Speaking of crimes, the Marquis de Sade supposedly said only the first murder is hard, and I thought of that again when the obit for the White House chef ran, with the reminder that Mrs. O’s predecessor had canned him after she and her pretzels-and-O’Doul’s husband moved in and didn’t want any of that fancy Clinton food — let the dignitaries eat brioche enfolding hot dogs. Some say she has her Lady Macbeth moments, and apparently the deepest corners of her closets are scrubbed very clean. But I envisioned her reacting to the sad news out of New Mexico by just taking another long draw on a cigarette and languorously turning the page of some potboiler involving a highway out in West Texas.
Not fud except for the source, but: Traveling in the Obama era is always better than it was during the Reign of Error when we had to pretend to be Canadian or at least insist we were not Americano but New Yorkese. Still, it was illuminating to talk with a Northern Irishman in Turkey who responded to my lament that there’s a whole lot o’ racism and ignorance on display in this country lately. “No offense,” he said, “but hasn’t there always been?” And before returning to irregularly scheduled snark, I have to note that the consensus among the mostly youngish Turks I met was: “Fucking Erdogan is killing everything. But we need the economic stability.” Looking at the rampant destruction of the city for shopping malls and luxury housing, it did seem as if, as one young put it, “We’re losing our birthright.” Unlike Americans, though, they will at least credit their leader for the extra lira in their lives.
On the lighter side, the story about Erdogan installing a food lab in his megamansion to test for poison inspired some animated discussion over one lunch. One tablemate wondered why, if he’s so terrified someone is out to get him through the gut, he doesn’t just have his wife cook for him. My response: “Maybe he can’t trust her, either.”
I read KKKrazy people, so I know there was a shitstorm over the Big Os’ dinner destination on New Year’s Eve. Somehow it’s beyond the pale (so to speak) when the most powerful man in the country if not the world chooses a $295 prix fixe. Personally, I’d rather have a president worthy of perks. Not a dry drunk choking on pretzels while sneaking O’Doul’s.
Not to trivialize the hysteria, but what is the deal with beheadings? Even whacking off the face of a soft-shell crab, let alone the cockscomb-bearing part of a chicken, is anything but easy. How in holy hell are these guys managing to make human head-torso separation seem even more effortless than scimitaring off a Champagne cork? And the bigger question: Why are knife manufacturers not cashing in? Admen, start your engines.
My favorite wingnut finally got me to pay attention to the new FDA rule forbidding American cheese producers to age their stuff on wood, ostensibly for sanitary reasons. He was all wrought up about libs and Obummer, so I had to point out that neither likely bears the blame and shame for this bureaucratic overreach. Somewhere, you can be pretty sure, someone from the industrial cheese world got paid to get the law changed. Legislators are not looking out for “we the people,” because we only pay their paltry $174,000 salaries, not make them into millionaires. Artisanal cheese producers have even less clout. But if there’s an upside to all of this, it is an acknowledgement that Big Cheese does feel threatened enough to try to stifle the competition. Once you’ve had a Jasper Hill, or a Rogue, processed crap just won’t do it. Meanwhile, the Big O has set in motion a way for “we the people” to let the White House know what matters, as one more way to undo the damage wrought by his predecessor, who famously never “listened to focus groups.” Another way for the little guy to fight back would be to launch an insidious campaign to send the message that the dread feds are forcing us to shun home-aged goodness just to prevent the occasional outbreak of listeria. Make the bought-off in Congress own their sellout. Call it “Buy Imported.”
My sources read Panchito so I don’t have to suffer the increasingly saccharine insipidity while the Chimp he flacked continues to go unpunished. So I know the lamest restaurant critic ever has gone all Hallmark on America’s ass without ever noting he is the first gay uncle who does not have to pretend to be straight. Given that we are, for the first time, going through a civil rights revolution driven by neither a war nor legislation crammed down the throats of the free Xians, surely the cause deserves a better banner bearer. As the cries to burn down the op-ed pages grow, and especially after the pushy broad has been ousted, maybe sign up a guy who can both bake and think? Anyone who could bring his own mom over to the enlightened side would be preaching to the convertible. And I don’t mean that in the car sense.
Whatever else you might say about the Big Os, they are the most food-savvy White House occupants ever. He not only knew to make a pit stop at the most revered deli in America but could riff on the menu afterward. “Stinkburger” and “meanwich” may not be the most clever coinages. But joking about them seems much more presidential than choking on a pretzel after too much O’Doul’s.
Much as I would love to quit Panchito, every day brings more reminders of the disaster he played such a heavy hand in creating. He should have been safely assigned to “review” Olive Gardens long ago. But now he’s talking Bush III. Would you buy a used drunk from this guy?
Someone needs to alert Panchito: No one wants his “lessons.” We’re still trying to unlearn the last one. The inestimable Charlie Pierce deserves a Pulitzer for this observation alone: Sportswriters have been accused of selling out for a steak dinner, but “you can buy the Washington press corps with a cheap nickname.”
And I really wish we were living in the future and none of this had happened yet. So now the Boston suspect has been charged with having a “weapon of mass destruction” and I guess everyone had just better prepare to surrender their pressure cookers. I grew up with one of those scary things — my mom used it every day to cook dried beans or, when the freezer was otherwise empty of venison, boil a deer heart into submission, and all seven of us kids would cower as it rocked back and forth on a burner, looking ready to detonate. I wasn’t surprised one could be converted by an evildoer, but I remain amazed at how many “reporters” seemed unaware it is not “like what you might use to cook rice,” as NPR’s terrorism expert helpfully explained. (Yeah, you might, but you might be thinking rice cooker.) At first I was going to make a joke about how airlines will one day no longer allow Prestos in carry-on bags, but then a Twitpal informed me Williams-Sonoma has already pulled those potential IEDs off its shelves. The crazy gets crazier and crazier. While I keep wondering why those founding fathers never thought to write in any rights for those of us who would just like to fly home with a bottle of wine or olive oil without having to check a bag. Didn’t Jefferson produce both?
My Panchito tracker again alerted me he had horked up another hacktastic word salad, but I again made it only a graf in before clicking that tab straight off. The real amusement came over to the Twitter, where his BFF was lauding his singular wisdom as if her gig depended on it. And, even better, where a big name who actually can eat and write DM’d me to observe that “his lack of wit almost rises to the level of a medical condition.” Well, he did once sell a joke: the Chimp. Too bad it was a terrible one.
How do you say “towel snapped across the ass” in Italian? It was rather rich to see Panchito dissing Italy’s very own Chimp. Oh, Texas. Such a rich trove of food. Such a spawning ground of Cruzes . . .
Wonder why a guy whose byline once appeared under “I Was a Baby Bulimic” was allowed to lecture everyone else about overdoing it. Especially right after he praised Ed Koch for “always overloading.” Bingeing is nothing new. Just ask the president he sold, the one who spent like a drunken bankster.
On this Kenyan muslin socialist morning in America, I have to point out that in a sane world Panchito would never have been deemed fit to print again after selling America on the Bushwhacker 2000. Given that his employers seem to be strapped for lunch money, though, maybe now’s the time to save a few hundred thou a year and cut his vapidity loose. He’d be fine living off all those vicarious dieters willing to be bored round.