Speaking of the place where sausage is made, I was intrigued by how quickly the death-powers-that-be were persuaded to regret an error of omission. The obit should have been a no-brainer, not least because she was a longtime, widely respected contributor in addition to all her other accomplishments. But soon enough calls were made, pressure was put and there you have it. Once upon a time this would all have “just happened.” Now everyone leaves a digital trail of panko.
Maybe I’ve traveled too much. But when I see someone in the hometown paper mocking Rome for being swept up in Eataly mania, I just wonder if she had any idea what the Italians thought when New Yorkers lost their shit over Disneytorino.
And I changed my mind about the Heartland “reviewer” once she got her chance to go on “Dining With the Stars.” She dropped her dignity faster than you can say “I’ve got five columns to write” and jumped on a plane to New York with a flack in tow. I’m sure her employer was as thrilled as Dining with all the traffic, but it was a little unseemly, to the point that I was not alone in cynically wondering if maybe the authentic Tuscan farmhouse chain wasn’t underwriting the media tour. The alacrity with which chefs leapt to cook for her was also queasy-making, given that she and her attention-craving son admitted a discerning palate is not her strong suit. But the low point was the giddiness the former JGold Wannabe exhibited on inviting her to the Page One meeting. If all it takes to get that entree to big-decision confabs is to be an internet sensation, we should thank Allah that Keyboard Cat and Charlie the Finger Biter peaked too soon.
Also in my little getaway from the center of the universe, I had conversation after conversation about either newspapers as the new Titanics or how wrong it is that 60-somethings are getting shitcanned, with no possibility of ever finding a new job. Running through every discussion was my contention that the formerly arboreal media, as Michael Tomasky famously dubbed it, is totally removed from the real world, where everyone is one health crisis away from a bankruptcy, where you can lose your house through bankster greed. And nothing made that disconnect clearer than the hometown paper’s shoutout for a five-day food-angled trip to Cuba for $4,000 — $800 a day. I have been to that little island off Key West, and I can assure you ropa vieja does not go for Per Se prices.
And this is my TwitLonger on the sad news I knew was coming: That refrain you hear out of LA is “Nearer my God to Thee.” Collapsing the food section into the least-read edition of the week, and then throwing up a drywall? Makes sense only if you think the staff has been warned the beatings will continue until morale improves.
The latest evidence the backfield is on life support at the hometown paper, though, was the report on the model whose leg was amputated by Photoshop for a Health Department ad warning of the diabetes risk from supersizing both sodas and physiques. The hole awaiting the truck to drive through was: How could a photographer sell a photo for that use without knowing who the subject was? No release? But of course it took the followup to answer that, without acknowledging that maybe running the poor guy’s face blew his cover. (I assume that was fair use because it was a news story?) At least he was a good sport and signed off with a great quote about singing and dancing and not charging an arm and a leg if the sugar-water companies wanted to hire him for their own campaign. Not gonna happen (only anorectics guzzle in ads), but here’s a thought: NYC should hire him for the next set of save-yourself ads. Who would ever order a Big Gulp again?
Relatedly, I’ve long argued that journalism went down the tubes, and not the ones Al Gore invented, once it became a profession for the elite rather than a job open to a college dropout like me who learned by doing. And nothing made that clearer than the sad tale of the pea & the princesses (or, more likely, princes) down to the Taj Sulzberger, whose refined sensibilities are so refined they simply cannot work amid the aromas of meat cooked by those lowly tradesmen in the lobby. They’re apparently actually allowed to work from home while the ventilation is tweaked. In a just world, a Subway franchise would take up residence there; nothing smells more foul to me than that fake yeast. But then they would probably think it smelled like Team America.
If I were the cynical sort, I’d almost suspect formerly arboreal media had something to do with the Taco Bell lawsuit pointing out the obvious: 99 cents cannot buy you an all-beef anything. What else would sell full-page ads in these desperate days?
I thought it was just me dislocating my shoulder trying to heft all the recipe troves this season; one actually takes it as a point of hyperbolic pride to be cited as weighing “15 pounds.” But Anne Mendelson also noticed: The cookbook stack is too damn high.