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Harper’s Doubles Up On California

October 12, 2009

Two articles from the October Harper’s, worth reading whether you’re a Californian or not.

The first is “Too Big To Burn” by McKenzie Funk (what a name!) on AIG’s private firefighters, a group of made up mostly of retired firefighters who drive around fire zones coating AIG-insured houses with a special flame retardant foam while non-AIG-insured houses burn. They also pretend to be real fireman and tell white lies to the media. The ultimate outrage is that taxpayer money, used to bailout AIG, is indirectly paying to protect the houses those who can afford AIG’s fire insurance – a.k.a. the ultrarich – while public firefighters are overwhelmed by the ever-increasing flames.

The second is “Tokeville: On the Frontiers of Federalism and Dope” by Gideon Lewis-Kraus (another interesting name) which tells the story of Washington, CA, a pot outpost in the remote rural Northern California. The piece is organized around sketches of the different characters of the town – Buck who works at the post office, Tiedye Bob – all of whom grow and consume marijuana in prodigious quantities and reminded me of the gang from Cannery Row. The author was obviously stoned for much of his reporting, a fact reflected in the flowing circular narrative, and, considering that legalization could be just around the corner, it’s a timely read.

Both of them are now in my Medium Reads sidebar, where you can find, well, interesting medium reads, a.k.a. magazine articles.

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