Nowhere near as much as usual, due to the Writer’s Day last weekend sucking up a lot of time I might have been reading or watching a movie (but it was worth it).
WEEDS: An Environmental History of Metropolitan America by Zachary JS Falck looks at how the endless construction, expansion and demolition of cities made them a natural home for “happenstance plants” that could grow and reproduce fast wherever they found an opportunity. This in turn led to government efforts to eradicate or tame them based on fears of crime (stories of muggers lurking in patches of tall weeds) or health (“Fighting hay fever was grounds for uprooting ragweed but never grass.”), but more for the underlying reasons that weeds symbolized disorder, poverty and urban decay (cannabis was routinely identified as a weed in the 1920s, rather than a lucrative cash crop). Falck also looks at “human weeds,” a label applied to everything from the unemployed to immigrants, though not always in a eugenic sense (some pundits arguing the big difference between weeds and garden plants is that the latter receive careful cultivation). Dry, but interesting.
After finishing the second season of THE AMERICANS, I moved straight into season three by virtue of Amazon streaming. The Jennings’ primary mission is to fight against the American efforts to turn the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (which the USSR invaded in 1979) into a Soviet Vietnam by arming the Afghani guerillas (“Some of the Mujahideen are barbarians—they chop a man’s head off as if it were still the middle ages.”). They also have to deal with their handler Gabriel’s (Frank Langella) plans for their daughter, and Paige’s continued interest in Christianity. Meanwhile their neighbor Stan, the FBI man, launches a rogue scheme to expose a possible spy and thereby negotiate the return of his lover Nina, who went into the Soviet gulag at the end of season two. Looking forward to Season Four, which has wrapped up but isn’t available free yet. “Paige doesn’t believe she has a family—this is your chance to show her she’s wrong.