Monday, March 24, 2008

The Fruit Detective

"In the truck, we talked of fruit constantly. Karp is especially passionate about stone fruit--apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, and cherries--and, because it was cherry and apricot season, we spent a lot of time on those fruits. We discussed the genealogy of different varieties, and the way the great varieties were described in the works of fruit literature that Karp most admires--chiefly, Robert Hogg's "The Fruit Manual: A Guide to the Fruits and Fruit Trees of Great Britain" (fifth edition, 1884) and Edward A. Bunyard's "The Anatomy of Dessert" (1929). Karp quoted, from memory, passages about the "melting" quality Bunyard prized; after a while, it was hard to tell when he was quoting and when he wasn't. "At its ripest, it is drunk rather than eaten," he'd say, referring to Coe's Golden Drop plum. Discussing the transparent gage, he pronounced, "A slight flush of red and then one looks into the depths of transparent amber as one looks into an opal, uncertain how far the eye can penetrate." If I got something wrong or forgot a point about fruit made in an earlier conversation, Karp was quick to correct me. By the end of five days of fruit talk in the fruitmobile, I was counting the minutes to the time I could say goodbye and not have to talk about fruit anymore.

I also watched Karp eat a lot of fruit. I saw him grazing in a cherry orchard with the farmer, who, after sampling cherries for half an hour, had to run for the bathroom. Craig Ledbetter, an apricot breeder with the Department of Agriculture, whom we met near Fresno, said, "David eats fruit that I wouldn't touch, and I eat a lot of fruit. Soft, half-rotten stuff on the ground--he has no problem putting that into his mouth."

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wired Magazine - Jon Stewart

Wired: Let me ask you about the Crossfire thing - not about your critique of that show, but about the reaction to it.

Ben was there, by the way. I remember looking out into the audience and seeing his face and realizing, "I guess this isn't going well."

Well, we had hand signals, and before the show I made the mistake of saying that this [drawing his finger across his throat] meant "Keep on going, great, do the exact same thing." So I was frantically doing this [draws finger across throat fast].

Wired: What was the symbol for stop supposed to be?

[Gives thumbs-up.]

It was a stupid way to do it.

Wired: But the show was a total sensation: Something like 3 million people saw that - but mostly online. Less than a quarter of them saw it on CNN proper. It was huge, phenomenal viral video.

It was definitely viral. I felt nauseous afterward.
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Also, from Jon Stewart's C-Span appearance in 2004:

Ken Auletta of The New Yorker Magazine: People say Bush is the kind of guy they’d like to have a beer with. You don’t feel that way?

Stewart: You know, I don’t like to drink with people who are... alcoholics. I always find that to be tacky.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bicycle by Paul Fattaruso

A year ago, I rode my bicycle wherever I went: to and from work, trips to the store, weekend rides up into the mountains. If I went to the bar, I would ride swiftly there and wobbly back. While riding, I would constantly chant something I saw once in the window of a nearby bicycle shop: "When I see an adult riding a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race." This wasn't something political or about any Repeating this to myself was enough to propel me up mountainous roads and through snowstorms.

In the past year, however, I moved to an apartment that is farther away and uphill from where I work, so my daily rides turned quickly to weekly rides. Then I bought a scooter. And my rides, weekly or brief, are no more.

A few weeks ago, Joli and I rode to the store on our bikes, and we bought a new pasta pot and rode home again. It was sunny and glorious. I missed it.

Today, I went to the bookstore, and I found a small book entitled "Bicycle," written by Paul Fattaruso. It's beautiful and strange, and it has enough power to propel people up mountains:

"If the bicycle squeaks, that means something is trying to kill it, however patiently."

"With a little doctoring, a bicycle can indeed be made to gallop."

"We traveled like this for two quiet weeks: only the sound of wind purring in the spokes of our wheels."

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Choosing Your Words Carefully

About a month ago, one of the producers at This American Life sent out prompts for story ideas, such as "Mistakes Were Made," "See Things My Way," and "Do Over." One of the explanations for the topics said the following: "Basically, we have this theory about what's happening in New Orleans now and we'd like to know if it holds water."

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

David Brooks: A Defining Moment

"Clinton rode the passion of the crowd and delivered an energetic battle cry. And in many elections that sort of speech, delivered around the country, would clinch the nomination.

But this is a country in the midst of a crisis of authority, a country that has become disillusioned not only with one president, but with a whole system of politics. It’s a country that has lost faith not only with one institution, but with the entire set of leadership institutions. The cultural context, in other words, allowed for a much broader critique, a much more audacious vocabulary.

And Barack Obama leapt right in."

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