Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Fat Blog

In order to address issues of obesity, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York has proposed a ban on selling soda in containers that exceed 16 ounces. This would not extend to drinks sold in grocery or convenience stores (where 7-11 sells Super Big Gulps that are apparently 40-ounces and meant for immediate consumption by one consumer) or to diet sodas.

There is scientific evidence that if people are given larger portions, they tend to consumer more. Koert van Ittersum, a marketing professor at Georgia Tech, has conducted some very interesting research related to this topic.

Bloomberg has been ridiculed and vilified in the media by -- no surprise -- the soft drink industry and seemingly just about everyone else. (I'm not providing a link here. Simply Google "Bloomberg" and "soda" and you'll get about 34,800 hits -- almost all of which are negative.)

It got me to think about the changing conception of fat. Here's a look at rock 'n' roll.

  This is a picture of the late Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys circa 1966.  In terms of weight, he looks pretty normal. But that's by today's standards. Back then he was known as "husky," which was a polite male way of saying not real fat, but definitely overweight.

This is a picture of The Beach Boys from that same period. (Bruce Johnston, second from left, had replaced Brian Wilson during tours.)  Carl Wilson, on the far right, was about 20 years-old.  Compared to his cousin Mike Love (far left) or his brother Dennis (center), he was relatively heavy.

Second from left in this photo is Mark Volman of The Turtles, also about the age of 20.  Forty-five years ago, he was considered really, really fat.

Here are The Turtles performing live on the Ed Sullivan Show.  If you go to the 2:32 mark, it shows Volman pretty well.  Today we would probably refer to him as husky. (As is common for fat males, Volman's public persona was of that of a clownish guy.)

Which brings us to comedy.

John Belushi was considered fat in Animal House (1978)
Chris Farley was considered fat during SNL (1993)

All of which is to say that what we think is fat is relative.  And so, historically speaking, is the size of soda containers.


Carl Wilson typically sang harmonies for the Beach Boys, but sang lead on one of their greatest songs "God Only Knows" from "Pet Sounds."  He died of cancer in 1998 at the age of 51.

The Turtles were a popular group. Like The Byrds, they covered Dylan and also wrote their own stuff. Howard Kaylan was an excellent lead singer. Mark Volman sang lead and backing vocals, and had a very good voice as well. After The Turtles died, Volman and Kaylan formed Florescent Leech and Eddie (typically shortened to "Flo and Eddie"), joined Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, and sang backup vocals on lots and lots of songs (including Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart").

Today Volman teaches at the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business at Belmont University in Nashville.

The the best of my knowledge, Johan Hill is not Volman's illegitimate son.

Both John Belushi and Chris Farley died at the age of 33 from accidental drug overdoses.

Chris Farley's interview with Paul McCartney is, I thought, one of the greatest moments in the entire history of Saturday Night Live.  A transcript can be found here

I really have no idea why I wrote this blog.

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