen in the store, and did I want to come cook there? DID I? What does anyone who knows me think? I said, “If you have a kitchen and wine, I have garlic and olive oil.” We shook hands on it then and there. I’m going to entice a Denver friend or two into an exploratory foray there, but I’m already thinking it’s THE place to launch a JAM TODAY TOO tour out of come next year when the book comes out.

That was the author hat. As the publisher, I got into conversation with a bookseller from Tattered Cover, the venerable and beloved Denver bookstore. We agreed the whole point was getting books into the hands of the people who love them, and I showed him a copy of Mike Madrid’s DIVAS, DAMES & DAREDEVILS (which comes out tomorrow, as I write this), as a book that I love to hand over to readers and watch their faces light up as they pore over the pages of reproduced comics of the Golden Age. “There’s even a postmenopausal superheroine,” I told him. And he laughed. “People always laugh when I say that. So then I say: Why are you laughing? Why can’t we have a postmenopausal superheroine?”

“I know why,” he said. “Because superheroes have to have a flaw. And postmenopausal women HAVE no flaws.”

Is it any wonder I love indie booksellers? Mark of Tattered Cover, you I love IN PARTICULAR.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

We’re All in it Together.

No mere slogan, that. Physical fact, biological fact, even though our cultural default setting has it the opposite: the lie that life is the war of all against all. How did that lie get started? As usual, as a truth that outlived its use. Somewhere back in our collective history it became a better bet to ignore the fact of our interdependence (and not just between humans, but between all of nature, too) and concentrate on the individual units and how they’re different from each other. And somewhere back there we got the idea (which probably saved us from being eaten by wolves or something), that to compete as separate units, somebody rising at someone else’s fall, was a good way to keep the system moving forward. Maybe that was a good idea for a few thousand years or so.

Maybe it’s not such a good idea now.

How many of us think that’s a good idea now? I mean, given the cliff we look to be moving toward?

And yet, it stays as our default setting. Someone’s got to be on top, someone’s got to be on the bottom. Survival of the fittest. Those who have deserve more than those who don’t. Unrestrained competition leads to healthy growth (hah!). Self interest is the only true motivator.

All just one way of looking at things: mutable, fallible, and, more important, as a way to organize our mutual lives, just not working anymore.

How often do we have to repeat our mistakes before we learn from them? Or are we just waiting for Nature to rearrange our stories by force?

Here’s another way to look at things, another story to tell about ourselves:

Everyone has a stake in making a better world. All different kinds of humans and human thoughts/feelings are needed to make that world, not just a small slice of human possibility. Everyone deserves to make a living, nobody deserves to make a killing. Healthy competition is situational and leads to joy; unrestrained competition leads to cancerous growth. Self interest is too narrow a principle on which to build a world, unless there is an understanding that true self interest includes the interest of all.

That’s what this issue of EAP: The Magazine, is about. Playfully as always, because there is nothing more serious than a playful dance between new and old ideas.  The Death of Dumnorix, a beautifully poignant poem by Charles Kraszewski, inspired the topic—you’ll see why if you spend a few moments alone with it. And there’s everything else, in a multicolored jumble of contributions, from a reverse repeat of one sex dominating the other, to the yearning of a woman to be free of being (literally) burned over and over, to the sadness of the repetition of being treated like an object…how being treated like an object makes a subject treat others as an object, and isn’t it about time that cycle was broken?

Welcome back to EAP: The Magazine. And while we’re at it, I just want to mention a perfect little book sent to me by a sometime EAP author, Ralph Dartford: Cigarettes, Beer and Love. A hand made volume of poems. This is a collaboration between various artists, and the book design, as well as the oddly compelling poetry it dances with, show they spring from the same ideas as EAP: A love of creativity for its own sake. A joy in making beautiful things and sharing them. A belief in new voices, talking—singing—on the margins of an increasingly monolithic monoculture. A trust that it’s from these voices that new ideas spring. A belief in Spring, in the possiblities of rebirth. It’s not an EAP book, and I (and EAP) had nothing to do with its making or its distribution, but I had to mention it here since…well, not only since we share the beliefs of the artists who made it, but because we’re all in this together.  Look for it on Etsy; it’s a beautiful thing, in conception and execution, too.

And speaking of all being in it together, wholehearted thanks to everyone who has contributed to our Indiegogo campaign. It’s not hyperbole to say that we can’t do it without you. I hope the individual messages I’ve been sending to contributors convey that feeling enough. If you haven’t yet contributed, please do think about doing so, even with just $5. Especially with just $5. We feel the support behind every contribution, and it’s that support that is as necessary to survival as the actual cash.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Give Us Your F***ing Money, Please! (Or at least some warm wishes.)

Man, have we had some action around EAP world headquarters recently. Getting our Indiegogo quest for support up and running would have been impossible without the incredible wisdom of Molly Mikolowski of A Literary Light, and the spectacular energy of Alison Week, our new Community Outreach Director. Mainly because of two different floods, which editorial (ie me) found…er…distracting. The first one took place at EAP World Headquarters itself (you can see a partial result in the Indiegogo video…that big empty space I’m sitting in before the rebuild..thank you, State Farm), and then, just before the launch, as I was heading out to EAP Operational (as we call it around here), the biggest flood in 500 years struck Boulder, where we’re based a few months out of the year. Impossible to get in until a day ago, and hard to concentrate on anything other than the difficulties being faced all around us.

Really, the most important thing is that everyone be safe and warm and dry and well fed. Which, come to think of it, is one of the founding principles of EAP. Why, we always are passionately curious to know, why ISN’T every person safe and warm and dry and well fed? And how can we finally get to such a sensible place?

Anyway, have a look at the Indiegogo video (especially if you want to see me lose it asking for money–didn’t matter how many takes, I kept flubbing it), and please don’t feel you have to donate to us (especially not if it’s a choice between us and the flood victims), but it would be great if you would spread the word. That’s what we’re in it for, anyway. Trying to connect with people who agree–why DON’T we have a world where everyone is safe and warm and dry and well fed? Well, why not?

Posted in Todblog | Tagged | Comments Off

ALA, EAP, and MONSTERS.

I was off to the ALA–the American Library Association’s annual conference–this last weekend, and what a change from the last ALA I attended back in 2010. That last was right when the economy had taken its steep nosedive, and of course the first fundings to be cut were the ones for libraries. Back then, everyone wandered around looking shellshocked and dazed, and I remember anxiously pressing books on librarians who didn’t seem sure they were going to be librarians much longer.

But this ALA was hopping. It was hopping, and vibrant, and buzzing, and clearly on the move.There were so many YOUNG librarians, and librarian wannabes just out of graduate school absolutely giddy with delight at the idea of their coming career. Especially librarians for children and teens.  I was on a panel Saturday morning directed at just these librarians: CROSSING OVER: TEEN BOOKS FOR EVERYONE  (the only small press there), emceed by the book-loving Barbara Hoffert, a Library Journal editor, and I talked about how I think EAP was actually formed in my experiences with my favorite neighborhood library when I was a child. It was the Richmond District branch in San Francisco, which had a children’s library downstairs, door facing west, and the adult library upstairs, door facing east. To get from one to the other, you had to race up and down a grassy hill. I remember lugging books from one library up to the other to get books THERE. And all of my History of Arcadia books, and all of EAP books, really, are nothing more than an attempt to build a secret spiral staircase inside from the children’s library to the adult, so any reader can move back and forth at their ease.

Gerry Donaghy, the new books purchasing supervisor at Powell’s books (and all ’round cool person) said it best. He said EAP books are ‘for the precocious inner child in everybody.’

Well, we hope so.

There is a lot in this Summer 2013: MONSTERS issue of the magazine for precocious inner children of all ages, too. Check out Timothy J. Myers’ version of a particularly evil one: this monster takes all the joy of living out of your heart, makes you hate your life and your family, makes you yearn for something you can’t have. No, it’s not television. It’s The Draug, THE FISHERMAN AND THE DRAUG. And our favorite young EAP writer who we’re watching grow with real joy (the Draug not having gotten to us yet), is Kelsy Liu, so read her beyond creepy tale, CRAWL.

And it’s gardening time. Resident EAP gardening expert Debbie Naples questions just what exactly are MONSTERS IN THE GARDEN?

Welcome back (and special welcome to any librarians out there, too!).

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Rebuilding Culture from the Ground Up.

One of my most cherished possessions is a 1911 edition of the Encylopedia Brittanica—in fact, I have two sets, one in my own home base, in the woods of Oregon, and one borrowed from the university library, in Boulder. Cherished not just for the humane, clear learning that leaps out of every article, but for the long lost world view underlying it. These writers were late Victorians, men and (all too rarely) women writing at the start of the last century, and their confidence in agreed upon truths is breathtaking. Every word shows an absolute belief that most of the Truths of the Universe had been uncovered, codified, integrated into a harmonious view of what Man (although not, significantly, Woman) could, should, and would be. Any mysteries, these writers clearly felt, would inevitably be solved in what amounted to no more than a mopping up exercise.Civilization and its move forward was assured.

That was 1911. Right before the outbreak of the First World War. That war, and the unprecedented  barbarity of both sides in the Second World War, shattered that enviable illusion into a million pieces.

After World War II, there was no belief any longer that the culture was built out of agreed and time-tested truths. Instead the structure had fallen into pieces, and each specialty now stood on its own: science, art, literature, economics, history, politics, religion. Each was split from what had been a whole, and each began the work of developing itself in isolation. Those wars had shattered the self-confidence on which Western Thought was built, and a good thing, too, since that thought had arrogantly assumed that the tiny, admittedly exquisite structure it had built in a small corner of a vast, unknowable universe was the whole of knowledge. It was as if the two Great Wars—reallly, just one interrupted war that lasted fifty years—were a tsunami that washed away the little fortress of Western civilization perched so precariously on the edge of a rock, washed it away and left it in fragments on the beach.

So that’s us now, rebuilding in the flotsam and jetsum. And it wouldn’t be such a bad thing except that, for the last sixty years, we’ve maintained the arrogance without the structure to back it up. We’ve acted as if the little bits left after the destruction of that beautiful world view were still of absolute value, and we’ve tried to rebuild what we had with those old, wrecked materials. Here we have an opportunity to get creative, to think of new ways, new ideas, new stories, and we’re clinging to old, discredited techniques and materials.

But that looks to be changing. As usual after any disaster, it’s the individuals, and the communities made up of individuals, the people on the ground who are seeing that in order to build up a new, flexible, workable whole world, all the different categories kept artifically apart now need to come together to exchange information.

Physicists need to talk to plumbers Urban planners need to watch farmers. Doctors need to listen to poets. Historians need to read fairy tales.

This cheers us up here at EAP, this general rolling up of shirtsleeves and mucking in together. All the different specialties are getting together, increasingly, to share in the really big work of developing human values: of figuring out how it’s best for all of us, together, to live.

It’s not the work of experts. They got us those two huge wars, remember? No, it’s the work of all of us, down here on the ground. It’s a big job, of course, but we’re all up to it. At least, I hope we are. The alternative, after all, isn’t to be thought of.

Posted in Todblog | Tagged , , | Comments Off