Sunday, October 28, 2007

Review of Mac Baren's Virginia No. 1

I smoke virginia flake tobaccos almost exclusively. Since I can only buy the good stuff in Halifax, which is 7 hours away from Northern New Brunswick, I am occasionally forced to choose between doing without (never!) and dabbling in the locally available brands of tobak. I was initially pleased that there was a VA blend to be found in Edmunston. However, after getting the stuff home and smoking it, I was less than thrilled.

Virginia tobaccos are naturally sweet. More sugar makes tobacco burn hotter, and thus virginias are more apt to bite the tongue than any other blend. Also, they burn cooler when pressed into flakes (strips of tobacco that look like beef jerky), which is what most manufacturers do with their VA blends. Mac Baren should know this--they've been making pipe tobacco for decades now. But, for whatever reason, they have seen fit to soak Virginia No. 1 in a cloying, hot-burning, honey-flavoured casing, utterly ruining what at first glance looks to be high quality, tasty leaf. Fucking Danes and their candy-weed. They also chop it up into itty-bitty pieces, so it burns even hotter.

Needless to say, one bowl of this stuff will blister you so badly you'll think you smoked a cigarette with the lit end in your mouth. The molten sugar in the smoke sticks to your tongue like napalm, too. I've never been burned like this by a 'backy before.

UPDATE: Cooking this stuff in the stove for a while (20-30 minutes or so at 150 degrees) and then rehydrating it seems to take some of the sting out of it, but it's a pain in the ass for a smoking experience that's at the low end of mediocre.

I wish I had four hands, so I could give Mac Baren's Virginia No. 1 four thumbs down.

Ani DiFranco, Joni Mitchell and The Problem with Feminism

I was surfing the Internet today (as I do from time to time when I'm putting off doing real work), and I came across an online piece on Ani DiFranco in The Guardian entitled "I'm Considering a Revolution" (October 10, 2007). The article references an earlier piece DiFranco did for the LA Times, in which she interviewed venerable female artist Joni Mitchell, in the following paragraph:

Last year, the National Organisation for Women (NOW), America's largest feminist advocacy group, honoured DiFranco with a Woman of Courage award. She has always been outspoken about her feminism; in that same Joni Mitchell interview she suggested that her subject, who has been disparaging of feminism, might embrace the concept. Mitchell simply responded, "I prefer the company of men." DiFranco went on to write that "Either you are a feminist or you are a sexist/misogynist. There is no box marked 'other'" (Emphasis mine).

This isn't "courageous," it's narrow-minded and hypocritical. In fact, it's exactly the kind of aggressive dichotomizing and intolerance of diversity that feminists are always saying characterizes patriarchal thinking. I thought the cardinal sin of "phallogocentric" patriarchy was its tendency to sort the world into binary oppositions (like, say, feminist and sexist/misogynist), one of which (feminism, in this case) is privileged over the other.

Unless there is a kind of feminist logic at work here that is subtly "subversive" on a level beyond the understanding of a petit-bourgeois white male rube like me.

DiFranco's attitude is remarkably patronizing, bullying, and arrogant towards women who are unsympathetic to feminism's goals and aims, which profess to be about improving women's quality of life, but are (in my experience) more often locally and immediately concerned with securing status and opportunity for upwardly mobile career-feminists. This bears repeating: Feminist interests and women's interests are not identical. Feminism's support of women is "universal" only in the sense that it regards all women as targets for prosyletization, and DiFranco's treatment of Mitchell illustrates this point.

I love women, and I support them in their struggle for equality. It's ironic and disappointing that feminist discourse is so often characterized by bitter and virulent intolerance of any point of view other than its own.

I think the next frontier for women's liberation will be the freeing of the mature female worldview from the worst tonal excesses, political reductionism and skewed logic of 20th century feminism. These may then be consigned to the historical scrap heap with the rest of the rusting avant garde intellectual apparatus.

One can always hope, anyway.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"My only grudge against nature was that I could not turn my Lolita inside out and apply voracious lips to her young matrix, her unknown heart, her nacreous liver, the sea-grapes of her lungs, her comely twin kidneys" (Nabukov 165).

"It is not the artistic aptitudes that are secondary sexual characters as some shams and shamans have said; it is the other way around: sex is but the ancilla of art" (259).

"The moral sense in mortals is the duty
We have to pay on mortal sense of beauty" (283).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Post-Mortem Photograph

One of the nice things about the modern era is that infant mortality rates have been dropping steadily around the world. Overpopulation is a concern, but there's nothing sadder than a baby who doesn't make it.

Photo from the Kircher Society via a google search by the folks at Blog Supergroup.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bacchian Morbidity

Today I woke up feeling like a gang of pineapple-wielding ogres had clubbed me into unconsciousness and shat in my mouth. I think I lose three years off my life for every goddamn volcano bowl I drink.