Taste? Power? Uh, uh, art?

Posted in Art, Faith, Food & Wine, Music, Politics, Religion by Rubang B, the Mad Doctor of Love on March 13, 2008

What are taste and power and what the fuck do they have to do with each other? What happens when they collide? For the purposes of resolving these riddles, I will be defining taste as “the sociological concept of expressing preferences deemed appropriate or inappropriate by (or for) society” and power as “the ability by a group or individual to make choices or influence outcomes bigger than it/him/herself.” To have both is to control what other people like, usually without them knowing. To have both is to be both the gatekeeper and the keymaster.

1: Tasteful Power – Count Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy

Tolstoy was a count who didn’t give a fuck. He was born in 1808 into one of the wealthiest noble families in Russian history, with plenty of power and no taste. This bothered him. His mother, father, grandmother, and aunt died when he was 2, 9, 10, and 13. This didn’t bother him.

When he was 19 he inherited his 4,000 acres and 350 serfs. This sucked, so he moved to Moscow, got drunk, and blew all his money gambling. He slowly sold land and slaves for years to pay his debt, and eventually had to cut down his forests, tear down his house, and even sell his watch. Legend has it that he didn’t give a fuck about money. He went to school at St. Petersburg to study law and Oriental languages. College sucked, so he quit. He volunteered in an artillery unit. War sucked (possibly even moreso than college), so he quit. He tried to free his serfs in 1851, a whole decade before the cavemen in control of Russia got the idea. His serfs didn’t take his offer because they thought it was a trap. (Note: slaves are stupid. Tolstoy started a school for his slaves’ kids a few years later to try to fix this.)

So Tolstoy travels all across Europe to see what it’s like, and realizes it’s a bunch of bourgeois pseudo-intellectual dooshbags. He starts to write the world’s most amazing stories about rich assholes dying. Then he freaks out because he can’t stop gambling and having sex, so he magically devises a new form of Christian anarchism, gets a bunch of disciples, and they start traveling around calling themselves Tolstoyans.

He threw away his financial power and slave-owning power and got a bunch of religious power and literary power out of thin air. The man had good taste, and knew what kinds of power mattered. He owned land, riches, bodies, and labor, and didn’t care. He wanted souls, and he wanted to control the world of literature, so he snatched it all up. Even King Pimp Dostoyevsky called him the world’s greatest living writer, and Nabokov called him the greatest writer in all of Russian history. And his religious works famously influenced Gandhi and MLK’s doctrines of nonviolence.

Also, he wrote into his will that anything he wrote before 1881 would be copyrighted by his wife and family, and anything afterwards would have no copyright whatsoever, and one time he shot a bear point-blank range in the fucking face. THEN he learned to ride a bike at age 67, was excommunicated at age 73, and died at 82 with thousands of peasants at his funeral in the middle of the woods. He invented ballin’.

2: Powerful Taste – Food that Tastes You Back

People need to eat to live, so controlling food means eternal riches. Australia is aware of this, while America is not. (Note: America is stupid. Maybe Tolstoy should have started a school over here to fix that.) From 1992 to 2003, Australia exported 20% of the world’s beef and veal, and America and Brazil were tied for 2nd place at 18% (or 1.1 million metric tons) each. Over this period, U.S. beef exports grew 85%. Then in 2003, something magical happened.

One Canadian-born cow in Washington state had mad cow disease, or as we call it on the streets: bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Most of the world immediately banned U.S. beef. Most of the world doesn’t want mad cow disease. 90% of U.S. beef was bought by Japan (the world’s largest beef-importer), South Korea, Canada, and Mexico, which all banned U.S. beef. Wuss countries like Canada and Mexico changed their minds soon and allowed poison meat into their homes. Japan, however, took this opportunity to finally get revenge for the uranium-fission and plutonium-implosion bombs of yesteryear and banned all beef that didn’t follow their new import laws. No beef would be allowed into Japan unless data was readily available regarding where the cow was born, where it died, every single place it lived, everything it ate, and every cow it lived with at every single location. America thought this would cost too much; Australia did not. American beef exports dropped from 18% of the world market to 3%. American beef exports dropped to 17% of their 2003 level. With one swift move, Japan handed over the world’s beef market to Australia (and to a lesser extent, Brazil). If you want health-guaranteed madness-free beef, go to one of those countries. If a country’s beef is good enough for Japan, it’s good enough for anybody.

To further demonstrate how hard America fucked itself in the meat wallet, American cow tongue (the tastiest part if you’re a burrito fan like myself) went for $4.25 per pound before the incident, and as of July 2004 was down to 70 cents per pound, for a loss of $12.43 per cow head, as calculated by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. In Japan, cow tongue can fetch over $20 per pound. They cut it into thin strips and grill it in teriyaki sauce Korean BBQ style and it’s heavenly. If you find yourself in Japan, eat it. They call it gyutan. It’s Japanese for “cow tongue.”

3: Tasty Power – YMO and Beer

The best way to tie all these concepts together in a way you MTV/ADD-generation heathens can follow, is through an audio-visual example. I read that somewhere. Yellow Magic Orchestra, one of the tastiest groups to ever bless electronic music from 1978 onward, recently reformed (again) to rock out a commercial for Kirin Ichiban, one of the world’s tastiest beers, and my personal ex-favorite. (I quit drinking beer last year, in Japan. I’m so rad.) Watch as with the perfect match of fashion-taste and music-power, YMO control the dance floor, and all our hearts.

2 Responses

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  1. teenagediet said, on March 13, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    well played

  2. Devin Kenny said, on March 16, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Wow. Yes. You took us on a ride. Not a magical one. But a very real one. Like when a hypothetical parent takes his/her hypothetical child out to eat their favorite food after a good report card.

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