ISSN 1745 – 9486
MEAT BEAST IN THE EAST / ISSUE 13 WWW.BEASTNATION.COM
SL AV IC H A IR FOR S OPHIST IC AT ED TA ST E S W W W.W H I T E RUS SI A N H A I R .C OM
CONTENTS triple six Hot To Trot At The Horse Meat Market
beastie boys 8
Street Meat Man
Spartak Moscow Fan
Femen in Kiev Zoo
Ukraine’s German King of Swine
Meat is Mordor
(Dead) Meat In The Deep-Freeze
Meat is the new Black in the new India
Eastern School: Polish meat shops in Chicago
Three Little Pigs
Future of meat
Meat the Beast
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Carlos Moore is a Chicago-based photographer who strives to capture bold and beasty images. A lot of his inﬂuences come from music and ﬁlm, especially skakeboarding culture and the visual statements of urban rhythms. His work has been seen in French Tsugi and Zap magazines. He shot Polish meat markets in Chicago for this special Meat issue (p. ).
Emily Haf is a peripatetic English photographer based in the Czech Republic. She’s traveled widely around Europe, and exhibited in France, Italy and the UK. She spent a month in Chereshovo, Bulgaria, a once-thriving workers’ town which now has an aging population of just 60 residents. She shot a chicken being slaughtered by the village elders for the MEAT issue (p. ).
Joel Alas wrote this issue‘s essay advocating „meat reductionism“, a slacker‘s alternative to more puritanical meat subtracting diets. A Berlin resident, he writes freelance, organizes events, plays guitar in the band Skiing, and records a podcast called Radio Spätkauf, along with Maisie Hitchcock, another former B EAST contributor. (p. ).
Pawel Fabjanski hails from the birthplace of Polish cinema, Lodz, whose National Film School is Roman Polanski’s alma mater. He runs a workroom of commercial photography at the Film School, while focusing on his creative projects and ﬁnishing up a Ph.D. Though wildly successful in advertising photography—his campaign for Airwick was awarded with the Silver Lion at last year’s Cannes Lions Festival—he’s more interested in his art photography projects than the commercial realm. An old skool beast, who has shot numerous fashion stories for us in the past, he returns for this issue with an urban take on the the metaphysical aspects of the ‘Hunt’ (p. )
Mikael Vojinovic is a long-time B.East who’s second-to-none, hyper-awesome photography only ever makes us (and our mag) feel better. His facebook page states: “WORK WOMEN WEED” – what can we say, MJ’s a dude, simple as. We’d suggest to check out his ‘Meat the Beast’ shoot (p. ) but we already know you will.
Janis Vanags, the vice President of AirBaltic gave us the story about a traditional pig funeral in Latvia (p. ). He‘s also a licensed pilot - although he doesn‘t ﬂy AirBaltic jets. His high proﬁle job belies his humble upbringing in a little Latvian village, where he experienced a simple and old-fashioned lifestyle that is fast disappearing across the east. Although he now ﬂies around Europe promoting his airline, Janis still enjoys visiting his home village and eating traditional
A Sign from the Beast This juicy ‘Meat’ issue is the 13th incarnation of the magazine, and even the B.East seems to have fallen under the evil auspices of that unlucky number. What was supposed to have taken six months dragged on for much longer as things didn’t just go pear-shaped—they went bear-shaped. A longtime editor found the Berlin start-up world more lucrative than plain ol’ magazine publishing and went AWOL (Joel did, however, turn in a blistering attack on meat ‘Meat is Mordor’ at the last minute). Models who agreed to a grisly, meaty photo shoot changed their minds after seeing the bloody images, and revoked their permission. Advertisers who had stayed loyal to the magazine despite our many antics pulled the plug, while magazine sales continued their steep decline. Despite these hurdles, we’ve managed to pull together a meaty issue to celebrate that muscular animal tissue that makes the East so bloody good. Perennially provocative photographer Mikael Vojinovic came through with a pussy, beast, meat shoot with ribs as meaty mini-skirts ‘Meat the Beast’. A Vice President at Riga’s Air Baltic photographed a traditional pig funeral—replete with post-slaughter vodka—at a Latvian village. I shot a ‘Three Little Pig Stages’ fashion shoot in a rustic pig farm outside Kiev, where each of the little beasts had their own name, Borya being the leader of the pack. Massive, muddy Borya—who’s captured here with emerging Kiev model Nadia Shapoval—loves sausages, as all pigs do. Hey, they’re the original cannibals. Meanwhile, high-energy Chris MacArthur photographed New York ‘characters’ with veggies, emphasizing that the meat is within all of us. London’s Dalston Beast Al Jackson bumped into a Spartak football fan (who are also known as ‘Meat’) during Monday night footie, and did a Triple Six on him. As part of our drive to cover more of the real ‘East’, we have an essay about ‘Meat Being the New Black’ in India, and the rich Indians’ obsession with exotic meats. Many readers probably assume that B.East is pro-meat de facto, given our grisly stance on most issues. However, that’s not the case. We’re as concerned about heinous industrial meat practises as others, and realize the toxic nature of some meat products. Meat itself though is too beasty a topic not to be covered by our magazine. We’ve tried to bring a balance, however, in this issue, celebrating meat as part of traditional culture, while slamming it’s production and packaging by big corporations. (See the essay on ‘The Future of Meat’ p. ..) This issue will be promoted by launch events in Berlin and Kiev. It’ll also be available for digital download on otherediton.com. We’re not sure what comes next, but expect something from the Far East in the near future. It’s time we took that leap into the emerging Beast in the East.
Vijai Maheshwar Big Beast & Chief Pusher
Hot To Trot At The Horse Meat Market AL JACKSON
The saviours of their genre, the Horse Meat disco crew have dragged Disco back into the connoisseur’s collection with their hi-octane tours and critically acclaimed residencies in London, Berlin and Lisbon. Despite HMD turning eight years old recently, the Horse Meat boys still love it rare and raw. Al Jackson caught up with Italian stallion, Severino. How did the summer H.M.D. tour go – any meaty gossip/ highlights??!
The 3rd comp was a bit different, more modern. Me and Jim Stanton are more nu disco-housey and James and Luke were sleazy, slow and sexy.
The ﬁ rst H.M.D compilation opened with an answer-machine message from a guy who’d just been to your London club night, saying: “A massive glass unicorn came crashing down on the danceﬂ oor and started chanting my name!” Was that some kind of equine homage to the slaughtered beast that gave you guys your name??
The tour went really well. There are four so two of us went to NYC and two to Australia but we all played lots of gigs over Europe. Not sooo much gossip... maybe myself and James when we were in south of France for a Chanel after-party cruise meeting Karl Lagerfeld and dancing with Stella Tennant and Kristy McMennamy
It was a friend from Newcastle who left a message to another friend. We thought it was a great idea...The name comes from a newspaper headline saying: Horse meat discovered in sausage, but it was partially covered by another paper so the line read: Horse meat disco
You guys were pushing the new album, Horse Meat Disco III, how would you describe it and how it has progressed from the others?
By the way, the stallion that became the HMD logo has a spectacularly large cock – what are you boys trying to say?!
Mmmmm, maybe we‘ve got big cocks? I’m joking!! Well gays like that ...ahaha
Seriously, now, How’d you get involved with the H.M.D. boys, Severino? Jim Stanton is my best friend for 12 years. I met him clubbing at Queer Nation where Luke Howard was the resident DJ. Actually, I first met James in Bologna, Italy, when he used to work at Irma records where I used to promote.
And what makes H.M.D. such an inspiring DJ crew to be a part of? Gays in London needed something different 8 years ago, something to go like Paradise Garage in NY. We were unique here. I think that’s why it became successful
HMD moved to the Eagle club in Vauxhall, London, a few years ago. You guys feeling at home out there now? Yeah Eagle is our home. Mark and Ian were always super supportive, we are a big family.
What ethos/outlook do you think links your three cities/clubs of residence London (Eagle), Berlin (Tape) and Lisbon (LUX)?
Any plans to take HMD further East next tour?
Berlin is very like London; the gay community is big and fun. Lisbon is different, a proper mix. The club has always been like that and they are super nice – like at Tape too. So we are so honoured to go and play there. I really love Lisbon at the moment.
We played already for 3 years in Croatia, in Petracane, at the Electric Elephant festival...amazing... great place! Still haven’t been to Serbia but Jim and James played in Moscow, I cant remember where but I wannna go, St Peterbourg too! I heard it’s beautiful. The nearest place to there we’ve played was Helsinki.
LUX is part owned by John Malkovich isn’t it – ever met him?
Where are your favourite places to go vinyl-hunting?
No, I would LOVE to meet him! He’s a great actor and I can see why he likes Lisbon. It’s a great place, still very real and beautiful.
Nowadays I’m not buying lots of records. I was working for a record shop for years so now I’m ok! But definitely Phonica and Rough Trade in London, great shops...The sounds of universe.
Of the your three residences, which is best for ﬁ nding fresh meat? Everywhere! I found one in Lisbon recently...:)
What are your top 3 disco tracks at this moment?
Over the last few years there’s been a deﬁ nite Italo revival – what/who do think restarted that? The Italo revival has been fun but for me it’s not all about that. I’m more Soul and Funk and I still love my House music. In fact, there’s LOTS of great House at the moment. Check my House project with my friend Nico de Ceglia, our name is Hyena Stomp...
Lastly: It’s a Sunday night, I’m feeling very much like it’s the afternoon after the night before. Why should I go Disco before Monday rolls around?? Sundays have always been a naughty affair in the gay community! Sometimes I don’t know how people make it in to work on Monday morning... I just guess is worth it!
Mmm very difficult. There‘s been lots of great edits from Eric Duncan, AKA Dr Dunks and Gazeebo from the States.
STREET MEAT MAN INTERVIEW BY AL JACKSON
In deepest darkest Dalston lies Ridley Road Market, a slice of Lagos-cum-Lahore on one London street; a hot stink of bone and flesh, pushed through band saws, wafts from the numerous ethnic butchers’ stores flogging halal tripe and grisly whole cow’s legs. Al Jackson stopped by one establishment for a chat and a sheep’s head.
Hi Irfan, how’s business?
What’s popular round here?
Very bad, very quiet. These times they are no good for us. But we carry on. People still buy meat.
Easy things like pot-boil chicken or the cow’s legs.
What’s your favourite meat? I don’t eat meat. I used to like lamb very much, especially kidneys, but selling it everyday the blood, the smell… Sometimes I might still eat a little but for me it’s mainly vegetables.
The cows legs, they’re those huge cloven-hooved things piled over there, right? How do you cook those? With a big pot!
Why do you have a picture of Barack Obama over there? That was one of the other guys, not me. I don’t care about politics; we’re all the same and life’s hard for us all. I sell my meat and go home and tomorrow I’ll do it again – and hope for better.
Can I take your picture? WHY?! Everyone always wanting pictures. The last person who did brought us a copy, over there, see? If you take a photo you, better bring a copy for us next time we see you…*
Spartak Moscow Fan INTERVIEW BY AL JACKSON
After another Monday night footy match between mates, Al Jackson spotted a blood red Spartak Moscow shirt under the floodlights of an adjacent pitch. Turned out the owner, Dmitry Butko, was a real-life Russky and a life-long fan of the club whose fans are known as Myaso – the Meat. How long have you supported Spartak? My whole life! Both my father and grandfather were Spartakovtsy (Spartak fans). I couldn’t be anything else. It’s in my ancestry, my blood – my flesh!
Is being called Meat a term of endearment or a plain insult? It can be both, actually. We Spartakovtsy refer to ourselves like this in a friendly way because, in the old days, the union of the food workers industry sponsored Spartak. We have a chant: “ǟȦȢ Ƞȯ? ǡȓȥȢ!” which means: “Who are we? Meat!” That started about ten years ago when a couple of players, Dmitry Sychev and Yegor Titov, wore T-shirts with that slogan under their kit. When they scored they’d pull up their Spartak shirt to show it off. We all wanted one of those shirts as kids, we even made our own! So being called “Meat” is like being comrades. But if some fucking Dynamo or a CSKA bitch shouted “Svinii!” (which means Pigs, by the way) at me in the street, then I’d kill them! That’s a real insult!
Bloody Hell, better watch my mouth then? Ha, well ok, I wouldn’t kill him – but I used to have friends who’d probably try. They used to hang out with this hooligan group back home and would do these crazy exercise regimes in the yard outside our housing block, y’know, to build up their bodies so that they could fight the guys who supported whatever team were in town to play Spartak.
I’ve seen youTube videos of those Russian hooligan ﬁ ghts, they’re brutal. Did you ever get involved in all that? No no, I was too young but my big brother, Oleg, did a bit. Me and my friends looked up to him as this big tough guy – and he’d wrestle me if I pissed him off. But no, I was always more into actually playing football and watching the games instead of the fighting. I’m too pretty, ha ha!!
So are there any meat-related rituals among Meat fans? Hmmm, well, again when we were kids, my brother once said real Spartakovtsy should be brave enough to eat the eyes of rival fans. He then produced two eyeballs, threw one over at me and began to eat the other! I couldn’t believe it! With his friends cheering me on I bit the eye – it was horrible and I was sick immediately. Turned out, Oleg had been to the butchers and bought one sheep’s eye, which he gave to me, and a big round white candy for himself and tricked me
for a joke. And that’s a true story, no bullshit. I was mad at him for weeks, the bastard.
And how did your match tonight go, you win? No, not this week. We were shit, actually [Dmitry then turns to shout at a forlorn figure across the Astroturf] – our striker is a greedy motherfucker, suka blyad!! But hey, Spartak haven’t won anything for 8 years either so I’m used to it.
Ukraine’s German King of Swine INTERVIEW BY VIJAI MAHESHWARI
While waiting at the Kiev airport for a delayed flight to Berlin, I bumped into Dr. Thomas Muller, a German pig farmer who exports both pork and genetically-engineered piglets to Ukraine for breeding. Quiet and bespectacled, and hunched over a notebook at the café, he looked more like a software engineer than a man of swine and pork chops. That’s not surprising given the increasing sophistication and hi-tech nature of the contemporary meat market, which is making inroads even into the heartland of pork. I sat down over a café latte with Thomas (who’s also a fan of Kiev’s heady nightlife) to discuss the innards of the meat business in the beasty East. Beast: What’s your core meat business in the Ukraine? Thomas: We import highquality meat for sale in top-end supermarkets in Ukraine like Billa and Metro. We also bring in live piglets for breeding in the Ukraine. I’ve been in this business in Ukraine for four years, and personally supervise the loading of pigs to be exported to Ukraine. Their stock of pigs is very poor, and needs to be replenished from outside to bring up the quality of pork.
What are your pigs like? Are they also genetically-engineered pigs like in America? Yes, they are special pigs. They have a high percentage of intramuscular fat, around 2%, which makes it more tasty. They also grow faster than traditional pigs from this region. The Ukrainians like a bit more fat in their meat, so it suits their tastes.
Is the pork the same quality as you’d ﬁ nd in Germany? Ironically, the meat is even higher quality than in Germany, since the pigs aren’t pushed to grow as fast as they are in Europe or America. The Ukrainians take more time growing the pigs, so the meat is tastier and fuller.
How do you ﬁ nd the general quality of pig hygiene in Ukraine? The quality is quite good since they’re building a lot of new houses with the same standard as the rest of Europe, in Italy or Germany. The Ukrainians are using the same techniques and equipment that is in Europe, like Italy or Germany. This is why they also want the superior pigs from Germany now with better genetics, not the lower-quality pigs from Russia.
Is there a difference in pig culture between Ukraine and Germany? There’s not a huge difference, since pork is the most popular meat in both Germany and Ukraine. However, there’s been a change in the last few years, with Metro and other supermarkets demanding meat that’s less fatty to cater to the beautiful Ukrainian girls, who don’t like fat in their meat. In the countryside, they still want a lot of fat, but in Kiev the young generation want low-fat meat.
What do you think of working and living in Ukraine? I feel quite comfortable in Ukraine & Russia. I like the people, their warmth, and the women in particular. And, of course, the nightlife is quite crazy, so it’s nice to relax after a hard day’s work.
C H I C K E N E M I L Y
S T E W H A F
English photographer Emily Haf spent a few months documenting the daily life in a Bulgarian village, including its meaty rituals. Her strong, black&white images document a chicken slaughter in this remote town.
Meat is the new Black in the new India BY L A KS H M I C H AU D R Y
The newfound meat fetishism of well-heeled Indians reflects their desire to be seen as jetsetting bon vivants with a discriminating palate. “We’ve ordered Thai,” says my host, sheepishly under his breath, “I think there may be some veggie stuff in there.” I discreetly exit before the food is served, heading off a culinary crisis, to the other dinner on my evening’s itinerary. “I can’t believe you don’t eat meat,” squeals Manisha in equal parts dismay and disbelief soon after I walk through the door. “Now you’re eating leftovers!” she protests, as her cook serves me delicious aloo parathas, and the rest of her guests tuck into their carnivore-friendly feast. Over the past twenty years in the United States, I have survived congealed dorm food, plates upon plates of grilled vegetables, a stroke-inducing diet of pizza, fries and pasta, and finally, ten blissful years in that vegetarian mecca, San Francisco. All this to return to a new and improved India, where I have once again joined the ranks of the gastronomically challenged; a “special needs” person with a dietary disability, i.e., my aversion to animal flesh. As with the disabled, I am obliged to signal my presence in advance if I am to be entertained. “You better let me know if you are coming,” warns an acquaintance on inviting me to a book party at her place. “I’ll be making a vegetarian curry just for you because everyone else eats meat.” India maybe home to the greatest number of vegetarians— 300-odd million at last count—but its wealthier citizens are voraciously carnivorous in aspiration, and increasingly so in their diet. In the land of Gandhi, meat is a basic food group in the yuppie meal plan—bacon for breakfast, burgers for lunch, kebabs for dinner. Meat is the new black. Back in the dark days of pre-liberalisation, Punjabi friends I grew up with in Delhi ate meat with regularity and relish, as in two to three times a week at home and each time they ate out. My disdain for the stuff was at worst a ‘Madrasi’ affectation that they did their cheerful best to cure: “Just taste the mutton pickle. Promise you’ll love it.” My culinary naysaying was deemed incorrigible, but there was always plenty for me to eat at any table I was invited to join. “Samira, you should have told me she was vegetarian,” grumbled Mrs D, the matriarch of my dormmate’s host-family, on a damp New England afternoon in 1987. Within minutes of walking through the door at my first American home-cooked meal, I’d driven my hostess right back into her kitchen in a frantic effort to drum up something other than a side of boiled peas. It was the first inkling that my dietary restrictions were not merely different, but also onerous on those tasked with feeding me. Two decades later and I am right back where I started: a mortified fresh-off-the-boat emigre caught in a gastronomical faux pas at a meal hosted by the natives. “It’s deja vu all over again,” as the patron saint of non sequiturs, Yogi Berra, would say. In aspiring India, we lowly vegetarians have fallen from grace and right off the map, and are now entirely invisible to food section editors in upmarket publications. Restaurant reviews, for instance, rarely mention vegetarian items on the menu (except when unavoidable as with cheap eats like bhelpuri, dosas or chaat). Gourmet cuisine is clearly not for us shakahari chumps. Titled ‘How to be a Culinary Show-off’, a weekend cover story in Mint lists the following “envy-inducing table”: Khow Suey (with chicken and eggs), Naga-style pork, chicken tea soup, wintry sausage and mustard pasta, chicken stew, mustard fish and—trumpets please!—aubergine in a garlic-yogurt sauce.
Vegetables are déclassé, as are vegetarians. We are far too low-rent to accommodate either on the menu or at the table—even our own. Invited to a vegetarian friend’s birthday celebration, a young IT executive grouses, “But there won’t be anything to eat.” Others may call in advance merely to uphold the rules of good hospitality: “You are serving a couple of nonveg dishes, right?” A self-deprived hostess is hardly good reason for her guests to do without, be it for an occasional meal. Of the various meats, beef is the ultimate standard-bearer of cool, a cultural signifier that denotes membership in a cosmopolitan India whose taste for the once-forbidden meat marks its distance from the old. What was once low caste is now high class, served up in trendy restaurants with nary a chicken tikka in sight. With the exception of five-star hotels, most upscale dining in Bangalore is studiedly notIndian. At least part of this newfound meat fetishism reflects our desire to be seen as jetsetting bon vivants with a discriminating palate. On my first night out in Bangalore, an immaculately hip woman at our table fussed for half an hour to triumphantly settle on beef stroganoff—the entree of choice in frozen TV dinners across blue-collar America.
Armed with their uber-expensive Weber grills, the elite routinely stage barbecue cook-offs, their tables groaning under the weight of dead creatures imported from corners of the world Among the UMARs (upper middle and rich Indians), meat-eating has become a competitive sport. Armed with their uber-expensive Weber grills, the elite routinely stage barbecue cook-offs, their tables groaning under the weight of dead creatures imported from corners of the world: New Zealand lamb, Canadian bacon, Angus beef, Niman Ranch burgers, Norwegian salmon, anything that breathes is grist to the almighty grill. In her book, Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, Elizabeth Collingham describes the colonial tradition of the Burra Khana. East India merchants loaded their tables with turkeys “you could not see over—round of Beef, boiled roast Beef, loin of Veal for a side dish and roast big capons.” And that was just the first course, to be soon followed by a second course of beefsteaks, pigeon pies, chicken drumsticks and quails. “It was on their dinner tables the British in India most extravagantly displayed their wealth and status,” driven by their middle class determination to imitate the English aristocrat. In rushing headlong toward the future—our lavish, epicurean tastes apiece with our global swagger—we have followed dutifully in the steps of our past masters, fully embracing meat as the sign of cultural virility and power. “Is the baby eating chicken yet?” demands my Jat husband over the phone from San Francisco, suspecting a conspiracy to corrupt his child with my TamBram squeamishness. “You are not raising her vegetarian, are you?” asks a friend, as I skip past the cured meats at the local gourmet bazaar, with my eighteen-month old in tow. God forbid, I should deprive my child of a bright future as a well-adjusted carnivore. “No,” I want to say, “I’m raising her to eat well-fed meat-lovers like you.” They say human flesh tastes a lot like chicken. Yum!
model: Marysia top: Nenukko pantyhose: vintage glasses: Ray-Ban
PHOTOGRAPHER: PAWEL FABJANSKI STYLING: DOROTA BORUŃ MODELS: MAJA, MARYSIA, MICHLA M., MICHAL K, PAWEŁ, DOROTA
Pawel Fabjanski Hunt
model: Marysia top: Nenukko pantyhose: vintage glasses: Ray-Ban
model: Michal trousers, coat: Nenukko jacket: Burton belt: Burton watch: Nixon gloves: Everlast add-ons: Dorota Borun
From left to right: model: Pawel shirt: Calvin Klein, trousers: Vans shoes: Vans suspenders: H&M model: Dorota shoes: vintage shirt: vintage sweater: Zara skirt: Patrizia Pepe pantyhose: H&M jewlery: Apart, H&M model: Maja clothes: H&M jewlery: Bijou Brigitte model: Michal shirt: Gucci trousers: Vans watch: Casio suspenders: H&M
Chris MacArthur Veggie
CURRY 666 PHOTOGR APHY: R ALF OBERGFELL, M A R I A N PA U L ART DIRECTION: R ALF OBERGFELL, M A R I A N PA U L M O D E L S : L I I N A N U I T, M A X A L L E N, NICOL A MASCIA L O C AT I O N : H E I 3 1 , B E R L I N
This was a crazy fun shoot! Vijai, the beastie editor, asked if I wanted to contribute to the ‚Meat’ issue. He wrote ‚Currywurst is the edge, whatever crazy stuff you can pull together’.
Knowing B EAST, it sounded sick and fun and also a meant I could help create awareness about the deadly fight the Berlin Curry Imbisses have been fighting. Speaking to an Imbiss owner in Tiergarten, he tells us the Berlin Senate doesn’t want to see them anymore. Their perception is they don’t fit in with future r ich and sex y Berlin. A perception I don’t share, so CU R RY666 is t he a nswer to that for all the right and wrong reasons. I wanted to collaborate with another visual artist on this project so I spoke to my friend Marian to see if he’d want to come on board. He was up for it!
We decided to share art direction and shooting duties. We sat together, visualised and brainstormed some initial ideas and d iscussed t he approach. We needed three crazy beastie models who’d be up for letting off some Wurst!! Plan A was to shoot on location at one of the remaining Currywurst Imbisses. We scouted some and spoke to the ow ner s of t he I m bisses we thought would fit. However the owners wouldn’t have any of it. Understandably, they didn’t like the idea of three crazy kids rocking up, making a mess of their Imbiss. Plan B was to shoot in my studio, a place in transition
that also seemed ideal for it. It was the first shoot in the studio and no better way to house warm the place with the Berliner Currywurst. It was per fec t t i m i ng as my friend Max was in tow n. He dragged along his beastie friends Liina Nuit and Nicola Mascia. We allocated three hours for the shoot. Saturday evening, a few hours before going out wou ld be idea l. The models were in a up-for-it mood. We got some Biers in and off we went! We had lots of fun! www.ralfobergfell.com
Beasty Recipes BY AL JACKSON
aka POLISH BLOOD SOUP
aka ESTONIAN BLOOD SAUSAGE
Traditionally in Poland, any young buck who tried unsuccessfully to win the hand of a fair maiden (and let’s face it, there are a few) would receive a bowl of this by her parents, letting him know his advances were not welcome. Nice.
Mix 500ml of fresh duck or goose blood with 125ml of vinegar (prevents clotting)
A traditional celebration of the pig was to make sausage from the beast’s blood. A taboo ingredient to many, warriors believed they would inherit the strength of their enemies if they drank their fallen foe’s blood.
Boil 1kg of pork neck bones in 2l water, skim off any foam then and add marjoram, cloves, allspice and seasoning and simmer for 1 hour Add 500g of dried prunes, apples, raisins and pears
Boil 1.25kg buckwheat kasha for 45mins Cube 750g pork belly
Remove all meat from the bones and return it to the pot before refrigerating the stock
Fry pork belly with 200g onions – add a splash of water to help render the pork fats
Once cold, skim the fat and add the blood-vinegar mix and heat gently.
Drain the barley and add marjoram and salt Remove the pork and onion mixture, throw some barley into the pan to soak up any remaining juices Combine the pork and onion mix with the barley and allow to cool – otherwise the blood will coagulate when added. Add 1 litre of fresh pig or cow’s blood. Stir but do not allow the mixture to foam Fill sausage casings – preferably made from intestines – with the bloody mixture until ¾ full. If you over overfill you run the risk of them exploding while cooking, leaving your kitchen to resemble a vicious crime scene. Tie the sausage casings and drop into simmering water for 15mins each before allowing to cool. Once cooled bake or fry the links, ideally in the juices of just-roasted pork joint, or simply boil and serve with ligonberry jam
TIET CANH CHO
aka VIETNAMESE RAW DOG’S BLOOD
Add 3-5 soup spoons of fish sauce for every litre of freshly drawn dog’s blood Place boiled duck gizzards in a dish with crushed peanuts, coriander and mint Dilute the blood with a splash of broth left over from boiling the gizzards and pour quickly over the meat Allow to coagulate and serve, with or without a garnish of lemon
aka CHINESE MONKEY BRAINS
Representing one of the culinary Eight Treasures of the mountain, monkey brains are, allegedly, still eaten in parts of China and if urban legend has it, while still alive. The monkey is restrained, its skull cleaved like a boiled egg and hot oil is poured over the exposed brain before the diner wolfs it down with a silver spoon. This must be done instantaneously and consumed before the animal dies.
VERIOHUKAINEN aka FINNISH BLOOD PANCAKES
If Pancake Day has got a bit cutesy for you, this recipe should help get the edge back. Mix 400ml milk with 400ml blood (pig or cow – just not your own) Mix in 400g barley flour Drop one egg into the mixture and add 1 tbsp dark syrup, 1 tsp white pepper and 1 tsp marjoram Ix well and refrigerate for 30mins Heat up a pan and fry away. Serve with jam
aka TIBETAN CATERPILLAR FUNGUS
Finally, a veggie option! At least, it is if you don’t eat the caterpillar (you picky thing): The parasitic fungus, Ophiocordyceps sinesis, grows on insect larvae and invades the body of the Thitarodes caterpillar, eventually killing and mummifying it. The mushroom then sprouts, naturally, from out the head of the caterpillar and is picked in spring in Tibet as a cure for numerous ailments, ranging from fatigue to The Big C – cancer. Oh, and it’s an aphrodisiac.
Femen in Kiev Zoo PHOTOGR APHY: FEMEN TEXT: VIJAI MAHESWHARI
Amid swirling rumors of foul play Kiev Zoo’s only elephant died last year in a mysterious case of poisoning. The beasts haven’t been spared this year either.
The beasts haven’t been spared this year either, with two rare deer dying in captivity, also from poisining. Over 70 animals have now died in captivity this year. Some are responding by attempting to flee the inhumane zoo, which is ranked amongst the worst in the world. An African crowned crane broke out of its small cage only to land in the center of Kiev and be recaptured. Porcupines and a fox also broke free, only to be intercepted near the ticket office. Last Fall Kiev’s breast-baring feminists, FEMEN, donned masks representing the slaughtered animals to demonstrate against the “Zoo-Morgue”. They’re demanding the authorities close the zoo and relocate it’s last living inhabitants to more humane facilities worldwide. While FEMEN have been known to bare their ‘meat’ for bizarre causes, they’re dead right with this one. B.East hopes it spurs others to lobby the authorities to stop this zoopolcalypse.
Vijai & Sean Schermerhorn Three Little Pig Stages
Luciano Insua Rotten Tomatoes CREDITS: Stylist: Lia Lazaro Artist: Sergi Serra Mir Fashion Producer: NoemĂ Martin
Documenting aÂ Latvian pig funeral T E X T : J A N I S VA N A G S PHOTOS: MODRIS SVIL ANS
Rural animal slaughtering traditions have been under threat in Eastern Europe since many of the countries joined the EU. Multiple restrictions entered into force and old customs have given way to heavily regulated farming practices.
One disappearing tradition is that of the Latvian pig funeral. A whole family comes together to slice up a fattened hog, then drink a glass of brandy or vodka in its honor. Documentary photographer Modris Svilans – also a metal artist working with wrought iron – has a passion for capturing the traditions and daily routines of rural people. Svilans was eager to document a pig funeral before the ritual died out. He had been asking people in his native village in the south of Latvia for clues as to where he could view one underway, with no luck. By chance he discovered that his next-door neighbour in Riga, Karlis Vanags, a chemist developing medicine, still keeps the tradition alive at his grandmother’s farm near Liepaja in western Latvia. On a November day Modris and Karlis head to Liepaja to the farm of his grandmother, Ms. Rita Purvlice, aged 80. They are joined by Karlis’ two brothers. The man in charge of slaughtering the pig is Edgars Ukstins, 58, an old family friend who helps the
ladies living on the farm to plough and cultivate the land with his tractor, and transport this and that. Ukstins is a very well respected man in the local community. He used to work as a professional slaughterer, butchering ten to fifteen pigs a day. Nowadays only Ms. Purvlice calls on him to help with the butchering; the rest of the farms in the area send their pigs to the commercial slaughterhouse. Edgars Ukstins is extremely efficient – he completes the job in about an hour. But then he takes three more hours to socialise, talk about “important matters of life” such as children, whether this years’ harvests were good or bad, plans for the coming year, whether the latest cars bought by their children and grandchildren were wise purchases, and the latest news in the community. The pig funeral is only complete with a small glass of strong drink, usually brandy or vodka, to let the “spirits pass away.” The grandmothers drink a glass as well.
Mikael Vojinovic Meat the Beasts
Original name of the story is ‘Mademoiselles’
It’s been a few years now that I’ve been living in Paris. It’s been months that I’ve been undressing my friends, their friends and complete strangers I meet in the streets of Paris, in front of my camera. I photograph young parisian women nude, always at home, in their intimacy. Being a foreigner, I use my work as a means to approach and better undertstand these women who I ﬁrst found to be quite different. Having nothing on to cover their bodies, my models seem to envelope themselves in their souls. It is this magic moment I am trying to capture in my lense. Feminity, mystery and poetry is what I am looking for, with the help of my camera, in this pragmatic contemporary world.
Natasha Gudermane Les Délices
Eastern School Polish Meat Shops in Chicago BY C A R LOS M O O R E
The Future of Meat BY V I JA I M A H E S H WA R I
Like other genetically-modified animals, the Yorkshire pig—whose DNA has been spliced with mouse genome—has been given a cute, friendly name to endear it to a suspicious public. It’s called the Enviropig, (its critics call it Frankenswine) because it digests phosphorus 50-70% better than ‘traditional’ pigs, and is thus ‘greener’ than the hogs out there, whose phosphorus-rich manure pollutes land and water, creating algal blooms that deplete oxygen and strangle marine life. While hog farmers now inject their pigs with phytase, an enzyme that breaks down phosphorus, the Enviropig secretes it naturally in its saliva. Canada’s University of Guelph, which has been developing the Enviropig since 1999, has registered patents for it in the US, Canada & China, and is waiting for an FDA stamp. It’s in line for approval behind AquaAdvantage, a genetically-modified salmon that grows twice as fast as normal salmon. It’s fate is to be decided by the end of this year, and it’s almost certain that we’ll have biotech meat in a supermarket near us in the near future. Oink, oink, and welcome to the brave new world of engineered meats. As biotechnology becomes more sophisticated, researchers are moving beyond GM crops to the animal frontier. In addition to the Enviropig, there are others that were injected with fat-1 gene, and thus produce more Omega-3 fatty acids in their meat. Since Omega-3 is great for the cardiovascular system, and is usually found in seafoods like salmon, ‘bacon with benefits’ has created a stir in the meat industry. Canada’s Prairie Orchards have won numerous awards for their ‘healthy’ pork, and have been selling their award-winning fishy pork across the country. With scientists able to tinker with the DNA of farm animals, it’s just a matter of time before we’ll have meat tailored to our particular cravings. They’ll be cows injected with oyster genes, whose beef acts as an aphrodisiac, or chickens that create more Vitamin-D, and whose chicken wings would be considered a dietary supplement during the long winters. Or how about ‘smart’ meats that are rich in minerals like Vitamin K, L-Carnosine and others that boost brainpower? ‘Calming’ meats that soothe the nervous system? Meats with prozac that help cure depression? Imagine a supermarket of the future, with aisles marked ‘Aphrodisiac Meat’, ‘Winter Blues Meat’, ‘Meditative Meat’ and so on …. On a less positive note, we could heed the words of Canadian dystopic author Margarit Atwood, who invented ChickieNobs (genetically engineered chicken with multiple breasts and no eyes or beaks) in her landmark 2003 novel, Oryx and Crake.
Unless there’s a dangerous mutation in the coming decade, that brings home the dangers of freewheeling genetic engineering, this might not be the science fiction it now seems. Even cloned meats, which seemed unthinkable a decade ago, are now part of the food chain in the United States at least. In a landmark decision in 2008, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of meat from the offspring of cloned animals. The FDA said that there was no difference between ‘normal’ and ‘cloned’ meat, as long as the latter came from the offspring of cloned animals. With dairy farmers under pressure to replicate the high grade milk and steaks of prize-winning bulls, cloning seems an easy option. Frankfarmers—as the critics have
Imagine a future with calming meats that soothe the nervous system? Meats with prozac that help cure depression? Or how about smart meats that are rich in minerals like Vitamin K. dubbed them—buy a ‘cloned’ bull for $10-15,000, and then mate it with the rest of their herd, creating cloned offspring that spread through the food chain. The clones themselves, who are used for breeding, are much too expensive to eat. Like the ‘founders’ of great dynasties, they are left to graze and to give birth to a future generation of winners. For clones at least, life is a gas. However, since clones are known to have weaker immune systems, and are more susceptible to disease, consumer rights groups have reacted in alarm to ‘cloned’ steaks in our midst. Eventually, breeding and cloning will, by the laws of capitalism, lead to a superbreed of giant animals that’ll produce huge quantities of meat and milk. This is already happening in the United States, where winners of the World Diary Expo, like Vandyk-K Integrity Paradise, are immediately cloned. Testtube embroyos made from the cloned bull by US companies like Cyagra Clone, are then offered to ambitous farms worldwide.
Although almost fifty percent of Americans, and 60% of English, are against cloned meat, the American and UK governments have approved its sale. Even in Japan, where the cloned beef recently raised spectres of a beef boycott, the government believes that cloned animals will help small farms become more competitive by helping them raise genetically superior cattle. I can definitely sympathise with the motivations behind cloning farm animals. After all, we do the same with fashion, lifestyle, architecture, and celebrities, copying successful formulas endlessly. But, just as there’s a difference between a ‘fake’ Versace and a real one, isn’t there one between the original prize-winning bull and it’s clone? Scientists admit that there is some degree of genetic degradation with cloning, and since the process is not completely understood, it’s possible that the clone is only as close to its creator as a xerox is to the original. When eating cloned meat, are we just chewing at a copy of something, and chasing after an approximation of a good idea, as those who wear knock-off brands do? In this era of biotech beasts, these words are definitely food for thought. For those who are already grossed-out by the idea of eating something that was incubated in a laboratory, the present obsession with labgrown ‘meat without feet’ might seem one step too far in the wrong direction. But with the global meat demand expected to grow 40% by 2025, and environmentalists sounding alarm bells about a cruel industry that is responsible for 20% of our greenhouse gas emissions, momentum has been building for a hi-tech solution to our craving for meat. And, with PETA having announced a reward of $1 million for those who can create edible lab-meat by Christmas, 2012, the race is on. Vladimir Mironov, a biologist at the Medical University of South Carolina, is on the forefront of the in-vitro meat movement. He has taken myoblasts – embryonic cells that develop into muscle tissue – from turkey and soaked them in a nutrient bath, so that the cells develop on their own. The process, which has also been replicated by scientists in the Netherlands, works up to a point, creating soggy, thin layers of muscle tissue that can be fused together to create the kind of minced meat that goes into burgers, chicken nuggets, sausages and other products. Mironov calls his fused meat sheets ‘schmeat’ and says that in-vitro meat ‘is the inescapable future.’ He also claims that they can produce any meat, and even add fat to
make it tastier. In the future, Mironov says that they will add a vascular system to grow thicker slabs of meat like steak. Those who believe in the future of lab-meat marshall some strong arguments in their favor. While animals require three to eight kilos of nutrient to make one kilo of meat, and also produce a lot of waste, invitro meat is efficient. The humane method is also in stark contrast to the cruel practise of killing animals for feed. With many enraged at the disgraceful conditions at industrial slaughterhouses, with their armies of minimum wage workers, where animals are often skinned or boiled alive, in-vitro meat seems a wonderful alternative. Why eat ‘meat with feet’ when we can grow it painlessly in the lab? Wouldn’t it be better to get our meat from what Mironov calls ‘carneries’, where giant vats grow our favorite meats in nutrient-rich baths. Instead of the blood, gore and ceaseless suffering of the meat factories, we’d have cheerful laboratories with white-coated scientists monitoring gauges. It all sounds much too futuristic, like the protein synthesizer in the Starship Enterprise that converts organic material into any meat that the crew needs. Yet, for all its lauded benefits, the prospect of lab-meat coming to a supermarket near you is still at least a decade away. The first hurdle is having the meat taste like meat. For all the progress being made, the lab-meat still doesn’t taste like much. One of the biologists describes the lab-grown pork as a ‘soggy, tasteless’ version of the real thing. Another likened it to the colored ‘meat’ paste in the futuristic film, Soylent Green, about a dystopic New York in 2022. Meat tastes yummy because of a vareity of factors, including the interplay of muscle and fat. Real meat also has bones, skin & blood that’ll take a generation to recreate in a lab. And, even when biologists do manage to create something that tastes like meat, there’s the yuck factor to get over. It’d take billions of dollars in marketing and promotion to convince a skeptical public to eat something grown in a lab. However, all it will take is one major global food crisis to spur the production of in-vitro meat. As an idea, it’s time has already come. The New Yorker ran a long feature on lab-meat this spring, and in Europe, the Dutch government has thrown its support behind the initiative. As global meat demands soars and fertile land for grazing shrinks, it’s inevitable that lab-grown meat will become part of our digestive future.
Yuriy Semenyuk Sausage Fest
Bessarabsky Market Meat TEXT AND PHOTO BY VIJAI MAHESHWARI
The gorgeous Art Nouveau building of the Bessarabsky Market in downtown Kiev is one of the city’s architectural landmarks. With it’s Ottomanesque round dome, thick stained glass windows, and fluted columns, it rises above Kreschatik’s Soviet buildings as a flashback to a more exotic era. The building itself is named after the famed Republic of Bessarabia, which was once part of the Ottoman Empire, and now in Moldova. Artist groups like Moscow’s AES + F have decorated the interior with provocative murals, while other avant-garde groups have held eco-fashion events and other ‘happenings’ there. Inside the building’s impressive interior though reigns the controlled chaos of a Soviet version of a Middle Eastern souk. Vendors hawk everything from Uzbek spices, black caviar, dried fish, exotic teas, to meat. Given Ukraine’s predominantly pork culture, the market has numerous stalls selling salo, the pork fat that defines this region. Babushkas in colorful scarves carve out portions of spiced salo, pepper salo, and dried fat to prospective customers. There’s also lamb, entire sheep’s heads, intestines, pork chops, beef fillets from the provinces: An entire smorgasbord of Slavic meat cravings. Flies buzz around, the smell is overpowering, and slabs of meat laze on dirty counters. Certainly not for the faint hearted.
M E AT I S MOR D OR B Y J O E L A L A S
The problem with previous appeals for humans to stop eating meat is they have failed to target the most effective of all motivating factors – self-interest. It is out of self-interest that man began eating meat in the first place, and without addressing to this core evolutionary driver one will never convince man to stop (if one is inclined to attempt to do so).
Vegetarianism and veganism are based on moral appeals for goodwill toward other species, despite millennia of evidence that the human animal is devoid of this quality. Ye t ig nor i n g t he c r uelt y to animals, the modern meat eater has enough evidence on his plate to be conv inced of the cruelty he is bringing upon himself. I n t he fac e of mou nt i n g proof of self-harm, eating meat requires one to build a shield of wilful ignorance and steely self-righteous determination. It would be well enough to leave t he meat-eater s a lone in their steroid-induced madness if the harm was contained to t heir ow n i ntesti nes. Yet through their appetite, their insistent demand for ever-more and ever-cheaper substances, and the infectiousness of their behaviour on other sectors of the population, the rampant meat-eaters of t he West are drawing us all down a path to ruin. For t h is r eason t he case must be made for a reduction, and in such a way that the selfinterested carnivore can understand, within such parameters as they can achieve. I nstead of aim ing for t he heart, the anti-meat campaigners should aim straight for the stomach. Try inducing queasiness to reduce appetite. What you are eating for dinner each night is not meat. It is a disease-carr ying chemical by-product created i n g r uesome quasi-scientific industri-
al chambers in which infected hybrid monsters are processed in horrifying experiments of wh ich you a r e t he u lt i mate subject. That was just the entrée.
MEAT IS M A K ING YOU SICK Last year Germans reeled in horror at the news that much of the sliced meat they so love to layer on bread and cheese at breakfast time is held together by glue. Those thin pink discs of f loppy ha m t hat seem to show the strata of a single pig’s muscle are in fact created by combining various pork scraps using a digestible ad hesive. The scandal of the kleberwurst, or glue meat, was followed by news that seven of ten chicken products sold in Germany contain vast colonies of bacteria. The revulsion was short-lived; meat consumption in Germany a nd worldw ide conti nues to grow. But beyond the discomfort caused by the knowledge of how industrial meat is produced today is the real concern that our bodies are being altered, weakened and cancered by fleisch. Direct illnesses from diseased meat are just one concern; another is the impact on the effectiveness of antibiotics to defend against viral infections. In the US, over 80% of all antibiotics are fed to animals. The flow-on effects for humans are becoming apparent, as new superbugs demonstrate resistance to common antibiotics.
it is known to create, and the diseases we are likely to see emerge, shovelling ones body full of mass meat should surely be classified a for m of selfharm.
MEAT IS DESTROY ING THE PLANET
Public health authorities in the US have abandoned any attempt to regulate the animal use of important human drugs such as penicillin, which is so widely consumed by livestock that it is now deemed almost useless in preventing infections in humans. The reason for such drast ic d r ugg i ng is t he h ideous crowded conditions in which livestock are kept, cram med in to factory sheds, forced to fight for space, weakened by lack of decent food, sunlight and movement. Even with their overdoses of antibiotics, factory animals are rancid with pussy i n fect ions a nd t issue rashes that should make any sane person give up their bacon rashers. Cows, pigs and chickens are the most obvious carriers of these diseases, but even salmon – now farmed en mass in large churning canals – are on the sick list. The sadness and indignity of this situation is horrible enough, but consider that the residue of this epidemic of infections ends up on your taste buds. The long-term effects of intensive antibiotic industr ial meat on the human organism are yet to be seen. It is only in the past three decades that meat has been produced using such methods. Those who consume mass-meat with gusto are themselves the subjects of this chew-it-and-see experiment. Consuming today’s meat as if it was the same substance that your parents and grandparents enjoyed is an ignorant pleasure, one with unk now n long-term health effects. It might not be so bad if we ate the same amount of shitty meat, but data from nearly every country on earth shows that meat consumption per head is rising. We’re eating worse meat and more of it. Given the knowledge of how it is produced, the illnesses
It is almost com monplace knowledge that livestock globally produce more carbon emissions than all private transport combined. The connection between climate change and meat is more than just causal. There are also many parallels in the way the meat consumption debate and climate change enlightenment are psychologically received. Both stir fear in the hearts of recalcitrant men.
Like many carbon-creating activities, eating meat was once considered a necessity. It arose out of a need for nourishment and sur vival. Now it’s about laziness, luxur y, greed, selfentitlement and stubborn unwillingness to face facts. L i k e t he c l i m at e c h a n ge fight, the anti-meat campaign w ill face a bar rage of cr iticism. Expect the justifications for continued ra mpa nt meat consumption to get more desperate and ludicrous. Human rights may be evoked, or in true American spirit, “freedom” at all costs (even to others’ freedoms).
MEAT FEEDS CA PITA LISM One of the easiest and most lucrative ways to earn a euro is to ow n an estate of far ml a nd . The E u r op e a n Un ion
pays out billions to farmers to preserve the continent’s food supply. These days, a “farmer” isn’t a pitchfork-leaning straw chewer; it’s a man in a suit. The biggest beneficiary of the EU’s fa r m su bsidy prog ra m are huge companies and very wealthy neo-feudalists. Discovering exactly who receives farm subsidies in the EU is difficult business, but some ded icated fact-f i nder s have managed to reveal a few numbers. Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, is one of the biggest individual recipients of a program that was ostensibly intended to assist the humble cow-milker. When subsidized by the public through EU payouts, meat production is actually a giant siphon of taxpayer funds into the pockets of the super-rich. It
helps perpetuate the economic status quo, keeping wealth in the hands of the wealthy. It reduces the chance for small fa r mers to compete aga i nst cost-cutting mega farm companies.
MEAT TASTES CRAP Diseases, climate catastrophes and the perpetuation of economic injustice might be swallowable if the end product were tasty. But the meat that ends up on your supermarket shelf is hardly worth the pain it causes the animal, society, the planet and your body. It is beige, bland and almost tasteless. Like mass-produced vegetables, modern meat is a pale imitation of the rich f lavoursome tissue enjoyed by generations past. Take a trip to the countryside and sample some
real free-ra ngi ng, hor monefree, old-fashioned farm meat. Mass meat is not even the same product; it should carry a different name. How did we get tricked into eating this f lavourless junk? Why are we so addicted to it? A nd why do we fight so hard against advice to stop? Probably because, as with any addiction, it’s too hard to suddenly stop. Hence the need for a new lifestyle label to assist t hose who r ea l ize t hey should refrain from meat but don’t want to give it up completely: meat reductionism.
INTRODUCING MEAT REDUCTIONISM The name of this lifestyle choice is fairly self-explanatory. A meat reductionist is one who reduces their meat intake. A ny reduction of any size is seen as a step in the right direction. A meat reductionist need not be dogmatic in their practice. They can enjoy the cooking of others, without rudely embarr assi ng a d i n ner host who serves up a steak. A steak now and then is fine, according to meat reductionism. A meat reductionist may be motivated by any factor; the self-interest argument laid out above, or the classic vegetarian concerns for animal welfare. As one reduces meat intake by even just one meal a week, the benefits to personal health become apparent, and the incentive to reduce further increases. It might be argued that meat reductionism is a lazy and insincere dietary dogma, one that fails to have the courage of its convictions. This holds some truth, and a meat reductionist may be motivated over time to make the ultimate reduction. Yet any return to moderation is a good thing, and one has to start somewhere. It’s time to start spreading the mantra of meat reductionism: eat less meat.
( D E A D ) M E A T I N T H E DE E P-F R E E Z E B Y A L J A C K S O N
Danila Medvedev founded Russia’s first ever cryonics centre, KrioRus, offering hope to those who seek to cheat death by freezing their brains until the dream of reanimation one day becomes reality. Al Jackson spoke to Russia’s ‘Lazarus man’.
The Danse Macabre, Der Totentanz, the Dance of Death, was a recurring artistic genre across late-medieval Europe, one depict i ng t he f ig u r e of Death dancing with all members of society – pope, child, king, beggar – waltzing them to their graves. The Plague had Europe in its pestilent grip and the Danse illustrated death as humanity had always perceived it, and how we still perceive of it: the great leveller, the endgame from which none can ever be delivered.
throughs in molecular nanotechnology – the same thing, incidentally, that will enable the complete reanimation of the dead. K r ioRu s, mea nwh i le, e nsures people have somewhere to ‘wait’ until such a time comes. “We expect that by the end of the twenty-first century,” Medvedev states, confidently. A committed Transhumanist himself (he helped establish the Russian Transhumanist Movement), Danila eagerly awaits
– is, despite Medvedev’s optimism, surely uncertain? Yet clearly there are an increasi ng nu m ber who ag ree with him – or, at least, are just as hopeful. Established five years ago KrioRus now houses 17 human patients in its modest, corrugated storage hangar. The first, Lidia, was preserved even befor e t he compa ny of f icia l ly opened. Of that 17, six are full-body pat ie nt s who’v e e ac h pa id
t he day he’s uploaded as “a posthuman super-intelligent bei ng, ma ny t i mes sma r t er than a human, that does not need a body, living in an uploaded state i n a computer, somewhere.” And unlike his friend in the car accident in France, Medvedev never needed a dose of his own mortality to arrive at such a dream: “Most kids don’t think about death until five or maybe ten years old,” says Danila, “sometimes it coincides with some relative dy ing but, initially, t hey are im mor talists. They presume they’ll live forever. “I had this basic assumption t hat t h i ngs wou ld develop,” adds Medvedev, “that technology will develop and because of t hat prog ress, li fe would change and improve. So I never really had this painful realisation that I’m mortal.” ___
$30,0 0 0 to be kept i n la rge vacuum-f lask like containers called dewars. The rest are neuropatients, meaning only their brains are kept ‘on ice’ and have paid just $10,000. Then there are the patient’s pets: several cats, dogs, birds and, intriguingly, a mouse (sadly, tariffs for these were unobtainable). Russia’s GDP per capita is $15,900 so these sums are far fr om ch icken-feed . K r ioRus plans to actually increase full body preservation prices, somet h i ng t hat goes aga i nst t he egalitarian argument of Transhumanism slightly, but they do intend to lower neuropreservation prices. Plus, Medvedev adds, there’s already a (no pun intended) life insurance-like neuropreservation option starting at $500 per year, “depending on your age” so, as Danila says, “no matter when it [death] happens, you’re covered.” ___
Why anyone would wish to live forever is… a multifarious answer. Regardless, whether we’ll ever reach a level of technology capable of reanimating the dead – or if such a practice be deemed legal even if we did
Speaking of “it,” it’s worth making a crucial distinction between what is commonly understood as being ‘dead’ – ie: heart and respiratory failure and functional termination of the organism as a whole, oth-
BUT W H AT IF W E COU LD? W H AT I F… ? “One of our friends got into a road accident in France and su f fer ed some ser ious i njuries,” explains Danila Medvedev, founder of K rioRus. “He was reminded of his mortality but as a Transhumanist, he decided not to accept that he was under some ‘will of God’. Instead,” Medvedev adds, “he realised death is a risk caused by his biological heritage, one he needed t o do somet h i ng about. So he called us and said: ‘I want to sign up. I want to sign a contract because I understand now how dangerous it is to live.’” Such patterns of behaviour, such Damascene Moments, are well known to Danila as they tend to deliver clients through his modest doors on the outskirts of Moscow. Clients who are willing to pay thousands for a spell in the KrioRus centre and the prospect of immortality. ___ Some background: KrioRus is a cryonics centre, the first of its kind in Russia. Indeed, the first outside the USA full stop. Cryonics is the practice of preserving the body or the brain of a deceased person, in a liquid-nitrogen-induced deep-freeze, u ntil su fficient advances in technology makes death reversible. Cryonics is closely linked to Transhumanism, an intellectual and cultural movement that believes technology can – and w ill – fu nda mentally tra nsform the human condition from an inadequately frail biological one, to one possessing profoundly advanced capabilities, such as vastly prolonged life. This, so the argument goes, will be made possible by break-
erwise known as clinical death, and what is deemed “total irreversible destruction of the organism” by cryonicists – ie: a level of “brain death” rendering any potential retrieval of personality information impossible. In the world of cryonics, you see, ‘death’ is not instantaneous but a slow process of gradual cel l-by- cel l shut-dow n t hat can be stemmed if acted upon swiftly and expertly enough. S o wh at e x ac t ly a r e t he methods of ‘catching death’? What’s the normal procedure performed by an on-duty KrioRus engineer? “As soon as is possible,” explains Danila, “we’d find out what the situation is vis-ą-vis their hospital, what their doctor thinks about their chances and so on. Then, ideally, we will stay close to the patient and as soon as they deanimate we’d do several things.” This, it turns out, involves administering drugs that slow the damage of death (which is clinically and, therefore, legally dead), helping preserve brain cells and reduce oxidisation levels before the patient’s connected to a life-support system to allow the artificial ventilation of the lungs. “ Th at a l low s t he nor m a l mechanisms of the organisms’ cel ls to cont i nue,” ex pla i ns Da n i la, “so t hei r body does not deter iorate even t hough the person is dead by medical standards. Incidentally,” he adds, “this is something that’s regularly done to organ donors. They can be maintained for several hours in such a state where they are legally – but not biologically – dead. So we slow the harmful processes in the organism, using medical technology to allow us to do so.” Next comes the cooling of the body by “packing ice in plastic bags around the body, or placing the body in a bath cooled using water circulation a nd buckets of ice,” says Danila. Additionally, the patient can be cooled through the lungs and, somewhat gruesomely, the colon. “If you do all of that,” Danila assures, “you bring a person’s temperature down very quickly, really slow ing dow n a ny damage to a degree where, essentially, no life-threatening damage is happening. So even though the person is dead, you
don’t allow his organism to die keeping it in a viable state.” Blood, a “dangerous cocktail of active chemicals,” is then removed from the circulatory system via profusion, as it turns toxic after death, using a special cryoprotectant solution that gets pumped in to replace it. Th i s pr e v e nt s ic e for ming when the body’s cooled to minus 196 degrees Celsius by liquid nitrogen poured in the dewa r. I nstead, a ny liq u ids remaining in the body vitrify, turning into a glass-like amorphous state. Finally, the body is placed into long-term storage. “If only the brain is being preser ved then, after profusion but before deep-freeze, you remove the brain or the head, and the body is disposed of,” clarifies Danila, matter of factly. So how long does you r $10,000 or $30,000 buy in terms of freezer-time? “ I ndefi n ite preser vat ion,” con fir ms Danila. Due to the vitrification at such low chemical changes are so slowed that, “in practical terms,” Medvedev says, “even after tens of thousands of years, you’d still be in the same condition.” ___ So that’s the method then, the ‘science’. But, before all of that, speaking with Danila, it becomes clear (putting the argument that we may never reach t he req uired levels of technology aside, for the moment) there first must be an acceptance of d ramatic philosophy before countenancing cryonics seriously, an un-coupling from familial notions of biology, humanity and life. I ndeed, spea k i ng w it h Danila it becomes clear that dramatic philosophical changes must occur before entertaining cryonics. The notion that memor y is life is one such example. Despite having to pay a princely sum to preserve your body, the body is actually “not very valuable,” warns Medvedev. “ I f you had to choose between having your body preserved or your mind preserved,” he adds, “of course you’d choose your mind. You can use DNA to clone yourself a new body, it wouldn’t be identical but would be substantially the same. That is not the same as preserving yourself because your self is your memory, your personality.”
Medvedev compa res t he brain to a computer - “one of t he most fa mous a na logous m e t a p h o r s fo r t h e h u m a n mind,” he says. The implication being that the hardware, the human body, can be replaced and upgraded, while the software, our minds, our memories, our personality, our usness, can simply be saved and uploaded to whatever new form the body takes. “The whole point of all this,” Danila emphasises, “is preserving memories.” ___ But how long will memories stay in the brain for? Could someone even be reanimated without their memories, without their self!? “ It’s d i fficu lt to say precisely,” concedes Danila. “I n general, as long as the structure of the brain and the connections between neurons are preserved, then memories stay in the brain. So if a patient is preser ved under good conditions then memories will stay indefinitely. “Even when memories come to be erased by chemical degr adat ion, it doesn’t happen instantly, Danila clarifies, “so there’s still some time when a person could, potentially, be rev ived w ith some of his memories, while other parts of his personality would need to be reconstructed by computers using recordings of his life and other factors.” ___ Suddenly, if it didn’t before, everything starts to sound very sci-fi; the potential for Total R e c a l l- e sq ue m e mor y-w ip e seems ter r ify ing. Surely it’s better to view death as a natural aspect of life and cryonics as meddling with nature? “Well, ‘natural’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘good’,” posits Danila. “If you approach the issue of death from a mythological or religious perspective, then some argue aging was created by Satan; that there was this great immortal creature – the Homo Immortalis – corrupted by aging, death and the slow-rotting nature of the organism. Corrupted by Lucifer. “ Suc h pe ople,” Medvede v continues, “would consider all that a bad aspect of life and doing anything about it, be it cryonics or nanotechnology, is good because it removes evil
from humans. So to those who might say ‘death is natural,’ I could say: ‘death is evil and a corruption of human nature’. When you see old people and how damaged they are intellectually, psychologically and physica l ly, you r ea l ise t hat dying of old age is very bad,” Danila says. “ Today we’re far from the original biological roots of humans and humanity,” he continues. “If someone understands that he’s not a biological being, that he is a human being, then that person starts to think about life not in terms of what’s natural but what is desirable – and, of course, it’s not desirable to die. It’s natural, yes. It’s very common, people die all the time but it’s not something you would choose if you were immortal. So when people remove the assumption that they are mortal, that they have to die, then they start thinking, ‘what can I do about it?’” Medvedev argues. But if we pursue cr yonics, might we not be in danger of losing our human-ness if we erased death and, by the same token, enable arbitrary modifying of body and mind? “This is just Deathism,” dismisses Danila. “Some people suppor t deat h for ir rational reasons and there’s no logic in that. We will no more lose our humanness by removing death than we would lose our humanness by removing hunger or infectious diseases. “Humans rarely think longterm, they usually think about the next day or next week at
most. In practical terms this means they don’t think about deat h so i f you r emoved it nothing would change! Until you further modify the human orga n ism, just by becom i ng immortal they’ll not stop being humans. They’ll think the same way; they will not be concerned w it h t heir deat h – just li ke t hey’re not concer ned a bout their death today. I mean, people are dying all the time and they don’t seem to be very concerned about it. So I don’t think there’s a problem here. “Anyway,” Medvedev argues, “there’s nothing bad about losing your human ness. Losing our ‘apeness,’ or our ‘unicellness’ wasn’t bad – it was progress, evolution! Becoming better is good, becoming worse is bad. If somebody wants to be human just for the sake of being human, well… It’s like racism, if you say being white has some sort of inherent quality then I’d disagree.” But what of the argument that death actually enhances living, in the sense that it lends our decisions and deeds resonance because we make them k now i ng t here’re no second chances? “Most people fail at life,” Medvedev counters. “I k now it’s harsh a nd I k now some will say I’m elitist but I think most people don’t do anything wor t hwh ile. I f you consider people like Einstein, then there have only been a few such people – maybe 10,000 out of the 60 billion who ever lived? Even if you assumed there were 60,000 people who lived a worthwhile
life over all, then that’s just one person in a million! What about everybody else? “Look around,” Medvedev instructs, “people are not doing anything worthwhile; they’re just wasting time and energy, not living to their full potential. I think its very unfair and harsh giving people no second chance. If we make them immor tal then at least we give them the chance to actually improve. They need it. They need more time. There’s no question about this in my mind.” ___ Not ever ything at KrioRus revolves around philosophy. As devout believers Danila and his team consider the more prosaic elements of cr yonics too. For instance, what if KrioRus went bust, what happens to all the bodies? “What happens depends on what happens to the company,” Medvedev replies. “If after the ‘ba n k r uptc y ’ it gets bought by another cr yonics provider then I’d presume that company would still preserve their clients and patients for the sake of continuity and their belief in cryonics.” But if not? “If there’d be no cryonics company to save the day, then your body would be buried,” Danila says, simply. “If it were not buried then after a wh i le, w it hout l iq u id nitrogen or energy or anybody to serve the system, the body would decompose. “Of course,” Medvedev continues, “it’s possible to design failsafe cryonics, it’s just more
expensive and at this moment there aren’t the resources in the cryonics movement to do it. “Anyone concerned about the long-term safety of his body after cryopreservation needs to ask himself a question: ‘How important is it to me and what percentage of my net wealth am I willing to spend on improving my chances?’ If that person wants to have cheap cryonics but also reliable cryonics, then he’s an idiot. If he wants reliable cryonics and is willing to work and spend on that then he’s welcome to do so, at KrioRus or any company,” says Danila. “Of course,” he adds, “reliability is ensured by the fact that people who’re involved in cr yonics care about cr yonics personally – and this is true at KrioRus.” So would he himself be willing to be kept at KrioRus to await the future if, in the end, death found him first? “Yes, of course!” comes his reply. Fortunately, Danila doesn’t need to wait long as he believes that, “to a large extent” he is Transhuman already. “I experiment with my body,” he explains. “I experiment with my sleep patterns, I augment my intelligence, I tr y to get conscious-control over what happens in my body and in my mind and use different tools and technologies to augment t he biolog ica l capacity t hat I have. “So to me,” clarifies Medvedev, “ Transhu man ex istence has already come. I always wa nt ed t o l ive for e ver a nd I know it’s possible.”
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Published on Jul 22, 2012