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September 12, 2005

Cliché watch
Posted by Patrick at 09:11 PM * 32 comments

From Letters sent to Romenesko:

[9/12/2005 6:50:38 PM] From PAUL MAHFOUZ: We’ve had enough, please, of “sleepy” and “toxic gumbo.” Small communities on the Gulf Coast have never been sleepy and we’re not going to be sleep any time soon. Not only are we not sleepy, but we love gumbo and you’re destroying this magical food of the gods by overusing the phrase “toxic gumbo.” Please retire the word “gumbo” from your vocabulary unless you’re actually talking about the dish.
Noted, with approval.
Comments on Cliché watch:
#1 ::: Amanda ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 09:52 PM:

"[...] you’re destroying this magical food of the gods by overusing the phrase “toxic gumbo.” Please retire the word “gumbo” from your vocabulary unless you’re actually talking about the dish."

In the future, please substitute "septic jumbalaya."


#2 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 10:23 PM:

If it hit PA, we could call it toxic scrapple. No one would complain.

#3 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 10:28 PM:

PS "George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People" Rap. Good lyrics. I didn't much care for Gold Digger, but this rocks.

As the world has seen and heard by now, rapper Kanye West expressed his frustration at the Katrina relief efforts and his thoughts on U.S. President George W. Bush last week during a nationally televised benefit. While his thoughts and statement have received much attention, a rap group from Houston, The Legendary K.O., has taken it one step further and recorded a song, entitled “George Bush Don't Like Black People”, using the Kanye West “Gold Digger” instrumental.

The song, available for free download through , received over 10,000 downloads in the first day alone, with listeners ranging from the U.S. to Europe and Japan.

Legendary K.O. member Micah Nickerson lives minutes away from the Astrodome, where many Katrina victims are being housed, came up with the song concept immediately after hearing Kanye West's remarks.

“I had really wanted to write about this in the first-person, as someone stuck in New Orleans and left by this administration to basically fend for myself, but was having trouble putting the emotions I felt into words. When I heard Kanye during the benefit, the rest as they say was history,” said Micah.

The song was recorded and included on a friend's web site promoting new music from various artists ( Within a day, his site was overwhelmed with the traffic, as users were flocking to download the song.

Damien Randle, the other member of The Legendary K.O., says that the song expresses their and many others feelings about this administration.

“No matter which side of the political debate we reside on, I think we can all agree that this situation represents the ultimate human tragedy, and highlights the need for sweeping improvements in some of the most fundamental segments of society. The safety and well-being of all people should always be considered first, and we felt compelled to express that through song,” said Damien.

The Legendary K.O. is not staying on the sidelines during this tragedy, making music, but not taking action. Micah and Damien have also donated food, clothes, and time to local organizations and urge anyone that has not donated to please do

#4 ::: Lea ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 10:55 PM:

Man, I'm glad someone said that. I was sick of toxic gumbo before the hurricane. I was thinking, "Toxic gumbo...yeah...someone's going to go home and hug themselves to sleep, soooo proud of crafting that obnoxious chestnut."

P.S.: Thanks for the link to my comic, PNH!

#5 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 11:31 PM:

Ah, I finally remembered something I meant to post and kept forgetting while on-line: note what the gas prices did. Note what didn't happen with e.g. Louisiana Hot Sauce and other hot pepper sauces made by companies with addresses in or near New Orleans. If the stuff is actually made there, I would expect there to be a supply problem happening soon, or as soon as the realization hits that "the production facility is out of commission for an indefinite period of time."

Were I feeling affluent I might even play buy up a supply for resale....

#6 ::: CaseyL ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 11:40 PM:

Well, I was thinking that "Toxic Gumbo" would be a great name for a rock band.

But "Septic Jumbalaya" is way better.

#7 ::: Adam Selene ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 11:46 PM:

Yo' I'm with you on that. Don't much like that spicey stuff but...

...then again, after pumping all that shit (truth) into the Gulf, I'm not sure I'll ever eat shrimp again.

#8 ::: Elizabeth Bonney ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 12:04 AM:

I made it a point to stock up on Zatarain's jambalaya this week, though it seems that we're unlikely to see a Zatarain's shortage for at least a few weeks and perhaps not even then. It seems that they were purchased by McCormick in 2003, so they'll have access to facilities.

I feel a bit tacky worrying about getting my Zatarain's fix, but I was happy to note that they've been providing lots of meals to the relief effort -- that's got to be better than MREs.

#9 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 01:01 AM:

Clamdiggers and scallop fishing in Massachusetts were out of work for weeks in late spring and early summer due to a massive red tide here. But it dispersed after a while and the toxin from it retreated, too.

Clams from some contaminated beds get put into clean tanks or something and flush out after some number of days, I think. I doubt if the shellfish fisheries down in the Gulf in the areas affected by Katrina and the Bush League Flood afterward, won't recover and be edible again--the duration is a question, but it came back after all the Camille pollution--summer of 1975 the water in the Gulf on the Biloxi shore was officially offlimits to peope at Keesler AFB, by order of the Base Commander, due to contamination/pollution still present in the wake of Camille.... I was majorly not impressed. Boston Harbor despite raw sewage at the time sometimes flowing out into the harbor, was safe for swimming on most days--and there are a lot more people whose sewage went to the overburdened treatment facilities in Boston (not just Boston, but all the way west to Framingham!) than the Biloxi area at the time.

#10 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 03:41 AM:

septic Jambalaya, a-crawford pie and-a toxic gumbo

#11 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 07:18 AM:

"Note what didn't happen with e.g. Louisiana Hot Sauce and other hot pepper sauces made by companies with addresses in or near New Orleans."

Tabasco Sauce is made at Avery Island, which is about 140 miles west of New Orleans, and so should be in adequate condition, although the island did suffer when an over-ambitious oil crew drilled into its salt dome several years ago. I don't know about the sites for other hot sauce producers. However, even highly enthusiastic users don't go through a bottle as fast as a Lincoln Navigator goes through a tank of gas, and the really hard-core keep back-up supplies on hand. Ride-sharing wouldn't be possible, though, so other conservation methods would be needed.

#12 ::: Sus ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 08:27 AM:

Aye, duly noted. Respect to all.

retire [...] from your vocabulary

Tears of joy at that fabulous turn of phrase. Beautiful.

#13 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 09:13 AM:

Tomorrow's Disaster Cliches Today!

South-eastern US
Toxic Gumbo (retired)
Septic Jambalaya

South-western US
Deadly Guacamole
Salsa of Doom

North-eastern US
Catastrophe Scrapple

France (northern)
Le Pate de l'Enfer
Terrine des Hommes

France (southern)
Le Marinade Tragique

Reactor Leek (Wales only)
Deep-fried Glasgow
Roast Beef and Two Veg of Biblical Proportions
Black and Midnight Haggis
Sinister Apple Chutney (see Langford)

Borscht Smertni
Pirozhki Uzhastni

Knackwurst Case Scenario

#14 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 11:34 AM:

Ajay, don't forget, when the New Madrid fault wipes out the midwest and Ohio valley:

biscwaste and sewage gravy
Kentucky Hot Brown-outs

#15 ::: Lea ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 11:52 AM:

"North-eastern US
Catastrophe Scrapple


Actually, here in SW Texas, no food-based metaphor for a toxic disaster would be more accurate than, "It'll be like that Pace picante Shit."

#16 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 11:56 AM:

The toxicity narrative is emerging as a key element in the tabla rasa rhetoric of relocation (as opposed to restoration).

#17 ::: crystal ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 12:54 PM:

And for Minnesotans:


#18 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 01:45 PM:

[struggles to find suitable Hawai'i equivalent]

Poi bowl of sludge?

(I may be showing my biases here; despite 28 years of residence, I hate the stuff.)

#19 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 02:06 PM:

Example of context for the connection between razing it all and toxicity from LEAVING DESIRE: The Ninth Ward after the hurricane. by JON LEE ANDERSON in The New Yorker:

Alladio warned me not to get spattered by the floodwater. “The people who have been in this are going to get sick,” she said. The Environmental Protection Agency had team out taking water samples to check for toxins and the rumor—apparently unfounded—was that entire districts were so contaminated that they would have to be razed, along with hundreds of thousands of vehicles. The people who lived there might not realize it, she said, “but once they leave they are never going to see their homes again.”

#20 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 02:23 PM:

1. There is one labelled something like "Louisiana Hot Sauce" and company address on the label is New Orleans.

2. Some people -do- rapidly go through bottles of hot sauce.

3. Where are e.g. the Paul Prudhomme [sp] products made?

The corporate offices, and where products get made, can even be thousand of miles away. I wonder about things like "made in China" on frozen Atlantic fish: the home of the fishing vessels/their ownership/flag apparently what the country of origin listed on the package is. The Norweigan fishing fleet goes all over the world fishing for w/h/a/l/e/s what it catches and lables as "Product of Norway" for example.

#21 ::: suckerpunch ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 06:46 PM:

Lessee here. Tabasco was Avery Island, right. Louisiana Brand hot sauce is also from Cajun country, I think - not sure if it's Lafayette or New Iberia, but I'm pretty sure it's one of the two. The same company puts out these incredibly cheap canned yams that I'm gonna miss.

Now, Crystal Hot Sauce, which was the tastiest of the bunch, was based in Mid-City. I'm not even looking at an aerial photo, I know they flooded. I served the owning family a few times and found them to be good, happy, beer-drinking people, and by all accounts they were good to work for, so I wish them luck.

The Zat's plant was on the Best Bank, so they didn't flood. I wouldn't worry about them. The Camellia beans plant was in Harahan, and I think they got by just fine. Blue Runner's in Gonzales, I think, along with Bittersweet Farms, and they should be in great shape. The Abita brewery is up and running, and they're putting out a Fleur de Lis Restoration Ale.

Things to worry about :
Mauthe's Dairy in Folsom. No idea how these folks are doing.
Blue Plate spreads, on Jeff Davis. They flooded.
Smith Creamery up in Ponchatoula. These guys made a really good unhomogenized milk and made the damned best butter I've ever had. I hope they made it through fine.

#22 ::: suckerpunch ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 07:18 PM:

Now my mind is going. Let's think here...

Paul Prodhomme's operation is doing fine. Zapp's potato chips is in Gramercy, upriver. I'd bet that they're fine.
Jacob's Andouille is in Laplace, and again, they're probably all right. Creole Country on David in Mid-city and Terronova's on Esplanade are probably heavily damaged. Steen's is way out in Abbeville so they were untouched. Popcorn rice is made somewhere around there, too. I used to prefer a kind of olive salad made out in Kenner - Otchipini or something like that - I don't know about them. Gendusa's bakery, I don't know. That Italian bakery up in the Ninth ward that made the good muffaletta bread, they probably took on water. Hubig pies. They were down on Decatur, so they probably were fine, but I'm not sure. (They were starting to make the sweet potato pies, too. Damn it.) Gambino's, Randazzo's, etc., at least one branch should have made it through. Haydel's probably flooded bad.

Who am I missing? Help me out here.

#23 ::: Richard ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 08:36 PM:

Ajay - "Black and Midnight Haggis" is glorious.

And from here in Lancaster, we bring you :-

Lancashire Hotspot

#24 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 09:20 PM:

What I've been wondering is, with the high profile the man has, where the heck is Emeril Lagassé? As I understand it, he's got two or three restaurants in N.O.

#25 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 10:15 PM:

suckerpunch: Salt?

#26 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 10:44 PM:

More than just restauraunts, Linkmeister -- his corporate headquarters (Homebase) was there, and I think he still had a home there. From what I can piece together his organization is concentrating on finding out where all their employees are, getting any back pay to them, and finding them jobs, if possible, at his other restauraunts in Florida, Nevada, and Texas or some other kind of aid. The new corporate HQ will be in Orlando. I have not heard any word on future plans, which is not too unusual at this point. So far, the only definite word is from the Brennans, who plan to reopen at some point, but it is not sure how many of their NOLA restaurants will be back.

Of course, Johnny White's will still be there.

#27 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 02:23 AM:

Thanks, Claude. I remember how visible Michael Lomonaco was after 9/11, and I somehow expected Lagassé to be the same. To each his dagnab own, of course.

#28 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2005, 09:23 PM:

The news said tonight that stores may start running out of Folger's coffee because they process about half their beans in N.O.

#29 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 11:11 AM:

My vote for the direct New York City equivalent of "toxic gumbo" would be "Lender's Bagels".

An equivalent cliché for New York City was praise for New Yorkers from speakers who've always given every indication of loathing N.Y.C. and everything for which it stands, at least to them.

#30 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 02:55 PM:

The address on the Emeril's products is in New Jersey, nowhere near New Orleans. The space where Louisian Hot Sauce had been on a supermarket shelf, was devoid of Louisian Hot Sauce, and had some other sauce there, from an adjacent part of the shelf.

#31 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 02:58 PM:

I heard on some news reports that much of the coffee distributed through the US goes through the New Orleans area and warehouses, that there is lots of spoiled coffee there, and to expect a shortage/price rises.

The only products that prices literally shot up overnight on and kept shooting up higher for a number of days, though, were gas and oil....

#32 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2005, 08:48 AM:

ajay, that was awesome.

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