Got Books? Don’t Want Them Anymore?

Do you have a ton of books?  Are you sick of them piling up in your office, bedroom, bathroom, attic, and anywhere else you can find to cram them?

Or maybe you want a book but can’t afford one.  And you don’t want to bother with the library and the due dates and the late fees. 

Well, maybe you want to try this website:

BookCrossing

You go to the site, find what books are available in your area and find where they are hiding.  Then you go to that place and pick up the book.  Quicker than you can say, “Wherefore art thou Romeo,” you’ve got a free used book!

Or, you can print up a BookCrossing label, drop your book off somewhere and post it on the website.  Then you can check in to see if people have picked it up and where it ends up.

Last I checked, there are 708 books available in Ohio.  There is one book, a Murder She Wrote novel, in Toledo at an Arbys. 

And there is a German book that has traveled to 287 different people!

Sound like fun?  Then let the crossing begin.

Sphere

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Updates, The Smashing Pumpkins and More

Okay, so I have a few updates about previous posts that I need to make.  So here goes.

“Good News, Part Two”

As expected, Judge Hanson’s ruling didn’t last very long.  A stay on the ruling was issued less than 24 hours after Hanson made his decision.  In between the ruling and the stay, 27 same sex couples filed applications for marriage but only one made it to the courthouse.  Read all about it:

Iowa Gay Marriage Applications Halted

“Grand Rapids Literary Review Issue Two is Now Available”

I don’t know what is going on with the web site for The Grand Rapids Literary Review, except that the site is down.  I have emailed the editors in hopes of finding out.  If the site is down permanently and the journal no longer exists, then I don’t know what that means regarding the poems that were published there.  I still have the interview in my email, so at the least I will post that here.  The poems, if I am allowed, will likely have to be resubmitted elsewhere if the site is down.  I may be overreacting though and it may be resolved soon, in which case I will post another update.  My apologies to anyone who has been trying to find the poems and the interview.

“Bring Anthony Bourdain to Toledo”

The Toledo Blade has an article in today’s paper about a project in Columbus that is similar to the Live/ Work/ Create project that Toledo artists and Mayor Finkbeiner recently announced.  Check it out:

Short North in Columbus offers vision for Toledo

“Poetry Challenge”

There are a lot of great spontaneous poems in the comments section of Rane Arroyo’s “A Challenge And Be Eye Candy Too” posting.  If you haven’t read them yet, you are missing out.

“A Question for Young Americans”

The comments section of this posting has involved a discussion of the current U.S. economy that has mentioned many issues, including the housing market, interest rates, and the unemployment level.  The New York Times issued a report last Wednesday about the economy based on the results of the recent census.  Read the report, by Abby Goodnough:

Census Shows a Modest Rise in U.S. Income

“And So Ends Another Summer”

My classes are settled, the students are registered and I’ve compared the gender ratio of my students to the average reported in “And So Ends Another Summer.”  The national average says that 57 percent of students registered nationwide are female.  Approximately 62 percent of my students are female.  I’m above average!

“Election Fatigue”

Many of us might be fatigued, but Reuters apparently is not.  Today they announced:

Race for the White House kicks into high gear

Many debates, rallies and speeches to go.  And four more months before the first vote is cast.  Meanwhile, everyone is still asking if Fred Thompson is in the race or not.  It seems this week we will find out, according to The New York Times:

After Months of Flirting, Thompson Is Almost In

“Let’s do the Time Warp Again”

Read this interesting article, also from The New York Times (what can I say, I get free copies at school), regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling to ban using race to assign children to public schools.  Unfortunately, to read it you have to have TimesSelect (meaning you pay for the ability to read “older” articles) or you have to purchase the ability to read just this one article.  But here’s the link anyway:

A Successful Plan for Racial Balance Now Finds Its Future Uncertain

If you google the title and find the full text of the article for free, let me know so I can post it.

And because I’m upset no one can see my poems, here is something fun:


Smashing Pumpkins – Rocket” posted by jfu79

Finally, I’m adding three new editorials to the Supplemental Readings page (yes, from The New York Times) by Paul Krugman.  One is about Race and the G.O.P.  The other deals with the current administration’s failures, highlighting Hurricane Katrina.  The last has to do with the attacks on universal health care and that scary, scary word, “Socialism.”  The full text of these are archived on the blog Economist’s View .  And you can read them here:

Paul Krugman: Seeking Willie Horton

Paul Krugman: Katrina All The Time

Paul Krugman: A Socialist Plot

Enjoy!

UPDATED 9/19/07: 7:59 PM

The New York Times has changed its policy regarding the TimesSelect articles.  They are now available for free on their website.  You may have to endure a short ad, but there is a “skip this ad” button for those of you who, like me, are impatient.

Bring Anthony Bourdain to Toledo

Did you see this week’s episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, with Bourdain in Cleveland, Ohio?  If you missed it, you missed a great episode.  Bourdain understood the grey atmosphere, the hodgepodge food, and the determined attitude of Cleveland.  World famous traveler, diner and chef Anthony Bourdain ate Skyline Chili’s Chili-Mac.  Plus added bonuses of Harvey Pekkar and Marky Ramone!

It was great to see Bourdain in the upper Midwest.  I love Cleveland, in part because it is so similar to my beloved Toledo, Ohio.  Both are nestled at the tip of Ohio and along Lake Erie.  They are two of Ohio’s major arteries and, if we take as truth Ohio’s moto that it is The Heart of It All, then both should be two of the country’s major arteries.  And both have been called Post-Industrial Wastelands by outsiders who visited. 

Watching the episode, I kept feeling like I was watching Toledo.  The factories spewing smoke, the industrial buildings falling down, the Polish and Hungarian food. 

Cleveland has, from what I know, done some wonderful work revitalizing itself.  They’ve cleaned up the Cuyahoga River and the work done on the Riverfront Area seems to have been a big success.  Plus, the fun of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and, as spotlighted by No Reservations, the Free Stamp.

Meanwhile, Toledo continues its economic decline.  Toledo’s local government, at all levels, along with its media have spent the last five years or so pointing out that jobs are leaving Toledo, the young are leaving Toledo, property values are droping faster than the clothes at Democratic fundraisers and the mayor’s leaving his dog in his car again.

But this week’s Toledo City Paper offers an idea to help restart and reinvent Toledo’s economy, image and psychology.  Read the full story:

Live.  Work.  Create.

The basic concept: turn Toledo into a vibrant arts community.  Attract artists to live in Toledo and retain the young (and old, I assume) artists who already live in Toledo.  The government will assist in developing Downtown Toledo into an area filled with artists’ studios that are affordable.  And, according to Mayor Finkbeiner and the people behind Live/Work/Create, the money would be coming from Federal Grants that Toledo already has so it won’t cost the city or the citizens anything.

This is hot on the heals of Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop’s Art Assist program, which will give Toledoans short term, low interest loans to be used to purchase local art.

Many, especially Toledo’s conservative talk radio hosts, have basically called for Konop to resign because they think these kinds of ideas are insane.  Critics of these kinds of programs have been rabid in their attacks.  Basically, they believe Toledo is not an arts community, cannot be an arts community and should not be an arts community.

But what if we did it.  And what if it worked.

I’m biased, of course, since I consider myself, as a poet, to be a part of the arts community.  That said, Toledo already has a strong arts community and anything that will make it stronger and can bring in artistic tourists, who according to the Live/Work/Create program spend around 40% more than “regular” tourists, will be a good thing. 

I’m not from Cleveland so I don’t know how much the arts played into their attempts at recovery.  And I’m not from New York, so I don’t want to make comparisons between Toledo and SoHo (but the arts thing worked there).  And I’ve never been to England, so I’d hate to comment on what has been happening in Manchester (but the arts thing work there, too). 

But, between the Toledo Museum of Art, the Collingwood Arts Center, The Valentine Theater, The Toledo Symphony, The Toledo Opera, The Toledo Repertoire Theater (among other local theater groups), The Toledo Public Library, The University of Toledo (with its many amazing degree programs in the arts), Bowling Green State University (with its many amazing degree programs in the arts) and the Toledo Ballet, to name only a few of the artistic ventures already set up in Toledo, imagine what could happen if we as a city actually supported our artistic ventures.

What if we did it.  And what if it worked.

If you missed the Cleveland episode of No Reservations, it will likely be repeated throughout the week, at least.  And while you’re at it, be sure to check out the Lebanon episode as well.

Purple Hearts, Broken

Generally, I don’t care for photographed portraiture as art.  I know it takes a lot of work and skill.  I know the photographer makes heart-wrenchingly difficult decisions regarding the composition of the photograph.  I know lighting and other effects are far too difficult for me to master.  But still, when I see a portrait hanging in an art museum, I tend to get bored.

Wednesday’s New York Times  reviewed a solo show at the Jen Bekman Gallery in New York that has challenged my ideas about photography-portraiture as art.  Purple Hearts, the show’s title, contains Nina Berman’s portraits of Iraq War Veterans (the images are also available in Berman’s book of the same name).  Read the review:

Words Unspoken Are Rendered on War’s Faces

Not living anywhere near New York, I have not attended the gallery.  I have seen reproductions of the photographs in the New York Times, on the Times’ website and on Berman’s website.  The images are breathtaking.  They are startling.  They are disturbing.  And they are beautiful, in that way that art transforms the horrific into beauty.

All I wanted to do was sit and read the New York Times while my students were writing diagnostic essays.  I opened the arts section and was confronted by “Marine Wedding,” one of the more difficult of Berman’s photographs to view.  I want to describe it, but I won’t do it any justice.  Click on the link.  See for yourself.

Thankfully, I was able to control my emotions  — the last thing I need to do is start crying in front of my students on the second day of class.  But it was difficult.  The photographs are moving.  The accompanying article includes reactions from the soldiers who were photographed.  Much of what they say is heart-wrenching. 

3,725 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq, as of today.  Officially, 27,506 U.S. soldiers have been wounded in Iraq.  The numbers are high and hard to fathom. 

Marine Wedding” is not hard to fathom.  You need only look in the bride’s eyes to see the cost of this war.