by Jerry Krase
Like the original “Fill-in-the-Blank-Scandal-Gate,” for me at least, Pizzagate started small; as a ripple on Facebook as I visited my fbf (Facebook Friend) Diane Savino’s page and watched a video of Bill De Blasio’s commensal visit to Goodfella’s Pizza. It had a link to the Staten Island Advance’s coverage of the (for SI at least) momentous occasion. From there I was carried adrift by that swelling wave swamped all New York Dailies, New York Magazine, Huffington Post, The Daily Show, and the Entire Blogoshere. Then it crossed the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea to crash upon the shores of La Bell’Italia where it soaked the pages of La Stampa and La Repubblica until the backwash of righteously bogus indignation finally seeped into Maureen Dowd’s “Tynes that Tempt Men’s Souls”.
Some of my more intellectual Facebook friends responded to the New York press corps’ waste of valuable public space by lamenting the absence of actually informed sources such as Murray Kempton. Being less cerebral, I wondered how Wayne Barrett, Jimmy Breslin or even Woodward and Bernstein would have dealt with the story. To the Italian and other foreign media that monolinguals ignore, the American press doesn’t know anything about pizza or Italy. Italians have always railed against the uninformedly biased coverage of cose italiane but for them this was the last dirty dish.
I’m sure Jimmy Breslin would have compared Blazin Billy’s culinary predelictions to those of Un Occhio, or perhaps, in regard to his upscale dinner table affections, to Society Carey. Wayne Barrett, I am certain, would have penned a thousand-word digression into the loss of the cutlery industry in The Big Apple. To mimic Woodward and Bernstein: “One of the eight men (+ two women) secretly videographed Friday evening in the attempt to consume several pizzas and related antipasti at Goodfella’s in Staten Island last week is the recently elected Mayor of the City of New York, Bill De Blasio. The suspect, aka Wilhelm Warren Jr., 53, also shovels his own sidewalk after significant snowfalls, NYC OEM Commissioner Joe Bruno said yesterday… In a statement issued by Mario Batali, De Blasio and the others caught on camera at the pizza venue “were not operating either in my behalf or with my consent” in the alleged partaking. Not eating pizza the way real new Yorkers do was probably due to his Boston roots.
My most favorite ever journalist, Murray Kempton would have been embarrassed by the entire pizza mishegas. When in 1979 he reviewed books on an actual problem he wrote: “Investigative reporting is the best, probably the only, excuse for journalism; but, welcome as its renaissance is, we ought to recognize that it is an extractive and not a refining process.” Richard Severo’s 1997 obit, “Murray Kempton, 79, a Newspaperman Of Honor and Elegant Vinegar, Is Dead,” is more than enough for contemporary contrast. (http://www.nytimes.com/1997/05/06/nyregion/murray-kempton-79-a-newspaperman-of-honor-and-elegant-vinegar-is-dead.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm)
In my opinion, Pizzagate and the explosion of copious copy reflecting having too much time on one’s hands, or better things to do, is explained by the sudden appearance of a (for now) too-accessible Mayor. It was difficult for City Hall reporters to look over Bloomberg’s shoulder as he dined during one of his top-secret weekend excursions to the other outer island of New York City –Bermuda, where Michael Barbaro once caught him “At Greg’s Steakhouse, the power lunch spot on this sun-soaked island,” at which Himself “…is such a regular that he has his own booth, with a view of the Parliament building. The waiters have memorized his order: coffee-rubbed New York strip steak.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/26/nyregion/26bermuda.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0)
The rapidity at which “the how not to eat pizza in front of reporters who don’t know any better” story went viral, is more unfortunate proof of the decreasing distance between the deservedly maligned twittering/tweeting, Blogosphere and the allegedly Legitimate Press. As to other things that might concern reporters about Staten Island, first on my list would be the past, present, and future neglected scandals over the lack of attention to the plight of residents and businesses in Richmond County’s enormous littoral zone where they never should have been found, where they were swamped by Sandy, and where they wait righteously impatiently for promised relief by Federal, State, and Municipal authorities. Another good story might be the wages of fast food workers and the regressively super abundance of Lhota voters there. In the meanwhile, I await the outrage by those sharing Wilhelm’s Teutonic roots over Blazin’ Bill’s uncoerced confession about pouring beer over ice cubes.
For an Italian view of 'Pizza-gate' per De Blasio, la mangia con le posate
A Ny non si fa, valanga di critiche sul sindaco italo-americano: http://wwww.ansa.it/web/notizie/videogallery/mondo/2014/01/12/-Pizza-gate-De-Blasio-mangia-le-posate_9884520.html