When a newspaper’s name is a heavenly body, it’s so easy to make puns about it. In this case, the fact that the Sun stopped printing after September 30 was described mostly as the “Setting of the Sun.” But here at Nation’s Restaurant News when a company fails, we avoid humorous headlines, because people are losing jobs, and that’s not funny.
Then again, most people I heard, or read, use that “setting” turn of phrase meant it sympathetically. It was simply the easiest way to describe it. In fact, a bunch of Sun staffers and freelancers are having a sun-set watching party this Friday to say goodbye. I won’t be there, though, because I’m in Charlotte.
So The Sun’s gone (I said that last night to publicist Katherine Bryant, with whom I was dining at Apiary, and at first she thought I was trying to be poetic in describing the fact that it was nighttime), and with it my column, Kitchen Dish.
It’s a great name, isn’t it? Pia Catton, the Sun’s culture editor, the one in charge of creating that whole great section, thought it up back when she was food editor.
I enjoyed the extra money (it wasn’t much, but I got it every week), and I enjoyed being part of the restaurant-opening dialog that so many New Yorkers take so seriously, but I’m not one of those New Yorkers who take it so seriously, and frankly I’m happy not to have to worry about every damn cupcake shop and burger stand that opens for business. I’m happy not to get grief because the Times broke the news about a new branch of an overrated dessert store before I did and then to have to listen to the store’s publicists’ lame excuses (“oh gosh, I don’t know how you weren’t on that e-mail list...”).
With all there is to discuss about food in America, what new restaurant is opening is far from the most interesting. It probably doesn’t make the top ten.
Even so, I broke a fair number of stories in my little column, even though it was something I did in my spare time, and that’s because I’m a truly excellent journalist.
Just kidding. It’s mostly because New York is a vast city with enough news for everyone if you just get out and pay attention, and because, since I work for the trade press, I move in slightly different circles from most other food writers.
And it’s also because the Sun’s editors (some more than others, it’s true) valued finding offbeat information that wasn’t being covered by everyone else. That, as Pia explained it to me shortly after the paper was launched, was its goal — to create a place for intelligent thought that wasn’t The New York Times.
I loved the idea because the Times doesn’t have all the news that’s fit to print, not by a long-shot. As my friend Susie Park once said, “The Times is a good newspaper, but a bad religion.” Unfortunately, it is the religion of many New Yorkers, and that’s no way to run any society.
So it was good to have a different voice out there. I mean, the news and editorial sections were quite a bit farther to the right than I am, but journalists usually lean to the political left of their bosses, if for no other reason than because they have less money.
But of course there are other voices out there — a number of other daily newspapers based in New York or nearby, a hefty supply of weeklies and, of course, in this electronic age, more information, opinion and commentary — ranging from brilliant to just plain stupid — than any of us can handle.
Still, it’s sad to see a newspaper fold. Thanks to the writers who have said nice things about Kitchen Dish. I’m so grateful I think I’ll link to some of them:
A few people have asked if Kitchen Dish will find a new home. It will not (unless I get a really good offer, of course — I mean, I’m not stupid), but I will continue to break what news comes my way here and at NRN.com.
One more reason Kitchen Dish’s demise will ease some pressure from me: The Sun used serial commas and didn’t allow contractions, NRN doesn’t use serial commas and uses contractions all the time. It was like switching from American to British English.