Via @ghostssong, a revolting development from New Orleans. (H/T Rev. Melanie.) Part & Parcel, a new place in the CBD, (I guess sometimes even lovers need a holiday from Cochon Butcher, but I digress.) I ain't mad at sandwiches hardly ever, but the menu here has one absolutely fucked up item.
Yep, that's a baloney sandwich, named after one of the grimmest housing projects in New Orleans. In case you miss the joke, it comes with "gov'ment cheese." Welfare? LOL!! A twelve dollar baloney sandwich with a name that ridicules poverty at a sleek new spot in the CBD? Congrats to Part & Parcel for fitting so much of what is wrong w/ post-K new orleans on a brioche. FWIW, surprising that both Eater and Todd Price (whose story includes link to menu) overlooked this item in their coverage.
It is Mardi Gras Day. I am 22 years, 589.9 miles, and 721 feet above sea level removed from living in New Orleans. Like many of you, I watched the Formation video over the weekend, and saw Beyoncé's halftime performance. There is a lot to think about. The world does not need more Formation thinkpieces, so I will keep this brief.
The video is anchored by Katrina imagery -- specifically Beyonce on a sinking NOPD cop car with flooded houses in the background. There is what looks like real post-K destruction footage. Elsewhere the video invokes New Orleans via American Horror Story: Coven / Pretty Baby iconography. After Beyoncé mentions Red Lobster, there is a cut to a shot of crawfish. Geographically and culturally, New Orleans is close to at the center of the persona Beyoncé produces here: "My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana. You mix that Negro with that Creole make a Texas bama."
"Formation" dropped around lunchtime this past Saturday, or as Isis was getting rolling, followed by Tucks.
Beyoncé's live performance of "Formation" occurred during halftime of the Super Bowl on Sunday. It was cool to see a Super Bowl halftime show that answered the question of "what if the S1Ws were women, and dressed like Black Panther reenactors"? That said, if you went to Bacchus, you probably missed it.
All of this is to say that on first and repeated viewing, there is something about seeing Katrina invoked as a trope in a music video -- even one as righteous as this -- that makes me a little bit uneasy. I can only imagine how hard it must be for some Katrina survivors to watch this. At the same time, I've not seen much pushback in this vein (I am sure there is some I missed). I have a guess about why.
Releasing a NOLA-themed video like this right in the middle of the climactic weekend of Carnival is a strange move, when most New Orleans folks are a) celebrating b) serving food and drink to revelers c) hiding out from the revelry -- but it makes a lot of sense if your Big Chief is the Super Bowl. Beyoncé drops the single on the Internet on Saturday afternoon, performs it in San Francisco at the Super Bowl on Sunday evening, and announces a tour on Sunday night (one that bypasses New Orleans). As she tells us herself, the best revenge is your paper, but I will be curious to see what New Orleans folks have to say about all this once Lent gets rolling.
While you wait for the UPS man to bring your Sweet & Sassy Mix, you might give this giardiniera receipt from G&G a whirl. The Cochon muffaletta is the truth, and may, in some situations, edge out the legendary Central Grocery standardbearer. Some of these situations would include wanting to sit down while you eat, having this sandwich on a Sunday, etc. The puree at the end seems smoother than you want, but in terms of sandwich architecture, makes some sense.
As for the title of this post, some may wonder - is it still the G-Funk Era? Until Warren G tells us different, the G-Funk Era it remains:
The Cod was sad to see, on this day that is in and of itself the title of a suicide note, that Franky & Johnny's is no more. They had their problems in recent years -- inconsistent food, rats, etc -- but some memorable times were had there by the Cod and various cadres of knuckleheads.
It was, perhaps, the only solid food I got during some early Mardi Gras trips.
I saw Dee Brown win the slam dunk competition there.
It was the only restaurant I know of with a framed Billy Martin jersey. (A's no less.)
It was the restaurant that came about as close as a restaurant can come to the Platonic ideal having the lyrics of "Jambalaya" be the menu.
In a city where dining can sometimes be difficult and complicated, esp during Carnival and Jazz Fest, they always seemed to have a table no more that one beer at the bar away. Bailed a Cod contingent out of more than one cranky post-parade low blood sugar incipient fiasco. Notably, after Bacchus in 08 or 09, which itself was after Box of Wine. The Cod may have not been at his most alert, but was very happy to have red beans & rice just then.
They had a Cajun dressing that was probably just Sycco ranch + Tony Cachere's, but it sure tasted good on pretzels when you were drunk, and staying with a friend who had a GF who worked there and would smuggle it out.
I remember @jazzlunatique's 21st birthday celebration there, and calling home on a payphone to check in with my parents.
The payphone is gone, the parents are gone, and now so is Franky & Johnnie's. So it goes. Best of luck to all for their next ventures.
Congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens on winning the AFC Championship, and punching their ticket to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII! As a service, former NOLA native The Gurgling Cod has some tips to make your trip from Charm City to The Big Easy as fun as possible:
2) The same thing goes for New Orleans hotels. Also seedy! Just look on Tripadvisor. Your best bet is to stay near the airport, in either Metarie or Kenner! A taxi ride from there to the Superdome is about 5 minutes, and will cost no more than ten dollars. Also, three nearby Applebee's for celebrating after the game!
3) That said, don't miss the chance to interact with the colorful locals! If you need some "walking around money," someone will bet you where you got your shoes. How could they know? Cha-ching!
4) Bourbon St. is known for its exotic local cocktails - for a local treat, walk into any bar and ask for either a FEMA or a Goodell! You are in for a treat!
5) Finally, a history lesson: Louisiana was originally settled by the French, and legacies of that culture remain. You see lots of streets with french names, and the state legal code is the Napoleonic Code. One quirk of this legal system is that stabbing people outside of nightclubs is against the law. So be careful!
A few things continue to percolate w/r/t the Times-Picayune fiasco. If you'll bear with me for a moment, a couple of concepts:
1) Once upon a time, cities had robust streetcar networks. For a nominal daily fee, any citizen could ride to work, the cinema, or the doctor. In time, a different system took hold, which involved a large initial investment, and greater ongoing costs, in exchange for greater convenience. People liked their cars, however, and eventually streetcar networks withered. Folks who could afford it could drive themselves to work and back in air-conditioned privacy, while those who could not, did not.
By the same token, newspapers shifting to digital platforms represent a massive cost shift from producer to consumer. Instead of giant printing plants, trucks, and kids on bikes that the newspaper pays for in order to put the newspaper in a reader's lap, the reader pays for a laptop/tablet/smartphone, as well as broadband access. Just like with streetcars, many consumers were willing to pay extra for the convenience, while those who can't afford it don't get to read the news.
2) This relatively invisible disparity echoes the way the word "privilege" has been used in recent years - at least in academic contexts. Basically, privilege reframes something taken for granted as a special perk accruing to a given identity, rather than making that perk the norm. So, if you can shop at the Gap without being followed around by store security, that's white privilege; if you can walk the most direct route home from the bar without worrying about being raped, that's male privilege. The insidious thing about privilege is that it's like a tiara you can wear, but not see for yourself. The CollegeHumor video below is funny, but also suggested to me that it's time to start thinking about digital privilege, and the stakes of radically asymmetrical access to the online world for rich folks and poor folks. Presumably, the creators and consumers of this video live in a world where everyone has an iPad or at least a smartphone, and access to robust wifi, both on and off campus. I will keep linking to this map, and mention that this census data suggest that a tablet computer and the monthly broadband nut would be a challenge for many New Orleans families. And who would want to live in a city where it's diffcult for poor people to get access to news?
Maybe, maybe not. What follows is uninformed speculation, and I would love to be wrong. As the boss announces here, the Times-Pic is becoming a digitally focused news organization. That's a fancy way of saying that going forward, you will be more of a website, and less of a newspaper. There are serious issues concerning this platform shift -- going digital shifts costs from publishers to readers, who are responsible for having access to a device and broadband to consume the news product -- but it's not just a platform shift. In theory, a "digitally focused news organization" could take advantage of lower production costs to be a trimmer and tougher news outlet. In practice, the web side of news organizations seem to rely on reader-submitted content. So, instead of more sustained investigative journalism, you get more pictures of readers' pets dressed up in the colors of the local NFL franchise. For example, the Boston Globe's Pulitzer-winning coverage of Catholic sex abuse was a product of the print edition; Boston.com today has a feature on funny license plates.
The sad truth is, you can have a "food section" like this without paying a critic. If your readers will click and argue and generate pageviews fighting over what's the best roast beef po-boy, why pay Brett Anderson? Indeed, a single, qualified voice will sometimes be contrarian, while a mass of reader comments by definition represent conventional wisdom, which is what makes advertisers comfortable. It's possible to imagine a critic like Brett Anderson revealing that a new venture from a beloved chef ain't all that, or worse still, that a beloved institution is slipping. It's very hard to imagine one could learn the truth about brunch at Commander's Palace from a swarm of reader comments. If pageviews, rather than restaurant criticism, is your news organization's goal, a real restaurant critic is unnecessary, and possibly detrimental. The future of restaurant criticism in newspapers looks more like Yelp than it does like Anton Ego. The Cod suggests that ambitious NOLA restaurauteurs make sure they have plenty of dishes with brains on the menu.
The following is speculative, and I welcome comments, constructive or otherwise from folks who know better. I am not a journalist. This is not a newspaper article, but a personal blog. If it were a newspaper article, there would be reporting, and fact checking and editing and stuff. Anyway:
The Cod suspects that the place to begin with understanding the decision to allow the Times-Picayune to function as a dessicated shell begins with the logo at left. Chances are good you recognize it. Chances are also good that it's true when you say it's been quite some time since you've looked at the magazine that is the flagship of the Playboy empire. The publication, Playboy, is a relic. (I'm commited to not doing research here, but I doubt that this is a Taste Of Home type thing, where the lowbrow pub no one has heard of is actually vastly more popular than more highly regarded names people talk about.)
So, nobody reads Playboy, but the brand is still strong for selling keychains and airfresheners and as a tentpole for Playboy.com.
A similar thing happened to the Times-Pic's corporate stablemate, Gourmet. Like Playboy, Gourmet was a tony magazine that lost traction in the Internet age, and for similar reasons. (Grab your whisk and double-click, not to put too fine a point on it.) The magazine was losing money on Reichl's watch, and Conde management elected to suspend publication of the print mag, rather than sell it. By doing so, they kept the Gourmet brand, killed the magazine, and kept the name for a blog.
For Playboy and Gourmet, the brands are profitable, even though the eponymous publications are not. There are, quite probably, folks who would take the crack at running the Times-Pic as an actual newspaper, one that comes out seven days a week, and in a way that poor folks can read. Lots of them don't have broadband. However, same boss, similar math, in that one imagines that the Times-Picayune/NOLA.com, functioning as a news flavored media brand, rather than as a newspaper, might be profitable for the Newhouses.
These are a series of semi-educated guesses, but my guess is that this is not the last media brand vampirism we will see.
Very sad news out of New Orleans, with the Times Picayune planning to stop being a daily newspaper, and to ramp up its digital presence.
The Cod and NOLA go way back, and this is sad news for obvous reasons, but also non-obvious reasons:
1) The threshold for reading the Times-Pic has gone up from pocket change to the price of a computer/tablet/smartphone + the cost of internet access. This move effectively disenfranchises a significant portion of the residents of the city the Times-Pic 2.0 purports to cover. What's more, paper has a promiscous, democratic social life. An e-reader does not. You might read your newspaper on a park bench when you're finished for someone else to read -- a Kindle, less so.
2) It's fantastic to be able to read whatever daily paper you choose on the internet, so that you can keep up with what's happening in the places you care about. However, there is no substitute for reading a local, daily newspaper. At my day job, I've been dismayed by the steady decline of our student newspaper. It strikes me that a significant part of the problem is that you have a group of kids trying to put out a newspaper who are not familiar with what newspapers are and what they do.
Without resorting to masturbatory Bissingeresque nostalgia for The Paper, I'd argue that it is useful, especially for young people, to have a distinct object in their home or school that reports the news. Reporting, editorial, and advertising are relatively easy to tell apart. If you are instead getting your news by osmosis from social media, the differences between public relations and journalism can be harder to spot. Until I moved to where there was no daily newspaper to speak of, I read one every day from my early teens to late thirties. I have been known to joke that I used to be compulsive about reading the paper, but now I get my news from ?uestlove's Twitter. Today, that does not seem very funny.
I am confident that TP2.0 will offer many opportunities for readers to submit pictures of their Saints tailgates; I am less confident they will get after stories about charter schools in Orleans Parish.