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One of the biggest mind-blowers for me while researching this book has to do with beaver. Today we depend on removing all the gas and oil we can from the ecosystem to fuel the forward-march of Homo sapiens, and this practice of pillage is nothing new. For hundreds of years the “harvesting” of beaver drove the territorial expansions of the British, French, and Dutch on North American soil, a trade aided, abetted, and often controlled by the Indians. When “Americans” became a sovereign force, we kept it up. Our passion for beaver? Here is a piece of my book that hit the cutting room floor. My editor was in general permissive with me in the matter of cultural asides, but this one went too far:

Today class abrasions are still evidenced by positioning vis a vis wearing fur. When folksy rock crooner Dave Matthews, among whose charity causes include PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, derided Kanye West for wearing fur, which is his wont, the rapper responded on his blog with a tirade about fashion. Counting himself among those “who represent the ghetto…the fairy tale of nothing to something,” West described his fashion choices as a communication back to where he came from: “We live it [fashion] so hard people live through us! We represent your inner spirit!!” And: “When you truly understand cultural settings, boundaries, and our modern day caste systems, then you can feel the glory and pain from the days of kings in Africa to the new kings of the media….Remember clothing is a choice. We were born naked!!!” You get his point. His message encapsulates all that fur has signified about social status for hundreds and hundreds of years, and also goes pretty far in explaining why social status means so much.Pace Dave Matthews but if he’d ever had to prove himself in the terms set out for Kanye West, we might have never heard of him.

“Tell PETA my mink is draggin’ on the floor.” — Kanye West

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