My values & politics on the Left have guided much of my life & work. So my personal interactions, my volunteer work, and my paid/professional work, all reflect my empathy for other people and my commitment to equality & equity, radical democracy, and nonviolence.
But I'm not dogmatic or obsessive about politics ...or about one's consumer choices. (I don't think we can shop our way to a better world.)
And there's much more to life and relationships than politics. And it's my love for all those other things — for people, for places, for art and culture, and other life on earth — that gave rise to my political concerns in the first place, and continues to sustain my political commitment.
That last part sounds corny, but it's true.
When I'm not working, I enjoy conversations over coffee, tea or drinks. I also enjoy food carts and restaurants; live music; films; public readings, lectures, and panels; plays & other performing arts. Plus, I simply enjoy exploring the city sidewalks, checking out everything from nice galleries & cocktail bars, to free boxes & dive bars.
I also run, bicycle, hike, camp, explore the coast, among other things.
I do love the coast. I find it awe-inspiring. And romantic. And while I admit they aren't especially romantic, tidepools are a special draw for me. But so are sandy beaches, wooded coastal trails, and ocean sunsets (and those are especially romantic).
I'm also told that I'm very good at cooking eggs (fluffy omelettes, fried eggs as you like them, etc.)
I'm currently reading Rachel Kushner's 'The Flamethrowers.' My favorite fiction writers include Alan Furst, Ian Rankin, Leslie M Silko, Tim O'Brien. I enjoy great mysteries and detective novels. I've read dozens by Ian Rankin. And James Ellroy's dark & disturbing L.A. quartet blew me away, but I've yet to find anything which compares to those text other than Raymond Chandler, whose writing is amazing. (Btw, I find Chandler's work to be more progressive-minded than Ellroy's work, esp Ellroys later work, which I really cannot stand.)
I'm also a fan of African-American literature, both classic (Richard Wright, Jean Toomer, et al) and contemporary. In regard to the latter, I'll soon be reading Claudia Rankine’s 'Citizen.'
I mostly read social theory & political philosophy & some important philosophers which have great influence political thought today, and political action. I read Althusser, Benjamin, Butler, Wendy Brown, Deleuze & Guattari, Foucault, Gramsci, Laclau & Mouffe, Negri, Jason Read, and Kathi Weeks. Plus Spinoza, Hegel, and Kant. And Marx. And more Marx.
I also read several magazines & journals, including: The Nation, Harpers, In These Times, Cineaste, Rethinking Marxism, Radical Philosophy, and sometimes Middle East Report & NACLA's Report on the Americas.
Speaking of the media, I listen to OPB public radio most of the time, plus many podcasts online (including Radiolab, Sound Opinions, Behind The News, On The Media, Against the Grain, Who's Making Cents, etc.)
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My taste in films include good dramas, documentaries, high-quality indie comedies (e.g., Jim Jarmusch), film noir, 1950s French crime movies, American films from late 1960s to mid-1970s, classic 20th-century Japanese films, and atmospheric horror films (esp supernatural).
My favorite, or most memorable, non-documentary films include: Come and See (Klimov); The Sacrifice (Tarkovsky); The Bicycle Thief (de Sica); The Grand Illusion (Renoir); Cries and Whispers (Bergman); Rocco and His Brothers (Visconti); Blue Velvet (Lynch); and many David Cronenberg films.
Among documentaries, Marcel Ophüls’ Hôtel Terminus is in a class by itself, along with Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah. I was also struck by Farmingville, which aired on POV (PBS series) several years ago, and it just gets more timely & more relevant every year.
And just a couple weeks ago, I watched India’s Daughter on PBS, and it remains one of the most powerful, horrifying, and also inspiring documentary stories I have ever experienced.
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My music interests are diverse…
RE: opera — Recently attended my first opera concert, and I loved it (Donizetti's Lucia).
RE: jazz — Coltrane, above all. Plus: Monk, Rollins, Ornette Coleman, Dexter Gordon, et al. I've attended many Creative Music Guild concerts and similar concerts in other cities I've lived.
RE: blues — Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Skip James, Son House, Blind Willie Johnson, Etta James….
RE: rock/etc — I have vinyl records & CDs* by Radiohead, Tinariwen, Neil Young, The Clash, Thievery Corp., Marianne Faithfull, Jolie Holland, Amy Winehouse, PJ Harvey, Pavement, The Jam, Patti Smith, Souled American, Gang of Four, The Specials, Sonic Youth, The Feelies, Belly, Mission of Burma, early Ramones, Jesus Lizard, Metallica (pre-Black), Nusrat Ali Khan (& other Sufi musicians), Wilco (circa YHF), early Liz Phair, Sinatra (50s noir-ish albums), Hank Williams, Danny Gatton, and several classic & 'underground' hip-hop artists.
* I have a ton of other newer music too. But most of my newer albums are in FLAC files on hard drives, with no album covers or CD cases to see while I write this.
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My favorite food? My tastes are eclectic & adventurous. I enjoy good food, including sushi & Japanese, good Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Persian, Mexican & Latin American, Italian, pizza, seafood…
I tend to avoid corporate fast food, junk food, and sweets.
I've written more than enough here.
- Good media (good newstands, brick-n-mortar bookstores; public & community radio programming; local newspapers & weeklies; etc.);
- Cinemas & venues showing foreign, independent, and classic films on reasonably-large screens, using real film projectors when possible.
- Live performances (music, plays, lectures, presentations, etc.)
- Good, comfortable, independent coffeeshops, open late into the night, with unlimited free wifi.
- Strong & progressive labor unions & smart, effective, democratically-run grassroots organizations working for progressive change.
- Good public transportation & bicycling options.
- How to do the right thing and make a difference.
- Current cultural trends & phenomena, their meanings & implications.
- Recent readings, films, performances.
- Writing articles.
- Friends and family, of course.
- And, you know, the usual… [sex]