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February 19, 2008


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Guys: Maybe the time really has come to give up the soft drinks.

* What should the experts require of us? It seems like it must be a lot of fun to be a nanny-state advisor ...

* Why do you exercise?

* MoonRiver runs some beautiful reproductions of four of Fairfield Porter's paintings. FvBlowhard and I are both Fairfield fans. Friedrich recently shot off this fun passage to me:

I like some of his pictures intensely, others I’m pretty indifferent to. My reaction to him is quite a bit like my reaction to Bonnard, who was one of inspirations. In some pictures both guys are geniuses, in some they look like they’re 12-year-old amateurs.In any case, I always like the emotional tone, the investment in quiet everyday domestic life. I really like the high angle landscape of the parking lot; the generalizing of the color shapes is cool, as is the fact that he preserves the tonal relationships but suppresses most texture. I almost feel inspired to knock out a painting in response to this one!

Here's a good Robert Hughes passage about Fairfield Porter.



posted by Michael at February 19, 2008


Looking at Porter I often get the feeling that the intellectual (in him) trumped the artist. A great theorizer who tried to paint his paintings in accordance with those theories and sometimes pulled it off but often didn't, precisely because he talked and wrote about painting more than actually painting. So, many passages are awkward, or not completely realized (look at the grass incline between the parking lot and the trees in the campus picture, and look at some of the trees as well)) for lack of that automatic eye-hand thing that only comes after a thousand yards of canvas have been covered.
The comparisons are to Bonnard and Vuillard but they should really be to Matisse, who time and again pulls off what Porter was aiming for, without the joints showing.

Posted by: ricpic on February 19, 2008 4:22 PM

"Most support the theory of the city’s health commissioner that forcing chain restaurants to list the calories alongside menu items will make patrons think twice about ordering one."

This is absolute Bullsh*t. This is simply the Elites being Elitist.

One of my favorite sites is and it's sister site

The grand majority of postings on Chowhound are by people who are Chowhounds...that is, they are looking for great restaurants.

Do you know how often these people are looking for restaurants that feature Low-Calorie entrees? By my count: Never.

Nor should they, this is America.

All laws should be applied equally. If the Chain restaurants have to do this stuff, then so should Le Bernadin and Per Se (where Thomas Keller offers an 11 course meal).

The Elites simply hate the fat Wal-Mart shopping slob they see at McDonalds, and because they are in favor of all sorts of Socialist policies, they know that the more enlightened (and wealthier) ones will have to pay for it in the end.

And don't tell me that the Elites are only eating out every now and then. I worked in NYC long enough to know that the average Manhattanite NEVER cooks at home. I don't blame them, they don't have kitchens. (Except for the REAL Elites, with their Sub-Zero Fidges and Bourgeat Copper Cookware)

Damn Mike, that article got me upset.

On another note, about the Soft Drinks, I had heard that the Average American gets more calories in the day from drink than from food. This was on NPR, I don't know how good the research was on that one...but it is interesting.

Coke, Pepsi, Kool-Aid, Cappucinos, Frappuccinos, Soy Chai Lattes, Big Gulps, etc.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on February 20, 2008 10:20 AM

I think the point is the frequency that many people eat at chain restaurants. While this proposed law is too nanny-state even for me, I can appreciate the motivations behind it. There is a large number of people who get way too much of their daily percentage of food from fast food chains, and it shows. Sure, Per Se serves up some high calorie meals, but you don't go to Per Se 5 times a week.

Posted by: JV on February 20, 2008 11:42 AM

I think the point is the frequency that many people eat at chain restaurants.

Yes, it would be much better if they limited their Chain Restaurant habit and switched to eating at Cosi.

Per Se serves up some high calorie meals, but you don't go to Per Se 5 times a week.

Like I said with,
"And don't tell me that the Elites are only eating out every now and then."

They only get to eat at Per Se twice a year. Every other day they are eating out at some other restaurant (which also does not cater to the Low Calorie Dieter).

But, they don't eat at McDonalds. So good for them.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on February 20, 2008 12:29 PM

Ricpic -- Yeah, I know what you're referring to in Porter. Some awkwardness, some passages that don't make any kind of visual sense. (That said, I still like the paintings a lot. Who needs perfect?) I explain the awkwardness similarly to you but maybe a bit differently. My version: He was a literate, civilized guy who loved poetry and visuals. He wasn't the most fabulously talented hand-eye visual person in the world. But he had a lot of passion and a strong taste-set, and he kept at it, and what we see in the pix of his that are real Fairfield Porter pix is finally the triumph of hard work, taste, and passion over his innate klunkiness and literary bent. Hmm, so maybe I *am* saying the same thing you are ... Anyway: do you buy it?

Ian, JV -- It does seem weird to require that kind of info from chain restaurants and not from non-chain restaurants, doesn't it? It's sort of like passing a law requiring certain cable channels (the ones the, er, lower classes prefer) to keep the noise down while letting the classier cable channels do what they please. Why should that be stood for? For taste and pleasure reasons, I can't understand why anyone would eat in a chain restaurant when they don't have to myself. But if people want to, and if people choose to get fat, or just let it happen, it's OK by me. No business of mine, although I'll certainly marvel at the spectacle. How *can* people stand to feed themselves that way? It's a free world and all, but Jesus Christ.

If there's to be a battle between health and slobbiness, and/or taste and garbage, I'd rather see people simply *choose* to eat better and *choose* to not pork out.

Why the state is caught up in any way in giving eating advice really puzzles me, as is why we'd ever let such a state of affairs occur. One reason I keep referring to the Gary Taubes book is because it indirectly raises that point. If we have a lousy Food Pyramid these days, it's because the state chose to get involved. (McGovern, back in the late '70s.) But it's not just that the state does damage when it gets involved, although that often happens. It's the more basic question of why it should get involved at all, and why we should stand for that. What's with that?

Still: Why on earth *do* people choose to eat corporate food and live like slobs when they don't have to?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 20, 2008 2:35 PM

"Still: Why on earth *do* people choose to eat corporate food and live like slobs when they don't have to?"

Mike, this is a HUGE question that involves so many variables.

Some, to consider, in no particular order are:
• Why are our infants fed so much Soybean Oil?
• Why is Soy in almost everything we eat...including Free-Range Organic Chicken?
• What happened to our (North American) food sources after the Great War and then, especially, World War II?
• How much Sugar are we able to get in our diet? How much could the Average American get in, say, 1825?
• How was Beef (or Lamb, or whatever) prepared in, say, 1905 as compared to today? When children grow up on Well Cooked (never Rare) Grain Fed Beef relative to Grass Fed Beef cooked Rare, what is the difference in taste? (I can answer this one easily: Huge)
• How many Enzymes do we get in our Food? What about in 1905?
• Is it true that things like Bread once had Enzymes in them, whereas, today, they have none? What effect has that had?
• How many calories did the Average American get from their drinks in 1905? What about today?
• Is sugar a treat, or a staple?
• If the next President banned all prepared foods in 2009 (for some fascistic reason) including Pasta (yes, you would have to make your own), Pasteurized Milk (yes, you would have to boil it yourself, if you wanted to), all Restaurants, Starbucks, Cosi's, Bakeries (and All Baked Goods, you would need to use your own oven), etc.

What would happen? How many families would freak, not because they could not afford food, but they simply had no idea what to do?
• (Tie into immigration) Could we have gone from a nation of 100 million to a nation of 300 million so quickly without the aid of these disgusting Feed-lots that NEED to shoot drugs into their livestock because of the illnesses they get from subsiding on an unnatural diet. (Why on Earth are Cows eating grain? Have you ever seen a Cow work a thresher? They eat grass for Christ's sake.)
• What about Farm-Raised versus Wild Fish? Do they have the same nutritional content? Is it true that the Wild Fish have about 20 times the Omega-3 Fatty Acids that Farm Raised Fish have? Do we have enough Fish in American Waters or 300 million people?
• And fruits and vegetables: could we have grown this much food without the aid of massive pesticides? Would we have had to make due with a smaller population?
• What about naturally preserving Meats and Fish in Salt? How much of this did our ancestors get? And Now? Is it true that Salted Meats have about TWICE the AVAILABLE Vitamins that Fresh Meat has? (Answer: Yes)
• What about naturally fermented vegetables? How much do we get nowadays? Back in the day? Is their a nutritional difference?
• What about the microwave? How much do we know about its affects on things like Protein Structure and Growing Children?
• How much Lard did the average person get in 1905? LARD?!?!?! Yes, unless you are consuming Cod Liver Oil, it is, BY FAR, the greatest source of Vitamin D in the world. It has a High Smoke point which means that you can Fry with it. Instead, we are advised to use Olive Oil instead, which has a Low Smoke Point. Does that make any sense? And the thing that makes Extra Virgin Olive Oil so healthy is destroyed when you cook with it at any temperature.
Damn, I got about 100 more.

How many young people do you know that eat Liver and Onions on a regular basis? How many young people do you know that eat Liver and Onions at all?

Unless you buy into all of that Cholesterol garbage, Liver is basically the healthiest thing that you can consume (with the exception of Mothers Milk). One of the reasons that it is so healthy is because of the Cholesterol.

And shouldn't we be eating more Organ Meats? I mean, aren't we supposed to be more concerned about things like Factory Farming and being more efficient with Food?

Well, each time we kill some livestock, we basically throw away the Liver, Kidneys, Spleen, Heart and Brains. These things have calories. More importantly, they are Jam-Packed full of Vitamins and Minerals.

How about a final question: When a child is raised on Pizza, French Fries, Sugar-Laden Hamburgers (what do you think is in that Ketchup?), Trans-Fat Potato Chips, Enriched Cereal (I just love that this particular Health Food needs to be Enriched), and Lunchables, what do you expect to happen?

Damn Michael, you got me all upset again.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on February 20, 2008 4:17 PM

Ian -- That's a beauty of a rant!

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 20, 2008 4:56 PM

haha, Thanks.

I sometimes, kinda, when there is time, think about this subject.

Like I said, I could have gone on. Using Teflon and PTFE coated Aluminum pans to cook meat without Lard or Beef Tallow or Butter.

The fact that we can go a lifetime without eating things like Spinach or Kale (or some other Dark Leafy Greens) when, in the past, they would have been a staple. And they would have been a staple for a reason, we could grow it in winter.

It is not like we had much of a choice.

Or, how about buying Whole Chickens and using the whole beast for all that it is worth instead of just buying the boneless, skinless breast or Hot Wings.

I am talking about making home-made Chicken Stock, Jewish Penicillin, from the Neck (Meat and Gelatin), Heart and Gizzards (B-Vitamins, loads of Minerals and CoQ10, which is basically the most expensive supplement on the Market) and Feet (yes, feet, for more Gelatin...Gelatin is an amazing thing).

The list goes on and on and on.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on February 20, 2008 6:15 PM

Maybe Porter was a better critic than an artist, or perhaps the two activities were really one activity. In any event, I think this quote from Porter in Robert Hughes' piece (linked by MB) is genius:

"The presence in a painting," he once wrote, "is like the presence a child feels and recognizes in things and the way they relate, like a doorknob, the slant of a roof or its flatness, or the personality of a tool. Art does not succeed by compelling you to like it, but by making you feel this presence in it. Is someone there? This someone can be impersonal."

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on February 21, 2008 8:40 AM

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