January 10, 2010

Is my caveman a murderer?

All right, this looks like another one of those articles that made Bob R say "So how long until NYT subscriptions drop down to the level where every subscriber gets an article about them like this? Althouse already had hers." (In case you're new here, my article was this one.)

Anyway, today's Article About You is "The New Age Cavemen and the City":
LIKE many New York bachelors, John Durant tries to keep his apartment presentable — just in case he should ever bring home a future Mrs. Durant. He shares the fifth-floor walk-up with three of his buddies, but the place is tidy and he never forgets to water the plants.

The one thing that Mr. Durant worries might spook a female guest is his most recent purchase: a three-foot-tall refrigerated meat locker that sits in a corner of his living room. That is where he keeps his organ meat and deer ribs.
Is it one of those refrigerator cases with a glass front, so that the hanging meat is a bit of an art display? If I were the woman in that scenario, the first thing I'd think is: How do I know those are not human body parts? Is that the last woman he brought home? I'd be thinking about Jeffrey Dahmer, who had all those human parts in his regular old Milwaukee apartment refrigerator. But now, here's a meat locker in the living room in New York. Is this some kind of artsy upgrade on Dahmer? Would I vocalize my questions and be the sort of nervy comedienne I've always wanted to be or would I be out of there?

As it unfolds, Durant is supposedly living like a caveman. In New York City. At least in the ways that he's decided he can, because, of course, the caveman didn't have a meat locker or even a place to plug one in.
The caveman lifestyle, in Mr. Durant’s interpretation, involves eating large quantities of meat and then fasting between meals to approximate the lean times that his distant ancestors faced between hunts. Vegetables and fruit are fine, but he avoids foods like bread that were unavailable before the invention of agriculture. Mr. Durant believes the human body evolved for a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and his goal is to wean himself off what he sees as many millenniums of bad habits.
So... it's a diet?
These urban cavemen also choose exercise routines focused on sprinting and jumping, to replicate how a prehistoric person might have fled from a mastodon.
A diet + exercise. Because you know you need exercise too. So buy meat in a store and jump up and down, and it's pretty similar to survival-level hunting on the tundra.
In a city crowded with vegetarian restaurants and yoga studios, the cavemen defy other people’s ideas of healthy living. There is an indisputable macho component to the lifestyle.

“I didn’t want to do some faddish diet that my sister would do,” Mr. Durant said.
Durant wanted a manly faddish diet.
The caveman lifestyle in New York was once a solitary pursuit. But Mr. Durant, who looks like a cheerful Jim Morrison, with shoulder-length curly hair, has emerged over the last year as a chieftain of sorts among 10 or so other cavemen. He has cooked communal dinners in his apartment on East 90th Street and taught others to make jerky from his meat locker.
So the neo-Lizard King's found 10 guys to make jerky with him?

Then, there is Erwan Le Corre, 38, "who once made soap for a living." Soap? No thanks! I've seen "Fight Club"!

73 comments:

Michael said...

Owsley Stanley of LSD fame only eats meat.

vbspurs said...

Wha...whaaaaa??? A CAVEMAN??

vbspurs said...

OTOH, cavemen are really snappy dressers.

The Crack Emcee said...

I read this (of course: it's in the NYT and has NewAge in the title) and was happy to see someone thinks about nutrition kinda as I do. I'm no fanatic, as these folks are, and, honestly, don't live it, but I've thought along those lines.

So what makes them NewAge? They're already forming cults! I swear, people will start a fucking group around any damned thing, silly or not. These guys can't just eat meat - no - they've got to find people to bolster their attitude around food. It's nutty. Watch:

In two years time, we'll find they've killed that one chick with 'em in some kind of weird raw hamburger ritual.

BT said...

"...and taught others to make jerky from his meat locker."

There's a joke in there somewhere but I think I will leave it alone.

EDH said...

So the neo-Lizard King's found 10 guys to make jerky with him?

[Insert Titus joke here]

somefeller said...

So what makes them NewAge? They're already forming cults! I swear, people will start a fucking group around any damned thing, silly or not.

No, that makes them human. Forming groups around items of mutual interest has been going on since time immemorial. Humans are social animals. At least the ones that don't get picked off because they stray too far from the herd.

mrs whatsit said...

Did the New York Times really write "millenniums"? (Clicks link to check . . . comes back shaking head in dismay.) It did!

I think they have cavemen writing and editing their articles.

Henry said...

"...and taught others to make jerky from his meat locker."

I once made jerky from an outboard motor, but that was in the wild.

BT, I couldn't resist.

Cedarford said...

It is worth pointing out that this joker is emulating a lifestyle that anthropological and paleontological research shows was accompanied by short lifespans.

It is true that the studies show hunter-gatherers with a life expectancy of 30-35 years DID avoid many "diseases of civilization" caused by living close together in a disease incubator and spreader - But where exactly is our genius choosing to live his lifestyle? A city.

Maguro said...

Meh, just another hipster douchebag. This is what a real caveman looks like.

Maguro said...

By the way, is Ray Rice a badass or what?

John Lynch said...

BS. We've evolved to adapt to agriculture. We didn't stop evolving once we started growing food.

Other than that...

CAPTAIN CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVEMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!

Julius Ray Hoffman said...

It is helpful to think of this entirely in prehistoric terms. The larger, more established group of NY-Liberals is looking at this small fringe group and is trying to determine if they can be accepted or not.

The determination? Well, it's not that much different than vegetarianism or yoga and therefore they can be accepted. Their acceptance is broadcast in the journal of record for the larger NY-Liberal community.

The message: Go ahead, fellow NY-Liberals, these folks are a little strange but they are nonetheless acceptable to the larger group.

If, on the other hand, one of these folks had attended a teabagger rally or had (god forbid!) owned a gun for self-defense, then they would certainly not be acceptable and must be shunned at all costs!

New York said...

It is true that the studies show hunter-gatherers with a life expectancy of 30-35 years DID avoid many "diseases of civilization" caused by living close together in a disease incubator and spreader

No no ...

The "diseases of civilization" are cancer, atherosclerosis, appendicitis, and maybe a couple of other diseases that are rarely seen even among contemporary non-agricultural cultures like the Masai.

The dietary fiber craze started after some doctors in the 70s (probably incorrectly) hypothesized that fiber was the factor that made the difference.

Mark O said...

It' so easy that . . ..

LonewackoDotCom said...

It would be great to think these 10 people are trying to do something like this guy did, but they're probably serious.

Fred4Pres said...

Nothing wrong with eating venison, but what does he do vaccum pack it? And then admire it?

Now I like the idea of glass front friges (because you do not necessarily have to stand there with the door open to pick something out).

Fred4Pres said...

Jerky can make you go blind they say.

TheGiantPeach said...

I suspect that for most of human prehistory, the usual diet was quite different from what these NYC cavemen imagine.

I think hunter-gatherers were much better at gathering than at hunting, and that the animal protein that they succeeded in obtaining came mostly from raw eggs, insect larvae, spiders, and the occasional small rodent or lizard. It took some time before decent hunting technologies developed.

Oh, and perhaps another protein source was other cavemen. I wouldn't dismiss the Jeffrey Dahmer association.

Steven said...

"Sprinting and jumping"? Idiot.

Human hunting in the paleolithic was based on endurance running. We just keep going. That's how we hunted down and killed, for example, sprinting gazelles on the plains of Africa. We just kept coming, and they got exhausted and collapsed before we did. Human legs are quite definitely evolved for endurance running, not sprinting and jumping.

Penny said...

From the article :

"There is an indisputable macho component to the lifestyle."

Oh?

What on earth have we done to our men?

Bob_R said...

The "meat locker" appears to be a small chest freezer. A pretty basic appliance for anyone who buys meat in bulk or hunts. Tough to make space for in a NYC apartment, so I guess the writer thought it was something exotic. Probably full of contraband venison.

I had elk steaks for dinner last night. Present from my sister in Idaho. Beefier than venison. Great, rich flavor. Yum.

Cedarford said...

New York - "The "diseases of civilization" are cancer, atherosclerosis, appendicitis, and maybe a couple of other diseases that are rarely seen even among contemporary non-agricultural cultures like the Masai."

The 1st two diseases are mainly those of old age, which, I pointed out, hunter-gatherers neatly avoid by dying too young to get them.
Appendicitis is unlikely to be of a different distribution between "civilized" people and hunter-gatherers. Along with abcesses, appendectomies are common surgery for "do-gooder" jungle doctors.

It is true that autopsies of physically active hunting cultures, hardscrabble mountain folk, and nomadic people do show they have "cleaner arteries" than sedentary people.
They tend to leave good-looking young corpses, medically speaking.

The cohort that does survive into very old age is smaller than the sedentary cohort, but tends to be "vigorous". Of course many of their so-called "sedentary" peers are actually people that pursued vigorous lifestyles and sports.

In short, if I was writing life insurance policies, I'd take the couch-dwelling cheeto-muncher over the Pashtun woman who lugs 60 pounds of water up a 2800 feet elevation difference 4X a day, covering 11 miles travel on foot.

traditionalguy said...

Type O blood types are designed to be hunter carnivores, while type A are largely urban vegetarians and type B are largely steppes dwelling and dairy eating herdsmen of sheep. So what does that knowledge do to an overall study throwing the types together? Some will flourish one way and some another. The best part of eating a Texas sized 32 0z. bone-in ribeye steak is that you don't need to eat again for several days, provided that you are a type O who is designed to eat that way. The other types need their regular meals.

BT said...

Hey this is off topic but since Althouse lives in Madison-- just a shout out to all you Packer fans from a buddie down here in frozen Chicago:

GO CARDINALS!!!!

New York said...

The 1st two diseases are mainly those of old age, which, I pointed out, hunter-gatherers neatly avoid by dying too young to get them.

That's the obvious thing to suspect, but no it's not the case. It's been attested to by a lot of doctors and researchers most famously including Albert Schweizer.

rhhardin said...

A caveman needs a backup generator for his meat locker, if he's going to be authentic.

Synova said...

"Type O blood types are designed to be hunter carnivores, while type A are...etc, "

Seriously?

I hadn't heard this before.

The "caveman" diet sounds like Atkins, actually. My husband is doing that (I did for a little while and lost a few pounds that I've kept off). I keep having to explain to people who go "oh, that's not good for you" that if you actually follow the diet you're probably eating far more vegetables than you did before. You can eat whatever meat you *want* or don't want, but the amount and type of vegetables you are *required* to consume each day is pretty significant.

I agree that early hunters were mostly gatherers, but eating a lot of nuts, seeds and wild grains, isn't the same as having a diet that dietitians insist be *primarily* carbohydrates in the form of refined flour. (Oh, stick some bran in it and call it "whole" wheat, it's still refined.)

Lem said...

LIKE many New York bachelors, John Durant tries to keep his apartment presentable — just in case he should ever bring home a future Mrs. Durant.

What kind of a caveman worries about the condition of the cave.. isint that what the cavewoman is for ;)

El Pollo Real said...

Owsley had a few things to say about diet and exercise.

Palladian said...

The photograph of these "New-Age Cavemen" (Cave-Persons? There's a woman in the picture) that accompanies this story? Telling. They went to the Museum of Natural History and posed the "New Age Cavemen" in front of a diorama containing a fake plastic caveman.

Four simulated cavemen, all made up for show.

Maybe the New York Times photographers are the only smart ones at the paper anymore.

Zach said...

Cavemen ate quite a lot of grain products. That's how the modern grain crops evolved: if you spend enough generations harvesting a particular type of plant in one place, you inadvertently breed crops which ripen at the same time. If you think about this, you'll see that this implies cavemen were putting a lot of work into harvesting the same kinds of plants in the same places, year after year.

After the Ice by Steven Mithen is a really good book on the neolithic period, the rise of permanent settlements, and the development of modern agriculture.

Chris said...

For what it's worth, I have lost over 100 lbs in the last 8 months following this type of diet & exercise program. By all means, yuck it up, but I'll take the results.

Follow these links & learn, if you care to....

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/
http://freetheanimal.com/

vbspurs said...

OT: Just a heads up, guys. Heileman and Halperin will be discussing their juicy "Game Change" book on 60 Minutes at 7 PM EST.

Michael said...

Owsley, unlike the "caveman" of NY, has been eating like this for quite a while. Living as he does in the Australian outback it is unlikely that he has the nifty freezer and access to prime cuts that the sissy NY cavers do. Owsley, of course, has also been on quite a few trips in his day, not that they count towards his exercise regimin.

Palladian said...

"By all means, yuck it up, but I'll take the results."

It's not the particulars of the diet and exercise regimen that I find amusing, absurd and laughable. Not at all.

The part that irritates and amuses is the transformation of a diet & exercise regimen into a lifestyle through the magical mediocrity of the Times' Fashion & Style section.

This is about the mediocrity of a newspaper and the spectacularly silly pretenses of New Yorkers, one of the most insular, provincial and mediocre populations in the world.

Don't let your sensible dietary advice become just another lifestyle, because it's only a short trip from there to becoming the New-Age Caveman community. When you start referring to yourself as a community is when the sensible and independent thinkers of the world hurriedly buy a bag of sourdough pretzels, a bottle of Coca-Cola and sprint and jump to the nearest couch.

Ralph L said...

They're not quite as stupid as the raw milk drinkers.

Do all Manhattanites wear black?

Cedarford said...

@Althouse - Did you inadvertently wipe out a 100+ comment thread today, or did Blogger somehow make it disappear?

bill said...

It's also called the Paleo Diet. It's popular with Crossfit practitioners. If you ignore all the "this is how cavemen ate" justifications, it's basically just another low carb diet. And not that far from Michael Pollan's prescription of eating mainly lean meats and fresh fruits and vegetables.

vbspurs said...

OT: Harumph. After all the MEGAJUICY revelations in the book, one which prompted a Senate Majority leader to apologise to the sitting US President yesterday, turns out that today, Anderson Cooper (the reporter assigned to the story by 60 Mins) will be doing only the Sarah Palin angle. Typical, so typical of 60 Mins, a shadow of what the show used to be in my childhood.

Lem said...

Senator Obiden..

I love it.

vbspurs said...

What a gyp. I mean, if you're on blogs, you learnt nothing from the 60 Minutes segment. Bloggers are WAY ahead of the story, and that's why traditional media are failing.

XWL said...

The song that inspired the diet?

rcocean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcocean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

Chris said...
"For what it's worth, I have lost over 100 lbs in the last 8 months following this type of diet & exercise program."

It's called the Ketosis diet. Killed a friend of mine. Glad you got away with it.

rcocean said...

Odd how some person works for the NYT in Manhattan and they know somebody who knows somebody 6 blocks away and then suddenly millions across the USA are supposed to think this is an important "trend".

What would happen if they moved the NYT to Salt lake City. Would the Fashion stories change or stay the same?

Anyway, the story sounds like a Seinfeld episode.

Pastafarian said...

One of my college roommates had once read a book called "The Paleolithic Prescription" that put forward this same theory, and this was about 25 years ago, so this is nothing new.

He lived by it, and I made fun of it, based on the same flaws others in this thread have already pointed out -- heart disease would be much less prevalent if the average life-expectancy is in the 30s, with infected wounds and untreatable injuries resulting in most deaths.

I would like to note, however, that this same roommate had been physically described, by multiple people independently, as a cross between Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble.

I'm not sure if this resemblance is what caused him to embrace this theory; or if his caveman diet led to this resemblance.

But I do agree that this theory does make some sense, if taken in moderation. Some foods are probably unhealthy to us because we haven't been exposed to them for enough generations to have evolved a capacity for dealing with them. Pastries contain more carbs and fats than we'd ever have found in nature, and yet we gobble them up like a dog licking up antifreeze.

Oligonicella said...

traditionalguy --

Got any links to that A/B/O dietary stuff that don't originate from someone selling a diet program?

Chip Ahoy said...

Chris, thank you for those two links. They're very interesting. I bookmarked them.

Titus said...

Althouse, your review of this story is the most hilarious thing I have ever read on this site.


Absolutely brillant.

Jerky. Totally great. My father shoots a deer every year and he makes deer beef jerky and deer sausage. When I ate meat it was great but I am now a vege, thanks for asking and yes I am totally proud of it.

FYI-I did a NYC caveman a couple years back. I too was concerned about the freezer. But once I got over it the sex was great.

Went to Baraka Cafe last night with husband. It was delish. Had the couscous with fava beans and lemonade with rose pedals. It was an Algerian orgasm.

Run don't walk to Baraka Cafe in Cambridge fellow republicans. There is an old women wearing whatever those muzzies wear yelling at everyone. Also, in the tiny bathroom is a picture of a wolf and some note about how awful Sarah Palin is.

It's totally small and fab, natch.

LonewackoDotCom said...

Fun quiz!

1. In the past year, I've done the following to try to attempt people to deal less with the circus/horserace aspect and more with things that matter:










2. In the past year, I've taken the following steps to try to show ACooper's viewers how he can't be trusted:










(Feel free to use an extra sheet).

Penny said...

"The part that irritates and amuses is the transformation of a diet & exercise regimen into a lifestyle through the magical mediocrity of the Times' Fashion & Style section"

Is that what just happened here? Frankly, I was thinking just the opposite, Palladian. Although I have to admit to somehow blaming the messenger, not unlike you.

My take was that there was a relatively small bunch of folks out there who had this lifestyle "thing" going. If only in their own minds, and in their small, did they really say caveman?, circle.

And then along comes the NYT's Lifestyle reporter, doing what it is they're supposed to do. Um...like REPORT.

When I first read this, I am thinking about how this small circle, was about to get A LOT larger, now that the NYT's gave them some visibility.

Your take seems to be that the NYT's is responsible for there being "cavemen" in the first place.

Is this a chicken-egg dilemma?

Penny said...

XWL, that was a funnier than hell, link! haha

Feeling very Bertha!

Penny said...

Oh, and some killer bass too!

bagoh20 said...

It's 2010, I'll live in Manhattan as a caveman. Pure genius.

Palladian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Palladian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Palladian said...

"It's 2010, I'll live in Manhattan as a caveman. Pure genius."

Sharing an apartment with 3 other men and spending my days jostling with 10 million people in filthy, noisy streets, ignoring the fact that I could live in the wilderness of Maine for next to nothing and live like an actual "caveman". But, you know, I might mess up my Prada jacket! And where would I get conditioner for my soft brunette tresses?

Actually Mr Durant seems to have his head on pretty straight, as according to his (defunct) "Neo-Paleo Gourmet" blog, he lists his idea of "Good Thinkers":

Taleb, Dennett, Pinker, Hayek, Dawkins, Diamond, Harris (Judith Rich)... Lomborg, Gilbert, De Vany, Kurzweil, Wright (Robert), Pollan, Friedman (Milton), Ridley are good sources of insight. Marginal Revolution is my favorite blog.

I agree with many of those choices. A smart guy with (hopefully) a healthy understanding of the slight absurdity of being a "cave-man" on 90th street.

Palladian said...

But to address Althouse's hilarious "is my caveman a murderer?" supposition, I'd definitely call Garcia to run a check on the guy when I saw that freezer full of meat and offal.

DADvocate said...

old Milwaukee apartment

Dahmer's apartment was made of beer cans? I didn't know that.

BTW - I wonder if cavemen had beer. The oldest known written recipe is for beer. When was the first recipe for jerky?

Bryan C said...

I'll have the roast duck with the mango salsa.

Alas, these modern cavemen are lacking the intestinal parasites that our cave-dwelling ancestors had. Unless they deliberately re-introduce them to their systems. Some people do.

comatus said...

The thinking right now is that the making of beer is what settled us down to fixed-point agriculture. Over 20 years ago, Dr. Solomon Katz of Penn State wrote on this, based on a Suerian recipe. Beer pioneer Fritz Maytag underwrote the production of an Egyptian batch, with a recipe derived from chemical analysis of residue in an urn found in a pharaoh's tomb.

Much can be made of the economic role of women from the history of brewing. What in Germany is called a braumeister was, in Chaucerian England, called an alewife.

Short answer: no beer for cavemen.

comatus said...

Jerky has a recipe?

Synova said...

"Jerky has a recipe?"

1 cup of dark soy sauce.

1/2 cup red wine vinegar.

1/4 cup basalmic vinegar.

1/4 cup sugar, brown sugar or honey.

1/4 cup red chili paste (from the asian market)

a handful of red chili flakes (from the asian market)

Garlic salt

Pepper

1 1/2 to 2 pounds of thinly sliced lean beef

Marinate in a large bowl or gallon zip lock bag

1 dehydrator

Hucbald said...

I've got deer antlers, bleached skull mounts, and even a bobcat in my family room. If a date has a problem with my being a "killer caveman" I want to know about it as soon as she sets foot inside my house. That way, the vintage Damon Howatt Hunter recurve bow hanging over my bed's headboard won't scare her if I get her that far.

Geoff Matthews said...

Is he going to follow the last step of the caveman diet and die before he's 40?

DannyNoonan said...

I think the shorter average lifespan of "cavemen" was mostly due to traumatic events and infant mortality rates. I think your typical primal advocate would tell you that the caveman had it right in terms of food and fitness, but modern man does better in terms of things like SURGERY. Like, a torn ACL is annoying for a few months to you or me, but it would kill a person 10,000 years ago since he wouldn't be able to hunt. Same goes for infections and things like that. People in still existing hunter/gatherer societies routinely live into their 80s even if the average lifespan is lower because of these things. I don't think there's really any scientific data that suggests that modern man is generally as healthy and robust than man was 10,000 years ago, or that he could live longer in the same setting.

Also, I'd second marksdailyapple.com

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kentuckyliz said...

Maybe he can become a spokesperson for GEICO and get his own short-run sitcom.

Titus you're a vegetarian because your "husband" is an asshole about you eating meat. I know you dream of cheeseburgers.

I ate vegetarian for a year during a residential job at a school where the vegetarian cooking was good and the meat cooking was frightening. Meat of a grade they wouldn't even legally be allowed to feed prisoners. Ewwwww.

When this guy teaches a small group of others how to make jerky, is it called...

...a Jerky Circle?

(rimshot)

Revenant said...

Sounds like a dippy idea. Our "caveman" ancestors had a diet very different from ours, yes... but that was a thousand generations ago.

*We* are the product of people who have been eating things like bread and agricultural staples for hundreds of generations. We have almost certainly evolved to expect that sort of diet. There is pretty good evidence our bodies have evolved to expect *alcohol* in our diets, for pity's sake.

Revenant said...

Like, a torn ACL is annoying for a few months to you or me, but it would kill a person 10,000 years ago since he wouldn't be able to hunt.

You don't have to go back 10,000 years. Calvin Coolidge's son died while he was in the White House. The cause of death was an infected blister he got playing tennis in bare feet. That was 86 years ago.