Originally published in The Graduate News Forum in February of 2012.
Priceline, Hershey, Sbarro and the Importance of Brand Marketing, originally published in US News and World Report.
I just read an article that has been tossing around. Written by New Orleans writer Anna Shults on the cultural blog Nolavie, it is an open letter to New York residents in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The letter is a lifeline from New Orleans to New York, an olive branch connecting two cities marred by disaster and each Know What It Is Like to begin the slow process of recovery.
Within the contemporary art scene, where shock value is often placed above quality, it is unfortunate that works of subtle artistry sometimes get lost in the shuffle. Artist Esmé Thompson’s latest exhibit, The Alchemy of Design, which runs through May 29th at the Hood Museum at Dartmouth College, is one such work of quiet restraint.
I learned to be a writer typing on the back of buses that people threw things at…Calvin Trillin, writer for The New Yorker, from an article published in The Graduate News Forum.
Calvin Trillin, former staff writer at The New Yorker and current Montgomery Fellow, recently met with Dartmouth Arts and Sciences graduate students to discuss the state of writing in America, and the important role that food has played in both his writing and life.
As a Montgomery Fellow in residence, Trillin met with students, attended classes, and gave a public lecture to the Dartmouth community. Entitled “Eating with the Pilgrims,” Trillin talked about the traditions of food in America and detailed his desire for spaghetti carbonara to replace turkey as the traditional meal of Thanksgiving.
Over lunch at the Montgomery House on Occum Pond, Trillin spoke to graduate students about his experiences at The New Yorker as well as his career as a journalist, essayist, and novelist. He described his personal process of writing and editing professionally, along with his beginnings as a young writer. One of Trillin’s early assignments was to cover the Freedom Rides in the segregated South of the early 1960s, and he noted that this most likely influenced his lifelong ability to write in chaotic environments.
“I learned to be a writer typing on the back of buses that people threw things at,” Trillin said.
When composing a new piece, Trillin stated that in his first draft, he typically writes down all of his initial thoughts, reactions and comments. Upon completing this draft—which Trillin humorously termed “getting the throw-up out”—he then begins to compose the final piece. Switching from a typewriter to a computer a few years ago quickened the composition process, but Trillin insists that his writing approach has largely remained the same. After having worked under such noted editors as The New Yorker‘s William Shawn, Trillin notes that he welcomes input and revisions from all sources.
“If the office boy has a suggestion, I’ll listen to it,” says Trillin.
Author of American Fried, Alice, Let’s Eat, and Third Helpings, food has played an integral role in much of Trillin’s work. As a writer covering ‘the beat of America’, he was often on the road for weeks at a time, and would learn about places dining at the local restaurants. His latest piece in The New Yorker details his love of one particular family-run Italian restaurant forty minutes outside of New Orleans called Mosca’s. For Trillin, it is these types of off-the-beaten-path restaurants, filled with traditions that channel a bygone era, that he enjoys writing about the most.
Though many of his literary peers point to Trillin as one of the definitive voices of his generation, when one graduate student asked about becoming a writer, Trillin warned him of the perils of the profession.
“If your uncle has a venetian blinds business and offers you a job, I would think about taking that,” Trillin joked.
A version of this article was first published in The Graduate News Forum in December of 2011.
Vermont author Joni Cole’s latest book, Another Bad Dog Book: Tales of Life, Love, and Neurotic Human Behavior, was published in October by PublishingWorks. A collection of twenty-eight personal essays that deal with her daily interactions and past experiences, the book is described on her website as mixing “social awkwardness with social observation.”
Dan Barber did not invent the concept of the “food to table movement,” but he has certainly contributed to its popularity. As the main chef and proprietor of two highly regarded restaurants in New York, Barber has become the poster boy of sustainable eating. Located on an estate in Westchester County, Stone Barns Farms supplies much of the food for both his restaurant at the farm, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and his Manhattan mainstay, Blue Hill.
An intense advocate of understanding where our food comes from, Barber is a unique chef in that much of his culinary interests lie outside of the kitchen. In addition to his work at both restaurants, Barber has become a leading figure within the sustainability movement, speaking at the TED2010 Conference and serving on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. As Barber is currently working with university researchers to determine how production methods affect the nutritional content of his food, much of the lunch’s discussion focused on scientific concepts.
“I wish that I had taken more biology and chemistry,” notes Barber.
The seasonal challenges that define growing regions greatly impact Barber’s menu selections at his New York restaurants. When asked about the difficulties that a harsh New England winter might pose to eating locally, Barber stresses that even small adjustments make a big impact. For example, choosing to eat “in-season” crops such as hearty root vegetables is not only a responsible choice, but also a healthy one.
“I don’t want the prevailing mentality to be that of just surviving winter, but instead looking at it as an opportunity to thrive,” explains Barber.
Though some balk at the expense of eating locally and organically, labeling the ‘slow food movement’ as an elitist fad, Barber maintains that this is not the case. Large grocery chains generally cost less than farmers markets, but according to Barber they do not accurately account for the ‘real costs’ of producing cheap food.
While ‘slow food’ still exists largely as a grassroots movement outside of the mainstream, Barber feels that it is rapidly growing in popularity.
“Ten years ago, we wouldn’t have been sitting here talking about these issues,” says Barber. “So many movements are about depriving yourself of something. This isn’t. It’s about indulgence and delicious food.”
Originally published in The Graduate News Forum as part of a Dartmouth Montgomery Fellow series on food writing.
Both on and off-screen, Wall Street has long served as an allegory for the meteoric glories and extreme excesses that characterize American capitalism. While the financial community has certainly been rocked in recent years over the actions taken in the period preceding the economic meltdown, few accounts of what it was like inside the firms on the brink of collapse have emerged. A tense picture of the beginning of the end of modern-day Wall Street hedonism as we know it, MARGIN CALL is a fictionalized account of an investment firm on the dawn of financial collapse. The pre-recession climate in which MARGIN CALL is initially situated, in which institutions like Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs inspired investor confidence and trust instead of skepticism and wariness, seems oddly innocent in today’s slowly- recovering financial market.