Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Folklife 2008

This past weekend Sweetie and I returned to Folklife, after missing it last year. Folklife is North America's largest folk festival, which has taken place in Seattle at the Seattle Center every Memorial Day for the past 37 years.

What makes Folklife so special is its emphasis on participation. You don't just go to Folklife to hear great music or see outstanding performances of dance, storytelling, etc. etc. You get to make the music, dance the dances (any kind from almost anywhere in the world), attend workshops to learn anything from how to jam in klezmer style to west African dance to mask making to how to tell lies (this was a new one this year, an opportunity to hone your skills at tall tale-telling. I didn't get to see it, but our friend S. said it was hilarious). In short, for four days you get to inhabit an amazing folk world where all cultures mingle and everyone is exploring and enjoying. 

I've been to other folk festivals, but nothing compares to Folklife. I started going in 1998. Last year when Sweetie and I had to miss it I felt like I was in exile from Folkland. I've been a folkie since the age of five or six when I started folk dancing, and that identity was cemented when I started playing guitar at age nine. I have since immersed myself in other kinds of music, especially classical, as a professional singer, teacher and writer/researcher, but I am a folkie at heart and always will be. I've discovered that a number of other classical music friends and colleagues share this folk identity, which is really no surprise. As Duke Ellington so eloquently put it, "If it sounds good, it is good." He resisted labels his whole life, and I admire that. Why be pigeonholed? 

Some highlights of our experience this year:

The Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band. This is a community concert band from Ballard, an area in Seattle that plays Sousa and other band music, but since most of them are over 40 they've eschewed the marching part of the band experience and stay seated. Our favorite part is the Sedentary Majorette.  I took a movie of her because she has to be seen in action to be fully appreciated, but am having trouble uploading it to Blogger. I'll see if I can figure out another way to have you all see it if you want. Baton twirling is a dying art form, sad to say.

Some excellent klezmer, courtesy of Disciples of Goldensteyn and the Kosher Red Hots, two of our favorite regional bands.

Contradancing, of course. This year they featured a pickup band of about 20 people playing klezmer tunes (they billed it as "contras from the shtetl;" this is an experience you can only have at Folklife). Sweetie and I also went to a Yiddish dance party (this is different from Israeli dancing) and I also checked out a workshop on Scottish Country Dance. Last time I did anything specifically Scottish was when I was a kid, and I was amazed to find the nuances of the steps and hand holds come back to me as if I'd been doing it all my life. I love the way the body remembers things the mind thinks it's forgotten.

A new thing for Folklife this year:  participatory classical music. They offered a readthrough of the Vivaldi Gloria and Mozart's Requiem. Sweetie and I sang through most of the Gloria, a piece I'd never sung before, and it was great fun to sightread choral music again; I haven't done that in about 15 years.  Also cool to be surrounded by adults who can read music. 

Sweetie and I also checked out the shapenote singing, which we usually do at Folklife. I'm amazed people can sing like this for more than an hour; it's a very raw, primal sound that sounds more like shouting at times. I can't do it for long, but I enjoy it, and again, it's way cool to be around a buncha folks that can sightread, and do it using solfege to boot (think Do-Re-Mi Sound of Music stuff).

Also heard some great a capella gospel, saw a native American fashion show with gorgeous traditional and contemporary costumes/clothing (the cultural focus for this year was urban Indians), watched some amazing capoeira, looked at amazing handcrafted clothing, pottery, jewelry, art, etc. etc., ate some delicious Folklife food (Lebanese, Thai and, just to be different, a chicken artichoke crepe) and had a fabulous time. Also got to spend time with friends in Seattle I don't otherwise get to see, and bumped into several folks we know from our shul in Portland.

I can't seem to put captions to my pics, so points to you if you can identify which pictures are which bands/events.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Veggies to die for

Saw this in the Oregonian today. Our time-honored state motto, "Things look different here" comes to mind.

Stay tuned for a report on this year's Folklife Festival, complete with lotsa pics.

Vegetables to die for

Saw this in the Oregonian today. The time-honored state motto, "Things look different here" comes to mind.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Job tease

Don't have time to go into detail here, but there's a possibility I might be able to get a really cool summer internship for a really cool local environmental org here. The internship is paid (not much, but something) but it's not full time, so I would still have time for my paid symphony and other contract work.

I'm afraid to jinx this, so nuf ced for now. Gotta customize my resume and write a kick-ass cover letter.

Please send any spare positive internship thoughts my way.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Honda Robot Conducts Detroit Symphony

I first heard about this after seeing videos posted on YouTube and thought it was an interesting gimmick. The real point of the evening was to honor cellist Yo-Yo Ma for his work as a music educator. I guess the Detroit Symphony figured, rightly, that even a world-renowned cellist, considered by most the finest living player of the instrument, wouldn't merit ink unless there was a robot sharing the bill. Need I say any more about why I'm no longer looking for full time work in music?

Not to take anything away from ASIMO; he's kinda cute in a Hello Kitty sort of way.

Yofi steps out

With the warm weather hitting us for real this week (today it's supposed to be 85, up to the low 90s over the next few days), it was only a matter of time before one or both of our cats jumped out our bedroom window.

To explain: We have funky old custom windows in our bedroom that open outward, with no screens. (See pic). Since we got the cats last October, open windows weren't really an issue til today, and our other windows are all screened, as is our front door. But the only way to get any air circulating in the bedroom (and throughout the house) is to have all windows open, screens or not. So last night when I saw the bedroom window pushed wide open I knew immediately that Something Was Not Right.

Fortunately Yofi's stomach is bigger than her appetite for adventure, and a quick tour around the yard shaking a bag of kitty treats got her back inside like a shot. Still, it raises the issue about what we're going to do all summer. We'll have to get some screens custom made, or make them ourselves (anyone with easy to follow ideas or instructions please send them along), and be able to fit them in the window in such a way that the cats can't push or pull them out. I'm not much for do-it-yourselfing projects, and we're not in a position to do anything elaborate, like replacing the windows with something more energy saving, which we hope to do at some point. Suggestions, anyone?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Grosbeak update

Today we were visited by a black-headed grosbeak. Here he is feeding with one of our finch regulars. If we can finally figure out which squirrel deterrents will work with our pole, I hope to see a lot more bird visitors. The squirrels keep a lot of them away. The reason I'm so gaga about the birdies is because we haven't had this feeder up a whole year yet, so every new season brings new surprises. I'm sure I'll be less bird-crazy in time, but for now it's fun to spot new arrivals, and a lovely way to take a break from my musician interview transcriptions (Don't worry, Marty, I'm not billing you for my blog posting time!).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

More cool bird sightings

Okay, I promise not to inundate you with lotsa bird pictures (of course you can just skip those posts if you like), but we had another visitor to our feeder today, one we hadn't seen before: a couple of evening grosbeaks.  Our regulars are a bunch of red house finches, black-capped chickadees and sparrows, and they didn't take too kindly to the new arrival, nor did the blue jays, who are always aggressive to the point of pugnacity. All in all it was a busy day for the birdies.

Did more training at KBOO, this time in digital editing. I'm looking forward to actually getting on the air, but I know I'm not ready yet. Still gotta take the FCC class so I can learn which of George Carlin's seven words are still on their list. Plus some other training, plus I just need more experience in front of the board learning the lay of the land. Still, I think it will be fun when I do get started.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Meadowlark sighted in our backyard!

We had a visit this morning from a bird we don't usually see in these parts: the Western meadowlark. We think it's a meadowlark, although its markings are not exactly as pictured in our bird book.  All you birders out there, whaddya think? The bird was actually not this orange in reality, but pretty yellow-breasted. Here's another image I found online. Ours doesn't have the distinctive black throat markings, but it does have the striped head. Meadowlark or not meadowlark? You decide...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Happy International Compost Week

Thanks to Sam Fromartz's blog Chewswise, for letting me know that this is Int'l Compost Week. He's got a great overview of composting basics, plus he answers some of the usual questions: how do I get started, doesn't it smell bad, etc. etc. If you're a gardner, give a shout out to all those microorganisms that make your soil healthy; we wouldn't be here without them. Literally.

My own gardening pictures are forthcoming, I promise, although at this stage of the game there's not much to see yet. I did pick up some cucumber starts from a really cool grower at the Farmer's Market yesterday. They are "burpless" (didn't know cucumbers made you burp, but there it is) and produce very few seeds, so my sweetie should be able to eat them on occasion (the seeds make it difficult and painful for her to digest, thanks to her Crohn's). I'm always looking for veggies she can eat when we plan the garden, although there will, by default, be a number of things she can't. When you eliminate all leafy greens and tomatoes, there's not a lot left for her to munch on. We are planting carrots, beets and parsnips this year (root vegetables are gentler to her digestion), and onions as well. Those last are a first for me. We'll see how they do.

More later.

Okay, it's later, two-plus hours later, to be semi-exact. Note the pics above (I've never uploaded pics into my blog before and don't have time just now to figure out how the layout and captions and stuff). In clockwise order:  our parsley patch and a brand new pot of mint (I always thought mint was indestructible, but our old Japanese mint died last fall. Go figure);an Old German heirloom tomato, really good texture, flavor and lovely variegated yellow-red color; tarragon going crazy in the herb patch next to the parsley; and a row of red and green lettuces, so far unmolested by slugs. We've also sown our first crop of carrots for the season (we're hoping for at least two plantings), and a whole row of red and purple potatoes, but they haven't made an appearance yet. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Busy busy

Spring has sprung, at least as far as the calendar is concerned (here in Oregon the weather hasn't quite figured it out yet). I've been running around doing all kinds of unrelated things: yesterday I spent four hours getting trained on radio production at KBOO, our local community radio station. Why the sudden interest in radio? I was strongarmed asked by my pal Jack, who, along with his wife Reva, has been producing a show called The Yiddish Hour on  for the last 29 years. They'd like a break from the weekly obligation of hosting a show (ie, they wanna go away for the weekend occasionally), so I, along with three other folks, will be stepping in to co-host the show as soon as we get trained. 

Intro to Studio Production (as taught at KBOO) is interesting because it's all old-school. We're learning on boards that may be older than I am (well, perhaps not, but it's not a bad guess), and we're learning how to use all the old-school technology, including turntables, because KBOO has a huge library full of LPs and they're still perfectly usable. KBOO also has tons of CDs and computer files and the capability to use them as well, but I haven't learned the digital stuff yet; yesterday was all analog and obsolete technology but it was cool learning how to use it nonetheless. I didn't think I'd be able to retain what I learned at first, but we did a lot of hands-on practice stuff and we even have a homework assignment or two to prove we know how to use the equipment without destroying it. Intro to Digital Production is next on my list.

Also put in much of our veggies, both seeds and starts. I'll be uploading pictures later today or tomorrow. I admit I'm not a huge fan of the physical labor of gardening; I'm not one of those who waxes rhapsodically about raising food with only a shovel and the honest sweat of my brow. I think this is because, while I'm not averse to sweating (I go to the gym regularly and work out hard when I'm there), my knees are averse to anything that involves bending over or squatting. According to a sports medicine doctor I saw in grad school, my knees are 15-20 years older than I am (that would put them in their mid-50s), so I think their crankiness is kinda justified here. 

What I do love about gardening is the act of growing the food, watching and being involved in the process of bringing it out of the ground (minus the squatting stuff), sharing it with friends, subverting the industrial food market by opting out of it, and, oh, yeah, eating. 

Speaking of food, I'm off to the Farmer's Market to meet friends and buy tasty locally grown stuff, asparagus, strawberries, salad greens, and perhaps some more veggie starts if I see something that tempts me.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Mozart invades Saudi Arabia

Check this out:

German quartet gives first-ever classical concert in Saudi Arabia for women too

Which repressive regime do you think will be next to open its doors to Western art music? First North Korea, now Saudi Arabia. Let's hope it's a trend...

Benjamin, I've got just one word to say to you...

This morning Sweetie and I are taking our plastics to the quarterly Plastics Recycling Roundup. This is an amazing program sponsored by Metro's Master Recyclers and it allows you to recycle all your plastic. That's right,
ALL of it: lids, the bits of protective covering around food tubs, shrink wrap, plastic gardening pots, and all of the plastic flotsam and jetsam which pervades our lives and isn't recyclable at the curb or your local high-end grocery store.

We started participating in this program a year ago, and the results have been amazing. We have monthly garbage pickup (with only the two of us, plus our compost bin, we don't generate enough trash for more frequent service), and before we started recycling our plastic at the Roundup we'd overflow the 55-gallon can by the end of the month. Since we started this program, we often don't even reach our can's capacity in one month. I love it when personal environmental changes show such obvious, measurable results. This ain't just feeling good for changing your lightbulbs, folks. You can really see the difference, both in your trash can and on your garbage bill. We have friends who live in a large combined-family household (about 10-12 people), and they told me the first time they did this, their garbage can requirements dropped from eight to one. Pretty damn cool.

Anyway, if you're interested in learning more about this program, you can check it out at  If you don't live in our neck of the woods, check out the recycling programs where you live. There might be something this comprehensive where you are; if there isn't, and you think there should be, forward your local recyclers this link and demand it.

For the Jews reading this, Shabbat shalom. This is my tikkun olam for the week. For the rest of you, happy Saturday.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is almost here. For me, as for some people I know, this is a day fraught with meaning far beyond anything one might glean from the ubiquitous Hallmark cards proclaiming universal Motherlove. (A little aside here to thank my mom for never expecting anything from me on Mother's Day, and to my immediate family generally for not investing any real meaning in these manufactured holidays. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for celebrating real holidays, esp. the Jewish ones, but these others, put on the calendar to guilt us into supporting the greeting card industry by an ostensible show of good behavior towards our parents one day of the year, give me a pain in a particular region of my anatomy).

Before, say, 2004, Mother's Day didn't make much of an impression on me. I'd call my mom, usually, (I call and email her often, so I don't feel a particular need to do it on the second Sunday in May) and some years I may have sent a card, but that was the extent of it.

But now a mention of the words "Mother's Day" makes my heart clench like a fist in my chest. Most of you know that my sweetie and I tried to have a child of our own. When it became clear that we had exhausted all the medical options available to us, we looked into adoption. Private adoption was beyond our means, well beyond. So we got in touch with the state to find out about adopting a child through them. What we were told, basically, was that they really had a need for short-term foster parents, and that if we wanted to adopt a child of our own, we'd need to become foster parents first. Well, okay, we thought, we could do that. But then they told us not to go into foster parenting with the intention of becoming adoptive parents, because the state makes every effort to place foster kids with other relatives whenever possible, and that what we could likely expect was a series of custodial situations, where we'd take care of foster kids for a period of time until a permanent placement could be found for them.

I have nothing but admiration for those who choose to become foster parents.  In my twelve years teaching music I had occasion to meet several such people, and to talk with them about their situations. Their courage and strength are admirable; hell, they should all get automatic sainthoods, IMO. Most of them had children of their own, and they also told me that foster parenting is about providing a safe, stable environment for kids whose families, for whatever reason, can't provide that safety and stability themselves. Foster parenting is a timeout, a respite, but (in Oregon, at least) there's no expectation built into the process that the kids placed with you will be with you for any length of time.  In other words, to put it bluntly, being a foster parent is not the same as parenting your own child.

When I have talked about this with family and friends, I have sometimes noticed a certain judgment creep into their tone. I have sometimes gotten the distinct impression that they feel I should be willing to opt for foster parenting if that's the only option available, that I am "giving up" on becoming a parent because I can't do it exactly the way I wanted to, or that I'm acting like a spoiled child myself, someone who wants what she wants and isn't willing to settle for less. I can't express how hurtful that judgment has been, both for me and my sweetie, over the past few years, nor how unfair it is.

Foster parenting isn't parenting in the usual sense. When you have a child of your own, however that child came into your lives, either through adoption, surrogacy or more traditional means, you get to invest in that child emotionally. You get to have hopes and dreams for that child. You get to bond with that child. You get to claim that child as your own. One foster parent I spoke with told me that state agencies prefer foster parents who have kids of their own, precisely so the foster parents can make that emotional separation between the kids they have and the kids they're taking care of at any given moment. I'm not saying foster parents don't love their foster children, or take care of them just as well as their own children. I'm talking about the expectations foster parents have for their foster children, and the reality they often live with: that, whenever possible, the state will make every effort to reunite a foster child with her or his biological family, and so the foster home is a way station, not a permanency. Given this picture of fostering presented to us, my sweetie and I decided we couldn't do it. We couldn't take a child into our home and our life and bond with it and then have it be taken away. We couldn't live with that sense of impermanence, or subject ourselves over and over to that kind of loss.

Please don't post comments telling me that fostering is different for you or I don't know the whole story about it or that other states have other options for long term foster adoption. I'm sure that's true. This isn't a general discussion of foster parenting as a viable alternative to traditional parenting. It's a personal story. It's my story. This is what happened to me, and to my sweetie, what we were told, and the reality we live with.

I wanted to be a mother. I wanted to get pregnant and have my own child. Having to face the fact that my body has failed me on that front has been devastating. I'm still not over it. My experience of childlessness and infertility can be seen as a series of diminishing expectations and hard realities with no alternatives. First was the disappointment of learning we couldn't just pick out a donor and inseminate and go from there. Then was the painful and emotionally and physically humiliating process of prodding my reproductive system into doing its job, via hormones, pelvic ultrasounds, doctor's visits, lab tests, and, oh yes, thousands of dollars of investment, none of which was covered under my health plan.

When I stand at the grocery check out line and see tabloid headlines trumpeting the pregnancy of yet another aging celebrity, I seriously consider committing an unlawful act. The reality, for those of us who have struggled with infertility, is that the miracle drugs and procedures don't always, or often, work. I don't know if there are statistics to show how often these medical interventions are successful, but my guess is less than 35%. I only know what was made very clear to me by the doctors I saw: that I would be bucking the odds no matter what I did, whether it was trying to ovulate or attempting in vitro, and that those odds were pretty severely stacked against me. We bucked those odds until our money ran out and my body made it clear that, no matter what we did, it wasn't going to cooperate.

Americans love stories about about overcoming, about surmounting obstacles, about triumphing in the face of adversity. They inspire us and leave us with the illusion that we can control our own destinies, if we just try hard enough. It's what makes reality TV such a powerful and successful genre. I would have loved nothing more than to add to that canon of optimism with my own story, but this isn't that kind of story. It's not a creation, so I don't get to delete the sad stuff and write the happy ending. This story is what happened to me. 

The passivity of that statement galls me. Like most people, I'd like to think I have some control over my life, at least insofar as I get to make decisions about what happens to me. But I'm not in control here. I didn't choose this. That may sound like a ridiculous thing to say, so I'll put it another way. This is a story of failure. You can call it my failure, because it was my body that wouldn't allow me to get pregnant (but it's not a failure of my own making, because I was born with the endocrine syndrome that caused my infertility). You can call it God's failure, if you believe in God, or the universe's, or the State of Oregon's, or a failure of modern medicine. If it's important to you to assign blame, there are a number of culprits here. But that doesn't change the fact that, in the end, this story doesn't have a happy ending. And because my story ends in failure, it flies in the face of the American trope of triumphing over the odds. It alienates some people, and makes them uncomfortable, occasionally so much so that they are unable to express their support for us. We're a problem-solving people, much more comfortable offering solutions than commiserating when all solutions have been exhausted. And if I could be subjected to such a failure, despite all my efforts, it could happen to anyone. There but for the grace of God, etc. Who wants to hang out with that? I sure don't.

Needless to say, this wasn't supposed to be my life. This wasn't the script I wrote for myself, nor the one written for me in the hearts and hopes of my friends and family. I didn't start out on this journey to become a parent with any expectation that it would fail to come about. What I am left with, as I contemplate the past three or four years, is a child-shaped hole in my heart and a profound (and unwelcome) understanding of loss.

For the past three or four years I have been trying to adjust to living with this new and unwanted version of my life. It has weighed on me, literally and figuratively. It has made it hard for me to be around people whose lives are going as planned, and it has forced me to sometimes distance myself from people who have children. By now, a couple of years after the realization that I would not be able to be a parent, I have gotten to a place where seeing a pregnant woman no longer makes me flinch, and I am usually happy to spend time with close friends who have young children, because they are not simply "children" but small people we love and have a relationship with. I am grateful for the love, understanding and support we have received from friends and family near and far, and also grateful that the insensitive comments we have been subjected to were few.

But I am still living with loss. I will always have the child-shaped hole in my heart. I say this not to beat my breast or coerce sympathy or set myself up as a martyr who will suffer forever the torments of childlessness. I say it as an acceptance of a reality I did not choose, do not want, but nonetheless have to come to terms with. I'm not saying I won't ever be happy or fulfilled again. I'm not saying the rest of my life will be constantly overshadowed by my childlessness. In time, especially once I've found meaningful productive work and have something besides job-hunting to occupy my daily thoughts, I will refashion my life and my expectations of it into something once again hopeful and optimistic. The loss will be there too, but it will not define me as it does now.

To those of you who have children, I say, in all sincerity, that I hope you have a lovely Mother's Day. For myself, I look forward to the day when the words "Mother's Day" once again mean nothing more than a manufactured greeting card holiday I can ignore.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Classical music and the Democratic presidential candidates

I want to give a shout out to pal Marty and her blog Scanning the Dial.  Marty is a classical music radio producer and her blog, which she co-authors with another classical music broadcast maven, talks about the state of classical music on the airwaves.  

Not your area of interest, you say?  Don't be so sure.  Marty's latest post makes a thoughtful and humorous connection between different aspects of classical music programming and the different styles of our two Democratic presidential candidates.  Give it a try.  C'mon, do it! It won't kill you.  The link is over there, on the left (and yes, I get the political connotation). See what you think.

Walking the fine line between admiration and hero-worship

I'm just finishing Michael Pollan's book Second Nature, a story of his own adventures with gardening, and a fascinating exploration of the history of gardens and our attitudes about the natural world.  He delves into the origins and moral implications of the lawn and its pivotal place in suburban culture and discusses the inherent snobbery of old varieties of roses (occasionally found in those who cultivate them).  The main thrust of the book, as I see it, is Pollan's discussion of the great divide in our thinking about humans' place in the natural world. He makes some provocative and powerful arguments against the concept of wilderness preservation as it is currently practiced by some environmental organizations (I say currently, but the book was published in 1991, so these practices may have changed substantially in the past 17 years).  Without summarizing the whole argument (he says it much more cogently than I could, plus I am making a shameless plug for the book here, in case that fact escaped your attention), I will just say that, as with all the books I've read by him, he's given me a lot to think about. Also, I have a fellow writer's appreciation for the skill with which he strings words together. Even if I didn't find myself agreeing with a lot of what he says, I'd still read him just for the pleasure of his wordsmithing.

But.  I haven't as yet included Pollan's Web site in my links because I am wary of contributing to the cult of personality I sense growing around him here in Portland (and perhaps elsewhere as well, but I can't speak to that, since I don't live elsewhere).  Pollan was here in February for a reading from his latest book, In Defense of Food, and I was fortunate enough to be able to scrape together the money for a ticket.  Unlike some authors who are fabulous on the page but not so great in person, Pollan didn't disappoint.  He's every bit as engaging in person as he is in print.  He has an impressive grasp of complicated issues (issues whose complexity most of us never realized before), and his ability to lay those issues out in an intelligent, largely non-partisan manner (his latest book excepted), and his wry, slightly distancing sense of humor about the absurdities of many of our attitudes about foods are very evident.

So the fact that I admire the guy is obvious, and shouldn't need to be defended, but I am really having a hard time with the tendency among some, (and I include myself here) to begin every sentence about food sustainability with "Michael Pollan says..." I admire a lot of other food sustainability folks as well:  nutritionist Marion Nestle, for example.  Her book Food Politics really got me thinking, for the first time, about the ways in which our eating habits have been manipulated by agribusiness, and how the USDA functions essentially as a lobbying and regulatory body for those agribusinesses.  Joel Salatin, a farmer in Virginia, has been farming sustainably for more than 40 years and has written a number of books about his experiences and those of his customers. He's a total crank, politically speaking, and some of his non-food opinions make my hair curl, but I admire his longevity on the land, his perseverance, his inventiveness and his commitment to sustainable farm practices.  Although I have some issues with it, I also enjoyed Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, particularly the sidebars contributed by her husband, Stephen Hopp.  And the chapter on sustainable food in Bill McKibben's Deep Economy has some eye-opening statistics about how conventional food is grown, transported and processed, and what that style of farming has done to our land, our labor practices, and our economy over the last 50-60 years.  I'll throw in Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation and Morgan Spurlock's Supersize Me as well, for their humorous and chilling expose of the world of American fast food.

So my longwinded point is, I admire a lot of writers on food and food sustainability, not just Pollan.  It happens that his star is particularly ascendant just now and he's captured a large portion of the sustainability world's (and, I assume, the general public's) interest of late, with In Defense of Food, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and his articles in the New York Times.  

The other point I want to make is that Pollan himself has no interest in being a food sustainability guru.  During the Q & A at his appearance here in February he made it clear that people shouldn't be changing their lifestyles based on his say-so.  He seemed bewildered and slightly annoyed at the idea that his words should be taken as some kind of Food Holy Writ by his readers.  And I admire that as well, his reluctance to be cast in the role of savior, and his insistence that we become thoughtful food consumers and figure this stuff out for ourselves.

I was going to wind up with the question, "How do I express my admiration for the guy without sounding like a groupie?" but I think I've answered that here.  So I am adding his Web site to my links, and I encourage you to check it out.