I've been watching a lot of stuff from Netflix - on demand and DVDs - as I've been wading through my emotional detritus these last two months. I cam across a very interesting British detective series I recommend to anyone. It's called Life on Mars and has two very short (by US standards) seasons of eight episodes each. The basic premise is a contemporary police detective, Sam Tyler, is involved in a car accident. He wakes up in 1973, still a police detective in the same city. Much psychopathy ensues. The first season deals with a specific problem from Sam's past (which is the series' present) while the second season tries to provide a satisfactory explanation of what the hell is happening. It is a brilliant bit of story telling.
I don't have much to say about the events in northern Africa and the Persian Gulf as I think the denizens of those locales have a much better grasp on their life and objectives than I ever could. The best commentary on the effect of the various revolts on US interests in the region (including analysis of what those interests are and why) I have come across is Pat Lang & invited friends on Sic Semper Tyrannis. Something to offend everyone. I think the comparisons between the revolts in these nations with the uproar in Madison are specious and silly, trivializing both by collapsing ginormous historical, cultural, economic and other differences. People doing so sound like Obots from 2008 trying to hook his political campaign to the civil rights movement.
Finally, I'm amused by this article in The Atlantic Monthly calling the "foodie" culture what it is - elitist gluttony tied up with a moralistic bow. The key paragraphs are these:
The moral logic in Pollan’s hugely successful book now informs all food writing: the refined palate rejects the taste of factory-farmed meat, of the corn-syrupy junk food that sickens the poor, of frozen fruits and vegetables transported wastefully across oceans—from which it follows that to serve one’s palate is to do right by small farmers, factory-abused cows, Earth itself. This affectation of piety does not keep foodies from vaunting their penchant for obscenely priced meals, for gorging themselves, even for dining on endangered animals—but only rarely is public attention drawn to the contradiction. This has much to do with the fact that the nation’s media tend to leave the national food discourse to the foodies in their ranks. To people like Pollan himself. And Severson, his very like-minded colleague at The New York Times. Is any other subculture reported on so exclusively by its own members? Or with a frequency and an extensiveness that bear so little relation to its size? (The “slow food” movement that we keep hearing about has fewer than 20,000 members nationwide.)
The same bias is apparent in writing that purports to be academic or at least serious. The book Gluttony (2003), one of a series on the seven deadly sins, was naturally assigned to a foodie writer, namely Francine Prose, who writes for the gourmet magazine Saveur. Not surprisingly, she regards gluttony primarily as a problem of overeating to the point of obesity; it is “the only sin … whose effects are visible, written on the body.” In fact the Catholic Church’s criticism has always been directed against an inordinate preoccupation with food—against foodie-ism, in other words—which we encounter as often among thin people as among fat ones. A disinterested writer would likely have done the subject more justice. Unfortunately, even the new sociological study Foodies: Democracy and Distinction in the Gourmet Foodscape is the product of two self-proclaimed members of the tribe, Josée Johnston and Shyon Baumann, who pull their punches accordingly; the introduction is titled “Entering the Delicious World of Foodies.” In short, the 21st-century gourmet need fear little public contradiction when striking sanctimonious poses.
The same goes for restaurant owners like Alice Waters. A celebrated slow-food advocate and the founder of an exclusive eatery in Berkeley, she is one of the chefs profiled in Spoon Fed. “Her streamlined philosophy,” Severson tells us, is “that the most political act we can commit is to eat delicious food that is produced in a way that is sustainable, that doesn’t exploit workers and is eaten slowly and with reverence.” A vegetarian diet, in other words? Please. The reference is to Chez Panisse’s standard fare—Severson cites “grilled rack and loin of Magruder Ranch veal” as a typical offering—which is environmentally sustainable only because so few people can afford it. Whatever one may think of Anthony Bourdain’s moral sense, his BS detector seems to be working fine. In Medium Raw he congratulates Waters on having “made lust, greed, hunger, self-gratification and fetishism look good.” Not to everyone, perhaps, but okay.
Yeah, this is close to my view on the whole in-crowd foodie fetish. Myers spends more time on the moral contradictions, whereas I would have been putting greater emphasis on the enforcement of class difference, but we come down with the same final perspective, "...the foodie fringe enjoys enough media access to make daily claims for its sophistication and virtue, for the suitability of its lifestyle as a model for the world. We should not let it get away with those claims."
Back to my brooding,