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Urban Homesteading Eliminates the Green Acres City vs Country Issue

Forty-four years ago today the CBS TV series Green Acres was first broadcast.  I loved repeats of this series during the 1970s.  Part of me wanted to live in the urban penthouse while another part wanted to try the farming thing.  The show started with Lisa Douglas (Eva Gabor) crying over the prospect of leaving the city to follow her husband’s dream of farming the land:


So why am I talking about a campy 60s sitcom?  Last night I listened to Amanda Doyle interview a father (Jules Dervaes) and daughter (Anais Dervaes) on KDHX taking about their urban homestead in Pasadena California where they use their typical urban lot to grow food for themselves and sell the rest to others.

(click image above to view website)
(click image above to view website)

Lisa Douglas didn’t need to be dragged out of the city for Oliver Douglas to farm, a small plot of land in the city is sufficient.   Their website is http://www.pathtofreedom.com/.

The podcast of the interview should be posted on KDHX shortly and is usually available for a week or so.  The podcasts are also on iTunes.

Speaking of farms, today is “Fresh from the Family Farm, a restaurant event to benefit Farm Aid.  Participating restaurants will donate 20% of their September 15 profits to Farm Aid.”  I visited The Terrace View in Citygarden for lunch and will do another restaurant on the participant for dinner tonight.  Will be either Local Harvest Cafe, Stellina Pasta or Pi.

– Steve Patterson


A Pop Culture Look at Urban Renewal From 46 Years Ago Today

In August a couple of friends told me about an episode of ‘Car 54 Where Are You?’ dealing with Urban Renewal. The episode, ‘Occupancy August 1st’, of the police sitcom set in the Bronx, first Aired on October 21, 1962 – forty six years ago tonight. This was five years prior to my birth and although I had heard of the show I don’t recall ever seeing an episode from its 2-season run. Thanks to YouTube I was able to find and watch this episode — what a gem!

The show opens on the construction site of a new public housing project with workers spotting a woman on the 14th floor. The workers thinking she is going to jump call the police. The job foreman calls the Building Commissioner to explain about the woman on the construction site. The Commissioner responds, “Oh no, another delay?”

Officers Toody & Muldoon from Car 54 arrive. When they make their way to the 14th floor (via a beam hoisted by a crane) they find a sweet Jewish woman, Mrs Bronson, setting up home in the unfinished building still lacking walls. They explain to her “you can’t stay here.” She rebuts, “For two years I’ve been waiting to move in and now ‘You can’t stay here.’ In my own apartment I can’t stay?”

She produces a lease which begins on August 1st. In the exchange with the officer she asks what the sign out front says. He responds, “Occupancy August 1st.” What is the date? August 1st.

“In the old tenement when they tore it down for six months they kept nagging with papers and eviction notices. A new apartment they promised me. Now I’m in the new apartment and it’s ‘Get Out, Get Out.”

“I’m back in the Bronx. For two years I lived with my daughter in Brooklyn. She’s a lovely girl but who can live with her.”

Lots of great lines. At one point Mrs Bronson asks the Architect, Hilton Hartford Harlow (played by Charles Nelson Riley), to make sure the electric & gas meters are above the icebox. He indicates the building will have refrigerators and the meters will be in the basement.

“You mean there won’t be electric or gas men to come here to check the meters and their won’t be an ice man to sit and talk with me for a half hour? What are you building for me here a jail? Apartments are for people to visit.”

“But this is progress!” replies the Architect.

“You are making so much progress I could drop dead and nobody would find me in 10 years.”

The 22-minute episode is on YouTube in four segments (Note @ 12:40pm – the embedded video is not working correctly, please use the links to watch the video segments)

Part 1 of 4


Part 2 of 4


Part 3 of 4


Part 4 of 4


All the characters are in place, the sweet woman that loved her old tenement, the uncaring building commissioner, the architect that cares more about his reputation than building a good space for people. An interesting step back in time indeed.


Anti-Gay Gay Politicians Make Me Sick

We are in the midst of the political season so of course the issue of gay marriage is brought up as a wedge issue, mostly by Republicans against more open minded Democrats. What is interesting is how often the anti-gay politician turns out to be gay himself.

I’ve been out of the closet now for 25 years so I’ve seen quite a few of these guys fall from grace. In the last few years it seems to have accelerated.

Prominent on the list is Senator Larry Craig, who has said he is not gay but was arrested in an airport bathroom for allegedly tapping his foot for something. Of course we have US Rep. Mark Foley sending emails & IM’s to underage male pages. Being gay is fine but targeting minor kids is not. Doing such while speaking out against child predators is the ultimate in hypocrisy. Of course it is not just elected officials caught in a conflict between their words and their actions. Ted Haggard, an evangelical leader that gave spiritual advice to President Bush & top advisors. There are many more and each week the list seems to add new names.

These men have a strong level of self hatred that drives them to speak out against gay rights so strongly in public yet in private live a very different life. Many people are opposed to the concept of gay marriage so while I disagree I must respect their viewpoint. But when that person has built a career opposing gay rights only to turn out to be gay themselves then they’ll get no respect from me. Be in the closet and keep your trap shut.

Personally I think the government needs to be out of the marriage business altogether. If it is this sacred religious institution then let the various religions manage how that is administered. For those that want to simplify issues of property rights, next of kin status and so on they can all have civil unions. Leave “marriage” for church.

Just do me a favor and get the self loathing right-wing windbags to a therapist to deal with their internal issues so they stop spreading their hate to folks that otherswise might be more open minded.

As you might expect this has also impacted more liberal Democrats as well. A few years ago the then New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevy disclosed that he was gay. In his own words:

I’ve never been much for self-revelation. In two decades of public life, I always approached the limelight with extreme caution. Not that I kept my personal life off-limits; rather, the personal life I put on display was a blend of fact and fiction. I invented overlapping narratives about who I was, and contrived backstories that played better not just in the ballot box but in my own mind. And then, to the best of my ability, I tried to be the man in those stories.

In this way I’m not at all unique. Inauthenticity is endemic in American politics today. The political backrooms where I spent much of my career were just as benighted as my personal life, equally crowded with shadowy strangers and compromises, truths I hoped to deny. I lived not in one closet but in many. (source)

At least he wasn’t out there saying one thing and doing another.

For a good take on this topic I turn to openly gay US Rep Barney Frank in an appearance on Bill Maher’s program:



But I Ain’t No Liberal No More

December 27, 2007 Popular Culture 4 Comments

You’d think conservative would be a good term. After all, we want to conserve the earth’s precious resources right? But it turns out the conservatives have the most liberal environmental policy and the liberals the most conservative. So much for the logic of labels.

The barbershop quartet group, The Foremen, give us there take on liberal and conservative in this funny video. For those with broken sarcasm meters, trust me when I say these guys are very much on the left. Enjoy:


You can get the lyrics from Foreman Roy Zimmerman.

Given that the presidential primary is only six weeks away, I think we’ll hear more and more about liberals and conservatives until then.


The End of the Universe Caused by Starbucks?

December 26, 2007 Popular Culture 6 Comments

Comedian Lewis Black has a funny take on the end of the world, which has says he has seen.  The cause?  A Starbucks across the street from a Starbucks.

I’ve been to such a place in Vancouver.  There I was, on one corner of an intersection about to enter a Starbucks and across the street was another Starbucks.

Of course Lewis Black is not alone in making fun of Starbucks.  The excellent mockumentary Best in Show also takes a turn talking about Starbucks:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQKdEdzHnfU [/youtube]

The Simpson’s have also shown Starbucks taking over the Springfield Mall while South Park had a similar gag with a “Harbuck’s” running the local coffee shop out of business.