Thursday, December 01, 2005


I am not sure of the politics and legalities of publishing someone else's stuff in your own blog....but I couldn't pass this up. This is by Jon Weiner, a Nation editor. Found on the Huffington post.....

I can't decide if it is real or not.....You see: I have, with a perfectly straight face, explained to a multitude of people that there is no coffee because the historical wiring of the particular venue is not up to the 16 amp task of the modern percolator. Not because we hate night-time coffee drinkers....Oh, no. Perhaps the cruise dudes feel the same way about flaming crépe-ers.

Still....I have waited in line for two hours for the security check at a ball game. Guards searching for penknives and scissors and booze.....On BAT DAY, for chrissakes!! So anything is possible.

Irony may not be dead....but it is certainly in the iron lung.......

The annual Nation magazine Seminar Cruise sailed a couple of weeks ago from San Diego for seven days of panels, talks, and stops in Cabo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. The 450 subscribers on the cruise were not just liberals and progressives, but also people with an activist bent, always ready to organize a protest.

I was one of the eight speakers, and our duties included hosting nightly group dinners. The first night, and at my table, when the crêpes flambée arrived, they were not flaming. They were just lying there.

As the host of the table, I complained to the waiter, who said, “we are not allowed to flambée the crêpes at the table any more.”

Why not? “Too dangerous,” he said – adding, “terrorism!”

I reported this to Robert Scheer at the next table, one of the featured speakers, whose syndicated column appears at He said, “they are afraid terrorists will attack the ship with flaming crêpes suzettes?”

But the waiter was firm: “It’s against the law.”

It seemed unlikely this prohibition would be part of the USA Patriot Act, but I checked with our resident expert on the food portions of the Act, another of the featured speakers, Calvin Trillin, The Nation’s “Deadline Poet” who writes often on food for The New Yorker. Trillin told me he was “a little surprised you haven’t heard about this” -- although he did concede that the prohibition on cruise ship crêpes flambée was “one of the lesser known provisions of the Patriot Act.”

Arianna Huffington, another featured speaker on the cruise, founder of the, explained that the provision was added to the Act because of false flambée threat stories published in the New York Times by Judith Miller.

My table, eight long-time readers of The Nation, decided to take action, and organize a legal challenge seeking to seeking to overturn the “forbidden flambée” provision of the Act. We asked another of the cruise speakers, Georgetown Law Professor David Cole, Legal Affairs editor of The Nation, to represent us – he’s an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has litigated other parts of the Patriot Act.

David asked what the constitutional basis of our challenge would be.

We turned again to Trillin. He suggested that serving crêpes which had not been flambéed “could be considered ‘cruel and unusual.’”

We announced our plan to all 450 people on The Nation cruise, after which one man came up to me and said, “if you’re serious about this class action suit, I’d like to join it.

“But I wasn’t sure whether you were kidding.”


Blogger Gabe Rosen said...

Calvin way. Glad to hear my two favorite food journalists finally got to meet up.

I have been living on garlic naan and "lamb curry with dominant taste of tomato" at Pakwan over on 16th street here in the mission...looking forward to being home for the holidays and Monday dinner.

9:56 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home