Monday, February 28, 2005

Do You Meat?

I like reading during my bathtime. It's one of the chief pleasures of my simple canine life.

Tonight I was perusing the pleasantly weighty Meat cookbook by Mr Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, meat farmer, chef, restauranteur, cookery writer, and overall cheery-looking chap.

Call it a morbid fascination, but I really enjoy looking through cookbooks that show you what food actually looks like before it arrives at your dining table. As in, with legs, running around fields and green spaces, and later, still with legs but hanging upside down from a hook with its head cut off.

Yes, we should all be aware of exactly what we are eating and where it comes from (Korean dog-eaters, I'm talking to you). And yes, we should be grateful for the meat we eat, and attempt to use every last scrap of the animal to maximise the benefit gained from its death. Hey that'd make a good slogan- "Eat It All Or Don't Eat It At All". I once read an interview where the Japanese girl from Blonde Redhead said something along the lines of "We love meat, but we don't eat it very often. We try to be really thankful each time we eat it and think about where it comes from". The way she puts it is a bit dithery, but I agree with her philosophy.

But it's not just a question of the morality of killing another living thing for one's own consumption. Eating commercially farmed meat can be very, very bad for the environment. Apparently it can take up to 100,000 liters of water to produce 1 kg of meat. It sounds like an awful lot, doesn't it, although of course they never tell you how much water it takes to produce, say, a kilo of baby bistro salad mix, or the fact you would need to eat a wheelbarrow's worth of the stuff to even begin to satisfy those hunger pangs.

But where it really gets interesting is when the vegetarian/carnivore debate intersects with the fur/anti-fur spat. Personally, I'm fake fur all the way, and I'm a toy dog so I'm off the hook about the meat-eating thing. But I just find it simply hysterical listening to meat eaters try to put forward a consistent argument about why it's ok to eat meat but not wear fur. "You're eating it, so it's not as wasteful" is typically the first thing that comes out of their mouths. "But wearing a fur coat isn't wasteful if you live somewhere freezing cold." "Yes, but most fur wearers don't live in places that cold." "Most?" "Well, definitely some at least." "Why is wearing fur considered gratuitous when it's not necessary to eat meat for survival?" "Er..."

The one that gets me especially is rabbit. Time and time again I've seen girls practically fall over faint at the sight of someone wearing a bunny scarf. "Ooooh how could they?" they squeal, "it's soooo disgusting. Poor fluffy bunnies." Whenever I hear that I have to duck my head down and nip the insides of my thighs to keep from puking. What's so cute about damn rabbits? In my opinion, the only thing they're good for is lapin moutarde a la creme- recipe's on page 316.

Sunday, February 27, 2005



Today a Banksy print arrived in the post. Now for those of you who are not au fait, Banksy is a Bristol artist who has made his name by graffiti-ing on everything from bridges to billboards to farmyard animals. His work is satirical, political, and now it would seem, also highly marketable.

But what does political graffiti art become when the same image is reproduced on nice, high-quality, acid-free paper and delivered to your doorstep for eighty-seven quid? Is it subversion or selling out? And would it look better in a matt black or beech frame?

One of the reasons I like him is that he does this incredibly ninja thing where he manages to create an entire piece of art in a very public space without anybody ever spotting him. I come to this conclusion by virtue of the fact that I never see his name in the celeb-spotting column in Heat.

This is cool with me, but now that his stock is on the rise so is the backlash. Here is my conspiracy theory- Banksy is actually an ex-rockclimber graphic artist hired by Saatchi and Saatchi to garner street cred for stencil art which can then be used to successfully sell overpriced stuff back to the people.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Friday Night Blues

As usual, I was left home alone last night while my mistress went out on the town straight from work. I'd had a nerve-shattering day listening to the alcoholic upstairs thumping and careening around his apartment, and by 7pm I decided it was definitely time for a drink.

I got down the top-shelf gin, and rinsed out the espresso cup in the sink. While I was scrummaging around for some nibblies I found a pack of Lucky Strikes. Yippee! I thought. I'm gonna get me wasted tonight.

And wasted I got. I pulled out some old Bowie albums and cranked up the stereo. I drank, and played air guitar like there was no tomorrow. This is what my neighbour must feel like all the time, I said to myself, grinding and thrusting my hips in time to Diamond Dogs.

Things progressed from the kitchen to the lounge room. This is where my memory starts to get a bit blurry:

Towards the end it wasn't so fun. My head was spinning, I was thirsty, and for some reason I desperately wanted to eat a kebab. I made do with some leftover tuna casserole in the fridge, which in retrospect probably wasn't the smartest thing to do.

This is what my mistress came home to. Fortunately she was almost as pissed as me, so she didn't get angry about the kitchen floor. She didn't get angry about the melted chocolate smeared over her cushions either. She simply picked me up and started blubbering about how sorry she was and how much she loved me. When I finally came to, I started blubbering too. Me too, me too, I was trying to say, but the dried vomit had caked my mouth shut.

She put me to bed with an aspirin and a vitamin B, and this morning I am a sore-headed and penitent little puppy.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Why Dogs are Better than Cats

I was re-reading my last blog entry just now and I realised that both of the songs I uploaded the other night had feline associations!

Is there some sort of weird Freudian thing going on I wonder?

Let me state here and now that dogs are unequivocally the superior creatures. So are dog people (like my mistress). My namesake, Hachiko, is an uber-celebrity in Japan, despite having been dead for over 70 years. Can you imagine a cat capturing the heart of a nation like that?

I went through a phase of trying to befriend the neighbourhood cats. They weren't having any of it though, for some reason. I guess it doesn't help that even the scrawniest of them are twice my size.

Then there's my little yello dandy scarf. I'm quite attached to it to be honest, but I suspect in some contexts it also screams 'Mummy's Boy', such as when I'm trying to make the acquaintance of the neighbourhood tom.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Gold Sounds

I don't get out nearly enough to see bands. Luckily there's Limewire. I download music virtually every day. It's the only way I get to listen to anything new.

This first song is called Black Cat Bone. I don't have a clue who the artist is, but this is the song I was rocking out to in the photo above:

Black Cat Bone

This track is so French, even though it actually isn't. It's the LCD Soundsystem remix of Deceptacon by Le Tigre. J'aime beaucoup

Deceptacon by Le Tigre

Monday, February 21, 2005

Battenberg Cake

I was feeling a bit peckish round about morning tea time today, so I decided to raid the fridge.

I came across a bar of cake. Yippee! I thought, and turned it over to read the label:

B-a-t-t-e-n-b-e-r-g C-a-k-e. Carefully peeling away the cellophane, I saw that it had a pink and yellow chequerboard cross-section.

English cuisine will never cease to amaze me. Considering I was born in China, where they actually eat dogs (yech!), that's saying something. It isn't that I've anything against Battenberg cakes mind you; in fact after this morning I can truly say without reserve that I find them an utter pleasure to eat. But I, being the cerebral little canine I am, found myself not halfway through the thing before I started wondering who had invented this delicious gateau.

So as soon as I had finished snorting up the last of the almond-scented crumbs, I hopped onto Google to find out all about the history of the Battenberg cake. Not much comes up when you Google "Battenberg cake", unfortunately. Just lots of recipes submitted by middle-England housewives onto really lame cookery websites coded in the kind of HTML that was cutting edge in about 1995.

I also tried Googling "Battenburg cake", which I found out along the way is the alternative, and more popular, spelling. Still mostly dodgy results, although I did discover from the Home Baking Co. that Battenburg was the name of a family of German Counts which died out in 1314, but the name was revived in 1851. Prince Henry of Battenburg was born in 1858 and married Princes Beatrice of England in 1885. There is little information on why the Cake, a network of pink, yellow and chocolate sponge encased in marzipan, received its name Battenburg or how it is linked to the family.

What I like here is the fact they say 'the Cake' like you'd say 'the King'.

After that I got an old kennel mate of mine who now works in the news media to try searching Lexis Nexus. No joy there either. How on earth did this cake, which apparently materialised out of the ether, manage to win the hearts and stomachs of England?

It would seem the beauty and universal appeal of the Battenburg lies is its malleability. Not the cake itself, but its mythology. It can be as mysterious as its exotic German name suggests, but it's also a wonderful and familiar Great British Dessert. That's why it's loved by everyone from elderly toffs to sugar-junkie schoolkids to stuffed toy dogs.

By lunchtime, the sugar rush had faded, and I was ready to sink in front of the TV with a mug of honey and lemon and a loud and bloody yakuza DVD.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

I Love Books Where You Can Really Identify With The Characters

Normalcy is a sign of poverty of the spirit. - Karl Jaspers

Boku wa Hachiko desu

It's quite boring being a stuffed toy dog. For one thing, employment and education opportunities tend to be a bit thin on the ground for my sort, so you end up spending your days surfing the internet, browsing through the contents of your mistress' underwear drawer, or just plain staring into space. There's not a lot of scope for development for the more ambitious of us out there. No opportunities to make friends, play outside, or even walk down to the high street for a decent fry-up. No, just endless boring days locked in a tiny North London studio flat, with nobody and nothing for company, punctuated by long nights quietly asphyxiating underneath my mistress' doona as she snores beside me. Once in a blue moon my mistress will take me out, but surreptitiously; you know, like a married man sneaking out with his girlfriend.

It's not just the loneliness, either. Being an avid reader and information consumer (it happens, when you spend 16 of your 24 waking hours per day alone), it's come to my attention that toy dogs don't get nearly enough representation out there in the media.

Cynics will no doubt scoff and ask why the hell stuffed toy dogs need representation. Well, I wasn't intending to get all hard-line animist in my first post, but part of the problem is, I'm sick of being objectified. Specieism is still rampant in the 21st century. Women think they have it bad, but simple mathematics will tell you the Human Gaze is twice as oppressive. When I see, on the rare occasions my mistress takes me out, those greeting cards in the stationery shops with photos of dogs dressed up in stupid bumblebee outfits, I feel as though society's been put back a hundred years. It makes me want to puke. And not only am I a dog, but I'm a stuffed toy to boot.

So anyway, here is my first step towards defining myself outside of the accepted anthropocentric narratives. Welcome to my blog.