Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Raj Patel at Stacey's

There was a sizable SRO crowd at lunch hour at Stacey's Bookstore today to hear Raj Patel. With the global food shortages recently in the news, his new book about the global food economy, Stuffed and Starved, has good timing. He's a terrific speaker, lively, funny, full of ideas, a little indecent & happily on the side of the working class. Plus he's good-looking & has a great English accent. He's got the kind of personality that can make communism seem sexy again.

I was laughing out loud at times. He compared the World Bank to John Cleese's patronizing & malicious Robinhood in The Time Bandits, performing his own rendition of this scene from the movie. He finds the Slow Food movement a bit too bourgeois, describing it as an "olive oil circle-jerk." He told us about bunny chow, a South African convenience food consisting of a loaf of white bread hollowed out & filled with Indian curry. He interprets this as a "miscegenated" food. He slammed fair trade goods for reducing democracy in this country to the conceit that we can make this a better world by shopping. He reminded us that in a democracy we own the political system.

Patel had me completely fired up to buy his book, only Stacey's hadn't anticipated such a big turn-out & actually ran out. If you get a chance, check him out.

P.S. (05.15.2008)
He's appearing at Cody's Books in Berkeley on Friday, May 16th at 7:00pm. You can see the man in action on CBC television here & here.

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