Rubbing shoulders with rude history

Just got back from a short visit to Seattle. Stayed at the fabulous Edgewater Hotel, lodging for many a rock star in its day, and home of the infamous Mud Shark Incident, immortalized in the Led Zeppelin book and many a Frank Zappa performance.

Walked over the skylights to the Seattle Underground , though I didn’t take the tour this time, and spent two days working in the historic Smith Tower, at one time the 4th tallest building in the world, and currently the only building remaining on the West Coast with manually-operated elevators.

I remember the Seattle Underground figuring prominently in either one of the TV movies or the series “The Night Stalker,” the original one with Darrin McGavin. I’m definitely going to set aside some time to take the tour next time I’m up there, as this sort of secret architectural history appeals to me. The sidewalks in this area (Pioneer Square, I beleive) have little purple inlays that happen to be glass illuminating the Underground below. Access to the underground is through unmarked doors on the street.

I was playing tonight with the site 43places.com . This site is pretty good at ferreting out cool places to go in Seattle, and I assume other cities. My favorite part of Seattle so far is Belltown, and there’s a lot of information about it on the site. I’m also looking at the Ace Hotel in Belltown, which sounds like a fairly cool place to stay in the middle of things.

(from the vaults) Tofu: A Rebuttal

(Okay, I’ve been a total blog slug, too. I’m doing some housekeeping, and found this piece I did for the Los Angeles People Connection , in early 2002 back when they ran articles from members. This was partly in response to an activity they were launching called “the year of fitness”. I had to get my 2 cents in, and proposed some a counter-movement called ‘The Year Of Sloth,’ which included monthly activities such as drinking, eating, and probably more drinking and eating, if I recall. )

In our never-ending stuggle to bring balance to the debate over healthful choices, we at Sloth Central couldn’t let the pro-tofu activities at LAPC go unanswered. After all, who else will dare speak the truth about the White Menace?

We’ll skip the inevitable references to Soylent Green, and Charlton Heston’s plaintive cry to the masses. We know that Tofu isn’t people. People have a stringy texture and sweet flavor, even without soy sauce. Um, or so I’ve heard.

No, the truth is much more simple. Actually, it’s my mantra:

Tofu Is Not Food.

There, I’ve said it. Someone has to, or we’ll wake up some morning to find Burger King serving this stuff. (And lest you think me alarmist, recall that Burger King is now serving veggie burgers…)

I have to hand it to the Health Food Cartel. They have managed a marketing feat I could never dream of, resisting such slogans as "Tofu: the other white cheesy secretion," and "There’s always room for Bean Curd", and turning a flavorless wiggly substance into a health food sensation. A versatile one, too — pump it full of sugar and freeze it, it’s ice cream. Liquify it, it’s soy milk. Bread it and deep fry it, it’s Syntho-Chicken.

In its ambition to be the world’s superfood, tofu instead marries the good intentions of such dubious ‘natural’ staples as granola and sheets of seaweed with the worst excesses of overprocessed foodstuffs such as Space Food Sticks and Tang.

Think I’m overreaching here? Compare and contrast tofu with actual food items:

Food is generally made from animals or vegetables. Tofu is harvested in precise blocks from vast quarries deep in the earth, using the most modern of mining equipment. That makes it a mineral, and thus not food.

Depending on how it is served or processed, Tofu can place a claim for just about any of the food groups: dairy, meat, vegetable, grain, legume, ice cream. Clearly, this is wrong; it can’t be all of these things, therefore it must not be any of them.

Food is usually graded with letters or adjectives like ‘choice,’ or ‘select.’ Tofu is classified as ‘silky’, or ‘firm’. These adjectives are better used to describe fabrics and breast implants, neither of which are considered edible.

Tofu doesn’t taste like anything unless you cook it with something else. In fact, its ability to absorb the flavors and odors of the food around it leave it most resembling cheap ’60s Tupperware imitations, or Arm and Hammer Baking Soda, neither of which are food themselves.

Tofu is fermented. That makes it more like beer than food, and we’ve all been told by our health-nut friends that beer isn’t food. They can’t have it both ways.

Food represents primal struggle: man vs. beast, man vs. weeds, man vs. pickle jar. Most things we eat put up some kind of fight. Tofu is more passive-aggressive, daring us with its impassive texture and hermetically-sealed packaging. Even Jello puts up more of a fight (unless you’re talking about those pre-made ‘Jello for Dummies’ modules), and Jello isn’t even remotely close to food.

So, there you have it, The Emperor’s White Flavorless Silky Firm Foodlike Substance exposed for all to see. It’s not food, it’s Tofu. It’s the product of evil manipulation of innocent soybeans, and you don’t have to eat it.

They’re on fire, I tell you…

A new video from the Phoenix Projekt, filmed at this year’s Xara Dulzura event. This group of fire performers from LA has basically turned the normally-pretentious fire performer ethic on its head by actually having a sense of humor.

One of their coolest performances at Burning Man 2005 was called “Fire-oke,” where each performer would improvise a routine to the mellow-est song the DJ could spin, stuff like Frank Sinatra, etc. In true LA fashion, they ended their performance at the burning of The Man with a flaming smiley face.

And now this… Oops, I did it again, performed with a flaming tuba.