“Well, I do, of course. But hopefully
this will make a good print, and it’ll say
something about roadkill. About squirrels. About how sometimes we overlook
the small things.”
When the ink is adequately applied,
I lift my panel with paper and center it
squarely over the squirrel curled serenely
on its side. My palms warm as I press and
rub circles, bending the board’s ?exible
surface ever so slightly around the animal’s small body, making sure to >nd and
feel each leg and padded, arboreal foot.
When I lift, the wet impression looks
alive, like a >gure dancing, or kicking the
curve of the mammalian womb, or free-falling through air.
“That’s not bad, huh?” I say to the cop,
surprised by the e=ect.
“Not bad,” he says. Cops are classic non-smilers, but I sense he is also impressed.
Fruit: The Go-To
Transitionary Fuel for a
by adam leith gollner
Before launching new varieties of fruit,
marketers study consumer preferences.
Multicolored pie charts reveal what percentages of shoppers like their fruit >rm,
soft, juicy, tangy, sweet, dry, or moist.
Hugeness, once thought to be a key goal,
has proven undesirable. Bananas are
morning fruits, strawberries are mainly
evening fruits. Bananas, apples, and
grapes are fruits people like to eat on the
go—others require preparation and are
prepackaged with that in mind.
According to surveys commissioned
by the California Tree Fruit Agreement,
the most sought-after fruit demographic
is a group called Summer Enthusiasts.
What uni>es this sunny cabal, alongside
their above-average fruit purchases, is an
interest in playing sports and (say the following with a robot voice) having new
experiences. Summer Enthusiasts “believe
having fun is the point of life, think continuing to learn throughout life is very
important, believe enjoying life and doing
the things they want to do is important.”
Over 111 million Americans—in an estimated 53 percent of households—are
Another important fruit-buying subset
is Light Lifestylers—people who are
health conscious and like to exercise.
Overlapping somewhat with the Summer
Enthusiasts are 72 million Super Moms
and Dads—the type who verify ingredients
and nutrition stats prior to buying, and for
whom family is everything. By far the
most elusive segment of the population is
Generation Starbucks—youngish people
who still believe they are invincible (so
health isn’t a purchasing factor). These
twenty- and thirtysomethings buy whenever the urge strikes them. Reaching the
portion of this group with “positive life
attributes” (i.e., not the suicidal, bearded
nihilists) requires making fruits available
everywhere, like their namesake java.
For all of these various menageries,
fruits are pushed as a main ingredient
in break-time snacking. Branding gurus
want to make fruits a part of transitions
from one activity to the next: rejuvenating
tide-me-over breaks, midafternoon pick-me-ups, and after-work snacks. To merchandising reps, it doesn’t really matter
when these moments happen as long as
they become ritualized routines >lled
with fruit. Once fruits have become
ingrained as the go-to transitionary fuel,
their multisensory experiential qualities
can be leveraged into high-volume snacking. Or something to that e=ect.
Fruit catchphrases and slogans bandied
about in these studies include “little taste
adventure,” “delicious handful of goodness,” and my favorite: “the snack that
quenches.” Like a lingering stereotype,
these studies’ undertones are shrouded
in a gauzy cloak of believability. After poring over them for several hours, I badly
need a transitionary moment. Despite, or
perhaps because of, all the viral jargon, I
feel an urge to go to my fridge and eat a
peach. It certainly appears to be a “
guilt-free treat,” rather than an endorsement
of big agriculture. Then I bite into it, my
teeth sinking into what feels like wet
sand. Not quite the “burst of fun” I was
Excerpted from The Fruit Hunters, published
in May by Scribner, an imprint of Simon &
Schuster, and used here by permission.
Bad Hair Day
by alastair bland
Nature provides solutions to many problems, no matter how seemingly hopeless
and messy. Take for example the November 7, 2007, oil spill in San Francisco
Bay, in which >fty-eight thousand gallons
of fuel gushed from the Cosco Busan’s hull
and lathered the water’s surface. It was a
local disaster, no doubt, but the spill has
also inspired environmentalists to begin
redesigning the world’s approach to toxic-waste cleanup with two unlikely yet promising tools: human hair and mushrooms.
Coverage of the oil spill produced few
remarkable images, just the standard
shots of crews on beaches ?oundering in
black sludge and handling soiled birds.
But then media caught on to something
that no oil spill had seen before: an
activist named Lisa Gautier and several
hundred volunteers were using mats of
human hair to soak up the oil from the
sands of Ocean Beach, just south of the
Golden Gate Bridge.
As executive director of the environmental nonpro>t Matter of Trust, Gautier
had been storing the hair mats for just
such an occasion. She explained to
reporters that the mats, marketed by an
Alabama gardening supply company as
soil insulators, work far better at soaking
up oil than conventional polypropylene