Life and Arts on the stepper (working up a sweat with the FT)

So, I’ve managed to accumulate 14 issues of the Life and Arts section of the FT, stretching back to June. Nothing for it but to get on the stepper at the gym and plough on through. Two hours got me through three and a bit issues….

The June 13 issue first up

Lunch with the FT has Michael Pollan interviewed by Simon Schama (who’s just done a good job on Dave Cameron in this week’s FT Magazine…)

Here’s the good bit-

One part of Michael Pollan is in awe of what agribusiness has achieved: teh delivery of low-cost food on an unprecedented scale. But the better part of him is appalled. “What’s happened is Walmartism: the reverse of Fordism,” he says. “Ford raised the pay of his assembly line workers so they would buy his cars. Walmart pays low wages, knowing workers can always get bad, cheap food.” The result is a burger and jumbo-sized cola addicted population. No-one is better than Pollan at giving the devil its due, conjuring the unmistakable, almost narcotically addictive “fry-fragrance” to which junk food junkies helplessly gravitate. It is, he thinks a kind of ersatz “home”: some imagined smell of childish security in that oily-crunchy, burgery squishy provision – as if fast food momma was one gigantic Ameridca tit on which the infantilized masses of American placidly suck.

Yep. See also Fast Food Nation and also Sweetness and Power by Sidney Mintz

OK, there’s a review essay by Edwin Heathcote, the FT’s architecture hack (he’s bloody good, IMHO).

He likes Cities Under Siege by Stephen Graham very much, and it does indeed sound mouthwatering.

I didn’t know (but am not surprised that) “ Haussmann was influenced by the military engineers fortifying Algiers to secure it as a colony.” Graham “writes persuasively about the reappearance of this imperial urbanism, and how such techniques are now aimed at immigrants, who are made to appear as colonials in their new home cities.”

Penelope Lively really likes Bill Bryson’s “At Home: A Short History of Private Life,” which sounds really good.

Better still – according to Hilary Spurling- Dorothy Rowe‘s “Why We Lie”. Another one for the list then…

Meanwhile, on the back page, in the “Slow Lane” Harry Eyres quotes Miguel de Unamuno, rector at the University of Salamanca facing up to Franco’s thugs. “This is the temple of intelligence, and I am its high priest. You are profaning its sacred domain. You will succeed, because you have enough brute force. But you will not convince. In order to convince it is necessary to persuade, and to persuade you will need something that you do not possess: reason and right in the struggle.”

There’s a good (longer) account on Wikipedia. Hair-raising stuff, balls out.

The June 26/7 issue

Lunch with the FT is with Chad Hurley, one of the co-founders of Youtube. It’s by Richard Waters, who covers information technology and its implications for the FT. He is seriously well-informed, and seriously thoughtful.

Ed Crooks, energy correspondent, has ploughed through various climate novels/thrillers. He doesn’t think much of Ian McEwan’s Solar, but likes Sunshine State by James Miller and Far North by Marcel Theroux, and also In-Flight Entertainment by Helen Simpson.

He quotes from Far North – “Even if Moses and Mohamed were charlatans, maybe that was better than inflicting the naked truth on people: we are all out here in the desert, and we are alone,and all of us will die. Even if it’s true, maybe it’s not the kindest or most practical thing to tell anyone.”
Yup. Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men” and all that…

The lead story on the July 11/12 issue is called “Burning with Creativity” and its about Dave Eggers and David Simon (and lots of other people’s!) responses to Katrina. Gotta say, the Wire was astounding. Treme is apparently very different (of course) but equally fantastic.

The review essay is on people climbing and dying (especially on K2).
Graham Bowley’s “No Way Down: Life and Death on K2” gets a very glowing review, and Walter Bonatti gets a mention – sounds absolutely bonkers, but admirable. Oh, and still alive!

There, done. Only 10 and a half issues to go…

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Below the surface...
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