Renee French

From: ben.marcus@columbia.edu
To: jfranzen11223@aol.com
Subject: [none]

With your weather kit you construct a potato. With a stone or other porous surface, rain, and woven hair you fashion the potato word to resemble the sound of "potato." With this potato word wrapped tightly in gauze, you travel upstream, placing elements from your set of rejuvenation cards in appropriate deposition sites, from which crying can sometimes be heard. Conversely, I, aligning my mouth in accordance to policies established by the Council of Atmospheric Lottery, enunciate the potato-word "po-tahto."

From: jfranzen11223@aol.com
To: ben.marcus@columbia.edu
Subject: Re: [none]

Hi Ben,

I can't say I am surprised by your message. I appreciate the concern about my pronunciation of various food-related words, though I do find it a bit anal. But since we're on the topic of root vegetable pronunciation, I thought it apropos to mention I heard you interviewed on an NPR affiliate while passing through Iowa City. Have to say I became embarrassed on your behalf when the interviewer broached the subject of crop subsidies in Midwestern states, a subject in which I have some passing interest. Not sure I followed you when you suggested that the use of "wind-proof vocal cones" could liberate American agriculture from the vicious cycle of subsidies and falling prices, but whatever. I did find your assessment of Iowa's ironic political climate—subsidized farmers banging the drum of Republican self-determination—mostly spot-on, though you lost me when you started talking about converting rivers into "zones of nonspecific grief reimbursement." And you made the easy mistake of claiming subsidies hit $8 billion in 2001. That's actually a 1997 figure. By 2001 subsidies rose to $22 billion. Neither here nor there. What embarrassed me on your behalf was the way you said the word "tomato." It's pronounced with an ah in the middle. And tomahtoes are really beside the point, being that the subsidies in question are most relevant to corn and soybean crops.

All best,

Jon

From: ben.marcus@columbia.edu
To: jfranzen11223@aol.com
Subject: [none]

Potato?

From: jfranzen11223@aol.com
To: ben.marcus@columbia.edu
Subject: Re: [none]

Are you asking me if it sounds like "potato" or telling me? It's potahto.

From: ben.marcus@columbia.edu
To: jfranzen11223@aol.com
Subject: [none]

Tomato.

From: jfranzen11223@aol.com
To: ben.marcus@columbia.edu
Subject: Re: [none]

Tomahto.

From: oprah@harpo.com
To: jfranzen11223@aol.com, ben.marcus@columbia.edu
Subject: Potato/potahto, tomato/tomahto

Let's call the whole thing off.

—O.W.