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GQ's Michael Wolff Will Never Get A Table At The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe (Updated!)
Updated! TWICE!! Let us now consider the case of Michael Wolff, a mindless jerk who'll be first up against the wall when the revolution comes. While most ape descendants on this insignificant little blue-green world struggle to keep themselves fed and sheltered, Michael Wolff has written an essay for the UK edition of GQ about the almost unbearable challenges he faces in trying to find an adequate table at a half-decent restaurant in New York (Coincidentally, "ukgq" is also the sound we made while reading the piece). The entire scene has Wolff so distressed that he may just give up on New York altogether:
For an adult in the city, restaurants occupy about as much time in a day, and impose as many rules, and create a similar insecurity or nameless rage, as school in the life of a child. There are other similarities: going to the right restaurants is at least as important as going to the right schools.
Wolff goes on at great length about his frustrations with dining in New York, cataloguing his frustrations and resentments and sharing them in a voice that only an afficionado of Vogon poetry could love -- he sounds like a blend of Zsa Zsa Gabor and Grandpa Simpson.*
I don't think it is possible to overstate the dominance of restaurants in urban life. They are the cultural focus and reference, eclipsing sports, art, literature, entertainment, music, drugs - and sex. You likely wouldn't have sex with someone who took you to the wrong restaurant (or at least wouldn't be happy about it).
We are not sure we are in Wolff's target demographic, since going to the wrong restaurant has never been a deterrent to sex -- including, if one has had a couple of Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters, possibly sex in the restaurant, or with it. In any case, Wolff insists that, as a consequence of "the financial culture and the explosion of personal wealth in the Eighties and Nineties," New York is now the domain of a caste of sybarites who are apparently trundled from meal to meal by teams of androids:
Modern life has become a three- and often four- or five-meal-a-day restaurant habit. There is the breakfast meeting. At one time, egg-white-only breakfast meetings were a behaviour limited to fat cats - but fat-cat rituals are what we all emulate. So now it's unthinkable for the rest of us to begin a day without a breakfast meeting (the most important meeting of the day).
Indispensable to this lifestyle is one's Assistant, a master of scheduling who is fully aware that time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so:
his or her full-time job pretty much becomes getting you a daily booking. If your assistant is any good at all, he or she will have narrowed lunch to four or five places and have, by careful trial and error, measured how far in advance it's necessary to call in order to avoid rejection and disaster. Repetition - say, six months of bookings - will finally get you a favourable database field and a reliable table (until someone else starts to book who is yet more faithful or famous than you, at which point you're downgraded).
Brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to schedule you for lunch.
Wolff takes us through his day, endlessly. It's just too awful to contemplate. He tells us of a tiff he had with a restaurateur, which led him to lose his prized table and to be "cast...into a lunchtime wilderness from which, several years later, I have never really emerged." He assures us that "if someone takes me to, say, a grim little Japanese place for lunch, instead of a prestigious destination, I drop them." We were amused by the pre-dining conversation he has with the talking cow whose highest goal in life is to be appetizing, but it was exceedingly poor form for Wolff to keep ranting about the bovine's obnoxious Midwestern accent -- nobody likes bullied beef.
We imagine Wolff was aiming for some vague sort of "satire" here -- luckily, as we all have learned, satire needn't be funny and instead can be endless pontificating on life, the universe and everything, from a man who forgot to parody others and merely parodied himself.
The Vogon constructor fleet can't get here soon enough.
* Yes, stolen from the comments.
UPDATE: The Twitter Machine has been informed of all this, and Michael Wolff is unhappy.
Curiously, an edition of the Encyclopedia Galactica which conveniently fell through a rift in the time-space continuum from 1000 years in the future describes Michael Wolff as:
"A mindless jerk who, along with the Marketing Department of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, was the first against the wall when the revolution came."
UPDATED UPDATE: It has been pointed out that we are guilty of an egregious oversight. Alert Commenter "Tessa" points out that we neglected to recognize Mr. Wolff's status as a Sophisticate, citing theGuide itself:
The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why, and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question 'How can we eat?' the second by the question 'Why do we eat?' and the third by the question 'Where shall we have lunch?'
Wonkette regrets the error. Don't panic.
[ GQ UK ]