"Treat each other with respect. The Bible is the owner's manual, and we are to read that to learn how to make it in this world. You know? What the world needs now is love, sweet love."
"I just came from a festival over the weekend, Playa del Fuego, and everybody is on the same playing field; everybody is friendly with everybody. It's the first time I had ever gone and it was an amazing experience. I'm still on a high from that, I guess."
"So what happens at the Playa del Fuego?"
"It's actually a subsidiary of the Burning Man festival, and it's really really hard to explain without actually being there…"
"Is it like Burning Man where they burn lots of stuff?"
"Yup. Everybody shares everything with everybody: if you're hungry, just go over and people will give you food; if you're thirsty, people will give you something to drink; if you need your back washed, someone will wash your back in the shower. It's kind of an amazing experience."
"I'm running out of friends… They're dropping like flies. I've been going through this since the '80s. It gets to a point where you think you're gonna get used to it, but I'm not used to it. I have good health news, I bet on the track and I've been winning, and then I get that news. I get another phone call and it brings me right down. Someone from the old town I used to live in passed away and he was only 55 years old. It's pulmonary fibrosis, as common as breast cancer, but you don't hear about it."
"What's a good memory that you have of your friend?"
"Oh, man, you see my hair now? Years ago we were much younger, back in the '80s, of course we were crazy. I made a bet with a friend, and this guy that passed away, he's the one that gave me the original shaved head. But the problem was, we were drinking a little bit and he cut me up pretty good (Laughs). And that started something that everybody did within months. Everybody had a haircut. And it started with a crazy bet, which I lost, and he ends up being the barber. He was plain clothes: he was wealthy, but clothes didn't matter to him. I went to his funeral in this old Mets hat, beat-up shirt. That was the fashion of that day, because that's what he was."
Milt Harwick of GMO-Free PA, Lehigh Valley Chapter, talks about the DARK Bill at last Saturday's March Against Monsanto in Centre Square:
"There's a bill in Congress proposed by Mike Pompeo of Kansas, where he wants to make it illegal for states to require GMO labeling. And as part of that, there's 20 states that have legislation in some form for GE (genetically engineered) labeling because the Federal Government's not doing their job; they're really letting the people down. And so this is a counter attempt on the part of the Federal Government, which should be taking care of labeling to begin with, to kind of put the kabash on what states are trying to do. So we term it 'The DARK Act,' which is 'Deny Americans the Right to Know,' so it's an acronym for that. It would make state attempts to require GMO labeling illegal. Vermont's already passed a law; the Governor's signed it. So if that act passes, it would inundate Vermont's law. It would also stipulate that a company can't be sued for using the term 'natural' on their food if it has GMO ingredients. And it would also stipulate that the Federal Government has the exclusive rights for labeling related to GMO and that it's on a voluntary basis. We already have a voluntary basis; nobody's saying that you can't label your products that they have GMO ingredients. We already have that. But it's all an attempt to fight against the labeling requirements. But, there is a counter bill being proposed that was submitted March of this year by (Oregon Representative Peter) DeFazio that does the opposite, that says we have a right to know what's in our food. I'm just blown away by the fact that our government is putting poisons in our food. The World Health Organization, about two weeks ago, reported that glyphosate, the key ingredient in (the pesticide) RoundUp is a probable carcinogen. Glyphosate is a key ingredient in Monsanto's GMO RoundUp-resistant fruit. Do you know how that works? What they do is they modify the DNA in the seed and they actually insert glyphosate into the DNA, and it's a shotgun approach. It's not like they know exactly where it's going in the DNA; it's just blasted and it goes in there somewhere. As the plant grows--let's say it's corn--it produces leaves, it produces corn, it produces glyphosate. It's a chemical factory. We have to do something about it.
MaryAnn and Dave Bennett belong to GMO-Free Pa, Lehigh Valley chapter. They were demonstrating at the March Against Monsanto Protest in Centre Square last Saturday, along with quite a few others:
"This is our third year in a row. We started in Bethlehem. Last year we started in Easton, and we just keep getting bigger and bigger. We want to raise awareness about food safety."
MaryAnn told me that I needed to know about the DARK Act, which affects labeling of food, and I should talk to Milt. He was also at the protest. That interview is coming up tomorrow.
I met Ariel on Northampton Street. He was walking with his brother and a friend, and his jacket intrigued me, so I went up to him and asked about himself. I have to say that it was one of my most interesting interviews:
"What's the coolest thing that ever happened to you?"
"This right now… Does this count? We were just talking about this actually; we were saying, 'There's not gonna be no street bloggers; nobody's gonna be taking pictures downtown, like in this area,' 'cause we're from the City…"
"Tell me about the jacket."
"The jacket I got online; it's supposed to be the Marlon Brando jacket. I added the studs, got the lining done. It took about, like, three-to-five months because I'm lazy. The blood is authentic…"
"It's from a performance that I did. I do, like, shock art…how do I describe it? It's difficult because I'm a performer, not a talker. It's more to be seen than to be talked about. It's theatrical; it's operatic… I have a straightjacket in the same pattern. I haven't performed in, like, two years, so I recently came back into the public eye. I do lip-synching, maybe fire-breathing, escape art, all kids of things."
"What got you started in doing this? Why is it your passion?"
"I went to the Coney Island Side Show School for a few years. I had done everything I could as an actor, and so I thought, 'How can I still retain being onstage, and not do acting because acting is so boring?' So I found out about the Side Show School in Coney Island and I went there, and then you go doing parties, and eventually it all matched up evenly."
The recently expanded Chimpun Peru Restaurant, soon to have a new name, offers delicious traditional Peruvian and Colombian fare. Owners Luis and Elizabeth told me about the restaurant's evolution:
"We opened the Juice and Coffee shop four years ago in the smaller shop, and this bigger place became available around February, right before Valentine's Day. Since the owner knew we were looking to expand, he offered us the possibility to move over here (next door) with the option to buy. So we moved the Juice and Coffee shop to this location and all of the menu; all our food came with us. But we were still working for the owner of this business. He said 'If you guys think you want to buy it later on, you can go ahead and buy it,' and that's what happened about ten days ago. We bought the business off him! We signed the lease for the building with both our names on it, my wife and I, and we're in the process of changing the name of the business. It's going to be called, 'El Chasqui Peruvian Restaurant.' El Chasqui, in the Incan Empire, used to be the mailmen. They would go from town to town, taking the news to everyone in the empire. Translating into English, it's 'the athlete of the Andes.'"
The soon-to-be El Chasqui is on N 3rd Street. You can call them at (484) 373-0711.
Anne Rogers, who also teaches high school English, talks about how she became an artist:
"I started when I was a young girl. I started in oil pastels because I love the feeling of mixing bright colors. Lately I've been doing scenes from my childhood, so this is all Oregon reimagined. It's a little not quite exactly how it looks, but I like a little surrealism in my paintings. I think art should make you think and feel, and usually, *usually* it's something beautiful you want to look at. You know, it could be (Pablo Picasso's) 'Guernica,' something that's beautiful in its awfulness. I like that combination."
To check out Anne Rogers's work, visit her page at arogersart on www.etsy.com.
"I met one of my favorite bands, Flogging Molly, outside of a concert, pouring down rain. Everybody left and I kinda hung around, didn't really care that it was raining, and I got to meet 'em afterwards."
They met in Seoul at a nightclub:
Her: "We met in Korea. I was there teaching English, and he's from there."
Him: "I was on vacation, visiting my friends and family…"
Her: "He goes to dental school at Pitt."
Me: "So what brought you to Korea to teach?"
Her: "I've lived abroad twice before, and I always knew I wanted to go to Asia to work with kids, and wanted to travel. That was just sort of how it worked out; that was the job that allowed me to do that."
"What's the coolest thing that ever happened to you?"
"Graduating from high school."
"What's the worst?"
"Going to jail."
Frank is one of the new voices of the Farmers' Market. I asked him how he got the gig as Paul McCartney's "Band on the Run" played in the background:
"I auditioned and they liked my voice, and I was available. It's the kind of thing where you really need to be into Easton, into the Market, the sights, being a voice. I've been a shopper here for a long time. I want to support this town--it is an *amazing* town that's good and becoming better and better every single day. Anything I can do to make that happen would be great."
"Give me a quick three reasons why you ride a bike."
"One, keeps me sane. Two, gets me places. Three, I can see the countryside in the best possible manner. Everywhere around here in Northampton County, the countryside is beautiful: South to Williams Township, North to Plainfield and Forks. Green, lots of nice hills to climb, and it's just gorgeous out there."
Him: "She's a creative person; she's really smart. It's really fun to hang out with her--she always makes me laugh, and that's probably my favorite thing."
Her: "He thinks I'm funny... (Laughs)
Brooke Mitman is the Director of Development for the Third Street Alliance at 41 North Third Street:
"We're a human services agency. We have three main programs: we have our shelter for homeless women and children, and we also have our childcare program which is for ages six weeks to thirteen, and we have our senior adult day services programs. We have seniors in our agency Monday through Friday, some with intellectual disabilities; we also serve people with stroke recovery and dementia. We also open up the building for community programming, too."
"Tell me about some success stories that you've had."
"Actually, we have someone living with us right now, and she was coming out of incarceration and moved in in October, and now she's saving money to have her own apartment. She's been reunited with her children. She's now gainfully employed. She also struggled with drug addiction and she's been in recovery for close to twelve months, so we're very proud of her."
"If people want to help out, what can they do?"
"We've got lots of opportunities for volunteering; it could be within the programs themselves or perhaps around the building or even out in the community marketing events such as the Farmers' Market, or nights at Barnes and Noble, or putting together fundraisers for us--that's always wonderful."
If you'd like to help out, you can call the Third Street Alliance at (610) 258-6271.
"What's different about being a parent than you thought it was going to be?"
"I worry a lot more than I thought I would..."
"What the most important advice you could give to your baby for when she's old enough?"
"I have two things that someone told me: One was that each day goes by so fast; like, before you know it it's gone, so just enjoy it. Also, all you have to do is love them."
"I lost my job. It's economic; I got laid off. You know, budgeting--their budget was cut, so last in, first out. But you always have to remember that what you're going through now, it's always a lesson. Always take things as a lesson, never a failure. You're never a failure. We all make mistakes, we all have regrets, but it's important to remember to smile. Always smile. If you see someone with a smile, a little kid, they always smile and sometimes *you* feel better. Nothing's wrong with just having a good belly laugh. People may look at you like you're crazy, but at the end of the day, you'll feel better."
"I'm a singer, and I was signed to Atlantic Records when I was 16. I went in, sang for the record label, they wanted me, and it just kinda happened."
"I recommend walking along the canal paths and being with nature and tuning into the river and all of the beautiful sights that Easton has. The river walk is amazing, and I mountain bike there to clear my head and to refresh my soul."
"Be positive. Look forward to waking up in the morning. Stretch and go on with life. I was in an accident and I was bedridden for a year, and that's when I realized that life is good. You have to be positive and things will get better in your life. Be happy and say hello to everybody."
Aubrey attends Moravian College, where she studies neuroscience:
"Well, first it was pre-med when I came in as a freshman, but I didn't really want to do pre-med, so I switched to bio. Then last year I switched to neuroscience because I really wanted to to biopsychology."
"Tell me about biopsychology."
"It's like the combination of biology and psychology, so it's about human thinking and the mechanisms on how that happens."
"So where do you see yourself in five years?"
"Hopefully living in the area and doing research."
"Don't let your disability get you down because then you're gonna give up. Ya gotta fight. Twenty-four hours, seven-days-a-week, fight. I was in a car accident in 1996. Fourteen-year-old kid hit me. I had a '76 Duster; he had a Bronco. He hit me so hard he knocked the body off the frame of the back of the car. I didn't feel nothing, but I was so mad I got up, got out of the car, chased him around, and I said, 'I'm gonna kill ya! I'm gonna kill ya!' Well, that never happened. Cop came and said, 'I'll handle this' and I said, 'Somebody better because this is wrong.' So just do what you gotta do and fight. Don't let the chair or your handicaps get you down."
"One of the coolest things that came from me was being able to accept that I could be myself and I don't gotta worry about what everybody else thinks. You supposed to be yourself. Follow your dreams. What made me realize that was when I started taking my music and dance more seriously, and people were showing me that they liked it. See, I used to get in trouble a lot 'cause I was bored and young, but now they see me doing something positive. That was cool for me because I don't like when people are always coming at you in a negative way."
"Every Saturday me and my dad and my dad's best friend go down to New Hope, take the river down and on the way back go through Bloomsbury Mountain. That's probably the coolest ride we do around here."
"What makes that cool?"
"Being on the river. I'm in the Air Force. I've been away for twelve years and I finally got to get stationed back home. It's awesome. I never really rode before but it's a way for me and my dad to connect. I went to Daytona Bike Week with him, but around here the ride's better."
"Hoe long has your dad been riding?"
"Since the sixties. He's one of those old heads!"
These are the stories of the people of Easton, PA