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I’ve long been enamored of the idea that We don’t need institutions to do our intellectual/cultural exchanging, that We are in fact constricted and muffled by our over-reliance on institutions, and that We should be taking matters into Our own hands. I’m always hearing my university-affiliated compatriots complaining about bureaucratic turf wars and Kafka-esque administrative procedures. After my modest attempt at gradskool participation, I don’t envy them.

The thing I DO miss about gradskool is the ampleness of opportunity for long, impassioned arguments. The kind that begin with current events and quickly head for the stratosphere of philosophical speculation, or dig into the underguts of sex and hunger. I miss having a readymade group of compatriots who have all read, and thought about, the same books.

But I don’t think I need gradskool to create that sort of atmosphere. Let’s just Do It Ourselves. Let’s have monthly thematics, and networked seminars, and debates with guest presenters. Except let’s eliminate conference rooms, fluorescent lights, powerpoint, and external funding. We can use kitchen tables and barrooms and midnight parkbenches, and bonfires and candlelight and sunshine, and the good ol’ fashioned human voice, and face, and gesture. And fuck funders – we can make our own vodka and sandwiches. Potlatch film festivals; bookfeasts…these aren’t new ideas. Let’s execute. (Misha, Ice Lady, DJ Quodlibetical Demiurge, Princess Roger, Milutis, Burke, Meghatron, Zed Equals Zee, The Old Man, Jason Z: I’m CALLING YOU OUT.)

So, as a suggestion. Eliminative Culinarism has a piquant list of Speculative Realist Cinema and Literature. Maybe we could collectively accumulate copies of these titles, distribute them amongst ourselves, and have a day of viewing/discussion/imbibing? In MY utopia, this would be a typical weekend. Xoxoxoxox.

Check out this olde-skool candybar commercial. Aside from being a mildly amusing document displaying 70s advertising aesthetics, it's evidence for new findings in food history. Many people are familiar with the concept of 'calorie creep.' Since the 1930s, food has gotten progressively cheaper in the United States, and portions have gotten larger. Much larger. The calorie count of the 'typical' dish has increased 40%, and often more. A recent comparative study of cookbooks has shown that, even at home, Americans are consuming waaaaay more calories per meal than they did Back in the Day. The change is due both to ingredients and portion size. Here's a blog entry on the phenomenon:

http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/health/2009/march/Portion-Distortion-Makes-its-Way-into-Cookbooks.html

So, look at the Snickers bar at the end of that retro commercial. It's like, Halloween-miniature size by today's standards. If I ever find myself besieged by a marketing-induced craving for a crappy American chocolate bar, I'll split it with someone. Like, two someones. Hopefully then I won't be sluggish and gargantuan when it comes time to run from (or at) the Forces of Evil.

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