Monthly Archives: March 2013

Where the Wild Things Are

by James Estrin

Charles Fréger was fascinated by what the human race lost over the millenniums when it evolved from hunter-gather to farmer and, eventually, urban dweller. After learning that there were Europeans who continued ancient pagan rites of celebrating the winter solstice and the beginning of spring, he set out to examine what traditions faded as people became more civilized.

In 2010, Mr. Fréger began to photograph the few small farming communities, in mountainous areas, that still follow the customs that for the most part were precursors to Christmas, New Year’s and Easter. He found that many dressed like animals.

“When I saw the costumes and spent time with these people,” he said, “I realized that I have always felt like a bear.”


“These traditions come from Neolithic times — from shamanism — and they have never stopped,” said Mr. Fréger, 38. “For a few nights you can behave like a goat, drink a lot and forget about being civilized. You can be a wild animal for three days and then you go back to controlling your wildness.”

About 10,000 years ago, humans began domesticating wild animals for both food and companionship. Over the course of centuries, animal species were bred for traits that made them docile and more useful to their masters. But as humans changed and fenced in animals, they were also domesticating themselves. The skills needed to survive in the wild were different than those needed to succeed in more complex social arrangements.

Mr Fréger was intrigued by the transformations of human being to beast that he witnessed in 18 European countries. They were, he said, celebrations of fertility, life and death and symbolized the complicated relationship between mankind and nature.

His sculptural portraits are featured in the April issue of National Geographic and are collected in his book “Wilder Mann,” published in four languages including an English edition from Dewi Lewis. The work will also be exhibited simultaneously at the Yossi Milo Gallery, from April 11 to May 18, and at the Gallery at Hermès on Madison Avenue.

As strange and exotic as the costumes and traditions might seem, Mr. Fréger said, they felt somewhat natural for him. His father was a farmer, in the center of France, as were his grandfather and great-grandfather. Mr. Fréger grew up milking cows and studied agriculture in college intending to join the family farm.

“I learned to be a farmer before I went to art school,” he said. “I was not so different from the people I photographed.”

He chose photography over raising animals. Though his recent ancestors, as far as he knows, did not wear primitive costumes of wild animals, Mr. Fréger said, he has never felt domesticated.


See the complete slideshow here. It’s a good amount of wild.

New York Times / Lens / Published: March 18, 2013


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The Plate Project: Provocateurs

What We’ll Be Eating in 35 Years:
Food & Wine asked some of the most original thinkers we know to sketch out their predictions on paper plates. The results are beautiful, inspiring and provocative.


Dirty Dishes

by Gail Simmons, F&W Special Projects Expert and Top Chef Judge

“In 2013 we are just beginning to understand the profound connection between the food we eat and the earth we inhabit, but the notion has still not taken root universally. By 2048, I hope we will see this as no longer a voluntary lifestyle choice but a fundamental responsibility. If we continue to impose ourselves on the land, it may just bite back. If we learn to adapt, life will taste a whole lot sweeter.”


No More Waste

by José Andrés, Chef

“The average person eats at least three meals a day, which represents 1,095 paper plates a year. The US wastes approximately 749 pounds of paper a year—per person. Each ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 682,50 gallons of oil and 3.3 cubic feet of landfill space. One tree provides enough oxygen to support three people. The US throws away 40 million tons of paper that could have been recycled every year. The food of tomorrow is today’s sustainability.”


Improved Fisherman’s Special

by Paul Greenberg, Author

“The American seafood diet exploits declining wild fish and promotes industrial fish farms. Both practices hurt the ocean. My plate does the reverse: Farmed shellfish clean waterways; kelp clears our coasts of harmful nitrogen, providing protein in the process. Peruvian anchoveta, normally wasted as salmon feed, feed us omega-3s instead.”


Pharm to Table

by AvroKo, Architects and Designers

“Everyone knows food is the ultimate addiction. In our playful—and somewhat tongue-in-cheek—vision of the future, we’ve cut out the middleman and imagined a world where food and drink take a quicker and more direct route to the pleasure centers. Don’t forget to eat your garnish!”


Our Changing World

by J. Kenji López-Alt, Blogger

“The two things I’ll miss most in the future? Good fresh, wild fish. (Farmed fish just ain’t the same.) And Twinkies. (Little Debbie Cloud Cakes just ain’t the same).”


Food of the Future for the 1%

by Anthony Bourdain, Chef, Author and TV Host

[Photos © Antonis Achilleos]

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How to Green the World’s Deserts and Reverse Climate Change

This is truly amazing.

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A Word Gone Wrong

by Lawrence Downes


This Wednesday is the fifth annual “day of awareness” in a national campaign to stop the use of the word “retarded” and its variants. As a medical label for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the R-word used to be neutral, clinical, incapable of giving offense. But words are mere vessels for meaning, and this one has long since been put to other uses.

“Retarded” and “retard” today are variations on a slur. Young people especially like it: as a weapon of derision, it does the job. It’s sharp, with an assaultive potency that words like “moron” and “idiot” lost sometime in the days of black-and-white TV.

The campaign against it, called “Spread the Word to End the Word,” is heartfelt and earnest in a way that makes it vulnerable to ridicule. I know people who care about language who do not see themselves as heartless and who do not see “retardation” as anything to get worked up about. To them, banishing the R-word for another clinical-sounding term is like linguistic Febreze: masking unpleasantries with cloying euphemisms.

In this, as in other cases of discrimination, it’s probably best to let those affected speak for themselves.

Here is John Franklin Stephens, a man from Virginia with Down syndrome who serves as a “global messenger” for the Special Olympics. He has written op-ed articles giving lucid voice to thoughts you may never have heard before:

“The hardest thing about having an intellectual disability is the loneliness,” he once wrote in The Denver Post. “We are aware when all the rest of you stop and just look at us. We are aware when you look at us and just say, ‘unh huh,’ and then move on, talking to each other. You mean no harm, but you have no idea how alone we feel even when we are with you.”

“So, what’s wrong with ‘retard’?,” he asked. “I can only tell you what it means to me and people like me when we hear it. It means that the rest of you are excluding us from your group. We are something that is not like you and something that none of you would ever want to be. We are something outside the ‘in’ group. We are someone that is not your kind.”

Last year, after the right-wing personality Ann Coulter sent a Twitter message about Mitt Romney and President Obama — “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard” — Mr. Stephens wrote her a letter. “No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much,” he said, with such persuasive graciousness as to put other writers to shame.

As Mr. Stephens makes clear, people can be thoughtless and cruel, or well-meaning, and never know the damage their words can do. The campaign is about inclusion. History is full of stories of people from outside who fought their way in. To those with intellectual disabilities, it sometimes seems the battle is just at the beginning, when little victories — like an end to insults — are hugely important.

New York Times / Sunday Review / Published: March 2, 2013

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