Friday, June 02, 2017

THE BEER BEAT: "Please stop calling your legal, open-to-the-public bar a "speakeasy," and other adventures in fake news.

Allow me to suggest that far too many lamentations about the scourge of "fake news" are found to emanate from those who routinely and unquestioningly absorb vast mounds of extraneous bilge written and photographed in the service of food and drink promotion.

It isn't so much that many of the press releases I read from food and drink businesses are badly written, though stunningly often, they are.

Cringing in the expectation of further abuse is no way to enjoy your morning coffee.

Rather, it's when these hype sheets refer to the imperative of Hagio-Simmered Whey Encrusted Virgin Pork Gills, somehow combining pretentiousness, snobbery and loin of PT Barnum in a single phrase. We're supposed to nod knowingly, so that others will, too, even if none of us has any idea what it means.

As another example, a word like "speakeasy," unraveled here. To use this word without having a clue as to its proper context and historical meaning ... well, is that not fake?

If it isn't fake, what is?

And before someone asks, the late Speakeasy in New Albany was a restaurant, bar and musical venue that didn't claim to be something it wasn't. It was a proper name, not an implied identity. 

Fantasy is fun, and it appears that vast numbers of us were raised on pretending, though spouting utter nonsense doesn't make you a card-carrying member of the 1%, precisely because the 1% still holds all the cards -- and intends to keep it that way.

Better to learn something, act on one's convictions and teach the coming generations how life really works. End-times extravaganzas financed by plastic might prove only to presage the end times. I'd prefer to think and move otherwise.

I remain supportive of the various revolutions in food and drink, and always will, but the time has long since passed to raise a hand and call "bullshit," whether to drivel oozed by national political figures, local economic dishevelment directors or the posturing that accompanies restaurant openings and new beer releases.

Now, I'm going to make a statement (again) without really knowing how I intend to back it up, but speaking only for myself: It's back to hitting fungoes and shooting those hundred free throws every day. My world needs to be about fundamentals, genuineness and dependability. The train must become reacquainted with the rails, and those rules that matter learned prior to breaking them.

Rant over. Enjoy your damned weekend.

Please stop calling your legal, open-to-the-public bar a "speakeasy", by Esther Mobley (SF Gate)

Just because your bar doesn't have a sign does not make it a "speakeasy."

Other features that, sorry, still don't make it a speakeasy: a hidden door. A reservation-only policy. An intimidating gatekeeper.

And here's something that definitely precludes your bar from being a speakeasy: You send out press releases and post endless photos on Instagram, no matter how many old-timey mustaches or antique medicine bottles may appear in said photos.

For a while I've been biting my tongue, willing to let this term go the way of "handmade" or "artisanal," wearing itself out to the point of meaninglessness. But it's gone too far now.

The latest offender is the Grid, the new "Tron"-themed "speakeasy" inside the arcade-cum-bar Coin-Op. (Though there's some confusion even among its operators about what to call it: All press releases call it a "speakeasy." But one partner prefers "VIP lounge" to "speakeasy," which, don't even get me started on "VIP lounge.")

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