Thrills are hard to come by in the suburbs, especially in winter. The weather’s been too warm to skitch off car bumpers, and Alan’s become focused on trapping a giant raccoon whom we suspect has colonized our deck. So Kate and I went way out on a limb last night and tried Domino’s new pizza.
I should say at this point that I was not a Domino’s hata. It was hardly ever my first choice, but I never thought it was all that awful, as long as you ordered pepperoni. Pepperoni is like chocolate — such a strong flavor that it makes up for deficiencies elsewhere in the product. We had a neighbor a while back in Fort Wayne who worked at the ice-cream plant there, and confided the corporate secret that chocolate is always made on Fridays, and what’s more, is made from the odd lots of the previous week. If you had a batch of butter pecan that didn’t quite measure up, you could salvage it by dumping chocolate into it and no one would be the wiser. (Obviously, this decision was made before the pecans were added.) Not long after that, I bought some chocolate ice cream with a distinct undertaste of cherry and knew he was right.
Since my default takeout pizza is pepperoni, I could always handle Domino’s in a pinch. They deliver fast, and — alone among the local offerings — actually seem to use their insulated heat pouches for something other than showing off on the doorstep.
Detroit is known as a pizza Mecca. Domino’s is headquartered in Ann Arbor; Little Caesar’s is here, along with Hungry Howie’s, a newer chain. Every other major chain store is here, too. We have a huge Italian population, so there are a gazillion mom-and-pop pizzerias, too. Almost all of it is inedible. Little Caesar’s in particular is insultingly bad, a fact they seem to acknowledge with their relentless price-cutting; you can get a large one-topping for $5, and the only time I ever buy it is if I have to feed Kate and her friends. I think the problem is me — I’m just done with cheap pizza. If it’s not a hand-crafted Wolfgang Puck-style offering with fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil, it’s only fuel for a night when I don’t feel like cooking.
But I was interested in how Domino’s had reinvented their basic product, after taking the step of essentially confessing, “We suck.” So I ordered. The pizza came quickly. It was nice and hot. And it was awful. Really.
It still wasn’t as bad as Little Caesar’s, but it opened a whole new vista of bad — the brushed-with-flavorful-garlic-seasoning crust tasted and felt like garlic salt swimming in a bath of oil. I had to wash my hands twice before I dared touch anything afterward. Sauce meh, cheese meh and everything else, SALT SALT SALT SALT SALT. I like salt, so this was a revelation. This was pizza for a generation raised on Taco Bell and pork rinds. This was pizza for those with no taste buds left to corrupt. If pizza was liquor, this was moonshine. And so on.
David Brandon, Domino’s CEO, recently made news by giving up pizza to become the new athletic director at the University of Michigan. To which I’d say: Good career move.
Just try not to do to the Wolverines what you did to a large pepperoni. Although you could argue that they’re already the Little Caesar’s of Big 10 football. Nowhere to go but up.
Looks like Massachusetts is going to be a loser for the Democrats today. Martha Coakley has no one to blame but herself, another blue-state Democrat who thought she was attending a coronation, not an election. What it means for health care reform? (Shrug.) Talking Points Memo lays out a few strategies. The GOP conventional wisdom is that this is a “referendum” on Obama, but I’m sticking with the more conventional cliché, about all politics being local. Coakley was a terrible candidate with a nose-in-the-air sense of herself, and the sooner people like that learn the necessary correction, the better. Scott Brown is of a piece with the current GOP — dumb and obstructionist — and I’m at the point of thinking, if this is the government you guys want, maybe it’s the government we deserve. Sure hope you don’t lose your health insurance.
What can you do? Order more bad pizza.
Looks like we’re heading into another rash of high-profile exits. Kate McGarrigle yesterday. Dennis Hopper, soon. (He’s said to be “in his last days,” but wants to divorce his wife first. Hmm.) Who’s No. 3?
And now it’s 10:30, and I’ve blown deadline yet again. Time to hop to the shower and prepare for the rest of the day.