4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 24, 2004
Iz Lirbigan &ilg
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Rude, vile pigs.
That's what all of
- Singer Elton John, to a group of
reporters in Taipei, Taiwan, following a
concert, as reported yesterday by CNN.com.
SAM BUTLER Tu.S ;x
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Revolution through soup
ZACK DENFELD 8-B-T CR-T 1C
n this time when
"red" and "blue"
America are barely
talking to each other we
need something to bring
us together. Some purple
Borsht might be just the
I am, according to the
crazy people who let me
into this school, an art-
ist by trade. I have an idea to revolution-
ize American culture, and it involves soup.
Lots of it. I want to reheat the American
melting pot, using recipes as a catalyst.
I would look to the National Education
Association for funding, but some non-
soup-loving congressmen, will just have a
field day and say "soup is not art, it is bare-
ly even food, it's more of a beverage," and
then try to dismantle the entire national-
cultural funding system, even though it is
already pathetically miniscule, compared
to almost any other country on earth.
So in the interest of getting money, and
not dealing with bean counters, (unless
they are counting lima beans, for soup!) I
am going to apply to the National Endow-
ment for the Humanities. They don't care
so much what you do with your money,
because politicians don't have time to read
books. Plus, I will just say that soup is the
culinary equivalent of jazz. Those NEH
people love statements like that.
My plan is to travel across all 50 states,
talk to folks, read and listen to some histo-
ries and then choose 50 state soups. Then
each week I will go the capital of a state
and make huge 10-foot vats of the state
soup and hand it out to everyone that wants
some. If I run out, we can go down the street
to someone's house and cook some more.
Because the soups will be announced each
week for a year, the state soup unveiling
will always-on the TV news. There is at
least one slow news day each week, and
what could be a better photo op. than some
crazy eccentric perched atop a 10-foot vat
Having a state soup is a good idea
1. Re-asserts a sense of place. It may
not single-handedly prevent the continued
Wal-Marting of America, and the McDon-
alds and Wal-Marts already in every state
will start selling the state soup, but most
travelers on state soup tours would want to
seek out the local restaurants that sell it.
When I am on a cross-country band tour
a main part of my itinerary would be to
identify the best soup-cooking spot in each
city. And this would lead to conversations,
friendships and (hopefully) places to stay.
2. It emphasizes true cost economics. By
picking soup recipes that call for locally
grown and available produce, state citi-
zens will be more inclined to seek out and
buy from local vendors, and, hopefully
organically grown, family-owned farms.
Why would this happen? I don't know, but
go talk to a neo-classical economist about
positive and negative externalities in rela-
tion to culture and rational choice, and
then make him some soup from stuff you
grew in your backyard. Then tell him it's
the state soup, and to stop being autistic.
3. It creates temporary communities..
Even tough-as-nails New Yorkers will melt
with the warmth of hearty Manhattan Clam
Chowder being sold everywhere. The first
Monday of every month should be national
soup night. Entire urban renewal art and
culture events could be built around soup.
Let's face it, suburbanites won't always
come into urban centers for culture, but
they sure will for food, especially if it's
Obviously, some people are going to be
angered by my decisions. For example,
what Midwestern state do I give beer soup
to? Wisconsinites may think they are the
obvious choice, but that's not necessarily
It is a lot harder than it seems, I wouldn't
just name state soups willy-nilly. New
Englanders generally get along in their
cold-as-ice kind of way, but I would hate
to set off a war between Massachusetts
and Rhode Island by ceding either of them
Clam Chowder. We may have to flip a
coin for it, and the other one can just take
Tobacco soup or something.
Also, vegetarians and citizens with aller-
gies of many sort will be mad if they cannot
eat their own state soup. But this is where
the obligatory artistic "controversy" comes
in. The can't-eat-nuts society of America
will picket some of my events, and that
will add a nice confrontational element for
journalists who only see newsworthiness in
conflict. And then later, we will compro-
mise, and I will release alternative recipes
with meat and allergen substitutes.
Maine would get Lobster Bisque. Loui-
siana would obviously get gumbo. Idaho
would probably get cream of potato, Geor-
gia could get peanut butter soup (one of my
all-time favorites), etc.
There are many culinary cultures and
histories to take into account, and I would
want to revive some soups long out of
favor. Blessed be the state that gets a soup
that no one has tasted in 100 years.
It's not obvious, but all revolutions
start with food. Spread the word and send
me your suggestions for what your home
state's soup should be. Then go talk to
someone you otherwise wouldn't over a
bowl of something warm and delicious!
Denfeld can be reached at
Vote has style, lacks substance
SOWMYA KRISHNAMURTHY AUlDI AITERAM PARTEM
olitics has always quality of that vote. Star power is great for political activism, was supposed to under-
been plagued as advertising, but the vast majority of celeb- take a large-scale protest to raise public
being dated, an rities come up short when it comes to truly awareness about New York's Rockefeller
exclusive club for wealthy informing and educating voters. What's the drug laws - which mandate prison terms
white men, out of touch point of making people vote when they have for individuals found guilty of possess-
with the common per- no idea what they're voting for? ing even small amounts of drugs - but
son. This reputation is Some of the most promising initiatives are reneged later. One reason actually cited
heightened among young the gravest offenders. Ubiquitous mogul Sean for this was the timing of the 2004 MTV
people, who for the most P. Diddy Combs's Citizen Change project for Video Music Awards in Miami; apparently
part see politicians as instance, is intended to be a nonpartisan and a silly and pointless awards ceremony takes
talking heads who don't nonprofit organization created to educate, precedence over an issue intimately related
listen to us, empathize with our issues or rep- motivate and empower 18-to-30-year olds to to the hip-hop community. With so much
resent in any capacity the diverse cross-section vote - the generation dubbed the "forgotten intra-group devotion, it's no wonder people
that is modern America. We manifest this dis- ones." Citizen Change's official mission: to don't take this organization seriously!
illusionment in lackluster voter turnout - in make voting hot, sexy and relevant to a gen- In the fickleness of pop culture, novelty is
2000 just 29 percent of eligible voters age 18 to eration that hasn't reached full participation in fleeting and authenticity is dubious. Without
24 cast a ballot for president which politicians the political process. Sounds great, but making anything tangible to attach to election 2004,
incorrectly translate as disinterest and there- George W. Bush and John Kerry "hot and sexy" voting is at risk of losing its essence in the
fore continue to ignore our needs. is a bit ambitious even for Puff. The result is wringer of commercialism. Bicyclist Lance
In this close and very important election, that little of the mission statement is accom- Armstrong's popular Live Strong campaign is
it seems that everyone is trying to remove plished at all. The website devotes more web a case in point. Founded on the ethos of fund-
the stigmatization of politics and bolster space to promoting its celebrity endorsements raising for cancer research and advocacy, it has
interest among the youth demographic. and venues to purchase those snazzy "Vote or been malformed into a fashion statement, with
Ober celebrities and fashionistas have Die" T-shirts (for a whopping $30 by the way), more people concerned about wearing those
gained a sudden civic-mindedness and are than contributing actual information or insight cheap yellow bracelets - the new must-have
now using their powers for good by making on the election. The "Issues" section amus- accessory on campus - than contributing to
voting en vogue. Through T-shirts, catchy ingly just links to other websites. As a busi- the fight against cancer.
slogans and guest appearances, casting a nessman there is no doubt that Combs should If young people are expected to get involved
ballot has never been cooler. Granted, it is be applauded for his marketing prowess, but and more importantly, retain an interest in
refreshing to see the rich and famous stand without any substantive content, this campaign politics, we need to be educated as to why.
for something greater than commercialism proves little more than a thinly veiled opportu- War and foreign policy, gay marriage, the
and vapidity, but the overall effectiveness nity to hawk merchandise. future of the U.S. Supreme Court, education
of the cause is questionable. Citizen Change is by no means alone. costs - this year's election has no dearth of
This year the problem will not be dis- The vast majority of hip voter campaigns pertinent issues. Celebrities and the like must
mal turnout; quite the contrary. With all fall flat with more bark than bite. Even realize that gloss and glitter can only moti-
the hype and money being pumped into when there seems to be a genuine civic con- vate so much before running risk of the ulti-
high-profile voter initiatives, I'm sure that cern, celebrity agendas invariably override mate faux pas - un-coolness.
more young people than usual will be pres- anything from coming to fruition.
ent at the polls, at least out of trendiness The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, Krishnamurthy can be reached at
if nothing more. What concerns me is the which utilizes hip-hop stars to encourage firstname.lastname@example.org.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
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