On The Road With John Tarleton
John Tarleton formerly wrote as a news and sports reporter at several daily newspapers. Hitchhiker, juggler, teacher, organizer, migrant farm worker and human right activist, he has traveled and written extensively as an independent web journalist. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and currently works with the New York City Independent Media Center. Here are some of his
features and short stories. Suggestions and comments can be sent to
- Brooklyn Students Buck Military
The military currently enlists 350,000 people a year.
Its recruitment efforts have become increasingly
sophisticated, and relentless, since it switched from
the draft to an all-volunteer force in 1973 at the end
of the Vietnam War. It spends hundreds of millions of dollars to advertise...
- Anti-War Movement Marches Uphill
With the economy tanking and the majority of Americans opposed to a unilateral attack against Iraq, a potentially broad-based peace movement has emerged a year into the “War on Terror”. Can it last?
- Gulf War I: Memories of Death and Mayhem
Charles Sheehan-Miles finished basic training for the U.S. Army in August of 1991. Two weeks later he was deployed in Saudi Arabia with the 24th Infantry Division. He was 18. Raised in Atlanta, Sheehan-Miles comes from a long line of military men dating back to the Revolutionary War. He was eager to serve and protect his country, and spent eight months in the Persian Gulf theatre, history’s most toxic battlefield.
- 20,000 Gather In Central Park to Say No to Endless War
New Yorkers mark the 1st anniversary of the bombing of Afghanistan with a passionate call for resistance to the Bush Administraton's drive for "pre-emptive" war.
- Wall Street Onlookers Greet Bush Speech with Skepticism
A subdued crowd gathered July 9 outside the Regents Hotel in the center of the financial district while the president spoke inside about the importance of corporate ethics and responsibility.
- Pete Seeger Joins Fight for Harlem Garden
It’s a hot, sweltering day and the heat cooks you on the sidewalk as you stroll down a nearly treeless street in the middle of Harlem. It’s noisy as well as hot. Everywhere concrete and steel. Then, halfway down the block, you spot a canopy of trees that glisten like a green jewel. From the other side of the fence comes the sound of a guitar and people singing. You slip through a narrow gateway and find yourself walking on a soft dirt path in the shade of giant mulberry trees. This verdant garden seems to need no defense. Yet, it may be only a few weeks away from meeting the bulldozer. Supporters of the Joseph Daniel Wilson Memorial Garden on 219 W. 122nd St. are racing against time and an old friend of good causes is on hand to lift his voice.
- Alternative Schools Give "F" to Regents Exams
Students at 28 alternative public schools may soon lose the chance to learn through inquiry instead of rote memorization as the State of New York pushes ahead with high-stakes standardized testing and a dumbed-down curriculum.
- Rapid Deployment: New York City Peace Movement Hits the Streets
A grassroots movement against war and racism emerges in the heart of a traumatized city soon after September 11.
- New Yorkers Gather in Union Square to Look for Alternatives to War
In the weeks after the September 11 attacks, Union Square became a place where New Yorkers gathered to grieve, mourn, sing, dance and debate.
- The High Price of Energy: Power Plants Take Toll on City's Kids
Invoking the spectre of California-style blackouts this summer, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) is set to bring ten new mini-power plants on-line in poor, heavily polluted neighborhoods along New York City's East River.
- NYC Police Whack Weed March; 193 Arrested
Chanting "we smoke pot and we like it a lot!", a crowd of several thousand marchers poured into Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan. There were several stages and the crowd sat on the grass listening to music and speeches. The Statue of Liberty stood in the distance. And, dozens of undercover officers began moving through the crowd.
- Harvard Living Wage Campaign Comes to Midtown Manhattan
The living wage movement crashes the venerable Harvard Club of New York.
- A Brief Letter Home from the Big
- Globalizing the Wild Blueberry
Reflections on a unique, late-summer harvest that may soon be a thing of the past.
- A Long Day in the Capitol of Punishment
Gary Graham was convicted and sentenced to die on the testimony of a single eyewitness. Was he a one man crime wave, or the scapegoat for a murder he didn't commit? Or both? The story of the most controversial capital murder case in recent Texas history.
- Forest Defenders Halt Maxxam's Advance in the Mattole
Located at the juncture of three tectonic plates, the Mattole is a rugged, breathtaking mountain valley on Northern California's Lost Coast. Local residents are passionately defending it from planned clearcutting by Pacific Lumber, a wholly owned subsidiary of Houston based Maxxam Inc.
- Seed Camp Journal: Notes from the 1999
SPECIAL FEATURE! The full anthology of dispatches that John Tarleton sent
off while living and
working inside the 1999 Rainbow Gathering. Fully engaged as both
participant and an observer,
he provides some of the most comprehensive and penetrating reportage to
ever come out of a
Gathering. Also includes 58 color photos.
- 1998 Arizona Rainbow Gathering: A Photo
SPECIAL FEATURE! The Rainbow Family is a tribe without any land; an
leaders. It is at once primitive and futuristic, zany and profound. In
July 1998 20,000 people
attended its annual Gathering in Sitgreaves National Forest in Northeast
- Professor Michael Niman: The Quest for
Michael Niman is the author of People of the
Rainbow: A Nomadic Utopia, the first full length book on the Rainbow
Family. "Utopias are still important," he says, "because the world is still fucked up and people are still yearning for something better."
- Public Interest Angels Descend on FCC
A spirited troupe of public interest angels recently descended on FCC headquarters in Washington calling for a reversal of government policies that have let the nation's media system to fall into the hands of a few global media conglomerates.
- Peace Studies Class Brings Together New Hampshire Town to Honor Terror Victims
- Navy Vet Begins One-Year Sentence for SOA Protest
A Navy vet-turned-peace activist begins a one-year prison sentence for entering a controversial military base in Fort Benning, Georgia to plant white crosses in memory of victims of U.S.-backed death squads.
- Tammy Shea, Gateway Green Alliance
The Gateway Green Alliance is pushing a ballot initiative that would
make the St. Louis suburb of Webster Groves the first community in the
United States to go on the record as requesting that the state and/or
federal government require labeling of genetically-modified food
- David Stess: Documentary Photojournalist (In
David Stess is a relentless photographer who is beginning to receive
acclaim for his work in rural Maine. Now, he stops for a few minutes to
talk about his love of black and white photography and the Maine wild
blueberry harvest. Story includes 13 of Stess's best photos from Maine.
- Frank Andresen and the Strawbale
Strawbale construction was first pioneered on the plains of western
Nebraska in the 1890s. And it has come into vogue again as more and more
Americans look for alternative methods of building houses that are both
affordable and long-lasting. For German clay-plastering expert Frank
Andresen this growing movement has offered a niche in which he can put his
skills to good use.
- Professor Robin Remington: Memories of
One of the U.S.'s foremost Yugoslavia
experts reflects on that nation's past, present and future as the U.S.
and its NATO allies intensify their bombing campaign.
- The Promise Keepers Rally: An American
Over 500,000 Christian evangelical men gathered on the Washington Mall on
October 4, 1997 in an unprecedented public display
of religious fervor. John Tarleton was there from start to finish and
brings back the rest of the story. Color photos
- "Poosh On! Poosh On!": Unlucky Traveler Left Out
in the Cold
An eccentric man who is heading home for Thanksgiving makes a nuisance of
himself on a crowded, overnight bus trip. How patient would you be with
Hear this article as read by the
- Jerry the Carney
A penniless, middle-aged drifter looks back on three decades of adventures
and hardships and the dramatic changes in
American society that he has witnessed in that time.
- The Last Day of the Vermont Apple
Its the last day of the harvest and a migrant farm worker is giving
away free apples on the streets of Burlington, Vermont just for
the hell of it.
Hear this article read
by the author.
- Scott Dennis: Renegade Orchardist
Scott Dennis grows organic apples on his seven-acre orchard in Tonasket,
Washington where he lives with his wife and her two children. After
picking and pruning for 16 years on large, conventional orchards, he's
determined to do it his way. Color photos included.
- Jody the Cobbler: Easy-Going Christian Mends
Broken Soles and Feeds Hungry Hippies
One of the members of the Bread of Life Kitchen returns home from the
Rainbow Gathering to resume his life as a village artisan.
- Love and Rage in Seattle: The Day the WTO Stood
What was really going on both before and during massive protests in Seattle that rocked the World Trade Organization (WTO)? A first person account from someone
who, as a participant and an observer, was in the frontlines on N30 from the first light of day to the last tear gas canister.
Hear this article as read by the
- WTO Photos: Faces of Resistance
Pictures from a week of protests that rocked the World Trade Organization. Includes photos from a 3-day vigil that was held in front of the King County Jail and the stories of some of the 500 plus WTO prisoners.
- WTO Interviews: Voices from around the
Activists from five continents talk about why they came to Seattle and
what they hoped to achieve during the WTO conference.
- Adora's Story: 19-Year-Old Protester Arrested
for First Time at IMF/World Bank Demonstrations; Does 5 Days in
Over 1,300 people were arrested during a week of protests
against the IMF
and the World Bank. Adora was one of many who refused to give her name.
Follow the story of the "DC 155" through her eyes as protesters match
wills with the legal system in order to collectively bargain the the terms
of their freedom.
- A16: Police Shut Down Convergence Center at
1328 Florida Ave.
With thousands of demonstrators converging on Washington, the D.C. police
swooped in and closed protest headquarters less than 24 hours before the
- A16: Community Radio Advocates Air Their
As Congress prepared to vote on the future of low-power
FM radio, a group of local radio enthusiasts marched in front of the
headquarters of the National Association of Broadcasters with duct tape
over their mouths.
- A16: Labor Takes China Free Trade Battle into the
Halls of Congress
Follow a hardy band of Teamsters as they move through the hallways of
Congress drumming up opposition to free trade with China.
- A16 Activists Rally Against Military Aid
Colombian President Andres Pastrana came to Washington looking for $1.7
billion in military aid. His country has one of the worst human rights
records in the world. And, he was greeted at the Colombian ambassadors
residence by A16 activists chanting "No more arms! No more oil! No more
blood on Uwa soil!"
- A16: World Bank Climbers Deliver a Message;
With skill and daring, seven activists caught the police and the Secret
Service flat-footed and managed to deliver their message about the
relationship between World Bank and Global Warming.
- Puppets vs. Police: IMF Protests Get Off to
an Uneasy Start
The elaborate dance between police and protesters leading up to the A16
Mobilization for Global Justice began April 8 with a small parade from
and Florida Ave. to Malcolm X Park where a free concert was being held.
- Protest Hits a High Note in Montgomery Co.
In the weeks leading up to the A16 Mobilization for Global Justice, school officials in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. began tearing down Mobilization posters at a furious rate. The students responded with a raucous and colorful demonstration in front of the school administration building.
- Busted Puppets: Philly Police Arrest
Puppetistas, Toss Their Art Into
75 puppetmakers were arrested on the second day of the
Republican National Convention for posssessing "instruments of crime" as thousands of other protesters took to the streets to protest against the criminal justice system. Later, the giant paper mache puppets were tossed into a trash compactor and uncermoniously hauled off to the town dump.
- Protesters Endure Holmesburg Blues
Holmesburg Prison is a notorious century-old dungeon on the northeast side of Philadelphia. It has four-foot thick stone walls, bizarre acoustics, layers and layers of flaking lead paint and bitter-tasting faucet water that fizzles like hydrogen peroxide. It was the destination for some of the activists who were arrested outside the Republican Convention while protesting against the criminal justice system.
- Government Crackdown on RNC Protesters Falters in Philadelphia Courts
The City of Philadelphia's legal battle against activists who were arrested during protests at the Republican National Convention continues to falter as wave after wave of charges are dropped due to dismissals, acquittals or lack of evidence. Midemeanor trials began November 8 and by mid-December courts had returned convictions in only 12 out of 147 cases.
- Debating the Debates: Boston Organizers Look for Different Way to Challenge System
Protesters responded to the first presidential debate between Al Gore and George W. Bush by putting on a giant puppet show in the streets.
- Bicycle Fred: A Homeless Man Pedals Nader
Bicycle Fred was struck down seven years ago by
a rare neurological disorder. He was paralyzed from
the waist down for two years before he learned to walk again. Now, he rides around the country promoting the longshot presidential campaign of
Ralph Nader. "I feel like our country is being looted without a shot being fired," he says.
- Democratizing the Media: Voices from the
Indy Media Convergence
Close to 200 journalists from the creative fringe of the
media universe-community radio, public access cable TV, alternative
newspapers/magazines, activist web sites, etc.-gathered in
October 2000 in Burlington,
Vermont for the Independent Media Convergence to plot,
strategize and share experiences about how to create media democracy in
a society dominated by a handful of enormous media conglomerates. Includes
interviews with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, Danny Schechter of Globalvision and a
half-dozen other independent, grassroots journalists.
- The IMC Fills A Niche: Protesters Develop Their Own
Global News Service
The IMC was an end run around the information gatekeepers.
With $30,000 in donations (including $20,000 grand from an ex-Microsoftie)
plus lots of borrowed equipment, the Seattle IMC was able to rent
high-tech equipment and occupy a small storefront office in downtown
Seattle. The revolution will not be televised. But now, it was ready to be downloaded.
- 2000 and Beyond: Texas Greens Look to the Future
In an era of billion dollar election cycles, six-second TV soundbites and a rapidly globalizing world economy, can a grassroots movement of modern-day populists break the US's two-party duopoly and gain a foothold in a system designed to discourage active citizen participation?
- Busting the Barricades: Canadians Rise Up Against FTAA at Quebec Summit
Quebec would become a right of passage for thousands of young Canadians who came to protest the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and the hollowing out of their democracy only to bump up against the largest security buildup (6,000 riot police) in their nation's history.
- After Quebec, What Next?
The urge to get in the way of those who wield global power continues to be irresistible, and a diverse, teeming ecosystem of protest has emerged in the past year and a half as demonstrators around the world contest the values and the priorities of a corporate-driven globalization. Now what?
- 87th Floor Survivor: "I Am the Luckiest of the Lucky"
Marite Anez, a World Trade Center survivor, reflects back on her harrowing experience and looks forward to the rest of her life.
- The Spirit of Seattle Comes to Davos
Protesters, symbolized by a charismatic French sheepfarmer, took to the
streets of Davos, Switzerland while the planet's financial and political
met behind police barricades for the annual World Economic Forum.
- Jim, the Happy Wanderer
Jim is a happy wanderer who has been following his dreams for the past
five years. And now he is at it again: hiking the
1,781-mile Danube River from the southwestern tip of the Ukraine where it
empties into the Black Sea to its source in Germany's
- Springtime in the French Alps
Notes and observations from an afternoon hike in the foothills of the
French Alps. Includes panoramic color photo.
- El Salvador Notes:
Part 1 -
Part 2 -
It's the spring of 1994 and El Salvador is just beginning to recover
from a bloody,
12-year civil war. John Tarleton spent three months living, walking and
juggling among the everyday people of El Salvador.
In this 3-part series, he brings to life their stories as well as the
ambiguities of that nation's first-ever free and
non-violent elections. Also, he explores the possibilties for
reconciliation and just, peaceful social change in this tiny
Central American republic.
- White Flags Over Chiapas
SPECIAL FEATURE! For five weeks John Tarleton lived, worked,
laughed, played and went to school with the Zapatistas
while serving as a human rights observer in Chiapas's Lacandon Jungle.
This first-hand account will be of interest to anyone
who wishes to know more about the Zapatista Movement and its members.
Includes 14 color pictures.
Hear this article as read by the
- John Tarleton's Brief, Irreverent History of
Follow the history of Mexico through the voices of the men and women who
have helped to shape, for better or worse, its
destiny. These biographical sketches are written in an easy Who Am
I format in order to allow the reader to test
his or her knowledge of Mexican history. Also includes color photos of
murals by Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, Juan O'Gorman,
José Angel Monje and Jorge Gonzales Camarena.
- Gabino Silva: Hammock Maker
Once, Gabino Silva was a poor fisherman with a flair for mending broken
nets. Then, his brother-in-law showed him a basic one-color hammock made
in a nearby town. Gabino was certain he could do better. 14 years later,
he, his family and a half-dozen neighbors are busy producing some of the
most durable and comfortable, as well as artistic, hammocks in all of
- Earthquake Survivors Still Rebuilding 13
Thirteen Years after a devastating earthquake hit Mexico City a group of
11 families is almost ready to move back into the apartment building that
they have painstakingly rebuilt for themselves.
- La Crucitas Journey: A Remote Mountain
Hamlet Pays Homage to a Relic from The Holy Land
- A Mornings Work at Sea
Journey out to sea at sunrise with the fishermen of San Augustinillo as
they bring in the morning catch. Color photos
- A Wave of Change Inundates Zipolite
Zipolite means "Beach of the Dead" in Zapotec. And there is no other beach
quite like it in Mexico. The author looks back on
the gradual transformation of one of his favorite tropical beaches into a
booming tourist trap.
- A Train Ride through Northern Mexico
Observations from a long, slow second-class train ride across
Mexicos vast northern desert from Nuevo Laredo to Querétero.
- Aztecs, Virgins and Cocaine: Saints and Sinners
Gather to Honor Our Lady of Guadalupe
Human goodness and frailty are on display side-by-side as a small town
celebrates Mexico's patron saint.
- The American Dream Thrives in Puerto
Mexicos Pacific Coast is one of the worlds longest and most
beautiful coastlines. And, it has been an area of
intense economic development in the past 40 years. But what becomes of a
local community when it is swamped by Big Money
Tourism? John Tarleton takes a superficial first glance.
- Sunset in San Blas
An ancient Mexican man contemplates a rich past and an uncertain future
while calmly watching a tropical sunset from amidst
the ruins of his rundown hotel.
- Doug the Street Musician: A Homeless Canadian
Travels through Mexico with His Guitar
Doug has been many things in life: a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary, an
alcoholic, a drug addict and a successful
businessman. Now 44 years-old and sober, he is a homeless street musician
who is always ready to share his hard-earned
Hear this article read by the
- Gregorio Lunas Conversion
The story of a Mexican mans search for spiritual meaning in a
traditionally Catholic culture that is rapidly changing.
- An Exiles Final Home: Trotsky's Last Days
The true story of an aging revolutionary who was mercilessly hunted down
by former comrades while living in exile in Mexico
City, 8,000 miles from the revolution he did so much to help set
loose. Color photos included.
- May Day in Mexico City
In the midst of Mexicos worst economic crisis in 65 years, Mexican
workers celebrate May Day with massive
demonstrations against their governments neoliberal economic
Hear this article as read by the
- May Day in Mexico City: A Second Look at
A closer look at Mexico's integration into the global economy.
- The Misadventures of Argo Buckner
Welcome to the Republic of Gran Dolores where nothing is as it seems and a stranded traveler, Argo Buckner, finds himself selling stolen sewing machines from door-to-door while living on the streets amidst glue-sniffing orphans, corrupt police, spirited young missionaries and a cast of other unforgettable characters.
- Heather Jenrettes Last Day at
Ever since she put in her resignation, Heather had been counting down the days. And when Bernadette would drop by her office, she would look at the slashmarks on her friend's calender with wistful envy. "I wish I were going too, following blue sky wherever it leads," she would say. Her husky voice would be filled with longing. "I guess I'll have to continue looking at the Windows 95 logo on my computer screen."
- The Letter Writer
The letter writer passed his days in a small second floor apartement in a provincial French city where he spent much of his
time writting letters to close friends whom he had not seen in years and who lived a half-mile away or more.
- The Many Faces of Mustafa Mohammet
A free-spirited traveler meets up with a seasonally unemployed drug dealer on his first day in North Africa.
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