Today’s eGullet kerfuffle on the riches of New Jersey cuisine is exactly the kind of thing that makes us love New York all the more. eGullet co-founder Steven Shaw started a thread in which he berates New Yorkers for their neglect of the Jerz's fine food: The argument goes that with the Japanese market in Edgewater (hm), Newark's inherent awesomeness (um), and the fact that 60 percent of New Yorkers have a car (wha?), we've got no excuse not to visit our neighbors. His conclusion, therefore, is that New York foodies are “lazy” and “lack a fundamental element of cultural literacy about food in the New York metro area.” We're not going to say anyone's got a chip on his shoulder, but … wow.
The responses poured in — but true to our reputation for self-obsession, the only part of Shaw’s post that made any impression on New Yorkers was his rather dubious assertion that a majority of us own cars. As one commenter put it:
Barack Obama is in Brooklyn for a fund-raiser tonight, and we were curious who — in addition to Caroline Giuliani, of course — might be turning out. So we looked to mybarackobama.com, where we discovered all sorts of affinity groups for supporters of the Illinois senator. There's Burners for Barack (for Burning Man attendees) and Octogenarians for Obama ("We are never too old to back Barack"). There are groups for Final Fantasy fans (they plan to "fight back against the Shinra companies of our world" via Obama) and flight attendants vowing to harness their "unique ability to fly around easily" to spread the word. There are spiritualists and psychic mediums who "emphatically believe" that Barack's the man for the job and Prince Fans for Obama, who believe he "upholds the ideals" of the singer and that "if Prince wasn't apathetic towards voting due to his religion, he would vote for Barack Obama." Ballers for Obama are planning three-on-three basketball tournaments to help raise cash for the campaign, and Canadians like him, even though they can't vote. And then, of course, there's NYC 4 Obama. "We have a lot of really serious supporters here as well," insisted Molly Lombardi, spokesman for that group. —Janelle Nanos
A day after the Times debuted its new, slimmed-down format, the Post today reports that the Gray Lady is set to shed something else: TimesSelect. As soon as some technical kinks are worked out, Murdoch's paper says, the two-year-old experiment will end and your Maureen Dowd will, once again, be gloriously free. So what to think of its brief life? Is TimesSelect slightly random in its border delineation, unfair to op-ed columnists, and above all annoyingly orange? Sure. But is it a failure? Not exactly.
We were glancing over New York Sun editor Seth Lipsky's panegyric to convicted felon Conrad Black on the Sun's Website — "Conrad Black is one of the greatest newspapermen of his, or any, time," and so on — when our eye was drawn to the right side of the screen:
New York's crush on Whole Foods may only grow with the revelation that the organic-grub juggernaut is run by a complete nerd. The Journal's Website uncovered, and today's Times reports, the dark, dark secret of company co-founder John Mackey. Mackey, it turns out, has spent the last seven years hanging out on the Yahoo Finance message board anonymously talking up his own stock. Even better, Mackey used the same forum to talk smack about a rival under the login name Rahodeb. Here's a sample: "OATS has lost their way and no longer has a sense of mission or even a well-thought-out theory of the business." Um, oh, snap? Best of all, though, is that the board's other users appeared to know Rahodeb's identity and were merely humoring the guy. Mackey hasn't yet been caught shilling on Citysearch or running up the Amazon ratings for Cooking the Whole Foods Way, but we assume that's forthcoming.
Whole Foods Executive Used Alias [NYT]
Okay, yeah, this is cool. Our friends at Vulture notified us that on the promotional site for the coming-soon Simpsons movie, you can create your own Simpsons character. We share Vulture's frustration that there's no option for eyeglasses, rendering it impossible to create our own Simpsons likeness. But, still, we just managed to kill twenty minutes with thing. Go. Have fun. Just be sure to put in your contacts.
Build Your Own 'Simpsons' Character [Vulture]
Simpsons Movie [Official site]
It's no secret that enterprising Webtrepreneurs often buy Web addresses just a few characters away from popular ones, counting on typos to deliver you to their penis-enlargement pitches or AdSense agglomerations. But, as we discovered this morning, those seeking the Website for the New York Daily News, which is at www.nydailynews.com, should make especially sure to get the full address in. A sleepily typed www.nydaily.com took us not to our Hometown Paper but to 123 Escorts, which offers Kim ("Just arrived in town!") and Evian ("Here for a short time!") among its "extraordinary conglomeration of bright, amiable, multi-functional personnel." It's not that we think such things will offend News readers' delicate sensibilities. We're just concerned they won't be able to handle the porn site's vocabulary.
Everyone has his own personal milestone for when the Lower East Side was, irrevocably, over. Maybe it was when the Hotel on Rivington went up, or when Tonic closed, or when you first overheard one I-banker telling another about the Annex. Two new options now present themselves. First, there’s VLES, a Second Life–esque “virtual version” of the neighborhood wherein you, via your own hipster avatar, can walk from “Katz’s” down “Ludlow” and “watch” “bands” “play” “clubs.” And then there’s HBO’s Lower East Side–set new series, The Flight of the Conchords (which is likely being advertised inches from this item). Think Tenacious D with the added deadly touch of Wes Anderson/Demetri Martin/Eugene Mirman deadpan. (Robot obsession? Check.) Yes, it sounds like the perfect TV embodiment of the neighborhood — but it also makes us want to never, ever set foot there again. Thankfully, we don’t need to; we’ve got it on our desktop.
Virtual Lower East Side [VLES.com]
Flight of the Conchords [HBO.com]
So you want to be an editorial assistant to Seventeen magazine's editor-in-chief? Before you commit yourself to long days of low-paid work, you can now try the experience on for size with Editor's Assistant, an online game offered on Seventeen's Website. We asked two New York editorial assistants to take a spin and evaluate how closely the game tracks real life.
The Webby Awards insist that acceptance speeches be only five words long. This proved something of a challenge last night for Lifetime Achievement winner David Bowie. "I only have five words — shit, that's five," quipped the Thin White Webmaster. "Four more … there, that's three … two…" and then he was whisked away. The Beastie Boys, who won Artist of the Year, were more accessible, walking the red carpet (which is more than can be said for YouTube founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley, Persons of the Year winners), sitting at a central table at Cipriani, and yukking it up onstage when accepting their award. "I'd like to apologize to David Bowie," said Mike D. "I CC'd him on an e-mail that I sent to a lot of people, and he was really mad at me." Third-time host Rob Corddry started the awards on a lowbrow note, asking fellow Soho Grand lodgers if they had used the hotel's peppermint shampoo on their nether regions ("It tickles!") and claiming that he had hit on 19-year-old Jessica Lee Rose, a.k.a. Lonelygirl15. Some speeches were quickly ridiculed. "Yelp is useful, funny, and cool," said a rep for the site. "Except in their five-word speech," amended Corddry.
Prefer your awards galas a bit dorkier and more virtual than the glossy CFDA awards? You're in luck: Last night was also the first-annual Webby Film and Video Awards, held at New World Stages. The big winners were apparently the Ninja from Ask a Ninja, who won Best Actor, and Jessica Lee Rose, a.k.a. Lonelygirl15, who won Best Actress. Virginia Heffernan is no doubt kvelling.
11th Annual Webby Awards Nominees and Winners [WebbyAwards.com]
Related:Hey There, Lonelygirl [NYM]
• The city's medical examiner has, for the first time, directly tied a death to 9/11 dust, thus making Felicia Dunn-Jones the 2,750th victim of the attack. The decision's potential impact is, obviously, enormous. [NYDN]
• Yesterday's human chain around Stuy Town, apart from serving up a mini-flashback to Hands Across America, had a specific purpose: to repeal the law that allows landlords to deregulate apartments once the rent hits $2,000. [Metro NY]
• The city is closing its high schools for pregnant girls, sixties inventions now beset with "abysmal test scores [and] poor attendance" (in one hair-raising example, a quilting class was being passed off as geometry). [NYT]
• After facing suits for a few knee-jerk post-9/11 arrests, the city reached a deal with the New York Civil Liberties Union to stop pestering photographers and filmmakers operating handheld cameras on the street. No permit is now needed. [amNY]
• And an infamous distributor of pirated Web content has been sentenced to five years for a real-world crime of, well, blowing up a portable toilet. It's like when they got Al Capone on tax charges, except not. [NYP]
The new Nielsen//NetRatings data released last week confirmed a trend: With 13.7 million unique users in the month of April, NYTimes.com remains the highest-trafficked newspaper Website. So what is it that brings all these readers to the Times' site? A look at the tag cloud of most-searched stories — in which the larger the word or phrase appears, the more it has been searched for — reveals that on Internet, the Gray Lady is obsessed with the same thing everyone else is:
• John Whitehead, the former chief of Goldman Sachs, blasted the firm for leading Wall Street's "outrageous increase" in salaries. [Bloomberg]
• John Edwards earned a paltry $480,000 while studying poverty at Fortress. [DealBook/NYT]
• Should the SEC investigate claims of stock manipulation at Apple? The company shares were down 3 percent yesterday after the tech blog Endgadget published a false tip reporting product delays for the iPhone and a new Mac operating system. [DealBreaker]
Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble — could it be that New York's real-estate market isn't as hot as so many brokers say it's gotten? According to PropertyShark, it depends on the neighborhood. The data-rich real-estate site offers a "Triple Bubble Trouble" city map, marking which Zip Codes suffer from three signs of a real-estate bubble perhaps set to burst: decreasing prices per square foot, increased foreclosures, and a slowdown in the volume of sales in the first quarter of this year compared to the previous three months. Which neighborhoods show a triple whammy? Some surprising areas, like Midtown East and the far West Sixties. "The market's softening up in some places," says PropertyShark CEO Ryan Slack. "Everything falls sometime." —S. Jhoanna RobledoTriple Bubble Trouble (by Zip Code) [Property Shark]
Governor Spitzer, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and other local leaders are up in arms about a German military-training video that makes an offhand racist reference to the Bronx: An instructor orders his charge to imagine something along the lines of "You're in the Bronx. Three black guys come out of a van and insult your mother." The recruit responds with a bleeped-out curse and a furious machine-gun volley and is instructed to yell louder. A German TV station got hold of the video and broadcast it disapprovingly; naturally it's made its way to YouTube. Now Carrion is demanding an apology and Sharpton is trying to get Bush involved.
If the current Google-versus- Viacom clash of the titans didn't already convince you that the very notion of copyright is sinking, here's another leak it sprung. Egged on by Apple chief Steve Jobs, EMI has become the first major label to chuck copy protection in its digital dealings. The music company — which controls music by Pink Floyd and Coldplay (and the Beatles, still conspicuously absent from iTunes) — will sell its wares on Jobs's virtual record store as straight-up MP3s, without the annoying add-ons that make the files playable on a limited number of devices. In the short run, this will create an unholy mess of mixed-format libraries. In the long run, it's a victory for the progressive Googlethink encapsulated by Clive Thompson in this week's magazine: "If everything is promiscuously available digitally, and easily findable, this will be a cosmic win-win for everyone."