Some find inspiration in the wilderness. Others find themselves hopelessly lost.

Monthly Archives: March 2013

Another guest post from Lavado Verde:

If you’re like me, CSA sign-up season is an uncomfortable time.  Sure, you want to support farmers, but you don’t want to commit to picking up produce at a dirty farm, or worse yet, some community gathering place where you’ll have to talk to neighbors.  And you’re not sure you want all those leeks.

Fortunately, I’ve come up with a new type of CSA, one that eliminates the inconveniences of the traditional model.  This year I’m supporting “Corporate Super Agriculture” or “Chain Store Agriculture.”  The words don’t really matter.  The main thing is the acronym, which will give you a license to act superior with zero commitment.

While traditional CSA suckers subscribers are stuck picking grubs out of their lettuce bunches, I’ll enjoy triple-washed, pesticide-cleansed bagged baby greens.  Come late fall, when traditional CSA subscribers are drowning in root veggies, I’ll enjoy mangoes from Mexico and New Zealand kiwis.

Studies show that people most eagerly embrace new concepts that don’t require any changes in habits or thinking.  And that’s the real beauty of my CSA.  You can just keep right on buying cheap, flavorless produce, or, if you want, only eat plant matter when it is part of a Kashi freezer meal, acai smoothie additive or pom-flavored carbonated drink.  That’s right!  Simply shop at your big box superstore, as usual, and you can feel smug about your commitment to a CSA!

Bypass the traditional CSA and the irksome farmer’s market where, sure, the produce is fresh, delicious and affordable, but you won’t get that warm feeling that only comes from supporting a large, faceless corporate entity, or the satisfaction of knowing your dollars are irrelevant and so you bear no personal responsibility.

This spring, while the traditionalists keep shelling out hundreds to their old school CSAs, I, for one, will proudly, and, yes, self-righteously, proclaim, “I already belong to a CSA.”

And my produce may not taste good, but it’s big and pretty.


Maybe you married a non-Jew and there’s a chocolate bunny lurking behind the Manischewitz in your cupboard.

Maybe you live in a town where Jews are as rare as California Condors in, well, California.

If so, it’s time to update your Passover Seder.

Simply print out these four questions and paste them over the outdated ones in your family’s Haggadah:

Why IS this night different from all other nights?

  1. Why, on this night, do we have to eat matzo when the bakery around the corner is selling hot cross buns?
  2. How come, if this is supposed to be a holiday, you actually picked out the bitterest herbs you could find in the store?  At Christmas, all of our herbs were integrated into delicious  foods.  Can’t we at least make those herbs into a glaze for a ham?
  3. How come, at snack time, when I told my teacher that I really am allowed to double-dip my graham cracker in the SunButter, you know, since it’s Passover, the official week of double dipping, she was like, “Nice try.  Now please come over and help us finish our school mural of Jesus on the cross?”
  4. Who is this Elijah you keep talking about?  When’s Jesus coming?  Where’s Santa Claus?!  Can’t we at least spend some more time talking about the Pharoah?  He sounded cool.

Rather than answer these questions directly, I recommend that you simply coat each and every one of your matzos in chocolate.*

Take that, Easter Bunny!  Eight days of chocolate!

We Jews have accepted that we can’t win in a contest of holiday fun, but our endurance will ultimately pay off, just like it did during the Christmas-Hanukah face-off.


*For those of you who haven’t figured out how to Google search, here is one of many recipes for chocolate coated matzo available online:  I’m certainly not the first Jew to suggest a sugar-butter-chocolate drenched approach to preserving Jewish traditions.  You call it subverting the ritual of Passover sacrifice.  I call it competing in the modern, multi-faith, Cadbury-crème-egg-dominated world.

I sat by quietly while you maligned butter.  I kept my mouth shut when you trash-talked fruit juice.  I’m on board with the scorn for soda.  But gluten?

As a lactose-intolerant, semi-vegetarian who avoids eating over-fished and high-mercury marine life, attempts to buy organic and despises perfectly good fruit that’s been coated in wax (ick!), I really need my gluten!  Beans, rice and gluten.  That’s basically my diet.  Oh, and dark chocolate.

Sure, some of you might call me a hypocrite.  I can just hear you protesting:  No bacon?!  No spicy tuna rolls?!  No waxy-apple glazed wild cod with pesticide-laden herbed carrot cream sauce?!  What’s wrong with this woman!*

But, for once, my ill-informed, emphatic opinion is backed up by science.

Well, maybe the study TIME cites was sponsored by wheat growers.  I’m not sure but I’d place my bets that an interest group was behind this so-called science.

I didn’t bother reading the article.  And neither should you.  Far better to take your truth from inexpert but pithy blog declarations.

Gluten.  It’s as essential to healthful living as single origin 70% chocolate.

* I recognize that some people have genuine health issues related to gluten consumption and I’m glad more and more gluten-free options are available for them.  It’s the rest of you gluten haters I’m picking a fight with.  Just don’t fight back.  I’m fairly weak and slow due to my gluten-heavy diet.

Lavado Verde is learning first hand how corporate sponsorship can “enhance” the creative process.

Lavado Verde, the infamous environmentalist writer, is back with another guest post.  As many of you may remember, Lavado’s next fiction effort is being sponsored by Fracking and Bottled Water interest groups.  After a slight snafu, Lavado is out of the hospital and sharing his experience with corporate sponsorship:

I’ve been dismayed surprised to receive not just financial support from The Society for Convenient and Affordable Methane (S.C.A.M.), the sponsor of my upcoming novel, but also creative guidance.

My novel, formerly a teen girl’s survival story set amidst melting polar ice caps in the Arctic, an allegory about climate change, will now feature a struggling farmer in Pennsylvania who gains a miraculous second chance at life and love through a fracking deal.

Most of the people I’ve met in the Marcellus Shale region so far have mixed feelings about hydraulic fracturing.  They’re making money, but the money isn’t as much as they need.  They’re seeing changes to their hometowns and their lifestyles.  Some good, some bad.  They’re worried the money won’t last.  They’re worried the drilling won’t stop.  My hope is that my novel will give these people hope for a brighter future.  After all, they can’t get out of the contracts they’ve signed and, believe me, I sympathize with that.  So, I say, chin up.  Make the best of it.  No sense in questioning whether you should have signed that contract when you’ve already spent your endorsement, er, drilling check on a kitchen renovation.

Speaking of endorsement checks, I’m meeting a lot of people who’ve had really positive experiences with fracking.  Sure, a number of them no longer feel safe drinking their well water.  Yes, some of them have flammable water coming out of their faucets, but they’ve discovered the joys of bottled water.  They’ve got those large bubblers, which are entertaining for children and pets.

Bottled water.  Convenient, refreshing and even entertaining for the pre-literate.

I’ve gotten some complaints from non-Somerville residents since my last blog post.  They think they’re just as hip as the balloon-twisters and kickball league leaders in Somerville and they’re pretty annoyed that they weren’t even evaluated in my definitive study on hipness.

I don’t need that kind of negativity crowding my inbox.  So, without further ado, here are some other cities whose residents consider themselves hip.

(No, I’m not going to be the one to tell them complaining about my little blog-post is decidedly un-hip.)

  • Harrisburg.  An unexpected contender.  But still, it is home to the PA farm show which includes both a butter sculpture and a “sheep to shawl” contest.  I’m into that.
  • Tucson.  Outrageous sunsets.  Javelinas, saguaros.  Light pollution bans.  This city is a haiku.  Pretty excellent.
  • Atlanta.  ATL.  The Dirty Dirty.  Hotlanta.  The Big Peach.  If you measure a city’s hipness by nickname quantity, Atlanta probably wins.
  • Chicago.  I can’t think of anything hip to point out about Chicago.  Sorry.  But a lot of you seem to like it.
  • Burlington.  Is Phish still on the hip list?  Um, sure.  I guess.
  • Fresno.  There’s the Tower district.  And I happen to know that some pretty awesome sculptors, architects and peace activists live there.
  • New Orleans.  You’ve got the music and food and overcoming adversity and all of that.  Then again, maybe New Orleans is too beloved and cool to be truly hip.
  • St. Louis.  They’ve got that arch. That’s something, isn’t it?

If I’ve left out your city, please don’t whine about it.  I get enough of that from my kids.  Just post a comment.

The hippest city in America?

It’s Somerville, Massachusetts.  Sorry San Franciscans.  You’ve gone yuppy gourmet and your coolest residents have moved to Oakland.  New Yorkers?  Your city is way too expensive for true hipness to flourish.  Weirdos in Austin?  Somerville’s got you beat on volume of both thrift shop and indie music purchases.  Washington D.C.?  You’re kidding, right?  No one thinks Washington D.C. is hip.

Residents of Somerville spend more time in independent coffee shops than residents of any other city.  Surprised, Seattle?*  Residents of Somerville own more bespoke bicycles (and unicycles) than even the good people of Denver.  And, sorry L.A.  They know more about film, too.  Residents of Somerville are most likely to accurately predict Oscar winners for every category from Best Picture to Sound Mixing.

What city has the highest ratio of adult sports league participation** to childhood sports league participation?  Somerville!  And what city has the highest incidence of ironic Superbowl parties?  The ‘Ville again.***

I don’t live in Somerville but I keep seeing Facebook posts from friends there who have just come from a potluck dinner with the mayor or attended a Marshmallow Fluff Fest.  Supporters of public transportation, rescue kittens and the arts dominate this fiercely vibrant city in Massachusetts.  Yep.  Somerville has out-Portlandia’d Portland.

Oh, yeah, and much of my book Drowning Cactus, due to be released this summer, is set there.  It’s also set in Santa Fe and Tucson, but more about those places later.

Rock on Somervillians!

* The facts in this post may or may not be strictly statistically accurate but instead are based on standards methods of casual observation.  Statistics are for nerds.  Hipsters rely on bold inference.

** Think foursquare, hopscotch and competitive sidewalk chalking.

*** OK.  I’ve never actually heard of a party like this, but if were to ever happen, I’m pretty sure someone in Somerville would host it.

Replace Border Fence with Banana Peels?

I am genuinely concerned about the environmental impacts of the Mexico-U.S. border fence, but couldn’t resist posting this tongue-in-cheek response to border fence issues.

I wrote a serious post about this issue, but here’s one Lavado Verde would like.

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