Obselete: An Encyclopedia of Once-Common Things Passing Us By

A couple weeks ago my buddy James Gulliver Hancock sent me a book he illustrated called Obselete: An Encyclopedia of Once-Common Things Passing Us By. The book is a funny look into how quickly things are becoming obsolete, everything from body hair to lickable stamps, hotel keys to tonsillectomies. The author, Anna Jane Grossman, is really funny and gives you a little history on each of these things, how they fared and ultimately why they’re going away. James also provides some really great illustrations for some of the stories as well. Here are a couple of passages which made me giggle.

Here she writes about Privacy:

In the late 90s in Japan, the assumption that people would be lucky to have their private lives publicized was taken one ste further when a weekly “reality” show called Denpa Shonen featured a naked man locked in a room where he had to subsist ob only what he could win from sweepstakes advertised in a pile of magazines he was given. His place in the room was the prize he received after winning a raffle; he wasn’t told he’d be filmed. He went long stretches of time crying and eating nothing but rice cooked in a tin can. The crew left him inthere for more than a year before they told him that his confinement was being broadcast all over the country.

The show received stellar ratings.

And one more part about Eating for Pleasure:

Sara Moulton, Gourmet magazine’s longtime executive chef, has watched wholesomeness challenge convenience – while pleasure sits on the bench.

“It’s gotten to an extreme, and I could without the snobbishness. At the end of the day, food should be fun and tasty and that’s what maters more than anything else,” she says. “The plus side of the so called ‘locavore’ movement – getting food from local sources – is that that food tastes better because it’s not being grown with the purpose of holding up during shipping, it’s being grown for taste and not sturdiness. But a side effect is that it’s made some people view food as a religion, which is ridiculous. Food is first and foremost there to nurture us. It should never be this intellectual, psychological, crazy thing. To get so obsessed about where thing on your plate came from and what’s in season – it’s admirable but also elitist.” Indeed, the poorest people in this country are also the most obese, largely because they can’t afford to shop at local farmers’ markets or Whole Foods. They’re instead trying to get enjoyment from fast-food burgers, “which to be honest, don’t taste as good as they used to if they’re not made with trans fats!” Ms. Moulton says. “So on the one hand, you have the elitists who are worshipping their food instead of enjoying it – those who just assume that because something is organic it automatically means it’ll taste better – and on theother you have those who are craving sugars and salts and fatty things because it’s what they’re used to and what they can afford”

Definitely pick up a copy of yourself by clicking here.


October 23, 2009