Category Archives: Culture

I Got Canceled by Food Network for Threatening to Kill Duff Goldman’s Cat

“Why did Food Network cancel your show?”

“I threatened to shoot Duff Goldman‘s cat.”

That’s my response and I’m sticking to it.

Six episodes of Crave had already aired. The ratings started strong. Then Dancing With the Stars, Monday Night Football, Neil Patrick Harris and Two and a Half Men all returned to the airwaves during our time slot, rendering us Nielson non grata. Still, the feedback was cool:

“A whole new way of talking about food!”

“The funniest show on Food Network!”

“Someone please tell Bobby Flay to punch Troy Johnson in the throat!”

I was working three jobs as the senior editor for Riviera Magazine, writer-host of Crave and new dad to my daughter. At 1AM I was on the couch solo con boxer briefs, as the Spanish don’t say. I’d just mainlined another coffee. I had to finish writing our episode on SPICY FOOD. The production company was rightly screaming at me. I also had to finish a restaurant review for the magazine.

Over-caffeinated and needing a distraction, I saw this Tweet from Food Network biggie Duff Goldman:

A LEOPARD? BENGAL CAT? I’m not a cat person. So I read this as, “While small, a jungle predator with sharp teeth can and will disembowel some unsuspecting bro in Venice Beach tonight. If you see it, Tweet me.”

I responded thusly:

I expected he and I would share a ROFL and bond over my feline confusion. He’d naturally want to cameo in my SPICY FOOD episode. Then we would ride motorcycles together, with cupcakes and beer in our saddlebags.

Hilarity did not ensue. This did:

Then, silence. Duff went looking for his cat.

The next morning, I received a call from The Network. They were moving the show to a less conspicuous time slot. And canceling it thereafter.

The timing was impeccable. My unintentional cat-whacking threat had been made no less than eight hours prior. Coincidence?

I imagine Duff sitting across from the executive, having just minutes ago stormed into his office yelling, “This psycho threatened to pop a cap in my kitty!”

Late-night dementia notwithstanding, I can’t say I didn’t.

2011-2011 1/2
“A cap was popped in its ass before it could do the same to Duff’s cat.”

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A Psychological Eval of Cereal Mascots, Part III

You can read the first two installments here and here.


“Never let ’em see you shed.”—Sugar Bear

No one is this cool. Even “The Fonz” was eventually outed as a tender self-doubter named Henry Winkler. Sugar Bear was obviously not Anglo Saxon, because no white man except Rick Astley sounds like a real man. When not “hipping up” cereal that liquefies dental work, Sugar Bear read beat poetry to rhythmic coeds. I know what you’re thinking—the turtleneck sweater was a fad. But who was gonna tell Sugar Bear? Certainly not me. Years later, he would embrace his love of high school musical theater as the executive producer of Glee.


Sure, he’s sane.

Body dysmorphia is not restricted to humans. The silly rabbit’s weight obsession eventually drove him to stimulants, as evidenced by the bat-shit crazy look on his face. Troubled by his antics early on, General Mills summoned Trix to corporate HQ to fire him. But the sniffly mammal launched into a series of extraordinarily expressive gestures so zany that the executives couldn’t help but laugh. Today, he’s the self-appointed “house entertainer” at Furry Futures, a live-in rehabilitation center in some field somewhere. The fact that his eyebrows hover above his cranium is not helping his grip on reality.

Tomorrow… A juiced-up Tiger and an insect with a comb-over.

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The Greatest Cereal Mascots of All Time (a psychological eval)

I was raised on sugar cereal. If you see me twitch, this is why.

My day started with the company of an amiable toucan flying over a bowl of multicolored rings. Fruit Loops looked like a child’s candy necklace had snapped. Resilient, that child gathered the scattered rings into a bowl. Then the child added milk, because children are psychotic. Bowls of diabetes are fun. Over 15 years of eating sugar cereal, I had plenty of time to psychoanalyze my friends. Here’s what I’ve concluded:


The Cap’n, in need of electrolytes.

What a mouth-breathing drunk. After an illustrious career at sea, the good Cap’n went the route of Kenny Rogers and used his star power to shill for consumer products. No one achieves a nose as bulbous as his without treating a bottle of whiskey like a teddy bear. His eyes were crossed, suggesting temporary seasickness or long-term mental illness. He treasured his facial hair, and wept when he lost his eyebrows trying to light a cigar with a kerosene lamp. To cope, the Cap’n glued fake ones to his amusing hat. Judging by his yellow floral epaulettes, he was no four-star general. He will always be remembered by preppies as a trailblazer in the “popped collar” movement.


They resent the hell out of Justin Timberlake.

Snap, Crackle and Pop started as a boy band until their ears got in the way. Out of options, the do-gooders knocked on strangers’ doors to discuss the nutritional value of bloated rice. A good rule of thumb with these guys is: Let ‘em date your daughter, and never listen to their bullshit. Their cereal sucked so bad that its main selling point was the sound—like bacon sizzling in a pan, only without a little thing called flavor. They drank black coffee and chain-smoked. Snap was the chef, with a talent for puffing rice without losing its delicate mediocrity. Crackle was a semi-pro snowboarder with a genetic disease that only allowed his hair to grow in the form of an asterisk. Pop tried to atone for his marching band involvement by always standing just barely more front-and-center than his pals.
Tomorrow… The Toad that pitched oats; and illicit offers from an wee Irishman.

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A Fourth of July Eating Manifesto (Plus some random stats about pants)


“Fourth of July.”

Just hearing the words is panicking. It’s the semi-sorta midway point of summer. “Whaddyou mean it’s half gone!? How did this happen?! Did Madoff take it?!” It’s like discovering someone poked a hole in your fun bucket.

Luckily, Fourth of July was designed to replenish. It’s The Complete Works of Summer, performed in a single afternoon. It’s the world’s greatest cookout, and it is pandemonium.

Today we’ll spray bottles of sunblock as if they’re Champagne and we just won the World Series. We’ll bake old-timey pies even though Iron Chef has us “going through a salted caramel-and-cloudberry sabayon phase.” Today grandma will make blue cupcakes that look like Smurf condos, and we will not recoil at their inedible hue.

If today we see Uncle Sam rollerblading in a Speedo, we won’t hide our children. We will raise Uncle Ned’s lumpy burger in salute.

Today, our USA-sized smoke signal will penetrate deep into space. If extra terrestrials exist, they will seek out our delicious creations. Or they will go to France because they think we are on fire.

Today, we’ll eat half our national population in hot dogs. On Independence Day, dogs aren’t just a distraction from the fact that “pitchers’ duel” is baseball speak for “group nap.” Today the pig torpedo is patriotic Eucharist.

Today, our mouths all have one thing in common: Idaho. And today “salad” has mayonnaise, amen.

Today, we’ll find the few patches of America that don’t have a cappuccino machine and a barista with a tattoo on his face. It might be a beach, park, lake, river, glen, dale, or a strip of Astroturf next to a garden hose. Matters not. We’ll gather our people, grab the crowbar, pry open the grill and not flinch one bit at the sight of last year’s charred bits. (When grilling, the Five Second Rule becomes the Five Year Rule. I believe Thomas Jefferson wrote that.)

We’ll wear our humorous aprons. We will not question the nutritional content of white bread. We will Lee Greenwood (so patriotic, his name is a verb). We will not discuss how “the acidity of the lemonade really balances out the fattiness of the hot dog.” We will eat, drink, and toast the brave ones who sacrificed so that we can dress like Liberace cross-dressing as Betsy Ross.

Whether vegetarian or carnivore, carb-shoveler or gluten-freer, beer-toter or teetotaler, CIA super-chef or kitchen-phobe… Today we’re just Americans, hungry for the smoke of summer.


STAT: 82% of US households own a grill. 4th of July is the most popular day to use them, with 71% of us assuming the grill position. It’s a day to remember our roots. Like 1776, sure. But also the simian age. Short of waking up an orangutan and ending the day as Brad Pitt, nothing says “Evolution, heck yeah!” quite like cooking over fire.

SOURCE: Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association and Business News Daily

STAT: Kids who regularly eat dinner with their families are 40% likelier to get A’s and B’s in school. Fourth of July brings family together—from distant relatives to the siblings you tried to sell on eBay. And that bonding experience will help our children get into colleges we can’t afford.

SOURCE: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University

STAT: The US imported $232.3 million of fireworks from China in 2011. Say what? Part of being an American is making all kinds of lame laws. Seems like “the national flag must be made in America” should be one. But what a way to end a meal! Most just finish with someone asking you for money, or with dad staggering to the couch like a freshly tranquilized zoo animal.

SOURCE: US Census Bureau News

STAT: Americans eat 155 million hot dogs on Fourth of July. If placed end-to-end, the dogs would stretch from L.A. to D.C. five times. It’s the national sharing stick. It’s also pre-cooked. If anyone can figure out how to use a grill like a microwave, America can.

SOURCE: National Hot Dog & Sausage Council

STAT: 42% of Americans are country music fans. The other 58% tolerate it on Fourth of July. Are you a twangy singer who lists “petting bald eagles” as a personal interest? Today, America loves you. (Except maybe Portland.)

SOURCE: Billboard Magazine

STAT: 86 million Americans (41.9% of us) own patriotic apparel. American flag bikini? Next week it’s vaguely treasonous. But on Fourth of July it’s OK to wear stars, spangles or Bruce Springsteen’s clenched, patriotic teeth on your person.

SOURCE: National Retail Federation

STAT: Americans bought nearly $14 Billion worth of jeans last year. Most of them will be worn today. The only dress code for a park is “clothes.” Jeans are not “apparel” today. They are leg napkins.

SOURCE: Cotton Lifestyle Monitor

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