Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Two Quick Links

Via Margory: Bill Buford's excellent New Yorker review of the continuing dilemma we omnivores face is now on line. I have two of the cookbooks and recommend both, especially the Fearnley- Whittingstall. But why on earth does the third cost $130+??

A good Buford quote:

"For all the disarray, there is a coherent ideology. It is evident in the opening pages, an eleven-photograph sequence that shows the author taking two cows to slaughter. The pictures are not sensational, but they are unflinching. The first is of the animals boarding a trailer, the floor covered with hay, backed up against a corral (a dirt road, a wooden gate, early-summer foliage, a green-diffused light, Fearnley-Whittingstall, in his familiar Wellies, coaxing them along). Then: a captive bolt gun pressed against the top of an animal’s head. Then: the animal on its side on a concrete floor, collapsed, blood starting to pool. It is raised by its hind legs and hung upside down to drain blood. It is skinned, a thick white fat being peeled off the body in a single rug piece. This is followed by a tug-of-war removal of the unwieldy, instantly expanding intestines, like a white plastic trash bag filled to bursting, and the sawing of the carcass in half, the moment when conventional butchering begins. There is little accompanying text, apart from a rhetorical aside:Why is it considered entertainment when a predator kills another animal in a wild-life film, Fearnley-Whittingstall wonders, “whereas the final moments of human predation of our farmed livestock are considered too disturbing and shameful to be made available even for information.” The reader understands the point. Meat comes from an animal—a banal connection that has been obscured by the way supermarkets prepare and present our food—and the animal has to be killed. If you fear the sight of a carcass, you shouldn’t be eating from it."

And: the BBC has censored one of the most poignant if raunchy of all Christmas ballads, the Pogues' immortal "Fairy Tale of New York". ("It was Christmas... in the drunk tank"; in the photo, Shane McGowan appears to be simultaneously drinking a pint AND a bottle.) For my Christmas it is as essential as Handel's Messiah. HT Andrew Stuttaford, who calls it the "greatest Christmas song of them all"--!


M.L. Miller said...

My school library had a large section of Kjelgaard books which I loved as a kid. Many and interesting wild animals, dogs, frequent hunting and trapping--how could you go wrong. Favorites were Desert Dog, Lion Hound and Haunt Fox, about a particularly elusive fox and a boy's attempt to catch it. There was also one that was a cat novel (Swamp Cat), about a black cat on a muskrat farm (!).

I also loved the A.R. Harding books, little old books still published by the publisher of Fur-Fish-Game. They were outdated and far from literary masterpieces but covered fascinating ground for a nature- and hunting-obsessed kid. There were books on making deadfalls, wolf trapping, ferrets, fur farming and other cool (to me alone, judging from librarian reaction) topics.

I wonder if those books are even on the library shelves any more.

M.L. Miller said...

Sorry, I posted the above comment to the wrong post. See dog books below.

Dan & Margaret said...

I'll see your Pogues, and raise you one Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas from the Family":
Carve the Turkey
Turn the ball game on
Mix margaritas when the eggnog's gone
Send somebody to the Quickpak Store
We need some ice and an extension chord
A can of bean dip and some Diet Rites
A box of tampons, Marlboro Lights
Haleluja everybody say Cheese
Merry Christmas from the family

mdmnm said...

Continuing M.L. Miller's dog book comment- Hooray for Kjelgaard! Desert Dog and Lion Hound were good, but my favorites were "Big Red" and "Stormy".

As to the Pogues, just have to have listen to it on the cd. Besides, it isn't as though "Pogue Mahone" wasn't used to a bit of censorship.

REK Jr. comes through the southwest every so often and can put on a killer live show.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the public view of butchering livestock, the Christian Science Monitor of Wed., Dec. 19, '07 has an editorial titled 'The trouble with Western art today'. The arresting photo with the article is titled 'But is it art? This work, called "School:The Archeology of Lost Desires, Comprehending Infinity , and the Search for Knowledge", is now on display at the Lever House In New York. The installation, by famed artist Damien Hirst, includes 29 tanks of sheep carcasses (and one tank with a shark) suspended in formeldahyde. Though highly sensationalist and controversial, the work does explore deep themes of life and death, says Carol Strickland. (who wrote the opinion)