Fred Kaufman Gives a Stomach Full (live!)

Frederick Kaufman discusses his new book “A Short History of the American Stomach” at Barnes and Noble (97 Warren Street in Manhattan).

Amazon.com review of the book:
“The extremes of American eating—our separate-but-equal urges to stuff and to starve ourselves—are easy to blame on the excesses of modern living. But Frederick Kaufman followed the winding road of the American intestine back to that cold morning when the first famished Pilgrim clambered off the Mayflower, and he discovered the alarming truth: We’ve been this way all along. With outraged wit and an incredible range of sources that includes everything from Cotton Mather’s diary to interviews with Amish black-market raw-milk dealers, Kaufman offers a highly selective, take-no-prisoners tour of American history by way of the American stomach. Travel with him as he tracks down our earliest foodies; discovers the secret history of Puritan purges; introduces diet gurus of the nineteenth century, such as William Alcott, who believed that “nothing ought to be mashed before it is eaten”; traces extreme feeders from Paul Bunyan to eating-contest champ Dale Boone (descended from Daniel, of course); and investigates our blithe efforts to re-create plants and animals that we’ve eaten to the point of extinction.”

American Stomach

Kaufman is a professor of English and teaches at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
3rd Book – announcer reads a section of a review by Lawrence.

“I decided to write this book because I became fascinated by what Americans would or would not put in their mouths,” said Kaufman

American Stomach

Kaufman greets people as they wander in to the reading.

Fred Kaufman

“People always ask me about the chapter I wrote about food media” (Like the food network)

So, he read from “Debbie Does Salad” chapter.

(And later I realize my video didn’t work. But it was a steamy reading, which Kaufman did without missing a beat)

Kaufman’s voice sensually reads the passages, letting the “sexy” section exude the sensual subject and words. Squid risotto, elongating dough, dominating iron chefs, Rachel Ray does erotic – these are some of the subjects from his book.


Dramatic and flawless, Kaufman teases giggles out of the crowd. The youngsters in the front seems a bit bored, especially the blond one in the blue jacket. Two of the kids are Kaufman’s but I am not sure which ones.

Fred Kaufman

“I think the American stomach is headed globally,” said Kaufman. “The future American stomach is going to be more like the Chinese stomach.”


Kaufman mentions groundhogs as food while answering an audience member’s question.

Someone asks about McDonald’s and china.
Kaufman speaks quickly about the Chinese devouring everything in site — “The Chinese are out Americanizing the Americans”
Reasons he says this:
 Chinese apples are over taking American sales (problem?)
 Chinese pushed the agenda of genetic modification
 They are imitating what America did a 100 years ago

Fred Kaufman

The large crowd gathered to hear Kaufman read. Many people in the crowd were students and friends of his.

Some one asks, “If American diet was different, would American ways be different?”

“There is no way for anything to be different then it actually was,” replied Kaufman.

He then said one can walk around Barnes and Nobel and see all the different diet books — diets are inevitable and have been happening for as long as we can go back in history.

Puritan puking and anorexia – find out what Kaufman thinks:

“People don’t realize we have been messing with our food for hundreds of years,” he said to the crowd. “All the fruit and vegetables you are seeing are cloned, they are patented, and they belong to somebody.”

A kid in front asked, since Kaufman spoke about the Chinese stomach, “What is happening with the Indian stomach?”

Answer: You see an increased trend in what is happening to the stomach through many cultures.

An audience member asked, “Did writing this book and researching this book change they way you ate?”

Kaufman replied with a low growl, “Noooooooo.”

End of reading and beginning of book signing.

After he sold and signed almost all the books that Barnes and Nobel had of his book, people started tricking out.

Francesca Levy, Matt Townson, Cristina Alesci

Read reviews for “A Short History of the American Stomach” by the Los Angeles Times and Time Out New York.


Quinn Walker

Check out my blog post on Chief Magazine about Quinn Walker’s CD release party. There are a couple of pictures too!



The Ghost of a Republican Candidate

Council Member Mathieu Eugene has campaigned non-stop on the streets of Brooklyn’s 40th Council District in order to secure his seat against the Republican opposition.  He raised over $24,000 and spent $19,000 for his campaign, the third this year after winning two special elections. Now the time has come for the final vote, which will make him a councilman until at least 2011.

Yet, even with a solid campaign and success expected, there still is the other candidate to think of, Clarence John.

“He is my opponent and I have to give him respect as the opposition,” said Eugene. “I don’t want to underestimate anyone.”

The threat of losing appeared minimal, as 81-year-old John doesn’t have a campaign office and nor has he raised campaign funds. Phone messages to his home go to a machine that sites the phone number in an old, scratchy man’s voice and are not returned. And, the public hardly knows anything about him.

“My guess is he does it for a hobby,” said Jeff Merritt, president of Grassroots Initiative.

Tuesday’s election will be the eighth time John has run in a political race, which included State Senate, City Council and the Assembly. He has never won.

“There is always going to be a token Republican running,” said Michael Harris, a Democratic political strategist. “By the sixth or seventh time running, people might want a change.”

The change Harris spoke of deals with a switch in political party, a move that isn’t likely to happen in Brooklyn, which has the largest population of Democrats in the country.

“One way they could win is if they get on the ticket for another category like liberal or independent,” said Merritt. But, he said of John’s case, “It’s odd he wouldn’t do anything to campaign.”

To run as a Republican in Brooklyn it takes far less effort than to run as a Democrat. The 40th Council District requires 155 signatures for a Republican compared to the Democrat’s 900.  John has voted in every election, no matter how small and if patterns remain the same, he will vote next week.

“We are trying to revitalize the Republican Party,” said Craig Eaton, the newly elected Kings County Chairman.

Eaton said the Republican Party would start to raise funds for their candidates and in the future, people like John will have more support in their campaigns. Meaning, they will actually have a campaign.  John, who had finally been reached dialed in on a conference call, spoke quietly and with an undistinguishable heavy accent.
“They always elect a Democrat,” said John, “but there is nothing done in the neighborhood.”

Almost as quickly as he got on the phone John left to go to a doctor’s appointment, not much said and no new knowledge of this man gained.

Eaton doesn’t expect him to win, but deemed the action of a Republican on the ballot important.

Right before he got off the phone John said, “I am always motivated to run, to show them what the opposite is like.”

So far, there has not been a Republican City Council member in Brooklyn’s 40th District, and this year, Eugene has no doubt that this will not change.


The Purrfect Situation

Cats. You either hate them or you love them, there is rarely a middle ground. A cat as a pet is always different then a cat as a stray and whether or not you grew up with them often has a pull on your affections for them. Some people are horribly allergic to felines and thus can’t stand them. (My best friend’s boyfriend for example is drastically allergic and when he comes to our apartment curses our two cats to no end; he is, however, getting used to being teary-eyed and sneezing.)
This particular post is part jest, in reference to the “cat blog,” that is a joke in the Internet community for the eerie truth behind it. Everyone seems to have a cat story and everyone posts pictures of their cats (if you are a cat lover, which is funny because dog lovers are not nearly as insane as cat people, at least with the “cat power” (not the band) mentality). True, there are the cat fanatics, and they can be a little, how you say, creepy? There is also the “crazy cat lady” (and the same friend and I have decided is the best way to go as we age).
By the way, here is a picture of my cat:

Pico de Gato and his favorite beverage Now that we have gotten that out of the way I wanted to bring up a few things that people don’t usually think about when bashing the idea of having a pet. A recent New York Times article glorified the role of cats in the Iraq war and how having them around gave some beacon of hope and life to an otherwise dismal situation. Having a pet in general has been known to make you happier. Also, people that don’t get along with animals or abuse them have been known to be disturbed and psychopaths. (Maybe I made that one up a wee bit)
So the moral of this whimsical blog is that give it a chance, cats, pets, love…live longer and happier and remember, not all cats are stuck up and uncaring. My cat, fetches, plays chase and wants to bury stuff. So maybe I am a dog person in disguise.
And here is another picture of Pico de Gato–just to get it out of my system:

Pico likes to read the paper, or sit on them, same thing.


Cupcake Revolution

Pink with white and orange sprinkles are the new black. That’s right, it’s a cupcake revolution.
Not only are these delicious little cakes a good marketing scheme (look at Johnny Cupcakes) and descriptive way to say “fluff” (Martha’s “Camp Cupcake”); these tiny devil’s food have quite a cult following.
There are even cupcake wars, or, as you will, “battle of the cupcake.” Schools have tried to ban them, and even in this obese, health obsessed world, the ban failed and kids (and parents) can keep their tiny treats. If you go into a coffee shop or a bakery that serves cupcakes the chances are high of you hearing the cry, “I love cupcakes!” or a discussion on who has the best cakes in town.

New York Magazine wrote about the battling cupcake shops where they accurately coined the craze:

“The cupcake’s renaissance to some combination of (a) a post-diet-fad craving for sugary indulgence; (b) the girly-girl culture that spun up around Sex and the City; and (c) a regressive nostalgia that spurs adults to seek out the comfort foods of some idealized, vanilla-scented childhood.”

No wonder they have such appeal. Now, we even have a cupcake queen…I guess cheese danishes and crumb cake just don’t have what it takes. If you would like to join this revolution, check out the cupcake blog for all your cupcake needs. At least this is one food that cannot be super-sized, or maybe it has and we just call it “cake.”


Chris Crocker Won’t Leave Us Alone

Chris Crocker, have you heard of him? It’s hard to miss now that he is in-line with many other Youtube and myspace.com stars. What made him popular was his reaction to the reactions of people to Britney Spears’ less then graceful appearance on the MTV Music awards.

What’s amazing is the commentary that has arisen from his video. Not only was he featured on a yahoo.com news video and The Minniapoulous Star Tribune, but he has also been the focus of ridicule and comedy in the youtube world. Everyone and anyone is getting in on it.  There is a great skit with Seth Green where he uses the video to promote his show Robot Chicken and the soup. Even funnier is the National Lampoon’s response–on behalf of Britney herself!

So what is the issue here, a fallen pop star? A video performer? Comedy? Entertainment? Or, like the National Lampoon’s video said, “It’s September 11th and all you can think about is Britney!” I think, I think we may be getting somewhere.

And just for an extra…


can it bee terrorism?

Bees. Cute, fluffy, yellow little bees. Ok, maybe they aren’t that fluffy, but bumble bees are a bit on the cuddly size…anyway, they are dying and I thought that if I used words like “cute” then it might hit home. Then again, we haven’t decided if this is really a crisis or completely normal.

One thought about how the bees are dying is of course the idea of terrorist bees carrying the Israeli acute paralysis virus…that’s right, from Israel. I know, I know, we are not at war with Israel, or so we say. After this spread of the virus it is apparent that the bees are at war with each other and are sending martyrs to come and infect the poor innocent bees of the United States of America. Let this be a warning!

Of course that particular article also says that there are a lot of trends in our bee deaths that have nothing to do with the Israeli acute paralysis virus.

The bee deaths have been called “colony collapse disorder,” they have been attributed, and then rejected, to cell phones and pesticides, to much pollution in the air and global warming. The truth is, nobody really knows what is going on with them. Except that they really are disappearing. At one point the Department of Agriculture (DOA) called the deaths “American foulbrood” and created a antibiotic for it–but they are still dying.

And they are dying in England too.

And Brazil.

And Canada.

So if it bee terrorism it may be worse then we think. The terrorism is spreading. We need out bees. Then again, this might bye what they want and in actuality they are leaving this planet in preparation for the next world disaster.


Darn the ‘DWSP’

What? You don’t know what DWSP stands for? Where have you been? Obviously it’s an acronym for ‘Down With Sagging Pants,’ a trend that is rapidly growing as something for us to hate and fight against. Recently the New York Times published an article in the August 30 Fashion & Style section about how people find it offensive to see guys wearing pants down past their but. Ok, fair enough for this section. But what gets me is on August 28, the Times ran an article in the Metro section about Stratford, CT’s disgust at the fashion and their fight to have it banned. A third of the page was taken up with this. A third of the page.

Now, lets go to another subject that also really gets me. On September 1 there was an article about Mike B. Nifong, the former district attorney in North Carolina who pushed to get the Duke lacrosse players convicted of rape. He was found guilty of lying and was disbarred and facing charges. This article was a smidgen of the DWSP article and it was pushed back into the corners of the last pages of the National section. Great! So nice to see where our priorities lie. Maybe if Nifong was wearing sagging pants, then his story would probably be on the front page.

Until things change, I find the need to hanker down, maybe buy some belts for those unfortunates who need it so. It’s good that we fight for our rights about these sorts of things, I mean, sure there’s a war going on, but this is so much closer to home. God bless America and the media.

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