Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lists and More Lists

Thanks to yum! I've spent a good part of the day reading food lists. Not just any food lists, however.

Apparently last year the food blog Very Good Taste posted it's its (in the possessive and not contracted sense) Omnivore's Hundred, or list of 100 foods every omnivore should have before he/she dies. This has apparently been a hit meme for quite a while though I'd never heard of it (so, really, it can't have been...)

Kathy over at Happy. Healthy. Life. responded with her Vegan Hundred. My results for both follow, with the stuff I've had bolded.

Don't Let the Door Hit You...

I've been a fan of Lily Allen. I enjoyed her first album, Alright, Still and thought her second album, It's Not Me, It's You showed some serious growth and sported some pretty wicked songs. I won't get to enjoy a third installment, though, since she's apparently quit music. The reason? Online file sharing.
Now Allen has said she won’t renew her contract with EMI, because “the days of me making money from recording music have been and gone as far as I'm concerned.” All posts on Allen’s blog have mysteriously disappeared in the wake of this statement, so it’s unclear what her next move will be.

Now, I'm in the midst of reading Michael Azzerad's Our Band Could Be Your Life filled with stories of some of the most celebrated underground bands from that time period barely scraping by while creating some seriously timeless and influential tunes. Juxtaposing this sacrifice for the sake of art with Allen's unwillingness to continue making music because she doesn't think she's making enough money from record sales (while touring in her luxurious tour bus and getting paid for songs in commercials) is pretty damn infuriating.

You know what, Ms. Allen? Your entire career only exists because of the internet. If the droves on Myspace hadn't supported your songs your first album wouldn't have happened. (This is a true story. EMI wanted Allen to fill a record with songs written by professional pop songwriters, but she posted the tracks for Alright, Still on her Myspace page and they were so warmly received that the company decided to run with them.) Saying this same internet community is stealing from you while simply engaging in the same thing that got you famous in the first place is hypocrisy. If you aren't making enough money from record sales I suggest you consult the major label record contract you signed which probably gives you a pitifully small portion of album sales to make up for the money EMI has spent marketing you.

Since the advent of recorded music and record contracts, artists have always made the lions share of their money on the road through tours and merch. I'm not saying you don't deserve to be paid for your music - of course you do - but blaming online file sharing for the failures of the major label music industry to adapt to a changing environment is ludicrous. I don't know how often I need to make this point, but one download does not equal one sale lost. People download stuff all the time just because it's available whether they like it or not. Any downloader's hard drive is likely filled with music that, if they had to pay for it, they wouldn't have it at all. And if you think that they shouldn't have it if they're not willing to pay, that's understandable... but thinking they've taken money from you is just false.

Getting to the real crux of my problem with this outburst, though, Lily Allen was unheard of six years ago. She signed a record deal, toured the world, played in front of packed audiences, made the music that she wanted to make and generally did more - and made more - than a lot of landmark and/or Hall of Fame acts ever did and yet is still griping about her paycheck.

Music doesn't need your attitude, Ms. Allen. And as fun as your songs were, it doesn't really need your music either.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tax on Pop a Good Idea. I'll Do One Better.

The NY Times ran a story today about a proposed tax on "sugary beverages" including pop and sweet juices. The articles states, "a tax of a penny an ounce on sugary beverages would raise $14.9 billion in its first year, which could be spent on health care initiatives." As a person that believe that

a) Americans ingest too much pop anyway,
b) American pop is horrible for you and
c) it doesn't really taste that good

I'm pretty firmly in the camp that thinks this tax is a Good Idea. I probably drink a can of pop every two or three months, though if you count mixers in alcoholic drinks that number probably decreases to a can every month or so, give or take a week. This is down from a high school diet in which I practically lived on Mountain Dew and Pepsi so I can attest that once these drinks are cut out it's pretty easy to keep them out - granted I enjoy drinking water and like the taste of liquor straight up or on the rocks. I also think that it's ridiculous that it's not hard to find cases where soft drinks are cheaper than cheap bottled water.

I do think, though, that if Congress wants to go around taxing unhealthy amounts of sugar that it would be awesome if they went whole hog and taxed all products containing high fructose corn syrup(HFCS). This synthetic byproduct of America's ridiculous corn subsidy has invaded pretty much every supermarket ingredient label and is pretty much horrible for you in every way. Taxing it would provide a short term boost in revenue and also have the long term benefit of companies (hopefully) moving towards natural sugar in its products. I'm personally tired of scanning a label and seeing various multi-syllabic manifestations of chemically processed corn. If we're going to affect behavior through taxes to encourage good health let's do something that will make a difference across the board.

Monday, September 7, 2009

West Indian-American Day Carnival/Parade: Culinarily Speaking

For most of my life Labor Day weekend, and Labor Day in particular, have meant a big backyard, charcoal smoke in my face, and the last day of official grilling season. From this day forward, however, my Labor Days for the duration of my stay in New York will likely involve trekking up and down Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn enjoying the West Indian-American Day Parade. It's the longest parade in New York and all told is about five miles of vibrant colors, dancing, bbq and fantastic jerk chicken. The entire length of the parade is flanked on both sides with stalls selling food, shirts, kitsch, and pina coladas in hollowed out pineapples. I forgot my camera so there won't be any pictures.

My eating adventure began boldly with some fantastic jerk chicken with rice and peas. The chicken was cooked perfectly with the tender meat almost falling off the bone. The skin had the perfect amount of char and the jerk rub completely saturated every part of the chicken. The extra sauce poured over added sweetness and a bit more spice - when added to the spice of the rub this gave the chicken the perfect amount of heat without overpowering the flavor. I'm incredibly glad I passed by several stalls before settling on this because this was probably the best jerk chicken I've ever had.

Roasted sweet corn was next (after some spirited parade-watching) and, discerningly, I picked the stall with the half-burnt corn. The sweetness still popped and, since I am a fan of slightly burnt food from a grill, the burn added a delicious smokiness. From the first bite I was instantly reminded that grilled sweet corn is, for me, the defining taste of summertime.

On the way out, after my sister bought her own jerk chicken and rice, I stopped at a cart selling mangoes. These weren't ordinary mangoes, however. These mangoes were dashed with salt, sprinkled with lemon juice and finished with hot pepper sauce. As a Filipino I like to think I know my mangoes and I'd go as far as saying they are by far my favorite fruit. The savory and spicy flavors added mingled perfectly with the sweetness of the mango creating a refreshing and comforting blend.

All in all, it's been one delicious day. Additional thoughts on the parade to come.