A Tree Grows… In Silos?

image courtesy of Ken Wolf

This is not a new phenomenon; plants and trees have rooted where ever habitable, but recently The New York Times wrote about trees taking root in the shelter of abandoned silos.  There is even a Flickr group devoted to these trees.  The oldest photograph in this group dates back to the summer of 2008.

Dwindling agriculture, through the rise of major factory farms, caused many family farms to close.  As The New York Times states, “because it can be more expensive to tear these down than to leave the task to time, they are left to teeter.”  The collapse of small farms left silos barren for decades.  They became free for mother-nature to re-imagine herself.

It brings me great joy to see nature reclaim these structures.  Perhaps, now more that ever, with the Mayan Calendar ending in 2012, people often wonder about the end of the world–but it is a misnomer.  The world will not end, just the era of man.  Earth is a resilient planet. It has transformed and replenished itself over and over, and these silos are just a sprinkling of its possibilities. Though it has moments of ridiculousness, there was a series on the History Channel called Life After People that goes in-depth on how nature may reclaim the structures. It has twenty episodes, ranging from the fact based ideas of trees growing in crumbling buildings to cats learning to fly. Can’t wait.

image courtesy of Ken Wolf

These images are also striking, especially when seen on flickr, in their resemblance to the stoic imagery of German photographer team, Bernd and Hilla Becher. This prolific duo created clean, objective documentation of industrial structures built with function over form, or as they say, ‘buildings where anonymity is accepted to be the style.’ Though their subject is often bleak looking, there is a lot of design and humor in these works. The structures are usually displayed in overwhelming grids. In a grid, the seemingly ordered pipes and rails, that flood the composition, turn chaotic and confusing. This quirky eye can be seen in the snapshots of trees growing in silos as well. The flat landscape and isolated structures feel cold and clinical. The structure has a impenetrable feeling. Yet, tuffs of tree branches peak out from the open tops or cracked sides of the these cinderblock behemoths. The juxtaposition of deteriorating structures and the natural resilience of trees becomes a punch line to man’s hubris…

Or, with much less schadenfreude, they can be seen as a friendly reminder: As we try to pull ourselves out of the fiscal and environmental recession, perhaps we should return to natural living try and mimic the ecosystem. After-all, it has persevered at least a century of direct destruction, pollution, yet continues to grow.

Contributor Brad Silk is an artist, curator, hedonist, and unprofessional who has worked with New York City galleries since 2007. He is Assistant Director at Numberthirtyfive Gallery (numberthirtyfive.com) and will be working with HEREarts Center (here.org) and Art Connects NY (artconnectsny.org). As an artist and curator with both commercial and not-for-profit spaces, he has a unique view into the art world.

Bloody Tuesday

1. Columbus Day Just Passed. Maybe it’s time we all passed on Columbus:

[The] Doctrine of Discovery is a thin veil for white supremacy. As European nations were competing with one another for riches, they were able to share in an ideology that exerted their superiority over darker people around the world. This doctrine was used to validate the mass murder of people for profit and the enslavement of them. It continues to do so today, said Morris, as there has never been a dialogue around the colonization of the Americas and slavery and how the U.S. was born into the world dripping with blood from head to toe.

2. Please watch Oprah today!

3. Mercy For Animals Undercover Investigation

A new Mercy For Animals undercover investigation is throwing back the curtains on one of California’s largest factory egg farms – exposing the routine abuse that takes place behind the closed doors of our nation’s egg industry.

Horror Chick Flicks & Supreme Scramble


1. The BEST tofu-scramble I have ever had is at Bliss, an unassuming hole-in-the-wall organic, vegetarian brunch and dinner joint, in a prime location on Bedford Ave in Williamsburg. The music is innocently and charmingly terrible, the staff is adorable and sweet, and the homemade cashew cookies and chocolate cupcakes are addictive. The winner, though, is the amazing, savory, soy scramble that keeps me coming back at least once a week.

**Cash Only**
191 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Neighborhood: Williamsburg
Cross Street: Btwn N 6th & N 7th Sts
Public Transit: L @ Bedford Ave

2. Trader Joe’s has finally abandoned Gemperle Enterprises Eggs after friends of DB, Mercy For Animals, exposed undercover investigative footage of the gross neglect and cruel treatment of hens at Gemperle Enterprises’ factory egg farm in California. Like the Westland Meat/ Hallmark Beef recall, this has generated a flurry of media attention across the nation, including stories on CNN.com and by the LA Times, and the Associated Press. Not surprisingly, when people really see what’s happening on factory farms, it’s almost impossible not to withdraw financial sponsorship of behavior that is so contradictory to our own conscience.

The decision came on the heels of MFA’s news conference in Los Angeles, which revealed the grocery chain’s business relationship with Gemperle Enterprises, where employees were caught on hidden camera kicking, throwing, and stomping on live birds.

Although this announcement is a good first step, Trader Joe’s must do more. Please write to the CEO of Trader Joe’s and urge him to take further action to prevent cruelty to animals by adopting a strict policy against the sale of battery-cage eggs.

Egg Laying chickens are probably the most abused animals, and unfortunately, these behaviors are considered normal on typical egg farms. Egg alternatives, click here:


Advice on substituting eggs from Post Punk Kitchen.

DB Etiquette Recommendation: The best way to avoid supporting activities with no regard for the suffering of living, feeling animals is to stop eating eggs and adopt a healthy, plant-based diet.

Total Recall


An historical event has transpired – for the first time ever, undercover footage recorded by a Humane Society investigator has grabbed headlines nationwide. This has resulted in the largest recall of beef in US history – 143 million pounds, and has exposed horrible cruelties that, while commonplace, were shocking and new to anyone who has never seen the underbelly of factory farming. Trying to make sense of them is another story.The coverage that this undercover video-clip received nationwide, and the beef recall itself, were both watersheds. If you haven’t seen the clip, please watch below:

For more of the footage click HERE

Meat-eating has always been associated with manliness in our culture. Traditionally, the pHunterredatory nature of hunting required physical strength, stamina, tool-making, and often hours to days of tracking herds. Then there was the kill; the bloody and exhausting act of taking down large animals, cutting them up and bringing them home. Many anthropologists and primatologists argue that meat was a pivotal way to exert social control in the form of currency due to its desirability. While women may have collected most gatherer-hunter protein sources, we should not ignore the fact that men were able to use meat for their own selfish and manipulative political ends. It’s no surprise then, that thousands of years later, most men still identify with this nearly-universal symbol of masculine social and political power, though they rarely grasp why. What does this beef recall and the surrounding events say about us if real men eat meat?You Like Meat

Vegetarianism is often portrayed as weak, emasculating, and undesirable, although more and more men are realizing that a vegetable-based diet is healthier and better for the earth, and that the reality of their bond with meat is now relatively invalid. While meat is rarely necessary for survival in modern times, most advertising geared toward mainstream men still appeals to his hunter roots – to his very primal, instinctual brain. If the disconnect here is not apparent with the merciless cruelty shown in the video above, it might bring clarity to know that this is by no means an isolated incident. This is something that is commonplace from chicken farms to circuses to laboratories. These sweeping abuses of animals showcases a crippling and epidemic -sized inability to empathize, and a desire to play out those primal tendencies to control something so politically defining and powerful.

On farms worldwide, untold cruelties are trespassed. The video shows Hallmark Meat Packing Co. workers administering repeated electricDowned Cow shocks to downed cows — animals that are too sick, weak or otherwise unable to stand on their own. Workers are seen kicking cows, jabbing them near their eyes, ramming them with a forklift and shooting high-intensity water up their noses in an effort to force them to their feet for slaughter.Typically, the media shies away from showing footage of animal cruelty, despite the frequency of incidents like these in many industries, because it is believed that viewers will change the channel. However, if you tuned into your local news almost anywhere in the country in the last few days, it was impossible to miss it as news stations everywhere spent several minutes on this headlining story, shocking viewers – and raising many questions. The president of HMP published this statement on the meat company’s website.

“…Words cannot accurately express how shocked and horrified I was at the depictions contained on the video that was taken by an individual who worked at our facility from October 3 thru November 14, 2007. We have taken swift action regarding the two employees identified on the video and have already implemented aggressive measures to ensure all employees follow our humane handling policies and procedures. We are also cooperating with the USDA investigators on the allegations of inhumane handling treatment which is a serious breech of our company’s policies and training... ” – Steve Mendell, President Westland Meat Co. Hallmark Meat Packing

Go VegThis statement is an expected cliché and completely fails to elucidate the incident. In an industry where living, feeling, animals are reduced to mere economic units, it is no surprise that profit-seeking businesses end up treating animals in this way. The huge demand for meat results in an immense pressure to raise, exploit, and kill animals in such massive quantities that no dream of the resources required to produce “humane meat” could ever exist to satisfy the grotesque amount of meat consumption that occurs in the US. In addition, this immense demand requires assembly line killing, and any extra care taken or ‘downer’ incidentals means profit-loss. It’s an out-and-out contradiction to claim that any meat-production facility could sustain ‘humane’ policies. Less torturous, maybe, but never humane.

I am an AnimalExpect to see many, many more videos like this reaching the mainstream media, now that the barrier has been broken. Organizations like HSUS, PETA, and Farm Sanctuary continually send undercover investigators to work at these facilities and expose horrible cruelties. Now it seems many more investigations, like the Butterball Turkey Investigation showcased in the HBO documentary “I Am An Animal” will reach more viewers.

The Humane Society says the video was shot last year by an undercover investigator . Investigators like these, who wear a hidden camera under their clothes and work at the facilities, risk their safety and deserve our praise.

If you want to get involved, but need some motivation, visit GoVeg.com, and watch ‘Earthlings’ starring the Discerning Brute, Joaquin Phoenix: