Monday, March 31, 2008

Disposable Wooden Chopsticks

[I had been meaning to publish this post for quite some time (I started the draft of it on 02/07/08), but never got around to it. What actually prompted me to finish it was a dining experience I had last Wednesday at some yakiniku joint in the East Village...where one member in our party busted out her own chopsticks...and I was telling her how I had been wanting to write something about that - about how disposable chopsticks aren't really cool and all.]

Recently, as we finally become environmentally conscious, we have begun to increasingly scrutinize our daily lives and routines that impact Mother Earth.

I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal that piqued my interest, and I've copied it for you below.

Anything we can do to help, right?

Banned in Beijing: Chinese see green over chopsticks

Jane Spencer | Wall Street Journal | 02.08.2008

A dozen environmental activists stormed the cafeteria of Microsoft Corp.'s Chinese headquarters on a lunchtime mission to change the way 1.3 billion people pick up their noodles.

As startled diners looked up from their pork fried rice, Cao Yu, a 26-year-old activist dressed as an endangered orangutan spoke passionately about the ecological perils of China's most common eating utensil.

"Disposable chopsticks are destroying China's forests," said Mr. Cao, whose voice was muffled by the 2-foot-high ape head he was wearing. "We must protest this pointless waste!"

Disposable chopsticks are under attack all across China.

Over the past three decades, the snap-apart sticks have become a staple of hectic city life, used by everyone from migrant workers eating fish balls at street stalls to busy professionals ordering takeout sashimi. China's disposable-chopstick factories turn out roughly 63 billion pairs each year.

But to China's growing ranks of environmentalists, the splintery sticks have become a contemptible symbol of the nation's out-of-control consumption, as well as a threat to forests. The campaign to banish them from Chinese tables is pitting environmentalists against the nation's booming disposable-chopstick industry, which employs more than 100,000 people.

Since November, about 300 Beijing restaurants have vowed to replace disposable chopsticks with reusables. Big companies, including Microsoft, Intel Corp. and International Business Machines Corp., which already use reusables have invited Greenpeace to stage antichopstick rallies in their cafeterias. And chopsticks-bashing has become the cause du jour of some of China's pop stars.

"I use energy-saving lights at home, and I resolutely protest the use of disposable chopsticks," said Li Yuchun, the wildly popular winner of "Super Girl," China's answer to "American Idol," during a TV appearance last year. The spiky-haired Ms. Li, known for her rebellious tomboy style, was blasting chopsticks while promoting her single "Green," a song about forest protection.

The latest campaign was orchestrated by Greenpeace, which reins in its radical tactics in China to avoid confrontations with the government, with which it consults regularly. And while Beijing hasn't officially endorsed the effort, some government agencies are quietly backing chopstick-related reforms.

In December, China's Ministry of Commerce issued new guidelines urging restaurants to "reduce the use of disposable chopsticks." Beijing's Olympic committee is banning disposables during the Olympic Torch Relay and at a number of other events at this year's "green Olympics." In 2006, the government levied a 5% consumption tax on a range of environmentally unfriendly goods, including sport-utility vehicles and disposable chopsticks.


These efforts are triggering a backlash from China's chopstick industry, which says the activists are just a bunch of ill-informed Qi ren you tian. The term refers to people from the ancient province of Qi who worried that the sky was falling.

"The chopstick industry is making a great contribution by creating jobs for poor people in the forestry regions," says Lian Guang, founder and president of the Wooden Chopsticks Trade Association in Heilongjiang Province, who owns a large factory producing disposable chopsticks, popsicle sticks and toothpicks. "We are battling a widespread misperception that we are purposely chopping down trees to make chopsticks." Mr. Lian says that disposable chopsticks are typically made from fast-growing woods like birch, poplar and bamboo that are not endangered. He says chopstick production is carefully managed by China's State Forestry Administration, and often uses leftover wood that is not suitable for other industries.

The subject has led to heated debate in the Chinese news media. "Are disposable chopsticks really so terrible?" the Beijing News ventured in a headline in November. The Southern Weekend newspaper published a dramatic tale on how the controversy is tearing families apart, with a profile of a chopstick-industry executive whose daughter turned against him after learning in college about the environmental hazards of chopsticks.

"Dad, you're an evildoer," she told him, according the newspaper. "You've been in the chopstick industry for so many years, you are a criminal."

Throwaway chopsticks are actually a Japanese invention. They were uncommon in China until the early 1980s, when Japanese chopstick manufacturers began shifting production to northeastern China in order to cut costs. Since then, China has become the world's biggest disposable-chopstick producer, as domestic demand has boomed.

But to activists like Xiao Wei, the shaggy-haired lead singer of the rock group Catcher in the Rye, such arguments "are just a bunch of excuses."


Inspired by the environmental activism of his idol, U2's Bono, Mr. Xiao is helping Greenpeace China launch a Bring Your Own Chopstick (B.Y.O.C.) campaign by carrying his own chopsticks to restaurants, and urging his fans to do the same. On a recent afternoon, Mr. Xiao, clad in skinny jeans, a turquoise flowered shirt and rubber bracelets, showed off his latest accessory: a pair of elegant wooden chopsticks, which he stores in the breast pocket of his black velour blazer.

"They're ethically certified rosewood from Papua New Guinea," boasted Mr. Xiao as he sipped tea in Greenpeace's Beijing office, surrounded by furniture made of recycled cardboard.

But persuading hundreds of millions of Chinese to lay down their chopsticks is no small task. In a country where food safety scares are common, many Chinese think disposables are more sanitary than restaurant chopsticks that may not be washed thoroughly.

"Our customers demand them for hygiene reasons," says Tong Hong Liang, manager of a Beijing branch of Hong Zhuang Yuan, a Chinese fast-food chain that sells 30 kinds of medicinal congee, or rice porridge, including a variety that "aids urination and intellect," according to the English menu.

Many diners aren't sold on the idea of toting around personal chopsticks. "Yuck," says David Tang, a Hong Kong socialite and restaurateur. "How are we supposed to wash them afterward? With our saliva? Let's forget about the environment for a moment and just be practical." Greenpeace has enlisted Daniel Koo, a prominent Taiwanese industrial designer, to create the ideal pair of portable chopsticks. After months of research and focus-group discussions, Mr. Koo has developed a pair of collapsible chopsticks made of recycled stainless steel that can fit in a wallet.

A Way of Life

B.Y.O.C. is becoming a way of life for young Chinese activists like Margaret Yang, a 28-year-old market researcher for Intel in Beijing. On a recent lunchtime visit to a Beijing branch of the Chinese hot-pot chain Little Sheep, Ms. Yang put her ideals into action. When the waitress approached with a fistful of disposable chopsticks, Ms. Yang flashed her personal chopsticks, sending her scurrying away.

After a lunch of lamb strips, mushrooms and bok choy, Ms. Yang illustrated the cleanup protocol, requesting a cup of hot water from the waitress to rinse her chopsticks in, before slipping them into the organic cotton sack she uses to carry them.

Link To Article

Monday, March 17, 2008


Mad movies and tv shows for free and legit. A joint venture from NBC Universal and News Corp., the big boys have wised up, knowing that the peeps are going to watch movies and tv shows on their computers, whether they like it or not.

Link to Hulu

It's got Arrested Development episodes, The Simpsons, The's even got The Big Lebowski.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Chuck Berry: Part Deux

He's baaaaaaaaack....

237 W. 42ND ST. 7-8 AVE.
FRI JUN 6 2008 8:00PM

Ticketmaster Link

He's also playing at the North Fork Theatre in Westbury, New York the following day (Saturday, June 7).

Ticketmaster Link

Maui Wowie...

I didn't realize how long it's been since I'd last written a post.

In case you've been wondering, I've been up to a lot of no good. I finally bought some Neosporin for my right knee, which has been severely bruised and scraped for the past week. I went to Atlantic City for a beer fest with a bunch of lads last weekend...but we didn't get in. We waited on line for over an hour with close to 1,000 people ahead of us...and when we finally managed and snaked our way to the ticket booth, the fucking festival sold out of tickets. Seriously, there were about 30 people in front of us when they pulled down the curtains. It was hilarious in a Nelson Muntz "Ha-Ha" pointing at us kind of way.

So, when in Rome, we hit up the casino. For the record, our group fared pretty, pretty, pretty good. Personally, I went in with zero dollars and came out with that was nice.

Later on that evening, 2 of my friends pissed themselves and I booted all over my friend's floor. Actually, I think the pissfest happened the night before. Yeah...good times. Correction - great times.

Upon my arrival back home, I went on a Jewish Culinary mini-extravaganza hitting up 2nd Avenue Deli (*droooooooooool*) and Russ & Daughters.

Also, this past week, I had the best olives I have ever had. They were from Russo's Mozzarella and Pasta. They were bloody fucking amazing - and I waffle on whether I like olives or not...but these...these I could eat until the cows come home...or until pigs fly.

So all in all, to wrap everything up: If you plan on going to the beer fest in Atlantic City next year, don't. Buy yourself a couple of kegs, build yourself a pong table, and commence booting and rallying. Also, go to 2nd Avenue Deli and get yourself a corned beef sandwich, some liver, some soup, maybe a frankfurter and potato pancakes and a couple of beers. Also cop yourself some sturgeon from Russ & Daughters. Then walk a few blocks north up 1st Avenue and pick up a bunch of olives from Russo's.

Life is good...if you're smart about it...which I'm not. But at least I'm still alive.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

New Mix - Derrick Carter Made Me Do It


Saturday morning...woke up fairly early...pressed record and let 'er rip. What you have here is a mix that wasn't planned.


Da Sunlounge – After The Funk – Tango Recordings
Chris Lum – Want More? – Room Records
Jazzy Eyewear – Gotta Be Real (Da Sunlounge Remix) – Uma Recordings
Mazi & Duriez – Chicago, A Wake Up Call (Phonogenic Remix) – Gourmet Recordings
Nick Chacona – X, Y & Sometimes X – Grayhound Recordings
Sean Q6 – Of Course – Bedrock Records
Tom Mangan – Hamburger – Playtime Records
Troydon – Drop It – Spatula City
Hipp-e – Access Granted – Agave Records
Justin Martin – Les Tard – Leftroom Records
The Freestylers – Push Up – Super Charged Music

62 mins 41 secs : 114.8 MB : 256K

Divshare Link

Larry Heard

Here's a great interview with Larry Heard that I came across on Resident Advisor.

The preface to the interview begins with this:

"House music icon?" chuckles Larry Heard. "All these kinds of titles end up being put on you, but they have never had anything to do with my original goal and intent." RA catches up with the gentle giant of deep house.

Early 2007. At almost every party you go to, DJs are playing the same tune. On some nights you’ll hear it three times in different rooms. Over the course of the year, the cut becomes a genuine club anthem, inspiring singalongs on the dancefloor and finding its way onto compilation after compilation that summer. A stripped down acid track with honey-smooth vocals, 'The Sun Can’t Compare' was the real deal: a fresh Chicago house track that somehow managed to sound both classic and contemporary. If it had been made by one of the legion of new deep revivalists, you’d have given them a round of applause for nailing the sound.

Of course it wasn’t. The track was by Heard himself, and just the latest 12-inch in a twenty-five year career of records which form one of the most intriguing back catalogues in dance music. For newcomers to the genre—and there were many in 2007—the soft spoken musician’s discography is a rich vein of music to dive into, from proto-acid tracks such as ‘Amnesia’ and ‘Mystery of Love’ that still cut like a knife to his truly sublime 1988 single ‘Can You Feel It?’ to more recent album-length jazz/downtempo/house explorations such as 'Where Life Begins' and 'Love's Arrival'. For longtime Heard aficionados—and there are many of those, too—the revival of interest, of course, wasn’t so surprising. Larry Heard hadn’t come back to the clubs; the clubs had came back to Larry Heard.

Originally a drummer in a Yes cover band, and famously devoted to building his tracks sample-free and from the ground up, Heard’s relationship with the ass-shaking side of house has always been a complicated one. His early classics, for example, were made even before he’d even stepped inside a nightclub. This arm’s length approach nowadays extends to his choice of city of residence, the decidedly un-4/4 town of Memphis, Tennessee, as well as his attitude to DJing, which despite his full schedule of bookings, is a role he’s always had a secondary interest in. Talking to Heard, it’s obvious that first and foremost he sees himself as a musician in the plucking, hitting and strumming sense of the word; he’s not comfortable settling for dance music’s usual methods and roles. It’s an attitude to music that in the end gave birth to the new kind of house he is responsible for: a dance music which deemphasised the relentlessly up-for-it tone of the genre and fused it with non-dance notions of maturity, real musicianship, stretched out improvisation and above all human feeling. In other words: deep house.

In an extended interview, Larry Heard speaks to RA about where he's at in 2008.

Link To Interview