I’m Going Down to Bonobo’s for a Few Beers After Work

I’ve long been a big fan of the bonobo, a species of great apes that is notable for making love, not war (literally — the leaders of groups perform sex acts on each other to diffuse tensions that, in other species, would lead to violence). This is an example of the really practical knowledge I gained from going to college.

Anyway, I mention this because there’s a huge article on bonobos in this week’s New Yorker, and it’s absolutely delightful if you’re looking for some Sunday summer reading. The opening paragraph disappointed me, though, because I’ve always had this idea of opening up a bar and calling it “Bonobo’s.” It turns out that is already the name of a vegetarian restaurant in New York City.

On a Saturday evening a few months ago, a fund-raiser was held in a downtown Manhattan yoga studio to benefit the bonobo, a species of African ape that is very similar to — but, some say, far nicer than — the chimpanzee. A flyer for the event depicted a bonobo sitting in the crook of a tree, a superimposed guitar in its left hand, alongside the message “Save the Hippie Chimps!” An audience of young, shoeless people sat cross-legged on a polished wooden floor, listening to Indian-accented music and eating snacks prepared by Bonobo’s, a restaurant on Twenty-third Street that serves raw vegetarian food. According to the restaurant’s take-out menu, “Wild bonobos are happy, pleasure-loving creatures whose lifestyle is dictated by instinct and Mother Nature.”

I recommend reading the whole thing, along with Samantha Power’s excellent essay on counterterrorism policy after Bush in the NYT book review.

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