Name That Tuna

Another cheap treat gone. Relatively cheap, relatively gone. You probably have read that you shouldn't eat top-of-the-line bluefin sushi and sashimi anymore. Too much mercury. (Yellowfin and albacore are still OK.) Maybe a single, heart-red piece on Valentine's Day. Love, even sushi love, always courts death. New York Times target readers, whose grandparents carried smelts and flukes wrapped in all the news that had been fit to print, are now seriously peeved at their lifestyle read, blaming the messenger for the mercury. (Yes, there's a Roman … [Read more...]

Unexpected Ode to Joan Blondell

Remember my forgotten man You put a rifle in his hand You sent him far away You shouted, "Hip, hooray!" But look at him today. Nothing, I repeat, nothing in the cowardly realm of popular culture makes me weep the way the sinfully uncelebrated Joan Blondell does when she sings these lyrics in the final set-piece of Busby Berkeley's Gold Diggers of 1933. I happened to catch the genius Berkeley's Footlight Parade on Turner Classic Movies, and its irrepressible Depression bounce (how the boys and girls of the chorus drop everything and dash … [Read more...]

Horatio Alger? Yes, Horatio Alger…

When Idols Fall For those generous souls who were taken aback by the assertion in the last Out There posting that author Horatio Alger, Jr. was a pederast, you may wish to read this careful explanation of why the young Unitarian minister left his Brewster, Mass. parish so hastily. And on a More Cheerful Note... Have you heard about the fascinating blind study that demonstrates that drinkers prefer wine they think costs a lot more to the exact same vino at a giveaway price? ("Scientists prove that paint dries slowly.") Brain scans show that it's … [Read more...]

Burger Knave

It is a rule universally acknowledged that when knocking out traditional newspaper obituaries, or even those obit hybrids called "appreciations," the dutiful scribe should do everything possible to avoid speaking ill of the dead. ("No one brought more pride to a disheartened nation in so short a time as did Mr. Hitler.") So, Out There is happy to note that its writer is under no such fusty obligation when drawing attention to the passing of Carl Nicholas Karcher, 90, founder and chairman emeritus of the Carl's Jr. restaurant chain. Mr. Karcher … [Read more...]

Handful of Clouds

Don't scab! A 1934 San Francisco picket line. Who (or Whom) Do You Trust? Have you ever crossed a picket line? That uncommon test of one's character -- uncommon because there are fewer unions and fewer union actions -- is more likely to be faced vicariously and safely on the Sally Field platforms of narrative culture. But you probably know why I'm asking, because on the new year's first Wednesday night, a certain "populist" presidential candidate crossed the line, as it were, in Burbank, Calif., to appear with fellow gay-baiter Jay Leno. (The … [Read more...]