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SEE ALSO: https://kennethharperfinton.me/2016/02/29/is-chloramine-in-your-tap-water/

Erin Brockovich

How America’s Moms Are Leading

the Battle for Clean Drinking Water



We saw Flint coming. In fact, I’ve seen this whole national water crisis coming for years. I see these issues happen, I know where they are. I know when they’re going to hit. And I know they’re going to come up, year after year after year.

I know because tens of thousands of people write to me each month. I started creating a map and I have more than 10,000 communities across the U.S. recording their plights. People come to me, saying, there’s too many children on our street with cancer, or we’ve had too many high school kids die of brain tumors, or we live next to a superfund site and we think our water is contaminated. After one comes forward, then five follow, then 20, 30, more. I read hundreds of these emails everyday, and sometimes you have to be able to read between the lines. I can sense the urgency. I know when what people are saying is just not right. Some emails clearly speak volumes, and I’m like, we need to jump on this now. It’s about being responsive: Last February, when my investigator Bob Bowcock and I heard about Flint, he was on a plane the next day.

What has always stuck me the most were the instances where people’s health was deteriorating. This has been true from the time I was a little girl to my work in Hinkley and beyond. What’s that common denominator? It’s usually the water. The one thing that sustains us all.

Communities across the country have been dealing with lead issues for years — but they’ve always fallen on a deaf ear. Flint is simply the perfect storm.

These horrifying images are sent to me every week from people all over the United States.

I didn’t discover Flint — the community wrote to me. We got out there and tried to sound the alarm. There’s almost always a community leader, and nine times out of 10, it’s going to be a mom. She starts gathering the community, setting up town meetings so we can inform people about what’s happening. We show folks how to protect themselves and their families. We try to work with the emergency contingency team that’s in place — we do that everywhere we go, and they usually don’t want to hear it. They want to run things their way, they think we’re just there to cause trouble, but that’s not the case at all.

Unfortunately, it takes a huge crisis like Flint for everybody else to wake up.

Right now, we’re in this special moment where people are paying attention and raising their voices. These chemicals, this problem, did not just arise yesterday. People have been drinking water that’s contaminated with PFOA or lead or TCE or other chemicals for too long. Towns in New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York are learning that their water is contaminated. Schools have turned off water fountains due to lead poisoning. Hannibal, Missouri and Tyler, Texas and Sebring, Ohio are all sounding the alarm.

These issues don’t see any boundaries of rich or poor, black or white, Republican or Democrat. All kinds of people everywhere are being taken advantage of. There’s this false sense of security that we’ve all been lulled into, and only now are people actually waking up to reality.

Eventually this moment will go away, when the attention wanes, and we will all forget that it ever happened — until the next crisis hits the news.


Look, there’s plenty of blame to go around. It’s here. It’s happening, it’s been going on for a very long time. It will continue to go on, and it’s going to get worse until we have a disaster situation that we cannot turn around. Agencies have not listened; they haven’t done the right thing, either out of fear or greed. This is morally wrong on a thousand different levels. And this is where we have to change.

The EPA is over burdened, understaffed, and broke. And this agency oversees our Safe Drinking Water Act. If we are going to have these federal agencies, we need to actually support them. Because, frankly, right now they’re not doing any good.

Sure, there are some good, well-intentioned, intellectual people in the EPA who want to make a difference. I don’t want everybody to go down when someone makes a bad decision, but unfortunately, bad decisions are happening everywhere.

We learned just this week that, in a memo, an EPA official stated that “Flint was not worth going out on a limb for.” The fact that someone from the governmental agency that is there to protect the health and the welfare of the people made such a disgusting comment will tell you where the problem is.

I’m so perplexed by Governor Rick Snyder’s thinking. He should be criminally prosecuted because he has done so much damage. That’s my opinion. To continue to waste millions of dollars of tax payers’ money to defend himself — Where is your decency? Where is your integrity as a human being, Governor? Please step down. Save that money, give it to those people who need it, get out of office, and let us begin the difficult task of repairing this problem.

These are real, legitimate, serious issues, and too often our government officials dismiss the affected community. Too often agencies fail to check on the health and welfare of people who live in a known contaminated zone. Too often they are dodging a bullet, hiding information, and doing it just to save a buck. Too often, the government is in denial.

Until we really start to listen — and I mean, until the municipalities, federal and state agencies start to listen to the people — instead of reacting to these disasters, we’re going to continue to create greater problems. Government officials and communities need to change their thinking in order to catch the crisis before it happens. And it starts with listening to the people. Right now, nobody is listening, so they come to me.

I’m a grandmother now, and I’m asking myself, what will be our legacy? What am I leaving? If I don’t continue to fight for this, what kind of world would I leave for my little grandchildren, Molly, Grace, and Charles?

My job isn’t to sit here and point fingers, my job is to care. We all do, about our health, our family’s health, our grandchildren’s health, and our neighbors health. I know we do.

Nothing is more important than water. It is connected to every single thing we do: our health and our welfare and our economy. And it should be up to the federal government, the state, every agency, right down to the local levels, to find a solution that provides safe water for all. The solution to pollution is not dilution. That is what we have used our water systems for in the past, and if we continue to do so, we are going to pay the ultimate price — many people already have.

If we could look back at history do something different, we would. We are at that moment right now. We can do something different. We don’t have to make history repeat itself. We are better than that.

We are living in a great country full of great people. We are now more connected then we have been before. We have easy access to information, we are more aware, more educated, more informed — and that’s helping us make different choices in how we live our lives. The millennials are starting a groundswell, which I think is fabulous. In the past our voices haven’t been heard — but now they are starting to rise.

When everyone uses their voice, that’s when we all get on that page — and I’m talking about our leaders. That’s how we change things. That’s how we set the tone and it’s how we move the world forward.




What is your cut?

Sexist crap?

Sell meat by showing beef cut counterparts on a naked girl?

This ad uses a naked woman’s body in order to depict the certain types of meat cuts you can find on a cow.

Do we assume that people are buying their meat because they can then actually connect this diagram of a woman to a cow?

Are we deciding what meat cut we want from the cow diagram? Does the round rump of the woman seem more delicious and quite sexy?

Does the round and the rump of the woman make men nod in approval?  Does it seem  delicious and quite sexy?

Does this show us how society thinks of women, or is that reading too much into it a clever advertising ploy?

Is this simply another reference to the feminine and masculine properties where even foods have masculine and feminine articles to identify them.

One thing noticeably missing here is the breast, always tasty, always a favorite.


“You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” by Bob Dylan

  • The likely influence on this song was Dylan’s 1967 motorcycle accident, which severely limited his mobility. The song was recorded in the basement of a house where members of The Band lived, and played with Dylan while he experimented with new sounds. The Basement Tapes album was not officially released until 1975, but the songs were circulated and this one drew the attention of The Byrds, who released it on their 1968 album Sweetheart of the Rodeo. (thanks, Tom – Marble Falls, AR)
  • The Byrds released “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” as the first single off the album peaking at #45 in the US and #74 in the UK.


“You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”

-Bob Dylan

Clouds so swift
Rain won’t lift
Gate won’t close
Railings froze
Get your mind of wintertime
You ain’t goin’ nowhere
Whoo-ee ride me high
Tomorrow’s the day
My bride’s gonna come
Oh, oh, are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair !I don’t care
How many letters they sent
Morning came and morning went
Pick up your money
And pack up your tent
You ain’t goin’ nowhere
Whoo-ee ride me high
Tomorrow’s the day
My bride’s gonna come
Oh, oh, are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair !

Buy me a flute
And a gun that shoots
Tailgates some substitutes
Strap yourself
To the tree with roots
You ain’t goin’ nowhere
Whoo-ee ride me high
Tomorrow’s the day
My bride’s gonna come
Oh, oh, are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair !Genghis Khan
He could not keep
All his kings
Supplied with sleep
We’ll climb that hill no matter how steep
When we come up to it
Whoo-ee ride me high
Tomorrow’s the day
My bride’s gonna come
Oh, oh, are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair !

“My Back Pages” – Bob Dylan

My Back Pages” is a song written by Bob Dylan and included on his 1964 album Another Side of Bob Dylan. It is stylistically similar to his earlier folk protest songs and features Dylan’s voice with an acoustic guitar accompaniment. However, its lyrics—in particular the refrain “Ah, but I was so much older then/I’m younger than that now”—have been interpreted as a rejection of Dylan’s earlier personal and political idealism, illustrating his growing disillusionment with the 1960’s folk protest movement with which he was associated, and his desire to move in a new direction. Although Dylan wrote the song in 1964, he did not perform it live until 1978.

Bob Dylan wrote “My Back Pages” in 1964 as one of the last songs—perhaps the last song—composed for his Another Side of Bob Dylan album.[1] He recorded it on June 9, 1964, under the working title of “Ancient Memories”, the last song committed to tape for the album.[1] The song was partly based on the traditional folk song “Young But Growing[1] and has a mournful melody similar to that of “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” from Dylan’s previous album, The Times They Are a-Changin’.[2] As with the other songs on Another Side, Dylan is the sole musician on “My Back Pages” and plays in a style similar to his previous protest songs, with a sneering, rough-edged voice and a hard-strumming acoustic guitar accompaniment.[3][4]

In the song’s lyrics, Dylan criticizes himself for having been certain that he knew everything and apologizes for his previous political preaching, noting that he has become his own enemy “in the instant that I preach.”[2][5][6] Dylan questions whether one can really distinguish between right and wrong, and even questions the desirability of the principle of equality.[7] The lyrics also signal Dylan’s disillusionment with the 1960s protest movement and his intention to abandon protest songwriting.[5][6][8] The song effectively analogizes the protest movement to the establishment it is trying to overturn,[4] concluding with the refrain:

Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now




Book Store

Photo by Ken Finton -October 2004, Paris



This ramshackle bookstore in Paris has kept the beat of history. 

The store was the center of Anglo-American literary culture and modernism in Paris until World War II.  Writers and artists of the “Lost Generation,” including Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, George Antheil and Man Ray, among others, spent a great deal of time there. The shop was nicknamed “Stratford-on-Odéon” by James Joyce, who used it as his office.

Shakespeare and Company is the name of two independent bookstores that have existed on Paris’s Left BankSOURCE: 

The first was opened by Sylvia Beach on November 19, 1919, at 8 rue Dupuytren, before moving to larger premises at 12 rue de l’Odéon in the 6th arrondissement in 1922.[1] During the 1920s, Beach’s shop was a gathering place for many then-aspiring young writers such as Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and Ford Madox Ford.[1] It closed in 1940 during the German occupation of Paris and never re-opened.[2] 



Sylvia Beach at the original Paris store

The second is situated at 37 rue de la Bûcherie, in the 5th arrondissement. Opened in 1951 by George Whitman, it was originally named “Le Mistral”, but was renamed to “Shakespeare and Company” in 1964 in tribute to Sylvia Beach’s store.[3] Today, it serves both as a regular bookstore, a second-hand books store, and as a reading library, specializing in English-language literature.[4] The shop has become a popular tourist attraction,[4][5] and was featured in the Richard Linklater film Before Sunset, and in Woody Allen‘s Midnight in Paris.[6]

Sylvia Beach, the founder, was an American expatriate from New Jersey. She established Shakespeare and Company in 1919 at 8 rue Dupuytren. The store functioned as a lending library as well as a bookstore.[7] In 1921, Beach moved it to a larger location at 12 rue de l’Odéon, where it remained until 1940.[1] During this period, the store was the center of Anglo-American literary culture and modernism in Paris. Writers and artists of the “Lost Generation,” including Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, George Antheil and Man Ray, among others, spent a great deal of time there, and the shop was nicknamed “Stratford-on-Odéon” by James Joyce, who used it as his office.[8]

The books sold were considered high quality, reflected from Beach’s own taste. Hemingway mentions and writes about the denizens found about the store in A Moveable Feast.

Patrons could buy or borrow books like D. H. Lawrence’s controversial Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which had been banned in Britain and the United States.

Beach published Joyce’s controversial book Ulysses in 1922. It, too, was banned in the United States and Britain. Later editions were also published under the Shakespeare and Company imprint.[9] She also encouraged the publication in 1923, and sold copies of Hemingway’s first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems.[10]


Interior of original store

The original Shakespeare and Company closed on 14 June 1940, during the German occupation of France in World War II.[2] It has been suggested that it may have been ordered shut because Beach denied a German officer the last copy of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.[11] When the war ended, Hemingway “personally liberated” the store, but it never re-opened.[12]

George Whitman’s Bookstore

In 1951, another English-language bookstore was opened on Paris’s Left Bank by American ex-serviceman George Whitman, under the name of Le Mistral. Its premises, the site of a 16th-century monastery,[13] are at 37 rue de la Bûcherie, near Place Saint-Michel, just steps from the Seine, Notre Dame and the Île de la Cité.[13] Much like Shakespeare and Company, the store became the focal point of literary culture in bohemian Paris, and was frequented by many Beat Generation writers including Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and William S. Burroughs.[13] Whitman modeled his shop after Sylvia Beach’s and, in 1958 while dining with George, she publicly  announced that she was handing the name to him for his bookshop.[14]

In 1964, after Sylvia Beach’s death, Whitman renamed his store “Shakespeare and Company” in tribute to the original, describing the name as “a novel in three words”.[3] He called the venture “a socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore”.[15] Customers have included the likes of Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, and Richard Wright. The bookstore has sleeping facilities and Whitman claimed that as many as 40,000 people have slept there over the years.[15]


whitman's store

Store exterior in 1950s

From 1978-1981, a group of American and Canadian expatriates ran a literary journal out of the upstairs library, called Paris Voices. The journal published young writers such as Welsh poet Tony Curtis and Irish playwright and novelist Sebastian Barry. The editor-in-chief was Kenneth R. Timmerman and the editorial team included Canadian Antanas Sileika, among others. Timmerman became a novelist and political writer in the USA and Sileika a Canadian novelist. The journal hosted readings that attracted aspiring literary travelers as well as a scattering of voices from the past such as Beat poet Ted Joans and journalist Jack Belden.


George Whitman at his store

Awarded the Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2006, one of France’s highest cultural honors,[16] George Whitman died at the age of 98 on 14 December 2011.[17] His daughter Sylvia Beach Whitman, named after Sylvia Beach, joined him at the bookstore in 2006 after living for 10 years in London and Edinburgh with her mother. She began revamping the store and the rooms for writers. The marketing plan included sponsored events along with university students invited as writer-in-residence.[16] She now runs the store in the same manner as her father, allowing young writers to live and work there.[18] Regular activities are Sunday tea, poetry readings and writers’ meetings.[18] In 2008 she founded FestivalandCo, a literary festival held biennially at the shop and which has hosted Paul Auster, Siri Hustvedt, Jeanette Winterson, Jung Chang and Marjane Satrapi.[19][18] She appeared in the Paris episodes of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson which aired on 1 August 2011.[4][20][21]

The bookstore was a sanctuary for some twenty of its customers during the November 2015 Paris attacks.[22][23]

The four Shakespeare and Company bookstores in New York City, which opened starting in 1981, are not affiliated with the Paris store.





by Kate McBride

May 20, 2012



Sylvia Beach Whitman after taking over her father’s store in 2011.


The view from the front window of the ramshackle bookstore looks out past a few trees to the river Seine and beyond to Notre Dame, towering high on the Ile de la Cité. No. 37 rue de la Bûcherie is home to Shakespeare & Company, a Parisian writers’ and readers’ institution whose longtime owner, American-born George Whitman, lived in a third-floor apartment above the shop until his death last December. Before George, the neighborhood, one of the oldest in Paris, was occupied by a monaster

According to George, the name and the spirit of Shakespeare & Company were given to him in 1958 by Sylvia Beach, the owner of the original Paris bookstore of that name. Opened in 1919, Beach’s store moved to 12 rue de l’Odéon in 1921, where it became the center of Anglo-American literary life in Paris, a favorite haunt of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and many others. Forced to close the store during World War II, Beach never reopened it.

Several years later Beach announced she would pass on the name (and spirit) during a reading by Lawrence Durrell at the bookstore George Whitman had opened in 1951, at the time called Le Mistral.

Beach and Whitman shared a belief in operating their businesses as lending libraries as well as retail bookshops, providing a place for authors and poets to congregate and present their work, and even a place for them to sleep and eat. Beach died in 1962. According to Whitman, in her will she left a number of books from her private collection to him, and the legal rights to the name Shakespeare & Company. When his only daughter was born in 1981, Whitman named her Sylvia Beach Whitman—when you meet Sylvia Beach II today, it feels as though nothing has changed within the literary landscape of Paris.

Whitman was married once, briefly, to Sylvia’s mother, Felicity Leng. Sylvia grew up mostly in England, and attended University College London. Almost ten years ago, at the age of 22, she assumed management of her father’s business and revitalized what had become an endangered institution.

According to George, in anticipation of his death, developers were trying to buy every apartment they could in the bookstore’s building. Their intention was to turn the building into condominium apartments that could boast a view of Notre Dame. Sylvia Whitman now owns the bookstore space and several other apartments in the building, including the one on the third floor. She purchased another space next door in 2009 and, rumor has it, a café may open there. The developers are in retreat for the moment.

My photographer husband James and I were newcomers to Whitman’s Shakespeare & Company on our first visit in the winter of 2003. James asked George about the possibility of shooting his portrait but, said George, the timing wasn’t right—he was busy tending the till. On subsequent visits, he was either asleep, grumpy or out somewhere. In February of 2007 we happened to see him leaning out the third-floor window, looking across at Notre Dame. James took a quick snap to record the lucky moment and tried to satisfy his desire to photograph George by shooting other inhabitants of the bookstore including Jonathan, a brainy young kid from Ireland who would soon be on his way to study at Oxford after living at “S & Co” for a time.

Hotel Tumbleweed

People still live at the store today. Moments after closing time at 11 pm, the residents move piles of books aside and sleep on makeshift beds that double as book display platforms during the day. Under Sylvia’s management, the tradition continues at the “Hotel Tumbleweed”, George’s nickname for the overnight operations.

The general rule is that you are allowed to sleep in the store if you are a writer, though we understood from George that he sometimes stretched the term to include musicians, artists and young women. The first step toward entry was to show George your manuscript, write a short autobiography and, if he approved, you were in rent-free, in exchange for working the check-out desk, re-shelving books, cleaning and errand-running.

When we first met Sylvia, she told us she was intent on keeping the eclectically cluttered place intact, except for some welcome changes including regular cleaning, the opening of the normally closed “collectibles” branch next door and the installation of a cash register to replace the disconcerting rounding off that occurred due to sales being tallied in someone’s head. (To note, the rounding off was always down to keep customers happy.) Today paying with a credit card is perfectly acceptable. Sylvia also reluctantly gave in to the city’s mandate to replace the rickety staircase that led to the second floor lending library and children’s area with one that met city building codes.

A Moses Moment

On a visit to Paris in 2008, James and I made our usual stop at S & Co to get the weather report on George. Shooting a portrait that morning was a no-go, but Sylvia suggested we try coming back after lunch. We returned around 2:30, with our young friend Josh along to help, just in time to see Sylvia leading George into the stairwell for his daily journey up the three winding flights. When she returned to the store, James asked her what she thought about the possibility of taking some pictures, and she said, “Sure, give it a try, the door’s open, just go on in”.

James was reluctant to open George’s door when he didn’t answer to our knock, but in we went, introducing ourselves. George responded by asking James “Have I read you?”, making the assumption he was a writer. James said “No, but I’d like to shoot you”. George rose to his feet from his small bench-like perch, where he was working on a plate of leftover chicken kept warm by a metal-can contraption placed over a Bunsen burner. He proclaimed in a commanding voice: “OK, let’s get it over with! Should I change?” He was wearing a baggy pair of pajamas. We agreed that, “No, it’s not necessary,” and helped George settle in at the front window alcove, where a small table and two chairs neatly fit.

George seemed happy to be having his photo taken, gazing out the window toward Notre Dame, chin held high, looking like Moses with his electrified hair and deep grooves in his face. We almost expected him to bellow out the Ten Commandments—although, we imagined, George might sport his own unique version, including “Read a book a day”. Minutes into the shoot he generously told us, “You can sleep here if you want”. Later, Jemma, one of the bookstore attendants we’d come to know, said she thought he was probably speaking only to me, not James and Josh.

I considered my chance to sleep in the bed where, George claimed, “the poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti sleeps when he visits every year”. I asked George if Larry Ferly (as Julia Child claimed he was called when she met him in 1948) was planning a trip over any day soon. “Yes, next month,” he said. “We’re having a contest to see who can outlive the other and I’m winning.”

Twinkling eye

George was five years older than Ferlinghetti. The two nurtured a number of connections between their respective bookstores. Ferlinghetti’s City Lights in San Francisco opened in 1953, two years after S & Co. At the time, S & Co was still Le Mistral, named, said George, in honor of “the first girl I ever fell in love with”, whom he met shortly after he arrived in Paris in 1948 to study at the Sorbonne on the G.I. Bill. A book series published by Ferlinghetti’s City Lights is carried at S & Co, and the staff at both refer to themselves as “sister bookstores”. Ginsberg and other beat poets performed often at S & Co starting in the early 1960s. Not long ago, Ferlinghetti read from a new collection of his work to a standing-room-only crowd that spilled out into the street.

With the portrait of George in the can and the light fading, we sensed his energy for the camera was exhausted so we packed up and left, promising to come back soon. Downstairs, Sylvia seemed happy that it had finally worked out. We asked about her plans for the bookstore and she told us she intended to turn her attention to publishing, once the computer system was running smoothly and the inventory completed. We bought a first UK hardcover edition of James Thurber’s Further Fables For Our Time from the collectibles section.

Subsequent shoots found George more and more often confined to his apartment but still spirited in conversation. On one visit, we brought our daughter Madison and her friend Nettika. Living up to his reputation, George was immediately drawn to the young women. In an interview with the British newspaper The Independent he was once quoted as saying, “I created this bookstore like a man would write a novel. And the girls who come in here are coming into a novel.” George informed us with a twinkle in his eye, that “the day I turn 100, I’m retiring”.

Remarkably, George almost made it to age 100, falling just two years short when he died on December 14, 2011, two days after his 98th birthday. He spent his last days at home, surrounded by photos of his friends, with his black dog Colette and his white cat Kitty by his side. Regal in exquisite deep purple silk pajamas, he sat propped up against red and lavender pillows covered by a paisley quilt, with his daughter close by providing all the happiness he could want. She read to him daily, satisfying his voracious desire to read “a book a day”—a recommendation he made to all the inhabitants of Hotel Tumbleweed. From his third floor retreat, George could listen to the voices of new authors reading their works, musicians playing their original music and the bells of Notre Dame wafting in. He is buried in Père Lachaise cemetery.

Under Sylvia, Shakespeare & Company’s renaissance is now in full swing. Readings, workshops and music events are regularly scheduled. She’s launched S & Co’s Paris Literary Prize, a €10,000 award for a novella by an unpublished author. And since 2003, four glittering festivals have begun to attract galaxies of international literary stars back to Shakespeare’s little shop on the Seine.

37 rue de la Bûcherie, 5th, 


Turning the Page was originally published in the April 2012 issue of France Today