As I’ve probably nattered a million times, newspaper copy editors have something called “save-get” headlines/wordings. Before Al Gore got fat, “It’s January, it’s blizzarding” would have been one. But these days apparently there are “save-get” billboards. The NYDN ran one right out of Groundhog Day: “Restaurant Week means cheaper meals, but there are tradeoffs for customers and eateries.” Ya think? What, you didn’t know you get piss in your Wheaties at a $25 lunch?
File under Reading the Slingers: At least now I see why so many of those crap food chains have been expanding into supermarkets — better to pour your own pancake syrup, or nuke your own frozen lasagne, than risk pissiness and germs from the uninsured help. Also, too, global warming must officially be here if Dunkin’ Donuts is touting 99-cent iced tea on the cusp of Thanksgiving. And, as always, the most entertaining part of going through the Saturday WSJournal is thinking someone assumed readers being sold $500 blouses might be interested in a dollar off on Grey Poupon.
I suspect ours will be among the very last households clinging to our print subscriptions, if only to see what online readers are spared. The other week, in the hometown paper, it was a photo that illustrated a little too graphically the line I once had to excise from a secretary-moonlighting-as-a-feature-writer’s piece on boned quail: “Legs splayed like the town prostitute.” For once those editors chose to show rather than tell.
Also, too, they chose a fine time to run a sad song about a diner owner in that strange land known as flyover country. Five days after the restaurant critic whimpers about too much food at a sitting, here we are meant to empathize with a woman struggling to keep a food biz afloat but who “somehow came up with the $35,000” to start it (truck, here’s your hole — HTF did she manage that?) and who never has to address whom she is voting for when she and her husband would clearly benefit from Obamacare. Worse, the real American is never awarded an honorific in this “pith helmet journalism,” as a North Forkser described it. Imagine a story about Ste Alice that used her first name throughout. Or maybe don’t imagine it — it would run over two full pages.
And not to rag on outlets that don’t hire me, and now never will, I was convinced my copy of USA Weekend was misprinted — the date was current, but the food content was from 20 years ago, the heyday of Snackwells and Snackwells ads. “Crispy oven fries” as a substitute for the real deep-fried thing? Go on — next tell readers to substitute yogurt for sour cream.
And we now live in a world where a groundbreaking newspaper can finally announce a game-changing redesign, then choose to run a recipe for sloppy Joes in its first new magazine issue. I guess tuna casserole would have been too adventurous.
Plus what is the Murdoch Mouthpiece thinking, slipping what my in-law equivalent calls slingers into its Saturday papers? I get a laugh every week when I think about readers who can apparently be seduced by $11,000 dresses — and $225 goose and $300 bourbon — clipping out a coupon to save a buck-fifty on Wholly Guacamole.
I also think we’re definitely into the silly season when it comes to cookbooks. Archaeologists tens of thousands of years from now will wonder why climate-cooling trees were sacrificed for entire collections of recipes for cinnamon rolls, or for crap cupcakes with crap baked into them. Even so, I also understand why publishers keep committing. I just tried my first recipe from a best-selling legend (legendary best-seller?) and it was positively craptastic — the pan size had to be wrong, the effort was not worth the time/vice versa and the finished cake was a tooth slog with six times as much dough as peaches. Yet friends and others I trust are constantly raving about the titular creator’s comforting recipes. Now I’m wondering how many have actually taken them to the stove as opposed to bed. Can there be 50 shades of vicarious eating?
And speaking of W(here)TF are the editors, I liked how the Egopedist got to lay on the faux love for farmers and then revel in the accolades for his enlightened thinking (AKA recycling of a million others’ thoughts). But I assume his praise was meant only for those not doing the devil’s work? You know, like running dairy farms?
And the Egopedist is really getting nutrition-nutty, not to mention confusing himself with either that God the founder or at least a kitchen messiah. He’s not a doctor, but he’s playing one online, at least when he’s not calling the dead “pigs.” What’s amazing is that the outlet that created a monster used to have standards; now no one has a problem with him basically yelling milk in a confused theater. He really is the Paul Ryan of food. Meanwhile, back in the Sunday book review they’re getting all snarky on lose-weight-fast best-sellers. Fake physician, stop yourself.
Then again, I read the hometown paper’s entire piece on efforts to whack the salt and fat in cheese and could only wonder: WTF? Why does a relatively ancient food/concept need to be manipulated to fit into an already over-manipulated food chain? Of all the things posing a risk on either front, Cheddar ranks pretty low. Plus, not once did a presumably vetted story offer the most logical advice: Rather than messing with such a great thing, why not just tell people to take smaller bites?
Also, too, having spent a total of 70 months of my life subjected to the anal-retentive insularity of copy desk rules/regulations/speculation at that paper, I am constantly (and sadly) astonished by what makes it into print in the 24/7 news cycle. Take the report on Amtrak’s food costs, which actually cited Republican lying-figures to show it’s employee wages/benefits that are to blame for losses. “A $9.50 hamburger on the train costs taxpayers $16, the charts showed.” Not even an “allegedly” for that rolling merde?
And this is not Fud, but it is good, passed along by a reader who knew Panchito back when his word salads did nominal harm in the “let ’em go bankrupt” capital of America.
I Tweeted this but will elaborate: That fetid air you felt after the latest Di/Do click-whoring was ol’ Craig, spinning as he saw how horrifically his accomplishment was being corroded. He spent his career elevating the food conversation in America. And now it’s descended to the allure of processed crap. No wonder they have to define harissa and gribenes — readers are now too confused on whether they should make their own ketchup or glug out what the attention-whoring chefs do. If I hadn’t lost my faith in the stock market thanks to Pinch shares, I’ve be investing in Jell-O. Can Rush salads be far behind? Maybe run the main with a sidebar on “make your own marshmallows”? No ads will ensue no matter what.
And my supremely wise consort has long insisted any think tank given print time should be identified by its political bent: Left or KKKrazy. Never was that more needed than the day the Egopedist became the dummy for ventriloquists who hide their animal-rights activism behind the white coat covering 5 percent of their organization. I can’t remember who on Twitter added the perfect hed to the milk dis — “Got ghostwriter?” — but I was glad to see I was not alone in calling BullShit. This is where the editors who mistook a $500-a-week gig for a deal might want to face what a monster they’ve created. An audience of millions needs to be fed truth, not pop science. Especially when it’s being spoon-fed by an organization that cares nothing about health and the environment. Contrast the “milk’ll kill ya” with this sanity. As I have said many times, the first time I was assigned a piece to edit, I was warned: “He’s not a very sophisticated writer.” He was brought on when the 1/2/3 passed on the zombie Franey gig. One day the seersuckers will look back and realize they should have put Panchito on the nutrition-nuttiness beat. At least the word salad could have been doused in Ranch dressing . . .
I’ve been so distracted by the Twitter this has been languishing, but: My kingdom for a fly on the wall in Grand Forks on the a.m. the Most Important Paper in America weighed in on the silly successor to the Wasilla Hillbilly’s own private happy meal. Apparently it’s a joke for a small-town reviewer to evaluate a chain moving in. But it’s service journalism for a big-city editor to order up a taste-test of the latest in chain stunts. I could maybe see it before Taco Bell invaded the city all those years ago. These days it’s about as exotic as 7-Eleven. You would never read a feature on how plastic slipcovers feel on a couch, or how a Skinny Girl cocktail goes down, but for some reason fast food is always treated like something the sophisticated reader needs to have interpreted. Maybe that’s because those chains don’t advertise and there’s no fear of a JC Penney backlash? Whatever. This is what bacon sundaes distract from.