Thursday, March 27, 2014

Followup on Lear, with a Brief Meditation on Body Mass

Here's a physiological note, inspired by Michael Pennington's masterful performance in King Lear.  Specifically, one of the ensemble was--shall we say--a fat guy, and he played it to good advantage: he did one bit that was a knockoff (I am sure) of s Brueghel painting I've seen somewhere, and it helped to nail the orientation of the whole production.

Which set me to thinking: you really don't see a lot of fat people in New York.  Chunky, maybe, especially when wrapped up in their winter snuggies, but really nothing like the displays of bulk that have become so much  defining element of our national consciousness and self-consciousness.  And if you doubt me, go take a look at that marvelous portfolio of chart porn served up serendipitously  by The Atlantic from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  Turns out  that the winners of the low-body-mass sweepstakes are almost all in or near the mountain states (which figures, when you stop to think of it).    The outliers are (a) Marin County just north of San Francisco and (b) yep, Manhattan.

I suppose the Serious People can offer explanations far more well-armed than my own.  You do have a lot hard-drivers who never stroll when they can stride (well: they never stroll at all).  I suppose there are a lot gyms, though there don't seem to be quite as many as there were when I first began spending time here back in 1996.

And perhaps the obvious choice: they're not in their cars.  They do take buses, and subways (oh boy do they take subways).  But at least you have to walk to get to the subway.  And, of course, up and downstairs.  Yes, that's it.  Up and down stairs.  Infrastructure solution for America: more subways. With stairs.


marcel said...

I lived in NY when I was young, 35 years ago, and noticed it even then. I put it down to (a) all the walking -- people in Manhattan walk a lot, unless it's raining, and (b). (b) is that life in NY really does move faster than everywhere else, and that burns up a lot of calories. I quickly dropped 10 pounds when I moved there after college, and, eating as much as I wanted, it stayed off. When I went off to graduate school 3 years later, the 10 pounds quickly came back (and of course since then, I've put on another 30-35 pounds). So walking, and the normal pace of life in Manhattan.

Taxmom said...

Ditto previous commenter. I was struck c. 30 years ago at how skinny NY'ers were even in comparison to healthy Californians (poss. cocaine had stg to do with it). A walking and stair climbing culture will do it fo you.

Taxmom said...

uh, "for", obviously.