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May 05, 2003 - Image 10

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2003-05-05

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, May 5, 2003


Of peanut oil andTV Ki


SOld bippie drops new LP


By Ricky Lax
Daily Arts Writer
Greg Critser knows America has a
weight problem - and not just a fresh-
man fifteen/holiday bulge dilemma. In
his new book "Fat Land," Critser inves-
tigates what he sees as a Jacuzzi chock-
full of peanut oil fiasco, the health of
our nation.
"Fat Land" does not argue that
Americans eat too much fat, as the title
might suggest, but
shows how and Fat Land
why the combina-
tion of eating too By Greg Critser
many Value Meals Houghton Mifflini
and watching four
hours of television every day has made
us the second fattest people in the world
(after South Sea Islanders).
Critser examines obesity and the
quest to fight it from several angles. He
considers getting healthy "a rite in
itself, replete with its own social institu-
tions (health clubs), tonics (Meridia),
taboos (Krispy Kreme), and aspiration
totems (Levi's 501 regular cuts)."
"Fat Land" not only looks at the
problem of obesity in America, it sug-
gests many solutions - some more
controversial than others. Of course,
most of these solutions require money.

which usually requires higher taxes,
which usually means people are not
interested. Critser suggests training
school cafeteria staffs to make fruits
and vegetables more appealing to kids,
creating after-school "health clubs"
which would run similar to latchkey
programs, and expanding Americorps
(a program that sends college graduates
to teach in inner-city schools for two
years) to target physical education and
physical activity training. He also men-
tions (but does not advocate) some of
the more "radical" solutions to obesity,
like the "fat tax," a proposal calling for
small taxes on unhealthy foods.
The health of the American people is
a complex scientific and political issue
which Critser, interestingly, chose to
navigate through in story format. His
chapters ("Who Let The Calories In,"
"Who Got The Calories Into Our
Bellies") are each miniature timelines
that work their way into the bigger time-
line of the book as a whole. The story-
like format makes reading the book
easy, but at the expense of simplifying
some of the issues at hand. The first
chapter, "Where The Calories Came
From," answers the question by telling
the story of the development of high-
fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in Japan in
1971. Perhaps Critser wanted to start his
book with a quick and specific example
of how Americans became so fat, but

doing so mane HtCs a shortsand
scapegoat for all high-calorie foods.
"Fat Land"'s inner-jacket claims
"No one else writing on obesity in
America takes as hard a line." If
Critser is so hard-lined, why doesn't he
go ahead and say what we are waiting
to hear him say, that obesity is public
enemy number one? Maybe because
Critser does not feel this way; probably
because he would lose the majority of
his audience, who see obesity as a big
problem in a world full of bigger ones.
"Fat Land" is not a wake up call; it is a
push in the right direction, which is
why reading it is a pleasure and not a
guilt-trip or chore.

By Alyssa Kalata
For the Daily
After nearly two decades of heading
the jam-band behemoth Phish, Trey
Anastasio hasn't slowed down one bit.
On the ambitious live solo LP Plasma,
Anastasio and his nine-piece stay true
to the exploratory and freeform nature
of Phish at their best, while venturing
down new paths instrumentally
through the use of a five-piece horn
section and three-man rhythm section.
The first disc opens with the ener-
getic "Curlew's Call," fueled by
diverse Afro-Cubano rhythms and a
percussion solo that eclipses
Anastasio 's
preceding gui- Trey Anastasio
tar solo. The y t
opening track Plasma
is followed by Elektra Records
"Plasma," a
song that touches on the jazzier side of
Anastasio's abilities. Immediately fol-
lowing is "Magilla," an older Phish
favorite that features a powerful brass
arrangement that adds a musical layer
not present on the original version.
The majority of the first disc stays
consistent with the strong start of the
opening tracks. "Mozambique," the
standout track, showcases both the
abilities of the band, through a lively
call-and-response performance by
the brass section and of Anastasio's
guitar abilities in the Santana-like
riffs spread throughout the song.
Also of note is "Small Axe," an

instrumental interpretation of a song
by Bob Marley.
Although less musically adventur-
ous, Plasma's second disc still
remains a worthwhile listen. "Night
Speaks to a Woman," the sole track on
Plasma drawn from Anastasio's self-
titled debut, features a coarse, catchy
lead guitar line and highlights
Anastasio's masterful control of
tempo. Similar to "Magilla," the clos-
ing track, "Sand," also builds on pre-
vious Phish performances through the
addition of distorted guitar not promi-
nent in earlier versions.
Drawing from jazz, reggae, swing,
African and Cuban influences,
Anastasio creates a unique musical
montage, just in .time for warmer
weather. As Anastasio states in
"Curlew's Call," "The message that I
get from spring / Is that a change can
surely bring / A break from the sullen
winter skies." Through danceable
rhythms and instrumental experimen-
tation, Plasma makes a good accom-
paniment to the change in mood.


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