Our annual summer lecture series that combines two totally different topics for one evening of fun and weirdness kicked off last week in a digital way.
Did you miss out on the fun? Well, not to worry because it can be relived again and again thanks to the power of the interwebs. That’s right — other than no bathroom lines and everyone getting a front row seat, getting to catch up after the fact might be the next best thing about virtual programming.
If you don’t have an hour to watch it (we get it, you’re busy), here’s a quick round-up of the highlights and fun facts you can throw out at your next Zoom happy hour.
3 things Kirk Johnson (Sant Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History) taught us about polar forests:
- Earth is in a constant battle between forests and ice. When it is warm and wet, the forests win, and when it is cold, the ice wins. For example, what are forests today in Boston may have been arctic tundra 12,000 years ago. Millions of years ago, the arctic was warm enough to support crocodiles, lotuses, and palm trees.
- Based on findings in Washington State of fossilized trees that only exist today in China, Kirk and his paleobotanist colleagues were able to determine that a forest used to span from the northern U.S. to Asia and Europe across the North Pole! How? There was enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to make the planet much warmer.
- If we continue burning fossil fuels at the rate we are burning them now, by the year 2100, our atmosphere will be like it was 50 million years ago and ice will lose to forests once again, resulting in rising sea levels. The global sea level has risen 13 inches since 1920, and we will gain 215 feet in global sea level by the year 2100.
3 things Adrian Miller (Denver native, food writer, attorney and certified barbecue judge) taught us about trendy soul food:
- The term “soul food” is thought to have come out of the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 70s when the cuisine came into the mainstream and took on a great deal of cultural significance. But the phrase actually goes all the way back to the time of our dear friend William Shakespeare in Act 2, Scene 7 of Two Gentlemen of Verona describing a particularly hunky Proteus:
JULIA: O, know’st thou not his looks are my soul’s food?
Pity the dearth that I have pined in,
By longing for that food so long a time.
2. The history of soul food is the same as any immigrant food story: they did their best to recreate the dishes they knew and loved with the ingredients available to them. Soul food has roots in West Africa (where enslaved people were taken from) made with European ingredients (what was available to enslaved people in the British colonies).
3. Today’s soul food trends include “down home healthy” soul food, upscale soul food, and vegan soul food. There was also much debate in the chat about “Koolickles” — yep, Kool-Aid Pickles.
A Poetic Ending with Suzi Q. Smith
At the end of the night, we wrap up with a poem from a local poet inspired by both topics and written during the course of the evening.
Everything good comes from somewhere
Forests grow when it’s warm and wet
A slow-stewed pot of collard greens
A steam heat spice to tell time by
To transport and transcend
To time travel with a spoon or shovel
A pickaxe and a pocketknife
An ocean with an appetite
Holding the stories we almost don’t remember being haunted by
Feel the ice melt and sweat the glass of cayenne lemonade
Some might see a leaf
Some see the future of a million trees
Some might see seas
Some see a trail of breadcrumbs reminding us of our journey
Tropical to temperate
Tropical to polar
We recreate home
Some see a coalmine
Some see the swamp that made the coalmine
Some see the hands that dug the coalmine
And the gardens that sustain them
If you look long enough
Time tells on itself down home
If you dig down home
Can you dig palms in Alaska
If you dig time travel
Can you dig the ice choking out the trees
Keep choking out the ice
Telling new stories
We’ll forget about extinction
And maybe if you dig
I mean really dig
You’ll see nothing here is really new
Hold the story and skin of the yam
Add your weeping to the rising waters
Remember tree families can live up to 50 million years
Which is almost as good as forever
Maybe that means there’s hope for our memory
For the seeds we will leave behind
As fun as a round-up is, it can’t compare to the real thing. Sign-up for reminders about future Mixed Taste: At Home events happening every Wednesday at 7pm MT July 15 – August 19.
Wed, July 22 at 7pm MT
Keith Haring & Smog Meringues
Featuring Nora Burnett Abrams & Nicola Twilley
Wed, July 29 at 7pm MT
Napping & Slovenian Zombies
Featuring Maya Kroth & Nancy Wadsworth
Wed, Aug 5 at 7pm MT
Augmented Reality & The Cult of the Dead
Featuring Till Nowak & Elizabeth Harper
Wed, Aug 12 at 7pm MT
Church Signs & Icelandic Hip Hop
Featuring Joe York & Nathan Hall
Wed, Aug 19 at 7pm MT
Zeno’s Paradox & Artivism
Featuring Elisabeth Stade & Suzi Q. Smith
Mixed Taste was originated by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
With additional support by: