Mr. Bib surprised himself, with help from friends
and fellow bibliophiles, at recent Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, getting pretty inspired, grateful, just plain happy during Gary Snyder's chat with David L. Ulin, book reviewer and, as it happens, contributor to current Santa Monica Review. Among many topics, the poet whose youth charged up so many, whose writing and politics influenced the policy decisions of a state and its then-governor (one Jerry Brown) and the California Arts Commission and so many college lit class syllabi, Synder mentioned, joyfully, anarchism, of all things. If he'd had longer he would no doubt have elaborated on lumbermen and other backwoods hobo I.W.W. "Wobblies" and the once-active everyday embrace of mutual aid and, you bet, industrial sabotage and standing in solidarity against the bosses. Still, it was just enough, that brief allusion, what with the Buson and the Beats and saving the American Southwest from coal-burning power plants and reading his own latest, and newest work, collected in an edition titled, charmingly, This Present Moment.
You may know Peter Mathews as a longtime political science professor at Cypress College, an adjunct professor at Cal State Long Beach or a guest lecturer at Cal State Fullerton.
epetermathews.com Peter Mathews talks money.
Or, you may know Mathews as a political analyst on Southern California radio and television news programs.
Or, you may know Mathews from North County ballots, as he has run for several elected offices over the years. Now you'll get to know Mathews the author. He's got a new book out titled Money in Politics: the Destruction of the American Dream, and How to Restore It.More »
No doubt others of you out there share my frustration (admittedly a familiar condition) with the failure of so many citizens, pundits, media thinkers, casual conversationalists to be able to hold two ideas in their heads simultaneously, especially to accommodate two difficult, provocative, "offensive" ideas. Or even three. Is it, for instance, possible to exercise a critique of religious extremists (never satisfactorily defined and to my mind a tautology) by way of careful and logical and humane hostility not only to one religion but, yes, all of them!? Look no further than the Bibliofellow, who here offers himself as an unshy role model, hostile to religion and able to ignore tasteless or dumb or unnecessarily mean efforts at, say, humor and satire but eager to celebrate the form always. Duh. This exemplary behavior seems too absent in a lot of what passes for discussion in too many forums, where silly people indeed talk about what "offends" them. I am increasingly, yes and oui, offended by religion, which is always necessarily a provocation, a purposeful, clumsy, institutionalized and too-powerful reactionary assumption-machine which by definition challenges the rational, humane, collaborative and usually gets away with it. Also, friends, the only people who attack religion with guns and swords and money are, yup, other religionists, no kidding.
Charlie Hebdo Photo: Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images, Design: Dustin Ames
A few months after Gary Webb killed himself with his dad's old pistol, I stood shirtless in my back yard, staring at the full moon. The sky was black and cloudless, the moon blurry. Earlier that night, I'd poured myself several splashes of single-malt scotch. I shook my fist in the air and screamed.
I'd been a mess ever since Dec. 12, 2004, when the Sunday-morning edition of the Los Angeles Times hit my porch. As usual, I had opened the paper to the last page of the news section, where the Times tended to bury its most important stories. "Gary Webb, 49, wrote series linking CIA and drugs," read the headline, and suddenly I realized I was reading an obituary. Webb, the article stated, who "wrote a widely criticized series linking the CIA to the explosion of crack-cocaine in Los Angeles, was found dead in his Sacramento-area home Friday. He apparently killed himself."More »