While one coast has been whipping readers into a frenzy over mercury, news is filtering out from the other about something really scary. There may very well be no Pacific salmon season this year. Apparently the whole species is not going to surrender the pink when the world is heating up, melting down, trashing itself. Could no fish be better than tainted fish? Good thing we will always have cheap beef.
Consider yourself lucky Joe Nocera is merely wanking rather than flipping omelets at brunchtime in some super-busy restaurant. His take on the downer cows that were ground up and distributed to who-knows-which school lunch or Hot Pocket: One mad cow won’t spoil the whole batch. I am no admirer of animal rights activists who muck around with the food chain, but only someone who has eaten way too many “tacos, Mexican style” in a company cafeteria could seriously think an expose of an undeniable health threat was a simple publicity stunt. Long after Americans are going down with BSE, Nocera and his ilk will be quoting the inevitable Bushism: “No one could have anticipated. . . .” If you think an animal waterboarded to stand upright to pass inspection is going to make good eating, I have a Paula Deen ham to sell you.
Now that the flour has hit the media fan, it’s fascinating to see NYC pizzerias are not bitching about the price of mozzarella as they jack the cost of a slice to gallon-of-gas level — I noticed they substituted mystery slime for even the most base processed cheese long ago. But the disconnect between front page and Metro was weird, with the latter following the exact script laid out in the home of the Human Scratch N Match. The big picture made it clear that, thanks to Chimp rule, we are eight years behind in dealing with both climate change and overpopulation (don’t tell Africa, but abstinence = trouble — my mom had two books on the rhythm method and seven kids in 8 1/2 years). And the whole move toward biofuels is going about as well as everything else he’s pushed. What kind of switchgrassed society would think fueling an SUV was a higher priority than feeding human beings? I guess one with people too fat to walk. You know we’re doomed when a restaurant offers a shuttle bus that will clog traffic and spew fumes just to ferry patrons from the East Village to the near West Village. I could limp faster than a rolling drunk tank.
And now we’re learning the awful truth that endless marketing of bottled water cannot drown out. All the overpriced, largely unneeded products of Big Pharma don’t stop with us. They flush right into the water supply. And we drink everyone else’s Viagra/Valium milkshake. A boom business would be selling one-way tickets at funeral homes. Who would want to come back to a planet this befouled?
Off and on over the last horrific seven years I have been trying to come up with a spoof on How to Cook a Shrub. Now the exemplary Tom Engelhardt has done something far more impressive with his commander-in-chef recipes. Nothing says disaster accomplished like an edible flower garnish.
The McDonald’s translation of feng shui must be “piss into wind.” A franchiser whose mainstay is beef right now is going to need a lot more than Asian touches to keep bad luck at bay. You’ve got the USDA insisting it will not ban downers that might carry mad cow, new cases being diagnosed across the northern border and spinmeisters pinning the problem on the Humane Society, not on a national epidemic of greed. And all this is happening as more news oozes out about where the recalled beef might still be lurking. Anyone who has eaten Progresso Italian wedding soup lately, or those truly scary Hot Pockets, might want to go into denial very soon. Considering that South Korea (and Japan) have long banned American beef, a headline in the WSJ said it all: “Rice and U.S. Beef Lobbyist Offer Reassurance in Seoul.” I don’t know about the professional prevaricator, but I can already hear Kindaliesalot’s defense down the line: “No one could have anticipated. . . .” At least until Jan. 20, 2009, it will always be 8/6 in America.
A guy whose unread books pile up in my office like sins to be confessed placed a lively op-ed in the NYTimes proposing a clever way to wipe out the invasive species endangering American waterways: Eat ’em. That’s easy for him to say. He obviously thinks about carp in the abstract. When I was growing up, my dad would catch those nasty things along with catfish and bluegill and crappies, but even he never forced us to eat the four-letter fish. Instead he would always put them out them for our herd of cats. As poorly fed as they were in a house with not enough food for the humans, they would leave those grotesqueries to rot to high heaven. Since reading an insanely good story in Harper’s on how entrepreneurs are trying to get rich on human shit, I’ve decided a better solution to carp overpopulation would be to eliminate the middleman. Just turn the fish into fertilizer with no human consumption.
As the oceans die and fish prices go up, I’m noticing a fascinating phenomenon in environmental reporting on the food supply. Call it “look down in comfort.” The NYT story on how Jamaicans are poisoning their main river to catch shrimp and fish faster was certainly disturbing, but it had that ignoble-savages tone to it, that “see, they’re so shortsighted they don’t even understand the evil they do and it certainly doesn’t affect us.” Meanwhile, who knows how many millions of gallons of antibacterial crap are flushed into the water supply in this country every day. Somehow I don’t think a little Airborne is going to save us, either. Especially when you hear that Topps, the beef producer shut down after lethal shit was found in the meat, is now selling off the contents of its many freezers for pennies a pound. Somewhere a Bubba is going to ingest a burger and the feces it rode in on and never know what greed hit him. All while the high-minded journalists are worrying about what’s rotten in the third world. . . .
Am I the only $15-a-year sucker wondering why a magazine would run a cover line touting a pull-out guide on “what’s in season now” right alongside a photo of pancakes topped with wild blueberries? It is the February issue, after all, and said fruit is a long time gone. Then again, the contents page features a frittata filled with asparagus. And don’t even get me going on the hypocrisy of a big name nattering on about eating less meat in the same week he’s insisting millions of readers run out and buy honkin’ slabs of pork. Having grown up in Arizona before the Colorado started running dry, I also have to say that any “green” issue that includes a fat advertorial promoting Las Vegas pretty much undermines itself. Even if the city could turn wine into water, it’s an eco-disaster no amount of local cauliflower could ever carbon-offset.
Here’s a budding trend ripe for nipping: The tip jar at Amy’s Bread in the Village is now labeled the “karma cup.” If there are countinghouses in the afterlife, I’m taking another look at reincarnation. But even that Bush-era innovation is not as fucked up as the Chowhound “reviews” posted a couple of doors away on the Murray’s Cheese window. Not only can any establishment cherry-pick favorable ones, but the potential for fraud is unprecedented (check out the first alleged everyman’s swoon over at menupages for a new place with an unfortunate name off Columbus). The one venue where autofellation is actually possible, after all, is the internets. But I guess the faux touts could be dumber: They could have come from Zagat.
Is it too much to ask to be allowed to put away our whites after Labor Day before huge mounds of Halloween crap start showing up at the grocery store? I’m a sucker for candy corn, but not a full month before the leaves even begin to turn below my windows. And with summer squash still dominating the Greenmarket, is it not far too early for a “pumpkin frost latte” at a crapola chain near Union Square? Compared with seasonal greed anymore, global warming looks to be happening at glacial speed. It almost makes you pray the Chimp’s drown-the-government-in-a-bathtub approach helps the Chinese steal Christmas. Lead in the fruitcakes would slow them down.
If there could be verbal gavage, every soft-headed opponent of foie gras would be forced to read the WSJ’s amazing piece on piglet castration. I still feel guilty about the gap between my Siamese’s back legs, and he at least was knocked out before we dealt with the feline version of “boar taint.” Now I know about 50 million “mostly unanesthetized” piglets are de-nutted in this country alone every year, primarily to keep the meat from tasting funky. And to me that makes overfeeding look like Thanksgiving. The story said animal rights activists have forced Norway to ban the procedure by 2009, and of course producers there are bitching and producers elsewhere are nervous. And consumers should be queasy as well — the solution being pushed is, naturally, a vaccine that would do the castrating. But hey, what’s one more hormone in the food supply when ducks are gorging?