Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Quarter Pounder Restaurant

See here.

Last Night, She Said...

Last night for dinner I went to Casa Mono on Irving and 17th. What a place. I had pumpkin and goat cheese croquetas, roasted piquillo peppers stuffed with oxtails and, the kicker, goat confit with saffron honey. Amazing. Ah, New York on a Monday night...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

From Advertising Age:

NIH: Banning Fast Food Ads Will Make Kids Less Fat

Research Also Suggests Benefits From Eliminating Tax Breaks

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- A ban on fast-food advertising to children would cut the national obesity rate by as much as 18%, according to a new study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research and funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The study measured the number of fast-food ads kids watched and found a fast-food TV-ad ban for children's programming would reduce the number of overweight children aged 3 to 11 by 18%, and for adolescents (12- to 18-year-olds) by 14%. Data also revealed a more pronounced effect on males than females.

Extensive data
The National Bureau of Economic Research describes the study as "the largest of its kind to directly tie childhood obesity to fast-food advertising on American television," based on viewing habits of 13,000 children, using data from U.S. Department of Labor research carried out in 1979 and 1997. The study also reports that eliminating tax deductions associated with TV advertising would result in a reduction of childhood obesity, though in smaller numbers.

"We have known for some time that childhood obesity has gripped our culture, but little empirical research has been done that identifies television advertising as a possible cause," Shin-Yi Chou of Lehigh University, one of the study's authors, said in a statement. "Hopefully, this line of research can lead to a serious discussion about the type of policies that can curb America's obesity epidemic."

The other authors of the study, which appears in The Journal of Law and Economics this month, were Inas Rashad of Georgia State University and Michael Grossman of City University of New York Graduate Center. It's important to note that even the study's authors question the practicality of so much governmental interference in advertising.

"What it all comes down to is the choices parents make for their kids," said Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman for the National Council of Chain Restaurants, which represents the industry. "Parents choose what their children eat and where their children eat. We all know that children have strong opinions, but parents make the choices."

Cause and effect
Amandine Garde, a law lecturer at the University of Exeter who focuses on legal issues surrounding ad bans, said the biggest hurdle to instituting limitations on messaging to children has been proving the relationship between ads and weight. "Now we're seeing the issue being addressed, the causal relationship, which was denied by the food industry for many, many years," she said. "If you have a causal relationship, it makes the case even stronger that there is a need for regulation."

Sweden and Norway instituted bans on all ads to children in the early 1990s, but the legislation sought to avoid exploitation rather than prevent obesity. Quebec has banned food advertising to children during programs geared toward kids, and the Canadian province has shown lower childhood obesity rates than surrounding areas, although there may be a variety of contributing factors.

Voluntary efforts under way
The industry, of course, has been taking steps on its own, hoping to avoid a ban. Major food-industry players, including McDonald's, Burger King, Kraft and Kellogg, have signed on to the Council of Better Business Bureaus' Childrens' Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. As part of the voluntary program, participants have agreed to devote 50% of advertising dollars geared at children under 12 to messages that promote healthier dietary choices or more-active lifestyles. Healthful-product messages must be consistent with USDA and FDA standards.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008


There is certainly atrophy of more than just body parts. Ideas, feelings you thought were going to be there til you die often wither questionably. Who knows exactly why or how to piece together a deconstructed view of their demise, but one day they are just a glob of deflated nothingness hanging in your conscience or sub-conscience. I hate cliches, but chips on shoulders are like atrophied body parts; of course you fear the amputation, but isn't it, in the end, better than dragging it around, hoping that some sort of new science or technology will one day revive it? Do we always return to Shelley? And what of phantom limbs, phantom chips? The chip can go away but its phantom will rest on your shoulder, no? Sometimes heavy, sometimes light. Where do these feelings go, in an existential sense....for that matter, where does an amputated limb end up, ultimately? Does it get literally thrown in the trash to decay, or does it get buried? If you had to have a limb amputated, what would you want done with it? Burying part of yourself, knowing that one day the rest will follow. But could it have been saved if we were only a more advanced species? In years to come, could we have dealt with the limb, these chips, these feelings? Atrophy can be caused by a lack of nourishment, disuse, lack of movement or exercise.
"Body Integrity Identity Disorder is a psychological condition in which an individual feels compelled to remove one or more of their body parts, usually a limb. In some cases, that individual may take drastic measures to remove the offending appendages, either by causing irreparable damage to the limb so that medical intervention cannot save the limb, or by causing the limb to be severed." -from Wikipedia. See also: amputee fetishism (acrotomophilia).

Beirut - Nantes
Well it's been a long time, long time now
since I've seen you smile.
And I'll gamble away my fright.
And I'll gamble away my time.
And in a year, a year or so
this will slip into the sea
Well, it's been a long time, long time now
since I've seen you smile

Nobody raise your voices
Just another night in Nantes
Nobody raise your voices
Just another night in Nantes

We saw...
French interlude/ Parlé en français (Extrait de "Le Mépris"/Godard):
Woman _ Ah non, j't'en prie. Mais ço(ça), ça me facine...
Man _ Je t'assure que...
Woman _ Non! Laisse-moi!
Man _ Qu'est-ce que tu as aujourd'hui?
Woman _ J'ai que les hommes me dégoûtent.
Vous pensez qu'à ça de toute façon.

Well it's been a long time, long time now
since I've seen you smile.
And I'll gamble away my fright.
And I'll gamble away my time.
And in a year, a year or so
this will slip into the sea
Well, it's been a long time, long time now
since I've seen you smile

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hard Times, Dickens Style

Things are bad at my job. I don't want to say many details, but bearing witness to this financial meltdown, sitting a stone's throw from Wall Street everyday and having my dad email me to tell me to look up while I'm walking (in case people are jumping from buildings), has all been pretty unnerving. I just sent my co-workers an email with my personal email and phone number just in case it's me or them that gets the axe next. Layoffs are imminent, we've been told.

From my seat, it's sort of fine and actually interesting to witness. I have plans to attend grad school, this isn't my career, I don't have kids, I will make it work. Somehow. For my dear friends here at work, who have many just recently graduated from their master's programs at Yale, MIT, Harvard, Berkley...it's bleak! Imagine completing years of school to be thrown into a job market that was at first booming and so suddenly crashing. We have lost most of our projects, our big names are holding back--who builds buildings during a depression? FDR, and that's about it, which is why our publicly funded project is one of the only ones hanging on.

In literally two months, our situation has become dire. The entire company has changed and will change even more very soon. If there is any field, besides something directly correlated to finance, that this crisis has impacted, it's design and architecture. New buildings are a luxury, architects are expensive and times are tough--naturally, it's one of the first things a company will 'put on hold'. The process of design is also so lengthy, there are so many opportunities before any building even begins to shut down the project. It's hard to get buildings built, actually built. Especially innovative and beautiful, cool ones. Especially in a recession/depression.

My my my. My my.

Regarding the bailout, have we seen any truly positive impacts thus far? Companies are still faltering every. single. day. People are losing their jobs like crazy, especially in New York. A job fair sponsored by Monster.com today had a line stretching an entire avenue and around the block. It's rough. The bailout seems to have completely overlooked a greater problem of capitalism and simple MATH. Will more regulation fix these problems? How could so many institutions be hanging on by such a small margin? It's like they had MY bank account for Christ's sake...any major expense or problem and I'm wiped out. How did we come to this?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Skinny Love

Skinny Love by Bon Iver is probably my favorite song du cette moment:

Come on skinny love just last the year
Pour a little salt we were never here
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer

I tell my love to wreck it all
Cut out all the ropes and let me fall
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Right in the moment this order's tall

I told you to be patient
I told you to be fine
I told you to be balanced
I told you to be kind
In the morning I'll be with yo
But it will be a different "kind"
I'll be holding all the tickets
And you'll be owning all the fines

Come on skinny love what happened here
Suckle on the hope in lite brassiere
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Sullen load is full; so slow on the split

I told you to be patient
I told you to be fine
I told you to be balanced
I told you to be kind
Now all your love is wasted?
Then who the hell was I
Now I'm breaking at the britches
And at the end of all your lines

Who will love you?
Who will fight?
Who will fall far behind?

Nutrition can be a form of anorexia, no? Nutritionarexia could definitely be something; becoming obsessed with nutritional content in order to monitor and dictate your every calorie/vitamin/molecule intake. I can see it becoming an obsession, an excuse, just like any other eating disorder it has the potential to take over your every thought when buying, cooking, ordering and eating food.

Sometimes I have this weird tendency to buy a bag of chips or something bad for me and toss it out right after I buy it without taking a bite. It's like this mind trick I use to appease the devilish part of me that wants something that I know is bad for me. It completely suffices too! Once I purchase, hold and then quickly purge into the trash the item in question, I am totally satisfied as if I had eaten the whole bag. In fact, it's probably more satisfying for me, as I know that I didn't eat a big ball of junk. I would rather go through this motion and waste a few dollars (cause let's face it, bad food is usually really cheap) than actually eating it. But would advocating this type of psychological trick that works for me be a bad idea? Is it okay to tell people to try these tactics that waste money and, honestly, don't really solve the deeper issue at hand? Is there a deeper issue? Is there always a deeper issue? What if it works? Shouldn't we go to any length to avoid eating this bullshit ever? I can equate it to being mad at someone, writing them a bitchyass letter and then tossing it in the garbage. (Okay, who does that seriously, but ... I've heard it works.)

Could love be like this too? You feel this insatiable urge to purchase it and then, for some, to toss it out as immediately as you bought it. Buyers remorse of love. You become disgusted by it, reject it. It's gross.

To ponder for the week ahead: how is love like food? I'll write more about this soon.

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's like this.

  • Margot Helen Tenenbaum - A playwrighting prodigy, Margot once ran away from home for two weeks and came back with half of one of her fingers missing. She is shown moping in her bathtub, watching television, ignoring her husband. She smokes, unbeknownst to anyone else in her family as she is infamously secretive. She is also adopted, as Royal is quick to point out. Margot is not only a playwright, but also a book critic; she wrote a negative review of Eli Cash's latest book despite the fact that she and Eli are lovers.
  • Richie Tenenbaum - A tennis prodigy, Richie is secretly in love with his adopted sister, Margot. While successful in his tennis career, Richie has a nervous breakdown on court in front of thousands of fans (the film implies his breakdown was because Margot and Raleigh were married the day before) and loses his desire to play tennis soon after. At the beginning of the film, he has been living on an ocean liner for several months. He drinks Bloody Marys with pepper throughout the movie, so much so that he carries a capped pepper shaker in his jacket pocket. The character of Richie is loosely based on former champion tennis player Bjorn Borg. Borg shocked the tennis world by retiring at age 26 and wore the same style headband and trademark Fila polo as Richie and was rumored to have attempted suicide in the years after his exit from the game.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

This is great. From the NYT:

Finally, a Thin President

Published: November 5, 2008

OVER the coming days and weeks, there will be many “I never thought I’d see the day” pieces, but none of them will be more overflowing with “I never thought I’d see the day”-ness than this one. I’m black, you see, and I haven’t gained a pound since college. I skip breakfast most days, have maybe half a sandwich for lunch, and sometimes I forget to eat dinner. Just slips my mind. Yesterday morning, I woke up to a new world. America had elected a Skinny Black Guy president.

I never thought I’d see the day. What were the chances that someone who looked like me would come to lead the most powerful nation on earth? Slim.

Skinny Black Guys of my parents’ generation pinned their hopes on Sammy Davis Jr. His was a big-tent candidacy, rallying Skinny Black Guys, the Rat Pack and the Jewish vote in one crooning, light-footed package. He won South Carolina, but he never gathered momentum. In the end, the Candy Man couldn’t.

No one stepped up for a long time. Michael Jackson was black and skinny, but also pretty weird, and after a while he wasn’t even black any more, although he did retain his beanpole silhouette. We thought we had a winner in Chris Rock, but then he started in with his infamous “There are Russians, and then there are ... Georgians” routine and we decided he was too raw for the national stage. So we waited. Some lost faith. Others gorged themselves on protein shakes, believing that America might accept a black mesomorph. And some of us kept hoping. We were hungry for change, if not brunch.

Like many Americans, I first saw Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic convention. I remember telling my wife excitedly, “This guy is probably stuffed after a cup of minestrone!”

We knew it’d be an uphill battle. America has a long, troubled history. Last summer, The Wall Street Journal came out and said what all Americans felt, but were too afraid to say aloud: “In a nation in which 66 percent of the voting-age population is overweight and 32 percent is obese, could Senator Obama’s skinniness be a liability? Despite his visits to waffle houses, ice-cream parlors and greasy-spoon diners around the country, his slim physique just might have some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them.” Had he bitten off more than he could chew?

I voted for Mr. Obama, but don’t give me that “you’re racist” line. Skinny Black Guys vote Democratic 90 percent of the time, through thin and thin. Now our day has come.

On the right, there’s been much anxiety over what a Skinny Black Guy administration will look like. Will he paint the White House a warm, Cablinasian caramel, lop off the East Wing for a more svelte profile? Pack his cabinet with Garrett Morris, Dave Chappelle and Jimmie Walker? Such talk is ridiculous, although Mr. Obama doesn’t hide the fact that he keeps Urkel on speed-dial “because you never know.” I’m confident he’ll reach across the aisle to Skinny White Guys, Haven’t Been Able to Get to the Gym White Guys, and If They Were Women They’d Be Called Zaftig White Guys.

He is going to raise taxes on the middle class, though. They were right about that. Skinny Black Guys hate the middle class. No reason. Just do.

What else can we expect from a Skinny Black Guy White House? (I never thought I’d live to write those words!) We’ll turn the corner, or close the menu, as we like to say, on the war on terrorism. The time may come to sit down at the (under-catered) table with the Taliban. The president-elect has a lot in common with these guys. No, not that. It’s hard to get good takeout in the caves of Tora Bora, so you know they’re pretty lean by now. Nothing breaks the ice like, “Is that my stomach growling, or yours?”

There’s a lot of work to be done to get America back on track. There won’t be time for full meals, just light snacking. No problem. With the economy tanking, we’ll to have to tighten our belts. Again, no prob. When Skinny Black Guys say, “I’ll just have the Cobb salad,” it’s not a calorie thing. We’re cheap. It’ll come in handy when cutting the fat out of the budget in time for beach season.

A lot of bigots woke up yesterday to the reality of our modern world. To them I say, just because you have a high metabolism, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a fierce moral vision and the right ideas to fix this country. It just means that you don’t gain weight easily.

Somewhere, the Candy Man is smiling.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It is often said, that, next to great joy, no state of mind is more frolicsome as great distress. -James

I ride the subway many days with the same people. There's a couple I watch scrutinizingly--they have been my hope for true love, in fact. I started to see them in the midst of the commencement of their courtship: awkward Brooklynistas, not quite hipster/not quite professional, obviously moved to 'the city' from somewhere like Missouri or Minnesota. So much left to be discovered, they are roughly my young age (25) with only a partially existential view of what it means to live and love (it is assumed that with age we gain wisdom but perhaps we only grow less naive... a friend recently told me that "[we] gain a kind of more subtantial naivete in the form of hope and care when begin to grow older"). In any case, there was timidity coupled with promise in their eyes. Though are we all jaded, even at 25, are we all rough around the edges? It seems that conviction comes on stronger than ever when you're young and in a new city, so much so that it can be almost blinding -- not quite ego, but not quite explicated thoughts formulated in meticulous detail. These two, I concocted in my early-morning-pre-coffee-loathe-to-go-to-work brain, were less challenging, however. Less convicted than most; that they had come together over their mutual simplicity, in a sense, their ability to disconnect from reality while simultaneously attempting to gain ground in life experience by schlepping through Brooklyn ,working in the city, utilizing public transit (doing the things that we are told will make us interesting when we're older and when we've naturally returned 'home' to 'settle')... in any case, they looked happy. They were cute. They were cute and they looked happy. Neither of them had any striking aesthetic offerings or distinct style--they were sort of cut out of Hipster Granola Journal, thick framed glasses and the like. She wears skirts with boots, but not interesting boots. Just round-toed dark brown boots. I didn't see them every day, only maybe once a week or every two weeks and always, ALWAYS down the train at least half a car--though when I did see them we were in the same car so that I could oh so perfectly observe them. Everyone I know in New York makes stories up about people they ride with on the subway. I pull this Sophie Calle style of voyeurism (or at least I equate it as such to justify it so) I guess not just on the subway, but even in so far as watching people through their windows, making up stories about people in stores and bodegas I frequent, my neighbors, etc. It's the result of a city where everyone is literally on top of each other and you become very close with an intensely small percent of this population. I fall in love on the subway at least once a month, solely in my mind. It becomes elaborate, especially when you're seeing the same people over lengths of time.
So after six months or so of seeing them, I got to the point where I would start looking for an engagement ring on this girls finger--I knew it would have to be coming soon. They were straight smitten, he was probably half a foot taller and, as they grabbed on to the subway handles, she would gaze up into his eyes and they would laugh. They would rarely read or listen to music, preferring each other's company and conversation. They must have seen me gawking at them, but paid no mind. They didn't seem to be showing off their love, but they also weren't hiding it. This is not to say that I am wont for the type of relationship they had. I find myself a bit more, well, raucous or intense in general, less passive, but they were doing it day in and day out, being together in a city and a circumstance that presents challenges and obligations of diversion on a daily basis. They rode together.
You can imagine my unbridled, though downright nervous, excitement when I haphazardly pulled up next to them (right next to them) in our usual car on the G train. And then my stifling suffocating sadness when I heard this conversation soon ensue:
Him: So.... anything new with you and that...duuude?
Her: No, god, shut up.
{They both laugh.}
Him: Sorry! I was just asking. Are there any prospects out there for you?
Her: No.. I don't know. Stop!

It went on like this and I, due to loss of breath, had to sort of retreat. I had my James' New York Stories with me and fell into one at this passage about a man who had recently become un-engaged to a most beautiful woman as narrated from the viewpoint of a good friend:

He turned away and, in the dark empty street, he leaned his arm on the iron railing that guarded a flight of steps, and dropped his head upon it. I left him standing so a few moments--I could just hear his sobs. Then I passed my arm into his own and walked home with him Before I left him, he had recovered his outward composure.
After this, so far as one could see, he kept it uninterruptedly. I saw him the next day, and for several days afterward. He looked like a man who had a heavy blow, and who had yet not been absolutely stunned. He neither raved or lamented, nor descanted upon his writing. He seemed to be trying to shuffle it away, to resume his old occupations, and to appeal to the good offices of the arch-healer, Time. He looked very ill--pale, preoccupied, heavy-eyed, but this was an inevitable tribute to his deep disappointment. He gave me no particular opportunity to make consoling speeches, and not being eloquent, I was more inclined to take one by force. Moral and sentimental platitudes always seemed to me particularly flat upon my own lips, and, addressed to Crawford, they would have been fatally so. Nevertheless, I once told him with some warmth, that he was giving signal proof of being a philosopher. He knew that people always end by getting over things, and he was showing himself able to traverse with a stride a great moral waste. He made no rejoinder at the moment, but an hour later, as we were separating, he told me, with some formalism, that he could not take credit for virtues he had not.
"I am not a philosopher," he said; "on the contrary. And I am not getting over it."