Dining seems to be slipping back into its cavalier attitude toward photojournalism. I spotted an enticing shot of a train with a caption mentioning “tours head up the Hudson River,” but the story implied they were actually going by bus. Worse, that train looked to be on the Manhattan-bound track. At least it was more locally carrot-correct than zucchini with pasta in late October. I counted three vendors with the squash at Union Square that afternoon, and one was selling Flintstone-size specimens. If the pasta police bothered, I do hope they ticketed for throwing rice sticks into the ziti.
Now I’ve heard everything — I’ve been accused of going too easy on Panchito. But I think one of my e-correspondents is right in noting that ignoring his own recent takedown of inaccessible restaurants while favorably reviewing a new one does look like “sucking up” to a boss temporarily in a wheelchair. Ten whacks with a crutch for him for not raising his consciousness for real.
And okay, I’m awful. Why do the people ordained to hector us about eating better always have such weird vices themselves? I thought surimi was bad. But Diet Pepsi? A real revolutionary would get that crap off the nation’s table yesterday.
The subscription gods are apparently in retrograde. My New York went missing, so I was spared some Pollan wannabe’s reportedly idiotic attempt at eating locally. Other delivery guys managed to get through with a decent Panchito finally noticing that accessibility is meaningless in the Rbox (crutches are no easier than a wheelchair when there’s “one step at entrance”) but also, unfortunately, with a Mighty Wind that, a far-off friend pointed out, nattered on about a jellyroll pan but depicted the usual casserole. And for some reason the real birdcage liner just will not take no for an answer and keeps sending us the hometown’s worst paper (well, maybe after the Sun, which has only the food pages and oversized photos of photo shows to redeem its waste of trees). A great young friend in Italy with an especially endearing way with his second language once used the term “bust-ballers,” and I thought of it on reading “impeccably serviced” and “designer-clad” (they’re actually wearing the human Armani?), not to mention “corpulent” dumplings. It’s as if this pretentious prattle is being written in Roget’s English and run through Babelfish. And they won’t make it stop.
I think the rodents in the Taj Sulzberger are chewing through staffers’ mental computer cables. Who does make the best “ribolata”? (If you want to be snide about youngsters’ obsession with food, at least drop the right name.) Why would anyone stick dental floss in her drivel? (A friend theorizes that that particular brain has caramelized and wonders what she gets paid per word.) But I know the answer to that: Someone who would put asses on sandwiches and expect people to keep reading.
What was more surprising was the role reversal between the daily and the weekly. Every fall New York used to go bonkers in its preview issue listing dozens of restaurants with wildly grandiose plans to open, and every spring I would count up how few actually wound up slinging that hash. Now it keeps the roster short and sweet while the presumably more sober publication goes on a bender. Why do I suspect it has still not sunk in that newspapers aren’t just destined to be scooping up poop by nightfall? On the series of tubes, empty promises are forever.
Back in those halcyon days when I was writing food columns for a protectively brilliant editor at the NYT magazine, a literary agent made an overture and I reluctantly agreed to go meet her in her office/apartment. It was like the worst kind of bad date: I thought she was interested in my unique voice; she thought I was in it for the Lotto. And I will never forget the rumpled legal pad she produced with all her brilliant ideas for books — she actually wanted me to write something off tired lists she had been flogging for years. I thought of her every time the Egotist came to town with his tattered yellow pages and pitched, yet again, a column on “shrimp shell stock.” We always said yeah, sure, and somehow it never materialized. Well, now that’s out of the way. And at least it seems a little fresher than the Juiceator. You know, that bullshit gadget Sunday Business hyped a year and a half ago?
In the middle of contemplating this, I went out to do errands and an elegant old woman stopped me on Columbus to ask timidly: “Is today Saturday, or Sunday?” I told her, then walked off thinking: Don’t feel bad, lady — you could be moving copy. (Ratafias, though? Convulsively better than shrubs.)
Apparently the Daily News saw Dining’s tits and decided to raise them. What it’s selling is not exactly expertise and integrity, let alone proficiency with transitions, but then this is a paper that lets Grandpa Hinckley dribble into his culinary diaper on a regular basis, not to mention one that has no money for original food content on Sunday but plenty to send “reporters” flying off after Britney’s flingee. I did enjoy the Porcine Pantload’s professing to be shocked, shocked at the vitriol this silliness has incited, given his history of presiding over feces-flinging of elephantine proportions. The funniest thing is that I told my consort this could be the tipping point, that we might have to cancel our subscription, and he responded: “But what about the comics?” And he’s right. We do need it for laughs, and it looks as if she delivers.
I was kidding about tits in Dining, but I see they may be the mound of the future. This week we got the mother load, the bare-nekkid pate of the south, even true udders in action. Nice of them to include something for the girls, though: cucumbers and sausages.