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GOOD CHEAP WINE!

David Kamp writes...

Last fall I taped an interview with Lynne Rossetto Kasper, the delightfully dulcet host of the syndicated radio program The Splendid Table, that somehow didn’t end up airing until Valentine’s Day. You can listen to a podcast of it here. (Mine is the last segment.) I was on with Lynne to promote The Wine Snob’s Dictionary, but I unwittingly provided some consumer service when she asked me about affordable wines and I sang the praises of cheap red Spanish wines from the Jumilla region. (Pronounced who-ME-ah, though some Wine Snobs actually say jew-MILL-a.) In particular, I mentioned a $12 bottle that drinks like a $40 bottle.

I’ve since gotten lots of queries on what wine in particular I was talking about, so here’s the deal. It was an Olivares 2006 Jumilla Altos De La Hoya (Olivares being the producer, Monastrell being the grape varietal). And it indeed cost $12. My local wine merchant, Rob Allen of New York Vintners, goes so far as to say it’s the best wine under $20 he has ever tasted. Rob doesn’t have the 2006 vintage in stock anymore, but he has the equally good 2007, which sells for a little more, $14 a bottle. And it’s still a bargain. Wine, in my opinion, is not one of those things you should give up in these hard times. Order a case of affordable stuff like this and give up your premium cable channels, or declare a one-month iTunes moratorium. I swear it’s a worthwhile trade-off.

February 19, 2009 More Wine Snobbery »

LYNCH, BESPECTACLED HALF OF WINE SNOB TEAM, GETS NYT LOVE

Congratulations are in order for David Lynch, sommelier and co-author of The Wine Snob’s Dictionary. His wine list for the John Dory is singled out for praise in Frank Bruni’s favorable review of the place in the New York Times, and Bruni professes to “admire [Lynch] immensely.” As we all do.

February 11, 2009 More Wine Snobbery »

THE REAL “JUST DANCE”

The #1 single in the country right now is “Just Dance” by Lady GaGa, a club-ized pop song by a performer with a highly sexualized persona. But a couple of years ago, there was a far superior song of the exact same title by another performer with a highly sexualized persona, Kaye Whye. Why this song didn’t become massive is an utter mystery.

January 12, 2009 More Rock Snobbery »

RON ASHETON: NOOOO!

There’s nothing funny to say about the death of Ron Asheton, guitarist for the Stooges. But he was a Rock Snob lodestar, and, indeed, it was an early-’00s conversation with a supercilious Stooges Snob that hatched the concept for doing the original “Rock Snob” feature in Vanity Fair, which led to The Rock Snob’s Dictionary book, which led to the whole Snob’s Dictionary series.

We can take solace in the fact that Asheton, like the New York Dolls’ Arthur Kane, died after a final victory lap–in his case, touring triumphantly with the reunited Stooges after decades of inertia and melancholy. Here’s a mesmerizing (if poor-quality) clip of Asheton spearheading the Stooges’ cover of fellow Michigan native Madonna’s “Ray of Light” at the 2008 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony.

January 06, 2009 More Rock Snobbery »

WHAT SHOULD THE NEXT SNOB’S DICTIONARY BE?

There’s still time to get a copy of The Wine Snob’s Dictionary (nicely written up in USA Today) as a last-minute holiday gift. But at Snob HQ we’re looking to the future. Having exposed the snobby underbellies of Rock, Film, Food, and Wine, we’re contemplating applying the template to sports (e.g. “The Pro Football Snob’s Dictionary,” short versions of which actually appeared in Vanity Fair in 2004 and 2005) and/or race, religion, and ethnicity (e.g., the as-yet-unwritten “Black Snob’s Dictionary,” “Jewish Snob’s Dictionary” and “Irish-American Snob’s Dictionary”). In every area of cultural and social inquiry, there is a deep seam of snobbery that is waiting to be tapped and exploited.

Let us know what you’d like to read next, including Snob’s Dictionaries not proposed above.

December 19, 2008 More Declamations »

BEST ROCK-SNOB T-SHIRT DESIGNS EVER…

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...that is, until we get our act together to sell our own line (which will eventually happen). The design above is available, along with similarly cheeky offerings, from Diesel Sweeties.

December 05, 2008 More Rock Snobbery »

‘WINE SNOB’ GIVEAWAY AT SERIOUS EATS!

You have until 3 p.m. EST this Monday, December 1st, to submit “your favorite ridiculous winespeak word or phrase” to Ed Levine’s delightful Serious Eats site. Five lucky submitters will be awarded a free copy of The Wine Snob’s Dictionary. For those who don’t win, hey, the book is still just thirteen bucks a copy–a recession-friendly stocking stuffer.

November 29, 2008 More Wine Snobbery »

‘ROCK SNOB’ IN SEMINAL-GROUP REUNION!

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The original Orange Juice: from left, David McClymont, Edwyn Collins, James Kirk, and grumpy old Steven Daly.

Steven Daly–retired drummer, pending dad, daytime drinker, journalist, and co-author of The Rock Snob’s Dictionary–was in Glasgow last weekend to accept a Lifetime Achievement award at the Tartan Clefs, the Scottish music industry’s big bash of the year, which raises funds for the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy organization. Steven, for those who don’t know, was a founding member of Orange Juice, the post-punk group that kick-started Scotland’s indie scene by founding its own label, Postcard, and making smart-assed pop music with funk inflections.

The Orange Juice reunion–the first time the original lineup had been together in the same room since the early 1980s–was all the more poignant because three years ago, Edwyn Collins, the group’s singer, songwriter, and leader, suffered a massive brain hemorrhage that forced him to learn to speak, read, write, draw, and sing all over again. Edwyn recently wrote a moving piece for the U.K. Guardian about his recovery, which he credits to his wife’s persistence and his penchant for drawing birds.

More Rock Snob-arousing photos of the reunion are forthcoming from Steven.

November 26, 2008 More Rock Snobbery »

THE WINE SNOB MEDIA BLITZ BEGINNETH

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The New Yorker likes us! So do those Canadians at the Globe and Mail!

The Wine Snob’s Dictionary, just barely out, is already getting a lovely reception, meaning that a nasty backlash is just around the corner.

Meanwhile, we wanted to share with you a Snobbish video chat that co-authors David Kamp and David Lynch did with Philippe Newlin of the new online food and wine network Devour TV. There are nine segments in all, each with their share of authentically useful info and utterly pompous drivel. You can find them here. Bear in mind that Devour’s video player takes a while to load; we love Devour and have urged them to compress their files so that this sort of content can be watched more readily.

October 22, 2008 More Wine Snobbery »

R.I.P., DOLEMITE

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You were a Film Snob lodestar. And you were bad.

Rudy Ray Moore obituary

October 22, 2008 More Film Snobbery »

STICK YOUR MOUSE IN “THE FEEDBAG”

The World Wide Web doesn’t necessarily need more food blogs, but it does need Josh Ozersky. Big, boisterous, upbeat, and a bit of an old-fashioned huckster, Ozersky is an unreconstructed Damon Runyon New Yorker in a Candace Bushnell age; if he could sing, he’d make a good Nicely Nicely in the upcoming Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls. But Ozersky is a food writer by trade, and a very good one. Two weeks ago, he launched a new blog on Citysearch called The Feedbag, where he carries on the mix of reportage and commentary that he trademarked as New York magazine’s founding food blogger.

The food community tends to think of Josh primarily as one of those heaving, sclerotic “fat guy” burger bloggers, but he’s more shrewd, broad-minded, and graceful than he gets credit for. Witness his appreciation last week of the recently deceased Gourmet restaurant critic Jay Jacobs, which acknowledged that Jacobs was prone to prolix crankiness but still expressed admiration: “Jacobs’s erudite, allusive style... showed me that a food writer could be an intellectual, and not just someone who said that peas were green; and to this day few writers have surpassed him in literacy or brittle wit. It’s hard to read many of his columns now; they seem inordinately pleased with themselves. But they had personality.”

October 21, 2008 More Food Snobbery »

STILL MORE BEATLE HUMO(U)R FROM PETER SERAFINOWICZ

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Nobody does Beatle spoofery better than Snobsite friend Peter Serafinowicz. (As a matter of fact, pretty much no one in Britain or America does comedy better than him.) Here’s his take on Ringo Starr’s curious declaration that he will no longer be answering fan mail. Peace and love.

October 17, 2008 More Rock Snobbery »

SNOBSITE: NOW WITH WINE SNOBBERY ADDED!

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The fourth title of the Snob’s Dictionary series has arrived, and, as you can see above, it concerns wine. It officially comes out on October 14. You can order the new book on Amazon or support your local independent bookseller, whether here, here, here, or somewhere else.

In conjunction with The Wine Snob’s Dictionary’s release, Snobsite has been reconfigured, with easier-to-read posts, a generous helping of sample entries from the new book (as well as samples and intros from the other three books; click on the links in the “Snobbipedia” to the right), and, most fun of all, a random-snobbery generator known as the Snob Spotlight, down at the lower right. Every time you open a Snobsite page or refresh the one you’re currently visiting, the Snob Spotlight will offer up a randomly generated definition from one of the four Snob’s Dictionary books. Which is really useful if you’re dashing off to a dinner party and need a quick fix of trivia to sound knowing and pompous about.

October 01, 2008 More Wine Snobbery »

SOMETHING EVERY FOOD SNOB SHOULD KNOW

Why does a Burger Snob blow his stack when someone refers to a slider as a “mini-hamburger”?

Why, because a slider, to be called a slider, must adhere to a specific set of criteria that go well beyond the mere miniaturization of a burger!

October 01, 2008 More Food Snobbery »

SOMETHING EVERY FILM SNOB SHOULD KNOW

Who was the improbable muse of cult director Monte Hellman (Two-Lane Blacktop, Cockfighter)?

Why, scraggly character actor Warren Oates, of course!

October 01, 2008 More Film Snobbery »

SOMETHING EVERY ROCK SNOB SHOULD KNOW

What was John Peel’s favo(u)rite single of all time?

Why, “Teenage Kicks” by the Undertones, of course!

October 01, 2008 More Rock Snobbery »

HOW BACON IS LIKE R.E.M.

Blogger Michael Nagrant has an amusing post over at Serious Eats about the soul-crushing overpopularity of bacon. In the old days, having a bacon fetish was an endearing eccentricity reserved for affable kooks like Dan Philips of the Grateful Palate.

As Nagrant explains, “About 10 years ago because of cholesterol concerns and all that, the love for [bacon] was a bit underground. It was like loving Murmur-era, ‘Radio Free Europe,’ Athens, Georgia, R.E.M. But during the last five years or so, the love for bacon became a gluttonous free-for-all. It was like when the album Out of Time came out, and damn if you didn’t lose your religion regarding Michael Stipe. These days bacon’s covered in chocolate and it’s deep-fried. Bacon’s bigger than the Jonas Brothers. Hell, it is the Jonas Brothers of food products.

September 18, 2008 More Food Snobbery »

BRIAN WILSON ENDORSES MCCAIN

Rare is the Brian Wilson interview in which the old Beach Boy speaks in anything but banalities about God, the surf, the sun, Phil Spector, the Four Freshmen, and “the music in my head.” But Ben Marshall somehow got more out of Wilson in his brief interview in the October issue of Uncut.

Pressed to name his favorite rap song, Wilson pretty much disowns the genre, saying “I don’t need to listen to music that brings me down with negative thoughts. I prefer to listen to music that makes me happy.” (Let’s get him some old-school Digital Underground!)

Asked what qualities he inherited from each parent, he says “Well, my mother gave me love. My father gave me big, hot balls... He’s tell me to write No. 1 hits, and I did.” (For more on Murry Wilson, watch this.)

And when polled about his presidential preference, Wilson responds, “McCain. John McCain. He has a good smile. He is a good man, I think.”

September 16, 2008 More Rock Snobbery »

“YACHT ROCK” AUTEUR TO SCREEN IN NYC

David Kamp writes...

In 2005, I fell in love with a no-budget Web series called Yacht Rock, which debuted on the Channel 101 site and purported to tell the stories of such smooth-pop titans of the late ’70s and early ’80s as Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, the Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, and Hall & Oates.

In no time, Yacht Rock became, in short order, an underground phenomenon, an overground phenomenon, a New York Times-approved neologism, and a Web meme with its own Wikipedia entry. McDonald and Steely Dan, good sports, even paid tribute to the Web series by doing an encore to a show wearing captain’s hats.

I’ve become e-mail-friendly with Yacht Rock’s creative force, JD Ryznar, who alerts me that he is road-showing Yacht Rock and will be screening its webisodes this Sunday evening, September 14, at an East Village saloon called Professor Thom’s. I plan on being there and finally meeting JD in person.

I might add that Ryznar, a droll Polish-American from Muskegon, Michigan, has a wonderful verité series running on YouTube now called Visits with JD Ryznar, in which fellow Channel 101 “stars” join him at his wood-paneled pad in greater L.A. and more or less eat, drink, talk, and vegetate. Probably 75 percent of the pleasure I take in this show is predicated on already knowing these guys from Channel 101, but, aside from that, Visits is actually a sweet, authentic, and occasionally touching (seriously!) glimpse into the lives and friendships of creative but physically inactive white guys in their late twenties and thirties.

September 11, 2008 More Rock Snobbery »

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE FILM-SNOB SOUL

Nextbook, the lively, fun, eminently readable Web site devoted to Jewish culture, has been praised on Snobsite before. But now there’s a whole new reason to visit: Film Snob’s Dictionary co-author Lawrence Levi has launched a blog on the site called Nothing Sacred. Lawrence, a known Jew, will be surveying the cinematic landscape and offering his own Jewy, provocative, tzimmes-stirring gloss on it. Already, he has inflamed passions by questioning why Roman Polanski would ever want to hang out with Brett Ratner.

August 04, 2008 More Film Snobbery »

NIRVANA FOR THE SEVEN FILM SNOBS WHO HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR

You are urged to check out the new site Parallel Universe Film Guide, created by Spencer Green, an old friend of Snobsite and long a vital cog in the massive blurbing machine operated by Leonard Maltin.

Basically, the site is a remarkably thorough sendup of IMDb and film-geekdom, offering hundreds of listings for movies: listings that include directors, actors, plot summaries, trivia, memorable lines, and cross references–all entirely fictitious, for movies that don’t exist.

Part of the fun, though, is seeing which real films or genres are being parodied in each listing. Some targets are obvious, while others are dog-whistle-obscure, jokes gettable only to the snobbiest of Film Snobs.

Above all, it’s pure joy to just go to the site, click on the alphabetical index at left, and see descriptions of such never-made films as Varmints, Desist (1916), Path to Levittown (1948), Captain Pimptastic and His Anti-Whitey Gun (1972), and Daddy Touched My Secret Place (1983, TVM).

August 01, 2008 More Film Snobbery »

THE INEVITABLE FEIST APPEARANCE ON “SESAME STREET”

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If you’re elfinly adorable and release a counting song as a single, you just know the Muppets will have you in their crosshairs. And so, Leslie Feist brings “1 2 3 4” to NYC’s still rough-hewn Sesame Street district.

Not since R.E.M.’s “Furry Happy Monsters” has a hit been so joyously repurposed. Though the Sesame Workshop really missed a great opportunity in 2005 when Beck, then a new dad, came out with the song “Guero” from the album of the same name. A “Qué Onda Elmo?” video would have been perfect.

July 25, 2008 More Rock Snobbery »

ROCK SNOB RELEASE OF THE YEAR: DENNIS WILSON’S “PACIFIC OCEAN BLUE”

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As noted in The Rock Snob*s Dictionary, under the entry WILSON, DENNIS: “Long suspected of being a marginally talented surfer-stoner dude who was merely along for the ride with genius older brother Brian Wilson... Dennis surprised fans when, as a novice songwriter in the late Sixties, he ably crafted emotionally fraught ballads; his out-of-print 1977 solo album, Pacific Ocean Blue, is a major cause-célèbre among Snobs.”

Hard to believe in this relentlessly archival, reissue-mad age, but until this week, Pacific Ocean Blue was still out of print–it never had even a half-assed CD version released (legally) in the 1990s. Over at Snob HQ, we’ve long had to rely on out vintage vinyl version (pictured above), whose sleeve is fun to fold out so you can pretend to be passing the hours with Dennis at his most bearded and wharf-rat sozzled.

But you can now buy an authorized version of Pacific Ocean Blue, which comes with an extra disc devoted to material from Wilson’s aborted follow-up, Bambu. For the more militant of Rock Snobs, this is a sad week, since one of their most cherished out-of-print trophies has lost its obscurity value. But for the more benign Snob, this is a good time to revel anew as Dennis rasps his way through “River Song.”

June 16, 2008 More Rock Snobbery »

“YACHT ROCK 11” LIVE AT LAST

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Courtesy of low-budget soft-rockumentary auteur JD Ryznar comes the long-awaited Footloose episode of Yacht Rock, the show that put the “biz” in “Webisode.” It’s surprising enough to see Jason Lee guest-starring, but is that Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton as James Ingram? (No, it isn’t, but for a second...)

January 28, 2008 More Rock Snobbery »

“JUNO” OFFERS AN ALL-TOO-FAKE TAKE ON FILM SNOBBERY

Like last year’s indie sleeper hit, Little Miss Sunshine, this year’s model, Juno, combines affecting adorableness with flagrant implausibility. Unlike The Savages, which takes a realistically jaundiced view of the type of person who becomes a Film Snob, Juno includes a tender bonding scene in which Jason Bateman's 40-ish yuppie character communes with young Juno (Ellen Page) by playfully arguing over the merits of Herschell Gordon Lewis versus those of Dario Argento. The concept isn’t bad, but the scene is about as believable as the name Diablo Cody.

January 04, 2008 More Film Snobbery »

ALT-PIZZA GENIUS IS DEAD

Shed a tear for Ed LaDou, the unsung hero of the rise of nontraditional pizza, who died of cancer at the all-too-young age of 52 right after Christmas. LaDou, a San Franciscan who loosed pizza from the Northeastern strictures of pepperoni, onions, and anchovies by experimenting with toppings like raw tuna, pâté, and duck sausage, was the guy who Wolfgang Puck tapped in 1982, when he opened Spago in L.A. The obit for LaDou in the Los Angeles Times tells the full story.

LaDou’s death also brings up another regrettable omission from The Food Snob’s Dictionary: Chris Bianco, the Phoenix-based pizza master whose steadfast refusal to franchise or go national has only enhanced his Snob status.

January 04, 2008 More Food Snobbery »

“LOCAVORE”: WORD OF THE BLEEDIN’ YEAR?

At the outset of the release of The Food Snob’s Dictionary, we were kicking ourselves for not having included the word “locavore” in the book. But now we have an excuse for this omission: The New Oxford American Dictionary has declared “locavore” to be its Word of the Year. And if a word is getting that kind of big-time national recognition, it is no longer the province of Food Snobs after all. Hoi polloi, it’s all yours.

December 10, 2007 More Food Snobbery »

KOSHER “RED BULL” AND OTHER “DELIGHTS”

Marion Rosenfeld, co-author of The Food Snob’s Dictionary, recently visited the Kosherfest food expo in Manhattan and wrote it up for Nextbook, the excellent online magazine devoted to Jewish culture. Among Marion’s discoveries: even in the Kosher world, there’s now a big emphasis on organic, sustainable, etc. Still, there’s plenty of silliness about, too, as in the case of the Exit Energy drink, which Marion describes as “a Red Bull analog for the Talmudic set.” The Exit Energy booth, writes Marion, “offered up cognitive dissonance: pounding techno music and Hassidim.”

November 30, 2007 More Food Snobbery »

“THE SAVAGES” OFFERS AN ALL-TOO-REAL TAKE ON FILM SNOBBERY

There’s a brilliant scene in Tamara Jenkins’s fantastic new movie The Savages in which Laura Linney, as a fastidious aspiring playwright, is bickering with her older lover, a married man named Larry (Peter Friedman). Larry declares that their relationship reminds him of The Blue Angel, and he condescendingly explains, “You know–Marlene Dietrich? Von Stroheim?” Linney’s character scowls viciously and says, “Von Sternberg!”

If only poor Larry had read The Snob Cheat Sheet for Confusing Similarities (pp. 30-34 of The Film Snob’s Dictionary), he wouldn’t have gotten himself into this mess.

November 29, 2007 More Film Snobbery »

FOOD SNOB RADIO

Marion Rosenfeld and David Kamp have hit the proverbial hustings to talk up The Food Snob’s Dictionary. To hear them on KCRW’s Good Food show with Evan Kleiman, click here. To hear David on Mike Colameco’s WOR program Food Talk, click here. David will also be returning soon to Lynn Rossetto Kasper’s public-radio program The Splendid Table. Precise broadcast time and date to come.

November 29, 2007 More Food Snobbery »

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