One Hot New York Minute

February 16, 2011 · Posted in In My World · Comments Off on One Hot New York Minute 

Phew.  What a few weeks it has been.  New city, new job, new…..apartment….sort of?  It’s a small space in Hell’s Kitchen, about the size of my old bathroom.*  And that’s saying a lot, since my old apartment wasn’t big at all.

Outside of a few excursions to Blue Bottle and Saltie’s, this guy is pretty lost so far.  Granted it’s only been a couple of weeks, and I’m sure by fall it will be a whole different song.

Thankfully our foodiverse never seems short of ridiculous things to keep us busy and somewhat amazed.

I’m going to go with the recent okay’ing by the Obama administration and FDA of certain GMO’s.  And possibly to follow some form of “salmon”.  Mark Bittman’s op-ed in the Times is a great place to start.

This is nothing more than a sweetheart deal for corporations, and there’s no way to disguise it.  As Mark points out, 87% – 87%!!! – of Americans are opposed to GMO’s.  There may in fact be something we can agree on after all!

If you’re a conservative economist this should rankle you to the absolute core.  Before you go quoting Milton Friedman on me, remember that he valued choice and access to information.  One of his most wide-read books is called “Freedom to Choose.”  How, pray tell, can one choose if you don’t know what you’re buying?  87% of the people oppose this!  That’s the market talking.  The market has said we don’t want this.  If it’s less profitable for companies to produce something the market doesn’t want anyway, then those companies shouldn’t be producing those goods.  This is barely Econ 101.  Or maybe first week of Econ 101, I don’t know.  Either way – the American people have stated pretty conclusively that they want these foods labeled.  So we can choose what we put in our bodies, and choose what we feed our families.

Okay perhaps that’s not enough for you.  Perhaps you don’t care about what you eat.  (Which begs the question why you’re reading this blog but…I digress.)  How about this one?

Thaaaaaaaaat’s right, now that you’ve read it.  Potentially billions of dollars of oil and gas are being extracted from our soil…from American soil…without companies paying anything for it.

In the meantime let’s not fix this problem.  Let’s cut the Peace Corps and pell grants.  Let’s make it more difficult for underprivileged children to get to college.  Bravo, government!

Now this one’s my personal favorite, if only because it combines the Tour de France AND factory-farmed meat!  I watch the Tour pretty religiously if I can, despite the doping and slightly ridiculous nature of the whole thing.  It is truly the first Amazing Race, and if you don’t watch it, you should tune in for at least a couple of stages.  Preferably a mountain stage so you can at least enjoy breathtaking shots of France.

Basic gist is this.  Contador, a three-time winner, failed a drug test.  This drug is a common steroid called clenbuterol used to fatten cattle.  He claims he failed the text because he ate bad meat.  AND HE MIGHT BE RIGHT!  The article states that of 28 non-athletes who traveled through and ate meat in China, 22 tested positive for clenbuterol and would have failed a drug test.  China is known to use this chemical in their livestock production, as is Mexico.  So “conventional” farming and livestock methods are now depositing levels of chemical and steroids in humans that are so prevalent as to cause failed drug tests.  What about this seems wrong?

Know your meat people!

Also, and ostensibly for comedic purposes, this article describes a table tennis player who was suspended for failing a drug test because of clenbuterol-laden meat.  Who knew table tennis players even TOOK drug tests!!!

That’s about all I’ve got for now…

Until next time –


*slight exaggeration


Second City, second to none.

January 31, 2011 · Posted in In My World · Comments Off on Second City, second to none. 

I’ve reported murders, scandals, marriages, premieres and national political conventions. I’ve been amused, intrigued, outraged, enthralled and exasperated by Chicago. And I’ve come to love this American giant, viewing it as the most misunderstood, most underrated city in the world. There is none other quite like my City of Big Shoulders.

– Irv Kupcinet, who began Kup’s Column in 1941

I give you Chicago. It is not London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from snout to tail.

– H. L. Mencken

It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago-she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time.

– Mark Twain “Life On The Mississippi,” 1883

It is often said every Chicagoan, at some point, moves away for a time but is inevitably drawn back.  For what, the reasons differ.  But we do.  We return, despite the wind, despite January and February, despite the Cubs, and despite the incurable traffic.  Time and time again this pattern has played out, but it is up in the air if it will for me.  As I sit in a room of packed boxes with a one-way ticket, it is hard not to reflect on the city that raised me, influenced me, was always there, and will I have no doubt beckon me home from time to time.

The hog butcher to the world, the City of Big Shoulders, she raises you right if you let her.  As you brace against her winter, you learn to dig your heels in and refuse to budge an inch.  As the sun warms in spring, and North Avenue Beach erupts, you learn to take time for the small, seemingly insignificant but important things in life.  As your sports team continues to disappoint, you learn the meaning of the word commitment, and just how long a lifetime can be.  It’s not for the feint of heart, nor for the weak of spirit.

Chicago will never come right out and smack you with what you’re supposed to know.  It takes time, takes effort, to get to know her secrets.  She won’t automatically invite you in, but once she does you’re in for an amazing ride.  Whether it’s a jazz bar with a piece of cardboard as a sign, the sunrise around the corner of the Shedd Aquarium, Kuma’s before it was Kuma’s, or the leftover goosebumps you get from the Jordan era at the United Center, there are treasures to be found almost no matter where you look.

But as I said goodbye to my friends, I realized the best “secret” is and always has been the people.  My cousin, who studied “out east”, asked me skeptically when she moved here – “Does everyone always smile at you?”  I had to explain to her that, yes, people do that out here.  We will welcome you in, we will invite you into our homes.  I can’t help but feel lucky that I have had the experiences here I did, and been invited into the homes I have been.  The fact that it’s hard to leave, in my mind at least, means I did something right while I was here.  If not I wouldn’t care about missing what I know will be happening in my absence – and that weirdly gives me solace in an otherwise sad goodbye to my city.  I will miss everything that makes us Chicago, but none more than the personality that makes us Chicago.

As I lay my head in Chitown tonight…for the last night in a long while…I can’t but be grateful for everything she has given me over the years.  Thank you to every single one of you who has helped make Chicago such an amazing experience for me.

To be continued…


In My World…

November 6, 2010 · Posted in In My World · 1 Comment 

In my world, things would run a bit differently.  For instance:

– If you’re not sleeping, your seat stays up for the duration of the flight.  No exceptions.  Punishable by buying a round-trip ticket for the person sitting behind you.

– Raw onions are strictly outlawed in plane cabins at any point, for any reason.  Again no exceptions.  Punishable by spending the remainder of the flight in a self-contained bubble where you must smell yourself and your bad choice in carry-on meal.  Eat your cheap Chili’s To Go salad outside please.