And speaking of the most hubristic name in print journalism, the only thing that gets me through my WTF mornings perusing the paper is imagining Al’s head exploding somewhere in Retirementland. The misspellings, the subject-verb disagreements, the general and pervasive sloppiness make the mind reel. A webcam in the kitchen would have been very valuable the day “Momma” should have been circled and greened.
Speaking of flacks, the one who sent out the e-release touting the “Union City Greenmarket” might want to offer a refund for her/his services. Sounds more like a John Sayles title than the biggest farmers’ market in the country’s biggest city. And I can only assume he/she is moonlighting for whoever decided to start a magazine and name it after Crisco’s poor relation. Spry? I guess it’s the perfect title for lardasses.
For all the WSJournal gets right these days, though, I had to wonder if it was skimping on the copy desk with ITT (the Imitation of T for Twaddle it just launched). The thing had less content than even the FT’s shameless How to Spend It, but the display type must have been gone over as carefully as teh average wingnut blog. Eric Ripert is at Le Bernadin, you see. And could a sentient human actually generate a phrase like “pique the gourmet’s palate”? Or a headline as trite as “Magic Mushrooms”? If the goal was to make lying ads like the one for a new “prewar” apartment house look sharp, though, mission accomplished.
The funniest no-shit clarification I’ve seen lately was the WSJournal’s, which noted helpfully that halibut cheeks are “taken from the fish’s head.” Of course they are. The butt is what you normally eat.
I also was taken with the restaurant ad I spotted in the Village Voice: “Free soda can for every $10 spent.” Talk about nickeling and nickeling. Eat there nine more times and you’ll collect enough to get a dollar back.
Then there were the signs I spotted on 14th Street: “Real burning wood” on a new fast food joint. (No Yule log on the teevee there.) And, at the door of a bar: “Everyone here brings happiness. Some by arriving. Some by leaving.” It’s Jamaican for “don’t let the door hit you in the ass.”
I am clearly a magnet for all things mistyped. I got one from a travel story on Mainz, Germany, that advised: “Stroll along the romantic Christmas market and soak up the scent of mulled wine and roast, sweet pastries and hot morons.” (Would that be a few Mr. Olives?) I got another from a frustrated editor: “One of the customers’ favorites, the New England roll, combines shrimp tempura and spicy tuna tempura flacks with crispy soft shell crap, plum sauce and eel sauce.” (Truth in typing — unhappy free meal, you think?) And I got a third allegedly from the NYTimes, although I was not about to trawl around the Drivelist to verify it: “Gently simmered in a rich garlic-flecked tomato sauce until soft and velvety but not the least mushy, I had seconds, then thirds. . . .” (First, you braise the writer.) At least they all understand the main rule of sloppy keyboarding: If you have to get it wrong, get it silly.
What’s even funnier is that one of those sackcloth-and-ashes sites leading the grief parade just touted the opening of a Qdoba. (Manhattan is now a mini-mall.) And on another I learned there apparently is a supermarket chain called Roach Bros. Vermin Ltd. would be more reassuring.
And of course it is not only the copy-edited who disseminate shit. Consider just a few gleanings from my writeme inbox. I got an e-release touting a restaurant with its address omitted but the flack’s bold-faced, not to mention a misspelling of ragu (the six-letter word goes not on pasta but into a French oven). I got another talking about a restaurant having a “modern flare” and saying classic Italian specialties can be “transformed into gastronomical creations” (which came first, the birth or the makeover?) I am also not sure I would want a meatball that has been roasted for six hours unless I were a golfer, although I do love the idea that you can “heat up, serve and impress” the thing (dinner is always what I want to dazzle). And if you are going to make French fries to seduce kids, why in the hell call them pommes frites? Finally, when you want to promote cupcakes in LA, I think you mean “begone.” Use two words after “hot dog carts” and it sounds like ghetto English. And they ain’t be coming back.
Thanks to the new nest with all the upturned beaks looking to be fed constantly, I just came across a train wreck north of the border. Here was a reviewer setting out to round up and trash a bunch of memoirs without knowing it’s Hazan with an A, let alone that James preceded Julia on the flickering gray screen by at least a decade. As Yogi would say, if he were being quoted today: “You could Wiki it up.”
Metro must be already outsourcing its reporting to Bangalore, judging by the story on the shutdown of construction on the restaurant pavilion in Union Square. Could an actual New Yorker (reporter or editor, even one from Montclair) have let into print the understatement “where a popular greenmarket has been situated for several years”? Forget the fact that the G word should be capitalized, and overlook the peculiar need to explain the obvious. But since when does 32 years qualify as “several”? Kumar, get me rewrite.
One of my sources says fixes are being downsized as part of the purge at the Taj Sulzberger, which may explain why half the stories I slog through have at least one glitch (more and more on the front page). First I read about the “complementary” treats for dogs at a cafe in the park, then there was an op-ed reference to the “complementary” potato chips HIllary served supporters. Eons ago I remember filing a freelance story in which I mentioned complimentary appetizers at a restaurant in Virginia. I opened my paper to find it changed to complementary and complained to Big Al. Who wrote back to say the best solution was to use the shorter, less pretentious word: free. He’s gone, everyone’s taking buyouts or being purged and the lesson was clearly never learned. Last copy editor out, please turn on the Spell Check.
(And you would think, with the country overrun with Mexicans no border can keep out, high-paid reporters could learn a little bit about the food. In a piece on calorie counts at Chipotle, a diner is described as “dipping his nacho into his burrito.” Would that be a tortilla chip, by chance?)
A new vendor at our neighborhood Greenmarket had a funny sign: “Kosher honey for Easter.” Next: Chocolate bunnies for Passover. Or maybe what another vendor was selling at Union Square: “Hard cross” buns. Will people millennia from now be buying waterboard flatbreads?
I can halfway understand why publishers would never think to challenge signed writers who set out to produce a memoir and wind up resorting to what seventh-graders and wingnuts so often must: Just making shit up. But can someone please explain to me how a whole cookbook devoted to steak could reach bookstores without anyone noticing “hanger” is misspelled, repeatedly? It’s plane stupid.
One of those Style copy editors must be moonlighting up the avenue at the “gourmet grill” where my consort was reduced to eating while teaching a media workshop. He thoughtfully brought the menu home and it’s a typo collector’s slop dream: Pasta faggioli. Spachetti. Mazzarella. “On a bed spinach from the grill.” (At least it was consistent: Pannini was used throughout.) But the best part was the copy on the cover: “Walk up & enjoy your favorite foods, prepaired as the day arrives . . . yours taste buds will sore & bring you back time after time.” Sounds like the herpes of Italianesque cooking.
Artisanal is a word now so thoroughly debased that an industrial cheesemaker is selling shredded stuff under that label. So you would think a flack would know how to spell it when naming a restaurant she also described as one of Manhattan’s “most coveted.” Once again, I have to wonder if the Human Scratch N Match is moonlighting.
I might get excited about chocolate if it and I were the last things on earth, but mostly I can look at it and move on to the cheese course. My consort, of course, would mainline the stuff if he could. So when I got an invitation to a preview of a seemingly swanky chocolate buffet way the hell downtown, I RSVP’d for two to split the ennui with the bliss. Big glasses of Champagne waiting at the door looked promising, but then we started sampling. I’m an old ho, so I know you take a bite and move on rather than expect the lame to soar on a second taste. But poor Bob was struggling to do justice to the pastry chef’s prolific handiwork. Finally, even he crapped out and said: “Why am I thinking of Pepperidge Farm?” Well, let’s count the ways, beginning with “chocolate peanut butter cup apricot sauce,” moving on through “chocolate apricot Jell-O” and continuing through “chocolate rice crispy treat.” “Fluff ball” is also a term you never expect to encounter on a menu outside of Applebee’s. What finished it for me was the “chocolate covered apricot pate de fruit.” French Chuckles should be so spectacular they need no Hershey’s. What was most mystifying was who the target audience might be at a time when chocolate connoisseurship is out of control. For this mediocrity they charge $75 (including the Champagne), but it is also packaged in weekend getaways that go up to $40,000 (for the Can’t But Me Love, the release said). The organizers describe the selection as sinful. It’s the right word, wrong meaning.