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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With the Computer, With Picket Signs and With Bare Feet

[view all of my posts about the Burma Demonstrations by clicking here

Almost a month ago, I asked about the state of protesting in our country.  I had come up with a thesis that no one protested any more.  Reading through the news today, I found out I was dead wrong.

Louisiana Protest Echoes the Civil Rights Era

Yes, yesterday there was a major protest in Jena, Louisiana.  And this is definately what I would call a worthy case of social protest.  Similarly, there was a protest in support of the Jena Six at my Alma Mater, The University of Toledo, yesterday.  While I cannot confirm it, I assume similar local rallies were held throughout the nation. 

As I’ve learned more and more about this case, I keep asking myself: Why did they cut the tree down?  It seems like such a waste. 

Meanwhile, an electronic campaign of civil protesting has been going on in California.

Rumsfeld as Fellow Draws a Protest at Stanford

This electronic version of the protest, as noted by the news article, is likely to transform into a physical, tangible protest next week.  And this is good and necessary.  I still don’t know exactly what kind of power an electronic protest can have but it certainly lacks the kind of power a physical protest has in regards to gaining major media, and thus major public, attention. 

Still, isn’t something wrong when Dr. Philip G. Zimbardo, of the Stanford Prison Experiment, is saying this guy is too nuts to teach there?

And our last look at modern protest takes us across the globe.

Monks in Myanmar Protest for Third Day

There are some fabulous images of the monks in the print edition of The New York Times and some can be found with some fancy searching through the newspaper’s website.  But the concept here is absolutly beautiful.  The ancient Buddhist monks, marching in their red robes, bright as the setting sun, all the while holding their begging bowls upside down.  It’s a Gary Snyder poem, if ever I heard one.  Perhaps I’ll have to write it.

I prefer the monks’ way.  I always have.  The subtlety of it is inspiring to me.  And though I know it never gets the quick results like other forms of protest and it isn’t sexy enough to make the front page, there is a real integrity to it.  And honesty.  A self assuredness that they are right and that they are doing right. 

I often wish I had that same self assuredness.

For a slide show of the Jena Six rally in Louisiana, click here.


Johnny Cash – Man in Black” posted by globespotter

UPDATED 9/21/07: 4:10 PM

Breaking News about the Jena Six:

No bail for ‘Jena Six’ teen

UPDATED 9/21/07: 9:24 PM

I just got a news article regarding the smaller protests being done in support of the Jena Six.  Read all about it:

Facebook Generation Rallies for the Jena Six

UPDATED 9/23/07: 9:23 PM

The protests by the Buddhist monks in Burma have continued, lasting now for five straight days.  Yesterday, the crowd, including over 10,000 people and including over 4,00o monks, made there way to Nobel laureate and peace activist Aung San Suu Kyi.  Read all about it:

Witnesses: Monks protest near Suu Kyi house

It might be because of the beautiful photography and the incredible image of peace that this story creates in my head, but I am riveted by what is happening in Burma.  I wish we were getting more news about it here in America.

For more on what is happening in Burma, see “What’s Going On in Burma“.

Sphere

[view all of my posts about the Burma Demonstrations by clicking here]

Pride and Shame in Northwest Ohio

A couple news reports from my very own neck of the woods: Toledo, Ohio.  One makes me very happy and proud to be from the Northwest tip of the Buckeye State.  The other shows me once again that things are not perfect here.  But first, the pride:

Arabic schools gain foothold in the region

I’m somehow not at all surprised that there was great demand for Arabic schools in Toledo.  I was always surrounded by Arab Americans and immigrants, especially during my college years at the University of Toledo.  Thanks to a couple poetry and film courses at UT, I met a young Palestinian woman who became a wonderful friend at the end of my undergraduate years.  The Middle Eastern restaurants have been incredibly successful in Toledo, thanks to Toledoans’ love of food and the fact that Middle Eastern food is fabulous.

And this sounds like a great school.  If I had children (or planned to ever have children), this would be one of the few schools I would feel comfortable sending my child to.  Well done, Toledo.  Well done.

But why am I not surprised that there are people opposed to such a school?  One of the (many) great challenges of this generation will be to overcome the negative sterotypes and downright racism that exists in regard to Middle Eastern folks.  I pray and hope for my nation.

Which is a good segue into the shame:

Former Gillmor aide won’t seek vacancy

I don’t know anything about the politics of Wood County commissioner Tim Brown other than that he is a Republican from a heavily Republican district.  I don’t know if he had a chance of winning and I don’t know if I would have been happy about him winning.  But I find this news story really sad for two reasons. 

First, the fact that he was outed by a blog, to me, seems viscious and unnecessary.  But it is pretty emblematic of how politics is run these days.  The negativity of contemporary political campaigns is not, in my humble opinion, good for our nation or our democracy. 

Nor is pushing people out simply because they are gay.  I don’t want to come down too hard on the Republicans here because I don’t have the evidence to prove that a Democratic candidate who is gay wouldn’t bow out if he or she were outed.  Still, I think I feel comfortable making the assumption that the Republican party is far more homophobic than the Democratic party.  And it is their loss as they push people out of public office who have,  either voluntarily or by force,  come out of the closet. 

I keep hoping something will change in this country.  I keep hoping people will get a clue about this issue.  But, at least we can take to heart what Melissa Etheridge said in 2004 when so many same sex marriage bans were passed.  She told the audience at the GLAAD awards to look at the positives of the 2004 election.  Yes, many states voted for discrimination.  But in order to make that vote — in order to stand in the booth, look at the issue and make a choice on it — they had to think about it.  They had to acknowledge that the gay community exists. 

For Etheridge, that is a step forward.  And in a way it is.  I just hope we have more dramatic steps forward soon.

Sphere

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.

Happy Birthday!

bday It’s my birthday!  26 years old.  How did that happen?

Holly and I are off to see the Toledo Symphony perform Beethoven’s 9th symphony at the Toledo Art Museum.  It should be a wonderful night.

And another poem has been shortlisted!  More on that later, I hope.

Really?  26?  Wow.  Check out my fellow May 18th Tauruses!

The Full Monty

Okay, I’m taking a break from the news for a post to instead talk a bit about my weekend.  Last night, Holly and I saw the Toledo Repertoire’s production of The Full Monty.   It was wonderful to see such public bawdiness again.

The theater was packed — a sold out show!  And the best, beyond the fact that the performance was phenomenal, was the older lady sitting next to me.  She was probably about 60 or 65.  It was such fun to see her laughing, nearly falling out of her seat, at all those jokes and innuendos about male genetalia.

It was a great night.  It reminded me of living in the 90’s — a much better time, in my opinion.