Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bob Scheer: Rape and Spillage, Wanda Coleman and Austin Strauss TONIGHT

HI. Sorry for the short notice, but I just opened this. My bad,
because this event is artistically extrordinary and almost never
happens. Wanda was perhaps the most dynamic, sought-after
poet in So. Calif. until she and Austin stopped performing several
years ago. Austin is an outstanding poet and teacher and hosted
a great, weekly poetry hour on KPFK, as described below This is
a real treat for poetry lovers of all ages, genre and stripes. -Ed

What: Poets Wanda Coleman and Austin Strauss
When: Thursday, June 17, 7 PM
Where: Workmans Circle, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd. So.of Pico
Los Angeles CA 90035 310.552.2007

Poetry Plus on Thurs Jun 17 at 7 pm
featuring Wanda Coleman and Austin Straus

Having authored 18 books of poetry and prose, Wanda appears in Writing
Los Angeles (2002), in Poet's Market (2003), and Quercus ReviewVI (2006).
She has been an Emmy-winning scriptwriter, and a former columnist for LA
Times Magazine; a nominee for poet laureate, California 2005, and for the
USA artists fellowship 2007. Her book Bathwater Wine won her the 1999 Lenore
Marshall Poetry Prize--the first African-American woman to receive the
award. Her Mercurochrome was a bronze-medal finalist, National Book Awards
2001. Her honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the
National Endowment for the Arts. She was LA's first literary fellow
(2003-04). Her most recent books include Ostinato Vamps, The Riot Inside Me:
Trials & Tremors, and a collection of poetry translated into French (2006).
A new collection of stories, Jazz & Twelve O'Clock Tales, was published in
2008 (finalist for the Patterson Fiction Prize).

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, Austin Straus moved to SoCal in 1978. He
has been drawing and painting since childhood, but began writing in his
mid-thirties. He hosted The Poetry Connexion on Pacifica radio 1981-1996. He
worked for Amnesty International, PEN's Freedom to Write Committee, and on
many local LA and California issues. A teacher of art, English and
literature, poetry and philosophy, he is also an accomplished painter. His
complex "specialties" are one-of-a-kind books, from which the covers of his
poetry books for Red Hen Press are taken: Drunk with Light (2002) and
Intensifications (2010). His honors include the one-man shows "Austin
Straus-Collages: Word + Image," an exhibition (and poetry reading) at Beyond
Baroque Gallery in Venice (2000); and BURNWORKS: Paintings, Collages and
Artist Books (2010) at the Antelope Valley College Art Gallery. He was a
1997-98 "Writers on Site" resident, sponsored by LACMA and Beyond Baroque.
His wife of 29 years is poet and writer Wanda Coleman.

This is an extraordinary opportunity to "hang" with two of SoCal's
most accomplished writers. Admission by voluntary donation. Hosted by the
incomparable Uncle Ruthie Buell. No RSVP required.


Rape and Spillage

"The war that needs to be fought and won is against corporate dominance of
every important aspect of our political culture."

By Robert Scheer
TrutdigL June 16, 2010

What's with the president's war analogy on the oil spill? It's as if some
alien force, "The Invasion of the Slippery Sludge," suddenly attacked us.
"Abroad, our brave men and women in uniform are taking the fight to
al-Qaida," President Barack Obama said Tuesday in his White House speech,
"and tonight, I've returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast to speak with you
about the battle we're waging against an oil spill that is assaulting our
shores and our citizens."

What nonsense. The oil was minding its own business until some multinational
corporations, enabled by a dysfunctional government regulatory regime,
decided to wage war on the ecological balance of the oceans by employing
technology that they were not prepared to control. Cleaning up the oil spill
mess we made by raping the environment to satiate our consumer gluttony is
not a glorious battle against evil but rather obligatory penance for the
profound error of our ways.

You wound Mother Nature by punching a hole deep in her pristine ocean where
you have no business going and when she bleeds uncontrollably you dare blame
her for the assault? This from a president who shortly before this disaster
had given the oil companies permission to pillage in the deep seas at will.
At least now he admits to having been extremely naive in his belief that
they knew what they were doing:

"A few months ago, I approved a proposal to consider new, limited offshore
drilling under the assurance that it would be absolutely safe-that the
proper technology would be in place and the necessary precautions would be
taken. That obviously was not the case on the Deepwater Horizon rig, and I
want to know why."

He already knows why! It's the same ideological obsession that led to the
deregulation of the banking industry based on the assumption that the
unfettered pursuit of multinational corporation profits would somehow serve
the public good. In every area of federal governance the story is the same;
the mammoth corporations, through their lobbyists and campaign
contributions, end up controlling the government agencies ostensibly
regulating the activities of the military/industrial, health, financial and
communications complexes. Why be surprised that the oil conglomerates are
also in bed with their pretend Washington regulators?

Obviously Obama cannot be blamed for the bipartisan endorsement of the
Reagan Revolution's siren song, a call to make the world safe for
multinational corporations. The radical anti-regulation campaign-endorsed by
Bill Clinton as well as the father-and-son Bush team-corrupted rather than
improved the efficiency of the entire private sector, and what happened with
the oil industry was the rule and not the exception.

In explaining the failure of the Minerals Management Service, responsible
for regulating the oil drillers, Obama stated: "Over the last decade, this
agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all
regulation with hostility-a philosophy that says corporations should be
allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves. At this agency,
industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. Oil companies
showered regulators with gifts and favors, and were essentially allowed to
conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations."

That damning indictment of the corporate corruption of our political process
should stand as a cautionary tale to those like the majority in those red
states now suffering so because of the offshore drilling of which their
voters previously approved. Hopefully they, and the president who catered to
such impulses, will take away from this very costly mess a justifiable
skepticism about the risk assessments of plunderers who treat natural
treasures as nothing more than potential profit centers.

The public goes along because, as with the jobs created by military spending
and the false wealth of financial bubbles, it is blinded by lavishly funded
corporate PR to the true costs of such reckless corporate behavior. It is
understandable that folks struggling to get by would fall for that line, but
it is inexcusable when the political elite in Washington that know better
goes along with such chicanery.

The war that needs to be fought and won is against corporate dominance of
every important aspect of our political culture. I hope this disaster, its
impact revised upward by the government on Tuesday to represent an Exxon
Valdez-size spill of oil into the Gulf every four days, will facilitate
that. The difference between the new estimate, 60,000 barrels of oil a day,
and BP's original claim of 5,000 barrels a day is just another example of
the systemic corporate deceit that has characterized this immense
catastrophe. This is the wakeup call to fight corporate arrogance that we,
and our president, desperately needed.

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