AIDS, Pesticides, and Alaska
Untamed Alaska
Edited by Elizabeth Brown
and Carolyn Clark

Taste, selection, appropriate commentary: not cute, nor coy. Breathtaking --- a hundred color photographs by Steve and Yogi Kaufman. Our favorites: the Red-Throated Loon that looks like our Aunt Beulah when you complain about the dumplings; the Snowy Owl; and the Tufted Puffin of the Pribilof Islands with black toenails, orange webbed feet, blue-black feathers, yellow-gold eyes, white tufted head-cap with black button top and huge fire-red beak that looks like Aunt Beulah when you find her in the wine cellar after midnight.

Then, there are the Musk Oxen of Nunivak Island (which were imported from Greenland after the herds had been hunted to death in the nineteenth century); the Walruses at Cape Pierce --- too many to count; and a good-enough-to-eat moon rising over Mount Brooks. The size of Alaska may confuse the outsiders in more ways than one. The authors tell us,

The quantity of these holdings is both staggering and misleading. To survive Alaska's long winters, a singIe moose may forage over 25 to 100 acres of land; a single brown bear on the Arctic Slope may range over 100 to 300 square miles. Alaska may be one-fifth the size of the lower 48 United States, but its short summer so limits vegetative growth that the land supports only a fraction of the wildlife that could live on the same acreage further south.

The Complete
Guide to Safe Sex
Ted Mcllvenna
(The PreVenT Group)

The greatest blight to befall this hapless culture may not be AIDS but all these dreadful tomes that tell us what to do in a world of AIDS. The hysteria puts the steamy world of sex advice in the hands of social workers, "health professionals," priests, television evangelists, and other frauds who seem to believe that the whole bag-of-tricks down there is a test, that this might be a good time to get heathen passion under control, under the dark covers --- back safely into the missionary position where it belongs.

The Complete Guide to Safe Sex maybe a righteous antidote to this wrong, but there's a screw loose somewhere. It's a cross between Disneyland and Alex Comfort, with a touch of Kinky Friedman thrown in. Take, for example, one of the author's Quizzums:

Safe sex fantasies are something I can have while...

  • talking on the phone
  • reading a letter from mom
  • petting the cat
  • talking to a friend with AIDS or ARC
  • grocery shopping.
We could handle eating out a fantasy while at your friendly local Piggly-Wiggly, or humping Hodge the cat while ogling the lady next door --- but do we have to go at all this while reading a letter from Sweet Mum? Saints preserve us!

The later chapters have headings out of the Friendly-But-Firm School of Sex Writing: Let's Do Some Advanced Masturbation (Oh, not today, McIlvenna --- I have a headache); Make Safe Sex Check Lists (to take to the grocery after reading Mum's letter?); Reading Up On Condoms and Spermicides (wait until I get through this latest Road & Track, will ya?)

The last few chapters turn even more daring, if such is possible, including "a few lines that can be used in most situations to indicate that you want to play safe" --- the italics being our suggested alternatives:

  • I think you are going to be my hottest safe sex partner ever. I think it's time for me to be heading home.
  • What's your favorite brand of condom? I've always preferred wing-tips, myself.
  • You can have me any way you want, except my bodily fluids, of course. No blood, sweat, and tears, eh?
  • I can't wait to wrap my mouth around your condom-clad rod. Unh, isn't it time to be picking up the kids from Day-Care?
  • How many condoms do you have? Well, my brother used to work for Payless, and I hope this won't shock you, but . . .
  • I can hardly wait to lick your body thru my dental dams. Mother told me there'd be nights like this.
  • I want to ball your brains out, safely. Isn't that the grocery boy at the front door with the cat food?
  • I look at you and can only think about safe sex. I look at you and can only think about Kentucky Fried Chicken.
  • I look at you with safe sex in my eyes. Why did I ever give up sweet, plump Herbie who doted on me and never asked such doltish questions?

A Guide to Pesticides
in Fruits and Vegetables
Lawrie Mott and
Karen Snyder
(Sierra Club)

You don't want to read this one. Not only will it make your hair curl --- it might make it fall out. Twenty-five or so of our favorite fruits and vegetables listed, along with a description of the most common pesticides discovered on or in them.

For example, strawberries show pesticide residues in 63% of the samples taken from supermarkets. Over half of the celery tested showed detectable chemicals, including Chlorothalonil which can have "chronic health effects including kidney, thyroid, stomach and liver changes." Then there's Acephate (Orthene) which showed "reproductive toxicity in one animal study." Can these chemicals be washed out? Yes, for Dicloran, Ethanox, TBZ; no, for Methamidophos, Methomyl, Phosdrin.

What's so scary is that all of our favorite, healthgiving fruits and vegetables are included --- Spinach, Carrots, Green Beans, Corn, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Corn.

What's even more scary are the figures on contamination of imported produce (30 percent of domestic samples of cucumber showed residues; 80 percent of imported ones were contaminated). The problem is an addiction, the addiction to pesticides on the part of the consumer (as well as the producer) --- because we demand pretty peaches and spotless bell peppers.

What to do? Grow your own. Bitch at the EPA (but not too hard --- in any one year, we give them as much money as it costs to build three Sidewinder missiles). Best of all --- find sellers of organic food: all the states in the far west, along with Massachusetts, Maine, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Montana have "strict definitions of what can be called organic food."

Confessions of
A PR Man
by Robert J. Wood

We once had this vision of the PR man hired on in 1938 to explain to the denizens of the city of Auschwitz why they were going to have all this ugly construction work going on in their neighborhood. "Don't worry," he says, speaking before the regular monthly luncheon meeting of the Auschwitz Chamber of Commerce, "We're going to bring in over six million marks in local construction --- carpentry, cement, wiring, fencing, and towers. Add 1,000 guards, officers, and clerical help on the permanent labor force. We're talkin' jobs." And the members of the Auschwitz Better Business Bureau look around and nod their heads and vote to give backing to this newest project as they think of the Deutschmarks pouring in.

Now, we'd be the last to make any parallels between this and the various works of Robert J. Wood with his Byoir PR firm over the last thirty years --- but he does lay some unlikely strutting on us in this roman à thèse. Northeast Utilities wants to build a nuclear plant, and the neighbors don't dig it. Turn it over to Woods. He proves to those nervous nellies that radiation is no worse than slutswool under the bed; soon enough everyone wants their own nuclear plant there next to the backyard barbecue.

An "atomic radiation center" scheduled for construction by CIT Corp in Ohio? No prob, babe. Woods has these heavy-weight friends on the AEC, they'll pull some strings --- the radiation center gets built, and the citizens just love it. That bastard Jesse Jackson giving you a fit at the A & P, with his Operation Breadbasket? No worry, sweets --- a few meetings with some friendly newspaper folks, a couple of arrests (complaints signed by a front man, not the Atlantic & Pacific), executives never at home when those cats come calling --- and ol' A & P is out of the woods.

Finally, there's that Hyatt Regency in Kansas City, you remember, the one owned by Hallmark Cards, the one where the suspended walkway collapses, killing a hundred people, injuring two hundred more. Bad press for Hallmark? Not to worry: Woods is on the job. When the carping critics start in on the sin of cheap construction and corporate profits, we take it right on the chin:

I assigned a Byoir staffer to work in Kansas City full time, dealing with the daily PR problems that kept cropping up as a result of the investigations, the lawsuits, and related matters. These were mostly minor matters. Mostly minor.

Got a problem with death, dismemberment, crippled-for-life, personal trauma, physical ruination. No prob. Just call on Woods, the PR man's PR man. He'll take care of anything and everything. For no more than a little blood money.

Portraits of
Freeman Patterson
(Sierra Club Books)

The photographs and captions in this collection precipitate a mixed response, like when you spill silver nitrate on your hands. Your first reaction is "What a beautiful stain;" then, "How can I wash this crap off."

For example, a well composed photograph of a placid riverbank is accompanied by this brackish comment:

    "If we understand that we too are animals, we will recognize the plants and animals of this Vancouver island forest as our kin, and the soil and water as the foundation of our home."

Patterson is keenest when he presents the interaction of color zones, the divisons of shadow and color in a sand dune at sunrise. He murders our memory of Jonathan Livingston Seagull with a wisp-ful blue sky dotted with arctic terns.

Russian Art
At Hillwood
Katrina V. H. Taylor
(University of Washington)

There are over two hundred items presented here out of the Marjorie Merriweathier Post collection of Russian art at the Hillwood Museum, Washington, D. C. The photographs are superb; the art so lovely you want to move to Minsk, Omsk, Luck (or Sluck!) to get it full time. Especially recommended are the decadent silver gilt and enamel Easter eggs designed by Faberge for Nicholas II, the ormolu urn (Catherine II, without horse), the kovshi silver ladles in the shape of a swimming bird --- and the Batenin Factory vase with a picture of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Interspersed with the pictures are comments by Katrina Taylor, which are a scream, probably unintentionally so. The publishers might take up a collection so Ms. Taylor can enter Berlitz to better wrestle with the vagaries of the English language:

    The collection was greatly expanded over the next thirty-five years until her death by acquisition on the open market here and abroad.

Let this statement serve as notice for those who take the collecting of art too seriously that they, themselves, may end up being acquired on the open market. By-the-bye, we were just joking about St. Petersburg, FL being on that Batenin vase. It was Disneyland.

--- R. R. Doister

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