File this under “sometimes the news is in the noise, sometimes it’s in the silence.” What was missing in the redesigned issue of a certain magazine whose editor is renowned for hiring the first barbecue critic? And I’m not talking the lone Bertolli ad from the Eighties . . .
Archive for the ‘petrified newsstand’ Category
I’ve laughed before about the Murdoch Crier running stories on $22,000 dresses while including slingers in the Saturday paper offering 20 cents off on a can of Goya beans. But the disconnect is deeper than that. In an alleged news story on how higher food prices were cutting into Labor Day grilling budgets, a woman was quoted as telling the caterer to serve anything but burgers. Yes. Because times are so tight you can’t do the cooking yourself. Or: Let ‘em eat brioche buns. And put your palate on a pallet of pintos.
I’m so old I remember when a coupla hippies from Vermont were among the good guys in food. But they sold their soul to the corporate store, and the other day the slingers in the Murdoch Crier included a coupon for a buck off a gruesome example of overkill under their once-good name: two types of ice cream in one pint carton with a “core” of peanut butter or salted caramel fudge etc. It’s Mad Dog 20/20 in the freezer aisle. At least you can get fat for a good cause. It’s “fairtrade.” Probably gluten-free, too.
Usually I disregard Tweets that link to stories older than, say, 12 hours — info-junkie that I am, I know so much new information has usually come out that whatever is being reported as new is really as fresh as yesterday’s baguette. But when one of the smartest women in food politics Tweets, I listen. And her catch — on gubmint loans for local food — illustrates the great chasm between “reporters” today and reality. The former are constantly whining that the Big O is not giving them enough access. Yet this eminently encouraging information was just lying lox-like, there for the taking. It’s as if they don’t know how to use either the Google or the .gov.
I might have missed some news by sluggishly reporting a piece for Eater, but I did take away a big revelation: Print is still a BFD — indie magazines not only sell well, they command collectible prices. So it was no surprise to read a @carr2n column on the allure of the old way of reading. Which happened to include a nugget on what turns off readers from online ingestion — all those goddamn ads. And that reminded me why I get only two magazines delivered: one because I don’t know why, the other because my in-law equivalent just will not listen when I tell her it ain’t what it used to be. I hadn’t seen the Amex food pub in years before picking up a copy at a promo event, but I was amazed at how impossible its dense pages made discerning editorial from ads. No wonder people will drop 8 bucks for the likes of Modern Farmer. If they want nothing but ads, they’ll click on a listicle.
I started out thinking I would blog this over to the Epi Log, after running down 14 flights of stairs the other day and spotting at least three Quaker Oats boxes in recycle bins on various floors: Why in hell do people buy that stuff instead of the better/organic/cheaper oats at Holy Foods just a couple of blocks away? But I realized I couldn’t even Tweet it, at the risk of some neighbor taking Twoffense. So I saved it for here, after plucking a double-truck out of the latest “buy $1,095 skirt/save $1” Murdoch Daily. The slinger showed me you can buy QO cookies and snack bars and chips and more if your yogurt isn’t sugary enough. For all the crap McD’s has taken for marketing overly sweet/unhealthful oatmeal, that chain had nada on the processed crap behind the old-fashioned label. It now makes everything but the insulin syringe.
Nice to see the ghost of Time choosing only the Butter Guzzler as the fud world candidate for its 100 list. If it was trolling for linkbait, it succeeded. But surely someone, somewhere is doing anything more significant at a time when so much is changing for the better. I guess it could have been sicker, though: It could have chosen a ghost who was happy to slap her name on a spinoff of the cash-in on The Sugar. I guess we should never forget how James Beard made enough to buy that townhouse with the mirrored bathroom . . .
I almost dropped my SBT slice at Freddy & Peppers on coming across a Laurel for the restaurant reviewer who can’t talk and eat soup. So she’s a heroine for “being immune to Internet hysteria.” Maybe what the judges were really praising is how quickly and voraciously she took to old-media fame whoring. (Also left unexamined: Where Anderson Cooper now gets his scoops and publishers now find their new authors — on that vile series of tubes.) I’m slow, but maybe I’m starting to get it. Anyone/thing print-positive must be deified.
After taking a month off here, I’m finding everyone everywhere else has apparently said everything that needed to be said about the big issues. Hostess really was Bained. Junk food chains threatening to screw their employees on Obamacare really are risking both loogies hocked onto the pepperoni pizza and Typhoid Mary infecting the Caesar salad. And going after a tiny roach with a tank really was overkill designed to bump up traffic to a site in math-wizard withdrawal. But I will add two thoughts on the public flogging of the Furry Anus, which admittedly was entertaining but also turned Tarantinoesque as it continued, and continued, kicking a cripple: He would have been so much smarter if he had had the foresight to open in SoPo, where every restaurateur is automatically now a hero. And my, how Times have changed. I remember when just the notion of linking reviews to restaurant websites was roundly rejected as undignified if not a corrosion of integrity. Now actual linkbaiting is “service journalism at its finest.” Somehow I’m sure that plays in Grand Forks.
File under Reading the Slingers: At least now I see why so many of those crap food chains have been expanding into supermarkets — better to pour your own pancake syrup, or nuke your own frozen lasagne, than risk pissiness and germs from the uninsured help. Also, too, global warming must officially be here if Dunkin’ Donuts is touting 99-cent iced tea on the cusp of Thanksgiving. And, as always, the most entertaining part of going through the Saturday WSJournal is thinking someone assumed readers being sold $500 blouses might be interested in a dollar off on Grey Poupon.
And we now live in a world where a groundbreaking newspaper can finally announce a game-changing redesign, then choose to run a recipe for sloppy Joes in its first new magazine issue. I guess tuna casserole would have been too adventurous.
Plus what is the Murdoch Mouthpiece thinking, slipping what my in-law equivalent calls slingers into its Saturday papers? I get a laugh every week when I think about readers who can apparently be seduced by $11,000 dresses — and $225 goose and $300 bourbon — clipping out a coupon to save a buck-fifty on Wholly Guacamole.
As is probably obvious from my lack of income-producing work posted over to my rarely updated Stories page, I spend way too much time on the Twitter. But not all of those hours are squandered simply trying to point out that someone (many people) could be wrong on the internets. The food links from followers way outside the comfort zone are addictive. As with this photo of exhausted Egyptian women packing lupini beans — in a glossy magazine, they’d be shiny happy people, and right next to an ad suggesting “Visit Cairo,” with no hint that the pork served in hotels comes from pigs fattened on street garbage. Cover line, of course, would be “107 hot new falafel chefs.”
Not to pick on that one paper too much. We also get the other, self-branded hometown paper on Sundays only, and one of our penalties is USA Weekend, which has decided it’s 1988 all over again on its food page. Not only are the recipes all low-fat this and reduced-sodium that (and without even the payback of any craptastic processed ads), they also seem divorced from how real America eats. At the most glorious time of year for produce, when the hardest part of shopping is resisting buying every piece of bursting-ripe perfection you see, why run a recipe for macaroni and cheese made with frozen squash purée? Yeah. Turn on your oven on one of these 90-degree days, coat your baking dish with cooking spray and open up a box of Birds Eye. I’m a big believer in recycling, but not of tired ideas. At the very least the damn thing could have been freshened up with kale — before that frenzy passes its sell-by date.
I’m half-relieved the “fancy” food show will be in DC this summer, for the first time in my memory, not least because I can legitimately avoid that exercise in temporary bingeing. A bigger reason is that it points up how the center of power is shifting in this country as the banksters reveal themselves to be not masters of the universe but greedy fucking cretins. Both buyers for “gourmet” shops and vendors will be flocking to a different city, eating in different restaurants, now that the money’s moved. So it was good timing for Time magazine to finally do the elephant-in-the-media feature: Why is that backwater now booming? And of course it had to take an ideological bent. Much was written about “government contractors.” But the word lobbyist was never mentioned. You’d think they never bought a Congressperson (dinner).