Archive for June 2010

Feldman on Feldman: Quizmaster Quizzed

June 10, 2010

The Quizmaster Quizzed

The Wall St. Journal once called you “The king of small talk radio.” Are you still?

M: I don’t know, I don’t get the Wall St. Journal.

Did you ever think that, 25 years later, you would still be saying, pretty much word for word, the same things?

M: I’m pretty consistent. Sometimes my slider doesn’t fall off the table, but otherwise pretty dependable. I know a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, but I still don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. Birds gotta swim, fish gotta fly. I don’t believe I was preordained to do a public radio comedy quiz show, but I do think I was deigned. The great thing about being a Quizmaster is that you have all the answers. It’s the closest a layman can get to infallibility. Normally you have to be a Jewish woman or the Pope. I hope to live to see a Jewish female Pope.

How do you feel about current trends in America and the world?

M: Hard to find a bandwagon to hop on, but not from lack of bandwagons. A lack of hopping, yes. Not a lot of upticks. And what about those flagging indicators. More natural fabrics in menswear, that’s got to be good. The only revolution, in fact, has been in menswear. The carefree fabrics, the relaxed fit. Good news that radiation from cell phones is apparently not destroying the brains of users, they were like that already. Needing a cell phone to cross the street is probably the most disturbing cultural trend beside Snuggies or those plastic bumps women can put in their hair-do’s to get that Jersey girl look. There’s certainly more appreciation of what it would be like to be the Gulf of Mexico. Toyota pedals are not currently sticking. I have health care. But I pay for it. I’m on Facebook and no longer just lurking, but I’m very uncomfortable with people I don’t even know talking about things I don’t even care about on what is supposed to be my page. Too much like being at home.

A big believer in social networking are you?

M: Beats doing it in person. Probably more efficient then tossing your business card into the fishbowl next to the Lions Club gumball machine at the Chinese Buffet in Tomah.

In all 25 years what is your favorite moment of the show?

M: Well, that’s easy, it’s always the same moment, when I hoist the Red Lager to my parched lips at the Great Dane with my stage-mates Jim, John, and Jeff and Lyle, my soul mate, and we go to great lengths to avoid mentioning anything that might just have occurred on any sort of radio show anywhere. That’s the real show, afterwards with the boys.

Kind of a bromance thing?

M: Well, you know, we never called it that among the boys, always just a guy gets lonely on the road kind of thing, and when we’re grounded by forest fires at the Fairbanks airport an “at least we’re all together” kind of thing. I am a man’s man, in fact, I would say a man’s man’s man, and with that comes a certain amount of responsibility, but that’s what she said. I am not about to go bare-chesty drumming in the woods with them, but we’ve shared some things that guys usually don’t. Share. Spiritual more than physical.

If you were a tree what kind of tree would you be?

M: What are my choices?

Hardwoods, softwoods. Coniferous.

M: Something deciduous, I think. With dicotyledons, because you never get a chance to say that after high school biology. Gymnosperms. There, I said it and I’m glad. I know, a bilbao that grows upside down, especially one that isn’t real, like at Disney World.

When you come to heaven’s gate, what will St. Peter say to you?

M: I pictured you taller. Better looking.

What will you say to him?

M: Ditto, Moishe, or whatever your name used to be.

Trivia must be your life.

M: Yes, it must be.

Do you ever tire of trivia?

M: No, for that would be to tire of life. Trivia is no small thing. Nor the trivial in one’s own life—

Well, let’s not go there.

M: So, you admit you’re me.

Although I notice that you do not talk about your wife, what was her name, anymore, the occasional aside aside.

M: On advice of counsel. Hers. I was lucky in that my wife was largely a fictional character, although the children seem to be real. No, I had to let Consuela go. Should just have said ‘she took to marriage like a duck to oil’ and left it at that. Wife jokes are not funny when they’re on you. Now, with the girls, we have to be thinking about caregiver and power of attorney considerations. Wife jokes, kid jokes, pre-senility concerns, or, last gasps—its de-evolutionary. On the upside, I no longer discuss my daughter’s poopies on the air, and it’s a good thing because she’s in college now.

If there’s one thing you would like the audience to take away from the Whad’ya Know experience it would be . . .

M: Well, not the golf course pencils. We have to pay for those. They are welcome to take any left over donuts because otherwise Lyle will and he, ahem, doesn’t need them. Emotionally, I would hope they would not feel they’ve been through some sort of ordeal. A hostage situation, internment, lineup, inoculation, anything like that. There is a lot of pressure on the actual physical audience of my show; I always tell them “this is an audience participation show, so if it’s a bad show, who’s fault is it?” They always say mine, and we never get any farther. In 25 years. The audience at home, mostly guys whose wives hate me who have to pretend to be putting insulation in the attic so they listen on their walkmans, and middle-aged guys who still live with their mothers, have no need of any more obligations, they should just enjoy it, hopefully. My audience is so nice they almost make me feel good about myself.

Got Raw?

June 8, 2010

By Michael Feldman

Madison, WI

THE buses rolling into the parking lot of Eau Claire’s Chippewa Valley Technical College came from every corner of Wisconsin, and at least from one corner of Ontario, each packed with farm families wearing paper milking caps with “Freedom” written on them and brandishing signs that said, “I H Raw Milk.” March 10 was smack in the middle of calving time, but the heifers would have to wait — raw milk was that important.

The occasion was a hearing-turned-rally on a bill in the Wisconsin Legislature that would allow dairy farmers to sell milk straight from the spigot to anyone who felt it did a body good, save the very young, the very old and the very pregnant. Some 500 farmers crammed into the small college auditorium to cheer on one of the bill’s sponsors, State Representative Chris Danou, the Thoreau of raw, who declared that, should the legislative process fail, civil disobedience would surely follow.

Zealots like those at the rally extol the virtues of raw, including its unadulterated animal fat bio-activators, which may lower the risk of asthma and allergies. Standard pasteurization, they claim, kills a dubious-sounding 99.999 percent of milk’s good, bad and indifferent microorganisms, resulting in what raw milk people call “a whitish liquid.” What they fail to mention is that you can’t get $6 a gallon for pasteurized milk.

June is National Dairy Month, but milk has been the coin of this realm ever since there was a Dairyland. Wisconsin’s state quarter has two heads: George Washington’s on one side and a Holstein’s on the other. Badgers have skimmed the cream but also paid the price for living in a milkocracy; for years non-dairy creamers were banned from restaurants. And if it was yellow margarine you wanted, you had to either slip over the Illinois border to a sympathetic South Beloit gas station, or draw what satisfaction you could from kneading an orange dye tablet into a pound of milk-white oleo.

Things loosened considerably over the years, but raw milk, the bane of an industry built around dairy processing, remained taboo. Then, in April, during the waning hours of the legislative session, the Raw Milk Act finally passed, sending Representative Danou to his feet again to tip back a glass of what must have been pretty warm raw milk. Victory seemed assured; Wisconsin’s governor, James Doyle, had earlier indicated he would sign the bill.

Mr. Danou had no way of knowing that in the meantime the Cheese Makers Association, the Farm Bureau Federation and the Dairy Business Association, a sort of “Axis of Ag,” had sold their anti-raw case to Governor Doyle, blending their self-interest with warnings over diphtheria, salmonellosis and strep-bearing unpasteurized milk. Governor Doyle has had his moments, but Solomon he wasn’t on May 19, when he vetoed the Raw Milk Act despite his February approval of a tangentially related bill that made the dills and salsas of home-picklers street-legal.

Still, it wasn’t a total loss for the dairymen. The veto may prove a tipping point for public awareness and farm acceptance of raw milk. The movement gets its energy from the raw-food crusade swirling nationwide, but it’s now also drawing strength from Wisconsin’s farmer-activists, who’ve been pouring milk down the Capitol steps to protest prices for so long that many believe that’s why the marble is so white.

In fact, while this round of the raw milk fight may be over, it has left behind a nascent political movement — call it the Teat Party. In April, Madison played host to the second annual International Raw Milk Symposium, a quasi-academic affair that felt more like a convention, with grassroots food activists moving around the floor building coalitions. The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund was there to offer its services. And a movement firebrand, Sally Fallon Morell, author of the game-changing “Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats,” was PowerPointing the way to the ramparts.

No one there seemed ready to call off the fight. It’s a fair guess that the anti-raw dictocrats, hunkered down somewhere across town, weren’t either.

Michael Feldman’s All the News That Isn’t

June 1, 2010

This just not in . . .