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Ted Levin: VPR Commentary – Jaws Revisited

(HOST)  Cape Cod is a favorite summer vacation spot for land-locked Vermonters. But this year commentator Ted Levin says that news from the Cape has begun to resemble a series of movie flashbacks.

(LEVIN)  Thirty-five years ago the movie “Jaws” set box-office records, made hundreds of millions of dollars, and forever influenced the way we feel about the ocean and the great white shark, which reaches a length of 23 feet and weighs 5,000 pounds.

I have a fossil great white tooth in my dining room. Four-inches long and two- inches wide, sharply pointed and serrated like a steak knife; these days it would likely be confiscated by airport security. In a shark, rows of teeth fill the mouth cavity, and are endlessly shed in a lifetime of production, wave after toothy wave, which makes fossil shark teeth fairly easy to find.

Sharks have been patrolling Earth’s oceans for 400 million years, and have been terrorizing humans for the past half a million, which is why Steven Spielberg, who adapted Peter Benchly’s book into the first “summer blockbuster” film, chose a big fish to summon our fears.

The book Jaws takes place on Long Island, in the fictional town of Amity, and the film on Martha’s Vineyard. Both leave you with the sense that great white sharks are hardwired, mindless killing machines lurking just offshore in your subconscious, rising like nightmares whenever you enter the ocean. Not true, of course. The great white is an epic ocean traveler, whose migrations are as periodic and predicable and every bit as awesome as those of terns or shearwaters; warm-blooded and intelligent, they live birth single pups, miniature replicas.

Growing up on Long Island I was vaguely aware of a great white birthing zone 50 miles off Montauk Point. I recall that occasionally someone would catch or harpoon a really big one. Newsday would cover the story dockside.

Now, after years of depredation, their population in the North Atlantic is recovering. Great whites can again be spotted off Cape Cod. And as unlikely as it may sound, their return to good fortune is due to Richard Nixon.

Read the rest (and listen!) to Ted Levin’s commentary on VPR.org

Ted Levin is the author of Backtracking, available in our bookstore.


Chelsea Green Weekly for May 5, 2017

Ever wonder what your favorite Chelsea Green authors do between writing groundbreaking–both literally and figuratively–books? Here are the best links and resources for your weekend reading pleasure. Let’s start with The Alzheimer’s Antidote. The Alzheimer’s Antidote Amy Berger has been making the rounds on the health, wellness, and fitness circuit, explaining the theories behind her revolutionary […] Read More

How to Make Biochar

Doing some spring cleaning around your property? By making biochar from brush and other hard-to-compost organic material, you can improve soil—it enhances nutrient availability and also enables soil to retain nutrients longer. This excerpt from The New Farmer’s Almanac, Volume 3, explains how to get started. To make biochar right in your garden, start by […] Read More

The 10 Steps that Establish Your Baby’s Microbiome

Research is emerging almost daily on the role of the microbiome in human health. But how do we acquire this mysterious community of microbes and more importantly how do we make sure the good bacteria outnumber the bad? According to a new book by Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford, Your Baby’s Microbiome, it all starts […] Read More

Prepare! Keep a Grab-n-Go Survival Kit Handy

Are you prepared in the event of a sudden emergency? Blizzard, earthquake, insurrection after the inauguration? We know a lot of people are wondering what’s coming next in the US, as well as the world, given terrorism, politics, and global warming, among other threats. In this excerpt from When Technology Fails, a popular book on […] Read More

Chelsea Green: In the Media 2016

Oh, 2016. Where did the time go? Each year, Chelsea Green receives hundreds of mentions (well over 1000 in 2016) in the media both big and small. From interviews, to excerpts, to opinion pieces by authors we’re always working to make sure that the mission and message of each book is spread far and wide. […] Read More
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