“C.H.U.D.”— Strange Disappearances



Strange Disappearances

Amos Lassen

In downtown Manhattan, there has been a series mysterious disappearances including that of the wife of a police captain. in the area. Extending his search into the tunnels and sewers below the city streets, it soon becomes clear that something monstrous underground and that it won’t stay there much longer…


At first, the disappearances were among “undergrounders,” the homeless who find shelter in the underground tunnels of New York City. The authorities didn’t really care until it those of a higher class also began to disappear. We see a monster arm reaching out of a steaming manhole to grab a woman out walking her little dog and this is what the scene for what follows.

Bosch (Christopher Curry), a police captain becomes involved when his wife disappears, and he goes to talk to A.J. (Daniel Stern) who runs a soup kitchen and who also reported that twelve of his regular undergrounders are missing. The two men team up, explore the tunnels and they discover evidence that the city already knows what’s going on here. A.J. and Bosch threaten to go to the media if they are not told what’s what. There is obviously some kind of cover-up.

George Cooper (John Heard), a prominent fashion photographer would rather be seen as a real artist. He knows that art cannot be rushed and has been working on a series of photos of the city’s homeless, but has had trouble getting in touch with some of his subjects. He becomes involved in the monster business when a homeless contact tries to steal a cop’s gun for protection against the underground monster. She makes Cooper her one phone call from jail and therefore the cops want to know what his deal is.


A.J. is a citizen who takes care of the poor and elderly and he blames the authorities for not helping the situation. He risks his life going into the sewers to get people out before the city gases them along with the chuds. The city may be unforgiving, but the city dwellers do care about each other.

The film has become a sort of iconic cult classic even though there is nothing particularly special about it.

Bonus Materials include:

  • Brand new restoration from original film elements
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the Integral Cut from a new 2K film transfer
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the Original Theatrical Cut [Limited Edition Exclusive]
  • Original Uncompressed PCM Mono Audio / Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary by director Douglas Cheek, writer Shepard Abbott, and actors John Heard, Daniel Stern and Christopher Curry
  • A Dirty Look- an interview with production designer William Bilowit
  • Dweller Designs – an interview with special make-up effects and creature creator John Caglione, Jr.
  • Notes from Above Ground: The NYC Locations of C.H.U.D. – featurette hosted by journalist Michael Gingold and filmmaker Ted Geoghegan
  • Brand new audio track featuring isolated score selections and an interview with composers Martin Cooper and David A. Hughes
  • Behind-the-Scenes Gallery
  • Extended Shower Scene
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dan Mumford

Fully illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Michael Gingold

“THE INITIATION”— A Stalk and Slash Film



A Stalk and Slash Film

Amos Lassen

Kelly’s new sorority has a special initiation ritual in store for her. She is to break into her father’s department store. However, what begins as – an after-hours break-in of her father’s department store. But what begins as college fun turns terrible when, once inside the enormous mall, Kelly and her fellow pledges find themselves locked in for the night and a deadly intruder ix stalking the corridors. “The Initiation” looks like a classy film that is nicely packaged and has several interesting moments but it is as cheesy as all get out.

Kelly Fairchild is a pledge at her local college and as the new term draws near, she learns that she has to participate in the annual prank-filled initiation in order to gain the respect of her senior sorority sisters. This year, she and three of her friends have the job of stealing the uniform of the security guard that patrols the local mall after hours. It is lucky for the girls that the shopping centre is owned by Kelly’s father, Dwight, a local entrepreneur. Unbeknownst to everyone, the time chosen for the caper coincides with that of a recently escaped lunatic is also hiding in the mall.


This is director Larry Stewart’s one and only film and it is a film of two halves that starts flatly with nothing to note from Stewart’s direction. It’s only when the victims are locked in the mall with the maniac killer that he gets the chance to flex his creative muscle and deliver some taut suspense and engaging set pieces. He provides good suspense even with a cast that is just cheesy (I cannot think of another word). The script is actually quite good and the ending is a surprise so what happened?


Those looking for blood and gore may be disappointed with the lack of it and those looking for a fun slasher movie will find it here. I was reminded of those gore flicks of the early-eighties that packed a punch to our ocular senses. The acting is hilariously campy, but the good points, such as the impressively strong pacing, just about outweigh the bad.


When I sat down to watch this film I didn’t know anything about it and I was surprised to see Vera Miles and Clu Gulager on the opening credits. I actually enjoyed the film and even watched it twice. It has an interesting story, passable special effects, little blood, zero gore, dream sequence, frat costume party, 80’s fashions and hair.  It’s not scary in the least, but it’s still a fun film. 


Bonus Materials

  • Brand new restoration from original film elements
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original Uncompressed Mono PCM audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Brand new audio commentary by The Hysteria Continues
  • Brand new interview with actor Christopher Bradley
  • Brand new interview with actress Joy Jones
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn


FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic James Oliver



“Sad Vacation: The Last Days Of Sid And Nancy”

A Stormy Relationship

Amos Lassen

 “Sad Vacation” is an up close and personal look at the stormy relationship between Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. It is a documentary by Danny Garcia about Sid and Nancy’s fateful trip to New York in 1978 and is dedicated to presenting the real facts and is told as it happened by their friends and those who witnessed it. We learn what really happened in room 100 of the Chelsea Hotel. The documentary includes interviews with Roberta Bayley, Steve “Roadent” Conolly, Donna Destri, Kenny “Stinker” Gordon, Bob Gruen, John Holmstrom, Hellin Killer, Walter Lure, Honest John Plain, Howie Pyro, Cynthia Ross, Andy Shernoff, Gaye Black, Casino Steel, Phyllis Stein, Sylvain Sylvain; the late Leee Black Childers and three key residents of the Chelsea Hotel, Victor Colicchio, “Neon” Leon Matthews, and Ned Van Zandt, who had a lot to say about the events that took place on October 12th 1978. Drawing upon their reflections and memories and are aided by newly-released Grand Jury documents.


Huey Morgan narrates the film that contains unseen photography of Sid and Nancy and music from The Heartbreakers, The Boys, The Members, Neon Leon, Pure Hell, Sami Yaffa, Luigi & The Wiseguys, Skafish, Corazones Muertos, The PrimaDonna Reeds, Supla, Silke Berlinn & The Addictions and Sid Vicious himself.


Garcia takes us beyond the myth and says that he made this film because, “I think it’s because people don’t fall for all the crap that was published in the tabloids and they see Sid as a young guy trying to find his way and trying to have fun in the process. Also both his look and that “fuck you” attitude can be very inspirational for kids today as it was 35 [now 38] years ago.”

“We Were The Future: A Memoir of the Kibbutz” by Yael Neeman— Memories of Kibbutz


Neeman, Yael. “We Were The Future: A Memoir of the Kibbutz”, translated by Sondra Silverston, The Overlook Press. 2016.

Memories of Kibbutz

Amos Lassen

I am surprised that we have not seen much written about the kibbutz now that so many have privatized and as a person who spent many years on kibbutz, I am always interested to hear what others have to say. In the history of Israel, there is little that can come close to the stories of kibbutzim; the collective settlements have been written about extensively over the years.

The kibbutz was a radical Jewish experiment in communal living, social justice, economic egalitarianism, and the reorganization of family life. Indeed, perhaps the most radical innovation of all was the “children’s house” to which the youngest kibbutzniks were taken, often straight from the delivery room, to be raised in common—if also in close proximity to their parents, whom they would see for a couple of hours a day.

The kibbutz has been the subject of many sociological studies, and has been praised as the only example in world history of entire communities attempting, voluntarily, to live in total equality. Everything sounded so good for a long time but then we began to hear about the dark sides of the kibbutz, which has been criticized in later years, mainly by children who were raised in these communities and who now see it “as an institution which victimized its offspring for the sake of ideology”.

Yael Neeman was a child of the kibbutz and she draws on the collective memory of hundreds of thousands of Israelis who grew up in a kibbutz during their height and who now intimately share their memories with her. While this is Neeman ‘s personal account of growing up in the kibbutz movement; it is also an extremely honest examination of the dangers of pioneering and a new lens through which to see the history of Israel.

Neeman was born in 1960 in Kibbutz Yehiam, which when first settled in the 1940s seemed to be a particularly vulnerable and nonarable piece of land. The author describes not only her own experiences of growing up in kibbutz culture, but also the violent and activist story behind the concept. Because the idea of kibbutz is quite socialist, it has no connection to religion which quite simply means secular living. The founders were dedicated to communal living and this included the group rearing of all children. Neeman, like the other children on the kibbutz, only saw her parents for just under two hours per day. However, it is important to understand that each kibbutz decided as to how its children were raised and while this was the way that Neemen and many other children were raised, it varied from settlement to settlement. On the kibbutz where I lived and worked, the children slept together but spent their afternoons and early evenings with their parents until it was ultimately decided that the family unit remained complete and children and parents began to live together.

Neeman’s group did everything together, from sleeping to showering, without regard for gender or individuality. In her early memories she writes about the violence into which the kibbutz was born and the threat under which it still lived throughout Neeman’s childhood. Kibbutz Yehiam is located near the Lebanese border and beginning in 1948, a lot of time was spent defending sieges by the Arab Liberation Army and lack of food and water were constant threats. Later and only through backbreaking labor were the kibbutz members able to reclaim the land from its original rockiness and thereby use it to raise bananas and other foods.

When she was twelve, Neeman left the kibbutz and went to a collective educational institution and it is clear that the experiment in collective education left the children with great emotional and social gaps. I got the impression that she is still struggling to understand how this unusual upbringing shaped and affected her.

Neeman’s experience was one that was common to many others and is no longer. With Neeman’s focus is on the children, and in particular on her own childhood, we get different look at kibbutz and it will anger readers about the way children were raised. However, she seems to be able bypass hypercriticism and nostalgia by also writing about the good times the children had and she writes with compassion not only toward the children but also toward the parents, many of whom were Holocaust survivors and veterans of the brutal fighting at Yehiam during Israel’s war of independence.

Life on the kibbutz was a life of regimentation not only for adults but for children as well: only two kinds of shoes allowed; no individual toys; morning wake-ups by nannies, exactly one hour and fifty minutes a day with one’s biological family. Yes this was regimentation but it was born out of a great romance and the dream of a New Man, a New Jew who was to be the vanguard of humanity who would march toward equality and justice.

Yehiam was totally secular and it was understood that kibbutz doctrine and its gospel of labor were, for all intents and purposes, God and a very harsh one at that. Kibbutz workers were always working and always finding new things to work at. Many felt that they could not live up to the doctrine but they seemed to love trying. The output had no end, for initiative there were always more and more things to do. Many believed completely in asking nothing for oneself, seeking only consideration, with no demands: “to each according to his need.” But who knows what need truly is, it has no bound or limit. Because the doctrine was never satisfied, there were feelings of guilt. I lived on kibbutz but worked off which meant that my salary went straight to the kibbutz and as we know, an academic salary dies not change much during one’s tenure. However, on the kibbutz was the strongest work ethic I have ever seen. People who should have been enjoying their golden years continued to work — they felt obligated to the group and there were many times that kibbutzniks who should have been home in bed nursing an ailment were working as if they felt fine. Neeman sees the ideological bureaucracy that tried to squeeze every living moment into the service of the revolution as those that frightened the kibbutz youngsters. There was a large gulf that separated the worlds of parents and children who were living in the exact same time and place and who had the same longings for love, human connection, and meaning

Yet we also sense her love of place and its people and we find it in her descriptions of the gardens, the fields, the workshops, the kibbutz buildings: each the product of backbreaking toil. We are very aware of her respect for the members’ achievements in war, settlement, agriculture, community building, cultural creativity, and sheer stubborn life force. 

What we do not get are the details of the collapse of the kibbutz’s ideological foundations. The focus is on her own collapse and how after she first left the kibbutz it was hard to understand how to live any other way. The group had simply been a means to realize the creativity of each one, and realize socialism. The point was not to create identical people, but to create an equality of opportunity that would bring the most out of each one in the group. Perhaps this is why those who come to kibbutz from the West do so well—it is their decision to live for the group. One of the main intentions of the kibbutz was “the enabling of each individual to flourish through a life with the larger whole”. The classical kibbutz foundered on the laws of economics and in both its successes and its failures it bequeathed a larger and richer sense of human possibility. Even though its arrangements often ran counter to certain basic human needs, the kibbutz answered the need of feeling one’s own house as a room in some greater, all-embracing structure where he/she is at home, and “at the same time feels that the other inhabitants with whom he lives and works are all acknowledging and confirming his/her individual existence.”

“In Mr. Lublin’s Store” by S.Y. Agnon— Agnon’s Last Novel


Agnon, S.Y. “In Mr. Lublin’s Store”, The Toby Press, 2016.

Agnon’s Last Novel

Amos Lassen

It has taken a long time for Nobel Laureate S.Y. Agnon’s literature to be translated into English and I personally have been waiting for “In Mr. Lublin’s Store” for quite a while after hearing Yiddish readers sing its praises for so long. This is Agnon’s final and posthumous novel and not only has it been translated into English for the first time but it has been fully annotated and contains a Foreword by translator Glenda Abramson. Set in Leipzig during World War I, is a profound commentary on exile and Zionism, assimilation and faith, Germans and Jews, and how the past influences on the present.

This is a look at a world that has gone the wrong way. Germany has become a place where there is no such thing as a normal life for anyone. Tradition is non-existent and the only certainty for many is the ultimate final certainty that comes to us all. We can yearn for a better time and a better place but “there is no hope of returning home; there is no chance to rebuild the fallen tabernacle of the tradition”.

As I said earlier this is the first time the novel has been published in English in its entirety and it seems that Shmuel Yosef Czaczkes (Agnon planned for it to be published in parts. It was published complete in Hebrew in 1975 and we can call it a composite work. Agnon apparently wrote this as a complete work but he wrote it in sections and it was left to his daughter to piece it together which she did five years after his death. I am not sure we can use the strict definition of the word “novel” here and it “Lublin” is made up of narrative, anecdotes, personal histories, meetings and long conversations. It all fits into the simple frame of a narrator whose name “Agnon” is mentioned just once and what we know is that he has recently moved from Jerusalem to Berlin to Leipzig. While on his way to buy what he needs for the Sabbath, Agnon comes across his friend, Mr. Lublin and our story begins. Agnon does Lublin the favor of minding his store while he is at meeting and with nothing much to do, he lets his imagination take over. If you have read Agnon then you are familiar with his ability to paint word pictures and if you have not you will discover that here. Agnon has always been known as a storyteller and one of my greatest literary regrets is that I have not been able to read him in his original Yiddish.

We enter the thoughts of the narrator and suddenly realize that there is no coherent narrative. However, there are themes that lead us to understand what the man is thinking about and as strange as it all may seem the major underlying theme of it all is Mr. Lublin’s Store where Agnon sits thinking. This is no Faulknerian or Joycean stream of consciousness and no Proustian reflection of the inner mind. We read of a world created by memory that includes historic events and fantasy and we can only assume that we are reading the thoughts and dreams of a man whose literature was important enough to bring him the Nobel Prize so therefore there must be something here. In checking on Agnon, the writer’s bio we see that much of what Agnon, the narrator speaks about we can assume that Agnon is Agnon.

I do not want to say anymore about the story for to read Agnon is an experience and everyone deserves to have such an experience on his/her own. I will say that I do not tear up often when I get excited about a piece of literature, but I read this entire book with tears in my eyes because of the sheer beauty of Agnon’s written word (and much credit is due to Glenda Abramson’s translation and foreword). As if that is not enough there is an afterword by Israeli author Haim Be’er that looks at the role of the novel in Agnon’s canon and the symbolism of books and reading to unlock the secret . There are twenty-nine gorgeous pages of illustrated annotations by 29 pages of illustrated annotations by series editor Jeffrey Saks who brings us the many sources in biblical and rabbinical literature that Agnon used in placing the historical time and location where the novel is set.

“Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited” by Philip Eade— A Complex Man


Eade, Philip. “Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited”, Henry Holt, 2016.

A Complex Man

Amos Lassen

I must begin this review by saying that this is not the only biography of Evelyn Waugh that I have read and that I find him one of the most fascinating characters in the literary world. Waugh has been dead now for fifty years and it seems that during those fifty years, there have been new ways at looking at him— a gifted writer and an enigma of a man. If you thought you knew a lot about his life then be prepared to learn what you did not know before. Philip Eade’s new biography contains new and sensational information. Waugh’s grandson gave Eade access to unpublished sources that include passionate love letters to Baby Jungman, a revealing memoir by Waugh’s first wife Evelyn Gardner (“Shevelyn”), and an equally significant autobiography by Waugh’s commanding officer in World War II.

Eade sheds light on Waugh’s strained relationship with his sentimental father (who openly favored his elder son); his love affairs with male classmates at Oxford and female thereafter; his disastrous first marriage and his conversion to Roman Catholicism. We read of his braveness during wartime and the madness that was induced by drug usage. Waugh had a unique and singular approach to marriage and fatherhood and a complex relationship with the aristocracy. He was extremely witty and people he knew were affected by him.

With so much written about Waugh, we can easily understand that there are many distortions and misconceptions about him and these are what Eade looks at here. Waugh was famously difficult and Eade brilliantly captures the many facets of his character and shares new information on the man’s literary output. It is, as if, we meet a “man of astonishing awareness of his gifts and failings, great sincerity, and wit.” We see the connections between Waugh’s much-lauded fiction and his emotional life and realize that even with his flaws he was a gifted writer. In the 400 pages of the book, there is not a boring sentence and I wanted another 400 pages. What I love is that we see that while Waugh never much cared what anyone thought of him, Eade does and is able to justify what others who have written about Waugh felt was questionable.




“The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB’s: A Secret History of Jewish Punk” by Steven Lee Beeber— Judaism and Punk Judaism


Beeber, Steven Lee. “The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB’s: A Secret History of Jewish Punk”, Chicago Review Press, 2008.

Judaism and Punk Music

Amos Lassen

I must say that I learned about a history that I did not know even existed in Steven Lee Beeber’s, “The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB’s: A Secret History of Jewish Punk”. I just never thought of Judaism and punk music at the same time. Beeber’s book focuses on punk’s beginnings in New York City and he shows that punk was the most Jewish of rock movements. It actually began on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the early 1970s as an apotheosis of a Jewish cultural tradition that found its ultimate expression in the generation born after the Holocaust. Lenny Bruce is considered to be “the patron saint of punk,” and soon after him came Lou Reed, Jonathan Richman, Suicide, and the Dictators who were pre-punk and what they produced found its way to others who were instrumental in the beginnings of punk Richard Hell and Joey Ramone. It seems that Jewish American humor and the new ways of Jewish expression in this country gave way to a new Jewish identity and this was what gave Jewish rockers an option of reinvention and as they reinvented themselves, they also reinvented music.

Now if you are like me, you are wondering just who are the Jews that were on the punk music scene so I will name a few; Joey Ramone (Jeffrey Hyman), Tommy Ramone (Tamas Erdelyi), Lou Reed, Lenny Kaye, Blondie’s Chris Stein, CBGB owner Hilly Kristal right up to the heir-apparent to the Jewish-punk crown, the Beastie Boys. Beeber gives us biographical sketches of those Jewish punk musicians and he shows how punk is tied to the American Jewish experience. He does not always succeed and at times his writing is quite academic but so what? He gives us a great deal to think about. His work is based on more than 100 primary interviews and his clear understanding of the Jewish traditions that he places in punk.

From the beginning, the Jewish influence on American popular music is well understood and documented sop this book fills a gap in that influence. Because Jewish identity is a touchy subject, there were Jewish musicians that chose not to be interviewed such as Richard Hell (aka Richard Meyers) although Beeber says that it is still one of his defining characteristics.

Because, as Jews, we have been outsiders and in many cases immigrants until recently, urban Jews have stood somewhere between the sacred and the secular and in order to be Americans, we have taken on the popular culture here. Since punk is part of that culture, it is only natural that we find ourselves there as well. At first I was apprehensive about the subject but as I read I began to see how central Judaism is to so many people and aspects of the punk rock movement.
Beeber says that punk rock was the product of a specifically Jewish mentality and is influenced by its Jewish artists and promoters. And why not? —Jews have always been heavily represented in almost every aspect of popular music, and arguably, in classical and jazz and so it is to be expected that Jews would be found on the punk scene as well. To be honest, I was living in Israel when punk rock was popular here and the only names in the book that I recognize are the Ramones and Lou Reed. I doubt that I will venture back in time to discover pink music and I am perfectly okay with taking Beeber’s word for it that we played an important part in its development.



“Smoldering Desires” by C.E. Knipes— Looking for Love


Knipes, C.E. “Smoldering Desires”, Bold Strokes Books, 2016.

Looking for Love

Amos Lassen

We meet Evan McGarrity when he is a sophomore at Milton University in Western New York. Evan wants to be in love and is tired of those dates that turn out to be one-night stands and he wants to find someone who is honest and to share his life with. Then he meets Sebastian Tantalos, and he feels that this might be the “one”. Sebastian is good-looking and intelligent, funny and surprising. However, just as Evan feels himself falling for him, Sebastian’s old boyfriend, Brent, steps onto the scene and he is determined to win Sebastian back, no matter the cost and by any means necessary.

Brent begins by using hatred and deceit and Evan questions how Sebastian feels about him, his new boyfriend. Evan asks his ex for advice and this causes whatever Sebastian and Evan had together, to fall apart. When they met, Sebastian was coming of a three-year relationship that did not end well. In fact, Sebastian had to get a restraining order against Brent. When Sebastian and Brent met at the school library, they both new that they were something there and things were fine for a while. When the restraining order expired, Brent, transferred to the same college as Sebastian and continues his stalking and makes trouble between Evan and Sebastian. In was at this point that C.E. Knipes, the author, seemed to lose control of his story.

I was amazed to see that Evan did not realize that Brent had set things up to win Sebastian back but he did not and, in fact, he does not even let Sebastian explain what was going on. He also did not waste any time looking for a new relationship after he and Sebastian had words. Something is definitely missing here. I found a bit too much emphasis on marijuana and not enough emphasis on emotions. It does not help that the prose is choppy and there is little or no transition between events. I also find it hard to believe that today’s college students as seen here are not aware of the larger world they live in. I rarely write a review that is this critical and I really try not to but this book, by an established writer, just did not do it for me.



“Lay Your Sleeping Head” by Michael Nava— Henry Rios Returns after 16 Years


Nava, Michael. “Lay Your Sleeping Head”, Korima Press, 2016.

Henry Rios Returns After 16 Years

Amos Lassen

It has been sixteen years since Michael Nava introduced us to Henry Rios, a San Francisco public defender who was dealing with battling alcoholism and burnout. “Lay Your Sleeping Head” brings Henry back in this total revision of Michael Nava’s 1896 novel, “The Little Death”. Harry meets Hugh Paris who comes from a very wealthy San Francisco family who, like Henry, is dealing with his own problems. As we might have expected, the two men fall in love and have a short-loved but intense affair. But then Hugh turns up dead after an apparent overdose. However, Henry does not see it quite that way and believes that Hugh was murdered.

As Henry investigates, he discovers clues that lead to Hugh’s family and he becomes aware of a legal system that is not totally just and not totally corrupt. I do remember reading this when it first came out and I also remember how impressed I was with the prose and the plot, especially since I am not really into mysteries. What hooked me is the way Henry remains true to Hugh after the romance ended. I think that both Hugh and Henry considered themselves to be lost souls and Henry feels that he needs to help. As he does, he tracks clues back to Hugh’s family and its conflicts between old money and opportunists in which case both sides want control of the family estate and will do what it takes to get it. Particularly striking is Nava’s vision of the legal system as a true instrument of justice ignoring distinctions of position, wealth or sexual preference.

This was the first of seven Henry Rios mysteries. The final episode, published in 2001 and the series won four Lambda Literary Awards. Henry Rios is a man we can identify with and I found that I came to see him as one of my regular friends. We see him here after he had been sent down from felony trials to arraignments because his boss thought he was burned out and needed a rest after his last murder trial. Everything changed for him when he met Hugh Paris who opened him to Henry to “love, loss, and deception”. We realize that this is both a romance and a mystery and our first impression of Henry is that he is sharp, intelligent and determined. I see him as a kind of hero and a character that I want to know even more about.

Michael Nava also gives a look at how the law works. You may wonder why Michael Nava decided to go back to his first Rios novel and revamp it for today and I believe he did so for both the reader and the writer. Time has passed and with that passage comes maturation and many changes and while we have always thought about such important matters as inequality, we realize that it still exists in our world today. While Henry Rios is gay that is not the emphasis here and this is really not a gay book but a book about a man who is gay. I wouldn’t call this a book about a gay lawyer — rather, this is a novel with a gay character. The story is about being rejected and hiding who one is. These issues continue to haunt us even when they appear disguised as something else. Nava opens the door to ideas that deserve a lot of thought ands I am sure that you will find that to be the case here.

Because this is, for lack of a better word, a mystery, I cannot share too much about what happens. However, if you are a Henry Rios fan you will be glad to see him back and if you are not, you have a great adventure waiting for you.                  



“JUST EAT IT: A Food Waste Story”— Thought Provoking


“JUST EAT IT: A Food Waste Story”

Thought Provoking

Amos Lassen

Director Grant Baldwin and producer Jenny Rustemeyer bring us a new documentary that really sets the mind to thought. This is because it deals with something that we face on a daily basis.


It’s no secret that we waste a lot of food everyday. The film shows that typical households throw away about 25% of the food they purchase. In order to prove the results of this, Baldwin and Rustemeyer vowed to eat only discarded food for 6 months. They set up the following rules: they could only eat food destined for the garbage bin and eating at the homes of friends and family okay. Erase the picture that you have of them eating from a cold dumpster and replace that with their eating perfectly fine, completely fresh, packaged food than they could possibly consume. By conducting this experiment of eating only discarded food for six months, we see an environmental crisis that has been evidently fed by wasteful North American eating habits. Seeing what can be found in dumpsters will shock to the point that I am sure some will never throw food away again (we can hope). It is a real challenge to survive for six months on discarded food alone, excepting meals served by family or friends. The hilarious freeloading exploits that ensue are accompanied by field trips and interviews that present a bigger picture of the issue. “Just Eat It” examines food waste from farm to fridge. We learn about vegetables that never leave the fields because they are too ugly to sell and about the fruits that have spoiled in our homes and never eaten. This is quite a disturbing documentary and it is also a film that will both anger and inspire you. All of us will begin to think more about the food that we eat.


On Day 1, our two challengers are off to a good start— they’re invited by Baldwin’s brother to clear out his fridge before he moves home. Then they buy unsellable items from a farmer’s market and this leads to a discussion of the prevailing consumer obsession with the “aesthetic appeal” of merchandise.


By a month later, the filmmakers are seen rummaging through bins in people’s backyards, causing Baldwin to shed tears of humiliation. Things turn around when they decide to look “further up the supply chain” and on the outskirts of Vancouver, where they discover mounds of granola and other perfectly edible foodstuffs. Thus begins a dumpster cruise that leads them to a bin “the size of a small swimming pool,” filled to the brim with hummus; a bumper crop from a culinary photo shoot; and an attempt to unload cartons of artisanal chocolate on Halloween. It is almost like watching a treasure hunt with the treasure being organic/free-range/pro-biotic goodies that they bring home. Aside from what they’ve salvaged, tons more food is destined for the landfill.


We meet several environmentalists here, including food/agriculture scientist Dana Gunders and authors Jonathan Bloom and Tristram Stuart, who give us statistics such as the fact that 40% of the food produced in North America never gets eaten.

The documentary spans from British Columbia to North Carolina and other parts of the U.S. and looks to individuals and organizations for sustainability strategies. The highlight is Nevada’s biggest food-scrap recycling farm, where 8% of unwanted grub from nearby Las Vegas gets devoured by 2,500 pigs, raised by owners Bob and Janet Combs, whose salt-of-the-earth values put contemporary consumerism to shame.


Because this is such a tremendous subject, the film barely scratches the surface. The waste in restaurants and by caterers gets only a slight reference. Nonetheless, , Baldwin and Rustemeyer drawn attention to an important, overlooked issue, and show, by example, that a difference can be made, simply by tweaking rather than revolutionizing one’s lifestyle.

“Just Eat It” brings farmers, retailers, inspiring organizations, and consumers to the table in a story that is equally educative and equally entertaining.