Currently Reading, Backyard Fracking, and Filipino Rondalla

CURRENTLY READING: All of my reading lately has been on the non-fiction tip. The last fiction I’ve read was a slog of a collection that I haven’t finished yet. (It has some incredible craftsmanship, but damn if most of the stories just don’t do it for me.) Anyway, what HAVE I been reading? I’ve made it into the Dark Horse years of AMERICAN SPLENDOR. I’m about halfway through NOTHIN’ BUT BLUE SKIES: THE HEYDAY, HARD TIMES, AND HOPES OF AMERICA’S INDUSTRIAL HEARTLAND by Eric McClelland which I discovered while perusing BELT MAGAZINE’s website. And lest you think I’m just now jumping on the whole “Rust Belt Chic” bandwagon, I’ll just say that I grew up during most of the stuff in Chapter 4 of BLUE SKIES (i.e. the Cleveland chapter). It’s been enlightening nonetheless to look at the historical context of my early life.  And, I just picked up BIOPUNK: SOLVING BIOTECH’S BIGGEST PROBLEMS IN KITCHENS AND GARAGES the other day at a bookstore discount table for $4, because there just has to be a story in here somewhere.

BACKYARD FRACKING: Something I forgot to mention when I wrote up having seen the short documentary BACKYARD at FLEFF. During the Q&A with the filmmaker, someone asked if she attempted to get any comments from the fracking industry. She says she did, and that it was rather easy to. She was granted tours through various rigs — sans her camera crew — and interviewed workers who apparently only had the same pro-fracking talking points. She reported being unable to find anyone with a unique pro-fracking story, which she attributes to the industry’s powerful propaganda machine. Power that was corroborated by an audience member with an account of the presence of energy companies in the independent film business and festival circuit. Know thy enemy and co-opt. Basic, really.

FILIPINO RONDALLA: Of course they’d have a Filipino Rondalla group at the Ivy League for which I work. To paraphrase the motto, “Any person, any extracurricular activity,” apparently. It brought back some childhood memories of my first visit to the Philippines when I was about four. I remember a candle dance and a tinikling demo, just like what I saw at the group’s concert last Saturday. That said, I have to acknowledge that this student display of Filipino culture–the culture of my parents–isn’t the culture of everyone in the Philippines. I fear for the non-Filipino audience members who may have left feeling armed with a proper overview of “Filipino culture”, and then trying to share this knowledge with, say, someone from the Visayas or Mindanao. They may not be received well.  After all, Filipinos have stabbed people for far less….

Next time, I’ll probably talk about the lung pox I’m fighting.

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