Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Beef over Cheese

For the last two weeks, I've been reporting a story for the Los Angeles Times about the death of U.S.-sold Roquefort cheese, an innocent casualty in the EU/US dispute over hormone-fed American beef. Althought L'Aigle Noir, aka the Black Eagle, featured prominently in my article, I have to say my favorite Roquefort is the Papillon Black Label. It's richly flavored with a crystalline-like mold texture and is best savored in a dimly-lit room with some epic Chopin. Last week, I bought the last chunk of it at my neighborhood market for an astounding $10.99/lb -- the last time I saw it was at $44/lb in Silver Lake's Say Cheese shop, and in a few months, it may be closer to $100/lb. The cheesemonger told me it wasn't moving and he needed to get rid of it. While I was busy freaking out over my grocery coup, he explained to my friends who were with me that it was like getting vintage Jimmy Choos, still in the box, at clearance. But trust me, I'm going to town in these high heels.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

32 Stories

My friend Adrian Tomine has a new (old) book coming out next month. A revamped-edition of 32 Stories. He says the existing book version was going out of print, and instead of settling for a reissue, he decided to do a little artistic overhaul: "...present it more like little artifacts from my teen years, rather than a proper book. And that supplementary booklet does indeed feature my heinous yearbook photo on the cover, which kind of ties into the new essay that's inside. But I'm hoping it'll be kind of a funny surprise when people first open the box." And that's a Tomine quote hot off the gmail press.

I highly recommend picking this set up -- Adrian's been critically-acclaimed for years now, from his New Yorker illustrations to his Shortcomings epic. But these original Optic Nerve comics are the archetype (a word whose definition I particularly remember from freshman year of college when he did some kind of art project on it). Anyway, as I was saying, the mini-comics are what paved the path, before he moved to Brooklyn, grew that beard and got married. Now that I am in Berkeley, once again, and in fact, living in his old apartment, think I will re-read them myself.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Check it out - my plan is working! The New York Times is launching community-based "citizen journalist" sites, accessible through their own online edition. Of course, "citizen journalist" is just a euphemism for "unpaid reporter" - but if I were in J-School or just starting out my career again, I'd be on it like mold on Roquefort. We all had to work for beans at one point in this industry -- and you'd be surprised how delicious they can be.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

This morning, while enjoying the sun in my parent's backyard, my dad handed over the business section of the L.A. Times. That's right - handed it to me, so that I could read David Lazarus' Sunday column
advocating the iTunes model of economic sustainability for newspapers:

"When Napster and similar file-sharing services debuted about a decade ago, people said the music industry was dead because consumers would no longer pay for sounds. Then Steve Jobs and iTunes arrived, and the music industry was reborn (more or less).

I feel the same way about newspapers, all that genie-out-of-the-bottle talk notwithstanding. Yes, the Internet's eating our lunch. And, yes, that's because we served it up ourselves. But let's talk about now.

Unlike the proposal I put forth in my last post, Lazarus recommends an even better solution: have the papers band together to form a consortium ("the more the merrier") and offer an online subscription. The SF Chronicle says they might start charging for online access, but somehow, it doesn't seem as worth it in comparison to paying for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal (which does charge), or better, a consortium of papers.

Currently, it costs $1.44/week to get a daily, print-edition of the L.A. Times delivered to your doorstep -- that's $6.25 a month and $75 for the year. If you subtract the production and delivery cost, an online subscription would only be that much cheaper. Of course, maybe when 3G phones finish taking over the world and clunky computers become obsolete, people will once again be willing to fork it out for simple luxuries, like reading the paper.