Sunday, December 27, 2009

CRASS - There Is No Authority But Yourself

There is no authority but yourself
This is a fantastic and inspiring film about punk band/collective CRASS. It covers the things they did
and what they have cooking up at Dial House and staying relevant in 2010 globalized planet earth.
If you dig the flick you can piece it together using torrents. The kind folks at Guajiropunk have it loaded up at megaupload. Which you can than convert and play on DVD. The resolution holds up.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


a Disney short loosely based around the story of The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton.

THere aren't many punk songs where the subject matter delves into being done with pouring your money into something you don't own, dealing with nutsy neighbors who are on drugs and hammering ghosts at 2 am and the general populous in your building are dopes. I wonder why not?
Over the summer I had the experience of visiting a town where the jewish population didn't drive on weekends. It was the first time I had gotten out of bed and didn't hear road noise.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Bomb Drops


THE BOMBDROPS: analog, digital, virtual and mist manipulating motherfuckers. Power chords, tape splices, percussion, machinery. Bootlegged software, cassette multi tracks combined in cut, pasted, puked onto the floor fashion and mopped into a neat little catastrophe.
The band consists of conspirators from Strong Island. The participants and settings are almost irrelevant; those formulas that emphasize that sort of thing are usually well penned pr sheets that are trying to sell you some commerce along with some mythology. The context of time is arguably more important and the next following sentences are the ones to remember out of this slop, if you choose to digest any of this garbage at all.
Their revolution began as an offshoot project in the middle of the 90s during the Clinton administration. Organized at some vitamin factory by line workers from the south and north (who met while mindlessly packing whatever goods passed by on a conveyer belt.) The spark ignited a flame and some songs are structured and recorded in a rehearsal space/squat which later these sorry bastards were evicted from. Since, welp… you can’t sleep and wash in a rehearsal space. It destroys the value of a poorly kept, highly vandalized industrial park. After all what would the goons across the way think when they’re dropping engines and see some unsavory characters scraping crumbs to exist too?
Fast forward to the Bush administration very little has changed, new names, old beefs, and fancy spin doctors with new war strategies. Very little has improved with the above mentioned bastards, locale, no $$$ and yet more of their peers are smiling widely and itching to hock new products for some bomb maker or some other multi faceted chemical food production corporation and its share holders.
Utilizing military defense communications like the internet, and media tyrannical empires to help promote their own devices THE BOMBDROPS are posting the manipulations and distortions as a means of encouraging others to hop aboard this doomed train and to help spread a few moments of chaotic sanity.
Lead singer Bhopal states, "Let’s make the make the most of the precious seconds we have before total annihilation. We all know where we’re headed, let’s stop the avoidance tactics and do something before we hit the restaurant at the end of the universe."
The Bomb Drops Myspace page

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jello Biafra & The Guantanamo School Of Medicine

Through out the Bush clusterfuck most of our poop punk yutzes that were ragin' against the machine a few months earlier sat rather quiet as to not disturb Mom's marketshare. One artist that has been exceptionally outspoken against the Bush administration and corporate political bullshit has been Jello Biafara. That's why I find it exciting that he has new group, new cd due out and has been making appearances with The Guantanamo School Of Medicine.
check out the band in the usual places - Myspace, Facebook and at the always wonderful ALTERNATIVE TENTACLES.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Hey folks. TWO MAN ADVANTAGE posted some tour dates on
So get out there and see the band.

Here is an interview that I did with the band a few years ago prior to their South Of Canada release. Available now from Rodent Popsicle.


For those of you who like to look at moving pictures here's a clip:

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rise Zombie Michael Rise!

While people try to make sense of the bizarre liberties that stardom granted Michael Jackson, I'm trying to come to some sort of rationalization as to why I found the guy's music intriguing for a few years in elementary school. I blame this all on John Landis. Had he not made that Thriller video, Jackson would be like SAGA to me: a band that I would reference and maybe two people would remember...or maybe like the 200,000 people on you tube.
Landis directed a horror flick called An American Werewolf in London which was groundbreaking, funny and gory. Rick Baker did some awesome make up that helped the f/x industry evolve a hundred fold. Watch other werewolf flicks like Wolfen and Cat People and you'll see what I mean. (No disrespect to f/x'ers Carl Fullerton and Tom Burman.) I loved American Werewolf. There's a transformation sequence (in case you never seen the Thriller video) that apes it's human to werewolf scenes.
Thriller also pays homage to George A. Romero. I recall seeing the trailer for Dawn Of The Dead and being spooked by it. (Like I said, I was in elementary school.) When Dawn came out on VHS it was an event. Another great film filled with gore and dark humor. (A formula that was somewhat captured in the James Gunn remake- but we can discuss that at a later date.)
I had fondness for the horror genre and a genuine love for Universal Monsters, Godzilla and Bloodsucking Freaks (a lil film that pissed off me mom when pops rented it). So given that those genres were successful, it would've been impossible for Thriller to be a failure. I thought music/horror/tv hadn't gone this well together since the time Alice Cooper was on The Muppet Show.
The trap was baited and from grades 3-6 I was buying pop garbage like the rest of the trash heap. Thriller WAS cool. Fortunately I had older siblings who listened to music and played guitar so that we weren't like most suckers bouncing from Michael sound-a-likes to pop lockin' look a likes. Van Halen 1984 helped steer things in the right direction. Not to mention the Ramones, Cheap Trick, The Cars and other radio rock that kept me on the holy road to rock salvation.
I get frustrated that people are so down that Michael is dead. Let's not forget he was fucking brilliant as a zombie. Let Thriller be that foreshadowing moment. I long await his decomposed mass to return. Romero suggested, "When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth." Michael will come back pop lock and moonwalk, maggots, worms and all. I can't wait. Rise Zombie Michael Rise!!!

Clitfest Los Angeles

Here's the line up flyer.A nifty DIY punk affair.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Here's some nifty clips based on the exciting produkts from Electro Faustus:

Droog - Decompositions ep

decompositions ep
Vorgon Massive/Infidelica

According to the story, this two track, 38 minute recording was made in Spring 2000, but “Due to the erratic filing system of the Vorgon Massive archives,” it was lost. Found, transferred to CD and released almost four years later, this collaboration between Medford’s Droog (aka Greg Groovy) and Mute Treasures (Drew Biscardi and Joe Vella) bestows mostly what its title suggests. Improvising with Moog, samples, synth, drum machine and the aboriginal wind instrument, the didgeridoo, the trio produces spooky, anti-ambient coatings that salute the German godfathers of sound Karlheinz Stockhausen and Einsturzende Neubauten. It’s alienating to say the least and would be apropos in a ’70 horror B movie. Nothing ever really builds into anything substantial, but turn it up or put on headphones to fully experience this experiment. A siren, a passing train and beer cans supposedly being crushed in a recycling machine are just some of the hidden noises. Deep synth tones go in and out of the mix, which usually disturbs me more than consoles. It’s a soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic world, where even the machines are part of the wreckage. ----- Kenyon Hopkin

You can download this ep for free from

Saturday, June 27, 2009


The folks at Hobby Farms and Hobby Farms Home are introducing a new magazine.

here's the info from their site: It doesn’t take a farm to have the heart of a farmer. Now, due to a burgeoning sustainable-living movement, you don’t have to own acreage to fulfill your dream of raising your own food. The new Urban Farm™ magazine, from the editors of Hobby Farms, will walk you down the path to self sustainability.

Urban Farm™ magazine’s mission is to promote the benefits of self sustainability and to provide the tools with which to do it on any size property. Urban Farm™ reaches out to those in the city and suburbs, those who are inspired by the local food movement and who want to start raising chickens and growing food for themselves, supporting local agriculture and living more sustainably.

Urban farms are popping up all over America. However, things are different on an urban farm, versus a rural hobby farm. With less space to work with, projects must be scaled down, efficiency becomes crucial, and one must be resourceful to use every inch of space and recycle every unused object into something useful.

Urban Farm™ is informational and inspirational, filled with how-to projects, profiles of urban farmers across America, “green” and innovative products, and of course, recipes for preparing your homegrown vegetables, eggs and other farm bounty.

Look for the Premiere issue of Urban Farm™ on the newsstands August 25, 2009.

--Sounds like a pretty cool read. Though it is always hilarious to see people trademarking the words Urban Farm, as if they came up with that all by themselves. It's as silly as those cats who are trying to patent imperfect lumpy pumpkins and gourds as their own creation.


Cops arrest two teens on lower East Side for anti-Semetic spree

Saturday, June 27th 2009, 4:00 AM

The youngsters kicked off the anti-Semitic spree at 1 p.m. Thursday when, armed with a magic marker and a smoke bomb, they scrawled a swastika on a wall at the United Hebrew Center on East Broadway, police said. They set off the smoke device, too, before bolting.

An hour later at the Bialystoker Synagogue, the teens drew another swastika and wrote the slur "k---" on a wall. They later hurled eggs at the house of worship, cops said.

The kids - a 15-year-old Asian male and a 16-year-old black male - were charged with aggravated harassment, criminal mischief and reckless endangerment, all as hate crimes.

"This is a desecration of God, no matter what your religion," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has attended the Willet St. synagogue since he was 4 years old


here's the latest from Wired on the Pirate Party.

Monday, May 25, 2009

You Won't Find Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown At Wal-Mart

One of the unfortunate things in this day and age is that Wal Mart has become the largest physical music shop in the U.S.. Though their commitment to the media is half assed due to sloppy shelves with no real rhyme or reason to how they're stocked. The product never matches the label cards. Which my account for why sales are down in music. You can't find what you're looking for when you're looking for it. This description also applies to KMART. Their spaces are just a total mess.
Then you have to factor in the dud practices that corporations delve into. WAL MART won't carry any cd with the Parental Advisory label that Jello Biafra refers to as the Tipper Sticker (which back in the day Al Gore was concerned more about young peoples' long term exposure to Ozzy Osbourne and Dead Kennedys lyrics than toxic atmospheric conditions). So artists need to keep their songs and artwork free of controversial imagery otherwise they can't be carried in the nation's largest music store.
Enter: GREEN DAY. A huge advertising budget (I suppose due to all the commercials and promotion it has been receiving) In a vast sea of shit being released available for download at I-tunes, virtually no proper print media or music entertainment channels a question comes into place, how do we make this new release an event. How do we keep "punk credibility" when our songs sound more and more like 38 Special ballads with a hint of more distortion? Take a jab at Wal Mart. Sam's homogeneous states of ineptitude.
Now don't get me wrong, if this helps get all the tweeny boppers to take their heads out of their asses and out of the MTV Reality delusion so many of these suckers are stuck in, great. This might be a slight at all the candy coating green washing, fair trade branded labour camps aren't going to stop the true nature of these oppressive regimes. So bravo to Green Day for finding something real to address. As for all my compadres who are upset that green day aren't punk as fuck anymore, who cares. You're not either.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


If you're a lucky bastard your PBS channel carries MAKE TV. I have to watch the podcasts which just isn't as much fun. Luddite perception i suppose. If you have some shop skills or are looking to branch out from spikes/studs jacket bedazalin'. The kind folks at MAKE come up with some clever things. Sorry for the potty mouth in all the posts as of late. I've been working in the Jerk Store warehouse and all my companeros are fowl mouthed, illiterate morons, which have been a terrible influence on me. BUT before I get side tracked, here is the stimulation that keeps my head from drowning in the intellectual sewer. MAKE TV

Rage Against The Machine

or at least get the damn machines to work the way you want them to. I used to be a retail sales jerk and spent thousands of dollars on obsolete technology and other over hyped duds. I guess I'm part of a demographic that is supposed to keep replacing the old shit with the new shit in the latest high tech formats. I thumb my nose at that notion. I like to make back ups of my highly disposable goods, which there is apparently a trial under way to make this illegal and all those fine techno producing companies are saying "Fuck You Lewd, the old shit IS shit so replace it. Or go to jail." But before that happens, I'll archive them one more time before the police send out their killdozers.
Here's a fucking useful piece of link. DVD43 bravo!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Oh that darn Vatican

BBC NEWS I've been meaning to post about this. "A senior Vatican cleric has defended the excommunication in Brazil of the mother and doctors of a young girl who had an abortion with their help.The nine-year-old had conceived twins after alleged abuse by her stepfather."
I'll keep this really simple - Horrific and revolting. The dinosaur is clueless that it is extinct.


here's a hilarious piece from a hilariously bad actor Jackie Chan. The main idea is this guy believes too much freedom could be dangerous for China. Which is an interesting concept but you figure the guy must be sun drunk and the rays in Malibu must be stir frying his noggin. Come on Jackie, use your egg noodle man. If anyone gives a shit, I blame Hal Needham for introducing this oppression loving dingbat to the American public via CANNONBALL RUN - which is also the last good movie JC made.

Jackie Chan's China comments prompt backlash (AP)
Source: AP Sun Apr 19, 2009, 4:20 am EDT

FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2009 file photo, action star speaks to media during an event to promote the International Film Festival in . Legislators in Chinese-speaking regions that enjoy free elections on Sunday, April 19, 2009, lashed out at after the 'Rush Hour' star questioned if freedom was a good thing for China, accusing him of insulting his own race. The 55-year-old action star said at a business forum in the southern Chinese island province Hainan on Saturday that a free society may not be beneficial for authoritarian mainland China. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

HONG KONG - Action star Jackie Chan 's comments wondering whether Chinese people "need to be controlled" have drawn sharp rebuke in his native Hong Kong and in Taiwan .

Chan told a business forum in the southern Chinese province of Hainan that a free society may not be beneficial for China 's authoritarian mainland.

"I'm not sure if it's good to have freedom or not," Chan said Saturday. "I'm gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we're not being controlled, we'll just do what we want."

He went on to say that freedoms in Hong Kong and Taiwan made those societies "chaotic."

Chan's comments drew applause from a predominantly Chinese audience of business leaders, but did not sit well with lawmakers in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

"He's insulted the Chinese people. Chinese people aren't pets," Hong Kong pro-democracy legislator Leung Kwok-hung told The Associated Press. "Chinese society needs a democratic system to protect human rights and rule of law."

Another lawmaker, Albert Ho, called the comments "racist," adding: "People around the world are running their own countries. Why can't Chinese do the same?"

Former British colony Hong Kong enjoys Western-style civil liberties and some democratic elections under Chinese rule. Half of its 60-member legislature is elected, with the other half picked by special interest groups. But Hong Kong's leader is chosen by a panel stacked with Beijing loyalists.

In democratically self-ruled Taiwan, which split from mainland China during a civil war in 1949, legislator Huang Wei-che said Chan himself "has enjoyed freedom and democracy and has reaped the economic benefits of capitalism. But he has yet to grasp the true meaning of freedom and democracy."

Chan's comments were reported by news outlets in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but were ignored by the mainland Chinese press.

Although Chan was a fierce critic of the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in June 1989, which killed at least hundreds, he has not publicly criticized China's government in recent years and is immensely popular on the mainland.

He performed during the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics and took part in the Olympic torch relay .

Chan also is vice chairman of the China Film Association, a key industry group.

Associated Press writer Annie Huang in Taipei contributed to this report.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sing along with Lewd and the gang!

As the dinosaurs grumble over the state of their cash floe, you circumvent all the bullshit, the facades and just about all the other fucking nonsense by not participating and consuming their dino dung. Check out this niftyfolder and rediscover some classics or get back in touch with your inner rebel that bit it once you settled for a measly cubicle existence. Thank you Ungovernable77!

You will pay tomorrow!

"Avarice and greed are gonna drive you over the endless sea" - Ship Of Fools by World Party. a detailed account of that greed.

SEEDLING -APRIL 2009 out now!

Seedling April 2009 is available from GRAIN. It's online, it's free and packed with information that you won't see on the tv news or read in that soon to be dead local newspaper. Nothing related to Britney, Bradjolina or Madonna eating horse pucky on Long Island. READ THIS NOW.

Sunflowers love Heavy Metal

This is a repost from the Slingshot Collective's website. Reposted for all you green thumb punx who might have missed it.

Get the Lead Out - Sunflowers love Heavy Metal
By Sarick Matzen

Dumbfounded, I watched the toxic sunflowers sail over the fence -- seeds, heads, stalks, and all. It was one more comic moment in the struggle to bring phytoremediation, the use of green plants to clean up toxic soil, out of the laboratory and into the hands of backyard and community gardeners. I hopped the fence, collected the plants from the empty lot, and routed them towards their proper new home, Milwaukee's lined landfill.

Using sunflowers to clean lead out of soil has become popular in activist gardener circles, thanks in part to widely-publicized efforts by Common Ground volunteers in post-Katrina New Orleans. This past fall I visited two current phytoremediation ("fido-ree-mee-diation") projects, and spoke with one of the founders of the 2006 Common Ground sunflower campaign. These activists are tackling soil toxicity head-on by growing sunflowers in lead-contaminated soil, harvesting them after the plants have sucked up some of the heavy metal, and disposing of them like hazardous waste. With every crop the soil gets cleaner.

Low-tech, low-cost tools for Do-It-Yourself soil remediation are desperately needed, and bioremediation might be the key: many plants, mushrooms, and bacteria can be used to take up toxic metals like arsenic and mercury, and break down organic chemicals like pesticides and diesel fuel. Traditional cleanup methods include removing toxic soil and putting it in a landfill or chemically washing it, techniques that are expensive, wasteful, and rarely benefit poor people. Lead in particular is a problem in urban areas where as much as twenty percent of children might face lower IQ's, attention deficit disorders, and behavioral problems from high exposure. Furthermore, communities organizing to build food security need to restore soils full of leaded house paint, gasoline, and battery remains.

Phytoremediation is not new, but transferring the available research into good guidelines for smaller, DIY projects is tricky. For more than 20 years, capitalist heavyweights like the United States Military, Dow Chemical, Chevron, and Ford have been investing in the field. Most research has been done in controlled laboratory conditions, not in field experiments that reflect nature's great variety. The published case studies that do exist are mostly industrial scale and report mixed results. Lead cleanup with sunflowers is chemistry, not magic; the process is affected by numerous variables, including soil pH, the form of lead in the soil, and the variety of sunflower used. Since phytoremediation is still experimental, soil testing is an important part of knowing whether it's working. Although soil lead tests are cheaper than others, the expense of repeated testing is a common hurdle for low-income projects.

Despite the difficulties, sunflowers are a promising tool enabling people to take soil clean up into their own hands. Several positive, field-based test studies have been published recently in scientific journals, and one of the groups I interviewed for this article is doing their own New Orleans-specific experiment. Using phytoremediation safely doesn't hurt the soil and probably helps, as Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew point out in their recently-published book, Toolbox for Sustainable City Living, which includes excellent guidelines for soil cleanup.

Milwaukee mix-up

I heard through the grapevine that an old friend of mine was working at a community health clinic in Milwaukee, WI, and was a part of a project using sunflowers to remediate the soil in the clinic's garden for chronic care patients. I stopped by for a visit, excited to learn something from their project.

When I arrived, my friend told me that we could certainly visit the clinic garden, but there wasn't much to see because the sunflowers were already harvested and in the compost pile. "What?" I replied, "You can't put those sunflowers in the compost pile- they might be full of heavy metals!" A little knowledge can be dangerous, I realized. We got in touch with the head gardener and arranged to pull the contaminated plants out of the hopefully not-yet-frozen compost pile and put them in the dumpster.

On the next garden workday we biked the 8 miles under grey November skies down to the clinic. The clinic was sited on an old industrial site and the factory rubble had been topped with a thin layer of topsoil and sod. The garden beds were all raised, but sunflowers had been planted around them to clean up the soil around the beds. The paths were covered in woodchip in an effort to add organic matter and keep the potentially contaminated dust off the vegetables and away from children's hands. I also learned that while they had researched the history of the site to understand the past soil contamination, they had not done any soil testing to see what was actually in the layer of topsoil, rendering their sunflower-based cleanup essentially a good-faith effort. Quite possibly the topsoil was clean since it had been brought in to cap the site.

Let's be clear: lead is a heavy metal, an element, by definition something that cannot be broken down by plants. As we worked, we discussed the basics of phytoremediation. Some plants accumulate toxic elements like lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic, requiring that the plant be harvested and disposed of in some appropriate manner. Other contaminants, like diesel fuel, pesticides, and fertilizers -- which are organic compounds made of chains of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and possibly other atoms like chlorine -- can be broken down into harmless carbon-based compounds by secreted root enzymes and microbial activity hosted by some roots, as well as by some mushrooms. When the clinic gardeners put the sunflowers in the compost pile, they were essentially adding heavy metals to the compost that would later be mixed into the raised beds.

There is quite a bit of debate about what to do with harvested toxic plants, especially in the DIY community. Industrially, plants may be incinerated, composted, or chemically treated to leach out the heavy metals. If you don't live near an old mine shaft, appropriate disposal means at the very least making sure the bagged plant material goes to a lined landfill, or possibly taking it to household hazardous waste sites. It could also be carefully composted before disposal, but only in a separate, enclosed area, to prevent the lead from leaching out as the plants break down.

At the clinic, the sunflowers heads were still fully seeded even though it was late fall. We wondered if the plants transmitted any heavy metal load into the seeds, and if animals had shied away from the seeds due to a potential bad taste. I later read that there is some evidence suggesting that seeds of sunflower plants used for remediation have an almost negligible amount of heavy metals, which would still make it a bad idea to eat them, but would allow the oil to be used for industrial purposes (Madejon et al). I also read that animals do seem to avoid plants naturally high in heavy metals due to their bad taste (Henry). When I saw my friend's co-worker throwing the plants over the fence in that misguided attempt to seed sunflowers in the empty lot, I realized again how complicated the issue is. Safe phytoremediation means posting signs advising against eating the plants, and emphasizing that the plants are toxic once they've done their job.

Old toxins, new energy

Hurricane Katrina didn't necessarily bring more lead to New Orleans' already toxic soil. It did, however, bring a flood of volunteer energy geared towards finding creative, accessible techniques for cleaning up the city at the mouth of the entire Mississippi basin. One of the projects started by Common Ground Relief volunteers was the Meg Perry Healthy Soil Project, which ran a sunflower-planting campaign in 2006. After I witnessed the confusion around bioremediation in Milwaukee, I wanted to find out more about one of the first well-publicized activist uses of sunflowers for lead cleanup. I tracked down Emily Posner, one of the founders of the project along with veteran gardeners Starhawk, Lisa Fithian, and Scott Kellogg of the Austin-based Rhizome Collective.

One of the first things Healthy Soil Project volunteers did was independently verify the post-Katrina soil analysis done by the EPA and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Already-high lead concentrations had been spread around by the floodwaters. In 2006, forty percent of New Orleans properties were in areas with soil lead content over the EPA residential limit of 400 mg Pb/kg soil. Common Ground recommends following lower limits: the Canadian standard for children's play areas is 140 mg/kg soil lead, while the agricultural soil lead limit is 11 mg/kg!

The sunflower project really got off the ground during Spring Break when volunteers planted sunflowers in people's yards and adjacent empty lots. There are a number of plants that accumulate lead, including Indian and Japanese mustard, scented geraniums, corn, penny cress, and sunflowers. Emily said they chose sunflowers for the summer project because "sunflowers can grow much better than Indian mustard down here in the summer time. You can't really use Indian mustard because it's too hot; they're a brassica." Eventually they used Indian mustard during the cooler winter months, in a two-pronged approach.

The Healthy Soil project chose Giant sunflowers because of their prolific roots systems. Wide-spread root systems are important for two reasons. First, experiments are still being done to determine where exactly the lead ends up in a sunflower plant. While it's more desirable for the lead to be transported up into the stalk and leaves, making it easier to harvest the sunflowers without worrying about pulling up the roots, I found several studies indicating that a generous portion of lead remains in sunflower roots (Nehnevajova et al 2007; Rock 2003). Sunflowers have a strong tap root that can penetrate down 6.5 ft, and an extensive lateral spread of root near the surface. Phytoremediation is only effective in the root zone, which typically includes 8-10 inches of soil below the surface, where most soil contamination usually is. Perhaps sunflowers are effective at removing lead from deeper soil horizons with their branched taproot. Pulling up a long taproot is not realistic, but it is important to include as many roots as possible when the plants are harvested.

Extensive root systems also help combat potential groundwater contamination during cleanup efforts. One challenge with lead is that it is "molecularly sticky": lead wants to be attached to something, whether it's joining with soil organic matter, clay particles, or forming complexes with carbonates, phosphates, and other soil molecules. There are very few free lead cations (Pb2+) available in the soil for plants to uptake. What lead the plant does absorb tends to complex with plant nutrients in the roots, instead of traveling up into the plant shoots. In other words, lead is not very bioavailable.

Fortunately, soil amendments can be added to make the soil more acidic, ideally with a pH around 5.0, which makes the lead more soluble while still allowing plant growth. Backyard gardeners can add sulfur, coffee grounds, or pine needles. Many published case studies and industrial operations use synthetic chelating agents like EDTA (ethylene-diamine tetraacetic acid), which are organic compounds that surround metals to inactivate them, preventing metal atoms from precipitating with soil molecules, for example. One of the great quandaries of metal phytoremediation is that soluble lead that is bioavailable to plants is also bioavailable to humans, and available to contaminate groundwater. It is particularly easy to add too much EDTA and essentially just leach all the lead into the groundwater, instead of making it gradually available to plants at the rate they can absorb it.

"Everyone recommends adjusting the pH. We tried to do that with sulfur," Emily said. "One strategy we used to try to confront [groundwater contamination] was that we did a massive, almost scatterseed project so the root systems of the sunflowers really dominated the plots of land."

In late summer 2006 they harvested the sunflowers with machetes, making sure to get the whole plant including the roots, and chose to contain the potentially contaminated plants in plastic bags and dispose of the bags in a lined landfill. "That's a huge debate, what to do with the plants now that they've accumulated lead," Emily noted. "Our solution isn't the best solution but we had no other choice really. Some folks would say you should do some composting [of the contaminated plants in an isolated pile] and then contain the lead in that spot. But resource and space-wise we thought it would be best for us to have it contained with all the other toxic shit that's in landfills."

A major part of any clean-up project is follow-up soil testing, but it was hard for the Healthy Soil project to accomplish this due to issues with funding and personnel. "One of the mistakes I learned was that . . . gardens are long term. . . . You put a seed in the ground and you have to wait 40 to 120 days for it to produce, and you have to take care of it the whole time. It's a constant project; it's hard to have that kind of sustained interest. But the financial thing was also a huge barrier. It was hard to keep going when we were having trouble doing follow-up testing. We couldn't necessarily produce our results. . . . Our biggest impediment is . . . develop[ing] a more scientific understanding of what's going on. Some people say that it works and some say that it doesn't, and I can't necessarily answer that question based off of our experience, ...because soil testing is so expensive." With a soil heavy metal test running $30 at the well-respected UMASS Amherst soil testing laboratory, for example, it is easy to see how the repeated testing needed to build a good foundation of data could have been cost-prohibitive.

Critics of the Common Ground project with whom I spoke in New Orleans felt Common Ground's efforts channeling outside volunteers into solidarity relief efforts made the project less interesting and accessible to city residents, who might have had the long-term commitment necessary to help the project reach a fuller potential. Although the sunflower project is long over, local involvement is something the Healthy Soil Project is addressing with their new focus on community gardens. An active member of the Lower Ninth Ward Urban Farming Coalition, they still provide soil testing to residents looking to start gardens.

Despite the fact that the amount of lead removed from the soil remains unknown, Emily counts the project a success. "Whether it removed a ton of lead or it didn't, it certainly added to the regeneration of soil by adding to the microbial life through the compost tea that we added, and by turning the soil and getting it uncompacted. Based off of scientific evidence I know we were adding some more life to the soil, as well as adding more life to the community. We were planting some of these lots in places that were so destroyed and devastated; for people to come across lots in places that were filled with sunflowers in bloom I think was a really powerful experience. . . . This type of activity adds life and proves that life can come in some of the most unusual places. I think that was a good stepping-stone for us to establish ourselves, our roots metaphorically and the fact that we do care about healthy soil and we care about having food access. Now we have an opening to be able to work under the guidance of local people who are taking care of some of this land. It's been a really good experience in that way."

Filling in research gaps

Across town from the Lower Ninth Ward where Common Ground Relief is based, a community coalition is attempting to answer some of the questions surrounding the efficacy of using sunflowers for lead cleanup. On a sunny afternoon in early December I met Brice White, one of the coalition members, at a test plot on a street corner a mile west of Downtown. Brice is the Operations Manager for the People's Environmental Center (PEC), an organization started after the storm with the goal of making soil testing accessible to the people of New Orleans. Like many groups started in the post-hurricane ferment of 2005-6, PEC has gone through many changes; now their main focus is supporting this sunflower experiment along with students from Dillard University, where the Director of PEC, Dr. Lovell Agwarmgbo, teaches chemistry; students from Delgado Community College; and the New Orleans Food and Farm Network.

Thanks to New Orleans' long growing season, all the sunflowers had been harvested mere weeks before I visited, and were in the lab awaiting analysis. The project, started this past spring, is the next logical step in Katrina clean-up: "Everybody was talking about remediation after the storm, what the contaminants were, and doing a lot of testing. . . . We decided to find a place were we could test out sunflowers to see if they actually worked. Sunflowers became the thing for everybody to use, to talk about and plant," Brice explained. "I was discouraged . . . with people coming from the radical hippie punk thing, where they're like, 'If you plant the plants it gets rid of the lead!' But when you look at lead, which is a metal, it doesn't go anywhere. People don't even think that far, they just think 'sunflowers get rid of lead.'"

Brice eventually developed a positive working relationship with Healthy Soil Project phytoremediators, although initially he shared Emily's concerns about Common Ground's approach to the sunflower campaign. "I had a lot of backlash against Common Ground . . . for several reasons, about this sort of North-South divide, liberal people coming down to say they know what to do -- it's kind of a classic, too. Some of those people didn't mean that, but they didn't stay here long enough to really see projects through. A lot of it's an organizational problem. But for whatever reason, a lot of sunflowers got planted in New Orleans after Katrina..." This was fine, he pointed out, but any phytoremediation project needs a caveat: "If you're actually trying to remediate, there's just not much data. ...You can't plant sunflowers and then say that somehow there's less lead . . . if you haven't done testing to at least get a sense of what it does."

PEC and other coalition members saw an opportunity to fill in some of the research gaps when a donation of sunflower Seedballz arrived. The gift was a trademarked version of a standard seedball with sunflower seeds rolled into a ball of clay to make them easy to grow. Through their connections with Dillard University, the coalition has the testing facilities that the Healthy Soil Project struggled to access.

The test plot is a corner lot on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard that was donated to Café Reconcile, a job-training organization for young people. In exchange for upkeep, they were happy to have the lot used as a test site. With a history of several houses now torn down, illegally parked vehicles, and illegal dumping of house foundation material, the lot is typical of New Orleans. Because the study hasn't yet been published, Brice couldn't tell me any specific lead content numbers, but presumably they reflect the fairly high background levels of lead in the city.

One early lesson learned was that community-oriented science isn't easy. Brice and his fellow coalition members encountered numerous difficulties in the process of turning the rubble-filled lot into a functioning field experiment. After trying to till it themselves, they were forced to hire a bulldozer to level the lot. Despite the addition of weed fabric, it was hard to control weeds in the nine experiment plots in the voracious New Orleans environment. The Seedballz didn't perform well; the hot summer sun baked the clay into a hard ball, and birds picked out the seeds as the balls sat on top of the soil. "Figuring out how to get them to germinate was the real success," noted Brice. Eventually they ended up burying the seedballs and also planting a crop of black oil sunflower seeds in an effort to not tie the project to one specific patented product, one donation.

Additionally, there was no record of the type of sunflowers in the Seedballz, and type of sunflower does seem to be an important variable in lead uptake. Researchers in Zurich, Switzerland examined the toxic metal accumulation in fifteen sunflower cultivars grown in a field contaminated with sewage sludge (Nehnevajova et. al). Because some metal uptake also varies with the kind of fertilizer used to reduce the pH, they used two different soil amendments, ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate. Surprisingly, they reported a wide variety in lead accumulation -- almost 10 percent. The most lead, 26.5 mg/kg Dry Weight, accumulated in the Salut cultivar, when the plants were fertilized with ammonium sulfate, while the least amount of lead, only 2.8 mg/kg Dry Weight, was found in the cultivar Alzan, also grown with ammonium sulfate. To make matters more confusing, some cultivars accumulated more lead with the ammonium nitrate fertilizer than they did with ammonium sulfate. Neither of the varieties used in New Orleans, the Giant and Black Oil sunflowers, were included in the study, which used varieties widely available in Switzerland.

Despite the difficulties and multiple variables in the project, Brice said their preliminary results indicate a promising reduction in soil lead content. The study opens the door for future research with a New Orleans, community-based focus. "A lot of people have said they don't want to use phytoremediation because they say it's too slow," he pointed out, "but we thought the results from 1-2 crops were promising enough to possibly use it. Also, the growing season here is longer than a lot of places. If you started first thing in the spring, you could maybe get four crops of sunflowers in. But in a place in the Northeast where they said it was too slow, they probably only got one crop in. All these things are things to look into in the future." There are other questions as well: "When do you harvest them to get optimum efficiency? Is there lead in the seeds? Are animals eating the seeds, are people eating the seeds?... The simple thing we want to know is, did it take the lead out, and if so, is the first step that you can plant [sunflowers] and harvest them, and make sure you throw them away. Maybe that is a good start. Like all the Common Ground stuff -- if they actually knew there was lead, and they planted all these sunflowers and then harvested them, they certainly didn't hurt anything, and they probably made it better."

Community-oriented science

In addition to providing valuable data on sunflowers, this project is a good exercise in community-oriented science. I salute Emily, Brice, and all the other intrepid gardeners who are vastly expanding the field conditions under which phytoremediation is used experimentally. By keeping track of what works under what conditions, and doing soil testing when it's available, we can turn our DIY efforts into a solid body of knowledge created by the communities it serves. This is an excellent example of science working for the people. While we build bridges with sympathetic members of the scientific establishment, we can work towards organizing our own radical science infrastructure, like accessible soil testing labs. Let's free bioremediation from the clutches of bureaucracy and academia! Bioremediation is a natural chemical process. No doubt there are other tools in the ground that we can use to repair the effects of industrialization, if we take the time to understand them.

Thank you to Emily and Brice for the interviews!


Toolbox for Sustainable City Living, Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew, South End Press

Gardener's Remediation Guide, EPA (just being published; contact

Common Ground Relief,

People's Environmental Center, Brice White, Operations Manager,


Hetland, M., Gallagher, J., Daly, D., Hassett, D., and Heebink, L. 2001. Processing of plants used to phytoremediate contaminated sites. In Phytoremediation, Wetlands, and Sediments, Leeson, A. et al. eds. Battelle Press.

Henry, Jeanna. 2000. An Overview of the Phytoremediation of Lead and Mercury. EPA,

Feigl, J. et al. A resource guide: The phytoremediation of lead in urban, residential soils.

Madejon, P., Murillo, J.M., Maranon, T., Cabrera, F., and Soriano, M.A. 2003. Trace element and nutrient accumulation in sunflower plants two years after the Aznacollar mine spill. Sci.Total.Environ. 307, 239-257.

Nehnevajova, E., Herzig, R., Federer, G., Erismann, K.-H., and Schwitzguebel, J.-P. 2005. Screening of sunflower cultivars for metal phytoextraction in a contaminated field prior to mutagenesis. Internat. Journal of Phytoremediation, 7: 337-349.

Nehnevajova, E., Herzig, R., Federer, G., Erismann, K.-H., and Schwitzguebel, J.-P. 2007. Chemical mutagenesis -- A promising technique to increase metal concentration and extraction in sunflowers. Internat. Journal of Phytoremediation, 9:149-165.

Rock, S.A. 2003. Field evaluations of phytotechnologies. In Phytoremediation: Transformation and Control of Contaminants, McCutcheon, S. and Schnoor, J. eds. John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Anti-Copyright. Borrow whatever you want. We did.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hitman Fight Gear bash the Misits skull in

The folks at Hitman Fight Gear have come up with a funny variation of the Crimson Ghost skull made famous by the one time great punk MISFITS (I'm talking pre-Resurrection tour)Sorry I just can't get into the new versions of the band or the equally pathetic spin offs x-ward etc. Here's the serial inspiration:

If you're like me you might like the Crimson Ghost t-shirt without the taint stink logo of the Misfits printed on it. like the old day t-shirt. Those sadistic fucks at Rotten Cotton have one that will suit your needs.

More chinese revisionism

even deadlier than lead lined toys and toxic soy milk comes Chinese pr wires.

here's the comedic piece: [thanx reuters]
China casts late Tibetan monk as ally against unrest
By Benjamin Kang Lim Benjamin Kang Lim Wed Jan 28, 4:48 am ET

BEIJING (Reuters) – China is marking 20 years since the death of the second-most senior figure in Tibetan Buddhism by lauding him as an enemy of separatism in the restive region as it enters a year laden with tense anniversaries.

The death on January 28, 1989, of the 10th Panchen Lama, revered by Tibetans for championing their rights, deprived Chinese authorities of a buffer against discontent in the mountain region and helped stir demonstrations and riots in the regional capital Lhasa weeks later.

But Chinese officials now champion the late Panchen Lama as a model patriot, set against the exiled Dalai Lama, who they condemn as a separatist traitor.

In the official People's Daily on Tuesday, a senior Communist Party official again lauded him as an example for restive Tibet, which erupted in riots and protest in March last year.

"We must learn from and continue his patriotic spirit," wrote Du Qinglin, chief of the Party's United Front Department, which deals with religious and ethnic groups.

"He was always at the forefront of the struggle against separatism and resolutely protected ethnic unity."

But the 10th Panchen Lama's political legacy is much more disputed than such propaganda presents. A leading expert on Tibet said Beijing has trapped itself by failing to accept a successor Panchen Lama who is trusted by most Tibetans.

China lost a chance to win greater acceptance from Tibetans when it put under secretive house arrest the five-year-old boy chosen by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama in 1995. Beijing installed its own successor, who is spurned by most Tibetans as an illegitimate choice.

"China's leaders are locking themselves into a very tight corner -- it can't rule Tibetans without the mediation of a leader whom Tibetans trust and respect, but it denounces the Dalai Lama as a monster," said Robbie Barnett, a Tibetologist at Columbia University in New York.

"The Panchen Lama has become increasingly important as a symbolic figure since his death because Beijing's policies increasingly seem focused on undoing everything he struggled for," Barnett said.

China is seeking to prevent unrest in Tibet as it marks the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's flight into exile in March. Most Tibetans still honor him as their supreme religious leader.

A security lockdown has been imposed in most Tibetan areas. And authorities in Lhasa launched a "strike hard" campaign to stifle potential trouble there, overseas groups advocating Tibetan independence said, citing media reports in the city.

The Lhasa Evening News reported on Friday that police hunting criminals carried out "comprehensive checks" on 5,766 residents, the International Campaign for Tibet said in an email.

"This latest strike hard campaign appears to be intended to intimidate Tibetans" ahead of their traditional new year in late February and the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's flight, said Kate Saunders of the International Campaign.

The Lhasa newspaper said 66 people were detained on suspicion of theft, burglary, prostitution and "having reactionary opinions" -- views critical of Chinese rule.

Tibet was relatively stable for the decade until the 10th Panchen Lama's death, as the Communist Party eased the harsh attacks on Tibetan Buddhism of Mao's time and experimented with removing Han Chinese officials from many posts in the region.

China has since poured billions of dollars to modernize Tibet but the dispute over the Panchen Lama's position has left a void that could presage the kind of conflict that could erupt after the death of the current Dalai Lama, now 73 years old.

After the Dalai Lama fled, the 10th Panchen Lama stayed on and was initially seen as a collaborator, but it later emerged that he spent over a decade either in prison or under house arrest for criticizing Beijing. He was freed in 1977 and politically rehabilitated the following year.

Asked to comment on the 10th Panchen Lama's legacy, his only child, Yabshi Pan Rinzinwangmo, now studying in Beijing, told Reuters: "My father never wavered in his convictions to do everything possible to broadly support Tibetan culture and Tibetans everywhere."

(Editing and additional reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Valerie Lee)

British police detain protesters during Wen visit

here's the Yahoo AP wire
China keeping up with the same ol' same ol' and trying to eradicate TIBET from the memory banks using oppression and revisionism. It's hard to expect respect from a rule that beats down it's own people for thinking outside of the communist think tank. It's such a good system, if you're the domineering top and have US corporate whores loading your pockets $$$ and getting some free suck suck on the side. If you're not on the take.. you play goodie good and don't say anything. Not to anyone's surprise you wont be able to read this in any of the booming internet cafes in Beijing.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

THE TALIBAN SURE AIN'T COUSIN BRUCIE the luddite fever in full swing the Taliban have a portable radio transmitter which according to the NY TIMES article "Using a portable radio transmitter, a local Taliban leader, Shah Doran, on most nights outlines newly proscribed “un-Islamic” activities in Swat, like selling DVDs, watching cable television, singing and dancing, criticizing the Taliban, shaving beards and allowing girls to attend school."
Hilarious bullshit. I guess beta and cassette tape are the mediums of the Taliban. Reminds me ol the old days when the PTL and similar group mind think control tanks were trying to have their way with U.S. and get us to cave under their puritanical pressure.
--long live infidelica

Saturday, January 10, 2009


live in the city and need to get rid of that holly jolly rootless X-mas tree? Then check out NYC's mulchfest 2009.