Arts & Culture
To the tune of "If I Only Had a Brain," from the Wizard of Oz
If you want some news that's phony, politicized baloney,
Fox News will lead the way.
They'll mislead and deceive you,
Be careful or they'll leave you
With only half a brain.
In the United States today, one in two men and one in three women develop cancer. It's no exaggeration to say that we're in the midst of an epidemic. As of 2003, about 1.3 million people developed cancer each year, and 550,000 of them died of it.
In recent decades the number of Americans developing cancer has risen, while the ability to treat and cure most common cancers has remained pretty much the same.
National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society: Criminal Indifference to Cancer Prevention and Conflicts of Interest, by Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., (Bloomington, Ind.: Xlibris, 2011, 189 pp., paper, $19.99) is a blistering polemic against those two venerable institutions. The ACS and NCI do good work, but they have a seamy side that Epstein exposes in the book.
The CIA has made 638 attempts on Fidel Castro's life since the beginning of the Cuban revolution. One entailed poisoning a chocolate milkshake with a cyanide pellet.
The milkshake attempt on the Cuban leader's life is but one of the incidents that author Michael Hoerger reported in a presentation called "Edible Secrets: A Food Tour of Classified U.S. History" at Boxcar Books in Bloomington on March 7. The basis of the presentation is a book by the same name that Hoerger wrote with Mia Partlow (Bloomington, Ind.: Microcosm Press, 2010, 127 pp., $10, ).
Third-year MFA photography student Audim Culver said she can display her work in just about any of Bloomington's local coffee shops. However, when it comes to finding a gallery space, she must to seek options out of town.
"You can always get a show at a coffee shop," the 28-year-old IU student said. "There are those more grassroots places. But as far as finding a more legitimate gallery space, that's when things get more difficult."
Student Reports is a Bloomington Alternative feature that showcases the work of IU School of Journalism students. The multimedia story packages are conceived, written, edited and produced by classes taught by Alternative editor Steven Higgs.
The classes featured are sections of J201: Reporting, Writing and Editing, and J261/303: Online Journalism. In each, students were assigned to find stories on the "beat" of their choice in the Bloomington community. Campus sources were only acceptable if they were legitimate sources in a community issue.
After years of writing histories and biographies for young readers, Tricia Shapiro found herself in the summer of 2005 in the thick of a direct action campaign against mountaintop removal. She tells that story in Mountain Justice, a compelling close-to-the-ground account of how an unlikely coalition of anarchists and people who live in the Appalachian coal country came together to try to protect these mountains. She lives now on a small farm in the mountains west of Asheville, N.C., and we talked in Asheville one morning in late fall. – cp
So how did you get involved with the Mountain Justice Summer campaign?
Before that campaign began, back in 2004 for something else I was writing I had come across the topic of mountaintop removal and was going to write a small piece about that in another book. And what I was reading about, I could just not quite make sense of, because I grew up in Appalachia – in the northern end of the coalfields in Pennsylvania, and the mountains aren’t huge – and I was reading about these huge mine sites, so I just went down to see if I could make sense of it.
It was the early ‘90s; a friend had encouraged me to come by Bear’s Back Room to hear Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings from Nashville, Tenn. They were on the road, playing their first gig in Bloomington and had yet to make a record. I came late, halfway into the evening. Before I had time to find a seat, I was stopped in my tracks and spent the rest of the night standing in the doorway at the precipice of another time and place in what felt like the early days of country music.
They had it all, the writing and musicianship, and on stage they looked like a Dorothea Lange photograph sprung to life. Gillian, with hair tied back, was wafer thin, in vintage attire. Dave’s shock of dark hair was anchored by sideburns, and he was wearing a dress coat and wrestling a calliope of sounds out of his guitar.
Global climate change is having profound effects on human health.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), by 2020 climate change-induced ground-level ozone, the primary component of smog, will cause millions of respiratory illnesses and thousands of hospitalizations for serious breathing problems, including asthma. The cost will be about $5.4 billion.
Changing Planet, Changing Health: How the Climate Crisis Threatens Our Health and What We Can Do about It, by Paul R. Epstein, M.D., and Dan Ferber (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011), probes the topic of climate disruption’s effects on health in depth.
Let's just say that you live near Indianapolis, "the capitol of Big Pharma/the Hartford of the Midwest," and like it, and the people you work and hang with are a big reason why. If so, Ian Woollen's novel Hoosier Life and Casualty is a great read. If you aren't from around here, this is still a disarmingly charming dive through the duck weed of midwesternism. A corporate power struggle thriller, a family saga with love story and a double coming-of-age tale -- all in a tidy volume.
Woollen's lifelong study of the dark side of human behavior has taught him a good deal about the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, the deceitful machinations of ruling-class families and the silly stupidity of young punks. His research into the warmth of the human heart has taught him about the depth of friendship, the glory of love, the hazards of yoga and the satisfaction of singing in church choir.
Some years ago, at a tequila-infused gathering in Boston, an acquaintance recommended I read Don DeLillo's 1985 satire, White Noise. In the intervening years, a number of friends and colleagues have made the same suggestion. Given the novel's setting -- a bucolic but altogether dysfunctional liberal arts college in the American Midwest -- and its jaundiced view of media and technology, I was assured the book would have personal and professional resonance for me. It sure does.
Reading White Noise this summer has been nothing short of revelatory. DeLillo's critique of the dehumanizing effects of mass culture and post-industrial society is chilling, as it is prescient. It's also laugh-out-loud funny. Writing in those halcyon days before e-mail, personalized ringtones and salacious Twitter posts, DeLillo describes the unraveling of the nuclear family, if not the whole of American civilization, on the altar of conspicuous consumption.