Tuesday, May 22, 2007

You Can't Take Bluegrass Lightly

I mean, I guess that's the point of the last post. I look at what David Lee Roth has done there, in an apparent comeback attempt and just have to shake my head. He took it lightly.

He figured, hey, I can dabble in this and suck or not, at least I gave it my best effort. I disagree. Bluegrass isn't something you can half-ass. It's an all or nothing proposition. A zero-sum game. So with your comeback on the line, the faintest flicker of doubt should be enough to deter any ill-advised attempts at bluegrass.

My roommate of a few years back in D.C. used to swear by bluegrass. At the end of each weekend , when he hadn't shaved in a few days and the funk of the weekend was reaching its ripest, it was his idea of getting folksy to turn on WAMU's 'Stained Glass Bluegrass' and do something with his hands, like roll cigarettes, polish his shoes or bake an apple pie. If the weather was good we'd sit outside in our courtyard beneath the Spanish embassy and smoke and drink and just listen to bluegrass.

The thing is it didn't matter what you did as long as it was relaxing to the max and didn't interfere with one's appreciation of the bluegrass music.

Now, I will be the first to admit that bluegrass is a little beyond me. I appreciate it in small or inspired doses. And it was rare I could sit through an entire 4-hour session without the banjo beginning to drive me crazy. There's an element of sameness across bluegrass, a heavily (and respectfully) derivative American tradition, that means it takes a careful, trained ear to differentiate the virtuoso from the dabbler.

Which is to say that bluegrass is the domain of non-casual music fans. The kind who dig real jazz and rhapsodize about Phish jams. The kind who get lost in the details and the kind who don't dig carpet-bagging crossovers into their 'pure' genres.

I guess that's what makes this so shameful. The only consideration was the degree of spectacle that could be obtained by forcing a man who is very willing to embarrass himself to abase an unwitting art form.

Friday, May 18, 2007

David Lee Roth Used to Be My Hero?

WTF? I guess you can't keep on rockin' after all.

Le Bidet

Vanity Fair, whose second annual green issue has been giving me lots of guilt problems lately, recommended that I rethink the way I use the toilet - something about each flush wasting 8 gallons of perfectly clean water and the 15 Rhode Island's worth of Canadian old growth forest we wad up in blossoms of double-ply to wipe our butts.

It's grim indeed.

So I was contemplating the alternatives. Left hands as they use in the Arabic world. Or the bidet, popular in the more mincing parts of Europe - like Luxembourg, Monaco and France.

This got me thinking. Are the French big environmentalists simply because they prefer the bidet? Or is it just a convenient, socially-acceptable guise for the way they carry their laziness onto the toilet.

It is much less effort after all to sit back and enjoy a lukewarm wash and drip dry while you're going to be on the toilet anyway. Ripping, wadding and wiping is far too manually intensive. Plus you can stretch the bidet, crotch-cleansing as it is, into arguable proxy for a shower if you're as
lazy and disinterested in true hygiene as the French.

Now that's it's saving a little water it's not lazy, but activist. Let's all be more French!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Sushi Dilemma

What seafood to eat?

I love the health benefits and the taste of good seafood. Yet I’m sensitive to the plights of the world’s oceans. You hear all the time about how in the good old days they were reeling in whoppers all the time with the simplest methods because the oceans’ bounty was literally teeming to the point of overflowing. In typical capitalist response we rolled up our sleeves and got down to consuming with wanton regard for the future. This is a recurring theme (see ‘American Bison’ or ‘Old Growth Forest’ for more depressing history).

Now we hear that the reefs are ghost towns and the catches smaller in diversity of species, raw number and size of fish. The giants being pulled from the deep have shrunk in every way over time in conjunction with our targeted elimination of the oceans creatures starting with the biggest and most popular and working our way down. This means fewer and smaller blue whales, great white sharks, swordfish, blue fin tuna and salmon. And the list goes on and expands as each preceding species dwindles, gets more expensive and must be replaced on restaurant menus with a lesser tasty species.

Everyone knows it’s our consumer demand that is to blame. Everyone’s at fault (who eats fish at least). We’re told this at the same time that chic sushi restaurants continue to carve up endangered blue fin tuna (buttery, delicious toro) and push it on us priced at the ounce and served with a side of sex appeal. In my experience hypocrisy this blatant is easy to get angry about. So where’s the outrage? Or do we care if our children know what a blue fin tuna is?

Love it as I do, I can no longer eat a species of fish in good conscience without knowing a few things first. It is good to know from available literature what species are still abundant in the oceans (as those are what we turn to when the former culinary favorites go down) but I think we need to look a little deeper and make sure that not only are the species we turn to still healthy in number, but also being responsibly managed for the future.