Tuesday, March 23, 2010 12:49 PM
Meatpaper is why I love magazines. Obsessive, obscure, and beautiful, this “journal of meat culture” is a true labor of love. Almost nobody gets paid and the magazine keeps coming out—another issue is on its way to the printer as I type. So what exactly is it?
“Meatpaper is about meat as a provocative cultural symbol and phenomenon,” cofounders Sasha Wizansky and Amy Standen wrote in the premier issue in 2007. “Meat isn’t a straightforward or neutral topic. In conversation it tends to ruffle feathers and provoke debate. We hope you’ll join in.”
Whether they are exploring what meat art can tell us about life and death or why Filipinos eat Spam, the good people at Meatpaper are always eyeball-deep in some cultural investigation or another.
I spoke with editor in chief and art director Sasha Wizansky about the magazine.
Jeff Severns Guntzel: You folks must get your fair share of hate mail.
Sasha Wizansky: It’s actually kind of stunning, but we get almost no hate mail. I’ve been very surprised by that.
Severns Guntzel: How often do you have to explain the magazine to people? Do you do less of that after 10 issues?
Wizansky: I’ve been noticing that I spend a lot less time explaining the point of Meatpaper than I did when we first started. I think the culture is sort of catching up to us in a certain way. So many people are concerned with food, sustainability, and looking closely at the meat industry.
Severns Guntzel: When you do have to explain it, what do you say?
Wizansky: I start by saying that Meatpaper is about art and ideas related to meat. Then people usually ask, “Are you for it or against it?” And the answer is neither. I list the angles we take. There are anthropological and historical articles—and then the journalism, art, and poetry.
Severns Guntzel: Do you personally commission the art that you’re putting in the magazine or are you using art you’ve discovered?
Wizansky: It’s a combination. Some people submit their art—they’ll say, you know, I’ve been painting beef sticks for several years and I just found out about your magazine! We also have a roster of really talented illustrators and artists and we’ll send them an article when it’s still in draft form and have them create art to respond to it.
Severns Guntzel: And do you have to hunt for the editorial content?
Wizansky: We get a lot of submissions at this point and we have to turn a lot of them down. We try to publish perspectives on meat that you aren’t seeing elsewhere. We’re not that interested in material that you can find in a food magazine.
Severns Guntzel: Is there a kind of story that you’re always rejecting?
Wizansky: We get a fair number of stories about people who eat offal, and we feel we’ve reported a lot on offal already. We’re clearly entering a new realm of carnivorism—I think people are becoming more adventurous about meat.
Severns Guntzel: So is the magazine healthy?
Wizansky: You mean financially healthy? [laughs]
Severns Guntzel: Yes!
Wizansky: We now have a 501c3 arts organization acting as our umbrella and fiscal sponsor, so we can apply for grants and accept tax-deductible donations. We have just begun fundraising, and are developing several side projects that will hopefully support our work. The reason why we’ve been able to publish 10 issues is that it’s pretty much all volunteer. At some point we’d love to be able to compensate people handsomely for their contributions, but right now it’s a labor of love for everybody involved.
Severns Guntzel: So nobody on the editorial staff gets paid?
Wizansky: We pay a few contractors: one copy editor, one database developer. All the editors are unpaid.
Severns Guntzel: What are you doing otherwise to earn money?
Wizansky: I do graphic design.
Severns Guntzel: Can you imagine an end to Meatpaper?
Wizansky: I’m not bored yet and we’re not running out of things to say. We're certainly not drying up in terms of enthusiasm. So yeah, I’d like to keep going as long as I can.
Severns Guntzel: Having created this very unique thing, can you offer any advice to people with a similarly unique vision for a publication?
Wizansky: I would say go for it. Back when we started Meatpaper, the idea sounded really strange to people. So instead of finding advertising or drumming up support we just went ahead and made a prospectus issue. That was the best thing we could have done because there was really no way to talk about this idea—we just had to do it. So we created a 20-page, full color prospectus, which we called Issue Zero and people really got it. Through that we were able to get national distribution for Issue One and a bunch of subscribers. We just kind of went for it.
Severns Guntzel: I have one last question for you. In looking through old interviews with you all there were mentions of various meat parties, including a party to help a friend of yours learn to appreciate bacon. Do you have a favorite meat party you’ve been to?
Meatpaper has co-produced a series of rabbit-dinners, featuring local rabbit meat and a collaboration between a San Francisco chef and a Brooklyn chef. We got to experience the coming together of a really special community of people who are passionate about food and hospitality. And a year ago we had an issue launch party with a butchery demonstration. Basically people came to the party, got a cocktail, and watched a pig being butchered. The meat from that pig was cooked immediately and then served. I wasn’t sure how people would react but they were really fascinated and into it. Since then I've seen a trend of “butcher parties” grow. I've been very happy to close the gap between animal and food. That’s a particular opportunity that’s very interesting to me and people seem to be responding.
Friday, February 05, 2010 3:47 PM
Exploring the relationship between meat and popular music is something you’d only find in Meatpaper. That’s why we love it so much. In the latest issue Tony Michels tackles that juicy history and insists that “meat has always fed music.” He writes:
Indeed, the history of American popular music, in its entirety, may be traced through beef, poultry, and pork. The history of rock ‘n’ roll bears out my claim. Scholars have yet to ascertain the precise number of songs about meat recorded in the 1950s and early 1960s, but a safe estimate would run into the hundreds and perhaps thousands. Any complete repertoire needed at least one song about hot dogs, pulkes, fatback, or ribs. A crowing achievement of the early rock ‘n’ roll era was the Starliters’ hit “Hot Pastrami with Mashed Potatoes,” arguably the most eloquent paean to smoked meats ever performed. Pigmeat Markham and Sleepy LaBeef, who were among the earliest singers to adopt meat-themed monikers, further consolidated the alliance between meat and music. Alas, meat, like all things, is cyclical. With the rise of the counterculture in the late 1960s, animal flesh temporarily lost its appeal. Mind-bending sounds were in; sausages and tube steaks were out.
Michels goes on to discuss the punk revival of meat rock in the ’70s and the magazine also features a menu unearthed from a New York restaurant. It’s a “deli menu” organized into Poultry Albums, Poultry Songs, Meat Songs, Bands/Musicians, Meat Albums, and Little Bites. We can’t bring you that, but you can listen to Joey Dee and the Starliters. Do you have a favorite meat-themed song?
Source: Meatpaper (article not available online)
Friday, August 21, 2009 10:22 AM
Curing your own meat is easy—and there are many artful ways to display your hunk-of-meat work in progress, as Yolanda de Montijo explains in the new issue of Meatpaper (article not available online). Once you’ve begun your quest to cure your own salami, prosciutto, or pancetta, she writes, “you are faced with a challenge that many an artisan curer has pondered: Where to hang?”
De Montijo offers a number of fun (and functional) suggestions, including the “kitchen hang”— which “gives your kitchen an immediate pastoral or country look, as though you could just as well be churning butter or turning out garlic braids. Be sure to hang it away from direct sunlight”—and the “full frontal hang,” wherein “you simply pick any workable place in your living space without regard for aesthetics or the squeamishiness of houseguests. Corners work well—especially those near the front or back door.”
For her inaugural home-cured pancetta project, De Montijo chooses the closet in her guest bedroom, which houses her slab o’ salted pig flesh for a couple of weeks. It seems like a good option for the urban curer: “It’s likely to maintain a consistent temperature, and in hot weather you can leave the door ajar, or set a fan nearby for air circulation.” But, she warns, “check regularly to see that your clothes or other items don’t embrace the smell of the meat. More than you want them to, anyway.”
Image by marcelo träsel, licensed under Creative Commons.
Monday, July 13, 2009 9:57 AM
In the latest issue of Meatpaper, Chris Ying deconstructs our love for watching men masticate curious things on television. His equation—dubbed the "unattractive men/unattractive meat narrative" or "UM/UM"—is this: “the weirder-looking you are, the weirder the food you have to eat.” He writes, rather scathingly, that UM/UM explains why “an acid-washed porcupine” like Guy Fieri is forced to scarf the slickest, homeliest burgers in the country (though he seems to dig it), while bitsy Giada De Laurentiis tucks away much tidier pieces of chicken and the occasional mini meatball. After grappling briefly with the consequences of his media equation, Ying has these final words:
In all honesty, we can’t really blame television for overfishing, or for lousy, overpriced renditions of street food in upscale restaurants. Nor can we blame TV for aspiring housewives lusting after organic home gardens and Hamptons beach houses. It’d be like blaming porn for teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. It’s all just entertainment. And at the end of the day, food television, like porn, is irrevocably and essentially unsatisfying. They keep turning us on, but we keep watching, mouths watering and agape in horror.
Image by sashafatcat, licensed under Creative Commons.
Thursday, June 11, 2009 3:55 PM
You’ll never look at bacon the same way again. The folks at Meatpaper have hipped us to the completely disgusting nature of a botfly infection. Apparently in Central and South America the parasites’ eggs are transferred during mosquito bites—causing maggots to grow underneath the unlucky recipient’s skin. There are many ways to treat the infestation, but this one is the most unappetizing:
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that if they covered the “larval aperture” (which is to say, the oozing pore atop the wriggling lump containing Dermatobia hominis) with bacon fat, the larva would rise to the surface within three hours, at which point it could be removed with a pair of tweezers. ... If you’re not squeamish—if you were, would you have read this far?—you can even cook the bacon afterward. If you’re hungry that is.
It doesn’t look like these folks used the bacon trick, but here’s a little live-action botfly removal for those of you who can stomach it—don’t say I didn’t warn you.
One last thought: In a death match between the botfly and the queedle-queedling butcher bird, who do you think would win? I put my money on the bird, but not before he is implanted…
Image by stonebird, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, May 29, 2009 4:33 PM
Chefs with tattoos are commonplace, but Meatpaper reports on a new trend in the field of food-related tats: Pigs. The pig/pork/sausage/ham/bacon tattoo is on full display (for subscribers) in the journal’s most recent issue, which is entirely dedicated to the pink beast. There you can find the limbs of culinary trade inked in antique bacon presses, flying pigs, German sausages, and no shortage of pig butchery diagrams—the illustrations marking different cuts of the meat. One chef even has “PORK!” tattooed on the inside of her lower lip—and yes, it looks as painful as it sounds. Why the swine lovefest? One devotee summed up his love for the versatile muse: “It’s the food of the gods. It brings us ribs, bacon, ham, sausage, pork chops. What else bring you all those things? Nothing else does that.”
Meatpaper was nominated for a 2009 Utne Independent Press Award in the categories of social/cultural coverage and general excellence.
Image by aurora.leonard, licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009 12:03 PM
If we had not already published our eight best cities for street food article, we’d have to seriously consider finding a way to include Malaysia’s meat bone tea.
In the Spring 2009 issue of Utne Independent Press Award nominee Meatpaper, Robyn Eckhardt traces the roots of this “seductive combination of tender pork meat, stomach and intestines, and fragrant broth that varies from mild and meaty to unmistakably medicinal.”
Meat bone tea, or bak kut, Eckhardt writes, “is comfort food of the first order, with an appetite-rousing aroma and luxurious amounts of fatty meat unfettered by vegetable distractions.”
For more from the current issue of Meatpaper, see Utne Reader librarian Danielle Maestretti’s picks in the latest episode of Shelf Life.
For more Meatpaper, visit their website. Nothing from the current issue is online just yet, but there’s plenty to read and look at just the same.
Friday, April 17, 2009 7:30 PM
Featured in this week’s episode:
- Meatpaper’s Pig Issue on how to share a pig, factory-farmed pigs vs. sustainable pigs, and much more (not available online)
- Hunting (and cooking) octopus, from Art Lies
- A collection of dreams about Barack Obama, from the eco-redesigned Geist
- Sustainable architecture in Cape Town, from Azure
Monday, July 28, 2008 12:27 PM
Local foodists have gone too far. I’m all for stalking the wild asparagus, but hunting the urban pigeon? Perhaps we should also dine on Washington, D.C.’s plentiful rats?
Wired’s Alexis Madrigal is “65 percent not-kidding” about eating pigeons. “A food source that lives on our trash that is so reproductively prolific that we can't kill it off? That's green tech at its finest!” writes Madrigal. “Pigeons are direct waste-to-food converters, like edible protein weeds, that leave droppings that could be used as fertilizer as a bonus.” All it would take, suggests Madrigal, is a quick rebranding. “Pigeons can merely reclaim their previous sufficiently arugula-sounding name: squab.”
The squabble over squab continues at Earth First. “Would you be open to eating things not commonly considered appropriate as food? Pigeons? Squirrels?” it asks. The question might be better worded as “things not currently considered appropriate as food.” Pigeon used to be widely consumed in the United States, Madrigal points out, and the same is also true of squirrels. Modern-day squirrel hunter Hank Shaw laments the decline of squirrel consumption in the summer issue of Meatpaper (article not available online).
Twentieth-century cookbooks as common as The Joy of Cooking and Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking included squirrel dishes, writes Shaw, as well they should have—the critters were plentiful, and the flavor is fine, he assures. “Its sweet darkish meat vaguely resembles the dark meat on turkey,” Shaw writes. “When squirrels have been eating acorns or other nuts, their meat is deliciously nutty—not unlike the Spanish bellota hams that gourmands shell out princely sums for.”
Shaw makes a tempting case for the tastiness of squirrels. So why not squab? Well, if we use Shaw’s logic—squirrels taste “deliciously nutty” because they eat nuts—wouldn’t city pigeons taste, um, “deliciously trashy” from feasting on our trash?
Image by Ernesto Andrade, licensed under Creative Commons.
Thursday, June 26, 2008 12:06 PM
I am an insatiable food porn consumer. My Google Reader is full of food blogs, and I scroll happily through food photos and recipes at work, at home, before and after grocery shopping. But nothing kills the mood faster for me as a vegetarian viewer than a big hunk-o’-flesh on the page. Chances are, if you don’t share in the “fleischgeist” of Meatpaper, you won’t salivate at the sight of meaty food photography, either. That rules out otherwise tasty sites like La Tartine Gourmande, Smitten Kitchen, or Food Porn Daily. Veggies seeking flesh-free fare might enjoy Simply Breakfast, Vegan Yum Yum, and What the Hell Does a Vegan Eat Anyway?, along with Flickr albums of vegan food porn—sites that let you ogle the vegan cupcakes, then bake them, too.
(Thanks, Pinch My Salt.)
Image by Elaine Vigneault, licensed under Creative Commons.
Monday, December 17, 2007 5:04 PM
This holiday season, our crack team of magazine readers has teamed up to help you avoid the consumer-frenzied mall and give the gift that keeps on giving: information. With the care of a gourmet sommelier pairing a rare delicacy to its rightful wine, we’ve matched some of our favorite alternative magazines to their ideal recipients—those exasperating names on the gift list for whom a sweater just won’t do. The hermit socialist uncle? Got him. The eerie niece? No problem.
If you’ve still got a magazine-gift dilemma after reading our guide, drop us a line in the comments below. We’ll sort through our stacks and get back to you.
For your faraway friend with whom you can’t share a beer:
Get him or her Imbibe, a magazine of “liquid culture.” Imbibe answers perennial questions about coffee, beer, and cocktails, such as that nagging head-scratcher: What was George Washington’s drink of choice? (Answer: Applejack, a traditional American liquor). Then, next time you see your distant friend, crack open a couple of Hefeweizen, the unfiltered wheat beer featured in the Sept.-Oct. 2007 issue, and enjoy the cultured conversation that’s sure to flow. “Did you know that Hefeweizen is brewed with at least 50 percent wheat malts, unlike most beers, which are brewed with barley?” your friend will ask. “And that while in the United States Hefe (as aficionados call it) is served with a slice of lemon, in Germany that’s unheard of.” You may never eat solid food again. —Brendan Mackie
For the unapologetically carnivorous:
, a nominee for best new publication in this year’s Utne Independent Press Awards, is about more than eating meat. It’s about meat history, meat ethics, meat as a metaphor, and, perhaps most bizarrely, meat as art. This San Francisco-based magazine honors what editors Sasha Wizansky and Amy Standen call fleischgeist—the spirit of meat. In Meatpaper’s Fall 2007 issue, this spirit is manifest in a wide array of articles, including a Q&A with butchers who advocate using less popular but deliciously traditional cuts of meat, and a look back at Jana Sterbak’s 1987 Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic, in which a waifish model wore a costume made entirely of raw steaks. The text throughout is framed by a clean layout and luscious images, which makes Meatpaper an intellectual and aesthetic treat. —Morgan Winters
For the Yankee pal who won’t stop with the mint juleps:
A slew of magazines without a lick of the South in them have been, of late, trumpeting this recently discovered region below Cincinnati that has a ton of great stuff going on. It’s called “The South,” and did you know that bands come from there? And writers? And artists? And that it’s impossible to write about this place without employing clichés such as “bourbon-soaked” or “country-fried?” Well, not so for the Arkansas-based Oxford American. This class act has covered its beat for the past 15 years, showcasing all things Southern and great (or sometimes not so great). The latest edition (#58) includes a CD compilation of the 26 Southern recording artists profiled for the annual music issue, which showcases a diverse group from Thelonious Monk to Daniel Johnston. The issue also features a cool series of essays titled “Writers Who Rocked,” penned by the members of an assortment of noteworthy musical acts, including the Red Crayola and the Del Fuegos. Smart, edgy, hip, funny—Oxford American proves that Southern culture isn’t an oxymoron. —Jason Ericson
For your bearded uncle who stopped coming home for the holidays because he’s too busy working on his manifesto:
So you’ve got a problem. Last year you got your uncle the Nation, and though he really enjoyed the Deadline Poet, the coverage was just too far right for him. Well, don’t fret. Z Magazine might be the solution to your gift quandary. Z regularly draws contributions from top-shelf revolutionary thinkers, such as Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, as well as radical educators, leaders, and in-the-trenches activists you’re likely to have never seen or heard elsewhere. Don’t expect to find much love for Democrats here, standard bearers of hegemony that they are. For a real vanguard trifecta, throw in subscriptions to Socialist Review and In These Times. Taken together, they’re guaranteed to have you and your uncle renouncing your citizenship and burning the contents of your wallet. —Jason Ericson
For the young and slightly twisted:
I had never heard of a literary journal for children until I picked up Crow Toes Quarterly. This newish Canadian publication has come out swinging as “the new face of children’s lit,” with strange, spooky stories sure to sate Roald Dahl fans. The Summer 2007 issue (Fall hasn’t landed in our library yet) is packed with imaginative stories featuring cheesecake-munching babies, an arachnophobic dandelion, and a wandering two-headed boy named Tongue. The issue also includes poetry, a call for entries for a creative writing contest, and an interview with illustrator Scott Griffin. A great gift for children ages 8 to 13, or any adults still cultivating their imaginations. —Sarah Pumroy
For the Catholic-raised intellectual who is moved by Christmas mass but feels shut out by several Church teachings:
Commonweal, a biweekly magazine published independently by lay Catholics, is comprised mostly of opinion pieces, with topics and views that, though they range widely, are rooted in a deep, critical investment in Catholic identity. Commonweal’s politics are center-left but not predictably so; its lively cultural and arts coverage is even harder to pin down. The main thread is an enthusiasm for robust, open, forward-looking debate. Highlights of the Dec. 7, 2007 include a piece by a Catholic prison chaplain on the rise of conservative evangelicalism in prisons and a smart analysis of Vatican statements on end-of-life ethics. —Steve Thorngate
For your cube mate, who still wears his “I want to believe” T-shirt at least once a week, sometimes for several days in a row:
Psst. Come over here. Did you know that cancer-causing monkey viruses have infected our vaccine pool, the Great Depression II is imminent, the government is using its pop culture outlets to slowly warm the public to the existence of extra-terrestrials, and officials have met with clergy to discuss an official merger between church and state? Well, you would have if you’d read the Winter 2008 issue of Paranoia, “the conspiracy and paranormal reader.” A Paranoia subscription would also keep you definitively up-to-date on the latest news on the investigation into the assassination of JFK. You don’t have to be a conspiracy junkie to love this magazine, but it does help. Now here’s a tinfoil hat. Go and spread the word. —Jason Ericson
For your thoughtful, but obstinate political sparring partner:
, a 2007 Utne Independent Press Award nominee for political coverage, offers some of the most interesting, in-depth reporting and contrarian perspectives you’re likely to read anywhere. This monthly’s columnists are incisive and acidly funny: Look out especially for Greg Beato’s sarcastic commentary. And reminiscent of Harper’s “Index,” the “Citings” section at the beginning of each issue collects information that you might not find anywhere else, documenting everything from excessive earmarks in a Congress that promised—and continues to promise—their demise, to the pointlessness of a tax-funded anti-pornography program. Unlike Harper’s, though, Reason provides context to anchor their more surprising reports. There are some party lines in this libertarian magazine. (Consider the magazine’s December issue, which featured a sidebar chiding contemporary Republicans for not taking author Ayn Rand seriously enough.) Nevertheless, Reason cultivates a useful contrarian voice—an ideal gift for those who agree with you one moment and bare their teeth the next. —Michael Rowe
For the fashion-conscious yet tasteful young woman:
To describe Eliza as a “modest” fashion magazine doesn’t do it justice. The simple adjective brings to mind images of prudish or pious women hiding their bodies in long skirts and plain tops. But Eliza is so much more. The Fall 2007 issue features smart, compelling, and useful stories, including a piece on how to change a tire, an exploration of Seattle, tips on how to be comfortable in your own skin, and, of course, plenty of fashion articles and photo shoots. I wouldn’t have even known that Eliza was a “modest” fashion magazine if I hadn’t read the editor’s note. But once Summer Bellessa clued me in to the magazine’s mission—“We will not uncover the sexual secrets to make him want you, promote people who are glitz with no substance, or glorify lifestyles that we know do not bring happiness”—I began to notice the pleasant absence of revealing clothing and sexually explicit images. A more accurate word to describe the styles in Eliza might be “tasteful” rather than “modest.” Either way, it’s definitely a good pick for any smart young woman interested in fashion without the sleaze. —Sarah Pumroy
For your college friend who once showed up at an ’80s night party dressed as an 1880s shopkeeper:
, another nominee for best new publication in this year’s Utne Independent Press Awards, publishes articles on straightforward topics, but from a perspective neither entirely serious nor exactly kidding (e.g., a travel piece that ends, “There’s no city in America with less personality than Myrtle Beach, S.C.”). It also runs more conventional pieces on odder subjects, along with fabricated profiles, features, and, in the Autumn 2007 issue’s “Best of History” section, historical narratives. (One is credited to an Oregon Trail pioneer who knows how to shoot his rifle in exactly eight directions.) The package is an entertaining assortment—sorry, a “miscellany”—of the esoteric, the deadpan, and the desperately clever. A great choice for anyone who’s interested in everything but takes none of it all that seriously. —Steve Thorngate
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