I (was forced to) read In Search Of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio by Phillpe Bourgois in on of my anthropology classes and now it’s one of my favorite books. The book provides detailed insight into the lives of crack dealers in East Harlem in the early 1990s. Bourgois studied the drug economy there for 3 years, moving his wife and new born into East Harlem. What he found is truly amazing- a society that has it’s own value system. Bourgois argues this has developed due to the plight of the poor who have been rejected from society. In search of respect, they create a new value system they are able to uphold. The detailed insight into the lives of those both overlooked and condemned by society is a perspective rarely seen. The book is a very humanizing element in discussion about drugs or the poor, for it showcases the daily lives and struggle of individuals one can easily identify with. It reveals that the drug economy is not an effective method of providing an income, but becomes a last ditch effort at survival for those unable to find employment. In Search of Respect has changed my perspective on society and the drug war. After reading this, it seems to me the people most hurt by both the drug economy and the war on drugs are already marginalized and never really had a fair shot at getting out of poverty. You can find In Search of Respect in Snell library, I recommend you give it a read!
This is probably the most delightful video I’ve seen in at LEAST two days. It talks about the environmental and social impact that occurs at each stage of the production/consumption of goods. It’s cute and funny and personable, but it also goes remarkably in-depth into the issue of, as Annie Leonard calls it, ‘Stuff’. This little video covers where it (stuff) comes from, how it’s processed, how it’s consumed, and how it’s discarded – things that are easily forgotten in that intial flush of excitement after purchasing a new little ipod or trinket. It makes me very guilty about my own obscene, unnecessary collection of random stuff. Just last night, for example, I bought seven sheets of handmade artisan wrapping papers from Papyrus. Why? No reason other than they were pretty (they really are so incredibly pretty) – and now they are sitting on my shelf as glaring, accusatory reminders of my own role as significant contributor to society’s manic, superfluous consumption of ‘stuff’. Sigh. http://www.storyofstuff.com/
Have you ever been so enthralled by a book that when you finished it, everything else seemed to pale in comparison? I have. For the past two or three months I have started a few books and not finished a single one. Normally, I am not so fickle when it comes to reading but I simply cannot get excited about any of my selections. In late January, I finished an incendiary piece by Christopher Hitchens in which he presents a case against organized religion. If you have read any of Mr. Hitchens’ work, you know that he might not always be right, but he sure brings his A game in a fight. (Hey, that rhymes!) I tried to read a book by noted humorist John Hodgman, a piece of popular history about the 6 most historically signicant drinks (beer, wine, tea, coffee, liquor and soda). I also cracked open some old favorites in hopes of sticking with a book, no luck. Don’t get me wrong, none of these books were bad, or poorly written, I just couldn’t get interested in any of them. I can’t take this much more.