April 29, 2013
Boswell Books brought Michael Pollan to speak at the Oriental Theater tonight. Boswell’s proprieter, Daniel Goldin, is just so plucky and great. He set a wonderfully conversational tone, after which MP shared some thoughts, read an excerpt from his new book (Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation), and took questions.
Pollan’s relaxed down-to-earth-ness (“I love french fries”) makes him really approachable. It must be hard to know that much and have such well-formed, articulate opinions without coming across like a snob. You can tell he’s a really good guy.
Ever studenty, I couldn’t not take notes in my back cover. (Soapbox: I do not think books or literature are sacred. Let your reading of them change you, and let you change them. Write in the margins, engage!)
The average American spends more time daily watching people cook on TV than they do cooking themselves. Why would we be obsessed with an activity we don’t engage in anymore? (Audience chuckle) Someone is thinking of pornography, and I think that is actually quite relevant! Why would we fetishize cooking? Because something in us misses it.
Cooking gave us the meal – sitting around the fire. It became a group effort. It needed rules. So around the cookfire came civilization.
The shared meal is the nursery of democracy.
The microwave is the Ayn Rand of appliances.
Cravings are very different from satisfaction. It’s a very different ethos, a very different aesthetic.
Fermentation is rot interrupted.
I think we need to bring back home ec, or a different kind of home ec. Teaching children how to cook is one of the most important things we can do for their long-term health and happiness.
Then I went for a beer with my dear college roommate, who also happened to be attending alone. That doesn’t bear on most of you, but it was a surprise and satisfying cross-section of our lives, as food so often is, so I find meaning in it. Plus, what’s an event in Milwaukee without good beer?
Takeaway: go cook!
July 18, 2011
Most people like music. But most people don’t do music. I hope I’m not stereotyping the whole of American society here, but whether the suburbs did it or the Internet did it or whatever it was did it – we’ve lost a lot of the shared experience of doing music together and are pretty much exclusive consumers of the stuff.
Think about the times that “non-musical” people do sing in public just for fun. They are almost always drinking or in junior high. In either case, they’re tapped further into their true messy humanity than the rest of us, and they are having a wonderful time. But we’re afraid to do this ‘in real life’ because A) someone might judge us and B) we at some point collectively decided that singing songs with friends or family is a stupid way to spend free time.
Folk music means music of folk, music of the people. But when we say it now, we usually refer to a specific kind of music associated with a specific group of people or a specific period of time. When we think of American folk music, we’re thinking of something very particular, and even though it’s pretty cool, most of us see it as a novelty or as a hobby of those in that particular musical scene.
But we like it.
Note the recent rock(ish) renaissance of the banjo. I don’t think it’s only because of hipsters (though they’ve surely helped). I think it’s because the banjo lets us access access a musical feeling that we don’t touch anywhere else (maybe some churches, but then you have to be on good behavior).
The banjo is approachable, inviting, humble, democratic. Would this happen with an electric guitar or anything autotuned?
Look how happy that crowd is! They are having a fantastic time. This is folk music not because of the instrument but because of the crowd. It does not matter at ALL how good of a singer you are. And I want more of it.
I want to revive folk music. Real folk music. I don’t care if it’s Seeger or Gaga – if you’re singing it in your house or your yard with people you know and like, then it is folk music and it is awesome.
January 8, 2011
This afternoon I hiked around a lake-side park, enjoying the sun and taking too many pictures. To share my journey, I bring you an Anna-style post, but with less colors (because it’s winter) and less fun formatting (because I don’t have much to say). It was just a nice winter afternoon, very cold and very bright.
And my favorite:
October 14, 2010
my good friend wrote a letter to her good friend and saved the following excerpt so as not to forget it. i post it here for the same reason:
for the record, my wholly uneducated belief is that our salvation as human beings lies in each other. that art of all kinds lets us keep our sanity long enough to fight back. that we should love each other so much that our hearts threaten to break. that we should sacrifice our defenses and walls and worries and hesitations until we experience the joy we were born for. that evil is indifference. that god is a verb. that it is worth the work to transform the self from shattered to whole. that the world is worth it, too. that there is always hope because everything turns out alright in the end, and if it’s not alright, then it’s not the end.
good job good friend, peacock, sister, whatever you will be called then or now. i’m glad you make words.
October 9, 2010
I fully support a move away from unnecessary public shyness and reservation. But I’m a little perplexed as to why the girl video-chatting with a toddler (I’m hoping anyway) chose one of the few shared tables in this coffee shop. It’s hard to ignore a pirate patch, fake mustache, and exaggerated choreography happening just over the brim of my laptop. Ope, now she is giving herself a fauxhawk and pretending to pour coffee down her shirt. Well, life is not boring.
And let it be noted, Metroplis Coffee is pretty darn good!