The thin layer of atmosphere that clings to the surface of our planet is a fragile and corrupted brew. Air is in constant, restless migration around the globe, connecting us in the most intimate fashion. From the dust storms that sweep into Beijing from faraway deserts to the smog from Chinese factories that shrouds Los Angeles, our air, the ultimate commons, is tragically defenseless. Breathing air is an involuntary physical function, but keeping the air breathable requires acts of political imagination and will.
Water is the chemical matrix required for life, the molecular chain that connects all organisms on the planet. But in the twenty-first century, water may replace oil as the most prized of resources. Just as gas-guzzling SUVs use more than their share of fuel, water-guzzling regions threaten the water supply for the rest of the world. In Water, writers, scientists, architects, and artists consider the many aspects of water, at levels from the microscopic to the global, touching on subjects that range from new water infrastructures to ancient bathing rituals.
How will the world work in the post-oil, post-coal future? Our transition could take the form of disastrous collapses in economic, political, and economic systems—or of a radical reinvention of energy. We could relapse into a new Dark Ages, or we could shift to a new economic model and international order that's not based on (the appropriately named) "fossil" fuels but on renewable energy. No matter what, global warming and resource scarcity will force us to do something.
Food is essential to our sense of place and our sense of self, but today—as fast food nation meets the slow food movement and eating locally collides with on-demand arugula—our food habits are shifting. Food examines and imagines these changes, with projects by writers and artists that explore the cultural and emotional resonance of food, from the "everyday Dada" of mashed potatoes and Jell-O to the rocket science of food eaten by astronauts in space.
What is the condition of the suspect in a post-9/11 world? Do perpetual detention, ubiquitous surveillance cameras, and the legal apparatus of the USA Patriot Act target suspects accurately or generate suspicion indiscriminately? Suspect, the latest in a series from Alphabet City and the first in its new format of topical book-length magazines, gathers hard evidence about the fate of the suspect in a culture of suspicion with contributions from writers, artists, and filmmakers.