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During the Adidas Yoga fiasco a few months ago, I found myself re-visiting Naomi Klein‘s book, No Logo. When I first read it in my early 20s, it (obviously) had a big influence on my politics and worldview. I was excited to discover that a 10th anniversary edition of the book, with a new introduction by the author, was to be released in November. So I pitched a story to Hour, the alt-weekly I write for, and received not only a free copy of the book but an opportunity to interview Naomi Klein herself!

We had a quick skype call a couple of weeks ago. While I wanted to talk with her about branding and corporatization (of everything), I had done enough research to know that her interests have moved on to global politics and anti-capitalizatism activism. “This is no time for nostalgia,” she had written in her last newsletter. And so, we talked about the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (which started today) and how her book is relevant to this moment. Here’s a bit of the article:

While the first three-quarters of the book looks at the power of the global superbrands and how their messages encroach on our public spaces, thoughts, consumer dollars and, ultimately, our identities and sense of self in the world, the real activist meat is in the last section.

“The final part of the book is about the emergence of a response. What was exciting about that moment [1999] is that people were looking at economic systems. We lost a lot of that during the Bush years and subsequent invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s not that there hasn’t been activism – it just wasn’t looking at systems. It was looking at single issues: Trying to stop wars, trying to stop torture. But I think now there is a need to go back to talking about systems – to do more than talk about it, to organize.”

On the eve of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (Dec. 7-18), No Logo speaks to a new wave of activism.

“There’s been a convergence around Copenhagen,” says Klein. “People are working together across sectors for climate change. You have groups that have been focused not only on environment issues, but on poverty, development, critiquing foreign debt. The alternatives are at the centre of these protests, as are exposing false solutions and proposing solutions that have a chance of solving the problem. It’s a much more galvanizing message.” [Hour]

We had an amazing conversation, and it’s too bad that I wasn’t able to fit everything into the final article. Prior to the interview, I was having a hard time understanding Copenhagen, but she was able to explain what would be happening there in a clear, realistic way. Naomi Klein will be in Copenhagen, as part of the global movement of activists who have mobilized to be present at the summit. She will be writing dispatches from the frontlines for Grist, Mother Jones and The Nation, and handing out awards to climate criminals for Klimaforum.


07-nick-upsidedownThe yoga doc Enlighten Up! has been making the rounds through North America for the past 6 months and it’s *finally* opening in MontrĂ©al this weekend. I had the pleasure of talking to director Kate Churchill and writing about the film for the weekly paper, Hour. It was an interesting challenge to write about yoga for a non-yoga audience, and to do it that chirpy laidback alt-weekly style. Here’s the article (which is a “preview,” rather than a review):

What happens when you take a cynical journalist and self-described “godless guy from New York City,” subject him to a six-month global yoga immersion and try to force him to get enlightened?

With an estimated 18 million Americans practising a Baskin-Robbins selection of yoga styles that make up a multi-billion-dollar industry, a documentary like Enlighten Up!, about a yoga skeptic who immerses himself in the practice, was bound to emerge.

Director Kate Churchill sets out to prove that “yoga can transform anyone” – in the process, her doc presents yoga in its full range of expression, from the hyper-commercialization and dilution to pure devotion. Nick Rosen is her willing-yet-resistant guinea pig. His adventure starts off in the bustling New York City yoga scene, in modern classes with high-profile teachers, and moves on to L.A., where he practises with former pro-wrestler Diamond Dallas Page on the lawn of his mansion with scantily clad large-breasted women (we get to see why Page’s Yoga for Regular Guys eschews “namaste” for “T and A”).

“We’ve tried to create a view into the world of yoga and present the range of styles and approaches with a sense of humour,” says Churchill. “The given audience of the film is yoga practitioners, but we’ve realized that there is a significant audience of people who were dragged to the film by their friends or partners. They love it because there’s a skeptic. Non-yoga practitioners may relate to Nick [and] feel a kinship with him.” Read the rest of this entry »

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