Urbanist and historian Davarian L. Baldwin on the dynamics between urban universities and the communities outside their walls - but increasingly under their control, and his book In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities Are Plundering Our Cities from Bold Type Books.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
My mom always said that one day I’d wake up fat. I don’t know why she said that, but she was right. What she didn’t say was that the forces of history would be responsible for my enfattening. I’m writing this on Fat Tuesday, known in Acadian French as “Mardi Gras.” This year my birthday came one day before Mardi Gras. I’ve been told I can celebrate my birthday all month, which would make this month, unofficially, Fat History Month.
At the dawn of Fat History stands the Venus of Willendorf. At the end lies Rush Limbaugh, dead of lung cancer. If we saw Fat History as a straight-line journey from Venus to Rush, things would look pretty bleak. Luckily we have many branchings of the paths, tangents and co- tangents, wendings and wigglings, complexities and convolutions, as we’ve come to the fractal array of fatnesses today.
In the past we had the proud obesity of prosperity. Today we have the shameful obesity of poverty. Such a contrast of fatness and what it signifies belies the rich buttery goodness of the truth. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Lizzo is a hot, shiny, body-positive rapping flutist, not flautist, while the comparatively slim, clownish Tracy Morgan suffers from diabetes. Fat and slim evoke reactions based on the mores of the moment. It’s amazing how short-term such judgments are, and how little time it takes for the advertising wing of the food establishment to steer collective values toward what they need us to desire.
We are a fickle hivemind, a hivemind easily led by the nose.
The slender young woman has been a sexy, lighthearted flapper or a waifish hippie chick, both of them out for good time; an anorexic or bulimic victim of her own neuroses; a drug addict, a slave with no will to resist; a poised, dangerously seductive model who’s also a spy, or a gullible, soft- hearted film star sucked in by seditious rhetoric and finally caught in a secret policeman’s trap.
But buried deep under layers of adipose tissue is where the golden woman resides – the matriarch. Mama Cass was everyone’s mother, nobody’s lover. Rotundity stabilizes a woman. It gives her a center of gravity. It makes her practical. While the wind might blow away the willowy waif, the large woman will anchor her house firmly to the ground during the hundred- mile-an-hour winds of a... read more