On The Road With John Tarleton

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 cybertraveler@cybertraveler.org

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Latest Stories

New York


From Seattle to September 11

Media and Society

United Nations


El Salvador




Book Reviews

  • Latest Stories

    • 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.

  • New York

    • 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 Apple

  • Americana

    • 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 Pennsylvania Rainbow Gathering
      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 Essay
      SPECIAL FEATURE! The Rainbow Family is a tribe without any land; an organization without 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 Arizona. Color photos included.

    • Professor Michael Niman: The Quest for Utopia
      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 products.

    • David Stess: Documentary Photojournalist (In a Hurry)
      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 Revolution
      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 Yugoslavia
      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 Spectacle
      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 included.

    • "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 him?
      Hear this article as read by the author.

    • 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 Harvest
      It’s 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.

  • From Seattle to September 11

    • Love and Rage in Seattle: The Day the WTO Stood Still
      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 author.
      German translation.

    • 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 Planet
      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 Jail
      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 big day.

    • A16: Community Radio Advocates Air Their Concerns
      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 to Colombia
      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; Fluster Police
      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 14th and Florida Ave. to Malcolm X Park where a free concert was being held.

    • Protest Hits a High Note in Montgomery Co. Schools
      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 the Trash
      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 Message
      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.

  • Media and Society

    • Pacifica Rebels Rebuild Battered Network
      In a stunning victory, grassroots activists reclaimed the Pacifica radio network in January following years of dogged campaigning against a corporate clique that had seized control of the nation's only listener-sponsored radio network. Now comes the hard part: rebuilding a network that is millions of dollars in debt and exhausted by internicine battles.

    • The Media Goes to War
      "Whenever you see this much coverage pointing in one direction, you should always feel for your wallet and head in the other direction," says one of the nation's leading media critics in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

    • KOPN Hangs in There: A Small Community Radio Station Struggles to Survive in Mid-Missouri
      Community activists try to rescue one of the nation's oldest listener-sponsored community access radio stations.

    • Pacifica Rebels Turn Up Volume
      Media activists from around the country descended on Houston for the spring board meeting of the troubled Pacifica Network. It was a tumultuous weekend of protests, rallies, teach-ins and walkouts as corporate liberals and grassroots radicals faced off in the basement of the upscale Doubletree Hotel.

    • "Whose Network? Our Network!": Voices from the Free Pacifica Movement
      Juan Gonzalez, former co-host of Democracy Now!, Dan Coughlin, Errol Maitland and other activists talk about why they have thrown themselves into a grassroots movement to save the nation's only listener-sponsored radio network.

      Angry Listeners Tune Out WBAI Fund Drive
      WBAI's efforts to fire its audience and bring in replacement listeners appears to have floundered during its controversial spring fundraising drive.

    • WBAI Supporters Take to the Streets
      On the last Saturday in April, a thousand New Yorkers marched across the Brooklyn Bridge demanding that the historically eclectic, leftwing station be returned to community control.

    • KTRU Supporters Hold Gag-in Outside Rice President's Mansion
      Shhhh. You could hear a pin drop on the night a plucky band of Rice University students and their supporters called (quietly) on university officials to return the campus's 50,000 watt radio station to student control.

    • WBAI Listeners Rally in Support of Pacifica, Goodman
      Supporters of America's first listener-supported radio network rally in support of Amy Goodman, the embattled host of Democracy Now!, Pacifica Radio's award winning morning news show.

    • Interview with Stephen Dunifer, Microradio Pioneer
      Stephen Dunifer launched Free Radio Berkeley in the spring of 1993 with a transmitter the size of a brick. He has since become the Johnny Appleseed of microradio, building and distributing inexpensive broadcast equipment throughout the United States and around the world while fighting a historic legal battle with the Federal Communications Commission.

    • Community Radio Advocates Air Their Concerns
      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.

    • Professor George Kennedy, University of Missouri School of Journalism
      George Kennedy, co-author of News Reporting and Writing, one of the most popular journalism textbooks in history, talks about USA Today, the Internet, Monica, O.J., classism in higher education, concentration of corporate ownership in the media and many other challenges facing journalism as it enters the 21st Century.

  • United Nations

  • Europe

    • 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 elites 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 Black Forest.

    • Springtime in the French Alps
      Notes and observations from an afternoon hike in the foothills of the French Alps. Includes panoramic color photo.

  • Stories from El Salvador

    • El Salvador Notes: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3
      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.

  • Stories from Mexico

    • 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 author.

    • John Tarleton's Brief, Irreverent History of Mexico
      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 Mexico.

    • Earthquake Survivors Still Rebuilding 13 Years Later
      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 Crucita’s Journey: A Remote Mountain Hamlet Pays Homage to a Relic from The Holy Land

    • A Morning’s Work at Sea
      Journey out to sea at sunrise with the fishermen of San Augustinillo as they bring in the morning catch. Color photos included.

    • 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 Mexico’s 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 Vallarta
      Mexico’s Pacific Coast is one of the world’s 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 wisdom.
      Hear this article read by the author.

    • Gregorio Luna’s Conversion
      The story of a Mexican man’s search for spiritual meaning in a traditionally Catholic culture that is rapidly changing.

    • An Exile’s Final Home: Trotsky's Last Days in Mexico
      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 Mexico’s worst economic crisis in 65 years, Mexican workers celebrate May Day with massive demonstrations against their government’s neoliberal economic policies.
      Hear this article as read by the author.

    • May Day in Mexico City: A Second Look at Neoliberalism
      A closer look at Mexico's integration into the global economy.

  • Nagasaki

  • Fiction

    • 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 Jenrette’s Last Day at Work
      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.

  • Book Reviews

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© 1994-2001 John Tarleton

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