Blinded by the Lite-Green

October 27, 2009

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https://i1.wp.com/livingincinema.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/No-Impact-Man-OS-Large.jpgWould it shock you to find out that even if you adopted the No-Impact-Man lifestyle and created zero waste, and you even convinced your local businesses to recycle you’d only, at the most, impact waste by 3% ? What if you discovered that 90% of all water used was coming from agriculture and industry and that taking longer showers really has minimal effects on water consumption? I tell you one thing, I’d shift my focus from turning the water off while I brushed my teeth to stopping the largest offenders. Any strategist would tell us the same thing: when it comes to saving the environment from “ourselves”, a lot of us are wasting our good intentions on a misguided idea that it is truly ourselves (individual “consumers”) who are ultimately responsible for these problems. Ideas and films like No Impact Man shift focus away from the real causes of global environmental crisis and allow industry and government to slide by, unnoticed.

The truth is so much scarier, and it’s easy to see why we have retreated to personal solutions; it’s easier to change a light-bulb than bring a multinational corporation or the military to its knees. So in the end, while we can all pat ourselves on the back from a puritanical perspective, many of us are just running around doing a lot of nothing under the impression we’ve used our time and energy wisely. I was so offended when I first looked into this. I didn’t want to believe that all that effort I made in my personal lifestyle choices were ultimately having very little impact on the problem at large. I didn’t want to admit that my efforts would be better leveraged in other areas.

Lite Green is the most mainstream, most digestible, and most corporate-friendly incarnation of the environmental movement (if you even want to call it that). Bright Green, with celeb advocates like Adrian Grenier, proclaim that, sure, you can drive your H2 through the McDonald’s drive-through, so long as you remember to bring your canvas bag and reusable coffee mug. It’s the movement that allows us to believe the contradiction that we can buy our way out of the hugest crises we face. Bright Green is so bright it’s blinding people to the real problems. In his August 2009 article for Orion Magazine, “Forget Shorter Showers” Author, Derrick Jensen asks:

WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

The values of conserving, reusing, and protecting what’s left are amazing, but if we are to solve the ecological and social problems we face, they must be brought their their logical conclusions. This is not a call to stop caring or to stop living simply with more compassion – it’s a call to shift focus away from what industry wants us to focus on – buying more stuff that’s labeled “green” and filling our days with behavioral rules. Let’s not confuse personal choices and social change or political revolution. Let’s start with reclaiming our time and energy and shifting our focus to the real problems, getting together, and doing something about it.


EAT LIKE A MAN.

August 11, 2009

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I just finished devouring a plate of char-lined, grilled sweet corn smothered with pico de gallo oil, mashed herbed potatoes with wild mushroom gravy, and grilled apple-sage grain-sausage kebabs with shallots, apple cubes, zucchini and smokey maple barbecue sauce. The protein, vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates and phytochemicals are all  surging through my bloodstream, replenishing, building muscle, and sustaining my bones, organs and various tissues – especially the defining male appendage that requires clear, healthy veins and arteries to stand at attention. This is not enough, however, to keep me from being emasculated by my meal.

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Growing up, and even as adults, we are often told to do certain things “like men”. Be EatLikeManNotRabbita man! Act like a man! This phenomenon can basically be summarized as a call to toughen up, hide or mask any sort of sensitivity, and show no signs of weakness. I’ve seen a father reprimand his son for crying over a scraped knee, “Stop crying! Be a man!” I’ve heard the story of a friend who, at six years old, stood sobbing, finger on the trigger, as his father whispered coldly in his ear “Just shoot the goddamn deer. Don’t you wanna be a man?” Stoicism – that invaluable Greek paragon of virtue, could be one of the most sought-after states of existence for the civilized man. Unaffected, unreadable – perpetually poker-faced and methodically effective. And so we must “eat like men“, too.

Doing it like rabbits” flatters a man’s virility, yet eating a diet that supports that same rabbit’s virility is lampooned.

How do rabbits eat? They carefully chew Vegetation. Strangely, no man scoffs at being compared to a rabbit when it comes to sex. “Doing it like rabbits” flatters a man’s virility, yet eating a diet that supports that same rabbit’s virility is lampooned. Instead, we consume entire animals with superstitious hopes of appropriating their strengths. The cover of September 2009’s Esquire Magazine proclaims “Eat Like A Man” and leads to a  sixteen-page cover-story entitled “How Men Eat”. It is a total meat-fest. A cheesy, eggy, frat party wrapped in bacon and bathed in blood. From Coca-Cola Brined Chicken to a three-meat-plus-bones gravy, and even to Jujubes:

“People Whine about some of them being made from dead horses… but they don’t know the Jujube eater’s darkest secret: By consuming dead horses we’re taking their power and virility and making it our own. Eating Jujubes is like eating powdered rhino horn or seal penis without any of the messy sociopolitical ramifications or bureaucratic hassle. Look! It’s just candy…. a candy that can be eaten in pin-drop quiet… without recrimination from wives or healthniks… We’ll eat our jujubes…in determined silence, growing ever stronger, until one day we will rise with the thunder of a thousand of those same dead horses, our bellies hard-packed with their souls and gelatin and out teeth stained by their blood, and we will trample your pesticide-free fields, an army of raging stallions once again. – Chris Jones “The Only Candy A Man Should Eat” Esquire Magazine Sept 2009

So many men are afraid of being seen as compassionate. Because, on a deep level, it’s logic and objectivism that are truly put at risk by emotion – and thus, control itself. At least, this is what is conventionally perceived. Emotions are a far cry from being logical – they can’t be measured or mapped. There is no emotional stock market or well-being index; how would one measure compassion, love, hatred or indifference? As for our food, animals can not be seen by most men as sentient beings – they are units of production; being such they able to be controlled and manipulated, stripped of identity, wholly consumed.Picture 1

Vegetarianism may occupy the moral high ground, but among men it’s regarded as, if not a girl thing, then at least a girlie thing — an anemic regimen for sensitive souls subsisting on rabbit food and tofurkey. Meanwhile, meat eating persists as a badge of masculinity, as if muscle contained a generous helping of testosterone, with the aggression required to slay a mammal working its way up the food chain” – Holly Brubach New York Times Blog, 9/3/2008

Is masculinity a roadblock to sustainability? Compassion, mercy, empathy and the like are all red flags, warning others that you cave in under the weight of empathy.  Following through and getting the job done are put at serious risk when emotions are added into the equation.  Men so often strive to be emotionless in this culture – because a man’s worth is measured by his ability to get the job done. Shoot the animal. Bring home the bread. Launch the missle. Cut open the cat’s head to observe, objectively, the workings therein. Of course women also participate in these activities – on a smaller scale – but living in a patriarchal culture places the source of power in the traditional definitions of masculinity. Few would argue that the stereotype of women as being more in touch with emotions is based in total fallacy, and few would argue that feminists fight incredibly against the discriminatory belief that emotion is a detriment to effectiveness.campbells_soup_formenonly_1940s1

Mean eat power. They eat the things that they hope to be: muscle. It is a delusional relationship, and a destructive one at that. To worsen matters, diets heavy in meat and dairy have been linked to erectile dysfunction. Now that’s not too manly. What is manly, is becoming the hero who considers the personal and global implications of raising and consuming animals for food, and who acts to do something about it.

Allan Benton of Smokey Moutain Country Hams (in his interview with Esquire) lastly remarks as a punch line, ” I take my Crestor like everybody else.” Not me Allan. Not me.


Leather Jacket: The Rebel Icon That Lost Its Gall

July 30, 2009

by Joshua Katcher

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Since the first Harley Davidson Motorcycle Jacket appeared in the United States in 1919, there might not be a symbol that resonates more clearly in almost every subculture than the leather jacket. From rock stars, punks, bikers, to hipsters, fashionistas, greasers, goths, metal-heads, and even the not-so-subcultured like military aviators and the police – the leather jacket has largely defined ‘cool’ since the word cool was made to mean something new by jazz legend, Lester Young, in 1933.  In addition, many fashion experts regard leather as having unsurpassed sex-appeal – so much that it has one of the most https://i0.wp.com/www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/brainiac/ramones.jpgpopular fetish followings. Originally made for its functionality of durability and protective properties, it has come to suggest masculinity, and strength – and more recently as high-end designers cash in our desires to look cool and strong, wealth.

Sid Vicious’ suicide note instructed: “Bury me in my leather jacket…” Images of James Dean, Elvis, Marlon Brando, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Michael Jackson, The Fonz, Cathy Gale, Indiana Jones, and even the Black Panthers and the Russian Bolsheviks come to mind when we think of leather jackets.  Hollywood helped launch the leather jacket as a symbol of intimidation and rebelliousness early on with Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne in Leather Bomber Jackets, and films like The Wild One, Easy Rider, Grease and Mad Max .

What is a leather jacket? Well, to be simple, it’s the preserved skin-organ of an animal, torn from its body, treated with chemicals, dyed, and cut up into pieces to be used as a “fabric”.  Like all flesh, without the toxic tanning process, leather would rot and decompose. Horses, goats, cows, calves, lamb, sheep, pigs and “exotic” animals like crocodiles, ostrich, and many kinds of snakes are all used for their skins. Other species are hunted and killed specifically for their skins, including zebras, bison, water buffaloes, boars, kangaroos, elephants, eels, sharks, dolphins, seals, walruses, frogs, turtles, and lizards. Dairy cows are also turned into leather once they are “spent” and their calves become expensive calfskin once slaughtered for veal. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the global leather industry slaughters more that a billion animals and tans their skins each year, globally.

tannery pollution in Bangladesh

The tanning is especially problematic. If a billion animals are killed for their skins per year, you do the math on how many gallons of toxic chemicals are used to turn that into leather jackets. Communities surrounding tanneries in India, Kentucky, and Sweden report high instances of leukemia and cancer, and the chemicals used to tan leather, including heavy metals like chromium, find their way into water supplies and river systems. Animals on factory farms in the U.S. produce 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population, without the benefit of waste treatment plants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has even acknowledged that livestock pollution is the greatest threat to our waterways. Turning skin into leather also requires mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and various oils, dyes, and finishes, some of them cyanide-based.

Eco-friendly leather is a myth and a travesty. Based simply on the amount of resources it takes to raise animals – from feed crops, pastureland, water, and fossil fuels, to the record-breaking amounts of greenhouse gasses emitted by cattle (livestock production is the #1 cause of greenouse gas emissions), even if, at the very final stage of this environmentally devastating process, a “vegetable-based” tanning process is used, it does not erase the colossal leather boot-print that raising livestock has on ecosystems . What also becomes clear is the myth that synthetics are environmentally inferior to so-called “natural” materials like leather.

Many people see leather as by-product of the meat and dairy industry, and justify wearing it with the rationalization “ The animal is dead already, so we may as well make use of the skin”. But would the animal be dead if there weren’t a demand for it’s flesh and skin in the first place? According to the USDA,  the skin of the animal represents “the most economically important byproduct of the meat packing industry.” So it isn’t just someone making use of scraps – it is a profitable industry in itself.

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It’s clear that the leather jacket is a force to be reckoned with, but as our relationships to animals and ecosystems evolve, what does the leather jacket really mean, now? It all boils down to power – like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix, the leather trench represents his potentially intimidating and powerful appearance. Much like the meaning of fur, which has come to represent arrogant indifference towards animals, leather is headed down that same path, towards being a symbol of ignorance and indifference.

“The image of leather no longer defines outcasts, rebels, and counter-culture; instead, it is the epitome of mainstream, problematic relationships with ecosystems and violent and exploitative relationships with animals.”

The gorgeous illusions spun by the Goliath fashion industry are, indeed, spellbinding. And it’s no wonder the leather industry, with its orthodox relationship to the oldest, largest and most powerful https://i0.wp.com/www.truelegends.com/images/pce15.jpgfashion houses, has seen such consistent success. We hear writers, journalists and experts avow the nature of leather – how this “material” molds to our shape, breathes, and can withstand extreme punishment. But, it is not a “material” per se (any more than the Jewish hair used to stuff mattresses and pillows from the Nazi death-camps was a “material”). It was someone’s very skin. How can anyone be taken seriously as a compassionate, conscientious, and ecologically responsible individual, while boasting such a powerful symbol of both ecological devastation and animal suffering?

We know better. This isn’t a leap of faith – the evidence is right there in front of us. Not only are there countless documented cases of animals being boiled and dismembered alive, but in India, one of the largest leather exporters, the cows have their tails broken and chili-peppers rubbed in their eyes to keep them moving on their exhaustive journey outside the boarders of India where they can legally be killed specifically for their skins. Snakes and lizards may be skinned alive because of the belief that live flaying makes leather more supple. Kangaroos are slaughtered by the millions every year; their skins are considered prime material for soccer shoes. The conditions and treatment these animals face are horrifying.

Losing its gall. The image of leather no longer defines outcasts, rebels, and counter-culture; instead, it is the epitome of mainstream, problematic realtionships with ecosystems and violent and exploitative relationships with animals. It is woefully ordinary, and painfully tired. When you wear leather, you are no longer saying “I am powerful, individual, and cool“, you are saying “I am environmentally irresponsible and I hate animals“.


NYC’s Lower Foodprint & Running On Air

July 21, 2009

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Tuesday, July 21st is FoodprintNYC Call-In Day to your City Council representative!

You know by now that farm animal production wreaks havoc on our environment. By increasing the availability of local, just and sustainably-produced fruits, vegetables and whole grains, New York City can decrease its ecological Foodprint. This resolution would help the city meet its goals of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, while increasing access to local, healthy plant-based food, particularly in New York City’s underserved communities. The Foodprint resolution, organized by the NYC Foodprint Alliance – a collaborative network of organizations, including Farm Sanctuary – also builds on the environmentally-friendly policies and programs recommended in the Manhattan Borough President’s 2009 report “Food in the Public Interest.” Get involved!

What, You Think This Runs on Air?

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Actually – yest, it does. A car manufacturers and developers in France have developed a car that runs on compressed air. The fruit of more than ten years of researches, MDI’s mono-energy engines operate on a totally eco-friendly basis using compressed air stored at high pressure.

These engines are used on vehicles designed for urban use, backup generators or industrial tractors. They are particularly tailored for applications where the torque has an importance and when an averagely moderate power is needed.


DBTV: Davey Havok of AFI (part 1)

June 23, 2009

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I had the opportunity last week to interview Davey Havok, lead singer of the acclaimed rock band, AFI. Over the next three days you can check out the 3-part, exclusive interview where we talk about the forthcoming album Crash Love, ethical handsomeness, hedonism, try to predict the future, and even do a tattoo show-and-tell!  We’d love to know what you think, so please leave us comments!

Don’t miss Part 2, going live Wednesday at 9am(EST), and Part 3, going live Thursday at 9am(EST).

Here is part 1:

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‘On The Verge’ features DB

June 5, 2009

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Since 2002,  Planet Verge has been bringing us some of the the best in music, fashion, and entertainment. Our pal and host, Jordana Reim interviewed me at a Vegan Drinks event, and featured it on an episode of On the Verge! Check it out:


Stupid Age, Vegan Firefighters & Ed Hardy’s Fur Drama

April 28, 2009

1. The Age of Stupid. Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite (In The Name of the Father, Brassed Off) stars as a man living alone in the devasted world of 2055, looking back at “archive” footage from 2007 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?

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2. High-tops from TOPMAN. These killer sneaks are all synthetic, textile, and poly.

RETRO BLUE BASKETBALL BOOTSRETRO BASKETBALL BOOTS

RETRO BASKETBALL BOOTSGREEN HI-TOP BOOTS

Portrait of Rip

3. If you think you’re too manly to eat a plant-based diet, you’ve got another thing coming. The Engine 2 Diet, a 28 day total-body overhaul, is based on a crew of real Texas firefighters who took control of their health:

Image of the book coverProfessional athlete-turned-firefighter Rip Esselstyn is used to responding to emergencies. So, when he learned that some of his fellow Engine 2 firefighters in Austin, TX, were in dire physical condition-several had dangerously high cholesterol levels (the highest was 344!)- he sprang into action and created a life-saving plan for the firehouse. By following Rip’s program, everyone lost weight (some more than 20 lbs.), lowered their cholesterol (Mr. 344’s dropped to 196), and improved their overall health. Now, Rip outlines his proven plan in this book. With Rip as your expert coach and motivator, you’ll transform your body and lifestyle in a month. His plant-powered eating plan is based on a diet of whole foods, including vegetables, whole grains, fruit, legumes, seeds and nuts. – http://www.theengine2diet.com

Look out soon for my interview with author Rip Esselstyn!

4. Ed Hardy says Eff fur! He got a hand from HSUS to stop licensee’s from using fur on products with his name and art on them. Read the Full Article

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5. Meat The Truth. Finally a documentary that fills in the giant void left by Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’ – the reality that meat production is the top global warming offender! The trailer:

Meat the TruthYou can order the film on Amazon.Click here to order your copy now!