What are you doing here?

Looking off the back deck a couple of weeks ago, which is to say smack dab in the middle of January, I was shocked to spot cavorting in the neighbor's garden a spectacular male Baltimore Oriole. Brilliantly plumaged in orange and black, this bird is an occasional but never common springtime migrant through the grit of Red Hook. It is entirely unexpected in winter. Even the hardiest representatives of its clan should be found passing the season no further north than North Carolina. Global warming? Perhaps.

Unlikely winter visitor; in January it should be far to the south of Baltimore. (I know, my fence needs a little work; luckily spring will soon be upon us)

Then, this week's religious Friday telephone call to the New York Rare Bird alert, 212-979-3070, often transcribed on the web, brought exciting news of a putative first state record for Scott's Oriole, a yellower relative of the Baltimore. This particular individual is so confused we can scarcely blame climate change; it normally resides in the south-western deserts of New Mexico and Arizona. Having arrived somewhat addled in the New York area, its motives unknown, this bird, a first year male, apparently confused Union Square Park with the arid bluffs and canyonlands of its place of birth, taking up residence amongst the starlings, pigeons and restauranteurs.

That thing must be around here somewhere

Once having established that the famous Union Square Greenmarket does indeed operate on Fridays, so that we would be able to purchase organic vegetables and local grassfed beef between bouts of ornithology, therefore metaphorically killing two birds with one stone, we set off for the city in an adrenaline rush. As I've noted before in these pages, it has historically been the kiss of death whenever I go on one of these local rarity hunts, as my presence all but guarantees the permanent disappearance of the sought-after specie. But last August, that curse was lifted.

"What are all you people looking at?" was the most common question innocent passersby asked of the entranced cult of birders

At the southwestern corner of the park, already known, the scuttlebutt had it, as the preferred hangout for the oriole, clumps of binocular-toting birdos stood chatting, but without intensity. There was none of the unified, focussed pointing of high caliber optics that indicates, even from far off, that the bird has been spotted and is under observation. We abandoned this placid scene, delving into the denser foliage at the heart of the urban square, tripping over tourists and pushing old ladies out of the way. Still no bird.

The scene in front of Staples, Union Square, last Friday

We forged on, undeterred by the winos and businessmen braving the cold to slurp lunch-time soup on park benches. There, up ahead, half-way to the greenmarket where the organic turnips were waiting, about even with 16th st., stood another dense knot of birders. This time all had their binoculars clamped to their faces in an almost military synchrony. Necks cocked back as one, the group was staring skyward into a tree, eying a dismal, yellow feathered blob. Scott's Oriole! Or at least so they are saying. Hunched over amongst the backlit twigs at the top of a tall tree, it was impossible to say for sure. It was a yellow and black bird, that was certain.

Dude, I came all the way from Brooklyn, do you mind coming down out of that tree?

No wonder, perhaps, that this alien visitor, adrift in the great city, was almost ignored for more than a month. First seen in early December, it was misidentified for weeks as an Orchard Oriole, a regular summer visitor to the north-east. Although even less likely to be seen in New York in January than my Baltimore, the sighting of a winter Orchard Oriole was not so fabulously thrilling that this bird received sufficient attention for its true identity to be revealed. Perhaps it spent some time hidden in the confines of the elitest, private and key-protected Gramercy Park, just uptown, or perhaps those who visited it were happy to call it an Orchard and move on. In any event it was only last week that expert examination of photographs finally inspired a horde of birding visitors to visit Union Square.

One of the great things about life in New York is that the same guy who will walk by Madonna or George Clooney on the sidewalks of lower Broadway without batting an eye happily leaps into action as a kind of self-anointed tour guide to such obscure events as the appearance of a vagrant Oriole in a city park, marshaling foot traffic and giving the newcomers the latest updates. How else to account for a friendly binocularless man in an enormous orange parka, altogether unfamiliar with the unwritten etiquette of the bird-obsessed, simply swept away in the communal excitement, jumping up and down, gesturing to the crowd that he had found a superior vantage point? And the curious, who perhaps had never shown any interest in a bird before in all their city lives, amazed to see so many freakish and apparently unemployed citizens pointing their expensive optics at a bland dot in a tree, and therefore waiting around, chatting, learning about the weird ways of the bird folk and hoping like the rest of us that the bird would come lower in the trees to offer a view worth telling friends and family about later in the day: the story of meeting the birders incomplete without the punchline of getting a good look at the bird.

March of the zombies? Or the Scott's Oriole (2858), finally on the ground, offering crippling looks?

At last, following, it seemed, a swirl of Starlings, the Oriole took flight in the direction of its beloved southwest. Rushing back towards the intersection of University and 14th St., we arrived at the favored corner in time to find the bird pecking away at some mandarin segments thoughtfully left on the ground in a tiny fenced off corner of the park, just across the street from the Staples superstore. Perhaps not everyone's idea of a wilderness experience, but very satisfying all the same.

Note the dark face with almost black cheeks and the olive-streaked quality to the upper back, both important field marks. This bird was apparently first spotted in early December and was only conclusively identified this week. Superior images are here.


Reading: The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford

Dead men make poor negotiators. And the bereaved, feeble comparison shoppers. For more than a century the American funeral industry has been exploiting the tendency of grief to overwhelm and undermine rational consumer behavior by hiding their inexpensive coffins out of sight, promoting embalming, suppressing cremation and misrepresenting the little-known laws pertaining to the disposal of 'the loved one,' as Evelyn Waugh called his scathing novel about the business of death. It was reading Waugh that inspired me to pick up Jessica Mitford's non-fiction classic on the subject, The American Way of Death. It is an exhaustive autopsy of the death racket, a book that incisively disassembles an industry of dissemblers into all its corrupt and co-dependent parts. The funeral director, the florist, the cemetarian real-estate speculator and the crematorium all receive at least a chapter's worth of the Mitford treatment.

Even by the standards of today's snarky and irony-soaked reportage, Mitford's book is a masterpiece of pointed sarcasm. The quotes she extracts from conversations with a less media-savvy generation of morticians than our own are delicious:

"A funeral director in San Francisco says, 'if a person drives a Cadillac, why should he have a Pontiac funeral?' The Cadillac symbol features prominently in the funeral men's thinking. There is a funeral director in Los Angeles who says his rock-bottom minimum price is $200. But he reserves to himself the right to determine who is eligible for this minimum priced service. 'I won't sell it to some guy who drives up in a Cadillac.'"

The price of funerals is set, as the French would say, selon la tête du client, based on the look of the client, who, being dead, finds it challenging indeed to protest that he or she would prefer something simple, inexpensive even.

Consider the proposition that a typical funeral director might make to you, the stricken widow, once you have pulled yourself together enough to drop by the parlor and "see about things." More than likely this calm professional, intimately comfortable with death, and with comforting, will say to you of course we all know that poor Frank deserves nothing but the best. Here, in the funeral director's very first sentence, sympathy and the commerce of luxury are indissolubly linked. Who, of those likely to be down at the funeral parlor making the arrangements, would be bold enough to disagree, to argue that Frank doesn't deserve the best, or that even if he does, he nonetheless wouldn't want you wasting his pension on it? Even the possibility that Frank was a heartless, cheap bastard is unlikely to come to light in the face of the soothing and cooing of the casket salesman.

This simple dynamic is the foundation upon which the exploitation perpetrated by the death industry rested when Mitford researched her book. By many accounts little or nothing has changed, although anecdotally cremation seems to have become much more popular. But this is not a one-liner of a book. Mitford discovers, after much digging, that almost any money or dignity-saving alternative you, the "client," might suggest, has been anticipated and derailed.

Want to be cremated, wrapped only in an old bedsheet? Your survivors are likely to be authoritatively informed that this is illegal. It probably isn't, but should they have the backbone to stick to this demand of yours they will need good luck finding a crematorium willing to burn you up unless you are in a casket. After all, who literally sends the crematoria their customers?

Should those arranging your disposal dare to suggest to the local newspaper that the death notice request a charitable contribution to your favorite charity in lieu of flowers, they will find this is against editorial policy, meaning that a powerful coalition of florists have lobbied against anti-flower obituaries, threatening to withhold advertising from the paper.

Prefer not to be embalmed, Frank? Don't want to go to the grave with your veins full of formaldehyde? Are you as unwilling to wear mascara in death as you were in life? Good luck. Your widow will be told that quite apart from keeping hubby looking good, embalming is a necessary hygienic precaution to protect mourners and funeral parlor employees alike. This is hogwash, but since you only died yesterday those who are going to lay you to rest may not have had time to fully familiarize themselves with the state statutes pertaining to the disposition of corpses.

My apologies. Corpse isn't a word you are likely to hear used to refer to your cold body. As Mitford puts it, "a whole new terminology, as ornately shabby as the satin rayon casket liner, has been invented by the funeral industry to replace the direct and serviceable vocabulary of former times." The success of this linguistic initiative is evident in her very first example. To those us of still living in the twenty-first century, an undertaker remains in the public imagination only as a character in a western. Even mortician, which Mitford, writing in the early 1960s, identifies as one of its replacements, has now been almost completely abandoned in favor of funeral director. Honestly, I'm not sure what today's evolution of the term corpse is; are the dead at funeral parlors (never mortuaries) still referred to as loved ones? Or has a new euphemism poked its way up through the ashes?

By happy coincidence, or providence, that fabulous painter, the ever elegant Cynthia Kirkwood, aka "La" Cynthia, of the mighty Don Flan, sent belated New Year's greetings just as I was wondering how to illustrate this post. Here "I am in Blair, Ontario," she wrote, "visiting my Aunt Stephanie who took me to see the family plot, where we have by far the biggest and most handsome headstone in the place. Apparently I have a place reserved for me if I want it!"
Photo: Stephanie Kirkwood Walker

All Paintings: Cynthia Kirkwood

That Mitford's last literary enterprise before her own death in 1996 was The American Way of Death Revisited, might be taken as an indication that in forty years little has changed beyond the semantics. There is no reason to believe that in the future death is any more likely to be a bargain. It may be hard work for you, and I'm hoping it won't be any time soon, but I want to make it perfectly clear that when I do go you should give away any useful bits, wrap me in some old newspaper like a serving of fish and chips, and then incinerate, pulverize, and scatter.


A Very Wet New Year

As the illusory "value" in the stock market swirls clockwise down the proverbial toilet our Zimbabwe correspondent writes in to put life in perspective, noting that "we reckon the global crunch will easily be absorbed by Zimbabwe without a flicker."

Our conversation ended when the electricity in Harare was unexpectedly turned on: "great excitement I have electricity so must rush and do stuff!! I think it is called the Stockholm Syndrome when you are so grateful to your kidnapper for letting you have electricity for a nano-second."

The IMF, not usually quoted here, estimates that inflation in Zimbabwe is now running at 150,000% per annum.

Well its been a helluva year already. Just recovering from tick bite fever I got over Christmas on holiday in the lowveld. A fabulous cheap lodge on the Save overlooking a lush green Gona Rhe Zhou that we couldnt get to due to the rising waters. It has been the mother of all rainy seasons with Mozambique awash with the Zambezi waters. And all the crops now collapsing in the fields. I woke to the mother of all headaches and couldnt move which I felt was a bit much for flu. Anyway the great black festering hole in my stomach is slowly going but the fever still lingers.

The Save River in Flood

Two Elephants were swept away in the flooding

We now have the 10 million dollar bill. That would be 10 trillion if you put the zeros [removed in the course of devaluation] back on again. So we now have the reintroduced 200,000, the 250,000, 500,000, 750,000 and the 5 million and 10 million. All looking rather similar and in short supply so endles queues of people waiting to get their money out the bank. The governor of the reserve bank blames the banks for not getting to the reserve bank fast enough to take out the cash. I have yet to get a note higher than the 750,000. [currently worth about twenty cents at the street market exchange rate].

Impassable road in the lowveld (All Photos: Mafushwa)

Anyway I now have a headache again, more malaise than tick I expect. Probably because of the bank queues and empty shelves.

Which country are you in?



Broad Channel Beauty

The annual early January trip to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, in aid of getting the new year's bird list off to a healthy start, didn't uncover any spectacular rarities, but we did encounter a beast of a mailbox in Broad Channel. The evidence is far too ugly to post here, but luckily there's a whole website dedicated to this sort of thing.

Wanna come in the back of the bar and see my etchings?

The long-awaited Linden Elstran show opened last night in the back room at the legendary Sunny's Bar and Grill, the local Red Hook watering hole now frequently frequented on weekends by Manhattanite hipsters so desperate for a dose of real life that they will risk a long taxi ride to this dark corner of the ancient waterfront just to escape the theme-park ambiance of the lower east side.

The hordes assaulting the cheese platter ("I don't think this cheese is from Fairway," said Nadia, after taking a nibble. And she meant that in a good way) and the cantaloupe cubes were not disappointed. Elstran's "Alcoholic Alphabet" is a tour de force, a series of 26 copper plate etchings, each representing a letter, and all featuring the trademark character beloved by her fans. This often grumpy and dismayed, but always expressive line-drawn female figure, a sort of Dora the Explorer on meth, wanders through the alphabetic landscape in various postures of festive disarray, celebrating, as is appropriate in a bar, drinking culture.

B is for bitter, or bitters, or B61

Of course whenever I hear the word culture, I reach for my checkbook, so I set my sights on the letter U, which will go nicely in my kitchen; I'm sure you'll agree once you've seen it. "How much are these beauties?" I asked the artist.

Grumpy girl with latte waits for B61 bus: it doesn't get any more Red Hook than this!

Hold your breath. Wait for it. Now run, do not walk, all the way to Sunny's at the southern tip of Conover St.! For a measly fifty bucks you can own the letter of your choice.

But wait; there's a catch. As big-hearted as she is talented, Elstran isn't even going to keep your money. The picture of Ulysses S. Grant you exchange for an etching goes not into the Elstran coffers, but to the presidential campaign fund of Barack Obama. A bitter, cruel dilemma indeed for those short-sighted enough to be supporting any other candidate. Luckily, I don't have that problem.


I'm still waiting for my royalty check

My highrolling sister reports that she was checking out L'Avion, the all-business-class New York to Paris shuttle, only to stumble upon yours truly hard at work in a tent in Antarctica, sitting right there on her desktop. DEAD LINK, SORRY.

The web tentacles of the antarcticiana octopus are, it is true, long and sticky, but it was news to me that I was promoting international air travel for a company I have never even flown with!

(I'm the handsome one)



Michael Pollan having inspired us to make more of an effort to buy local produce, we've headed up to the Grand Army Plaza farmer's market on each of the last two Saturdays to purchase grass-fed lamb, post-organic turnips and delicious buttery butter direct from the friendly farming souls who slave away upstate making the stuff. Grand Army Plaza is only a couple of long blocks from the Brooklyn Museum, so on our last visit we wandered over to see what was on.

In its last days, but well worth a look, is their two floor exhibition of contemporary Caribbean work. Although a bit hit or miss, and suffering from the apparent, unforgivable omission of Port au Prince's Grand Rue artists, the show has a few killers that you really shouldn't let pass you by. It may be my own personal bias, but the most wicked stuff, in every sense of the word, is out of Hispaniola.

Few of you, perhaps, have steamed, sailed, or rowed across the Mona Passage, the straight separating the Dominican Republic from Puerto Rico. I crossed it once on a passenger ferry and found myself to be the only tourist amongst several hundred emigrating Dominicans. The Passage is to the DR what the Straights of Florida are to Cubans: a dividing line between the comforts of home and desire, a mythical body of water, perilous and shark-infested. Should one dare to cross, the untold riches and wonders of the American dream await.

While the Coast Guard, which in the north Caribbean has essentially become little more than an immigration interdiction navy, seem focussed on Cubans and Haitians trying to reach Florida, the route for Dominicans trying desperately to make it to Nueva Yol's upper Manhattan heads east, to Puerto Rico. A clandestine ferry service of vessels known as Yolas makes the treacherous run. Once in PR the Dominicans blend in, scam a picture ID, and grab a jet north. While reading of a wall to keep out Mexicans, and the repatriation of Haitian boat people, we hear in the press almost nothing about the Dominicans or their route, inspiring those more conspiratorially minded to see yet another immigration policy hypocrisy, but no one in Santo Domingo is unaware of the yola flotilla or the greater meaning of the Mona Passage.

D'La Mona Plaza, image shamelessly stolen to promote hilarious and thoughtful art.

The Colectivo Shampoo proposes, via a prospectus typical of the sort found advertising an as-yet-unbuilt Caribbean resort of unparalleled luxury, the "D'La Mona Plaza," an opulent shopping mall and amenities center, to be constructed on a man-made island slap in the middle of the Mona Passage, in order that those undertaking the arduous yola voyage might have a place to pause and purchase, to amble through pavilions of Prada and take some refreshment. Complete with the sort of cheesy logo one associates with lesser golf courses, this imaginary architectural installation includes a three dimensional video proposal intercut with what appear to be real, bemused, Dominican news reports on the project, presumably in response to a press release publicizing this exciting but bogus investment opportunity.

The most genius moment is near the end, when the blond morning teevee babe comments on the cheesiness of the project's name, indicting her own Dominicans' taste with the question why does everything in this country have to have an apostrophe?

I thought you had to have balls to be a big fat white dude and wander about the streets in lederhosen, but having visited Munich I'm now aware that it is common for people routinely to rock the leather shorts without any irony, stigma, or self-consciousness whatsoever. Not so for Haitian-American-German artist Jean Ulrick Desert, who manages to raise more questions about national identity and race just by pulling on a pair of suede britches than most people consider over an entire lifetime. He called his project Negerhosen. Now of course my German isn't so good, but my understanding is that schwartz translates as "black," while neger is the precise German equivalent of just what you think it is.

Jean Ulrick Desert, traditional German man, in another image pirated from elsewhere on the web

Jean Ulrick, tired of being denigrated, as it were, sick of being treated as a second-class citizen, pulled on the lederhosen and went on his merry way, documenting the reactions and interest of his fellow man, who were as amused and intrigued to see a gentleman of color sporting the national costume as I was to discover shops full of the shorts lining the streets of Munich. The brilliance of this is that while lederhosen may not be as common today as the three-piece suit, there is nothing extraordinary about encountering someone wandering about a Bavarian beer garden in a pair of them--only tourists like myself would be likely to whip out a camera and snap away--unless the man wearing them is black, in which case the sight is remarkable. Desert documented his outings wearing lederhosen in simple snapshots, on which he then writes matter-of-fact journal entries describing his friendly encounters with the German public. The result is a powerful but non-confrontational exposure of the limits of equality and identity in today's Germany. One needs little imagination to apply his findings to the wider world.

UPDATE: Even more deliciously, the Colectivo Shampoo appears to double as an actual, viable Dominican advertising agency and design firm, Shampoo Communications.


Testosterone overload

The story I heard around Red Hook was that this dude named Chris had actually left the neighborhood last Friday and trekked into the big city to go to Madison Square Garden, a venue I haven't been inside since filming Maria Carey there more than ten years ago. MSG, as it is called, is, for you non-New Yorkers, Manhattan's only enormodrome, a grotesque twenty thousand seat arena created by destroying the beloved Pennsylvania train station in one of the worst crimes of urban planning ever perpetrated on midtown. Because there are only so many New York Knicks home games, The Garden hosts an extraordinarily eclectic smorgasbord of events to fill the coffers and justify the imposing volume of real estate it occupies between 7th and 8th Avenues, above the much diminished, subterranean, gloomy and low-ceilinged Penn station. Reverend Moon has rented it out to hold mammoth group weddings and the Democratic Party first nominated Bill Clinton there at the 1992 convention. AK718 and I went several times in the 1990s to all-star salsa marathons featuring the greatest heroes of latin music, sitting in the balcony amidst thousands of screaming Puerto Ricans. It is, in short, a place where anything can happen.

Chris, as it turned out, had gone to the big apple to see some bull-riding. Red Hook after the holiday season is like a sleepy little town, and the news of this excitement spread quickly. (Okay, it's kind of like a sleepy little town all the time). By the time the story reached me after a series of Chinese whispers, the event, which continued all weekend, was being called a must-see, a "Mexican Rodeo," which Chris had allegedly described as "the best forty bucks I've spent all year." Caught up in the hype, I failed to consider what this might mean in a year that was only a few days old.

So it happened that on Sunday afternoon I ended up in the nosebleed seats, four tiers and hundreds of feet up above The Garden floor, accompanied by three beautiful women: The sophisticated and sexy Nadia, designer of sophisticated and sexy dresses; the fabulous stylist, my neighbor, and bullriding outing organizer Linden Elstran; and that happening horticulturalist, the divine Laura "John-Edwards-for-President" Harmon.

For those of you men who have never attended a bullriding extravaganza in the delightful company of the fairer sex, it is a thing highly to be recommended. Both the panting, snorting, testosterone-charged bulls, pawing at the dirt and bucking, and their chiseled, hunky, bowlegged riders, intent on proving themselves in a sweaty contest of meat and sinew, might seem to you to be potential distractions from your own charms, but it is not so: The bulls are far away, and terrifying, yet inspirational; the cowboys, for all their swagger and muscle, look in their powder-blue chaps and tassels like escapees from The Village People. The ladies, breathless and wide-eyed at the action, a sheen of dainty perspiration moistening their temples, seemed delighted to be in the company of a man, any man, perhaps any creature whatsoever of the same gender as those titans battling it out below. (The super mixologist St. John Frizell, aka Mr. Linden, had been supposed to join us, to relieve me of suffering all alone under the burden of so much feminine attention, but his wife, along with the tickets, brought his regrets. He had decided, she said, to stay at home fiddling with the score to some sort of a musical revue in which he finds himself involved. "He passed up bullriding to work on Broadway show tunes," was how she ominously put it. "What does that tell you?")

The show opened with a blitzkrieg of pyrotechnics several generations of hype removed from the local state fair rodeo. A throbbing blend of classic rock and hip-hop beats accompanied the studly bullriders as they strode out into the dirt oval between fiery cascades of sparks erupting from twin Roman candles. Green streams of lasers crackled through the air. It was rodeo-as-professional wrestling, complete with booming baritone voices of doom calling out the introductions over a massive public address system.

In fact, it wasn't a rodeo at all, that traditional collection of events demonstrative of cowboymanship having been stripped down to its purest, most entertaining and death-defying essence; this was to be one hundred and forty minutes of pure, unadulterated bull-riding action. No sheep lassoing, no hogtying, not even any branding, although that last might have gone over well in New York. A massive flag was unfurled down into the arena. We rose for a prayer in which God was urged to "watch over our livestock and our PBR fans." Moments after the introduction of Adriano Moraes, the only three-time Professional Bull Riding champion in the history of the sport, from the great state of Sao Paulo, we were asked without irony to sing along to the national anthem of "the greatest nation on earth." Not, apparently, the greatest in terms of bullriding. That would be Brazil.

Stylin' stylist: Linden rocks the oh-so-rodeo-appropriate Carniceria Garcia tote bag, fresh from Christmas in Oaxaca. Complete with the butcher's cellphone number and a list of meats purveyed!

We sat down. The lights came up, and the bulls came out. They had names worthy of the WWF, or of some minor bad guy in a minor Schwarzenegger movie: Slammer, Superduty, Heat Flash, Peacemaker, Big Mack, Outsider, Lynch Mob, Shock the Monkey and Scene of the Crash were just a few. The only bull named with a sense of humor was naturally my favorite, Cheeseburger with an Attitude. Leaving aside the Brazilians, the riders had names just as well suited to Hollywood. Travis Briscoe, Cord McCoy, Beau Hill, and Colby Yates might have stepped right out of the 70mm widescreen frame of a John Ford epic. One wondered, in short, how real it all was. It was certainly a marketing driven event, with the names of sponsors rarely seen in New York City plastered around the arena: Daisy, the B B Gun purveyor, Jack Daniels, Copenhagen Snuff and Cabela's, the Camo-porn emporium.

But the action was thrilling. There was no denying its reality. The bulls launched out of their pens, the riders hanging on for dear life, trying to withstand for eight whole seconds the onslaught of three-quarters of a ton of muscled haunches flailing in the air. The infuriated animal in its blind rage wanting one thing and one thing only: to fling the pestilential, tormenting rider from its back. All in all I found it the most beautiful expression of the antipathy one senseless animal can feel for another.

It is a balletic, violent duet between man and beast, one whose artistry and partnership is reflected in the unique methods used to score a bullriding outing. Two judges have fifty points each to distribute at the end of a successful ride. One judges the rider, the other the bull. On a top-scoring, maximally enervated bull, a rider who maintains rhythm, poise and savoir faire for a complete eight seconds may be rewarded with a maximum one hundred points. Anything above 80 is remarkable, above 90 historical. Sunday's winner? From the great state of Goiás, Brazil, Valdiron de Oliveira.

UPDATE: The PBR, apparently, is a big enough deal that 4 judges judge the rider and 4 judges judge the bull.


Forget organic, I'll take the shiny celery, please

It is only a matter of time before we will be awash in harebrained schemes to combat global warming. I fully expect by the end of the year to read somewhere that if we would all just leave our refrigerator doors open for minutes a day, all our problems would be solved. I'm not a scientist, but somehow I find this unconvincing.