Monday, August 31, 2009

Comfort food and the recession

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 12:03 PM

​If you've ever seen the Buck Night crowd at Kauffman Stadium, it's a no-brainer that in times of recession people not only love comfort food but cheap comfort food. 

NPR's Gillian Gutierrez recently suggested that hot dogs should be used as an indicator of the economy's health of the economy. Based on the ingredients suggested on cooking Web sites, she figured more hot dogs means tighter times. 

Not to debunk a perfectly good theory, but hot dog consumption always increases in the summer. Ovens in Kansas City are usually off (at least during a typical August; maybe not this summer) and the grill sees its highest use of the year. As such, hot dogs are in rotation more. It's like the return of canned soup in the winter. Hot dogs are as much a factor of convenience as economy. 

Even Buck Night might not be a good barometer for the food choices that people will make during tough economic times. A recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research argues that people actually seek out the unfamiliar in times of change. 

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The latest in bacon news

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Take a few days off from writing for Fat City and boy, things change dramatically in the world of bacon. If there's any question about whether our society is headed for greatness or the future envisioned in Wall-E, the answer lines up pretty well with the latest bacon news. I'll leave it to you to decide what the following portends. 

Since the Bacon Explosion burst on the scene, we've seen news that KFC is launching the Double Down -- a bacon and cheese sandwich with fried chicken for bread and sauce which Charles Ferruzza correctly dubbed as "vaguely threatening." So much for that healthy grilled chicken revolution. Although in its defense, KFC notes this sandwich has under 600 calories. It may be time to see one of these things in person -- the pictures look goo-tastic. 

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Incoming: Passion Pit at The Yard At Beaumont, October 1

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Fresh off their by-all-accounts-stellar performance at the University of Kansas' Lied Center earlier this month, Passion Pit will play the Yard at Beaumont on October 1. The band is nominated for a "Best Break Through Video" at the MTV Video Music Awards for "The Reeling." Surprisingly, they're up against Death Cab For Cutie and Gnarls Barkley .... I'm pretty sure that if you've played the VMAs in prior years, you've probably already broken through.

Anyhow, Passion Pit is on the verge of becoming the "next big thing," if not already there. In a rare show of solidarity of opinion, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Paste, and Entertainment Weekly all love Manners, which is like everybody at the party agreeing on what toppings to put on the pizza. It just never happens.

The clip below -- from the aforementioned Lied Center performance -- might not have the greatest audio in the world, but it certainly shows how Passion Pit can get the kids to totally lose their shit.

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Bird Flu: Competing Charlie Parker birthday celebrations hint at division on 18th & Vine.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 11:26 AM

When it came to celebrating Charlie Parker's birthday on Saturday, August 29, Kansas Citians had two main options: the First Annual Kansas City Yardbird Jazz & Film Festival at the American Jazz Museum and, just around the corner, the Bird Lives Festival at the Mutual Musicians Foundation.

Many people might have thought the two events were part of the same festival. But the sad truth is that the Kansas City jazz scene can't even put on a unified celebration of its most influential native son's birthday.

The Foundation's independent, shoestring-budgeted Bird Lives Festival began at noon with a group photo starring 250-plus area jazz and blues musicians. Stalwarts like Ida McBeth, Myra Taylor, David Basse, Everette DeVan and scores of others young and old, dressed up and dressed down, lined up in rows in front of the pink building that has housed the Musicians Local 627 since time immemorial. Smoking cigarettes and joking like old pals, they smiled for the camera. Many were reenacting a scenario they had participated in 10 years earlier.

Click for more pictures from Bird Lives, etc.
  • Click for more pictures from Bird Lives, etc.

The man behind Bird Lives and the photo shoot, Dawayne Gilley, had arranged a similar group shot on September 18, 1999. He'd been inspired both by Art Kane's famous Harlem 1958 photograph of jazz greats (immortalized in the '95 documentary A Great Day In Harlem) and by a 1930 photograph of Kansas City jazzers that hangs inside the Foundation.

This year, with help from Foundation director Betty Crow, Gilley - who also manages Taylor and organizes the Kansas City Kansas Street Blues Festival - programmed a two-day cycle of free events celebrating Bird.

They blocked off Highland Avenue, set up stands for vendors to sell barbecue and beer, hung commemorative banners on lamposts and booked bands to play inside and outside the Foundation for the better part of 24 hours.

During the day, on a stage in the middle of the street, the likes of Luqman Hamza, DeVan, newcomer Hermon Mehari and Lonnie McFadden got down for a crowd of 200 or so. Around 8 p.m., the jamming moved inside and continued until the wee small hours, peaking at midnight when Bobby Watson played Parker for KCUR 89.3 FM's 12 O'Clock Jump live radio broadcast.

The party at the Foundation continued on Sunday with a fried chicken dinner at 2:30 p.m. (after a saxophone salute at Parker's grave in Lincoln Cemetery) and more live music.

In short, Gilley, Crow and the fine folks at the Foundation put on a small but splendid tribute.

Meanwhile, it seemed like just another day at the American Jazz Museum.

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Would you like some sweet potato fries with that?

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 11:10 AM

​Fries used to be an afterthought -- the sidekick to hamburgers or hot dogs. And although you're still likely to find a frozen bag of Sysco fries next to the deep-fat fryer in diners and casual-dining restaurants, french fries have become a serious selling point for burger chains. 

Endless french fries slowly coat your arteries at Red Robin, while Chick-fil-A offers waffle cut fries with a healthy sprinkling of salt and pepper. Sonic takes a cue from Napoleon Dynamite and features tater tots (Fat City's promised office hours involving tater tots will be held in September; stay tuned). 

And now Slashfood is suggesting that the latest french fry movement at fast food restaurants will be.... sweet potato fries. Con Agra has decided to build a sweet potato processing plant in order to meet the growing demand from customers, including "the largest quick-service restaurant chains (i.e. fast food restaurants)." 

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Breaking news: Chiefs fire offensive coordinator Chan Gailey

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 10:50 AM

Chan Gailey
  • Chan Gailey

The Kansas City Chiefs are in the market for a new offensive coordinator: The Chiefs just sent out a press release announcing that offensive coordinator Chan Gailey has been relieved of his duties. Never a good sign two weeks before the start of the season.

Update (3:12 p.m. Monday, August 31): The Chiefs released this statement from Gailey.


"There's never great timing for situations like this. However, Todd has to do what's best for the team and for the future of the Chiefs. I respect that. It didn't work out for us, but I certainly think that he has a very fine offensive mind and I feel very fortunate to have worked for the Chiefs these past two years.

"I look forward to seeing how I might be able to help the franchise in
the near future in other areas."

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Jenkins voted for resolution pardoning boxer Jack Johnson, denouncing 'great white hope'

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 10:45 AM

Lynn Jenkins
  • Lynn Jenkins

Kansas Congresswoman Lynn "Where all the white folks at?" Jenkins' naivete defense for using turn-of-the-century racist phrase "great white hope" at a town-hall meeting a couple of weeks ago lost credibility Friday thanks to the Ottawa Herald.

The Herald dug up the Kansas Republican's vote on a resolution asking President Obama to pardon Jack Johnson -- the first black world heavyweight boxing champion -- for violating the Mann Act (Johnson was convicted in 1913 for crossing state lines with white women and having an immoral intent).

The House passed the resolution on July 29 (less than a month before Jenkins pined for a whitey to defeat President Obama) and Jenkins was there to vote for it. Guess what's in the resolution?

Whereas the victory by Jack Johnson over Tommy Burns prompted a search for a White boxer who could beat Jack Johnson, a recruitment effort that was dubbed the search for the 'great white hope'

Ooh, Congresswoman Jenkins. Didn't you read the resolution?

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Video: Charlie Parker Graveside Sax Salute

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 9:53 AM

Yesterday around 12:30 p.m., a yakety of local saxophonists gathered around Charlie Parker's grave in Kansas City's Lincoln Cemetery to blow out a tribute to Bird. The day before, August 29, celebrations at the Mutual Musicians Foundation and the Jazz Museum (but mostly the Foundation) commemorated what would've been Parker's 89th birthday. In the video, the saxers play a fanfare then trade solos round-robin style, beginning with local patriarch Ahmad Alaadeen.

A crowd of 60 or so people attended the brief ceremony, which is put on each year by Parker's family and Lincoln Cemetery officials. This year, it included a poetry reading by Dan Jaffe, an explanation of the #jazzlives Twitter campaign by Dean Hampton of Jazz Ambassadors Magazine, and a reading of a mayoral proclamation by Myra Brown, Parker's second cousin. Representatives from a Tokyo jazz magazine were present, as were these young jazzers in the making.


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