The showboating twerps worm their way into everything. There’s a butcher shop in Warrensburg, NY, not far from where my parents retired, called Oscar’s Smoke House. It’s a straightforward family business run by plain dealers: several deli clerks running around behind a big meat counter, with the other half of the store devoted to flour, baked goods, maple syrup, potato chips, condiments, and the like. In a world of wankers, of which there are more than a few in the North Country (Adirondack chairs are an adequate source of firewood if you don’t mind the paint fumes), that’s at least one business run by people who have an honorable and productive trade, know what the hell they’re doing, and don’t make a big fucking deal about any of it.
And yet Oscar’s has been on the Rachael Ray Show. It advertises this claim to fame on its marquee. This seems a bit like the town dentist putting a big picture of his idiot nephew in a state of severe intoxication out in front of his office, just in case anyone was operating under the illusion that, being upstanding and sensible, he must not keep any embarrassing company. Rachael Ray happens to be a local girl; she grew up literally one town over from Warrensburg, in Lake George; but this isn’t the kind of thing that one has to announce about one’s town. I was unfortunately related by a derivative of common law marriage to a number of Warren County’s gnarliest white trash, of all socioeconomic levels from poor to middling bourgeoisie (I guess I don’t have to announce this, either, but holding my peace on the matter would be tasteful). If I were running a business around here and one of these relatives had achieved D-list fame on YouTube for uploading commentaries in which he make an ass of himself, I wouldn’t seek out or call attention to his endorsement of my business: he’s a fucking idiot and running a business is trouble enough without the involvement of his kind.
The difference is that Rachael Ray gets paid well to make an ass of herself on major television networks; also, she looks better at 46 than some of my North Country white trash looked at thirty, probably by virtue of having access to top-of-the-line dermatological care and not being one to eat an entire quiche in one sitting. She doesn’t have to work as a gigolo for her landlady in lieu of rent, although one of my quasicousins did. But that was his private problem, notwithstanding our officious intrusions into his business; he, not any of the rest of us, was the one sexing his landlady. Rachael Ray, although a couple of orders of magnitude sexier than the landlady, is our public problem as a society. If I go into a Les Schwab clear on the other side of the Continental United States for a tire rotation, I can’t be sure that she won’t be on the motherfucking boob tube, histrionically shrieking about the deliciousness of a can of tomatoes that she just poured into a mixing bowl full of pasta. The low-rent gigolo, who’s lucky if he can afford bus fare to Albany, I can leave behind, but not Rachael. Homegirl gets around.
It gets worse. In addition to Wow Much Meats, Oscar’s carries a line of barbecue sauces by Guy Fieri. According to Mr. Fieri’s testimony as proffered on the labels, these sauces have been calibrated to “rock” any meat appropriate for their use. Such Yum. Here’s this dipshit in spiked white hair and a flavor saver who makes Rachael Ray sound like Peter Jennings on Ativan, and his approval of the rocking qualities of a barbecue sauce is assumed to be probative of something more than a loudmouthed pitchman shrieking like a schoolgirl about OMG this sauce is so effing delish. Maybe his sauces really are that fucking good; I haven’t tried them. I do, however, know of at least two people who are practically visionaries about condiments but haven’t been able to reach critical mass in marketing their products because they’re pikers, individuals of absolutely no celebrity. So I’m not inclined to buy Guy Fieri’s products, rockin’ or not, when he’s their very annoying, hyper-connected competition.
I should confess that I really don’t care to cook, so much so that I’ve generally avoided acting as my dad’s understudy in spite of his being an excellent cook, and that my reluctance is largely a factor of all the histrionic dipshits who chronically infest kitchens not necessarily their own. I don’t need the goddamn showmanship. I just don’t. And the Western world does not need the fucking cooking shows. Cooking from scratch is a pain in the ass in the best of circumstances; when a kitchen is overrun by histrionic twits hamming it up for the cameras, it’s time to go get dinner at 7-Eleven. It stands to reason that a frivolous and annoying people would be enthralled by Rachael Ray’s ability to successfully dice and saute fresh vegetables, or Guy Fieri’s ability to walk into a restaurant and eat a big-ass pile of pork.
They’re basically gaslighting and catfishing their audiences, and their audiences love them for it. If I’m to take kitchen instruction, I want it from someone who maintains the equivalent of a sterile cockpit; otherwise, I’d have to hear a bunch of insufferable nonsense, maybe from a smoking hot Upstate cougar, or maybe from a dipshit in a flavor saver. Or from the crazy bitch with the Joyce Meyer haircut who makes a living on the Food Network by violently mutilating English muffins with a fork. Some of these motherfuckers act like they’re fit to be short-order cooks at Benihana, and they don’t even know how to slice perforated bakery products without making them look like the victims of a chainsaw massacre.
There’s something else about Guy Fieri that I find annoying in an extra special way, having to do with the hidden history of his upbringing. He was raised in Ferndale, California, twenty miles away from Eureka, where I used to live. I have it on good authority that in his teens he was known to cruder local elements as “Gay Ferry.” Figure it out for yourself if you want the details, but I absolutely do not have more than two degrees of separation from that fucker. It’s impossible. Anywhere I travel, I’m liable to be faced by the extremely annoying scion of an obscure cow town in rural California where I have mutual acquaintances with a supermajority of the population. Because his line of barbecue sauces will duly rock the meat that you’re too clueless to properly cook.
It will not, however, rock the hot dogs at the Bear River Casino gas station. Trust me. Some meats simply cannot be rocked.