People keep asking me where I am, so...
Since I moved out of my apartment in Halifax at the end of August, I've been living a nomadic existence, travelling between Halifax, Tatamagouche, Montréal, and Ottawa.
I just got back from the first circuit, and am planning on heading to Tatamagouche, where a bunch of friends of mine have bought a farm, and have big plans involving sustainable architecture, organic farming, activism, and the formation of a community land trust. Things like that. I've only ever been peripherally involved, but since no one else is planning on living there full time for the moment, I'm nominally basing my existence out of there for the time being, on an extremely laid-back WWOOFing-style basis. (The folks who bought the farm are mostly alums of the Climate Change Caravan, which has led me to refer to the farm--affetionately of course--as the Climate Change Caravan Preserve, or CCCP... apparently I'm < not the first one to do this.) There will be a convergence of sorts up there for the next few weeks, hopefully resulting in more than a few ideas touching the ground, and maybe even hitting it running.
After that, I plan to continue to piece together the elements of my life which somehow dispersed geographically (the tour and the almost completely online nature of the Dominion obviously contributed to that) by continuously travelling... at least for the forseeable future. So I'll start the loop again in a few weeks... Halifax (friends, community); Sackville (more friends; projects); Montreal (relationship, activist folks, arts, other friends); Ottawa (a great group of folks distributing the Dominion, political centre of Canada).
I'm not burnt out yet... the plan is to crash at Tatamagouche whenever that happens.
The long term plan is to move to Ottawa or Montreal, with a view to turning the Dominion into a significant paper in Ottawa, establishing a model that can be applied to other Canadian cities.
But before that, there's turmoil in Ottawa to help resolve, media democracy day in Montréal, friends to visit in NYC and surrounding areas, and a trip to the west coast to visit family and at least one colleague.
So, if you're in Ottawa, Montréal, Québec City, Halifax, Sackville, Tatamagouche, New York, Seattle, Vancouver, Port Townsend or the respective environs, let me know if you want to meet up and chat or conspire or discuss: dru at dru dot ca.
Does anyone know where I can find extensive discussion of some event surrounding CBS... something to do with some memos?
Sometimes I get tired of the relentless focus on facts, endless discussions about the public good and how to achieve a just society... it's all so dry, and it weighs so heavily on the conscience. What I really want is a bit of sensationalism. What happened to the days when the media would lock onto one issue that had almost nothing to do with anything important... y'know, OJ, or Michael Jackson, or...
Y'know, sometimes you just want to escape from reality and just be entertained.
Speaking of which, what's with everyone laughing Bush off the stage every time he makes a public appearance, or mocking his massive contradictions on TV News. Give the guy a break... he's the President, after all. He deserves some respect, and the benefit of the doubt.
What She Said! features interviews with women who run weblogs, and a big list of 'women who blog'.
My buddy (and paulmartintime.ca co-conspirator) Rob Maguire is in Armenia researching the effects of privatization, and is posting photos, rants, and other things to his weblog: Project Communis.
Via Anarchogeek, two recent articles about Indymedia:
Jeremy Scahill: The New York Model: Indymedia and the Text Message Jihad
Biella Coleman: Indymedia's Independence: From Activist Media to Free Software
Dominion: Direct Action: Tre Arrow arrested
I never watched the movie Go Further, but at least three people--upon seeing it--mentioned that the bus that the movie followed had a raw food chef, who at some point makes a chocolate-avocado pie. For months, the idea of an avocado pie kept popping up, at the very least as a curiosity: avocado? pie? how could that possibly work?
It nagged at me so, that I finally decided to try it.
A google search renders a surprising number of recipes for avocado pie. They range from dead simple to alive with complexity. After a week and a half of the unbearable anticipation of watching my 89 cent avocados ripen (an unsavory combination of watching the proverbial pot and waiting for the proverbial drying paint... with the fortunate suggestion of mysterious possibilities of undiscovered tastes at the other end), I opted for a combination of recipes.
Childhood memories of pineapple pie, combined with my inability to eat it due to a dairy allergy, spurred me to add pineapple. After two tries, my experience says that there is no need for complexity. Did I mention that avocado pie is tasty? Two variations follow:
Avocado Pineapple Pie
2-3 avocados, ripe
1/2 - 1 cup brown sugar (depending on how sweet)
1 small can pineapple rounds
1-2 cups margarine or butter
1-2 cups flour
3-6 tablespoons water
1 package graham crackers (optional but tasty)
Prepare a crust, using the infallible (except for one time in Georgia, when the flour gathered more humidity than I bargained for, and the crust ended up a bit soggy) directions from the intensively honed apple pie recipe, or some other crust recipe that works for you. Bake it at 350 F til it's crisp--20 minutes, give or take; there will be no further baking.
Juice the lemons, and mash the avocados, sugar, and lemon juice together. Use a hand blender if you've got it. Chop the pineapple into little chunks of a size that suits your sensibilities. Mix it all together (brief blending can render a range of pineapple chunk sizes, which makes eating the pie a bit more unpredictable and possibly fun). Maybe add a touch of flour, if it seems overly liquid. I haven't tried replacing the lemon juice entirely with pineapple juice, but it seems like it should do the same job--keeping the avocados from going brown.
Pour this green glop into the crust. Crumble up some graham crackers for a topping. I added a bit of margarine to the graham cracker crumbles, so they stick together a bit more, but I confess that there may be a better way, and I haven't got around to researching it.
Put the whole thing in the freezer for at least three hours (four or five, preferably), and serve with a side of whatever is left of summer.
Chocolate Avocado Pie
I tried this only once, with not-quite-ripe, low-quality avocados. It ended up a bit chunky, but still very tasty, leading me to see it as a promising avenue for future exploration.
Use the same recipe as above, minus the pineapple and graham crackers. Melt a package of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler, and mix it in with the avocado and lemon juice. The results were a bit lemony, so it's probably worth trying to cut down the lemon juice substantially and see what happens. Vanilla extract may also be in order.
A lot of recipes call for a half cup of lemon juice, but I'm not sure how necessary it is. If it's strictly for color, then the chocolate renders that point moot. And the chocolate may also stabilize things in unforseen ways. (I haven't seen any recipies for Avocado chocolate pie, so speculation is necessary.)
Freeze, and enjoy. I reckon the half-assed version that I made was better than any vegan "cheesecake" I've ever had, lacking as it was in soy texture and aftertaste.
Bonus recipe: Vice Cream
I've been meaning to write down this recipe, and since summer's going fast, here it is. The name is short for "vegan ice cream", but as you'll see, the monicker is pertinent in other ways as well.
Put in freezer:
4 ripe, peeled bananas, in a ziplock back, tupperware, or somesuch apparatus
Four hours later, blend with some of the following (in anything from tiny to substantial amounts):
Orange juice, in a pinch
Freeze a bit more, serve. Yum.
If you're in Canada, as I am, then you get to also savour the guilt of having used the weight of your ingredients in government-subsidized fossil fuels to enjoy your more or less vegan dessert. Vice cream, indeed. But if you're south, where some of these things are actually local, savour it!
I've been thinking about why I don't write and post here more often. I think it's because I see the format of the weblog as being about responding to something immediately present, and I'm constrained by that. I suppose I've been overcome with the (fairly realistic) feeling that my adding my two cents on any particular issue isn't going to make any discernible difference... in anything.
Political weblogging is driven by a consistant level of self-importance, as if one's contribution to the debate is somehow essential. I may have once felt that way, but these days it's the opposite: every time I think to write a letter or a weblog entry, I just feel that it's hopeless. I'll spend three hours researching a few points, and learn about a situation, write and rewrite about it, only to do nothing with the results. Preemptively deflated.
It isn't that there isn't an audience; I'm sure plenty of people would read it, for whatever reason. But something takes away my motivation, often before I even get started.
All of this is a negative way of saying that I'm trying to rethink how I use this space. The few folks who come back and check now and then have noticed that this hasn't amounted to much, as of late.
To paraphrase Donald Knuth: weblogs are great for staying on top of things, and though my work requires a fair bit of this, I'm personally more and more interested in getting to the bottom of things, as it were.
Staying on top of things can be, and perhaps inherently is, a mildly violent act. It involves the articulation and constant rearticulation of an approach, a set of concerns, or a philosophy, as applied to a daily example. It is the expression of a pre-established invulnerable position from which understanding has already happened before the facts arrive.
One does not often speak of attempting to get on top of things; one stays there.
The constant assertion of understanding can make it difficult to see anything unique, singular, or new in the things one is 'on top of'. One risks the opposite of what C. Wright Mills advocated when he wrote:
The independent artist and intellectual are among the few remaining personalities equipped to resist and fight the stereotyping and consequent death of genuinely living things. Fresh perception now involves the capacity to continually unmask and to smash the stereotypes of vision and intellect with which modern communications swamp us.
In 'getting to the bottom of things', by contrast, one implicitly concedes that arrival is imminent, but not present. [I just realized that Knuth says "be at the bottom of things, but it still seems awkward to me.] It's interesting that while I might say "I need to get to the bottom of this", I can't imagine saying "I finally got to the bottom of it". Instead, the metaphors immediately switch from arrival to possession: "I've got it!" "I finally wrapped my head around it." Or at least the transition is quick, as in: "I've hit pay dirt!"
The transition to finding a way to shift my mindset (and the perceived constraints and expectations that are wrapped up with any medium) from responding to statements, reports, and facts to reflectively attempting to understand them.
In particular, I'm interested in understanding how a world of infinite facts is subordinated to the activity of watching the news, reading a paper, or perusing web sites. To put it in the already-tiresome terms, I want to get to the bottom of how we stay on top of things.
To this end, I've been compiling notes for the past six months on objectivity and journalistic practices. If I keep them in sunlight and water them regularly, I hope they will eventually turn into a book. I've begun writing for the media analysis section of the Dominion, so that, as Stan Goff put it, my abstractions touch the ground. Evan's recent posts have also inspired me to dig up some old threads in my thinking and begin watering the other book that's lurking in some recurring themes about the politics of communication technology.
Like jogging every day, writing and thinking in an externally tangible way is something that I, full of optimism, regularly re-commit myself to. Though the commitment sometimes rings hollow in hindsight, I see no alternative to continuing to do so. This post, and the writing that will follow, are as much for me as they are for anyone who might still be listening... as it should be.
(Here's the second half of Mills' paragraph:
These worlds of mass-art and mass-thought are inceasingly geared to the demands of politics. That is why it is in politics that intellectual solidarity and effort must be centred. If the thinker does not relate himself to the value of truth in political stuggle, he [sic] cannot responsibly cope with the whole of lived experience.)