acclaimed novel by the author Richard Ford, called The Lay of the Land. It is a witty and sardonic tale of mid life crises amongst the disillusioned Boomers of East Coast America that takes place at the turn of the millenium. Very enjoyable.
Ford was one of many internationally recognised authors at our recent Auckland Writers and Readers festival. Fast becoming a must do on the early winter calendar, the speakers, venue and discussions all were superbly done. Now the country's largest gathering of of New Zealand and international authors, attracting 11,000 guests over the 3 days. I must say I had never heard of the widely published travel writer Pico Iyer; but he was one of the hits at the festival and his books are now on my must read list.
Next up on the "culture vulture" list will be the Dalai Lama visit on 17 July, the Annual Film Festival, and then the iconic Bob Dylan playing on Aug 11. Definitely indoor stuff at this time of year.
The San Francisco Chronicle looks back 40 years to the Summer of Love in the City with a series of articles by Mark Molford. Well worth the time even if you were not there. It didn't last, as these things are apt not to, but the ramifications still percolate through our western societies.
On that theme, The Guardian has a list here of the so-called "hippie hot spots", where the living is relaxed and cheap I would assume. If that is your thing, then you will want to know whats hot and what's not anymore. And I thought I had been around, but apparently not so..
A final North American roundup: the widely followed story of two humpback whales that took a wrong turn at the Golden Gate Bridge is fascinating. In their annual voyage up the west coast from Mexico to Alaska, the two mammals got lost halfway up the winding estuaries of the San Francisco Bay for a couple of weeks. Of course it was a New Zealand man who invented and developed the dart gun especially used in these circumstances to inject the whales with some antibiotics to ward off infections from their travels. Hard to imagine what could be in those waters..
Check out where your city ranks in these increasingly popular polls of the best cities in the world to live. There are always variations in the criteria with these, so if you aren't listed, well, maybe it's just because the pollsters don't recognise the true value of where you live. (hint: Australian and Canadian cities rank high).
Also from the BBC: interesting but not surprising research claiming both Newton and Einstein had a form of autism.
Al Gore, the consummate politician who everybody wants to run for President, and who is still playing coy, has another new book out called An Assault on Reason, and is interviewed by Jon Stewart here. Michael Moore with his new movie Sicko, chatting with Bill Maher here. Strong opinions, good points, and articulate. Great viewing.
Having installed and maintained several boutique vineyards on the island, so I know a little bit about what it takes to create some interesting flavours from varieties of grapes. Most viticulturists here say sarcastically the first bottle they produce cost them roughly 3-4 thousand dollars after several years of pouring the money in. So, the story of "2 Buck Chuck", a renowned winemaker in California, and one of my mothers favourites, will get some winces and low-brows from this part of the world. To buy a bottle of wine for $2 is an indeed an accomplishment in production efficiencies, volume, and distribution(no mention of quality here). We could not even get an empty bottle for that much.
And finally, it is nice to see UK food retailers taking the lead informing consumers of what the carbon footprint is for many of its products, including production, transport and eventual disposal. This is not going to go away. It is not too much to ask I believe, what exactly is in the food we eat, and what its production is doing to our planet. I also think it would be fair to say those food "products" doing the most harm to our bodies are also doing the most harm to our environment. As within, so without...
Buyer be Aware.
"You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity"
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
-Ralph Waldo Emerson