Stop Shopping

Photos by Fred Askew

For years now we’ve had a Christmas truce with the family–don’t shop for us and we won’t shop for you. So far the truce has held and we’ve been able to avoid Christmas shopping, as we’d rather be waterboarded than spend a second in a shopping mall.

We had planned to issue an anti-Christmas harangue, but this holiday season we’ll leave it to the Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping. The Homegrown Revolution mailbox received its first plea for publicity this week with an invite to a preview screening of the Reverend Billy’s new documentary, What Would Jesus Buy. We’ll keep to talk of compost and chickens and leave the film criticism to the folks at Cahiers du Cinema, but we’ll make an exception for What Would Jesus Buy. We enjoyed this movie immensely for its anarchic stick-it-to the-Man attitude, and Reverend Billy’s tireless efforts to exorcise the demons of Wal-Mart, Starbucks, and Disney.

What Would Jesus Buy opens on November 21st in Los Angeles at the Sunset 5 theater. Check the What Would Jesus Buy website for listings in other cities and for a preview.

Now part of Reverend Billy’s message is about shopping locally so we’d be remiss by not highlighting our comrade Doug Harvey’s upcoming Christmas themed screening at the Echo Park Film Center on December 15th at 8 p.m. Doug will be showing experts from the suppressed and highly challenging Star Wars Holiday Special that will stop the shopping urges of even the most credit addicted shopaholic.

See Homegrown Revolution this Saturday!

Homegrown Revolution has never been to Burning Man, but we’re big fans of the movie The Wicker Man and we figure it’s probably similar, which is why we’re happy to announce that we’ll be doing a brief appearance at the Los Angeles Burning Man Decompression this Saturday October 13th in support of our book The Urban Homesteader, due out next May from Process Media. The Burning Man Decom will take place on Sante Fe between the 4th and 6th Street Bridges in the Artist District deep in the beating heart of downtown Los Angeles (map). We’ll be delivering a harangue sometime around 4 or 5 pm. Come out and see us and stay for the sacrifice!

Happy World Car Free Day

In honor of World Car Free Day celebrated every September 22nd Homegrown Revolution presents an open letter:

Dear middle-aged office lady who tried to run me down while I was walking my dog in a cross walk across a quiet residential street,

I know you’re in a hurry to get to your job to pay for the $40,000 behemoth you use to transport yourself. Let me extend a welcome to my neighborhood which you use as an alternative to the freeway. It’s not the first time me, my wife, friends and neighbors have been threatened by folks like yourself piloting 6,800 pound death machines. It’s snarky but I have to point out our weight differential. Me and the doberman weigh a combined 240 pounds. It looks like you alone weigh that much due to your sedentary lifestyle. Add that 240 pounds to your multi-ton choice of transportation and I hope you understand why we’re angry when you seem to forget that me and the dog are living beings as you accelerate towards us.

Perhaps you just dropped off your kids at school. Too bad they’ll be suffering from type two diabetes because of inactivity, probably because when you’re not cruising around solo you’re ferrying those kids everywhere in your car. But I suppose it’s not safe for them to walk or ride their bikes to school because of all the SUV drivers like you playing chicken with pedestrians to see who can beat each other across the intersection.

I could keep ranting, mentioning the things we all know, the childhood asthma rates of our polluted city, the melting polar ice caps and dying polar bears, the 39,000 traffic fatalities on American roads, and all those folks dying in Iraq to supply the oil that feeds your addiction.

So perhaps morning rush hour was not the appropriate time for my Tienanmen Square moment of blocking your forward progress by standing in front of your custom grill to scold you for nearly killing me and my dog. How amusing that you circled your finger around your ear and pointed to me indicating wordlessly that you thought I was crazy. We’ll let history be the judge of who’s insane (I’m not putting my money on the oil addicted). In the meantime let’s focus on that tricked-out grill you paid extra for to enhance the meanness of what the designers in Detroit have already managed to make plenty sinister. Do me a favor, step back and ask yourself why you and the car manufacturers have altered the anthropomorphic features of front grills to express homicidal rage.

Oh angry middle-aged driver, would you have behaved better if instead of a cranky middle-aged eco-blogger dressed like the Unabomber and walking a doberman you had encountered a little girl on a pink bicycle with a golden retriever puppy? Perhaps this is why friends and neighbors of mine have all had the same idea of constructing a dummy child and puppy that we could fling out in the street suddenly to slow you all down. Or, is your head so brainwashed by automobile advertising that our animatronic ruse would only be a minor speed bump on the way to the office.

But let’s not end on the negative. Middle-aged office lady (I’m going to call you sister from now on) it’s time to set yourself free! Remember the words of the Situationist muse Guy Debord, “Revolutionary urbanists will not limit their concern to the circulation of things and of human beings trapped in a world of things. They will try to break these topological chains, paving the way with their experiments for a human journey through authentic life.” Break those chains liberated sister and get out of that Yukon. Slow down and live the authentic life! Remember what Debord also said, “Traffic Circulation is the organization of universal isolation. In this regard it constitutes the major problem of modern cities. It is the opposite of encounter, it absorbs the energies that could otherwise be devoted to encounters or to any sort of participation.”

Someday sister you will liberate yourself from that metal glass and plastic cage you’ve locked yourself in.

Happy World Car Free Day,

Homegrown Revolution

We’ve taken the flowers out of our hair

Homegrown Revolution is back from San Francisco with a couple of random observations from our trip:

1. The picture above of a gas cap spotted in the Mission District demonstrates, that even in a bike and mass transit friendly city many folks take their cars a little too seriously. Let’s remember folks, we suspect that Jesus rides two wheels and takes the bus and does indeed look anguished every time we open the gas cap.

2. We took our bike with us and enjoyed the numbered bike routes that take you north-south and east-west. While not perfect (we would have preferred a few more signs to point the way) these routes help a cyclist navigate thought the city taking you down more bike friendly and less hilly streets. The San Francisco bike map (pdf) shows the routes in addition to signage on the streets.

3. Raising chickens made us appreciate San Francisco’s strident health food store, Rainbow Grocery which has a chart in their egg section to show how the chickens that produce the eggs are raised. We meant to get a photo of this elaborate chart but unfortunately we forgot the camera. Posted on the refrigeration cabinet, the chart tells you which of the brands they carry clip beaks or wings and whether the chickens have access to pasture. Rainbow Grocery was the first San Francisco retailer to carry only cage free eggs.

4. Unfortunately we didn’t see this exhibit by photographer Douglas Gayeton at Petaluma’s Singer Gallery, but you can view images from his slow-food related photo essay about Tuscany here.

5. While Homegrown Revolution promises never again to get into celebrity gossip, we’ll note that we spotted gravelly voiced alt-rock singer Tom Waits gassing up his Lexus SUV at a filling station in Berkeley. More exciting to us was discovering that our base of operations in the Mission was a mere block from the infamous Symbionese Liberation Army safe house where heiress Patty Hearst became urban guerrilla Tanya. We have a feeling we’ll see the return of revolutionary noms de guerre in the coming few years and when that happens we’ll see Tom ditch the SUV for two wheeled transit on Berkeley’s many bicycle boulevards.

So Wrong it’s Right

The internets are full of inaccurate and contradictory information, and we at Homegrown Revolution don’t want to contribute to the noise which is why we must post a few corrections this morning. Please note our corrected posts on making prickly pear cactus jelly and on our tomatoes.

Also, our poll results are in and you all want more info on growing your own food! We note with some dismay the low rating of the harangue, the popularity of which is a minority view not surprisingly expressed by two friends and professional harangists, one an attorney and the other LA bike activist extraordinaire SoapBoxLA.

Homegrown Revolution will be heading up to San Francisco for a week and we’re not sure the natives up there have internet access, so we may go dark until we get back. In the meantime in honor of the folks at Elon Schoenholz photography we’ll leave you with the image above and a link to instructions on how to turn an office chair and a kid’s bike into a recumbent bike capable of powering you to your aerospace engineering job. Rumour has it that SoapBoxLA is making one of these things with a Aeron chair and a titanium road bike to ride in the controversial Pasadena peloton.

Your Opinions Please

So what does seafood, terrible graphic design and urban homesteading have in common? Absolutely nothing, but we got your attention which we will now direct to the poll we are conducting on the right. Please take a moment to render your opinion, so that we can better serve you with a delicately balanced nori roll of information and helpful tips. Please note that you can vote for more than one topic.

Licensed to Rant


As someone who uses a bike to get around it scares us to think about how easy it is to renew a driver’s license, as one of the Homegrown Revolution compound members did this week. Can you breathe? Great! Here’s your license. Are you homicidal, schizophrenic, elderly, partially blind, or all of the above? No problem! Just step up, have your picture taken, take a vision test that could easily be cheated on, pay $27 and you can legally get behind the wheel of a 4,000 pound exhaust-spewing death machine.

While our country does everything it can to facilitate everyone getting behind the wheel of a car, there’s one big thing you have to give up, in addition to lots of cash–your privacy. It’s been many years since we renewed our license in person and this time around there was one big change–a sign taped to the wall just below the grinning portrait of the actor who played Conan the Barbarian saying in effect that if you don’t want to be electronically fingerprinted you won’t get a license. Which brings to mind an article by Claire Wolfe in the most recent issue of Backwoods Home Magazine, the Martha Stewart Living of the off-grid set, in praise of walking and biking (triking to be precise) from a radical libertarian perspective.

One of my aims in choosing this life has been, as Thoreau said, to “simplify, simplify, simplify.” In the case of transportation, my notion of simplicity involves a few special requirements.

First requirement: No permits, licenses, government registrations, or bureaucratic involvement at all. I know it’s naive in this super-governed age, but I’m foolish enough to hold fast to the belief that in a truly free country people travel peaceably on the roads without being stopped and hassled by “the authorities” and without asking the permission from the king (or the president, or the governor, or the Bureau of Lawn Mowers, Motorbikes, and Small Radio-Controlled Widgets). Motor vehicles are not only expensive and prone to breakdowns (anything but simple), but with driver’s licenses becoming national ID cards, unconstitutional highway “checkpoints” everywhere, and our every move being tracked through our licenses, registrations, and purchases, those vehicles we rely on are being deliberately used by government as the vehicles of our unfreedom.

The Real ID Act of 2005, which Bush signed into law on May 11, 2005 sets up federal standards for state drivers licenses. Two of the requirements of the law “physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting or duplication for fraudulent purposes” and “a common machine-readable technology with defined data elements” sound a lot like incentives for fingerprinting and RFID, a kind of computer chip which stores information that can be read from a distance by a radio frequency device.

Currently all motor vehicle records in California, including the fingerprint and photo databases are open to district attorneys, city attorneys and law enforcement agencies as put forth in section 1810.5 of the California vehicle code. In addition banks, insurers, attorneys and auto dealers can access certain parts of license records. The Real ID Act will set up a massive nationwide database open to any law enforcement agency, “A state shall provide electronic access to all other states to information contained in the motor vehicle database of the state”.

We can take some comfort in the incompetence of the California DMV. A December 2000 article in the Orange County Register shows that DMV clerks had so many problems using the electronic fingerprinting machines that over half of the fingerprints were deemed unreadable and useless.

Fingerprinting and RFID are presented as ways to deter counterfeiting and identity theft, but aside from the obvious privacy concerns and the government handouts to dubious tech companies marketing these gadgets, our drivers licenses becoming national identification cards raises bigger philosophical questions. What further steps will be taken to monitor our mobility? How will governments and corporations use RFID chips, not to mention the global positioning capabilities of cell phones? And why is automobile travel so entwined with our very identity? Are we free-thinking citizens, participants in a democracy or are we merely motorists?

It’s time to opt out of the system. It’s time to walk and it’s time to ride a bike . . .

SurviveLA becomes Homegrown Revolution!

For the kids out there, the woman in the picture above is operating a ditto machine, what we children of the 60s and 70s used before the internets came out. Perhaps we’ll revert back to it when the shit goes down. In the meantime, SurviveLA is in the process of going international and to facilitate this we’re changing our name to Homegrown Revolution (www.homegrownrevolution.org). Stay calm, our content will stay the same. All the old links and posts will stay where they are and our old url (survivela.blogspot.com) will still work, but please updatilate your servilators.

Please bear with us while we make the switchover as it’s hectic in the new Homegrown Revolution computer lab: