Someone sent me Marilyn Hagerty’s column about the Olive Garden opening in Grand Forks, N.D. about 10-ish Thursday morning. By late afternoon, the story was everywhere and, hence, played. And so the bristling pace of the Internet’s snark cycle leaves me sucking hind tailpipe once again.
But just in case you didn’t see it, here it is, a little masterpiece of business reporting:
The place is impressive. It’s fashioned in Tuscan farmhouse style with a welcoming entryway. There is seating for those who are waiting.
My booth was near the kitchen, and I watched the waiters in white shirts, ties, black trousers and aprons adorned with gold-colored towels. They were busy at midday, punching in orders and carrying out bread and pasta.
Some years back, Alan was contacted by a journalism headhunter who asked if he’d be interested in a department head-level position in Fargo. The answer: No. Grand Forks was once part of the Knight-Ridder family, so I guess that might have beem an option, too. The answer was still no. But as the tireless, steroidal snarkers at Gawker demonstrate, this is not a North Dakota thing, it’s an Olive Garden thing; the OG appears in newspaper restaurant reviews over and over. And all I have to say about that is what Hagerty herself told the Village Voice — I told you this thing went viral — today:
If you were going to review the fine dining here, you’d be done in three weeks–there’s only about three places you could call “fine dining.”
But while we’re on the subject, let’s skip to another exemplar of North Dakota journalism, the amusingly named Jon Flatland:
Jon Flatland, a columnist, a former president of the North Dakota Newspaper Association and one-time newspaper owner, has been exposed as a serial plagiarist.
When confronted with the evidence gathered by humor writer Dave Fox, Flatland abruptly resigned from his position as interim managing editor of the Times in Blooming Prairie, Minnesota and “quickly and quietly left town,” according to the paper’s publisher.
In a profile last month of Jon Flatland and his wife, whom he met online, the Minnesota native said, “Don’t try to be someone you’re not, because if and when you do meet someone through a service like eHarmony, they’re going to find out pretty quickly you weren’t being honest. Just be yourself.” It’s unclear how many humor columns of Flatland’s included stolen material, but it appears to go back many years and involves work taken from a variety of columnists.
This guy makes Tim Goeglein look like a piker. Having seen a few clips from the papers that were running him — links in the piece — I bet I know what happened: This guy thought he might as well have been stationed on Mars, and even Google doesn’t reach that far. His mistake: Once Olive Garden gets there, Google is right behind.
But what I really want to talk about today was this little moment from earlier this week, as detailed by Jonathan Chait:
Earlier this week, a pretty interesting and telling exchange took place at a Mitt Romney town hall meeting. A student asked Romney what he would do to make college more affordable for students who struggle to pay for it. Romney’s reply was jarring:
“It would be popular for me to stand up and say I’m going to give you government money to pay for your college, but I’m not going to promise that,” he said, to sustained applause from the crowd at a high-tech metals assembly factory here. “Don’t just go to one that has the highest price. Go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education. And hopefully you’ll find that. And don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on.”
Wow. This is the candidate who has promised to keep the pillows plumped for everyone now over 55, but if you had the misfortune of being born later (even by a year or two, like, um, me), too bad. And if you have, oh, children on the other side of the line? What then? Find a nice community college, sucka. Too bad you weren’t born rich, like my kids! This sort of redefines cynicism, doesn’t it? What country can long survive betting against its youngest members?
Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly has more.
Boy, am I not looking forward to this campaign. Maybe we need some levity.
And if you don’t like that, the Northern lights over Lake Superior, night before last. I’m sure if you were there, it made the cell-phone interference totally worth it.
Great weekend, all!