Posts Tagged 'politics'

an on-going debate

Can there be such a thing as a transformative hotdog experience, and if so, of what does it consist?

Though not native to these shores, in my time in the US I have sampled my share of hotdogs. I’ve eaten them at Ikea, at movie theatres, at 7-Eleven. I have made pilgrimages to Pinks, and treks to Tommy’s. I’ve had them boiled, grilled over coals, and fried on the hob. I’ve eaten them in soggy sesame-seed buns, in gourmet bread rolls and in wonder bread. I’ve consumed them standing, in the local park; sitting, on a picnic bench in the Santa Monica mountains; horizontally, sprawled out on a rug on the grass (not recommended, bad for the digestion). I’ve eaten Chicago-style dogs, as Jonathan Gold’s father recommends, topped with yellow mustard, relish and chopped raw onion; sprinkled with celery salt; garnished with a spear of new pickle; and served in a soft, steamy poppy-seed bun. And to be perfectly frank, I have never had a perfect frank.

Here’s my theory: the flawless hotdog is not about the quality of the meat or the freshness of the bread, or the precise ratio of relish to mustard. The transformative hotdog experience occurs when the setting is just right, which is why the closest I’ve come is a Dodger Dog, because as marriages go, there probably isn’t one finer than the glorious union of hotdog and baseball.

The essential thing is to arrive at the ball park early. One must be in one’s seat with a plastic cup of Miller in the cupholder and a hotdog in hand in time for the national anthem. Only then can one appreciate the full glory. Now take the first bite of the hotdog, the exposed end of sausage that sticks out from the bun like a toe poking through a holey sock. (There maybe people who can resist this protruding nubbin – ascetics, geniuses or madmen – but I, for one, do not have the self-control.) Observe the texture of the outer hotdog skin as it resists tooth-pressure, then bursts with a satisfying squeak, squirting hot, oily juices into the mouth. Marvel at the wonderous texture of the meat that has been compressed into the skin so tightly it has been liberated from all shape and form, like a tube of solid meatpaste. With the next bite, pucker up as the mustard zings and the ketchup blossoms and your jaws begin to ache from the tart, sweet cocktail of sensation. And then, as The Star-Spangled Banner strikes up, tip up your plastic seat with the back of your thighs, turn towards the flag, place your hand on your heart and wonder if there isn’t, as I hereby propose, something unsurpassable – and deliciously inappropriate – about listening to the national anthem of the US with a wiener (however sloppy) in your hand.


Super Tuesday

The California primaries are tomorrow, and I don’t know who to vote for. And let’s not get into the ever-present California propositions — the Superbowl was sprinkled liberally with ads for and against the series of four propositions on gaming deals with various native american tribes.

I don’t believe in voting on this concept of “electability”. It’s always seemed like some sort of projection of yourself onto the American public, like playing some sort of cat-and-mouse mental games with everyone else, and it makes me feel like a pawn in some game I don’t quite understand. So I just can’t bring myself to do it, or really, even consider it. Who am I to say that the public will respond to a certain candidate in a certain way? And I don’t trust polls unless I see the polling methods and the statistical errors.

For the first part of the primary season, I was leaning about 75% towards voting for Clinton. She has plans within plans. She totally knows all about the attack alligators that hang out in the moat around the White House. She’s developed a tough skin to deal with all of this. I already knew who she was, I was happy with having her as a choice to vote for, and didn’t really care to learn more about any other candidate. And Obama seemed so positive and optimistic about everything, and I am too cynical for that.

A couple weeks ago I read a New Yorker article about Clinton vs Obama and how in some sense, it’s a question of how one views the role of the President. Is the President a do-er, or is he or she supposed to be an inspirer? This question is still lingering with me, and at the time, tipped the scales back to near-even.

And then this weekend, those goddamn Obama ads got me all teary and I totally feel manipulated by the forces of advertising agencies. But it worked and now I’m about 60% Obama and I’ve got 24 hours left. I don’t know how to decide — I don’t really want to decide — I think I’ll just go and see what the pen wants to do tomorrow morning.

I would rather have the option that was occasionally pulled out in high school class president elections and decide that we will have co-presidents for the next 8 years.

By the way, the best proposition ever is on the San Francisco ballot this year:
Proposition C: Shall It Be The Policy Of The City Of San Francisco To Support And Facilitate The Acquisition Of Alcatraz Island For The Express Purpose Of Transforming Alcatraz Island Into The Global Peace center?

Hippies are hilarious.

Another reason why I love New York

These guys were parked outside of Steven’s building a couple of weeks ago:

They explained about the garlic truck art installation (is it an installation if it’s mobile?) and gave me some garlic. I think this might be the farm the older dude runs, but I can’t be sure — the website’s a bit inscrutable.

Gopnik eats local

You go local in Berkeley, you’re gonna eat. I had been curious to see what might happen if you tried to squeeze food out of what looked mostly like bricks and steel girders and shoes in trees.

AG goes on to name-drop all the major local players. And I mean local. Dude, I want my own chicken.

Read it here.

Whole Paycheck no more

Okay, that’s it. I’m officially boycotting Whole Foods. Project Goldmine?!

[Posting on Kenya later today. Promise.]

Jello Peril

Jeff Yang offers up a really compelling piece on how racism figures in this whole Chinese food scandal thing.

I don’t know what’s in your salad, Krugman

And apparently you don’t know either. Sorry if you don’t have TimesSelect, but basically, Krugman addresses our food system’s problems thus: “Who’s responsible for the new fear of eating? Some blame globalization; some blame food-producing corporations; some blame the Bush administration. But I blame Milton Friedman” [who “called for the abolition of the food and drug sides of the FDA” and “help[ed] to make our food less safe, by legitimizing what the historian Rick Perlstein calls ‘E. coli conservatives’: ideologues who won’t accept even the most compelling case for government regulation.”].

And then goes on to say that our compromised food system is the result of failings in regulation (the FDA has neither the jurisdiction nor the resources to ensure that all that stuff coming over from China (or the Ivory Coast or Chile or wherever New Yorkers’ and Ypsilantians’ food comes from these days) is safe to eat.

[On a sort of related note, why hasn’t there been more talk about all the tainted drugs and dog food that have been traced to counterfeiting in China? There’s mention, and maybe I’m just not very cognizant of what’s going on, but you would think this would prompt, I dunno, more of a reaction from the public or lead to calls for more local sourcing. Which is really the issue with Krugman’s piece, but I’m getting to that.]).

He also points out how the FDA seems powerless to really do all that much about agribusiness giants like ConAgra, who aren’t really required, it seems, to explain themselves when their products are suspected of contamination.

I’m not even going to get to the point of his piece here, because I think, what he’s really not getting, is that the reason his salad might be a “risky” lunch option is that he’s not getting any of it from a source he knows (and trusts, obviously) — doesn’t even know just where that lettuce came from (because nobody is required to tell us in this country). It might require a little more time on your part, but maybe, Mr. Krugman, you should think about getting your lettuce from the farmers’ market (directly from the people who grew it — they can even tell you how they did it and would probably love for you to see where your salad came from) or a CSA (ditto).

What’s most disturbing about your salad, Mr. Krugman, besides the fact that you don’t seem to know where it really came from, is that you don’t seem to care that you don’t know.

[Update: Irene notes that Krugman does make a good point about the FDA and the need for more regulation, and I don’t disagree. However, he (and I and probably you, if you’re reading this) can afford (on many levels) to make food choices that make this of less import.]

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