UntitledWhile bored in New York City on a chilly winter night I decided to venture out and see a movie at the IFC Center in the West Village. Of all the cinematic offerings in NYC, I specifically wanted to go there because I had significant influence on the economic conditions that allowed IFC to acquire the historic Waverly Theater in the early 2000’s. My claim of great influence on the media outlet formerly-known-as Independent Film Channel is less self-aggrandizing than it is a comment on the ridiculousness of the Nielsen rating system in the 1990’s that allowed a horny teenager like myself the viewing power of tens of thousands.

It was hard for a teenage boy in the mid-1990’s to set his eyes on the disrobed female form. My childhood home in rural Connecticut didn’t have dial-up Internet until 1999, so I would have to wait until my later teenage years to discover online porn. My family’s cable plan didn’t include premium—uncensored—cable stations, but it did include the newly founded Independent Film Channel. The channel didn’t fit my tastes of sports, action movies and sophomoric comedy so I largely paid it no mind.

Then one day while flipping through the channels I stumbled upon Walkabout, a 1971 film by Nicolas Roeg about two white kids stranded in the Australian Outback who were helped by an Aboriginal youth on his coming-of-age walkabout. I had read the book of the same title by James Vance Marshall in seventh grade, so the film sparked my interest. Then with no lead up, the protagonist, a teenage girl played by British actress Jenny Agutter, is shown swimming naked in a remote water hole exposing all that she was born with. The scene was far from sexual, but for a small-town teenager from a church-going family, all female nudity was sexual.

Continue reading “The key to IFC’s success, a teenager’s quest for boobs”

Four bald eagles flew playfully with each other in the sun’s last rays before the 11 p.m. dusk. Their wings flapped quickly as they chirped in a high-pitched juvenile manner. It struck me as odd that the powerful predator emblemized as the national bird had such a disarming tweet, and not the fierce screech normally associated with birds of prey. In many places in Alaska bald eagles are more common than seagulls. Yet for most in the United States, the sighting of a bald eagle is an once-in-a-lifetime experience, if at all. Protecting these stunning, mostly unseen, creatures makes sense to most because they taken on an unreal—unicorn-esque—status.

“Goddamn glorified vultures,” said my former captain as he saw me admiring the birds. One swooped down and snatched a small pink salmon out of the water with its talons. “Thief! It’s a goddamn thief! Stealing dollars out of my pocket!” he hollered in a husky tenor.

A teenaged crewmate laughed and told me they’re the best trap bait for minks and martins. I gave a look of disgust, that egged him on and he delved into stories of blasting raptors with shotguns. Nonetheless fur—wild fur—subsidizes more than a few incomes in Alaska—not to mention generous government programs that many who perceive our northern most state as a libertarian bastion conveniently overlook.

Continue reading “Authoritarian environmentalists and democratic pillagers?”


Somewhere off the Alaskan Peninsula, in the barren 525-mile expanse that separates Kodiak from Dutch Harbor, I realized that we would soon run out of milk and bread. Being in such a remote location we would not soon be able to resupply on these basic provisions. As the boat cook, it was my job to plan and keep track of our food supplies, I hadn’t realized when I stocked up in the tiny village of Sand Point just how long we would be out and just how much milk and bread the crew would consume.

I alerted the captain and the crew that we had about two days of milk left and four days of bread if we continued consuming as we had been. I suggested that we should slow down eating and drinking these staples to make them last longer, but this turned out not to be the case.

In the face of scarcity the crew started drinking more milk and eating more bread than before. It was as if, and likely was, that the realization this “resource” would soon be wiped out, pushed the crew to “get theirs” or risk being left with nothing. I too found myself eating more peanut butter and honey sandwiches than before, with the thought, these guys are eating so much if I don’t snag an extra sandwich here and there I might not get anything.

Continue reading “Bread, fish and scarcity”


Also read at counterpunch.org

As the debate over a renewed assault weapons ban seems to be taking a back burner for more politically feasible gun control measures, I find myself debating with myself why I actually find ARs, AKs and the like so attractive. I have long been a gun-liking lefty. My fondness for firearms of the tactical variety likely has more to do with my Americaness, than any well reasoned argument I’ve concocted. For as long as I can remember I’ve been bombarded with violently-cool images of tactical weapons in action.

Guns are cool. Like many cool things they are completely unnecessary for the vast majority. Having played with a few AR-15s over the years, I can say—with guilty indulgence—they are one of the coolest weapons on the market, a coolness that is just as much form as it is function. Capable of handling military-grade armor-penetrating 5.56×45mm NATO rounds—designed for mass bleeding, tissue fragmentation and death—while firing at 200 rounds per minutes with an effective range of 400 yards-plus. All with a military-chic M4-M16 aesthetic built of aluminum alloys and cutting-edge polymers.

They’d actually be great weapons to use in the violent removal of a tyrant for most of them can be easily converted into fully automatic carbines. Yet at this point guns would be counterproductive in the removal of the last bastions of tyranny in the United States, and the citizenry with the most private arms often have the worst politics.

I’ve said these instruments of death are cool but with full understanding that cool is often absurd.

Continue reading “The absurd cool of assault weapons”

Wells-Fargo-Logo.jpgAfter a few years of banking with Wells Fargo, I recently made my way back to the cozy confines of a credit union. As is par for the course, I’m tardy. Bank Transfer Day on November 5, 2011 came and went and I still had my money in an institution that allegedly steered Black and Latino borrowers into sub-prime mortgages, spent $11 million on lobbying while receiving $681 million in tax rebates in the two years following the $25 billion taxpayers spotted them at the height of the financial crisis in 2008.

Around the same time as I moved my meager holdings from Wells Fargo to my local credit union, Doug Henwood of the Left Business Observer posted a blog entry “Credit union switch fizzles.” In it he cites the Federal Reserve’s flow of funds account for the forth quarter of 2011 where deposits in credit unions increased by $9.9 billion, or 1.2 percent. Comparing this to the fact that deposits in commercial banks increased by $232.2 billion, or 3.5 percent, while at the same time the US economy grew by 3 percent, it seems Henwood’s use of the term “fizzle” is appropriate.

Some in the Occupy Movement and its progressive supporters called for personal divestment from commercial banks. From websites, news articles and social media postings the worthy call garnered lots of attention. According to a study by Javelin Strategy and Research, 5.6 million adults in the US switched financial institutions in the forth quarter, and 610,000, or 11 percent, cited Bank Transfer Day as their reason. During the same period 26 percent said excessive fees were their primary reason for switching.

Continue reading “Tardy to Bank Transfer Day”

There was something cathartic in the delicious soy sauce and sesame oil infusion and the gelatinously firm texture of the second bite. During the first bite I was too apprehensive to fully appreciate the taste of my spineless nemesis.

As a commercial fisherman there is no creature that has caused me more pain and discomfort than the jellyfish. While seining for salmon in southeast Alaska I have been stung in the face dozens of times a day, nearly everyday of the past three summers. Seining is a relatively clean method of fishing with very little by-catch other than lots of red, stinging lion’s mane jellyfish. Albeit the smaller version of the lion’s mane, the biggest having a bell the size of a large pizza. In colder waters to the north they reach they can reach nearly 100 feet in length (including tentacles) making them one of the longest creatures on earth.

While I am always troubled if I see a non-targeted species come up in the net, I seem care little about the wanton killing of jellyfish. I’ll stomp on them and mush them with my boots so they slide through the gaps in the wooden false deck as my face is on fire and my heart is full of rage and hatred.

Continue reading “Eat jellyfish, save the ocean”

It was with no less than six beers and no more than six sexually connected friends a Facebook group called the Six Degrees of Sexeration was created to show just how small—and in turn, large—our sexual circles are.

Facebook users, young and old alike, are posting pictures, comments and links that make it all-too-clear who’s knockin’ boots with who. Add the fact that whether one’s sexually active in a small town or a big city it doesn’t take long to realize everyone’s loins are covered with everyone else’s sex cooties. The Hungarian writer Karinthy seems to have been onto something with his six degrees of separation hypothesis, where every person in the world is connected to every other person by a six-person chain of acquaintance, yet at times it seems everyone is connected by a chain of sexual partners no greater than six.

Okay, that’s a stretch, every man, woman, trans and child would need an average of 43.74 sexual partners for it to be statistically possible for all 7 billion of us to be connected by no more than six. That’s the kind of number most women would never admit to and most men would gladly lie about attaining—yeah, you would think we’d have gotten over the bullshit gender dynamics by now, but we have to deal with a bunch of The Game reading idiots who feel emasculated by our supposed feminist society. As it stands, the average number of sexual partners for adults in the United States is around five and six.

Continue reading “Facebook and the small bed phenomenon”

Also read at counterpunch.org

Over the course of the past year I have flown from Oakland to Seattle numerous times. On those trips I have always considered AmTrak’s Coast Starlight service as an option. The trip via tracks connecting Oakland to Seattle goes through beautiful landscapes in northern California and into the Cascades of Oregon and Washington. On those trips I also considered the carbon footprint of the options, which is more environmentally friendly, train or plane? But after those considerations I realized my thought was so 2008. The big question is who cares and why and they don’t.

The most obvious answer is the Great Recession and its continued assault on the global economy. It seems the economic power moguls, politicians, and in turn the media, are more interested in bringing the economy back to where it was, rather than forging ahead with a new economy that doesn’t inherently generate climate and market chaos.

Yet, on many terms the movement to combat climate change became a huge success, while as of right now it’s a huge failure. What started as only a scientific concern among climatologists, environmentalists and a niche group of politicians globally, exploded into arguably one of the biggest issue of the past decade, at least when terrorism and economic collapse weren’t making headlines. Yes, Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” with mainstream distribution gave the issue a national awareness it lacked before 2006. But Gore also helped solidify the ideological lines of the concern and domestically turned it into a Democrat and Republican debate. There was also the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina that gave the idea of a climate in flux a sense of immediacy. But the real tragedy of Katrina was political not environmental, the government got away with what amounts to ethnic cleansing by not allowing a third of the New Orleans black population to return to the city.

Continue reading “Train, Plane, or Who Cares?”