Shellfishness

This blog has lately become yet another “Chris Ying is ineffably awesome forever” blog, which is fine by me. (He’s written a few guest posts, after all!)

At any rate, old Plebescite‘s got a brilliant piece in the new issue of Meatpaper, on “why we watch men eating meat”:

If the complaint about porn is that women are treated like meat, then the problem with UM/UM [unattractive men/unattractive meat] television is that meat is treated like meat.

The essay is funny and smart, Wallacean in a good way. I also love this pre-blogged chart, which the Plebiscite probably designed himself:

Anyway, worth a  look.

(I wonder too what old CTY makes of this oldish Harper’s piece on “The Food Network at the frontiers of pornography”?)

##########################################

I was camping in the Sierras this weekend with a Crude Futurist who told a story (can’t remember the provenance) of a Brooklyn-raised African American man  talking about his experience of Election Night 2008 in Fort Greene: [I’m paraphrasing] All the white people who moved to this neighborhood showed for the first time that they actually cared about something other than food.

(no violence meant here to Meatpaper or Plebiscite. I’m just laterally riffing. I care about food, too, and think it’s important. But the quote from the Ft. Greener still struck me as a tidy damnation of my entire existence. Literature is just as pointless as food, art, the rest. Sex, death, drugs, commerce, Internet, everything else. It’s important to care about something other than food, but it’s also possible to study and write about food without wasting your time. Same goes for noun declensions of dead languages, and the craft of sock puppetry.  It’s interesting, actually, maybe, how “POLITICS” can make any/every-thing else seem pointless by comparison. And there’s of course a difference between the mindless chichi consumption (of consumption) going on in Ft. Greene vs. the relatively political analysis of food, “food politics,” etc, going on in, say, Meatpaper. I’m not trying to imply that dude was damning hilarious smart articles about Food TV — I don’t think he was — he was damning people who move to your neighborhood and are food-obsessed yuppies. These are separate issues that got connected through my free-associative bloggy style. I love you guys. Chris hey help me for I have written myself into a lazy corner and I can’t get out and I am going to post this before I delete it.

Notes!!!

  • apolitical art
  • political art
  • is there any sort of sense that one is “better” or “worse” than the other
  • “food politics”
  • Pollan v. Wallace
  • Reichl v. Ying
  • the imperative for people to be engaged in the communities they live in
  • the importance of cynicism
  • the destructiveness of getting stuck in a cynical mode
  • yuppies/gentrification/blinkered existences amid “suffering”
  • accidental yet inexusable condescension
  • desire (sex, food)
  • etc (drugs, babies)
  • discipline (martial arts, Yaddo)
  • knowledge (the library of congress, obama’s e-mail newsletters)
  • selflessness, generosity (dude)
  • community service with and without condescension
  • gluttony, selfishness
  • shellfishness, spumoniïsm
Advertisements

17 thoughts on “Shellfishness

  1. quoinstone

    I want to say something like “Keep trading straw men around that campfire and you’re gonna burn your eyebrows off!”, but that sounds stupid. Hey remember the last time I tried to respond to one of these Steveean hay-fellows (the one that was all, “Unless you went to college in a certain cornfield, your cultural predilections are unearned and affected”? I shouldn’t put quotes around that, that’s not what he said)? I am already taking this too seriously, but Quilty asked me to.

    It does seem sorta relevant that you can “not care” about sock puppetry and thus have no interaction with sock puppets, but if you decide to “not care” about food you still have to eat a lot of it, all the time. And your uncaring food-related decisions sow you-created harm and desecration all over the place! Which makes me think you have “mindless consumption” attributed to the wrong Fort Greener, maybe. Or is he in favor of caring about food, as long as other stuff is more prominently cared about? I bet that’s what most of those people he’s talking about are doing already, probably, but I wouldn’t presume to judge without getting to know them really well first.

    Also, these guys wish the people who moved to their neighborhood would actually care somewhat more about food, but this lady has some helpful suggestions if you’d rather not

    Reply
  2. quoinstone

    And I meant to say, too: one thing ol’ Pleb’s essay did really well was play around with the point that other, immaterial-seeming factors end up influencing the way we “care about” food. That’s the point I take from his chart, at least! There’s almost always “something other” involved, and it seems like yr Ft. Greene curmudgeon is mostly unhappy that his neighbors’ others do not agree with his… druthers?

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Posts about Porn as of July 13, 2009 « College Hometown Hotties At Collegehomeonline.com

  4. truffles

    gentrification is a loaded subject, as we all know. so it makes sense for the political statements pre-gentification folks make to come in sometimes offensive guises. some which may seem to focus overmuch on foodie-ism. or whiteness. or yuppies. anyway, because of gentrification the “servant class” is going to be priced out of urban neighborhoods. which is a problem because poor people are naturally disenfranchised – and public transportation from the suburbs where they’re eventually going to be living, to the urban neighborhoods where they’re still going to be working, because of this disenfranchisement is going to be a mess, according to some (ian svenonious, “the psychic soviet”). white people who seemingly only care about food and aren’t making OVERT efforts to befriend poor minorities are targets for this kind of humor because it isn’t implicit that they’re going to care when urban workers are priced out of urban neighborhoods, and the transportation industry has them by the throat.

    Reply
    1. quoinstone

      I think I was reacting more to Quilty’s words than B’klyn-raised Af-Am man’s–it seems a little tough to read that much into his quip (is he “poor” and/or “priced out,” like truffles says? Does he care about public transportation? I dunno!). But the rush to exegeses like “he was damning people who move to your neighborhood and are food-obsessed yuppies” seems a little too eager to exonerate people who move to the neighborhood but are not food-obsessed yuppies. It’s a way of shifting the issue from “moving to the neighborhood” (lots of us!) to “food-obsessed” (fuck those guys!).

      Reply
      1. truffles

        That guy’s quip was an exaggeration, but so was Quilty’s (“But the quote from the Ft. Greener still struck me as a tidy damnation of my entire existence”). I just think it’s more important to err on the side of the victimized in such a scenario. The victimized person is the one who should win the argument, get the point conceded to him or her. In the social environment of this era. Which is spiraling out of control.

      2. plebiscite

        I don’t know why this reply post is going here, and not below truffles, but that’s where it’s meant to go.

        Who are we referring to as the victimized in this instance? Is the Af. Amer. man who made the original quip the victim? If so, it seems like we’re foisting the victim tag on someone else, which I think is never the right thing to do. It’s not like the guy said, “Finally these white people stopped hurling cans of foie de canard at me for thirty minutes so they could go to the voting booth.” But let’s not misconstrue this as an argument about whether yuppies (or hipsters) are wronging minorities. The point, or mine at least, is that caring about food/art/literature is not sovereign from caring about politics/”the issues.” Whether or not our mysterious African-American Ft. Greener is a victim—or “right” by extension—his comment, IMHO, is lame.

  5. plebiscite

    I agree that gentrification is a loaded subject, and a complex one, but the idea that white people come into a poor, not-so-white neighborhood and open hoity-toity brasseries, and thus price minorities out of their homes is sort of a unilateral depiction of it, and maybe mixing up foodie-ism with caring about food. Which is Quoinstone’s point, perhaps? I don’t think anybody only cares about food, at least not insofar as they only care about eating it. Or if they do, then they don’t really care about food, do they? Caring only about eating food is really caring only about yourself. (And sharing is caring, ha.) Caring about food seems to mean that you care about the ramifications of where food comes from, etc. As for the idea of gentrification being the result of foodies wanting to hone in on cheap real estate to hold their foodie conventions and artisanal pickle shoppes, sure, that happens. But some of the best pickle shoppes already exist in pre-gentrified neighborhoods, and part of caring about food is caring about preserving those places, even if only by patronage. This all seems to have veered far, far off topic. I’m not even white, and I don’t live in Brooklyn, so I don’t know why I’m standing up for the Ft. Greeners. I mean only that lumping gentrification together with “caring about food,” is nothing more than an empty one-liner, which, you know, I don’t think anybody was denying in the first place.

    Reply
  6. plebiscite

    Does the idea that the Obamas also care about food bear any weight here? I hear the Bushes complaining that the Obamas are a bunch of foodies moving into their neighborhood, gentrifying it with their yuppie tastes. I have just stepped onto extremely dicey ground. Peace out.

    Reply
    1. truffles

      This is another good example of why it’s important to side with the victimized (even in the face of a rhetorical “tie”)- the unresolved argument leaves room for Republicans to cozy up to the downtrodden.

      Reply
  7. truffles

    fort greene probably offends its poor residents or former residents more though the day-to-day interactions of its citizenry than through the existence of something like meatpaper. when i lived in brooklyn, i used to hear rich people on the train talking about expensive things they owned, very loudly, and it really offended me. you have probably observed, like, two people walking down the street talking very, very loudly about the 5 course meal they consumed. (even if it was made with locally sourced, organic ingredients.) it’s the WAY in which you publicly express your class standing. and some forums are simply disrespectful places to talk loudly about the cool things you own. the train, the crowded street. i think it’s significant that obama’s victory which caused a lot of street interactions was the inspiration for the fort greener’s observation.

    Reply
  8. neil

    Maybe it was just the IRIE brought on by the campfire smoke but the story didn’t leave me feeling especially hangry. Sure, it’s a jab at yuppie foodists, but it’s also couched in a broader optimism toward realizing a previously unrecognized opportunity for community building.

    But yeah it is actually fun and funny and socially acceptable to make fun of yuppies. Also hippies. Rednecks/redstaters I suppose are getting to be off-limits if you are a left-wing coastal elitist, but you can actually make a career out of mocking them if you have enough redneck cred yourself.

    We were listening to the Country Teasers on the drive up.

    Clearly we’re not going to ever be rid of obnoxious flauntery of class status–at least not without a pretty bloody and terrible revolution (and even then it’s bound to resurface in other ways eventually right — isn’t that the lesson of 20th C. state socialism? [I mean, I’m not totally comfortable with that simplistic of a reading but elitism seems to emerge in basically every human society right?]).

    Mocking such obnoxious behavior (as Mr. Ft. Greene was) becomes a valuable tool to partially keep that kind of bullshit in check–or at least call attention to it. But I think it’s actually counterproductive to get too hand-wringy or self-critical about it, in the end that attitude tends to be equally off-putting because it comes across as insincere or at least annoyingly self-absorbed.

    Reply
  9. neil

    Maybe it was just the IRIE brought on by the campfire smoke but the story didn’t leave me feeling especially hangry. Sure, it’s a jab at yuppie foodists, but it’s also couched in a broader optimism toward realizing a previously unrecognized opportunity for community building.

    But yeah it is actually fun and funny and socially acceptable to make fun of yuppies. Also hippies. Rednecks/redstaters I suppose are getting to be off-limits if you are a left-wing coastal elitist, but you can actually make a career out of mocking them if you have enough redneck cred yourself.

    We were listening to the Country Teasers on the drive up.

    Clearly we’re not going to ever be rid of obnoxious flauntery of class status–at least not without a pretty bloody and terrible revolution (and even then it’s bound to resurface in other ways eventually right — isn’t that the lesson of 20th C. state socialism? [I mean, I’m not totally comfortable with that simplistic of a reading but elitism seems to emerge in basically every human society right?]).

    Mocking such obnoxious behavior (as Mr. Ft. Greene was) becomes a valuable tool to partially keep that kind of bullshit in check–or at least call attention to it. But I think it’s actually counterproductive to get too hand-wringy or self-critical about it, in the end that attitude tends to be equally off-putting because it comes across as insincere or at least annoyingly self-absorbed.

    Reply
  10. Chelsea

    Two thoughts came to mind as I read this post: One, if the native Brookylnite was talking about Election Night itself, that statement depresses me, because hopefully if his white neighbors cared about “something” they would have shown it in the weeks and months beforehand, not just that day/night.
    But maybe “the first time” just referred to Autumn ’08.

    Also, hearing Lindsey Graham refer to himself as an “everyday white guy” on the Senate webcast today surprised and annoyed me. You just don’t get it dude! “Ordinary” presumes. Get a freaking life!

    I somehow do feel that these two things are related.

    I don’t think there’s such a thing as “apolitical” art, since making art is a choice and what it’s about is a choice. And there’s good and bad of both. Of course. No?

    Also, I recognize the importance (read: see the value in) skepticism but not so much cynicism; maybe you meant importance w/o good/badness and not in contrast to the later statement about its calcifying effects.

    If you’re doing community service condescendingly, you should pick a different service project. Seriously. Unless it’s court ordered.

    I am reading “The Road” today and it makes me want to starve myself, so also, that is food related.

    Reply
  11. mcm

    Reading this thread, I am reminded of the photograph at the top of this semi-recent NYT article called “Brooklyn’s New Culinary Movement”:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/dining/25brooklyn.html

    I feel two ways about this photograph. On one hand, it is populated by intriguing and impressive people whose dreams and accomplishments are explored in the article text, which I enjoyed.

    On the other hand, the image of the mob of them (on the screen, and in my brain) is ridiculous and even intimidating. There is aggression in the composition: eleven caucasians staring. I don’t like that these food people have been posed like this. I don’t like that these food people have agreed to be posed and photographed like this.

    I find myself talking back (in my head) to the staring faces: “What do you want?”

    This picture has gotten into my head and, in a way, has gotten in the way of my ability to appreciate what is positive and individual about each of the people in the picture.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s