Tuesday, May 26, 2009

West Oakland Toxic Woes House Party!

The Myrtle Street Review is the proud host of a fundraiser for Spot.Us, a nonprofit pioneering community funded reporting. They need your help to publish an investigative news story on toxic "hotspots" in the Bay Area!

  • WHEN: Saturday, May 30, 6 pm to 8 pm
  • WHERE: 2825 A Myrtle Street, Oakland, CA 94608

$15 advance tickets by donating on this page and or $20 at the door! Enjoy complimentary food! BYOB!

Click here for the Facebook Event.

Not a lot of money is needed to make this documentary happen. By showing your support in a small way, you can be a big help!

Here's the skinny:

Residents of West Oakland are surrounded on all four sides by highways, and breathe car exhaust every day. They are forced to cope with pollution from the trucks that come and go everyday to pick up and drop off supplies at the Port of Oakland. Worst of all, the citizens of West Oakland live among factories that make unbearable noise while releasing toxic fumes into the residential neighborhood.

The levels of lead inside of EXCEL High School in West Oakland were found to be 54 times higher than the EPA standard. The levels of other toxic metals such as cadmium and nickel were all at least eight times the safe levels.

Dioxins, chemicals that cause cancer, have not been tested for yet because the tests are too expensive. When we first heard about the situation in West Oakland, we were stunned that such terrible circumstances would be allowed to exist in America, and we were inspired to take action.

How Will This Reporting Help?

Our goal is to educate the public about this unjust situation, primarily the people of West Oakland, so they will be able to take necessary action in order to regain clean air and clean water that they are entitled to. Our film will be shown at a fundraiser organized by David Joseph that will raise funds for Global Community Monitor.

Also, we will donate money to Global Community Air Monitors if we make a profit from this documentary.

We have already started on this project, and as I mentioned earlier, you can watch our two minute teaser here.

However, we have already run out of money, and still need to obtain these items in order to complete our larger project:

  • Extra computer memory: $25.97 Video files slow down our computer, so we will need extra memory to store them.
  • 500 GB external hard drive: $108.24 We will use this to store the large video files so they don't take up space on our computer.
  • Wide angle lens: $50 The wide angle lens will allow us to capture pan shots with less motion blur.
  • Lapel microphone: $35.67 We will use this for interviews.
  • Money for Transportation: $106 Both of us will be taking at least ten trips to West Oakland, and BART tickets cost $5.30 for each one of us.
  • Money for MiniDV Cassettes. We will need at least 12 in order to make a full length documentary $65.98

With these tools we can work on a full length documentary. Right now, with Spot.Us, we hope to produce a short documetary of 10-15 minutes.

It's everyhwere!

Art is everywhere in West Oakland. Small, big, crazy, not crazy, legal, illegal, good, bad, average, dog-depicting, non-dog depicting. It is as if all the heavy metal in the air magnetizes brains and draws out creative expression.

Here is a picture of a dog named Art.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fluximon Steerage develops a Fascination

On Tuesdays, Fluximon Steerage was not generally in a mood to make friends. She worked nights, and Tuesday was too far away from the next weekend to seem hopeful and too close to the one gone past to have forgotten that it had ended too soon. Tuesday was fuck you very much day.

So it was with some surprise that Fluximon peered into the hole in the patient's head that Tuesday and saw a light shine through it. She saw brain mass and blood, too, but when she dimmed the lights of the operating room there was no doubt that the patient's head was lit from the inside.

Fluximon worked quickly and vacuumed away the blood, cleaned up the tissue, affixed the platinum plate to the bone, and sowed up the patient's scalp. Then she sat down to wait for the first interesting person she had ever cared for on a Tuesday to wake up. She was anxious to see if the light would shine through his eyes as well.

We don't usually post ads but...

...this illustrious young man will illustrate for a living, and he has the cardboard to prove it. Email the Myrtle Street Review for contact information.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Truffle the Overlord

Here you can see Truffle The Feline Overlord of Myrtle Street keeping an eye on the goings-on in West Oakland. He is very full of himself unless there is a dog, a car, more than one human, or a helicopter in the sky. Then he goes and hides under a bed.

But, I ask you this: who can be overlord all the time? Nobody, that's who.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Make your own eco-friendly toilet...

... in about 45 seconds! And save 16% on your water bill! Srsly.

Plumbing: The Toilet Tank Trick

Filament Kelp makes a suggestion

There were not many trees growing on Filament Kelp's street. She longed for the shade of maples and oaks and for the gentle rustling of alders, and one night she planted saplings in all the potholes, and told them the secret to eternal life. The trees grew big in a matter of days, and Filament found herself living in a forest with a tree looking straight in her window. Filament happened to be pottering around naked in her house so she kindly suggested to the tree to look the other way. The tree - a naturally modest pine - complied, from then on averting its gaze every time Filament was not fully dressed.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Visionary urbanism

In the future in my mind we live in intelligent but kind machines where living walls purify our graywater, whether originally part of the architectural design or added onto existing structures. The purified water feeds urban agriculture on miniature or grand scale. The farming is automated to such a degree that no water waste occurs and human labor use is efficient. Growing media include intelligent fabrics which incorporate energy production and storage. Textile architecture not only provides shelter and shade, it also generates its own light during the dark hours.

Our man-made environment lives and breathes with us, and with the natural environment. It responds to our actions and gently guides them. It's Modernism 3.0 baby - functional, gorgeous, utopian, egalitarian, socially conscious and elevating, just like the original.

(But what do I know. Microsoft's future home will give you fashion and consumption advise and help you stay medicated.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Acting like an Activist

One time in Finland I joined an organization devoted to the free speech of writers, thinking that I would end up sending prison letters, signing petitions, organizing events, and trying to support people who are in prison or threatened because of something they wrote.

Within weeks of joining, I found myself surrounded by some kind of epic Lord of the Rings power battle in which it was not clear to me who were the orcs and whether there was a Frodo, except everyone claimed to be Frodo and that the other guys are the orcs.

I was asked to run to be on the board of the organization, and like an idiot I agreed, and became part of the power struggle I didn't understand, and now there were people claiming I was an orc trying to eat all the helpless little hobbits. Someone apparently sent emails to everyone trashing me and accusing me of all these crazy motives that I have no idea what they were to this day, because I didn't see the emails explaining my alleged motives and I had just joined recently and was really just worried about people having to go to prison for writing something. I didn't know any of the people in the organization. Something tells me the fact that they suspected anyone wanting to support their organization of nefarious political motives may have something to do with what they knew about themselves.


After the next meeting, where I was made to feel like I was a tyrant personally imprisoning and torturing writers, and the guy claiming to be a hobbit got everyone elected on the board that he wanted, I backed away and decided that I had been right as an alienated teenager: organization types are scary, yet pathetic. Kind of like orcs, actually.

So I don't know why I thought it would be different this time, because it wasn't really that much different. Except this time the people in the organization didn't even know what their own rules are. True to tradition as I know it, they didn't even once during the meeting mention their alleged reason for having the organization in the first place, which is supposed to be the benefit and well being of their neighbors.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Our Neighbors are Saucy Hippies

Our neighbors on 30th and Myrtle are the most excellent Hippysauce. They have great events, on weekends they have a sidewalk cafe, and all in all they are beautiful and luminous beings to have in one's neighborhood.

Photo completely borrowed from Hippysauce website.

Monday, May 11, 2009

White House goes Target

I have finally found something to complain about the Obamas: what is this nonsense about Pottery Barn? In the White House? I mean, really? Here is what designer Jerry Helling, creative director of Bernhardt Design, has to say about Pottery Barn's contributions to the American design scene:

... mass retailers like Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn. These are publicly owned companies, which in order to survive have to cater to Wall Street. They have to sell a great deal of product, and that usually means embracing the Hollywood factor: It’s about opening weekend box office and pleasing the masses with the least risk involved rather than trying to create something good.

Hundreds of thousands of designers young and old, and craftsmen with skills handed down generations, are suffering in this economy and the main US manufacturer getting a White House boost is Mitchell Gold, who is already doing just fine? Michelle! You support up-and-coming American clothing designers! Go indie on the furniture! Celebrate the best in American design, current and past. Get an exquisite chair or eight by Tripp Carpenter, son of the late, inimitable Art Espenet Carpenter, for crying out loud. Explore the oeuvre of Sam Maloof, who at 93 is still creating work of a pure, timeless genius - freehand, with a band saw. (Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan both commissioned Maloof rocking chairs.) Get a crazy piece of furniture art from John Cederquist, or a jewel-like table by African-American creative powerhouse Cheryl Riley. Get a decorator with an indie sensibility as well as a sense of history and American craftsmanship. Get Sheila Bridges. She did Bill Clinton's Harlem office. (I hope that's not what is keeping the Obamas from hiring her.)

American design gets dissed by Europeans all the time - yet there is interesting, fresh work being done, and who better to showcase it than the president in his own home?

And since when is Pottery Barn "affordable"? Let's not be ridiculous. Ikea is affordable. Target is affordable. A lot of quality, independent work is just as "affordable" as Pottery Barn.

Also, while I'm logging opinions, for the second term, let's see the White House go solar.

Illustration: Sheila Bridges' wallpaper Harlem Toile de Jouy.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Lost Papers of the Myrtle Street Review

So there hasn't been a new paper edition of the MSR for a while. It's because my old computer is dead. I keep trying to revive it, but have had no luck. I am just going to have to create a new template. Apologies for that.

On the other hand, if you still have one of those old paper editions, there will never be more! It's a collector's item! Sell it on eBay for untold millions!

Modernism is Monkey Magic

In a thoughtful essay from his new book, Militant Modernism, Owen Hatherley writes:

So modernism is proclaimed, again, to be too good for the worker (or the “underclass”), and is left for the affluent to play with. Accordingly, in the more prestigious sectors of the neoliberal world, the proclamation of the death of modernism has proven to be much exaggerated.

... Modernism might have resurged, but in much the same way that a Labour government is no longer a Labour government, it isn’t quite the same modernism. This is a modernism that is based on the distance between itself and the everyday. While the modern design of the 1920s (in Germany, or the USSR) and the 1960s (in Britain) was immersed in the quotidian, their equivalents today are the designers of corporate skyscrapers, museums and art galleries.

Modernism is dead. Long live modernism.

While it is somewhat predictable for lefties to moan about how rich people are getting all the pretty stuff (while being comfortably middle class themselves), I also think that it is high time for Modernism 3.0, a truly revolutionary modernism which is not preachy about how people should live, incorporates technology and urban gardening and I don't know, movie nights projected on walls, and is truly affordable, modifiable, creative, wild, practical, and every bit as gorgeous as Modernism 1.0.

It's coming, I can feel it in my bones.

Picture is of a modern and nifty Cole & Son wallpaper based on Piero Fornasetti's decidedly not modern illustration. Book spotted on things magazine.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Ants in my Rants

One time I had ants and so I put sugar in the corner of the room. I was sleeping on a futon mattress on the floor, and I was concerned that ants would go in my ear in the night. So I baited them with sugar, hoping that they would all go in the corner and eat sugar instead of nesting in my ear. By the morning, the ants had told all their friends about some crazy Finnish chick who puts sugar on the carpet in the corner, and I had thousands of millions of them. Or at least hundreds of millions.

Photo from lost in exile tattoo.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hope on Steroids

The wonderful thing about the City of Oakland is the truly innovative way in which problems are fixed. The city has no Public Health department, and have you seen a healthier public anywhere? Clearly not! And if crime is your problem, that's easy enough to solve: just don't have a jail. Oakland doesn't, and clearly that has almost completely eliminated the need for one.

Next, I hope Oakland fixes all the potholes by eliminating the Public Works department, and deletes all our budget problems by simply not having a budget at all.

I have heard that Oakland has some of the highest-paid public servants in the country, and I think they should probably be paid a little more for this truly revolutionary approach to civic leadership.

Photo: City of Oakland solves surplus tractor problem by eliminating tractors by putting them on top of containers.
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