Consider the pillowy consistency of a bun pulled from a package of so many identical buns. Consider the ladle of brown chili draped over the top. Consider the sprinkle of cheddar cheese or the stripe of mustard, both the same artificial yellow.
The chili dog’s story is actually many stories: not only one about American fast food and appetites, but also about American industrialization, immigration, and regionalism. And each component—the hot dog, the chili, even where we eat chili dogs—adds another twist.
Cosmologists tell us that the temperature of space is two point seven Celsius above absolute zero. Certainly, many of Hultberg’s works, such as Twilight: Down The Drain and Dark Egypt, have icy light blue or very cold, dark blue skies. Demon Cloud, more demon angel than cloud, is certainly an exception with its infrared emissions glowing with the hot radiance of an unexplained fog of ions, or charged particles, over an accumulation of detritus. At right is a geometric plane with double circles, and at left is an easel-like speaker stand, both linked together by a single, cool, azure color. The demon cloud/angel, with its flurry of elegant brushstrokes that meld into the terrain, hovers over a landscape of tachist openings (and closings?) like dark kinetic energy escaping the gravitational field of earth. With his extraordinarily unique use of perspective, Hultberg expands his art into something more spatial, more astronomical, more cosmic.
Imagine a miracle drug that could ease many of the stresses of modern life — a combination mood enhancer and smart pill that might even encourage the remission of cancer. Now imagine that this cure-all was an old-fashioned folk remedy: Just take a hike in the woods or a walk in the park. No prescription necessary.
That’s the proposition of Florence Williams’s fascinating “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative.” We suffer from an “epidemic dislocation from the outdoors,” Williams writes, and it’s destructive to our mental and physical health. The therapy is straightforward. “The more nature, the better you feel.”
In a sense, Elkin’s book is itself a flânerie, a stroll where the reader may come across an unexpected person — say, the film directors Sophie Calle in Venice and Agnes Varda in Paris, looking for locations — or get some ideas about May 1968 or the Situationists. Or marvel over an intriguing bit of research: like the discovery that one of the inspirations for George Sand’s cross-dressing came from her own mother, who confided that in childhood Sand was outfitted in boy’s clothing by her father to cut down on the family’s expenses. “Sand’s trouser-wearing was in its way an act of revolution,” Elkin remarks. “At the very least, it was illegal. In the year 1800, a law had been passed forbidding women to wear them in public.”
Somehow, even though it is clearly not a cake, there are people in the world who still believe that cheesecake is a cake. It’s not a cake: It is a filling that is either on top of or surrounded on three sides by a crust, which is definitely not a cake.
That issue being settled, a further question remains: Is cheesecake a pie? Or is it a tart? Here to present their arguments are impassioned cheesecake-semantics experts Helen Rosner, executive editor, and Emma Alpern, copy editor, who each take different (and perhaps surprising) sides in this battle.