green peace sign‘Well, it’s 1969, okay, all across the USA’

ALSO SPRACH JAMES OSTERBERG, aka Iggy Pop, on the Stooges’ eponymous first LP, released 40 years ago—the year the Eagle landed on the moon, the Woodstock music festival celebrated peace and love, John and Yoko held a few “Bed-Ins for Peace,” Ohio’s Cuyahoga River burst into flame, Charlie Manson and “family” ran murderously rampant, Vietnam War protests spread, the Chicago Eight were tried and the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) passed in Congress.

Looking back—after the initial wow factor wears off of just what an amazing year it was in matters social, political, scientific, cultural and environmental—what true change was wrought that has impacted the world today? How firmly was the establishment actually shaken? And keep in mind that while August 1969’s Woodstock spelled peaceful coexistence for the most part, December 1969’s death at Altamont displayed a darker side of the hippie dream. From a green perspective, where it’s always better to be a carpe diem realist than a laissez faire optimist, a lot of positive change was truly wrought, a good portion of the establishment was legitimately shaken. Nineteen-sixty-nine was more than just okay. Read More »

Reenchanged WorldBEFORE TAKING A BITE of James William Gibson‘s delicious new read, let me set the scene by revisiting a classic of enchantment that’s as fresh and evocative as ever, Thoreau’s Walden:

“We need the tonic of wilderness, to wade sometimes in marshes where the bittern and the meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground. At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and decaying trees, the thunder cloud, and the rain which lasts three weeks and produces freshets. We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander.”

I think this quote gets at the rather juicy heart of Gibson’s compelling and eminently readable Reenchanted World, published this spring by Metropolitan Books, a cautionary tale for the double aughts that judiciously includes a “Hope Renewed” coda. Read More »