While bored in New York City on a chilly winter night I decided to venture out and see a movie at the IFC Center in the West Village. Of all the cinematic offerings in NYC, I specifically wanted to go there because I had significant influence on the economic conditions that allowed IFC to acquire the historic Waverly Theater in the early 2000’s. My claim of great influence on the media outlet formerly-known-as Independent Film Channel is less self-aggrandizing than it is a comment on the ridiculousness of the Nielsen rating system in the 1990’s that allowed a horny teenager like myself the viewing power of tens of thousands.
It was hard for a teenage boy in the mid-1990’s to set his eyes on the disrobed female form. My childhood home in rural Connecticut didn’t have dial-up Internet until 1999, so I would have to wait until my later teenage years to discover online porn. My family’s cable plan didn’t include premium—uncensored—cable stations, but it did include the newly founded Independent Film Channel. The channel didn’t fit my tastes of sports, action movies and sophomoric comedy so I largely paid it no mind.
Then one day while flipping through the channels I stumbled upon Walkabout, a 1971 film by Nicolas Roeg about two white kids stranded in the Australian Outback who were helped by an Aboriginal youth on his coming-of-age walkabout. I had read the book of the same title by James Vance Marshall in seventh grade, so the film sparked my interest. Then with no lead up, the protagonist, a teenage girl played by British actress Jenny Agutter, is shown swimming naked in a remote water hole exposing all that she was born with. The scene was far from sexual, but for a small-town teenager from a church-going family, all female nudity was sexual.
Four bald eagles flew playfully with each other in the sun’s last rays before the 11 p.m. dusk. Their wings flapped quickly as they chirped in a high-pitched juvenile manner. It struck me as odd that the powerful predator emblemized as the national bird had such a disarming tweet, and not the fierce screech normally associated with birds of prey. In many places in Alaska bald eagles are more common than seagulls. Yet for most in the United States, the sighting of a bald eagle is an once-in-a-lifetime experience, if at all. Protecting these stunning, mostly unseen, creatures makes sense to most because they taken on an unreal—unicorn-esque—status.
“Goddamn glorified vultures,” said my former captain as he saw me admiring the birds. One swooped down and snatched a small pink salmon out of the water with its talons. “Thief! It’s a goddamn thief! Stealing dollars out of my pocket!” he hollered in a husky tenor.
A teenaged crewmate laughed and told me they’re the best trap bait for minks and martins. I gave a look of disgust, that egged him on and he delved into stories of blasting raptors with shotguns. Nonetheless fur—wild fur—subsidizes more than a few incomes in Alaska—not to mention generous government programs that many who perceive our northern most state as a libertarian bastion conveniently overlook.
Somewhere off the Alaskan Peninsula, in the barren 525-mile expanse that separates Kodiak from Dutch Harbor, I realized that we would soon run out of milk and bread. Being in such a remote location we would not soon be able to resupply on these basic provisions. As the boat cook, it was my job to plan and keep track of our food supplies, I hadn’t realized when I stocked up in the tiny village of Sand Point just how long we would be out and just how much milk and bread the crew would consume.
I alerted the captain and the crew that we had about two days of milk left and four days of bread if we continued consuming as we had been. I suggested that we should slow down eating and drinking these staples to make them last longer, but this turned out not to be the case.
In the face of scarcity the crew started drinking more milk and eating more bread than before. It was as if, and likely was, that the realization this “resource” would soon be wiped out, pushed the crew to “get theirs” or risk being left with nothing. I too found myself eating more peanut butter and honey sandwiches than before, with the thought, these guys are eating so much if I don’t snag an extra sandwich here and there I might not get anything.
As the debate over a renewed assault weapons ban seems to be taking a back burner for more politically feasible gun control measures, I find myself debating with myself why I actually find ARs, AKs and the like so attractive. I have long been a gun-liking lefty. My fondness for firearms of the tactical variety likely has more to do with my Americaness, than any well reasoned argument I’ve concocted. For as long as I can remember I’ve been bombarded with violently-cool images of tactical weapons in action.
Guns are cool. Like many cool things they are completely unnecessary for the vast majority. Having played with a few AR-15s over the years, I can say—with guilty indulgence—they are one of the coolest weapons on the market, a coolness that is just as much form as it is function. Capable of handling military-grade armor-penetrating 5.56×45mm NATO rounds—designed for mass bleeding, tissue fragmentation and death—while firing at 200 rounds per minutes with an effective range of 400 yards-plus. All with a military-chic M4-M16 aesthetic built of aluminum alloys and cutting-edge polymers.
They’d actually be great weapons to use in the violent removal of a tyrant for most of them can be easily converted into fully automatic carbines. Yet at this point guns would be counterproductive in the removal of the last bastions of tyranny in the United States, and the citizenry with the most private arms often have the worst politics.
I’ve said these instruments of death are cool but with full understanding that cool is often absurd.
I wrote this article for the September 2012 issue of Pacific Fishing. Pick it up at newsstands, or if you’re not in a fishing community on the Pacific Coast of the the US, check it out here.
For decades there has been no footwear more ubiquitous to commercial fishing in the North Pacific than Xtratuf boots. From San Diego to the Bering Sea, fishermen have relied on their durability, comfort, and support as a consistent tool for the trade. Xtratuf has built a near monopoly with their well-crafted, fully waterproof uppers and slip-resistant soles, giving them a steady, inelastic demand. In my short four years commercial fishing, I have never seen anyone wear anything but Xtratufs.
At the start of this year’s Southeast Alaska seine season, I picked up a new pair after my old pair succumbed to the grind of near daily use fishing for salmon and Dungies for a year and a half. I noticed something was a little different, the boots lacked the classic oily residue, and the logo was without the “Made in USA” and red, white, and blue patriotic banner.
There’s an old cliché about the verbal value of a single picture. Day-to-day, my life is rather mundane, yet is is often set in amazing landscapes. With that, I’ve just launched Outside-in Photo on Tumblr. I write a lot attempting to capture the environment and scenes of my life on commercial fishing boats with long-form projects, so short entries aren’t a priority. But I’m equipped with a camera, time and sporadic Internet and cell phone access.
My day-to-day is also an awesome setting for photography. While working there is no time to snap shots, but when I have a minute to spare a camera is often in my hand.
At the intersection of Adeline and MLK in South Berkeley, six baristas have opened the Alchemy Collective Cafe.
Located in a small storefront at the Firehouse Art Collaborative, one block from the Ashby BART station, the alchemists are attempting to set themselves apart with the best caffeinated elixirs in the area.
“This isn’t something that’s prepackaged,” Payam Imani, worker-owner and a grad student at the Academy of Art, said, as he stood watching fellow alchemist Christopher Myers construct a table from reclaimed materials. “It’s something that’s constantly being built and shaped with our own hands. It’s about the process as much as it is about the product.”
For the past year, the Alchemy Collective has served single-cup drip coffee at Phat Beets Farmers Market in North Oakland and at the Arlington Medical Center. While they were waiting to find a space that would fit their needs and their budget, the worker-owner baristas were running a full-service coffee cart at the BioFuel Oasis.