Earth Day 2011: Going Green in the U.S. Easier than Ever

Image of "Gaia" painting by Alex Grey

Today, April 22nd, marks the 40th annual Earth Day. Founded in 1970 by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson, the observance day began — ironically — as an American-centric “holiday” to raise awareness of the importance of environmental conservation in the United States. Largely a day lauded by tree huggers and scorned by legions of kool-aid drinking conservatives (people who don’t believe in conserving anything), the current iteration of Earth Day serves as a poignant example of what the concept of “going green” means to everyday Americans: it is nothing more than a slick marketing term sold to the masses to make us feel better about our insatiable consumption.

What is so ironic about Earth Day and conservation in America? With less than five percent of the Earth’s population, “U.S. Americans” consume more than a quarter of the planet’s fossil fuel resources and contribute approximately 278 million tons of un-recycled waste into the environment each year. Fear not — an additional 120 million or so tons are “recycled,” so pat yourselves on the back.

For many, going green simply means disposing of empty water bottles, beer cans, Pringles containers, boxes of Pop Tarts, and an array of other cardboard boxes from so-called food items into a different collection bin that magically saves the environment while allowing people to belly up to Wal-Mart and buy more product. Saving the environment by consuming more products, in essence.

So what does this mean? In the spirit of American individualist consumerism and, even moreso, following the lead of our nation’s government and corporate entities, it means you are free to define your own meaning of “going green.”

Here are some examples of how you can become an environmentally-conscious American and “go green”:

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A Year in Concerts, Part I: From Slayer to the Symphony

Images of a Slaytanic Symphony

From Slayer to the Symphony and many others in between, we've seen it all in 2010. Most importantly, these experiences reveal similarities and differences of all live music events, bringing out the best and worst in all of us.

2010 was another good year for live music. Many of us have seen at least a few shows here or there, and some of us have spent more time in front of towering stacks of PA speakers than with the very persons we claim to love. While tastes and genres may vary from show to show, there are a few undeniable truths and dynamics present at almost every club, concert hall or arena — no matter who is playing that night. The live music experience is defined — and measured — by the way fans react to the performance, and music of any kind has the ability to trigger piloerection (that means to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, not what those of you with your mind in the gutter might think).

There are also many differences in the way people “do” things at a concert that, when compared to audience behavior and etiquette twenty years ago, seem odd, out of the element, or extremely annoying. In this article, I will reflect on some of the more memorable shows of 2010 and examine the good, bad, and lessons learned over the course of the past year in concert-going.  Some phenomenons are present across various genres and types of shows, yet each show retains a unique nuance that serves as the sole fleeting memory of what transpired on any given night.  And some of these phenomenons just plain kick ass.

First, let’s examine an item of ubiquity sure to be present at each and every concert, no matter how big or small: the video camera phone.

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