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A concerned alumna writes in:

You may be interested in the document attached. It shows that not just Puar, but EVERY speaker on this panel is linked to the BDS movement. Is this what the Gender Studies departments across our country are really all about? Questions need to be answered, not the least of which is who is funding this GRID Program?

Jasbir Puar

Jasbir K. Puar | Publications
The ‘Right’ to Maim: Disablement and Inhumanist Biopolitics in Palestine
Vassar Jewish Studies Sponsors Demonization of Israel … Again
Hatred on the Hudson: Vassar needs to combat venomous, anti-Israel, borderline anti-Semitic rhetoric on campus
Lecture by Jasbir Puar, Associate Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies at Rutgers University: Inhumanist Biopolitics: How Palestine Matters
Vassar faculty-sponsored anti-Israel event erupts in controversy
Letter to President Hill, Re: Controversy concerning Jasbir Puar’s Talk at Vassar
Statement in Defense of Professor Jasbir Puar’s Academic Freedom
Rutgers union backs prof facing ‘death’ threats over speech

Vanessa Agard-Jones

Anthropologists should stand for academic freedom, not censorship
Transnational Blackness: Navigating the Global Color Line

Neel Ahuja

The Debate over Palestinian Solidarity at UNC-Chapel Hill
A Reply to UNC’s Statement against the ASA Vote to Disengage from Formal Collaboration with Israeli Universities
Folt, Dean reject call for Israel boycott
The untold parts of our education policy
Council Resolution on Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions
BDS Movement Home Page

Larisa Mann

Jewish Students Circulate Letter of Support as Labor Union Prepares for Vote on BDS
Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS

Jasbir Puar.jpgI don’t know if she is a reputable academic, but firebrand works fine as a descriptor for Rutger’s Professor Jasbir Puar, who will be at the College today to participate in a panel discussion scheduled to take place in Kreindler Conference Hall from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. In addition, a fair case can be made that Professor Puar is an anti-Semite, if the accounts of her speech earlier in the year at Vassar are accurate.

Parker Richards ‘18 has written a fine summary in The D (no, I am not going soft on the paper; there have been some good pieces in it recently) regarding today’s panel and the reaction of various people and groups on campus to Puar’s visit. Let me add a link to an article by Puar:

Jasbir Puar Borderlands Comp.jpg

When you filter out the deconstructionist noise, does Puar’s charge seem accurate given what you know about Israeli policy and behavior?

Addendum: See a list of Puar’s publications.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

This Puar thing could be a mess of the highest order. The GRID programs funding should be called into question. Not only pseudo intellectualism but now mean spirited too. When you think that the community norms are that Kentucky Derby parties are off bunds, how can the college, not some wayward sorority, do this? I guess the answer is do as I say and I will do as I want. This will do no good for attracting Jewish students, faculty, or Dartmouths reputation.

Addednum: And another:

“the policy of maiming is a productive one” I thought it was Sharia law which had a policy of maiming (cut off the hands of thieves, for example), as a method of “attitude readjustment”? Should we mention female genital mutilation? See also:

Rutgers Women’s Studies Professor: Israel Mines The Organs Of Dead Muslims

Addendum: A longtime reader notes:

There are a few really unpleasant Israeli schools of Ultra-Orthodox theology that help feed the fetid stream from which people like Puar drink. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh who is a very influential Kabbalist and head of a yeshiva in the West Bank. His writings argue, among other things, that if a Jew requires an organ for transplant, it is legitimate to seize one by force from a non-Jew.

Also, some years ago there was a scandal regarding a forensic institute in Israel that had removed tissue — corneas, bone etc. — from cadavers without authorization. The practice was stopped and a later article about the institute, published in a Swedish newspaper, included sensationalized claims.

Selective reading and quoting can therefore produce some hideous results. And that’s what idiots like Puar thrive on.

In order to accurately refute such people, though, it’s necessary to recognize that Israel, too, has its crazy fringe, and that the far-right religious parties are gaining political power and have an outsize voice. It’s true that thoughtful, ethical Israelis reject these views. But it’s true that these views exist and are loudly expressed.

Dartmouth has a wealth of experienced professors who lead their respective research fields, while also working closely with students — inspiring them in the classroom and leading them in laboratory environments. And while at Dartblog we talk frequently about problems that need to be fixed at the College, there are still many bright spots. Our professors deserve more recognition for their achievements. As such, this is one of a series of posts that shines a spotlight on the best professors in Hanover:

Brian Pogue1.jpgBrian Pogue is a Professor of Engineering at the Thayer School, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the College and an Adjunct Professor of Surgery at the Geisel School. That multi-disciplinary status is the result of his advanced research into the uses of lasers for diagnosing and treating diseases like cancer that are currently incurable.

Pogue hails from Ontario, where his father was a professor and his mother a teacher. He did all of his schooling in Canada, earning a Bachelors and a Masters degree in physics from York University and a Ph.D. in medical/nuclear physics at McMaster University (where he served as captain of the McMaster physics department baseball team and read Kurt Vonnegut’s entire works). He completed his Ph.D. in 1996 and immediately joined Dartmouth’s faculty.

In the twenty years since, Pogue has also served as director of the graduate programs at the Thayer School (2005-2008) and as Dartmouth’s Dean of Graduate Studies (2008-2012). In his time as dean, Pogue increased stipends for graduate students, created the PhD/MBA program with Tuck, and pushed the graduate schools to increase their visibility to the outside world. Pogue currently teaches a variety of engineering graduate courses, as well as one undergraduate course, ENGS 16: Biomedical Engineering for Global Health.

Where Pogue really stands out is in his research. According to Google Scholar, he has more than 16,000 individual citations and a stellar h-index of 71. In January the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering announced Pogue’s induction into its esteemed College of Fellows.

Pogue leads multiple group lab efforts at Dartmouth, including Optics in Medicine and the new Center for Imaging Medicine, which has 16,000ft² of research space on the DHMC campus. Pogue’s labs bring together researchers with backgrounds in widely disparate areas such as optical engineering, chemistry, biology, medicine and software to study ways that laser imaging technologies can be used to fight cancer. The field is called molecular spectroscopy, “the study of absorption of light by molecules.”

Many forms of tumors are incurable today, Pogue says, because of the complexity of their molecular signatures, wich we must decode in order to defeat them. He has developed a system for molecular imaging that examines living tissue with lasers to quantify the molecular features of cancerous tumors better than long-used methods of static imaging. Pogue also works on techniques of photodynamic therapy, a light-activated chemotherapy currently used in treating esophageal and other forms of cancer.

Pogue’s work is coming to hospitals, which will be able to integrate his new technology into existing imaging machines like MRIs and CTs. To work on this effort, he co-founded and serves as president of a new biomedical startup, DoseOptics. The company has already obtained $1.4 million in initial grant funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Today’s D has another tough-minded critique of the administration, this one by Bryan Thomson ‘16: The Real Cost of $20.16. An excerpt:

In the four years since my matriculation, I have struggled to support or even justify a single major policy decision that the administration has put forth. My friends and I have experienced a decline in the well-being and independence allotted to the student body with each passing year. For example, despite opposition from the student body, College President Phil Hanlon’s “Moving Dartmouth Forward” policy initiative banned hard alcohol consumption on campus, regardless of age, and instituted walkthroughs to monitor dorm activities. Associated harsh penalties have forced high-risk freshman parties underground, creating a perverse incentive structure to avoid seeking treatment for alcohol poisoning. The silent, duplicitous war on the Greek system has decreased my and others’ houses’ autonomy through an ever-expanding series of nonsensical, unnecessary regulations. None of the additional bureaucracy or monitoring is welcome, yet it grows each term. The administration has rapidly cultivated a tense, bitter and beleaguered campus climate. [Emphasis added]

Recently, even more serious changes have left me astounded at the disconnect between student needs and administrative directive. While I was able to take advantage of my Advanced Placement credits to travel abroad, reduce my course load over stressful quarters and save tuition, AP credits are no longer accepted as course credits for the Class of 2018 and beyond. Similarly, the decision to end need-blind admissions for international students and to reinstate need-aware policies is extremely disheartening. I have friends who only applied to and enrolled at Dartmouth because it was one of the only affordable school for them. I do not want to imagine a Dartmouth without these deserving people.

Do the the Trustees and senior members of the Hanlon administration just shrug off such criticisms of their day-to-day management of the College?

You might not agree with him, but the man is an original thinker and a provocative and rigorous scholar. I know where I’d be tonight if I were in Hanover:

Charles Murray announcement.jpg

From Wikipedia:

Charles Murray.jpgCharles Alan Murray (born 1943) is an American libertarian political scientist, author, columnist, and pundit.

He first became well known for his Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950-1980 in 1984, which discussed the American welfare system. He is best known for his controversial book The Bell Curve, co-authored with Richard Herrnstein in 1994, which argues that class and race are linked with intelligence. Murray has also written In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government (1988), What It Means to be a Libertarian: A Personal Interpretation (1996), Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950 (2003), and In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State (2006). He published Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America’s Schools Back to Reality in 2008.

Dartmouth students don’t spend enough time profiting from the string of interesting speakers who come through Hanover. Just because you won’t get a grade doesn’t mean you won’t learn something.

After our review the other day of the poor effort that the College makes in paying competitive salaries (last in the Ivies in all categories except for Full Professors), let’s look at where we stand compared to all of the leading research universities in America. In the below table, the Chronicle of Higher Education ranks Full Professors’ compensation at top schools, and as we saw the other day, at least we best Brown and Cornell. But at #18 on the list we fall behind ambitious, on-the-upswing schools like Chicago, Northwestern (tied with us at #12 in U.S. News, but for how long?), UCLA, Rice, Vanderbilt, Wash U., and so on:

Research University Salaries.jpg

If you move to the second column — Associate Professors (faculty members with tenure who have not been promoted to the rank of Full Professor), the picture is uglier. We are last in the Ivies and behind everyone on this top-schools page except USC. Our rank is #24 in the country.

However, in the third column, the Assistant Professors category — newly minted Ph.D. holders or postdocs who have been hired onto the tenure track — the College is not only last in the Ivies by a mile, but we pay at least 10% less than anyone on this page. In fact, among the nation’s finest schools, we rank only #64 (yes, you read that right) in pay for Assistant Professors. Who in the administration made the decision that we should try to attract the finest young minds to Hanover by paying them less than the University of Georgia, the University of Connecticut, Iowa State University and any number of other low-ranked schools?

Addendum: Put yourself in the place of a brilliant young scholar who has just earned a doctorate. Northwestern proposes an annual salary of $106,767; Dartmouth wants you, too, but only offers $79,605. Honey, we’re going to Evanston!

“Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoemakers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but in the mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men.”

Daniel Webster’s factual observation about the now-collapsed Old Man in the Mountain in Franconia Notch State Park was once known to every Dartmouth student. But over the years, the phrase has slipped from memory as undergraduates seem more concerned about how ever-so-hard life is for them inside the Dartmouth Bubble. Enough! This space supports frankness, perseverance and courage — the manly virtues — and so it was with real pleasure that we read a notice the other day on the College listserv signed by Julietta Gervese ‘16, Rosie Mahoney ‘17 and Anna Ellis ‘19 about The 50, a 53.6-mile hike along the Appalachian Trail that takes place over no more than 36 hours:

The 50 Announcement1.jpg

The 50 is not a weak event that Dartmouth student wannabees have copied from some other, lesser school. It is an echt Dartmouth test of fortitude. As this well produced video notes, eight out of ten students don’t finish:

How will you do?

The rowing team’s ex-member Joshua Konieczny ‘13 has qualified to represent the United States at the Rio Olympics in the lightweight men’s double sculls:

Joshua Konieczny1.jpg

Josh will be rowing with longtime partner Andrew Campbell, an alumnus of a little known school located in Massachusetts.

Addendum: Rugby’s Madison Hughes ‘15 is going to Rio, too. Anyone else?

Addendum: A reader reports:

Anthony Fahden ‘08 is also on his way to Rio. He’s another former member of the Dartmouth lightweight team; he will be rowing in the lightweight 4.

Addendum: And another alumnus comments:

Looks like Sean Furey ‘04 has met the A standard again in the javelin, so he has a good shot at going to his second Games. I don’t know where Evie Stevens ‘05 stands, but imagine she’s raring to go again as well.

Just when I am ready to announce that The D is no more, a column leaps out that restores my faith in students, their professors and the College. Jinsung Bach ‘17 has a piece in today’s paper that carefully deconstructs the moral and philosophical issues around KDE’s decision to end its much loved Derby party, and he uses this example as a starting point for a thoughtful examination of our campus’ besotted version of political correctness. He ends with some opinions on the quality, or lack thereof, of the College’s administrators. Wonderful!

Addendum: Regan Roberts ‘16, a member of KDE and the vice president of its 2016 executive board, had a strong column in The D last week on the Derby issue, too.

Wow. That was fast. The College has announced the new men’s basketball coach: David McLaughlin of Northeastern:

McLaughlin comes to Dartmouth after serving three years as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Northeastern University, during which time the Huskies posted a combined record of 52-48. In 2014-15, he helped guide the Huskies to a 23-12 overall record and a regular season co-championship in the Colonial Athletic Association, as well as the CAA Tournament Championship to secure the school’s first bid to the NCAA Tournament in 24 years.

Addendum: Sorry for missing this, but we have a new women’s volleyball coach, too:

The newest member of the Dartmouth Athletics community comes to Hanover from the University of San Francisco, where he spent nine years as the Dons’ head coach and three as the co-head coach of the beach volleyball team. Compiling the winningest record in USF history, he boasted an overall record of 131-130 and a program-best 60 victories against West Coast Conference foes during his stint in the Golden Gate City….

Prior to his appointment at USF in March of 2007, Doron served as head coach at Villanova for three seasons (2004-06) and as an assistant coach at Temple (1996-99). He also founded the Philadelphia Volleyball Academy, a nationally ranked club comprised of five teams of players between the ages of 14-18.

Doron began his coaching career in his native Israel as the head men’s volleyball coach for the Mate Asher Professional Club, where he mentored national team players from Israel, the Czech Republic, Romania and Croatia. He led his teams to the 1994 Israeli Championship and the finals of the 1995 Israel Cup.

Talking about cutting bone to save fat. If you are ever looking for evidence that the College had its priorities all messed up, and that, in fact, Dartmouth is run for the staff and not for students, check out faculty salaries. Students come to Hanover to work with good professors, not with overpaid cook helpers or special assistant associate deans, so you would think that the administration would try hard to attract the best people possible. You’d be wrong.

Even though faculty salaries are only 10% of the total College budget, the administration has chosen to save money in this area. What this 10% number means is that we could increase faculty pay by 20%, and only increase the total budget by 2%. But no, there’s no money available for an intelligent investment like that (just as there is no dough for need-blind adissions for international students, kosher dining, the renovation of crummy dorms, relief from the second-highest tuition in the Ivies, and on and on).

As the old saying goes, if you pay less than your competitors, you will be less than your competitors. Take a look at the Department of Education’s IPEDS data (gathered from the schools themselves; this is not a sampling or some kind of study; colleges and universities are obliged by law to furnish this information to the federal government). Here’s what we pay our full professors, people who earned tenure long ago and then were promoted again after compiling a consistent record over time of fine scholarship and teaching:

Dartmouth Faculty Salaries Full Professors.jpg

We are not the worst in the Ivies, but we certainly show no ambition to be in the top tier.

Then there are the College’s associate professors, faculty who were granted tenure recently or not so recently (in the case of “stuck” associates, but that’s a story for another day). Does the administration really care to try to keep our rising stars? The numbers say negatory:

Dartmouth Faculty Salaries Associate Professors.jpg

What about junior faculty, our assistant professors, the seed corn trying to earn tenure. They are the future of the College. How hard do we try to attract the best people to Hanover — the same people that the other Ivies are trying to woo? Not very (Penn is trying hard):

Dartmouth Faculty Salaries Assistant Professors.jpg

Finally, lecturers are the folks who do the heavy lifting. They are not on a tenure track; all the people here are in the category of adjunct faculty. By some estimates, though the College does not reveal this figure, they teach almost half of all courses. Once again, we pay less than the other Ivies, and by a good ways. What does that tell you?

Dartmouth Faculty Salaries Lecturers.jpg

Such poor performance is particularly galling given how wealthy the College is. We have far more endowment per student than Penn, Brown, Columbia and Cornell (more that double all of these schools except for Penn), yet they pay their faculty members much more than we do.

Unlike in the Bible, the last shall be last.

Addendum: These figures were drawn from the Chronicle of Higher Education’s on-line database, where the basic data come from the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Data System (IPEDS). Here’s a portion of Dartmouth’s page:

AAUP Salaries Dartmouth Comp.jpg

Addendum: While we report above on the underpayment of the College’s faculty, The D notes that our faculty is less diverse that others. Priorities, priorities. The two subjects are linked, in fact: minority faculty members and administrators are better paid than persons of non-color, such is the competition among schools to show their diversity.

Phil might talk about his abhorrence of super-inflationary price increases, but the reality is that he and Carol Folt and Jim Kim are pricing Supermen. The Boston Globe took U.S. Department of Education statistics and created a database of college tuition/room&board/fees increases between 2010-2011 and 2014-2015. Here are the Ivy League stats for that time period:

Ivy League Tuition 2011-2015.jpg

Geez. Do we always have to be the worst or second worst performer in the Ivies? The College now has the second highest tuition, the second lowest increase this year in the number of applicants, the second worst admit rate, and on and on.

Right now we are only the third worst Ivy in the U.S. News rankings, but I’m betting that in another September or two, we won’t be able to hold onto that position.

Addendum: Do the Trustees even have a clue about the poor job they have been doing for the last couple of decades? They have allowed a succession of weak Presidents to run the College into the ground.

Addendum: In the 2010-2015 period, the Consumer Price Index rose by 8.75%.

Alex Blumrosen2.jpgDartmouth alumni always seem to have a project that goes beyond career and family. In the case of Alex Blumrosen ‘82, he has worked for years to help restore the monument in Marnes-la-Coquette (just outside of Paris) to the men of the WWI Lafayette Escadrille — 269 American flyers, including several men of Dartmouth, who flew for the French prior to the United States’ entry into the war. The monument had fallen into substantial disrepair in recent years, even though it holds the remains of 49 American KIAs. (In fact, there are 68 cenotaphs, but 19 are empty — some represent pilots never recovered; Norman Prince moved to a chapel in the National Cathedral in Washington, DC; Kiffin Rockwell was buried near where he fell close to the front, etc. In addition, two of the unit’s French commanders — Thénault and Brocard — are interred at the site.)

Lafayette Escadrille Poem Comp.jpgAlex studied law at Georgetown, and after several years at two large American firms, in 1994 he became a partner at one of Paris’ leading cabinets d’avocats, Bernard-Hertz-Béjot. He works on the arbitration and litigation of business disputes, particularly for high-tech companies, and he has also taught business law at the French school of Hautes Etudes Commerciales. After seeing the Lafayette Escadrille monument on one of his children’s Girl Scout outings, he resolved to do whatever necessary to have it restored. First he became President of the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Foundation. Then, as Alex describes, he helped assemble and coordinate the groups that made the monument’s restoration possible:

The first thing I did was to change the Board of the Foundation to prepare for fund-raising and working closely the government; I brought on Stéphane Abrial, Former French Air Force Chief of Staff now at Safran, and Bobby Charles ‘82 former Assistant Secretary of State and Washington insider. More recently, Buzz Moseley, a former US Air Force Air Chief of Staff, joined the Board.

Next, we had to repair our relationship with the American Battle Monuments Commission, which had deteriorated over the years. Luckily, I took over the Foundation just as a new team was coming into the ABMC, and we were able to work together. It was probably useful that I knew the ABMC well by then, as I had represented them in court as their attorney.

Finally, with the ABMC we mobilized the French government, and there again, the stars were aligned: with the ABMC we signed an agreement in 2013 with the Ministry of Defense to embark on a long-term fundraising and renovation project. The Minister of Defense at the time, Gérard Longuet, was an old friend: I worked with him on President Giscard d’Estaing’s campaign back in 1981, during a Winter off-campus term!

Two fortuitous but necessary events also occurred. First, the ABMC Chairman Merrill McPeak, another former USAF Chief of Staff, set as one of his objectives saving the Memorial.

The second is the increased military cooperation between France and the US in the last five years in Syria, Mali, and other strategic areas, including in connection with drone sales to France two years ago. French Air Force Chief of Staff Denis Mercier, now at Norfolk as NATO transformation commander, has been highly supportive of French efforts to restore the Memorial because of its importance to the USA. This has been a team effort.

During the monument’s rededication ceremony this past Wednesday celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Escadrille’s creation, a French Air Force Rafale and three Mirage 2000Ns overflew the now lovely structure; one Mirage was painted with the colors and symbols of the Escadrille (inset):

Lafayette Memorial Inset.jpg

Separate flybys were also performed by four U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor fighters, a USAF B-52 Stratofortress bomber, and a World War I-era Stearman PT-17 biplane.

In addition to speeches by U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley and French Minister of State for Veterans and Remembrance Jean-Marc Todeschini, two surviving Tuskegee Airmen, Eugene Richardson and Theodore Lumpkin, attended the ceremony. Their presence honored America’s first black combat aviator, Eugene Bullard — the Black Swallow of Death — who flew with the Escadrille and earned the French Légion d’Honneur.

Addendum: Alex’s contribution was memorialized in the ceremony’s invitation:

Lafayette Invitation.jpg

Addendum: We’ve commented before on the prominent use of a headdress-bedecked Indian as the Escadrille’s symbol. At the ceremony on Wednesday, Oglala Sioux Tribal President John Yellowbird Steele, a Vietnam veteran, wearing a traditional headdress, spoke of the pride that the Sioux people feel at being associated with the American First World War flyers. Ramon Bear Runner offered a traditional Oglala Sioux blessing.

Addendum: The Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Foundation has an active Facebook page.

Harry Sheehy is continuing to weed out weak coaches and replace them with strong ones (the opposite of the process that the administration has been engaged in for twenty years). The newly named women’s ice hockey coach, Laura Schuler, is currently the head coach of the Canadian national women’s hockey team. Way to go, Harry! She graduated from Northeastern in 1994. The new swimming coach, James Holder, comes to the College from Georgetown. Holder is a 2000 graduate of Princeton.

What is it about translucent ocean water that so stirs the soul? Do we have some evolutionary memory of a time as sea creatures? Or is freediving as close as we will get to flying? Whatever the reason, come the middle of winter I begin to dream of the long delirious blue, and this year we came to Bimini, the haunt of people from Ernest Hemingway, Martin Luther King, Adam Clayton Powell, and, ahem, Gary Hart, not to mention Prohibition-era rum runners and latter-day drug smugglers:

Bimini Beachscape1.jpg

The Gulf Stream shoots through the 50-mile-wide gap between Miami and Bimini’s two small islands (reaching over 5 mph at times), and in waters that everyone here describes as “magical,” marine life big and small is abundant. We swam several milles offshore with wild dolphins and learned to spearfish (only with a Hawaiian sling, guns of all types being banned in the Bahamas). The locals make a living off of tourism: hotels and small restaurants and various home businesses that cook meals to order or prepare cookies and cakes in their private kitchens (Charlie’s makes great cheesecake, and we had made-from-scratch Key lime and coconut cream pies from Nate’s).

Thumbnail image for Hemingway Blue Marlin.jpgErnest Hemingway spent many months in 1935-37 on Bimini. He came with his boat, Pilar, and he fished for tuna, swordfish and marlin. An encounter with an enormous marlin is said to have inspired The Old Man and the Sea. He wrote part of To Have and To Have Not in the still-extant Marlin House (right), and his time here inspired Islands in the Stream. Hemingway would rent Marlin House, or he would stay at the Compleat Angler Hotel; the hotel and his other haunts — a long list of bars — have all since been destroyed by fire or hurricane.

Bimini Conch.jpgBimini styles itself as not only the Bahamas’ but the world’s conch capital, and from orations reminiscent of Bubba in Forrest Gump, we have learned to list the mollusk’s different preparations: cracked conch, scorched conch, conch salad, conch burger, conch chowder, conch fritters, steamed conch, fried conch, stewed conch, smoked conch, conch soup, and so on. Each conch shack on the beach has a semi-submeged cage full of pretty shells with live conchs in them. When you place an order, the chef repairs to the beach and selects a few, whacks a small opening on the top of each shell with a jeweler’s hammer, uses a long knife to detach the conch from its point of attachment to the shell, then winkles out the critter. After slicing to remove the inedible bits, and then various types of dicing (depending on the preparation), you end up eating raw conch flesh within five or so minutes of the creature’s demise. Quite delicious.

Addendum: Biminian speech contains several creative euphemisms: “summer crab” is the term for lobster taken out of season (fishing for spiny lobster is forbidden in April, May, June and July); and “square grouper” is most the desirable catch of all: a large bale of plastic-wrapped marijuana, probably thrown overboard from an under-duress smuggler’s boat, that has washed up on shore.

TURN TO PAGE TWO


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