Friday, October 24, 2008

I Never Sang for Lee Klein....Part 1

So I guess it's time to discuss what transpired between myself and the Miami New Times, after I was asked by Gail Shepherd to contribute a piece to their then-new 'foodie' blog, Shit Order. It's filled with the usual bad writing, incorrect/incomplete information, amateur photos, and comments from each of the bloggers about how wonderful they each are in their blissful ignorance. So I guess they thought that one of my pieces would fit right in....

Gail works for the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, and at the time (and perhaps still), Chuck Strouse was the editor of both papers. Now I'm not here to trash the New Times, or the fact that they basically do four different cover stories, which could more or less be defined by the old saying, "gas, grass, or ass, nobody rides for free", where 'gas' is replaced by 'DJ/rapper', and 'nobody rides for free' is replaced by "Cuba". Once (or twice) a year they do a food-related cover story, usually effed-up by Lee 'Grampa' Klein-the last one I believe was about bottled-water versus tap water. Yeah, he really glams it out.

So Gail asked me to do a First Bites. The conversation's a little fuzzy, but it went something like this...

" Hi Miami Danny: Thanks much for your entertaining participation in Short Order, and for your kind words on Presschops. I want to start a regular feature on Short Order where I ask SoFla foodies (writers, chefs, purveyors, bloggers, farmers, etc) to reminisce about their earliest food memories. The entries would be fairly short, maybe a paragraph or two, and I'll be collecting them either via email or by phone, depending on the interviewee's preference. Would you like to participate? I'll include a link to your blog (well, to Daily Cocaine, anyway!) and, if you approve and have one, a photo of you. Let me know if you think this would be something fun to do. Best, Gail Shepherd, New Times Broward Palm Beach"

Like I said, it's a little hazy. So I responded something like, oh..."Hi Gail-You are hilarious. Of course I'd love to participate. The New Times is like family to me! Can I interview you and Lee? ....Now that would be fun. Just let me know when you need it.

Gail-Cool! Yeah, family, well that’s one dysfunctional little clan you’ve got, isn’t it? You can definitely interview me anytime — my intuition tells me that maybe Lee would pass (you might think of Lee as an estranged uncle).... I’m pretty sure that it would be hard to get us all in a room together. Unless there’s a death or something. As for the question:
What’s your earliest food memory? Or one of the earliest? Please elaborate."

Like I said, it's been a long time, and it's all a little hazy. So to make a long story short, I send them the piece (see below), and Gail posts it immediately on the blog. I alert my readers, friends, family, former cellmates, etc., and they all enjoy my humorous jaunt-even though most of them have heard these stories a million times (I'm old). And I send the link out to the world.

Here's some more of my hazy recollection....
"Hi Gail-Here's the memory and my bio-I was trying to get it to you yesterday but the day just got away from me....
I was never a wine distributor, but I know a bunch pretty well from my days at Stop Miami. If you have any questions, maybe I can help. Let's grab a cocktail sometime soon and catch up. I'm also sending you a photo. Enjoy.

Gail-Thank you, this is really, really great. I remember going to the butcher with my mom too, it seems very quaint now. We also had the same refrigerator — full of nothing to eat — and a set of kitchen cabinets, also full of nothing to eat. You’d open the cabinet door and there’d be like, 8 cans of stewed tomatoes and some baking soda and a couple of rusty cans of bamboo shoots and maybe a pop-top of cocktail sausages. I’ll try to post this today.
Yes, I’d love to get together, maybe also with John Linn, who I’m sure would like to meet you.... Thanks again for this..."

But wait, later that evening, or the next morning, Lee Klein comes back from vacation and storms into the New Times offices after seeing my pretty face on their blog, and fuming, sputtering, and almost shitting himself because his panties are in such a twist (yes, I know for a fact he wears panties-don't ask), demands that my post and all mention of me be removed forthwith, or he will have a stroke right there in front of Mr. Strouse. The post is removed, and a runner is dispatched to get Miss Klein, whose seething hissy-fit shocked even some jaded staffers, a box of Kleenex (the kind with the aloe lotion-he has a tender rectum apparently) , with which to clean himself.

Of course I laugh about it, and of course Mr. Strouse feels compelled to phone me a few days later to explain why Klein is acting like a six-year-old schoolgirl, and try to make it seem like somehow I was at fault for accepting Gail's kind offer to submit a piece (again, this was not a paid piece (what is, anymore?)), after I had "called Mr. Klein an asshole." according to Strouse.

Three things:

#1-First let me say, I have never called Lee Klein an asshole. If you google "lee klein asshole", PressChops doesn't appear until 10th position, and I do not say that Lee Klein is an asshole in that post; I am referring to a hypothetical situation which does not involve Klein being an asshole.

#2-If I feel that it serves to edify, elucidate, or otherwise inform (or entertain) my readers (or myself) about something they probably already are suspicious of, but not really 100% sure of; if I might some day feel the absolute necessity to say, "Lee Klein is an asshole", I will feel no compunction about doing so. I have not done so yet, but I do reserve that right.

#3-Grow a fucking spine.

In Part 2, I finish what I started with this whole "Lee Klein is an asshole" rubbish, and get back to what PressChops is all about...calling out the frauds, the hypocrites, and the candy-ass sycophants. And, ahem, believe me, they know who they are...


johnmlinn said...

Jeez, Danny... are you so bored that months after all this shit goes down, blows over (or under), and is completely forgotten about, you have to drag it up, publish private e-mails between yourself and Gail verbatim in an effort to further make Lee Klein look bad? What's the fucking point, sir? No one cares about this shit. It's not even interesting to those directly involved let alone the 1.6 million readers of the once-monthly updated Press Chops (the collective sounds of their eyes glazing over could be heard in space). I'm truly sorry you spent "hours and hours" writing some horseshit response to a legitimate salutatory gesture from GS and it turned out to be for naught. "OMG I should've gotten paid! Why is Lee such a sissy?" In your magic journalism world, people apparently are paid for what amounts to an interview and editors never pull content! Amazing the naivete! Give it a rest, please. And as for amateur writing and pictures you need look no further than your own blogger pages.

Danny Brody said...

Hey John-Thanks for your comment.

First, please let me point to #3 above.

Secondly,I never asked to get paid, I was simply pointing out that this was a non-paid piece...incidentally, an 'interview' usually consists of some sort of Q&A-this was not an 'interview'; but again, I never asked to be paid and was not expecting to, so I'm not sure why you bring that up.

My understanding, having worked in the media for some time, is that yes, editors or anyone else can pull content at their whim. I was not arguing that. I was simply saying that one guy throws a hissy-fit, and content gets pulled. Kind of makes you wonder what OTHER stuff gets pulled because it upsets La Klein; or for that matter, gets written about and published, again, not because of its merit, but because one guy's emotional reactions have to be placated. Makes one wonder about the ethical capabilities of an editor who pulls content because a by-line (not even the content itself) upsets one of his sensitive writers, who by the way, makes his living AS A FREAKIN' CRITIC! Personally, I find it adorable.

As for my "magical journalism world"...sorry if I upset you, but, of course, neither you nor anyone else at New Times has disputed my account-which is that a piece you requested was pulled because Lee Klein couldn't bear to see my name in print. And for that I simply would like to reiterate, thank you. Because yes, that is indeed a magical world!