Bombs away

Travel is wasted on the incurious, which is why it’s even more depressing to watch the Chimp parade around the Middle East with his usual dazed demeanor, security-blanketed by his monogrammed gift bibs. The only thing that makes it bearable is imagining a guy who eats like a 5-year-old having to take his 45-car motorcade into drive-throughs if he wants his Big Mac felafel and side of fries. Oh, the tantrums he must throw.

Together we fall

I can’t say I’m sorry to see so many seriously bad old-time restaurants dying on Columbus and Amsterdam lately, but it is a little disheartening to see that so many of their glitzy replacements are all following the latest food merger from hell. I call it Glasian — with the first two letters, of course, coming from Gloppy. At a time when Americans are becoming so much more sophisticated about nuances among ethnic cuisines, what’s with this herd instinct to turn out one menu under Thai, tempura, Vietnamese and sushi? It almost makes you long for the good old days when the ubiquitous mixed marriage was China-Criolla. At least that had historical precedent.

SOS in marine-speak

My Philadelphia tipster tells me there’s a new restaurant down his way called The Ugly American — which I guess means Yankee Go Home was taken. Apparently the food is as misguided as the name, so it’s no real threat in the long term (especially not with Cheddar ice cream), but I think it is worth hammering what a strange way this is to showcase domestic cheese, beer and wine. Can you believe the South Park movie guys have a better ear for euphony? Their fine dining establishment would surely be called America, Fuck Yeah!

99-cent fossils

As I always say, my big fear is reincarnation, but lately I’m starting to hope I might come back in a few hundred millennia as an archaeologist in a whole new species. Imagine the wonder-working wisdom to be gained while deciphering cyber-hieroglyphics and realizing that a world tilting off its axis from too many humans needing too many resources actually chose to fuel its cars rather than feed its population (or even expand mass transit). Every day there’s another horror story about ethanol eating up all the grain crops while rice prices are shooting up. Tax cuts were even approved recently for the ethanol eco-disaster. Eat your heart out, Marie Antoinette. People today are too stupid to realize there will soon be no brioche no matter how far they drive.

And, while I have my Mormon underwear on, I also have to sermonize about the chubby kid I saw eating cheese fries with ketchup on the subway the other night. I watched him put garbage in his mouth for several stops and thought: If he had any idea how stupid that was, he would have ordered a cheeseburger instead — and schools would be teaching basic nutrition again. But then I remembered there is no profit in that — an educated consumer is the biggest offense to Big Food. Snapple is juice, no? And Twinkies are now being promoted as ideal eating in the car. . . .

Neil updated: Toothless, toothless

If you like eggs, though, you might want to think about the latest installment in the saga of how foie gras is making certain idiots batshit insane. The food world’s equivalents of the right-to-birth crazies are now talking about petitioning the USDA to declare lusciously fat livers unsafe to eat. Their faux concern is exquisitely timed, just as Eric Schlosser has highlighted how humans continue to be obscenely abused for reprehensibly cheap burgers. It just makes it patently clear how badly these nutcases with no lives want to shove their noses in my plate. No wonder some days it seems we have never evolved out of Eden and that goddamn apple.

On the bright side, all government agencies are apparently so under siege that the chances of foie gras even moving onto the agenda are about as high as bananas all around in the Middle East from the Chimp and his ivory-tickling enabler. The very credible report just issued on the FDA was enough to give any sentient being the E. coli squitters: no money, no computers, no coherence, but more scary food imported and grown and distributed every day. No wonder the nutrition nazis are feeling emboldened enough to propose limiting sodium in processed foods. Everybody knows that’s going nowhere in the age of Big Food and osteoporotic government. Salt on your own private plate would be banned first.

Banking on nail salons

Walking to Pamplona from the B train I was struck, the way I am almost hourly in this city, by how fast neighborhoods are changing. Even two years ago, who could have imagined heading to dinner at an ambitious newish restaurant on sleepy, dusty East 28th Street? Now there’s a hip-looking Asian joint right nearby with a blackboard out front advertising, right below “lobster roll,” “spice girl roll.” You used to have to go to the corner of Park Avenue to eat that. . . .

On little pet goat feet

If there is even a tiny shred of doubt left that everything the Chimp touches turns to guano, this official travesty will dispel it. Poor Bill Yosses appears to have been reduced, as my consort put it, to “sculpting cow turds.” Given that chocolate is lethal to dogs, what were they thinking serving it to a French poodle?

Botero with a shiny appendage

Michael Lomonaco always comes across as one of the nicest guys in New York, ever since my consort shot him in the wine cellar on 52d Street years ago. So when a friend and I found ourselves late on a Saturday night trudging up grim Eighth Avenue in the high 50s looking for a nightcap I suggested his latest place, even though it happens to be located in the dread TWC. We walked out $40 lighter after a glass and a half each, but was it ever worth it. Not only was the wine list adventurous (excellent Greek sauvignon blanc, Santa Ynez chardonnay) and the noise level set at “adult.” We actually got to hear two words I thought were obsolete before midnight in New York: Last call. I don’t claim to be a good reader of body language, but I got the strong sense why the grownups were battening the hatches. Barbarians were storming the Stone Rose gate across the mall hall. What made it all worthwhile, beyond realizing yet again what an anti-drag it is getting old if it means you can blissfully avoid that kind of pathetic scene, was that it helped me forgive myself for endorsing a blight with my patronage of a good part of it. It was exactly the kind of experience you would have in a big glassy shopping center in Hong Kong, another seductive city that exists on so many fascinating levels. Those silly people at our tourism agency missed the best slogan ever with all their thrashing around: New York — more un-American every day.

Order it black and blue

Give the Chimp points for timing. He could not have chosen a better week to veto more health insurance for kids, just as a huge burger producer had to actually shut down for good because there was so much shit in so much of its meat. And who would be most likely to be eating cheap frozen beef, and most at risk of getting mortally sick? The same kids he thinks can simply go to the emergency room. For the record, my recent seven hours at St. Vincent’s cost $2,386. Multiply that by 3.4 million  and imagine how many federal inspectors it could send into slaughterhouses. The torture never ends with this sociopath.

Your currency on crack

Once again, I have to thank Islamochrist that crooks and liars installed the first CEO president (or was he supposed to be the first MBA?) I went to buy another nearly quart-size jar of Maille’s Dijon mustard and it cost $1.50 more than the last one, just a few months ago. Talk about feeling like an American in Paris. Now we can’t even get a taste of Eutopia without paying a premium, and it’s only gonna get worse. We’ll be priced out of extraordinary olive oil, Parmigiano, balsamic vinegar, great olives, Maldon salt, Calvados — everything, come to think of it, that King George has never experienced for all his money and opportunity. Merde, as they say — even the stoned wheat crackers from Canada are going to cost like Carr’s. I’m all for eating locally, but I never thought it would be rammed down my throat by a government that couldn’t shoot straight.

Long knives

In other candidate charades with food world analogies, I cannot understand why old media lets Herr Giuliani get away with euphemizing his current wife’s former career. Everybody knows she sold medical equipment demonstrated on dogs that were then offed. In other words, she was a nurse like Sweeney Todd was a sushi chef.

Bend over

Given that I have not eaten a Mrs. Fields cookie in 20-some years since learning just one packs 260 calories, I was not surprised to see New York City back off from forcing fast food chains to play by the numbers. The truth hurts the bottom line. A bigger mystery is why the powers that wanna be Big Brother saw fit to commission a redesign of the famous choking poster. The old one was graphically graspable from across a crowded room. The one I’m seeing everywhere lately is all small blurry gray pictures and tiny text; you could stand three inches away and not know the first thing to do if your dining partner swallowed a fish bone and suddenly turned blue. Maybe someone can “update” the old “I Heart New York” slogan with: “This individual standing in front of you talking is experiencing a deep and strong and very abiding affection for the five boroughs and in fact the entire state.” It’s the kind of improvement you expect from bureaucratic bunglers in Washington, not Mayor High-Tech. Plus it must look like a muddy mess on the backs of the staff down at Schiller’s.

Can you hear me now?

Walking home latish Friday night from the surprisingly excellent “Bourne Ultimatum” (the antithesis of “America, fuck yeah!”), my consort and I felt as if we had wandered back to 1986, when we fled Columbus Avenue in the Seventies for the sleepy suburbs half an hour closer to New England, up in the then-dodgy Nineties. Wine bar after wine bar was spilling out with hammered androids who seemed to have one setting on the volume dial: braying. At least three longtime restaurants were suddenly closed and gutted (and at least three more that should be shut down were still full). The sidewalks were jammed, and we could only wonder who those look-alikes were, and from what part of Jersey they might have disgorged. Columbus always goes in cycles, and what’s good for business is bad for the neighbors, so I could not have been happier to be just passing through rather than living in that old apartment one flight up on 72d. The one where the street noise was so bad I once called a floor refinisher to see about having ours sanded and polished and he asked: “Is someone there working on them now?” The one where we once poured water out the windows onto the barbarians below. “Wine bars” may make it sound as if the street is going upscale. But merlot in the wrong hands is just as much a menace as martinis. Does this city always have to be saved by a market crash?