Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wait for the Movie

You are a graffiti artist. The city is on to your tricks and sends crews out to clean up your artwork, almost by the next morning. Nearly all the walls in your city neighborhood have now been declared, by city ordinance, off-limits.

You wake up one morning, go out on the street and see a stunning new work of graffiti on one of the forbidden walls. Upon closer examination, you discover that it is an advertisement for Tylenol. Who did this and why did they get away with it? And does Tylenol think they can fool you this way?

Anne Elizabeth Moore's Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing and the Erosion of Integrity is all about how marketing execs find new ways to sneak their messages into your world. Or, more specifically, into Moore's world. She belongs to the original punk movement. Over there in punk-world, they have vowed to live with integrity, free from the influence of corporations. Oh, but those clever people at Nike, Tylenol and Toyota--they have their ways!

This is a book that would make a riveting documentary. Or a week of documentaries, given all the material Moore covers in here. But it's a tough read, especially since, unlike the author, my integrity isn't all that offended.

May I, instead, recommend to you the park bench where I read one of Moore's chapters? It was in Cincinnati. It overlooked a deep bend in the Ohio River. Teenagers, day tourists and limping grandmothers came and went while I fought my way through Moore's indignant prose.

One man parked himself two benches away and studied, with his binoculars, everything from the sailboat masts upriver to the toy houses on the Kentucky side. Then four giggling girls approached him. Would he please be in a quick little video with them? They all lined up and did a choo-choo train dance while a mom recorded it. Then he returned to his seat, smiling, and said, "I haven't moved like that in years."

So, nice park. Just take a better book.

And it wouldn't hurt to bring along a couple of these:

Double Chip Cookies

Friday, July 13, 2012

Playing with Matches

The grass is a sickly yellow. The shrunken edges of our pond reveal grassy banks that usually remain well hidden. The weeds have taken over every lawn along my walking routes.

Given this droughty state of things, we have been warned not to play with matches around here, or fireworks, or any other sparky things.

I'm on board with this, having recently seen pictures of Colorado cars fleeing in front of a wall of orange flame.

I'm especially on board after reading John Pipkin's Woodsburner, a fictionalized treatment of a real event.

It concerns Henry David Thoreau, of Walden Pond fame. A year before he went into the woods to commune with the flora and fauna, he set them afire one dry and windy April day. He merely wanted to cook a chowder. But the flames outmaneuvered him in short order and rushed towards the town of Concord, Massachusetts.

Pipkin brings Thoreau and three or four other characters to life. There is a preacher addled by opium (his chapters were slow-going for me), a bookseller who hopes to expand his empire and a Scandinavian farm hand. Cow patties aplenty.

As for your recipe, we went all out for fruit salads recently, snapping up blueberries and strawberries and eating them this way and that. You can start with the more healthful version:

Poppy Seed Fruit Salad

Next, you can try something a little more sugared up. Since it features marshmallows, it is, in my mind, a very Mormon salad:

Marshmallow Fruit Salad