The Fear of Monkeys - The Best E-Zine on the Web for Politically Conscious Writing The Spider Monkey - Issue One
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Spider Monkey

The Spider Monkey is pot - bellied, spider - limbed, worried - faced and independent. They have very long legs and tails and are extremely agile. In the tropical rainforest of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil, they live in communities that can break into sub-groups of 3-4 individuals. Spider monkeys live in trees up to 35 metres above the ground. Probably only gibbons exceed spider monkeys in agility in the trees. Acrobatic and swift, spider monkeys move through the trees, with one arm stride covering up to 12 metres. They have a prehensile tail, which acts as a fifth limb, able to grasp objects or hold their entire body weight for long periods.
They eat fruit, nuts, seeds or leaves but they will take insects or small animals if they are readily available. Maturity is reached at around four years, with females coming into season every four weeks. Gestation is 7-8 months. Newborns cling to their mothers' abdomen and then travel on her back until independence. The average life span for a Spider monkey is around 20 years. They are closely related to the other monkeys in the family cebidae, including capuchins and howler monkeys.
They have been known to shake a vine occupied by a predator to cause them to fall. They have also been seen breaking off dead branches weighing nearly 5kg and dropping them on the predator.
Reasons for their decline include hunting for food by locals, the use of infants as pets, and habitat loss due to clearing of forests for agriculture and human habitation. They are vulnerable because they have low maturation and reproduction rates. Their habitat, mature rain forests, is being lost to farming at the rate of 35,000 acres a day. Preserving the rainforest in South America will help save them from extinction.


The ycle



welcome to winnipeg, manitoba, canada. this is the city that i was born in, grew up in, and i will probably die here, too. there are a few things that outsiders know about winnipeg. we have a lot of talent - the guess who, neil young, and the weakerthans are all examples of musicians who had based their career in winnipeg. winnipeg is often known as winterpeg by locals because of the extreme weather. it is not unusual to have a range of temperatures in a year of +40 C in the summer to -50 C in the winter... with wind chill. those people 'lucky' enough to have a car and avoid a frigid walk to wait for the bus, need to have a block heater. this allows them to physically plug their car in to electricity to prevent it from freezing. then again, some residents are 'lucky' enough to have a heated garage.

temperature is not the only thing that is diverse. the line between the haves and have-nots is very clear. we have the rich areas of town, the yuppie reservations as my friend calls it. these are often walled communities. when i lived in wolseley i used to walk to a diner to get breakfast for $2.00. it was a bi-weekly treat and allowed my friends and i to eat something we did not have to cook. the intersection of wolseley avenue and sherbrook avenue is interesting. if you walk one block west, you are in wolseley. people call this the granola belt and it seems to be full of hippies and students. if you walk one block north, you are in west broadway. there are a lot of low cost apartment blocks and homes. if you walk one block to the south, you are in 'the gates' which is an area of town with giant houses and properties. even more startling is the atmosphere walking around the three neighbourhoods.

i used to go walk through the gates to get to the river, to climb up on a tree and read in the summer. even when it was a beautiful day, you rarely saw people outside of their homes. people would drive their cars into their garage. the homes appear to be islands with enormous properties. wolseley was postively crawling with people in the summer, and it is possible to speak for several minutes with people you do not know, brought together by circumstance at a bus stop or waiting to cross a street. west broadway is a poorer area of the city. as a result, i have noticed that the sense of community is not as apparent to an outsider as it is in wolseley. there is still a feel of community, however.

this contrast is apparent throughout the city, with the inner city and the north end being the poorest areas of winnipeg. businesses are closing down and being demolished in the centre of the city while the suburbs continue to grow, filling up green space with more yuppie reservations.

perhaps it is this contrast that gave me my interest in local music.

music, like writing, often reflects society at the time. while some music can simply be considered as entertainment, some artists use their songs as their political voice. this can be intensely personal and poetic at times. the songwriting can also express anger, frustration, and incite others to change. at the very least, it can build a sense of community. i can listen to my music, and sometimes the songs become more than mere entertainment. it can become home. i understand that this sounds like a cliche. i have felt like a drifter, but my music can make any place feel like home. sometimes that is all that you have.

songs of a political nature that also have a personal meaning for me. i am interested in music dealing with class structures, employment, unemployment, poverty, disillusionment, and community. i believe that music is extremely personal and each individual can select the songs that relate to their own situation. i am also wary of the thin line between legal promotion and copywright infringement. however well-meaning i may be, i do not believe that i have the means to defend myself and my choice to share music that i love. it is for this reason that i am being intentionally vague.

the musicians and songs of winnipeg represent bands with members in their 20s and 30s, those of my generation. the majority of the songs were released in 2000 and later. i can relate to these songs, and to the statements made by the musicians. this is the soundtrack for my university education. i listened to these songs as i became painfully aware of inequality in winnipeg. these are the songs that i listened to and quoted when i went to my first protest marches... the songs that i listened to after coming home from a call centre job to try and find some macaroni and cheese, and as i began to get sick a lot. i was not the only one. my friends were also working in the youth job ghetto - often unskilled service jobs in retail, food services, call centres - at or near the minimum wage. some of us have degrees! even when you work full time, you are still below the poverty line. i can say that i understand the term 'working poor.'

when i was writing this i had to access a food bank for the first time. i feel that there is no better place to write about this than in here.

i have been on the edge of needing extra help for a while, now. i was just paid $368 for two weeks. $200 goes to rent [every pay day], $100 goes to paying for school [every pay day] - the only reason i could even go was because of a payment arrangement. this leaves $68. okay... what do i need to do with $68? i need to spend that on transportation so i can just get to work and to school. that is a minimum of $52. i have been running out of pennies to put in baggies for bus fare... actually i had been 'borrowing' that money from my roommate. he gave me permission. i now have $16 for everything else. i have been running out of shampoo and deodorant, i need to feed my cat and i need to feed myself. last month my food budget was $24.

i gave in, and i called winnipeg harvest []. most of this information was obtained from their website. they have an emergency food program, and this will provide an individual with a 'food kit' that will supply you with donated food and last about 2 or 3 days. i waited on hold for a long time. the organization is staffed by volunteers, and according to their website they make 500 food bank appointments every day.

"Each month, 36,871 people access food through Winnipeg Harvest."

while waiting on hold for 20 minutes i felt absolutely humiliated. i was thinking:
why should i need to do this? i am employed. i have a job that is above the minimum wage in manitoba. i work four 8 hour shifts a week...

apparently i am not alone.
of their clients [from the website]:
54.5% are female
40% are single people
94% are canadian citizens
19% are or had attended university or college
8% of adults needing food assistance had completed college or university
16.5% work full or part-time or are collecting employment insurance
44.7% go without food at least once a month

the volunteer i spoke with was very nice and he did not make me feel bad about having to do this. i did not feel judged. i had an appointment for the next day, although this involved having to go to a completely different area of the city. for an appointment in my area, i would have had to wait two weeks.

i still have hope knowing that this is temporary. in the spring and summer, once i am done school, i plan to have both a full time and part time job. i don't think i will be going back to school... certainly not until i can be assured that school is paid for in advance and i know that i can at least meet my basic needs for the year. i may be waiting a while. it is hard to save up when you do not have a lot of disposable income.

so i spend my days with my music. i create a soundtrack, and all of the music is a representation of my life - both good and bad. political music is an inspiration. i understand that i am not alone, there are other people who can see what i see every day. some are angry. some provide solutions. still others are hopeful, or simply create a sense of community.

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