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Make it a True Daily Double

Firstclass(Paraphrasing because I was only half-watching) “Which section of the New York Times allows critic Frank Bruni a $350,000 annual budget for expenses?” (And my own question, who’s flying him first class to Moscow?)

No one on this evening’s Jeopardy knew the answer (ok, Tim Abou-Sayed from Florida did eventually come up with “what is restaurants” as a sheer guess, right at the buzzer and after a miss from the ultimate winner Monica Lenhard of Michigan answered, “theater”).

Not that Jeopardy contestants are representative of the nation at large (more informed yet more socially retarded) but it relieved me that clearly no one outside of New York reads the New York Times dining section. I like to be reminded that NYC is not the center of the world, even though I admit to feeling anxious and out of touch with local media when I’m out of town (which is why I was reading “Off the Menu” on vacation in ’05 and learned about Fatty Crab. This was pre-food blog glut by the way, when I relied on print for restaurant openings. I swear I’m not obsessed with hating/loving Fatty Crab—I think I just like typing the word fatty).

Sometimes I wish I didn’t know things, the kinds of things in the New York Approval Matrix. I don’t want to know who The Splasher and Boerum Hill Crapper are (ok, maybe the crapper is alright), yet I do. Why? The person I live with has no knowledge of any of this non-importance (though it’s not as bad as the sixth grade dropout boyfriend raised in an orphanage who had never watched TV in his entire life. Honest to god, he had no clue who Tom Cruise was and that’s a hard one to avoid). Easily 85% of the people I come into contact daily for business and pleasure are not familiar with useless New York-ish pop culture talking points. Should I stop reading self-referential blogs for sanity’s sake? It’s not like I impress anyone with witty, informed banter. In fact, I often go all day without uttering more than a sentence or two, which likely contributes to my urge for spewing nonsense here.

Last night I saw an ad for a job I’d be perfect for. Not a cool job, library work, but definitely not hip as all (northern) Brooklyn librarians apparently now are. It involved food marketing. But it was in Virginia. I’ve seen Chicago ads and seriously think, but Virginia? Uh uh (it doesn’t help that James’s parents live in that state and would kill for him to live closer to home). It’s really out of the country or not at all.

Saturday I was informed that Manila might be in a business trip future. I’d love to go to the Philippines and have been interested in the country (well, the food) since I was a teenager. Shanghai was also tossed out as a possibility for the fall, maybe both. Could I stop reading the New York Times and placeblogs, whatever the fuck those are, for at least a few weeks?

Last month everyone (in the blogosphere, duh–my god, it’s worse than I thought) was doing the let’s live on food stamp allotments challenge (I had food stamps in college and ate quite well–$112/month for a Northwestern 19-year-old in ’91 was a lot of extra money. That doesn’t seem right considering that same state’s average allotment appears to be less sixteen years later). Boring. Maybe I’ll do the same with regional periodicals and blogs. You know, doing without, living like the poors. But then, I’d miss the rare, cool non-NYC-centric chain restaurant article like this one appearing in tomorrow’s print edition.

It’s not like I’m moving (back) to Oregon anytime soon. Wild west or not, the rugged individualist state probably isn’t all that welcoming of outlaw chefs. Jason Neroni will only luck out because no Oregonian has any inkling or interest about what goes on in NYC. God bless them.

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  1. Tim Abou-Sayed #

    Came across your blog after self-indulgently googling my name re: Jeopardy! publicity.

    I thought I’d disabuse you of a few misconceptions. Please accept these clarifications in the spirit in which they are offered:

    It’s spelled Jeopardy! with an exclamation point.
    “Restaurants” was not actually a sheer guess, but an educated one.
    For the record, I am neither socially retarded nor ignorant regarding NYC eats. I am a successful plastic surgeon (social retardation would be a definite hindrance in managing the expectations of cosmetic surgery patients), and my wife is a gorgeous Ivy League grad with a law degree and an MBA. And a great set of … eyes.
    I have lived in Providence, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Houston, Berkeley, San Francisco, Boston, Cairo and Palm Beach, and regularly travel to Europe and the Middle East. I consider myself pretty well-adjusted – my on-air Jeopardy! vignettes about opening a show for Robin Williams and eating Chinese take-out with a Nobel Laureate are just a few interesting life experiences I thought would make for decent TV. I enjoy creative writing, play guitar and keyboards, ski and play tennis avidly. Lots of Jeopardy! contestants are quite normal. If the show selects for social retardation, why are you watching?

    I live in Florida not because of its culture (to be sure) but in spite of it – this is a pretty good place to make a living in my profession. Also, my wife and I like having a YARD.

    As for restaurant know-how, my wife and I are equal-opportunity gastronomes. We have enjoyed meals at Alain Ducasse, Nobu, Per Se, db Moderne, Bond St., Vong, Rosa Mexicano, as well as countless cheap 6th Street curries, not to mention French Laundry in Napa (have you ever tried getting a table?). I read the NY Times when I feel like it but not as a matter of routine – my Sundays are usually too busy to spend reading the paper, least of all the Dining section, except when I plan our trips up to the city. When I have the time, I prefer completing the crossword and reading William Safire and the Magazine, and catching up on music and current events. Contrary to your admission, I actually do “impress a lot of people with witty, informed banter.”

    Finally, vis-a-vis NYC, you’re right that it is not the center of the world, although it is probably my favorite city to visit (SF being my favorite in which to live). I’ve had some NYC culturally quasi-literate moments – have you ever seen the Electric Cat perform in his neon jumpsuit at midnight? Did you ever ride an elevator with the late Jerry Orbach (not late at the time!) in Hells Kitchen just before catching the strains of Lenny Kravitz wafting out of the backdoor of Roseland on your way out to a jog up to Strawberry Fields? What does that have to do with being culturally literate about NYC? Probably nothing. Just like your blog.

    July 15, 2007
  2. Tim Abou-Sayed #

    Ha ha. That was actually kinda funny. You know, for a minute there I felt bad about slamming the blog of a “professional” journalist, until I realized you write for the New York POST 😉 But I thought you might enjoy having an actual comment about one of your pieces. Just kidding, anyway. Why should I complain about being cited on a blog? Actually, I enjoyed reading some of your posts.
    BTW, is Eat your Greens (and Blues) a Sweet Virginia reference?

    July 20, 2007
  3. Alex Quebec #

    Oh yeah, Tim…. you’re a “piece”, alright…

    January 26, 2008

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