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From “Star of Justice: On the job with America’s toughest sheriff,” by Barry Graham, in the April 2001 Harper’s.
You are a citizen of the county protected by America’s Toughest Sheriff.
Your name is Richard Post. You’re paraplegic, but you’ve made the best of what you have. Your legs are useless, but your arms are powerful. At age thirty-five, you’ve bought a home, raised a kid, and you’re studying for a college degree. You have a life. Then, in one night, most of it is taken away from you.
It happens ten years after the car accident that put you in the wheelchair. It’s the night of St. Patrick’s Day, 1996, and you’re at home in Phoenix, Arizona, watching Mike Tyson destroy Frank Bruno, the crystal-chinned English heavy-weight. After the fight, you feel like going out. So you head for an Irish pub named O’Connor’s.
The atmosphere is cordial, and in the space of an hour you have two drinks. There’s a folkie providing live music. As he finishes a song, you wheel yourself over to him and tell him the results of the fight. He announces it, expecting that the Irish-American patrons will be pleased to hear that Bruno lost. Some people cheer and some people boo.
The fetishization of exotic foods eventually leads to the importing of dishes and nonnative food products, which creates a sort of disruption of cultural– and biological– ecology. You can see it for yourself whenever you set foot into a sushi joint in Indiana. And long before Whole Foods starts selling frozen turtle meat pies, there remains the fact that these hosts are expending energy and resources marching into obscure locales so that they might sample some local critter. From time to time, animals are killed onscreen, and the producers play up their host’s cavalier lack of squeamishness. If the complaint about porn is that women are treated like meat, then the problem with UM/UM television is that meat is treated like meat. –“The Repulsion Will be Televised: On why we watch men eating meat,” Chris Ying, meatpaper
From Harper’s, 2005: “Debbie Does Salad: The Food Network at the frontiers of pornography”;
Hillary Clinton reaching out to Ahmadinejad;
with last-place Dutch cyclist Kenny Robert van Hummel, red lantern on the Tour de France
…For us, naturally raised meat– important as it is– does not trump decently treated human beings. We are outraged by the working and living conditions we have seen in the Immokalee area of Florida, source of some 90 percent of the winter tomatoes consumed in the United States. Many of us have visited Immokalee, and see it as a stark example of the vast power discrepancies in our food system. In the winter-tomato market, a small number of very large buyers dictate terms to the seven or eight entities that control land in tomato country; those growers, in turn, squeeze the workers in brutal fashion. Real wages have fallen dramatically in Immokalee over the decades and now hover well below poverty level; housing conditions would not be out of place in apartheid-era South Africa. These are the normal conditions, experienced by thousands of workers in south Florida. No one can be surprised that in some extreme cases, right now, some of the people who pick our tomatoes are living in what can only be called modern-day slavery: held against their will and forced to harvest tomatoes without pay. In this context, Chipotle cannot claim the same integrity for the tomatoes it serves as it does for its meat, much less guarantee its customers that the tomatoes in its burritos were not picked by slaves. –“Sustainable food leaders’ letter to Chipotle CEO Steve Ells” (via)
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”