Going Back…

March 31, 2007

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With Nate on the way to Elm City to watch Awakenings, Ghost, and Goodfellas, thus bringing our look back at 1990 (easily one of the 3 worst years of movies we’ve seen so far) to a close, it seemed like the perfect time to indulge in a lovely breakfast of endive salads, random trivia, and a conspiracy uncovered (and a word or two).

We’ll start, as an ode to classics major Nate, with the ancient Mediterranean world. Too widely beloved to merit a “YS Endorses” piece, cheese nonetheless possesses a rich history. For example, it’s first historical mention is by Xenophon. Also, as of 1988, a full 13% of the US population believed that the moon was made out of cheese (source and, while not actually a source (?), this educational article on writing styles has a lot of fun with a “moon made out of cheese” theory).

ibiteyoureyes, a cock-sure celebrant of tomfoolery and chicanery, writes in with today’s wotd: scofflaw. “Scofflaw” is an invented word through and through, the winner of a 1924 Boston Herald (and you thought the Herald never added to society!) word contest to come up for a term for “the ‘lawless drinker’ of illegally made or illegally obtained liquor.” H.L. Mencken wrote that the word entered immediate currency. With the end of prohibition, the word comes to mean, “One who treats the law with contempt, esp. a person who avoids various kinds of not easily enforceable laws. Also attrib.” An OED quote from 1951 refers to parking tickets. ibiteyoureyes (?) appended a new occurrence of the word to his bequest: “A scofflaw who came to be known as the gin and tonic bandit went to the same restaurant each Wednesday, ordered two drinks and a rib-eye steak, then skipped out on his $25.96 bill” (full article). Skipping out on a bill is certainly treating laws with contempt, and we here at YS enjoy the fact that this usage was associated with alcohol, the word’s Ur meaning.

And lastly, the non-coincidence of the day. Here is Columbia University Professor of English, Cultural Theorist, and Cosmopolitan extraordinaire Bruce Robbins.

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And here is “the Minimalist” Mark Bittman?13bittxl.jpg

Could it be that the author of “The Sweatshop Sublime” and “How to Cook Everything” are one and the same? Why hasn’t the mainstream media focused on this subversion? Perhaps Gayatri Spivak, who long stood behind Edward Said in terms of Columbia prominence, is behind this deception. The newly appointed University Professor would certainly lose her place in the limelight if Robbins was revealed as a Cultural Theorist and world famous Chef. The real loser here? Columbia students, who can’t take “Temporizing: Time and Politics (and Delicious Food!) in the Humanities and Human Rights (and the Kitchen!)”. For shame, Columbia! Let the truth be known!