Sow the Seeds of Victory! Plant and raise your own vegetables
- WWII-era Victory Garden slogan
Call before, you dig?
- utility notification for unmarked Internet cables from hippy who finally got a job
The other day, minding my own business, and getting lots of unwanted help doing so, I got a welcome Tweet push from the 86-year-old Ralph Nader inviting me to visit with him at Latitude Adjustment where he'd been interviewed about his new book, The Ralph Nader Family Cookbook: Classic Recipes from Lebanon and Beyond. Hm. My first thought was how much we forget, we who care at all, that Ralph is a root product of Lebanon, one of those Middle East places that -- looking back at how much Nader has accomplished in the last 55 years, beginning with Unsafe at Any Speed (1965) and the passage of seat-belt laws -- would have put Lebanon squarely on Trump's sh*t country list, even though Nader was born here. Remember Judge Curiel?
Well, Bette Davis in All About Eve (1950) did warn us to strap ourselves in because it was gonna be a bumpy night, and it's almost like Ralph foresaw the long night's journey into day ahead, down a Lost Highway full of potholes, loopholes and a**holes -- the corporates and pollies -- who slick the paved roads of governance and taxation, and see democracy as a roadblock to their getaway. But they didn't find cops at the roadblock, it was Ralph Nader, walking tall, calmly asking to see some ID, asking if they knew why he pulled them over, arranging a nice big fat fine. So, I was all-too-ready to listen to Ralph sprout like a green seed from a podcast.
I found my way to Latitude Adjustment and Route 66 or, rather, Podcast 66, the one with Ralph Nader. I saw that the pods were hosted by Eric Maddox and Laila Mohhiber. Rummaged around first to check out the universal-resource locator (URL) environment I was in. Said, hmm, me think me likey. Scrolling through past podcasts there were discussions of all types with personages of all ilks. Stuff like Podcast 65, "On the Ground in Idlib, Syria", where Everyday People discuss the polymorphous perversity of turning their lives into a war zone -- a place you may remember as the site where Trump sent ISIS head al-Baghdadi on his way toward outer space, and the Afterlife, allegedly clutching two virgins, as if covering his bases when he got there.
Other yummy-looking podcasts were 47, "Last Slave Ships to the US", where Joe Womack recounts, in two parts, his life growing up in AfricaTown, Alabama, an all-black community in the heart of Dixie; Podcast 46 serves up "Gaza Sky Geeks & Women in Palestine", where techie skills and women's rights are chewed over; and, all the way back to Podcast 1, "Andrius & Lithuania & Turkey & Travel", where Maddox literally breaks beer with Andrius Mažeika, who discusses "Lithuanian Jazz and Reggae, and reflections on culture and politics from his years living in Turkey through the string of bombing attacks and the attempted coup," writes Maddox, and adds, "Heads up, there's some naughty language at the end." I remember Taksim well, throwing snowballs in the yard of the Whirling Dervish lodge.
Anyway, I was already thankful to Nader for his lifetime of staring down the Man, with his six-shooter law degree and Ennio Morricone soundtrack (Think: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly), and corrected miscreants crying after him, "Lebanon blondie", when he left them hangin' just long enough to consider their sinning ways before releasing them back into the wilds of corporate finance. So there I was, at Podcast 66, listening to Ralph Nader serve up the news to, in this case, eager ears. Like a prelude to the program, that reminded one (okay just me) of Wagner's Prelude to Act One of Lohengrin, Ralph begins. I'm all ears, dipping some flat bread into Nader's hummus bi tahini, peckish.
So there are a lot of people who don't even recognize that there are far more reforms and changes from living wage to health insurance to cracking down on corporate crime to solarizing our economy to having more access to government, more access to justice, criminal-justice reform -- all of these actually have conservative-liberal supporters. That's what the polls show. But that isn't what the politicians emphasize. They emphasize what divides people so they can attach to one group in contrast to another.
So, there it is: what Ralph does best, and one explanation for his largely unblemished longevity: He accentuates the common interests of the Left and Right. Today, only a moron wants to drive along without a seat-belt. (Or texting while they drive.)
And then we're on to Ralph's new Family Cookbook (he's put out two others). For a moment, I'm not sure I'm ready to go on a food journey with Nader, recalling Sy Hersh's memoir, Reporter, wherein the prize-winning journo (Pulitzer, My Lai, 1970) reveals the times he shared lunches with Nader in their early DC days:
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