Relatedly, it seems like only yesterday the hometown paper was assuring us the Molto Ego I was always accused of maligning was busily and blithely plotting his comeback. Now it looks as if he could be heading Weinstein’s way. How did they get so suckered? Musta been flack magic.
I quit reading the Sunday Arts & Leisure section literally decades ago after a couple of theater people I met at a dinner party pointed out the obvious: It is nothing but promo copy to fill up the spaces around, and justify, the theater/movie/gallery ads. The food pages of course have no ads, so there really is no excuse for a huge feature that amounted to a press trip for which subscribers paid by kicking in to pay “journalist” salaries. I mean, really? Signing on to shill for a teevee show as a way to explore a story you could find literally in the backyard with all the cheap-and-shitty Thai restos on Ninth?
Then again, on one of my increasingly regular trips to the consort’s hometown, I happened upon a laudatory story in the hometown paper on how all the local taxpayer dollars were paying off in high-profile coverage of a city that has been, for at least 10 years, a food scene happening in plain sight. Lede: “America’s favorite city. One of the top places to see in 2016. A top 10 food city in America. These are the accolades that Travel & Leisure, CNN and National Geographic, respectively, have showered on Buffalo recently. Over the past few years, writers from USA Today, The New York Times, popular travel media and newspapers nationwide have visited the Queen City and shared their intrigue and, ultimately, their love . . . Last year, we were able to influence well over 230 stories, and some of them, of course, went viral in other ways. They had a media value of $4.1 million.” How much was in “clean” coverage? And how did we get to this so-called president, anyway? On Kerala wings?
No matter how miserable your life might be, feel very fortunate you are not the flack trapped at a desk at 9:30 on an early weeknight shilling Xmas BS before the razor blades have even been inserted into the Halloween apples.
Relatedly 2: I Tweeted the other day that using “infamous” in a bar/restaurant press release should be an immediate firing offense unless you represent the cannibal cook/cop. But what inspired that gets worse: The client is not just infusing Campari with guanciale grease but adding mezcal to his new-wave Negroni to minimize the bitterness. If you want a Negroni that tastes like diabetes, why not just add ketchup, with a French fry as a swizzle stick?
I’m already dreading the descent of the holidays, with flacks hitting me even now with “halfway to St. Patrick’s” pitches. But once in a while something tantalizing flushes up amid the dross. Like the announcement that a smart company has come up with “just add wine” mixes, right as wine targeted specifically at moms is making news. This could be the best mother’s little helper ever. Macon & cheese again?
I see lots o’ change down at my old place of employment, both encouraging (new public editor) and ominous (departing multimedia editor). And I liked an interview I saw that acknowledged the guys who, when I worked there the second time, thought the Internets was for playing solitaire but are now jumping onto the Tweet train. But I also found it just absurd considering the barrage of e-releases I get every week touting DI/DO contents. How lame is your content in a viral age that you have to pimp it out? For Pinch’s sake, start making videos with kittens added to taste.
Sometimes I actually almost want to weep for flacks. As judgmental as I am, I realize they need to make a paycheck, and if a chef/client says whipping up gnocchi is easier than boiling boxed pasta, yeah, sure, they have to regurgitate. But please don’t feed me rabbit ragu and call it Gnocchi Helper.
Also kinda suspect Paul Newman would be spinning in his grave if he knew his legacy was advertising dog’s dinners. And I don’t mean pet food. Upscale Hamburger Helper, indeed.
Way behind on posting, distracted as I am by all the KKKraziness out there on the series of tubes, but I can’t resist responding to the pitch I just got. The one that was only slightly less Onionesque than yesterday’s promoting a weight-loss “cleanse” as a Mother’s Day gift (talk about shitting where you birthed). This is for a chain whose name will not be mentioned, hyping a new chef transforming its sandwiches (lemon aioli and lemon dressing!) He can layer all the “blank” Angus onto all the “ciabatta bread” he wants. I will still read “all natural chicken” and see the counter guy at LaGuardia one morning responding to my sad request for an egg sandwich by grabbing a round of yellow rubber from the prep bins, flapping it in the air and asking: “You wanna eat this?”
Dr. Vino over to the Twitter passed along the best oops in a long time: an invite to a lunch showcasing Burgundy “appalachians.” I thought it meant to hint at hiking a certain trail, but he topped me with the potential of a reality show: “The Burgundy Hillbillies.”
I sometimes feel guilty when letting my fingers do the walking in reporting these days, but if you try sometimes you can get what you need online and in books. Take my take on the Oreos centennial — judging by James Trager’s “Food Chronology,” those iconic black-on-shortening wonders originated as a knockoff of the now-long-gone Hydrox cookie. That was the “biscuit bonbon” that came into stores first. And it’s the dark secret you won’t find anywhere in the expanded press releases and blog blowouts everywhere on the anniversary. Instead, look, over there! It’s a factory tour.
For all my mockery of flacks whose skill set does not match their career choice, I have to admit I felt a bit sad on reading a certain restaurant has gone out of business. The “once a copy editor, always a nuisance” side of me so enjoyed the ridiculous menu descriptions. It was my own private Onion.
I also have to Tweet Longer on the premature exultation that makes this time of year so miserable for a food writer. Bad enough I’m inundated with xmas flackery before we’re even at Gobbler Hysteria Day. But I’m already getting e-releases for VD. Shouldn’t there be a mandated period of candy corn digestion before we have to start going all dark chocolate?
No wonder I can’t get focused to snark here. Minus 140 characters will always reverberate around the Twitterverse before I can get my MacBook started: “Television personality is a pretty sorry job description.” I meant it as a retort to all those flacks flooding my inbox flogging babbling heads for a dying medium. But if the dis fits, run with it.
Not sure this was intentional, but a review copy arrived on the doormat the other day with the press release obscuring three letters of the title so that it read “The Bris Book.” I doubt even MFK could say how to cook a foreskin, though.