He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.
I’ve just stepped off the scale, so I can tell you that right now, at this very moment, I weight 182.6 pounds. At 5’8″, this puts my Body Mass Index in the “overweight” category. By my own assessment, I am 10-15 pounds above ‘fighting trim’, and about 20 pounds above being ripped like Jesus.
My wife weighs 151 pounds, which at 5’9″ puts her BMI in normal range. My daughters, 12 and 6, are about 105lbs. and 45lbs. respective. (Guestimates; we’re not in the habit of weighing them, or encouraging them to monitor their own weights.)
This makes our family’s average about 120 pounds per person, which is an odd way to describe a family, but there’s a reason that I giving you these odd disclosures and strange maths.
Right now the plans for our Mon Tiki charter sailing catamaran are at the USCG Marine Safety Center in Washington DC.
The plans are undergoing a structure and stability review; this is where USCG naval architects review our engineers calculations to be sure our boat meets Coast Guard specs for structural integrity (structure) and capsize resistance (stability.) Like many other government bodies, the MSC has recently set up self-mandated responsiveness goals. The MSC says they will resolve all structure and stability cases within 30 days.
But right now the MSC is having trouble meeting that goal.
The reason they are having trouble is because after a couple of recent capsizes of Inspected Passenger Vessels, the Coast Guard has determined that their old figures for an average passenger weight of 160lbs is no longer representative of the America public, and no longer offers a sufficient margin of safety.
The new figure is 185lbs, a 15% increase, and the entire small inspected passenger vessel fleet is having to go under review, with new stability letters being issued, frequently with a reduction in the legal passenger count. (Under the old figure of 160lbs, Mon Tiki would rate to carry 35 passengers; under the new figures she’ll only rate for 30. Vessels already in operation are experiencing similar reductions in passenger count.)
The net result for us is the normal turn-around of about 2-3 weeks is now 4-6 weeks. (Fortunately, devotee of slack that I am, this should be a big deal, and may even end up playing in our favor.)
I’m writing about this because one of the steps on the path that I took from documenter of developing world tragedy and hope to documenter of pair-bonded bliss to aspiring media commentator to professional sailer and boat builder to avocational blogger at this esteemed venue was that in the Autumn of 2008, after the election of Barack Obama, I decided that my professional/creative/social online world was too parochial and too intellectually homogeneous. I resolved to explore as far a field from my (seemingly) natural environs on the internet, and found myself at Culture11.com.
Where the red-meat issues of the (so called) “culture war” are concerned, I have no trouble labeling myself a liberal, so I found plenty to get agitated about. But what I found compelling about the editorial stance of Culture11 was the assertion that culture matters; that our society is not merely the sum total of marginal economic effects; that we are not merely amebas responding to stimulus; that we are human beings.
In particular I was delighted and antagonized by the writing of James Poulos. James’ writing at Culture11 was effete, but powerful; compelling to read in the extreme, but in my gut I also felt it was misguided. A lot of the thinking I’ve done over the past three years has been devoted to figuring out why I feel that way. With your indulgence, an extended quote from something I wrote in February of 2009, in the wake of the World Financial Crisis:
Except where laws and politics relate to cinema and sexuality, I try to steer clear of politics on this blog. I don’t expect that anyone would have to agree with my views on the alternative minimum tax, or whether or not the F-22 is a good investment in our national security in order to enjoy our films, and I’d hate for any disappointment about my or my wife’s politics on issues unrelated to freedom of expression or sexual liberty to come between someone and the enjoyment of our films. Pardon me this morning if I drift a little.
It should come as no surprise that making and distributing the films we make sometimes make me feel estranged from the society in which we live. I’ve just finished reading my post from last May “Art with a Capital A” and it put me near tears. Our various and ongoing misadventures with the powers that be are a constant reminder that my views on sexuality and cinema is very much a dissident view. What seems natural and normal to me is, at best regarded as offbeat; at worst it’s regarded as criminal.
Even within the world of sexually explicit filmmaking, our approach is considered bizarre. For the sake of my own conscience (and other reasons) we only work with couples in pre-existing relationships, and we don’t ask them to do anything with each other that they are not already happily doing in their personal, off-camera sex life. The reason for this is simple: I’m not interested in asking people to take sexual risks for the sake of my films.
Because of my need for this sort of “moral insurance” we are only able to produce one or two films a year; which means we have to sell a lot more copies of each film; which means we have to make our films to the highest possible production standards; which means things like shooting film and extended post-production schedules; which means the films cost more to make; which means we have to sell that many more copies in order to make enough money to keep making films.
I suppose whether this is a vicious or virtuous cycle is a matter of perspective, but it’s the bargain we’ve struck with ourselves, and it worked for us. Which brings me to the political part of this post.
One of the main reasons that my wife and I were able to enter into this virtuous cycle is that we’re both business-minded, willing to take risks, and financially conservative. I don’t mean financially conservative in a no income tax on capital gains sort of way, I mean financially conservative in a shopping for clothes on 34th street between Seventh and Eight Ave sort of way; we’re financially conservative in a 30 year fixed mortgage sort of way; we’re financial conservative in a save 25% of your income sort of way.
As much as any thing else, that conservatism is what has allowed us to make the films we make. It’s allowed me to follow my conscience about what I will and will not ask people to do on my set, and it’s allow us to say no thanks to distribution “deals” that would have been financially ruinous to Comstock Films, or to PR “opportunities” that would have be entirely at odds with the reason we make the films we make.
That conservatism has allowed us to say “no thanks” to HBO, BBC, CBC, Pulse Distribution, Adam & Eve, Women’s Health, Pacific Media, Tartan Films, ThinkFilms to name a few. In each case we were faced with the same question: Do we give up control of our films, of our brand, our values for the chance of greater recognition, greater reach, greater revenue?
The conclusion I’ve come to (and laying aside my presume cynicism on the part of its leaders) is that the Conservative Cultural Project, their part in our nations benighted and benighting “culture war” fails, not because it goes too far, but because it doesn’t go far enough; that vast swathes of our heritage, our flintier virtues are conspicuous in their absence from the litany of Conservative Cultural Complaints.
Meanwhile, over at The Atlantic, Marion Nestle has recently called for the government to regulate the word “natural”. This is part of Professor Nestle’s ongoing campaign to regulated us into Correct eating habits and Good health, but it strikes me as an unbelievably careless thought. I can’t believe there hasn’t been more response; a counter-post from another Atlantic writer, or at least a lively comment thread.
Or maybe it’s just the pace of modern life. So many posts per day, publish or perish, and all the rest. I’m sure I’ve hit SEND or POST on things I’d reconsider if someone brought them to my attention, if only they – or I – had the time.
Meanwhile, I give you The Feasty Boys.