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issue 09/15/1999

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Novel:
vCity 1.0
by Dr. Adam L. Gruen

20 days in the life of a 21st century virtual city simulation.

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The Mind of Howard Rhiengold
part 2

page 2 of 3

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Audience Member: Howard, what advice would you give to someone with a nascent writing career...particularly about how one might weild the personae around agents, editors et al?

HR: Oh, I spent fifteen years working on the WRITING, which is what makes the difference between authenticity and pretense. I just needed to attract more attention to it. Attracting attention to me was always an instrument to attract attention to something I was confident about because I had paid my dues working on the craft.

As someone said, there are a lot of people who skip the dues and the craft and go directly to the self-advertising.

DR: Howard, what are your thoughts on refined sugar?

HR: It seems "thin" to me, in comparison to honey. And honey has so many different flavors, but refined sugar only has one flavor. I tend to avoid refined sugar when I can use honey, and it is mostly a matter of taste rather than ideology.

DR: Could you tell us a little about the world of honey? There's so many different kinds -depending on the type of flower used by the bees -also the processing method. Do you have a few favorites? Any application secrets you could share?

HR: Dan, I know very little. I have been tempted to start beekeeping, but I already have too many obsessions. Gardening is obsession enough. Indeed, roses alone are an entire universe. I do know that some allergists recommend LOCAL honey as a way of building resistance -- the bees deliver a weakened dose of the allergen. And I recall that some work has been done on using honey to concentrate beneficial substances from certain flowering plants. So I am really a beginner, without a great deal of time to get into depth.

Australian Leatherwood honey, from Tasmania, is incredibly scrumptious, expensive, and comes in a really neat can that I use to hold pens, pencils, and brushes. But I don't indulge in the extravagance. A great extravagance that I treat myself to on my birthdays: Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans and Tasmanian Leatherwood honey.

I grow clover in my lawn, love the beneficial properties of clover, and like clover honey. I also like orange blossom honey.

I like a small amount of honey in oolong and jasmine teas, as well.

I bet you know more than I do, Dan. Why do you want to know my opinion of refined sugar, BTW?

DR: Actually, what you just said was more than I know about honey!

I was interested in your thoughts on sugar because I know you to be somewhat health conscious. People who take time to look into their diets tend to back off on sugar after a while. It's also just a matter of reading the labels on a lot of store-bought goods. They're packed with sugars, salt and all kinds of preservatives. Most people, when they discover that fact -find they can do with out much of it.

You have quite eclectic tastes, and I see food is no exception.

What's playing in your CD player right now? Heard anything new lately that you like?

HR: Bill Frissell "Gone, Just Like A Train", The Modern Jazz Quartet at Music Inn "Vol 2: guest Artist: Sonny Rollins", Israel Kamakawiwo'ole "Facing Future" are the three latest on my stack .

I highly recommend the Frissell. One of the great CDs of the decade.

AM: Howard could you give the story behind each mask hanging on your office walls?

HR: One is a thirty year old painting. Versions of it are on my website. One is a Huichol beaded Jaguar, given to me recently by the woman who broke my heart in 1968. She is a Jungian shrink and Huichol collector living in a small town in Utah. Judy and I hit it off with her and her fifth husband and they keep sending presents. One is a devil mask I got in San Miguel de Allende. One is a mask I made of my face my first day on the job as editor of Whole Earth Review. Instead of a meeting, I brought in a bunch of plaster gauze, paint, tiny mirrors, sequins. The masks we made that day later played parts in other dramas. And another, more recent painting of Ygdrassil, the world tree with the world snake in its roots.

And a little plaster gargoyle.

And a brass hand of Buddha in an unidentified mudra.

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