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ATM: devil's strip? tree verge? my dialect does not have a word for this
Posted by Ben on 01.23.17

[Editor's note: the ensuing question does not, as you might have thought, pertain to pubic hair.]


I am still trying not to destroy myself in/with the politics threads and one of the ways I nurture hope is by gardening, so I figured I'd outsource some of that to the Mineshaft.

The city took out five blocks of my sidewalk beside the street last fall at my request, in chunks that are let's say 2.5 by 5 feet (two sidewalk squares) and 2.5 by 7.5 feet (three). Through a neighborhood initiative we planted two winter hawthorn trees, and the larger space has a telephone pole in the middle, at the foot of which I've planted the same fast-growing rose that will be on the fence in front of my house. (It won't be blooming pink at the same times the berries on the tree are orange, or if so I just won't care.) I also threw in a few bulbs that might be interesting (tulips, fritillaries, some giant allium) but it's basically just mud and mulch at this point.

We're the only house on the block with street trees at this point and I'd like to make it look good enough that neighbors warm to the idea. People will walk by and drop litter and dogs will poop there and probably flowers will get picked and so on. I'm fine with all that and also looking for something basically low-maintenance. Are there things you like that you've planted or that you've seen along roads near you that might be interesting or fun? I'm in planting zone 6b (count on lows of -5 to 0F, -20C to -18C, except we've only had a few hard frosts and three days with any snow on the ground this winter so who knows?) and perennials are easy but annuals are often more fun.

Quoting Voltaire on gardens would likely make the post too political to serve part of its stated purpose, but I have no gardening experience of my own to tender, so I can't really serve in any other way. But maybe YOU can, varied reader!

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Guest Post: Three Related Thoughts
Posted by Heebie-Geebie on 01.23.17

Nick S writes: 1) It's often been commented upon that there are far fewer representations of working class people and life in popular culture than their used to be. I wonder, could Trump's performance as a populist billionaire have worked if actual working class people were more visible.

2) When did the idea of "selling out" stop carrying much emotional/ethical weight? It feels like, these days noting of somebody, "oh they're just doing it for the money" is no longer intended as criticism, just as a recognition of how the world works. My speculation is that, over time, it became less possible to live in "genteel poverty" -- to live without much money and still be able to participate in the common social life. I remember reading something recently* about how there are no longer the same spaces for bohemian life that their used to be.

On a related note, a couple of years ago I discovered (new to me) Cyndi Lauper's version of "Money Changes Everything" and I was surprised both by how pointed it was, and the fact that it's bite and edge felt dated. It's hard to imagine that song today.

3) I was re-watching parts of Bill Clinton on the Arsinio Hall show (linked from this article) and the thing that struck me about it was Bill Clinton's desire to explain. If the criticism of soundbite politics is that it prompts a thought-like process designed to arrive at a pre-determined conclusion. Clinton, for all his failings, seems to really believe that he can get people to think if he works hard enough. That made me feel a bit of nostalgia.

* I had thought it was in "Exiting the Vampire Castle" but that appears not to be true

Heebie's take: there are spaces for bohemian life, but they are college towns and beach towns, I think. And then a lot of major cities must have their bohemian scene - LA, Atlanta, Miami - where it can still be done pretty cheaply. Probably not very cheap to do it in Manhattan or San Francisco anymore, though.

I'm not sure when "selling out" lost it's edge, but it certainly has. I think a great deal of it stems from the celebration of wealth in the mainstream rap/hip-hop scene - other people can vaguely piggyback on that notion, "It's all about the benjamins!" with a sheepish shrug. Maybe partly the general fragmentation of society - an artist can put out a sell-out album alongside a true-to-their-roots album. There's less rigid control by managers. Maybe partly a recognition of how rigged the system is, and a general sympathy for artists or whoever is selling out.

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First Weekend
Posted by Heebie-Geebie on 01.22.17

It's kind of poetic that the estimated size of the marches combined is roughly the same as the margin by which Clinton won the popular vote. My FB feed was absolutely nothing but one long stream of photos of marches. I took Hawaii; it was a nice scene.

I assume everyone has discussed the cake and latest tantrums.

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