Bikini Bod Diet

Today is January 9th, so by now you have almost certainly abandoned your New Year’s Resolution. That’s fine. Those things are useless anyway. Besides, worrying about a New Year’s Resolution at this point is, like, worrying about the past, and stuff, which is pretty much antithetical to the whole point of the New Year’s Resolution concept. Right now? It’s beach body season, and I’ve got three great diets to get you trim and fit for that Speedo in the drawer.

You should know that these are cutting edge fueling techniques, and not to be approached by the faint of heart. These are not silly guidelines like the Whole 30, or the Ketogenic diet, or a cayenne and lemon juice cleanse. Those are for the diet dilettantes and philistines; my three step super diet plan is for hardcore fitness evangelists.

If you think you have what it takes to bring your future to the max, read on. For you, right now, this deal is completely free, and we only ask that you subscribe to email notifications on this blog. In the future, access to this hardcore-extreme-super-diet information will cost as much as $49 a day, so be sure to subscribe now for the best deal. Are you ready to blast cellulose and make Channing Tatum look like a softbody? Me to. Let’s do it.

1. I Don’t Know Maybe Try To Eat Better

By now you’ve probably had at least a couple dozen trips around the sun, and learned a few things along the way. Here’s the thing – you know what healthy food is. You know, fruits and vegetables, stuff like that. Maybe some salmon. You probably don’t need to count calories, or worry about carbs v. fat, to know that that the salad is better for you than the fries. Of course the fries are more delicious (they’re fried), but we’re on beach body detail right now. So just get the stupid salad. I guess that’s pretty much it.

And actually for the record this isn’t some raw diet either. You want to cook your zucchini in a little butter? Fine, great. Most of those other fancy diets can really be distilled to “you should probably eat more vegetables” anyway. What this diet lacks in dogma, it makes up for in quality of life.

2. I Guess Try Not To Eat So Much

The beauty of eating delicious food is that with every bite of that delicious food we forget, if only for a brief moment, all those feelings of sadness and shame and inadequacy that occupy our internal dialogues pretty much every waking second of every single day, and so when the first bite is gone we take another bite and it prolongs the numbness for another few seconds and is a pretty high functioning coping mechanism (if I do say so myself) up to the instant that we become full and the pendulum swings. Subsequent bites of delicious food leave us slightly more self-conscious, more shameful and inadequate (of course we continue to eat because it is more about the ritual of eating than the deliciousness of the food, and not all that different from smokers who claim the most difficult part of quitting is not knowing what to do with their hands), and fifteen minutes or so after we stop eating because we are impossibly full and the real sensation of fullness takes hold we are washed over by a newer, heavier feeling of shame and we lie on our backs and press against our belts and do not feel worthwhile, and the beauty of that once delicious food is lost and replaced by a kind of anger at ourselves, sure, but also at the food itself, which, when we’re honest, doesn’t make any fucking sense at all, but still, here we are.

He’s doing the diet wrong. The tigers are a nice touch though.

And so I get that “maybe don’t eat so much” is not necessarily helpful advice. But then maybe it is, and a small gesture of mindfulness at the inception of the meal is simply enough to simply eat less. Of course it could also add another layer of anxiety and self-doubt to the positive feedback relationship of shame and chewing and so in truth I don’t really know at all but hell maybe it’s worth a shot.

3. Just, Like, Don’t Drink So Much

I understand that your identity is pretty firmly wrapped up with being a beer aficionado, and after you watched Mad Men you picked up a healthy handle-a-week rye habit. That’s great. Booze is a helluva tool for getting through terrible wedding speeches or uncomfortable alone time with yourself. But maybe just tap the brakes for a minute and see what it’s like. And if you really need a breather from This, Here, Right Now, then just remember that MDMA has fewer calories, and less sugar and fat than that barrel aged imperial stout!

With these helpful dieting tips you can avoid the pitfalls of draconian fad diets and be well on your way to the bikini bod you know you deserve!

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We’re Not Ready for Legal Marijuana

You read the title of this post and are appalled. “Sure we are,” you say, and you point to a laundry list of well-considered arguments to validate your point. You articulate the absurdity that tobacco and alcohol are legal and weed is not, and the atrocities of the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to manufacture our current opioid crisis.

You point to the various successes of Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, where legal marijuana generates tens of millions of dollars for public education and health programs, and has led to a 98% drop in marijuana arrests. You point to the national decline in drug trafficking and a recent report by the Washington Post which describes how legal marijuana markets are driving cartels to different drugs (meth and heroin [a much cheaper alternative to Oxycodone, say], mostly).

You may even tackle the larger, more existential questions surrounding the issue, like, “how do you outlaw a plant, bro? Like, it’s a plant. It just grows.” (Of course if you go there you’re almost certainly stoned right now.) And these arguments are all pretty much on point. You’re right. Weed should be legal. The problem is that we’re not ready  yet.

There are a lot of strong arguments for legalization, and while it hasn’t quite decimated the black market like it was supposed to, it’s on the right track. The real issue comes with the lopsided enforcement of drug laws that we’ve seen since the so-called War on Drugs got started in the 80s, and the fact that it hasn’t budged.

Marijuana use occurs more or less independent of race. White folks, black folks, Latinx, pretty much everyone smokes weed in equal amounts. But according to the ACLU, blacks are about 4 times more likely to be arrested for possession than whites, and in some places, like Washington DC and Illinois, that number is closer to 10 times. These numbers haven’t budged in places where marijuana is legal. Hundreds of thousands of people are currently being held for non-violent drug offenses, and the majority of those people are minorities. While arrests for marijuana possession are down 98% in Colorado, they’re only down about 36% in Denver, where drug users are much less-white than in the rest of the state.

What we are seeing is the legal normalization of marijuana use for well-to-do white people, while poor minorities are still targeted and incarcerated for the same offenses. Right now 15% of the prison population looks forward to a future in which they will struggle to find work and living accommodations and reenter society in a meaningful way as they serve time for non-violent drug offenses. These people are disproportionately black and Latinx. At the same time, Marlboro is buying up Humboldt County and well-meaning/oblivious white people are cashing in. We cannot pretend to live in a just or egalitarian society while this is still the case.

None of this, of course, is necessarily a reason not to legalize marijuana, but any any measure to simply allow possession and sales needs to do much, much more. Legislation to legalize marijuana needs to release inmates who are being held for marijuana offenses. It needs to expunge those convictions and jail time from their records. It needs to provide job training, placement, and counseling to break the cycle of recidivism that leads 70% of nonviolent offenders to be arrested within 3 years of release.

A move toward legal marijuana needs to come with the cultural admission that it should never have been against the law in the first place, and that means making things right. It’s not enough to move forward, we need to look back at a tradition of injustice and right the wrongs where we still can.

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Hog Days of Boars

We have, here, spent some time discussing public land in the United States. This is for good reason. Public land is explicitly under attack by the Republican Party Platform, and wild places are at the center of numerous land use bills currently circulating through Congress. One need not look past the recent decimation of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments to see how effective extractive industry has been in dismantling America’s Best Idea.

Right now two bills in particular are fracturing the western conservation community – one allowing bicycles in designated Wilderness, the other closing the books on decades old wilderness study areas. This has, perhaps by design (<—conspiracy theory), caused some dissonance between conservationists who ride bikes and conservationists who don’t ride bikes, and is generally occupying a lot of peoples’ time and energy. Generally speaking this is good stuff for us to be thinking about, and we are fortunate to have the wild places to fight over in the first place. (Although I do think it would be much more productive if we all just stopped yelling for a minute).

But then there’s one threat to public land that folks don’t really seem to be talking about that much, and which may deserve some yelling. WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE DOING ABOUT FERAL PIGS?

Seriously guys this shit is real. You know them as bacon, probably, or maybe “the thing that got Robert Baratheon”. Fans of their earlier work may remember that scene from Snatch. But the thing is, feral boars are a real thing, they’re coming, and before we dig too deep, there’s a few things you should know about them.

  • These fuckers are the size of Marshawn Lynch
  • They begin breeding at 6 months old, can have 12 piglets per litter, and two litters per year
  • Boars can each impregnate about 10 sows per year
  • Feral hogs can occupy essentially any habitat on earth, tolerate harsh winters, and happily thrive at 15,000′ above sea level
  • They are voracious omnivores and will delightedly out-compete every species of charismatic megafauna you hold dear
  • While you hunt the boars, the boars hunt you

Wild pigs present a clear and growing danger to all of the fancy endangered species, across all types of habitat. Sage Grouse, Grizzly Bears, and Lynx are all at risk for further competition and depredation, as well as the animals that people actually care about: elk. In fact the only wildlife that really stand to gain by an influx of feral swine are mountain lions and wolves.

Of course feral hogs also thrive on wild flora and agricultural crops, by tilling the earth with their tusks for plant roots or tearing bark from trees. They are indiscriminate eaters, and ruin landscapes. The US currently spends $1.5 billion annually on pig control and crop replacement, and in Japan agricultural depredation once got so bad that more than 3,000 people starved to death during what’s now known as the “Wild Boar Famine.” And this is all, of course, to say nothing of their prominence as vectors for human-communicable disease, deadly aggression, adaptability to suburban and urban environments, and ready habituation to human presence.

Basically feral hogs are kind of a bummer.

Which is why the next part is so spooky: Hogs are present in 44 states and expanding their range by about 8 miles per year. Without intervention, they will be in every county in the US by 2060. Pigs are coming, and they are going to fuck shit up. Right now the most remote, wildest landscapes in the lower 48 are in Montana and Wyoming, two of the last bastions without pig sightings. Once the boars arrive, they will be changed forever.

Do you think those docile elk in West Yellowstone are weird? Just love the Jeremiah Johnson fantasy of riding your horse through the Bob Marshall? Annoyed when squirrels eat your bird feeder? You haven’t seen anything yet (btw there are pigs in Oregon, Idaho, and North Dakota).

“Sure they’re bad,” you say. “But whatever can we do?” I’m glad you asked. Really the big thing is to STOP DRIVING THEM AROUND TO INTRODUCE TO NEW PLACES SO THAT YOU CAN PLAY GI JOE AND HUNT THEM FROM A HELICOPTER WITH NIGHT VISION. Short of that you can usually hunt them*, and pig roasts are delicious (Columbus introduced them in the West Indies so that future expeditions would have food security).

At the very least we should acknowledge that this is kind of a big deal that we’re not talking about at all. We’ve seen a few studies, a headline every year or two, and that’s really it. So let’s get it together, and maybe take a breather from bickering like Khaleesi and the Lannisters. The boars are coming. It’s real.

 

*And they’re mostly nocturnal, so you may want night vision. And they do move around a bit so if you have a line on a helicopter I guess it wouldn’t hurt.

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New Orleans

I am, right now, seated behind a bloody mary at a scarred wooden table in Le Bon Temps Roule, a laughing dive bar on the corner of Magazine and Bordeaux Streets on the fringe of the Garden District. At this moment it is 1pm on a Friday, and the weekend is underway.

The room is much darker than even the overcast sky outdoors, and towering next to me is the first cigarette vending machine I have seen in more than 20 years. Three gambling machines flash silently in the corner, and a handful of television sets are split between football analysis and music videos that are unrelated in any way to the 90s R&B that pounds through the air, the table, the floor. Eight or ten regulars laugh and dance around two red felted pool tables.

From the ceiling hang Saints memorabilia and the paper mache underside of a crocodile, so that it seems we’re looking up at it from beneath the murkey waters of the Atchafalaya. This is fitting, but I do not understand the skier’s legs that are suspended near the reptile’s tail.

This single block is home to at least three vacant buildings – one appears to have been a pawn shop, the other two were homes. On one of the empty houses someone has used every inch of their height to spray paint “LIES” in crude black print on the molding white siding. The other has more or less completely burned. It is fenced off from the sidewalk and the facade, still partially intact, betrays that it was once a clean, brightly colored shotgun in a row of clean, brightly colored shotguns.

On the corner is a hip-looking Israeli restaurant and shawarma stand which boasts Tal’s Pita in bright pastels. In less-bright pastels Sugar Rae’s is selling sweet pralines, and I admit to myself that I have no idea what a praline is.

Danny’s No. 2 advertises fried chicken, seafood, Po Boys, and Chinese food. It does not appear to be open and later, when we cross the road to peer through its darkened windows we will nearly be hit by a Mazeratti. Next to Danny’s (No. 2) is a retired residence occupied by a real estate broker and an Edward Jones office. The money movers are in place next to a nameless bodega shrouded in a chainmail of steel grate.

Aside our anonymous store, presumably filled with chips and beer and cigarettes is Apolline, discreetly signed and well-received by Yelp as a semi-expensive hot spot for contemporary southern fare. It is filled by immaculate table clothes and thin white ladies with excellent posture, and out front a duck-footed gay couple paces amid a cloud of cigarette smoke and argues about their future.

As they move along the block, shouting questions and ignoring answers across shattered, skewed concrete sidewalks they pass the beads, invisible at first but onmipresent once seen. They hang from trees, from power lines, from fence posts, from buildings, sunbleached ghosts from 300 years of parading through the streets.

In Le Bon Temps Roule the pool table cracks. “Like Dolly Parton,” croaks the bald white man with the cue. “All bust and no balls.” He casts a grin across the bar in search of someone to catch the joke. Now, by 2pm, the music is louder still and we have been joined by maybe a dozen more people and a single lightly colored bulldog, and here we are, at Magazine and Bordeaux, in all of New Orleans on a block.

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Christmas Trees

In Louisiana, Christmas trees more or less sell themselves. This is a truth that stems, largely, from the fact that they don’t exactly grow here. The trees (Fraser Fir, mostly), are nourished for between five and fifteen years on a few acres in rural Wisconsin before they are cut down, bailed in twine, and shipped on flatbed trucks to the land of crocodiles and gumbo. Here they are priced at something like $25 per foot of height and stand for moments before they are snatched away and tied to the roof of a German SUV. This is the brief and coveted life of a Christmas Tree, out of place.

No manner of lackadaisical salesmanship can deter a sale. The Christmas Crew, as we’re known, openly drink beer as we guide patrons through the conifer forest, and I hope that the following excerpts will illuminate that even actively dissuading a patron cannot discourage a sale:


“That tree there? That’s more crooked that a politician!”


“How was the gig last night?”

“It was great, although I’m still rolling pretty good.”

“Like, rolling rolling?”

“Yeah, we ate some MDMA and it’s still on. I had to smoke a bunch of week this morning just to straighten out. If you need me for the next two hours I’ll be in the back watering trees.”


“This one doesn’t look very healthy.”

“Well it has been cut down, it’s certainly dead at this point.”


“Is watching other people pick out Christmas Trees the weirdest thing you do all year?”

“Sir, it’s not even the weirdest thing I’ve done today.”


In fact, it has been my experience that once a man sets foot on the lot with the intention of buying a tree, you must cause physical harm to his infant son in order to change his mind. This is not so much a position of sales as it is socializing with a goal, but of course not everything can be roses all the time.

There are three positions available, each more desirable than the next, and of course the best gig is to ride along on deliveries. We sit in the pickup truck and between coffees tour the lifestyles of New Orleans old money. Tips flow easily, and the other day we were fed pasta carbonara and a beer for lunch. The music is loud, the pace relaxed.

The lion’s share of work is done out on the lot. Patrons shoehorn imported sports cars into the small gravel parking lot and peruse the selection for a moment before selecting one. Our job, then is to lay the tree over, cut a fresh drinking surface from the base, bail it in fishnet, replace the stand if they would like one, and lash it to the roof of their car. We then replace the sold tree with a similar size from the pile, and repeat the process as necessary.

Between trees we are left to either sweep up or to feed, pet, or otherwise amuse the large collection of dogs, cats, goats, sheep, ducks, chickens, rabbits, imported (legally?) tortoise and unfriendly prairie dog that call the garden center home. It is not difficult work, but it needs to be done*.

Only one task on the lot is universally reviled – hanging lights. There is something to dressing a $500 Christmas Tree for a person known only as “Miss Diana” that cannot help but stir a populist rancor  in even the most rabid industrialist.

When quitting time rolls around we pool tips and share a beer and draw our pay in neatly folded twenty dollar bills. We fan out to scour the Crescent City for gumbo and oysters, or maybe head to see a little music, and prepare for another day of moving trees.

 

 

*Or does it?