ONE WEEK FROM TONIGHT, the species-spanning battle of the century:
Wed., May 6 (8pm).
Law professor and lawyer with the State of New York Mariann Sullivan arguing yes.
Freelance writer Justin Shubow (Master’s in Philosophy from U. Michigan, J.D. from Yale) arguing no.
Hosted by Todd Seavey and moderated by Michel Evanchik.
Free admission, cash bar. Basement level of Lolita Bar at 266 Broome St. at the corner of Allen St. on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, one block south and three west of the Delancey St. F, J, M, Z subway stop.
I. INTERESTING DEBATE-RELATED TRIVIA (AND POETRY):
The Debates at Lolita Bar grew out of the debate series founded by Lefty Leibowitz — himself a model of self-discipline who is vegetarian — and L.B. Deyo, a carnivore who nonetheless composed this moving work:
“Ode to the Kingdom of Animals and Beasts”
Monkey, art thou in thy tree?
Leaping ’long so gleefully
Your screams do much admire my heart
I thrill to see your mischievous art
O doggy, doggy on your chain
Whose yelps and barks do soothe my brain
How happily thou romps and plays!
(Though chasing cats might end your days.)
The lion is of the proudest mane
Pursuant of antelopes he is fain
No cowardly cat that laps at milk
The lion is of the noble ilk
Sir polar bear, do not be chilled
By windy nights, Antarctic hills
For thine is fur of downy white
To warm me through the bitter night
Hippo, with thine ivory tooth
The little sparrows clean, forsooth
Thy name is writ and spoken thus:
“The noble Hippopotamus.”
At last the frog we now regard
Whose life is slimy, short, and hard
From lily pad to pad you leap
Or plunge into the murky deep
O Frog! Beloved beast thou art!
Who warms again my heavy heart.
II. ASS COFFEE: ANIMAL-EXPLOITATION FOUNDATION OF THE WEST
As I noted in a controversial Book Selection(s) blog entry a year and a half ago, the entire American economy is arguably built on one particularly odd centuries-ago bit of animal exploitation. As I wrote:
I learned from [Amy Chua's book Day of Empire] that Holland’s financial success circa the seventeenth century was built in large part on the popularity of civet cats, raccoon-like animals whose anal glands can be squeezed to yield a very popular perfume scent — animals that to this day are valued for their ability to confer an extra aromatic quality to coffee beans that pass through their digestive systems. So, since the 1688 Glorious Revolution in England transferred much of Holland’s monarchical and mercantile might to England, and since we in the U.S. are in turn the heirs of England’s common law and political traditions, there is a very real sense in which American liberty was founded on ass-coffee. (Civets were also the likely source of SARS, so they have their good points and bad points.)
III. I AM BECOME SHIVA, DESTROYER OF MICE
Well, nearly. Creepy as it sounds, while planning this debate — having never once seen a rodent in my apartment — I think I heard one scratching repeatedly against the underside of my tub. I called for an exterminator, he forgot to show, the scratching never returned, and I thus remain neutral enough a non-combatant to host the debate in good conscience.
IV. LARD INTERLUDE
Michelle Kung wrote an article for Wall Street Journal last month about the recent resurgence in the popularity of lard, which included this brief lard timeline:
A History of Lard
•1911 Procter & Gamble introduces Crisco, a shortening that would help displace lard
•1940 Americans consume a record 14.4 pounds of lard per capita
•1992 Artist Janine Antoni’s breakthrough work, “Gnaw,” showcases a 600-pound block of lard she has gnawed at with her teeth
•1995 The mock-horror book “Ocean of Lard” appears
•1997 Americans consume 2.9 pounds of lard per capita, a low
•2003 Celebrity chef Mario Batali opens a new New York restaurant, Otto, featuring lardo pizza; TV show “Fear Factor” forces contestants to crawl through a tunnel filled with 4,000 pounds of lard
•2007 Gourmet market Prather Ranch Meat Co. starts selling lard at San Francisco’s Ferry Terminal
V. ANIMALS ADD TO THE ECONOMY
A dog in North Carolina — which happens to be the state from which both my parents’ dog Jaycie and my girlfriend Helen Rittelmeyer hail — was recently pooping $100 bills.
VI. A VIDEO ITEM FROM THE ONION…
VII. A WEBSITE VEGANS SHOULDN’T LOOK AT
Once more: ThisIsWhyYoureFat.com (especially the “Meat Ship”).
VIII. CAT/BRAIN EFFECT
In a cartoon pointed out to me by vegan Diana Fleischman (whose name, as it happens, means “Huntress Meatman,” I believe).
IX. HOW THIS DEBATE FITS INTO MY USUAL POLITICAL OBSESSIONS
Think of it as prep for reading the animal-rights-friendly writings of Obama regulatory czar Cass Sunstein.
IX. …OR INTO “MONTH OF THE NERD II”
…or as prep for seeing animalistic Wolverine, vegetarian Mr. Spock, and species-exterminating Terminators in theatres in May. In any case, please join us.