Friday, October 26, 2007

On diets, dumbness, and dissent. Random rants on a foul-weathered Friday.

The event came and went without creating much of a stir, but Judy Mazel died on October 12. Though the name may not ring a bell, you may have some familiarity with her signature work: a little thing called The Beverly Hills Diet (1981). You had to have lived through the time period in order to appreciate the cultural phenomenon that was Beverly Hills. Kind of like South Beach, only crazier, and with a whole lot more celebrities (natch) involved. The diet plan itself started with 10 days of nothing but fruit, followed by rotating cycles in which dieters ate just one food group at a time; it was based loosely, Mazel said, on the eating patterns established by our cave-dwelling ancestors, who were generally slim (but who also didn't have a Cheesecake Factory within driving distance, and who had to outrun an angry bison now and then). More important, Mazel is credited/debited with helping launch the diet revolution,* and I really should've given her at least a passing mention in SHAM. Judy Mazel epitomized so much of what is true of (i.e. wrong with) the weight-loss movement and the SHAMscape as a whole. She had neither the credentials nor the professional standing to be pioneering a major health movement; the science behind her book was shaky at best; and she later came under fire for promoting the glitzy, Hollywood-inspired notion that "a girl can never be too slim"—an idea that still lives with us today, of course, and is visible in the desperation of millions of young girls who are perfectly healthy but who look in the mirror and don't like what they see anyway. (Mazel weighed in at a "svelte 108," she liked to say.) As one of her critics wryly noted, "The Beverly Hills Diet marks the first time that an eating disorder—anorexia nervosa—has been marketed as a cure for obesity."

Mazel died at just 63 of complications from peripheral artery disease, a condition in which—some doctors believe—poor diet is a contributing factor.

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In the fifth inning of last night's Sox-Rockies game, FOX baseball analyst Chris Myers felt obliged to give us the inside scoop on a closed-door meeting of Boston players that took place during last week's league championship playoffs against the Indians; this was right after the Sox went down three games to one in the series. The message that came out of that meeting, Myers reported, quoting Boston right fielder J.D. Drew, was: "Just win one at a time and we can win the World Series." And so it came to pass, Myers noted sagely, that the Sox "haven't lost a game since."

So that's the answer, huh? Just have a meeting and decide to win 'em one at a time.

I ask again: How do you "decide" to win? And then make it happen? How do you control the myriad variables that affect (and, I dare say, conspire to determine) the outcome of a given game? And why would a player who had "decided to win" then allow himself to strike out his first two times up before finally hitting the double that does, indeed, win the next game? And if he can simply cause himself to win...why would he ever allow himself to lose? And why do you need a meeting for it, anyway? If you can do these things pretty much at will, just make it part of your approach to daily life. No?

It astonishes me that no one in media questions the pat script. Even people like Bob Costas and Joe Buck (Buck strikes me as a pretty bright guy) say nothing. They all just go right along with the frothy, fatuous flow. They even build special in-game reports around it, as Chris Myers did last night.

Here's one case where I must fall back on a pet McCarverism: Amazing. Simply amazing.

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Very quietly, a bit more each day, my post on the Midwest Center for Stress & Anxiety ("Center of my concerns," April 3, 2007) is creeping up on the SHAMblog record for "most all-time comments." Already it holds the record for most comments by different people, and I figure that at its current rate, within another week it will own the overall record. That record is now 74, for a post on Rhonda Byrne ("Why is this woman smiling?", July 19, 2007) that branched off into an intriguing and quite heated discussion of rap music and the nature of discussion itself. I find it funny that angry "exiles" from the Center's own heavily policed discussion board have now, in effect, formed a sub-community on SHAMblog. I've voiced many criticisms of the blogosphere over the past two years, but this is one of its magical and wondrous aspects: You just never know when these things will take on a life of their own, uniting dozens or hundreds of people who otherwise never would have met, and who didn't realize there were others out there who "feel just like I do!"

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P.S. FRIDAY, 3 p.m. Add this under "dumbness." Or maybe "disgusting." To those who wonder just how far the gurus of positive mental attitude really take it, I give you Joe "Mr. Fire" (!) Vitale, writing on the San Diego inferno and the reason why certain homes may have been spared. You know, people who put their faith in The Secret, or very much want to, will tell you, "Well, I mean, everybody realizes that you're not supposed to take the law of attraction literally literally—like, when it comes to hurricanes and such." Just read what Vitale has to say. Then talk to me. (And thank you, Connie, for bringing this to my attention.)


* The link will take you to the last in a series of posts on diet/weight loss, from early this year. They're all linked at the bottom of that post.

12 comments:

a/good/lysstener said...

I really like the photo you chose for this one, Steve. I find it soothing and cozy in this kind of weather, even though I don't especially like the weather itself. Funny huh?

I think what Vitale said is reprehensible. It definitely shows just how far out some of these people are, as you said.

Steve Salerno said...

Good to hear that the photo pleased you. Funny to me, sometimes, what people focus on in their comments--but again, glad you liked the photo.

Cosmic Connie said...

Actually, I agree with Alyssa -- that's a neat photo. I was thinking the same thing. I was also thinking about what a shame it is you're having foul weather there; it's been beautiful here in Houston. But I guess those of us who aren't in the path of the raging infernos out west can all be thankful, foul weather or not. I'm standing by to see if "Mr. Fire" will either recant or clarify (i.e., justify) his post.

Steve Salerno said...

Now that I think of it, I gotta wonder if Joe wasn't being prescient somehow when he chose his moniker--"Mr. Fire." After all, he is ever-so-much more plugged into the cosmos than the rest of us--so maybe he attracted the San Diego inferno, all by himself.

Cosmic Connie said...

Nah, Steve, Joe 'splains it all on his blog. We ALL attracted those fires. Besides, he didn't choose the moniker "Mr. Fire." He told me a long time ago that someone else came up with it, and he liked it so he started using it.

No word, though, on who first deemed him the Buddha of the Internet or the Charles Atlas of the Internet. Dr. Hew "Ho'opo" Len, however, is credited with naming him the "Jesus of business."

Steve Salerno said...

Well, you're probably too young to get the reference, Connie, but boy (or girl) would I love to kick sand in his face.

Cal said...

A question here... Didn't the Scarsdale Diet started the diet revolution? Or did it gain more notoriety after the author was killed by his mistress?

BTW, I just read her obituary in the New York Times and it noted that an article was published soon after the book refuting it's claims in the Journal of the American Medical Association. One of its authors, Dr. Mirkin is known here in the DC area for his practice. I know I have altered my diet because of his recommendations.

gregory said...

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/10664

Steve Salerno said...

Yes, Cal, Scarsdale predated BevHills by a few years, and probably must get credit for kicking off the modern era in American dieting. That's why I said Mazel "helped launch" the diet revolution. And I do think her diet had a certain "glitz appeal" (that whole B.H. connotation, and the sheer number of celebs who acted as informal spokespeople for her) that Tarnower lacked--at least until, as you note, his mistress shot him to death. By the way, do you know what Tarnower is renowned for, besides his diet, in certain circles that obsess over such marginalia? Think: John Dillinger. No joke.

Cosmic Connie said...

LOL, I get the Charles Atlas reference...97-pound weakling, etc. In any case, Mr. Fire sustained some rather brutal attacks about his comments, and he published them on his blog, but, as expected, he's trying to turn it in his favor by saying those who took his words in a negative way are the ones who have the problem. He calls yesterday's offering his "Rorschach blog post."

He wrote, "Yesterdays’s [sic] blog post seems to be a type of ink blot test: people responded to things that weren’t even there. A few people even got angry, which I find surprising and revealing.

"For example, I made no direct comments about my fellow Secret co-stars and why they escaped the San Diego fires; I also made no direct comments about those who were harmed by the fires."

And so on.

Psychologists might, I think, call that "passive-aggressive."

Steve Salerno said...

Right, Connie. And we know what Harry Frankfurt would call it....

Cosmic Connie said...

My guess is that he would not call it "Truth"...