The Hump Becomes the Hummer

Thursday, 25 Mar 2010, 5:00:00 AM

(unassigned)

Full disclosure: I have eaten sushi and will likely eat sushi again. In my first experiences dining on sushi, I may have naively made a few assumptions about the food I was ingesting. I know that one of those naïve assumptions was, “Gee, with portions this small I’ll bet the check is barely ten bucks! I mean, look at these tiny servings. They’re like toy baby doll food. How much could you reasonably ask for kiddy fish?”

Another mistaken premise was that all sushi chefs work in harmony with the earth, making sure that I’m never given any fish that’s either too high in mercury or is perhaps, like myself, a large mammal.

By now you’ve heard that “The Hump” restaurant adjacent to Santa Monica Airport is gone. And with it, any chance you had of eating Sei whale meat for dinner in our fair city. Fair to whales, or so we thought! Charge, penalize, punish the restaurant owners… all good. But here’s where I come down in all this: What kind of de-evolving monkey sits down and orders whale meat for dinner?

Over the weekend, The Hump closed its doors with just the kind of low key fanfare that causes public relations flacks to pitch weekends for events like closing your whale meat buffet. As one might expect, there was a certain amount of press release regret folded into the announcement. From The Hump’s website: "Closing the restaurant is a self-imposed punishment on top of the fine that will be meted out by the court. The owner of The Hump also will be taking additional action to save endangered species. One such action will be to make a substantial contribution to one or more responsible organizations dedicated to the preservation of whales and other endangered species."

I have every confidence we’ll see the receipts from those donations upon request and it wouldn’t surprise me if Typhoon, the parent restaurant that owned The Hump, makes some kind of Earth Day gesture this year that includes 30% post-consumer fiber napkins and sustainable forest toothpicks. What I’m somewhat more skeptical about is the customers and the mentality that causes someone, anyone, to order whale sushi for dinner. I suspect we’re going to have another close encounter with that soon enough.

Digging into the rude and illogical behaviors file, we might equate whale meat dinner orders with the same level of “So what?” ostentatious vulgarity that led people to buy Hum-Vee vehicles. You remember Hummers, the oversized rolling jokes that brought with them a startling scientific revelation: The discovery that a damaged or insecure ego could weigh as much 8,500 pounds. Previous to the introduction of the Hummer for home use, most health researchers believed that impotence was somehow related to diminished size and density. The sale of Hummers to civilians set all that nonsense right on its 14 miles per gallon butt.

But to borrow from an old axiom about dying… comedy is easy, understanding whale sushi entrees is hard. To those few who did actually order and eat Sei whale, I offer the following: In Andrew Bergman’s comedy film “The Freshman”, a group of wealthy nincompoops is tricked into thinking they are members of a club that regularly dines on endangered species. I’m pointing out that the comedy of the film derived from people with resources who knowingly ate endangered creatures. They were the clowns, they were the joke. People paid money to laugh at them, and enjoyed doing so. Copy that? Over? I’m using military lingo because I suspect you are reading this as you kill 45 minutes filling the gas tank on your Hummer.

“The Freshman” came out in 1990, barely months before the start of what we might call the March of the Hummers. Shoot forward to February of this year… and the Hummer is no longer: GM has discontinued manufacturing the dumbest car on earth. Victim of a weak economy… or a victory for the people of earth? One might think it matters little that Hummers have faded knowing that the mentality that eats whale sushi is still out there somewhere. Lurking. Shopping for some new obscenity it can brandish in lieu of having to creatively design a life and personality.

Full disclosure: If I was invited to your home for dinner, I’m the kind of guy that might try to push a conversation about saving sea mammals into another area, such as land-based mammals killing children for real estate. It’s all of a weave, and I get that. Once you sign-off on some kind of ‘right’ to eat and kill the mammals in the sea, it is not far to travel before you’re waging war against your own species.

So all of it demands our outrage and reaction, and closing a small restaurant is nothing compared to the work we still have ahead of us with… us. But we’re getting nowhere fast if we’re still unable to fathom these gaps in our humanity. That’s why I’m offering this open invitation to the walking genius trust that ordered and ate whale meat at The Hump: E-mail me at opinion@smmirror.com and explain what you were thinking.

Man, we are truly in need of some insight and my view of all this tends to be pretty one-sided. Your name will be held upon request. Although don’t be surprised if we leak it to some whales, because they have questions for you, too. And you don’t want to fool around with them because they’re bigger than a Hum-Vee.


STEVE STAJICH

Mirror Contributing Writeropinion@smmirror.com

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