Drinking Tiger Bones

TigerPaintingThe Daily Beast recently wrote an article about the mythic Asian machismo associated with drinking spirits containing tiger bones. Like many other superstitions of acquiring the two-dimensional, symbolic strengths of animals by consuming their horns, penises, flesh and bones – the black market in tiger bones exists as a luxury status symbol to many successful men in China who believe that these body-parts have medicinal, if not magical powers. In what is perhaps the most revealing quote from Li,  a businessman who both drinks and distills the illegal drink, he states:

“If I ever had to face that thing,” Li Wen said as he pointed to the tiger bone steeping in his vat of rice wine, “it would kill me. But now it’s in a jar, like I tamed it.” He believes that consuming the spirit on a regular basis gives him the strength of a tiger and the senses of a predator. “I’m a better businessman because of it.” – The Daily Beast

Animals typically appear in this context as empty vessels without their own perspectives – to be filled with anthropocentric meaning, caricatures that represent one or two unwavering quality – one of which is almost always virility. But no, tiger bones will not help your boner. I have difficulty with medical practitioners and the faithfully-superstitious who use animals without acknowledging the scientific reality that these animals have their own complex inner lives that have nothing to do with the meaning assigned to them, the meaning we are all asked to accept as self-evident. Tigers represent ruthless power, nothing more, and so can you! This is a form of our own power, perhaps, but also a source of our dysfunctional relationship with nature and animals in general, and ultimately a sign of our unwillingness to validate the non-human world or to venture out of our own, selfish heads.

Tigers have it rough in China. In 1959, as part of the Great Leap Forward, Mao Zedong waged a public campaign in an attempt to eradicate the South China Tiger, as he considered the species “an enemy of man.” More recently, at a CITES meeting held in Geneva—CITES stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora—a Chinese delegate said, “We don’t ban trade in tiger skins but we do ban trade in tiger bones.” It was the first time that a Chinese public official acknowledged the existence of the tiger pelt trade within the country. The official ban on tiger bone sales has been in place since 1993—but why does the Chinese government see a difference between killing endangered animals for their skins and killing them for their bones? – The Daily Beast




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David Carter: NFL’s Vegan Defensive Lineman


David Carter is a defensive lineman for the Oakland Raiders and a competitive powerlifter with Plant Built. He will soon launch his website, The 300 Pound Vegan, and admits “this is a chapter in my life I was never expecting“. That’s not surprising to hear from someone who grew up eating every kind of meat, and lots of it, at his grandfathers barbeque restaurant in LA, and who believed the mythology that if you eat muscle, you become muscle. His recent evolution to veganism, initially sparked by his wife’s same decision, is controversial for a guy who plays professional football and has to stay big and beefy. But he’s more confident than ever that “being vegan is not only the most efficient way to be full-body strong, it’s also the most humane; everyone wins.” On his forthcoming website, he explains his journey since he went vegan in February of 2014:

Very early on I was taught that if I wanted to be big and strong there was only one way to go about it.  You guessed it—eat meat and the more the better. Every coach, trainer, nutritionist, and doctor all pointed me in the direction of animal products. From protein shakes to weight gainers there was no other alternative, so I did as I was told and followed the standard athlete’s diet regimen.  Whey protein, raw eggs, gallons of milk, and casein were in just about every supplement I took…

The more I learned, the more my body benefited and my results came quickly. More energy, shorter recovery time, increased stamina, improved strength, and the peace of mind that no one had to die in order for me to live.  Every one of my nagging injuries is gone. Tendonitis, inflammation, scar tissue, nerve damage, and chronic muscle fatigue all corrected themselves within months of adopting veganism.

…by making this one small change not only have I saved my own life but the countless lives of voiceless and defenseless animals everywhere. Not to mention veganism is great for our planet as well.  Becoming vegan has given me a greater purpose, something bigger than myself to fight for, and fight I will.


Not Just a Haircut: The Reality of Wool


Just last week I wrote about the wool industry’s greenwashing efforts. Not only does the wool industry take a mind-boggling toll on the environment, but it is shockingly cruel. The mythology of wool is that it’s just a friendly haircut, but nothing could be further from the truth. In a new undercover investigation by PETA, ” …workers killed, beat, stomped on, kicked, mutilated, and threw sheep around as they sheared them in Australia, the world’s top wool exporter, and the U.S.” This should be especially troubling news for “ethical” and “sustainable” designers who continue to use animal products because they are marketed as “natural”.

This should be especially troubling news for “ethical” and “sustainable” designers who continue to use animal products like wool.

You can view the undercover videos below:

The problem isn’t that these workers are being especially cruel, per se. The deeper problem is that this is considered business-as-usual. Beating sheep to get them to stay still while shearing them is standard and accepted practice. Whenever an animal is put into a business production model, exploitation is inevitable and worsens as the demands for their hairs, skins, and flesh increases. The needs of any living creature can not be met when it is believed that their sole purpose is to make the biggest profit at the least expense. And in this case, most workers are paid by volume, not by the hour, so accidents and viciousness are frequent.

Please read the entire investigation here: http://investigations.peta.org/australia-us-wool/

Hit Back: Chart Your Own Course but Don’t Give Up on Your Heroes

By Adam Gnade


I’ve been thinking a lot about where you go when you need to move beyond your heroes. At a certain point (whether you’re ready or not) you want to stand up and do something original but what does that mean, how do you start? I want to write something big, something that will “last” but I feel like I’m fifteen years old half the time, struggling to get a C-minus in Freshman English while losing my shit over all the great heat that came before.

I want to be Tolstoy and I want to be Garcia Marquez (and Faulkner, Willa Cather, Hemingway, Didion, John Dos Passos) but I’m nowhere near the doorstep; I can’t even see the HOUSE–as much as I see the light from it (and the light is what keeps us moving).

Without getting into particulars, my life is pretty hard and raw and rough right now but I’m writing a lot; more than I ever have. The manuscript for the new book is three inches thick. The last book, Caveworld, ended up at nearly 400 pages upon publication but this one will (at least) double it. Not sure how many pages three inches of hand-written paper is but it’s a lot, a brick, and at the end of the day I’m okay with that. Will the book be good? I don’t know. I feel like it will but for now I’m not too concerned with the outcome. At this point, struggling with it is good enough for me.

When I’m not working I feel like a magnet that can’t pull metal to itself. I listen to the same song over and over again (Galaxie 500 doing Joy Division’s “Ceremony” or “Summer of Hate” by Crocadiles) and I do a lot of busy work in the farmhouse and I wash dishes for hours and never make a dent in the pile. I’m a zombie when I’m not working but when I’m working all the bullshittyness of life goes away and I don’t think about predatory lawsuits and (lack of) money and time running out and big changes ahead. I’m in my place and I know I’m in my place and that’s a good thing to know.

Still, I feel lost out here. Life right now is fleeting, racing to its end. The weeks march past, spring becomes summer, farm chores in the morning, farm chores at dusk, the sun arcing across the sky sunrise to sunset, the moon just as fast, and the calendar pages tear away in the breeze and fly out the window like in a bad movie. I want guidance but I want to do my own thing and the combination of that is like moving away from home for the first time but not calling your parents for advice because you’re “a man now.” Your heart is in the right place but is it self-defeating? What’s the measure of someone without the guts to ask for help? I’d like to play it cool and be like, “No heroes for me. I don’t need ‘em” but if I were to be perfectly honest I’m horribly naive and a romantic and a late-bloomer and people like me need heroes like we need light and air and water.

I’d like to play it cool and be like, “No heroes for me. I don’t need ‘em” but if I were to be perfectly honest I’m horribly naive and a romantic and a late-bloomer and people like me need heroes like we need light and air and water.


Bart Schaneman wrote this thing about heroes a couple weeks ago and it made a lot of sense to me.

“The problem with abandoning your heroes is that you turn your back on what got you into this to begin with. The world doesn’t need one more imitation Raymond Carver or Denis Johnson. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from drawing inspiration from stories like ‘Work’ or ‘So Much Water So Close to Home.’”

And the heart of it … this is what really gets me:

“So I guess what I’m saying is: Don’t give up your heroes. Add to them. Move beyond them. But don’t forsake them. You might need to come back to them to remember who you were when you got started down this difficult path.”

Bart’s someone I trust and believe in and he’s right on the money here. Coming back to your heroes and checking in is important. You don’t have to rip them off and you don’t have to live in their shadow but it’s good to know that they’re there, to be reminded why you stuck with them in the first place. Because at some point in your distant (or not so) past, your heroes lit a fire in you and if that fire is still burning you owe them something. Whether your hero is Will Potter or Will Oldham or Will Shakespeare, you’ve been moved by them and because of that you owe them a debt of sorts.

Whether your hero is Will Potter or Will Oldham or Will Shakespeare, you’ve been moved by them and because of that you owe them a debt of sorts.

Beyond that, you work. You work until your eyes ache and until you want to quit and then you work harder. I’m still figuring this out for myself but here’s what I believe: You take what you’ve been given and the influences you were brought up with (and whatever inspiration comes from it) and you work. You work and you stay honest and you try your best to be your own person and if you do that you’ll get somewhere. It might not be where you imagined you’d be but it’ll be somewhere and that’s a triumph in itself.

When it comes down to it, we’ve got to define “success” outside of capitalism if we want to stay sane, and doing honest work and being okay with what you’ve done is a great place to start.