Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wasteland Off Topic: Bees

I would like to start a little feature here at the ole' Wasteland blog where every once in a while we talk about something not necessarily related to our film. Don't get me wrong, Wes and I are spectacularly self involved and want the attention on us and our project as much as possible, but something it feels important to talk about something besides our movie. The only rule is that it must have something to do with the environment; it can be laws, news, or even just a simple anecdote about it. So here we go with our inaugural Wasteland Off Topic segment

As reported fabulously by the New York Times, bees are disappearing all over the world. Though they have been doing so for decades, it appears that scientists are completely befuddled, and they think they are on the verge of something pretty serious. I told this to a friend of mine over the weekend, and she all but jumped out of her chair in celebration. While some people may see this as an end to some kind of annoyance, especially here in New york during the summer months, it would be a catastrophic loss for humans. As is noted in the article, bees are the most important of all insects for the food chain. They pollinate the crops that turn into the food that we eat, and scientists have been unable to copy that process artificially. Though the article all but refutes the claim made by Bill Maher on Sunday that cell phones are causing bees to lose their navigation system, it does seem to indicate that the problem very well may be man made. Pesticides, anti-weed sprays on crops and pollution are among the 'mind boggling' amount of possibilities. It is an interesting and frightening read.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Wasteland Reading List

As many of you may know, this operation of ours got started from reading some books. Now, hold on a second, I know what you're saying: "Aaron, Wes, come on. Why would I sit and read a bunch of books when I can just wait for your awesomely entertaining, funny, informative, thought provoking movie to come out?" First of all, I don't think that "awesomely" is a word, secondly, the movie will not be done for some time, and I imagine that you can read all of these books twice before it comes out. Finally though, all of the information that we have, and will acquire comes originally from the pages of these books. If you have any suggestions, go ahead and leave them in the comments.

Garbage Land by Elizabeth Royte

This is the one that started it all. Wes read this book a few years ago, gave it to me, I read it and we both agreed that there was an interesting movie here. This is the story of a woman named Elizabeth who decided she wants to follow her trash to find out where exactly it goes after she puts it on her curb. What she finds is at times funny, and at other times frightening as she travels all over the east coast following her garbage.

Wasteland Rating: ***** (out of 5)

The Overspent American by Juliet Schor

This book gave us a really interesting perspective on our story. We realized we couldn't really tell the story of garbage in America without first examining where all that garbage comes from. It explains how and why Americans buy so much, but is incredibly well written, well informed and always entertaining. Read in conjunction with Garbage Land a cycle of buying and disposing begins to emerge.

Wasteland Review: ***** (out of 5)

Bronx Ecology by Alan Hershkowitz

Dr. Hershkowitz is a scientist at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and this book documents his attempt to build a fully integrated environmentally safe paper recycling plant in the Bronx in New York City. The book has patches that may not be of interest to someone who is, say, not an expert in water studies, or a chemical engineer. The last half of the book, however, which talks about the plant's ultimate demise is a fascinating read, and gives a great insight as to why being a practical environmentalist is so difficult. Local government, corruption, big business and special interest get in the way of something that could truly provide for the community.

Wasteland Review: *** (out of 5)

Toxic Exports by Jennifer Clapp

I just received this book in the mail from Jennifer this week, so I will have to get back to you on this.

Wasteland Review ***** (out of 5)*

*Review based solely on Jennifer's fantastic interview she gave to Wes and me up in Canada.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Where From Here???

Sorry to not post in awhile. I was hanging out at Joshua Tree last week with my family.

I want to suggest to any of you that read this blog regularly to check out the new edition of Vanity Fair, the one with Leonardo Dicaprio. He has a film called, "The 11th Hour," coming out soon, and it should be an interesting look at the environmental impact of humans on the planet. There are also some fabulous articles about the structure of the current administration's cabinet members, including those in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) right now.

The scary thing is that despite the fact that Aaron and I are making this film with no preconceived notions about what the best way to deal with garbage is, the EPA has been resoundingly silent. We have contacted Roxanne Smith, the press liaison for landfill oversight and Superfund cleanup, and the extent of our talks has been running in circles. The EPA is refusing to do any interview because they say that waste dumping experts are all working for the corporations that dump your trash, not the EPA. Unfortunately it is the EPA who is responsible for making sure that these private companies get rid of your stuff without bending the rules. It is the EPA who is supposed to make sure that our landfills don't leak into rivers and lakes, and that hazardous waste is dealt with properly.

What is the motive for the EPA to not talk with us? We are not trying to attack them. We only want to hear about what is being done in America to combat the amounts of waste created by Americans. If you go to the EPA website, you can look up all of the Superfund site cleanups they are currently involved in. Most are old landfills that are now leaking, so why wouldn't our federal oversight for these private landfills be more than willing to explain just how waste can be dealt with so to stop the eventual problem of leaky landfills that pollute our country?

Could it be that many appointees to the EPA (not to mention a variety of other departments in the Federal Government) had formerly worked for private corporations that fought the EPA's attempts to restrain their abilities to pollute? In fact most of the people that work within the EPA are most likely afraid of exposure to the larger problem of corruption and cronyism within the EPA. When former employees of corporations that run landfills and garbage disposal services begin to run waste oversight at the EPA, there is a problem. I have no issue with scientists making sure the science of waste management is being run properly, but when science is run by corrupt politicians bought and paid for by corporations, something needs to change.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Why go to the movies?

We have some more work ahead of us, and there should be another one of these coming by the end of the night. Wes will be going to South America, and I will be going to LA, and the fate of our film will be in the very component hands of Danny Brothers. This will be our last contribution for a while. Please send it to your friends and let us know what you think.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

We've Been Busy

Please, please, please send this to your friends/families/girlfriends/boyfriends/ex-girlfriends/ex-boyfriends

Oh, and leave some comments and let us know what you think. There will be some more of these coming in the next few weeks.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Shane Conrad, Party of One

We also wanted to tell you that this stunningly handsome man Shane Conrad is our new producer. This basically means that we tell him we are about to do something dangerous, possibly violating some international treaty, and then he hangs up the phone and tells our parents and friends that we are geniuses. Thus we think are sure he is the man.

The Great White North

You all remember that picture fromt he last blog where I was below the Syracuse shirt? Well I must say that if you ever decide to go to Syracuse, you can skip eating at The Acropolis. Not the best eggplant Parmesan sub. In fact I am pretty sure that the chef was repainting the kitchen in between fixing up our food. Anyway, Syracuse was a bit disappointing, yet the drive their was something to remember.

Knuckles gripped to the steering wheel, white with desire, Senor Rosenbloom drove like a Canadian to a keg party full of free Molson and showroom snowmobiles. We made quick time to the border at Niagara Falls. Here we passed by a massive dump owned by Allied Waste (more pictures tomorrow of it as I have to shoot the video in the morning). This happens to only be about one "kilomile (that roughly translates as "super ultra mile" for you Americans that know nothing about the metric system)" from the Love Canal, a site of major hazardous waste dumping. When we got to the border, the woman inspecting our passports seemed to grin a bit when I told her our documentary was about garbage. With great comedic timing Aaron gave her this look...

...I diffused the situation by telling her that we were in the country to interview Professor Jennifer Clapp at The University of Waterloo, and that my friend would not harm her as long as she said the Cubs would win ... eventually. So on our way we went to Waterloo, flanked nearby by the great Canadian city of Guelph.

Our interview with Jennifer today was fantastic.

She covered a whole range of topics including globalization and waste distancing around the world. Jennifer also spoke about our ecological shadow, or the simply what is happening to the planet as a result of our economic progress when only measured in terms of GDP.

Very interesting footage that I will promise once again will be online by the weekend. And one interesting tid bit is that Toronto exports it's garbage into the United States, specifically eastern Michigan. We thought it interesting that America exports garbage to China, and Canada exports to the U.S. But then we realized we were talking about Eastern Michigan, and we forgot the whole thing and drove to Toronto.

Toronto is a beautiful city with a weather problem. Currently this is the way I am dealing with it...
Aaron and I have been doing this for a bit, and talking about how much we would love to be back in Brooklyn soon to edit all this awesome footage. Aaron also has declared that hostels are like FUBU for British people. All I know is that our room smells British, and I don't like it. Were back to America tomorrow, but not before I go get myself thrown out of another shopping mall, and Aaron tells some Canadians that he will eat their children. Peace, and God Bless Us All (in America).

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Live Blogging: Waterloo, Ontario (Canada, ay)

Wes and I left Brooklyn this morning at around 10:00AM, and just arrived in our hotel room at 8:15PM, Canada time. We had a nice drive through parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and then back through upstate New York. We had a pit stop for lunch in Syracuse, which frankly left something to be desired.

We headed back up and finally arrived into the Great White North, where we can contribute with our own greatness and whiteness.

Tomorrow we have an interview with Jennifer Clapp, a professor at the University of Waterloo in, well, Waterloo. She is an expert on the waste stream, waste disposal, and other topics in which I have almost no interest. It should be a good interview, and we are excited to wrap up the first part of our trip.
Stick with us, and we should have some video clips coming up soon.

Heading North

After another several days of shooting in New York (and one cancelled interview) we are heading into the home stretch as we take off for Waterloo, Ontario today. We have out passports, our friendly attitudes, and our lukewarm feelings for hockey packed. Pitures of Wes doing stupid things on the way...