I’ll let everyone else chew over what it means that an actual star is taking over the kitchen of an iconic restaurant. (So many other words for “headline” in a headline.) I’m just enjoying how the media playing field has been leveled. A blog gets the story and up-front reports that it came via press release, as does so much “news” even in the age of rapid-fire Twitter. The serious outlet gets the story and dances around the sourcing because of course it would be unseemly to admit it’s business as usual (see: any BizDay report on food advertising). But the biggest sign of progress is that once upon a time the “scoop” would not have seen the light of print, digital or dead-tree, if the “reporter” had not been guaranteed an exclusive. Unpleasantness, as an editor confined nearby used to complain, would always ensue, with much screeching into a landline. Now those gold-plated bidets must come with a thin layer of humility.
Archive for the ‘Fho’ Category
Wednesday whiplash: One story tells you there’s no spring produce, the other says “shell peas!” And then there’s the third, touting the Greenmarket “pantry.” Which of course is better-stocked this time of year than the Greenmarket “walk-in.” You can, after all, cook anything with potato chips and applesauce.
Then again, we are talking newspapers today. The most gobsmacking tip I’ve gotten in donkey’s years was less about a sad story than about how it was sold. There are no heroes or villains in it; no one wants to talk, nor should they. But my hyper-famous tipster was right on the main point. It was the food world equivalent of the Iraq war BS. “No” said it best: “If you want to sell a lie, enlist the media.” I guess the wash-off stinks less from a gold-plated bidet. But jeebus, did I ever try to warn them about the family silver . . .
I got some pushback from a fellow old-school food writer who skipped the olive gravy train, but I was able to defend myself by saying I didn’t say “all” food writers jumped on the greased skids. She is right, though: There is a secret handshake among those who believed in the cause but didn’t need to be led to the story. And everyone knows how rules were bent to let “outlets with integrity” take the cannoli. I tried my damnedest, but no one wanted to hear that “the family retainer” is stealing the silver. A deal’s a deal. Or, cheap is a very good price.
Wonder if anyone involved in rough-drafting/editing/printing an item about a $550 sushi kit has any idea what it costs to launder and dry a load of laundry publicly these days. No dishwashers for dishwashers . . .
The truthful column hed would be: “Reporter” we never wanted to hire recommends the best free shit that came in the mail. Also, too, better than cat linkbait: “I was a ghostwriter for your most bloviating columnist.”
My only regret in wildly killing out about a thousand writeme emails stacked up over the month is that I might have erased evidence for when press trippers later write up press trips in pure and holy outlets with shrinking budgets. Out with serious food people recently, we had a good discussion of the hypocrisy of the hometown paper in shunning contributors who may have indulged when, say, a Chilean wine expedition is converted to a food feature. “But maybe the rules are different for staff?” LOL. Guilty on two counts.
About the only thing to be thankful for this election is that the people behind POM do not see Willard as a wonder. Imagine if they could put $35 million into selling that cypher as healthful for America. Worse, imagine if news organizations realized, as the hometown paper did this week, that they could have their bogus elixir and drink it, too. All day the day of the FTC ruling, the home page was blinded by the blight of paid deception. Only the next day was it reported that the ads were not to be believed. But as I keep saying, at least they didn’t get us into a war with yellowcake this time.
Maybe the new JGold Wannabe shoulda packed up his silver and china, though. Reaction to the “let ’em demand cake” by the food coven’s nastiest bit was fast and furious. I would have been oblivious to it if not for a FB posting by an unmet friend I take for a sweetheart, so I didn’t post over there what I alluded to on the Twitter: Who in holy hell would listen to etiquette advice from someone who puts the C(word) in coven?
I can’t keep up with all the old-media hypocrisy these days, but the trashing of bloggers for taking freebies really makes me snort. The best development in so-called journalism has been the disclosure requirement for online reporters. It’s very liberating to admit you are writing about a friend — in the food coven’s heyday either editors were lied to or everyone danced around the truth. Today, to quote the sheep farmer’s wife we met in North Wales who was responding to Chernobyl denial: “They think we’re stupid.” A few weeks ago I passed a new salon between the C train and the Union Square Greenmarket and saw a sign outside saying something along the lines of “we may look open, but we’re doing an editors’ preview.” Sure as shit, a few days later first the hometown paper had a report on the place. And then the print Faux did as well. And I’m sure magazines will be hair-flogging away soon enough. We all know how the sausage is made. Why not dispense with the opaque casing?
Now back to the home of the food coven: Why, when you report a chef is leaving, would you not also reveal where he’s heading? Is the gold plating for the bidet thicker from the spurned party? And no wonder the Egopedist has been MIA from print and his name was conspicuously absent from the flier that came with the hometown paper boasting of the big changes coming to the Richless section. If you want “Tomatoland,” why not read it in the original English?
Also got a good laugh on seeing the “family retainer” crediting Crain’s for reporting Alto had auctioned off its stuff — when her own outlet had run an ad in its pages only the day before, disclosing exactly that. Can’t blame Craigslist this time.
Now for a bigger question: Was the cat away for the Thanksgiving Eve edition of the section formerly known as DI/DO? The lede story was was so tedious I couldn’t even read it to count errors (although I did detect a punctuation glitch in the caption). The off-lede was so painfully overwritten I wanted to scald my own eyes. And the hoariest cliché ever was actually pressed into crude service for the hed on the review. Or should I call it the turd that finally plunked into the punch bowl? What other restaurant has had so long to get its act together before the starry hammer dropped? From there it was on to the outsized narcissism of a restaurant critic ordaining himself the expert on home cooking, and then the clunky verbiage on alleged restaurant openings. How absurd is “ingredient-driven food” when your lede story is on . . . beyond-esoteric ingredients? And WTFF does “pushes the sports bar envelope” mean? Pigs in a jockstrap blanket?
Maybe I’m cynical, but the passengers stranded on the cruise ship seemed to get more coverage than the cholera victims in Haiti — poor things had no cold beer or “champagne.” Certainly they got more food, even if it was crap like Spam. What was weirdest was how the media spun it as the wealthy on a luxury cruise, when anyone paying attention knows the 1 percent with the real bucks in this country would not be caught dead on a floating project with the middle and lower classes. They have their own yachts. In assorted ports. All I want to know is if the capitalist cruise line that called in the socialist Navy and Coast Guard for help has taxpayers covering the cost of the lobster substitutes, too. If so, let ’em eat Pop-Tarts.
A friend emailed to chuckle at the Rudest Woman in Food writing her own etiquette questions (because who would actually ask such silliness?) But I just skimmed her and thought of that all-purpose caption for the New Yorker’s cartoon contest: “Who is that fucking asshole?” And thought of it rewritten as one-answer-fits-all, essentially what I heard yelled into the phone for 46 months: “Eat shit and die.” Really, would Miss Manners ever boast about scamming her own husband?