It seems that despite the most temperate reply possible, I’ve been drawn into another absurdist debate about whether The Wire, or Homicide, or perhaps even The Corner is good or bad for Baltimore. This time, the righteous indignation about the tarnish applied to my city’s reputation is from a gentleman named Mike Rowe. A Baltimore native, he is employed elsewhere in this great diaspora of television and he has now assumed the mantle of defender of my city’s reputation.
Archive for category: Essays/Opinion
This essay appears in the July 21, 2014 issue of Sports Illustrated. It appears on this site with the gracious permission of the magazine’s editors.
To the beaten dog, every sudden movement is another impending brutality in a lifetime of such. Eventually, even the most modest and trivial move in the mutt’s direction induces a simpering cower.
UPDATE: 12 p.m., July 4
I am informed that the Huff Post piece has now removed the reference to my having been fired. Instead, apparently, my revenge was had upon editors who spiked one of my articles because my writing wasn’t “Dickensian” enough. They never said anything of the sort to me or anyone else, and that is not actually the reason that particular article was spiked. I carefully related the actual sequence of events to Dr. Williams in my April memo as a discussion of that particular article and its fate features throughout her manuscript, but no matter. With regard to the Huff Post essay at least, I am libeled no more and I thank the author for her apology at the bottom of the essay.
Last fall, when the revived Baltimore Orioles made their first journey to the playoffs in fifteen years, I was contacted by Sports Illustrated and asked if I had anything in the way of an essay. As a matter of fact, in the closing days of season, with the O’s on the heels of the hated Yankees for the division title, I was about ready to open a vein. What follows appeared in the October 1, 2012 edition of the magazine, which featured a cover shot of the Oriole outfielders jump-bumping in celebration of a victory. I was a proud fan indeed, though terrified as well that I had provoked the dreaded SI cover jinx.
The following is reprinted with permission from Lucky Peach #4, published by McSweeney’s. It is on sale now. And, yes, payment for this essay will require co-publisher David Chang slaving over a hot stove.
* * *
I want to embrace the best of the kitchen.
But if DNA is destiny, and genetics holds any sway at all over the human palate, then I have much—probably too much—to overcome.
The Simons come from peasant stock, and by that I don’t mean the countryside of Alsace or Tuscany or any other place where cuisine makes the days true and beautiful, where gardens and orchards and farms and village butchers conspire for a cuisine both purposeful and ingeniously simple. We are not the progeny of any agrarian ideal worthy of Impressionist paintings.
No, my father’s people were kicked-to-the-ground-by-Cossacks peasants, wandering Pale of Settlement Yids who lived with one or two bags always packed and spent the early moments of the last century running ahead of whatever Jew-hating militia was on whichever side of the Polish-Russian border. Like fodder for an Isaac Babel story, we hauled ass from pogrom to pogrom, dragging our huddled mass west until a sign said NEW JERSEY.