A few things from this weekend’s papers. In today’s NY Times, there’s a great article by William Grimes, the paper’s former food critic. He tried living for four days on the new dietary guildelines I reference in this past week’s cartoon. His conclusions are right on point:
“In the world of the guidelines, food is a kind of medicine that, taken in the right doses, can promote good health. In the real world, of course, people regard food and its flavors as a source of pleasure. And therein lies just one of the problems with the guidelines, which my wife took one look at before saying with a shake of her head, “No one is ever going to eat like this.”
As a cultural document, the guidelines are strange. They set themselves the worthy but futile goal of imposing a style of eating for which Americans have no model. It’s all very well to announce that everyone should eat five servings of vegetables a day. But where does that fit in the culinary template that Americans instinctively consult when planning a meal? The typical American dinner is an entrée with a starch and a vegetable, preceded in some cases by a salad or soup and followed with dessert.
For Asians, it’s quite normal to eat multiple vegetable dishes at the same meal (even at breakfast), and to prepare very small quantities of fish or meat with much larger quantities of rice. But Americans rarely eat multiple vegetable dishes except on Thanksgiving. If they are going to triple their vegetable consumption, they’ll have to greatly enlarge the vegetable portions they do eat, throwing the meal off balance, or else walk around nibbling on carrots and cauliflower florets from a plastic bag.
The new guidelines are not just health policy, they’re cultural policy, too. To comply fully, Americans will have to rethink their inherited notions of what makes a meal, and what makes a meal satisfying.
That is a very tall order – even taller than the daily mound of uncooked leafy vegetables that everyone is supposed to eat.”
Second, in the same paper, I found encouraging words in Rick Moody’s review of David B’s “graphic memoir” (which is the first I’ve seen this term used) Epileptic:
“The graphic novel may originally have been aimed at ”a less-educated and/or intellectually blunted segment of the consumer pool,” as Chris Ware observed, but ”Epileptic” proves that this relatively new form can be as graceful as its august literary forebear. Recent novels by Jonathan Lethem and Michael Chabon have indicated how formative comics can be for writers who rely only on words. Now comic artists are expressing their facility with the strategies and ambitions of the word-smitten crowd. This cross-pollination is to be celebrated.”
And finally, in today’s Chicago Tribune, Greg Kot lists recently released eight albums for adults:
With all due respect to the late Ray Charles, his best-selling “Genius Loves Company” is more a triumph of marketing than artistry. And if the latest hot-selling releases by Rod Stewart, Josh Groban and Jimmy Buffett are the best we can expect as grownups, then count me as a fan of arrested development. But there’s plenty of great listening outside the teen market. Here are a few CDs that’ll please without descending into middle-age blandness:
(1) AQUALUNG, “Strange and Beautiful” (Columbia): Piano man ballads steeped in “Pet Sounds”-style melancholy.
(2) JOHN CALE, “HoboSapiens” (EMI): Nobody broods with greater distinctiveness than Cale, this time cocooned in chilled-out electronic soundscapes.
(3) NEKO CASE, “The Tigers Have Spoken” (Anti): The former punk-rock drummer channels mountain soul through a voice as feisty as Loretta Lynn’s.
(4) JOHN LEGEND, “Get Lifted” (Columbia): Kanye West’s sidekick updates ’70s soul.
(5) LOW, “The Great Destroyer” (Sub Pop): Slow-core specialists rev up the aggression, retain the plaintive beauty.
(6) ANGELA MCCLUSKEY, “The Things We Do” (Manhattan/EMI): A friskier, less mannered vocalist than some more celebrated divas, from Norah Jones to Madeleine Peyroux.
(7) M83, “Before the Dawn Heals Us” (Mute): Electronic music orchestrated with sumptuous elegance.
(8) SAM PREKOP, “Who’s Your New Professor” (Thrill Jockey): Sly melodies with a jazzy sense of swing and hints of the blues.