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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Beach Bum

There are always things to do.

And there are always things to forget about. Like dusting. Or trying to find my tax information for the year 2004.

I was suppose to call Belinda last week so that she could mail me back the Bambi Lake book (I kinda don't want it anymore). And God knows when I'll ever get this video tape to Larrybob – he's so hard to pin down anyway.

I thank God I'm not rich, because then I wouldn't even go to work. As lame as work can be, at least it gets me out of the house. Though, lately, I'm feeling the symptoms of affluenza and the symptoms of povertitis both at the same time. It's like, I get paid more for doing less work than the average person (which only feeds into my boredom and proclivity to be lazy) yet between now and my next paycheck I only have $50 to my name.


For example, I've sat down at this computer or the one like it at work countless times in the last month or so. My fingers have hit every single key and my index finger has clicked both right and left to infinity. But none of those hits or clicks have brought me back to you, until now.

Instead, I've wasted copious amounts of time reading celebrity gossip and advice columnists and Little Britain wikiquotes and about shiites in Iraq and why the Old Order Amish have to build telephone booths far from their home.

A Laaadies Dress For A Laaady!

I've reverted to acting out bad, old habits like visiting a certain food-related message board that I end up hating and swearing off for something like the third time now. I've even resorted to looking at my Bulk mail inbox and getting excited about Friend Requests from insincere friend hoarders on MySpace.

My friend Tom immediately said "writer's block" when I mentioned that I hadn't posted in a while, and without much argument I concurred because, really, I didn't want to tell him the truth.

"No, it's just that I'm lazy...and it's my own fault."

I avoid writing for the very same reason I avoid doing the dishes. I love to cook, but I often hate doing the dishes. I'll do dishes only because they have to be done in order to cook – and the moldy plates issue - but I can't do them anymore without something to listen to/focus on, and if I listen once more to the soundtrack from the movie Xanadu I'm going to puke ELO, roller disco, and feather-backed hair all at once.


To sit down and write this means I have to go into the zone for a while and really, really think, and lately I haven't wanted to think. Or if I have, I wanted to save what little mental energy I have on other things, like "where am I" and "what am I doing" and "where do I see myself in 10 years".

You know, life stuff.


Last Friday was the third month anniversary of being sober, but none of the internal conflicts have gone away. They have calmed a bit, but I still have dreams about being drunk and sometimes I wake up surprised that I'm not hung over. Weird temptations have crept up, and I've been thinking about things like "should I or should I not smoke a cigar" and if I do, will it trigger something or open up the possibility of making excuses to do other things.

My emotional state has levelled out a little as well, although just yesterday, without thinking about the consequences, I told a police officer to his face that he was "a real asshole" and flipped him off. This, of course, had to have happened down the block from where I live, which meant I had to walk two blocks out of the way in the opposite direction so that he wouldn't know where to find me. I wouldn't put anything past a San Francisco cop, not in my neighborhood and not after Fajitagate.


Several times in the last month, I've thought hard about where I want to go with my career (as if I really had one). Several times I've settled on something, got really excited about it, got obsessed with it, and then saw it disintegrate before my eyes once I learned the details of it.

In the course of all of that, I think I've found a career path that I'll stay interested in and stick to. So far, I've made the first few steps towards achieving my goal. One of those steps is going back to school, or in this case community college. I didn't get into the class I needed this semester, but I was able to get into a Spanish class, which is something I've wanted to do for a long time.


I've also been on a diet, so Dive has also taken a hit in the last few weeks.

Nevertheless, the diet has worked pretty well and in the first 2 weeks I lost 12 pounds. I'm now into week 3, but I don't know how much I weigh since I asked Bruce to hide the scales from me.

I've tried not to become obsessive over the diet thing, but in order to be successful at it, I feel like you have to go a little nutty. Like, for the first two weeks, I couldn't eat bread, rice, fruit, and certain vegetables. That means that when I went to dinner at Frisson, I couldn't eat the potatoes that came underneath my 48 Hour Confit of Veal Breasts (since when do cattle have breasts?) or the mango-basil sorbet Bruce had for dessert which, judging from a small taste, was out of this world.

But that was my second hurdle.

My first hurdle was surviving Bruce's dad's 80 birthday party, which was the standard, large family dinner you might expect, complete with all of the pasta and potato and fruit salads and dinner rolls and so on and so on.

I managed that pretty well, mostly because there was plenty of tri-tip to go around. By the way, tri-tip is not on the list of acceptable foods.


It's safe to say that I'm not a true believer when it comes to the South Beach Diet. In fact, I would say that I'm pretty unlike the folks over at the South Beach Diet Forum, some of whom sound completely nutty and speak in cult-like buzzwords. I don't take the book literally, although, I obviously take it into consideration.

It's just that I have some problems with it; problems that I just can't ignore.

San Francisco has an area called South Beach, and while it nestles up to the Bay, it's not really a beach. Actually, if some idiot hadn't decided to call the area above Broadway and Columbus "North Beach", then some other idiot wouldn't have deducted that he lived in "South Beach".

The fact is, there's no beach in South Beach, San Francisco.

The South Beach Diet is, in essence, about food – about what we eat, how we eat, and how much we eat. But while this diet is about food, this book doesn't appear to be written for those who appreciate food. In other words, it wasn't written by and for foodies.

Not In The Book: Salad of Arugula, Soprassetta, Bulgarian Feta, Golden Heirloom Tomatoes, and Tangerine-scented Flowers

In each of its three phases, the diet favors complex carbs over simple carbs and unsaturated fats over saturated ones. Where it gets annoying is its list of acceptable foods and unacceptable foods. For example, cheeses like Cheddar, Mozzerella, Parmesan, and String Cheese are listed as "Foods To Enjoy". But what about fresh goat cheese from Harley Farms? Or aged goat cheese like Humboldt Fog? What about a sheep milk cheese like Manchego or Manouri?

Agatston would've been better off suggesting cheeses by the type of animal and how it's produced, rather than throwing out a bunch of generic cheeses. That yellow hunk of generic cheddar, made from cow's milk, is much higher in fat than an artisanal, aged goat cheese.

And really, "parmesan"? You mean that stuff that comes in the can made by Kraft (keep reading)? Think about how much that stuff is processed. Wouldn't you rather have freshly grated Vella Dry Jack or Parmigiano Regiano?

And, what the hell? A "dairy-free cream cheese substitute"? You mean like Tofutti? Oh, hell no. And besides, I really don't know about the health effects of all of these soy-derived substitutes. I'd much rather have a REAL cheese.

So, Doc, where's my Gruyere or Roquefort or Emmentaler?

In addition, Dr. Agatston recommends all sorts of food substitutes including "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" (which contains trans-fats), Metamucil (instead of just more natural fiber), and "sugar substitutes" like Aspartame, which, although hasn't been proven to cause cancer, certainly has its fair share of respectable doctors and scientists who remain cautious and skeptical about its day-to-day, long-term use.

Besides the bad flavor of these artificial foods, isn't recommending these bizarre concoctions just contributing to same industry that has overprocessed natural foods into bland, and sometimes life-threatening, Frankenfoods? The same industry that produces the same junk food that makes us overweight and unhealthy?

You know, the same industry of which Kraft is a part of – Kraft who makes South Beach Diet frozen dinners – those boxes of unrecyclable paper, plastic, and processed, fast food?

Hasn't Dr. Agatston ever heard of "Fast Food Nation" or The Slow Food movement?

While I could go on about some of the contradictory aspects of the foods and recipes recommended in the book, as well as some of the omitted aspects that leave the reader clueless about simple things, such as portion sizes for varying individuals, the greatest problem I have with the book is the lack of citations.

Generally, when reading a specific claim someone has written, a claim not supported by tons of anecdotal evidence (unlike Bill O'Reilly having a thing for falafels and loofa sponges), I would expect to see footnotes and citations that reference where to back up these claims.

There are none in the South Beach Diet book, and nor is there an appendix.

In some respects, I don't even care that the book wasn't peer reviewed by others in the medical/scientific field. It's a diet book for chrissakes. But Agatston states many things as if they were well-known facts and alludes to studies which prove his point without telling us where to find these studies, who did them, when they were done, and who funded them.

I guess what matters is, in the end, did I lose weight? Yes. Some of advice in the South Beach Diet book is useful, especially about insulin resistance and "slow carbs".

Nevertheless, it's easy to guess that I would have lost weight anyhow, simply by not eating a high-in-fat breakfast sandwich in the morning, a bowl of hot and sour soup along with a huge plate of beef chow fun for lunch, several helpings of fish and chips (or half of a large pizza) for dinner, and a big bowl of ice cream afterwards.

Simply cutting some of those things out of my diet and reducing my portion sizes had drastically reduced my calorie count, so weight loss was inevitable.

Look, I guess I'm just a sucker like everyone else when it comes to quick fixes and marketing. That's why I bought the book, and the diet that comes with it. If the ends justify the means, buy the book and complain later (...I guess is what I'm trying to say here).

With that, I leave you where I left off – confused and conflicted as ever.



Anonymous joe positive said...

Glad to see you posting again. I read it once, and I'm gonna read it a few more times.


4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to see you're back - thought you must have gone walkabout!


9:14 AM  
Blogger Bacon Press said...


I would love to be able to talk/write to you more and re-connect.

Please email me so that we can exchange contact info!

baconprss at yahoo dot com.


9:48 AM  
Anonymous joe positive said...

I sent email to baconprss (no e in there) at yahoo dot com.

I'm at kcollin5 (yes, the number 5, not an s) at tampabay dot rr dot com.


5:01 AM  

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