Stoned again: Oakland's "pot guru," Ed Rosenthal, the author of thirteen books including Closet Cultivator (Quick American Archives, $16.95), now faces fourteen charges including money laundering, tax evasion, and cultivation in an indictment just issued by a federal grand jury.
Ever after: King & King, a gay fairy tale for kids by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland, published by Berkeley's Tricycle Press ($14.95), sparked Massachusetts dad David Parker to file a federal lawsuit against school officials and the town of Lexington after his first-grader was assigned the book. Insisting that parents deserve prior notification when alternate sexualities will be discussed in class, Parker was jailed last year after a campus protest.
Pantherville, USA: The Black Panther Party was plotting to "take over the city of Oakland and its lucrative containerized port," writes BPP chief armorer Flores A. Forbes in Will You Die with Me? (Atria, $26). As a member of the "Buddha Samurai," the BPP's elite military unit, Forbes patrolled "the BPP's vast real-estate holdings," and was tasked with "maintaining the vast inventory of weapons and ammo" and with "arming the firing team/squads." It was someone else's job to run those free clinics we hear so much about.
Yes, Siam: "Thailand is the leading nation for reattaching the severed schlong," reports Richard Rubacher, whose book Thai Touch new from Berkeley's Phaiboon Publishing ($11.95) includes an interview with Bangkok's top reattachment surgeon. "In Thailand it's called 'the Bangkok haircut,'" Rubacher notes, although sometimes surgery is impossible because "Thai women like to feed the phallus to the ducks." The expat's account also introduces a 72-year-old woman with allegedly miraculous breast milk.
Know what: "We need to know who they are, where they are, who is helping them, and what they are planning": Wake up and smell the WMDs, warns John Yoo in War by Other Means (Grove Atlantic, $24), the controversial Boalt Hall prof's insider account of terrorist trials and more. Extracting information from captured individuals and their laptops can save countless people from dying in a pandemonium of lethal air and molten steel, Yoo suggests, and "the legal meaning of 'torture' is not as all-inclusive as some people would like it to be."
Green gobs: Fearing that humankind would run out of food, mid-20th-century scientists pinned their hopes on "common pond scum," Warren Belasco tells us in Meals to Come: A History of the Future of Food, new from Berkeley's University of California Press ($21.95). After all, he notes, "'plankton soup' derived from a sewage treatment plant had been successfully served to Venezuelan lepers." But most Americans refused to eat "nauseating slime."
Through the wreckage: At a recent UC Berkeley School of Journalism reception, Virtual Tibet (Owl, $15) author Orville Schell welcomed his colleague Joel Meyerowitz, whose epic, panoramic photos from the new book Aftermath (Phaidon, $75) are now on display there. Nineteen thousand body parts were found at Ground Zero. Mohawk ironworkers flew their own version of the Stars and Stripes, adorned with silhouettes of Native Americans. Search-and-rescue dogs felt like failures. Bone-seeking workers called themselves "gardeners in the garden of the dead."
Kick it: James Yimm Lee launched an Oakland martial-arts studio with Bruce Lee after the pair met "at a cha-cha class in San Francisco," as revealed among countless cool details about those bygone East Bay days when everybody was, indeed, kung-fu fighting in Remembering the Master (Blue Snake, $19.95), by Sid Campbell and Greglon Yimm Lee. (The Associated Press obit that ran worldwide said basically: He's dead; his films suck.)
Pay less: Making 45 cents an hour, Chinese factory workers have stolen jobs from Mexican factory workers who made 81 cents an hour, who stole jobs from Michigan factory workers earning minimum wage. Meanwhile, other Chinese workers are lining up to make 22 cents an hour. The bottom line plummets in Ron French's Driven Abroad: The Outsourcing of America, new from Oakland's RDR Books ($14.95).
Pay more: Scoring $40,000 each, Oakland immunobiologist turned author Yiyun Li and Saudi Arabian-born Berkeleyite Micheline Aharonian Marcom both won Whiting Writers' Awards this month, Li for A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (Random House, $13.95), in which life sucks for eunuchs, and Marcom for The Daydreaming Boy (Riverhead, $14), in which a man escapes attempted genocide to pal around with an ape in a zoo.
Say booty: "Hypnotiq's tongue flicked like a snake, and it went around like a puppy, it drove me up the wall," and many things too explicit to print here happen to many body parts in Racy Lee's novel about strippers, Stripped (iUniverse, $18.95). The Emeryville author is a local high-school English teacher who dedicates this book to God.
Mew who? What's geekier than a Japanese-comics-loving geek? One who wears costumes. "For a complete catgirl costume, you'll definitely want a tail," Gerry Poulos advises in Cosplay, a guide to dressing up as anime cat-girls, new from Berkeley's Stone Bridge Press ($16.95). "Catgirls are cuteness and playfulness personified. They are not cats, but humans with catlike traits." Otaku can learn every step, from wiring ears to blow-drying "fur" to proportioning faces with compass, ruler, and protractor.
Culture Spy - February 23, 2:42 PM
What the Fork - February 23, 2:12 PM
Culture Spy - February 19, 1:45 PM
What the Fork - February 15, 2:00 PM
Culture Spy - February 15, 10:30 AM