Food Fight and Common Decency

Spaced City

Food Fight! (Maybe)
Houston foodies choose sides in radio war

By Richard Connelly

Cleverley Stone is a Houston food institution. Of sorts.

For some, she's a lively, well-informed foodie who offers great discounts and tips on her blog, on a weekly radio show on CNN 650 AM (Proposed Station Motto: You've Probably Never Heard of Us), on local TV morning shows and on her Twitter.

For others, she's a bit of a joke, someone who is pompous and gets too cozy with the restaurants that support her.

The Houston Chronicle's Alison Cook, for instance, decided last Saturday to listen to Stone's show for the first time and live-Twitter it. Sample tweets:

— "wow, so far @cleverleys's show is way more about cleverley than anything else. Me, me, me; my my my. Oh my"

— "'Ooh, I just pulled an earring out of my bra.' — @cleverleys. 20 minutes in and still almost no content"

— "34 minutes of unbelievableness. Not sure how much more I can take."

— "How many more dramatic readings of dictionary food definitions will I have to hear?"

Lance Zierlein is best known as the co-host of the morning sports-talk show on The Game, 1560 AM, the hands-down funniest sports-talk show in the market. He decided to do a local food show of his own, and things went to hell.

Or maybe they didn't, depending onwho you ask.

Zierlein's show is Southbound Food, self-described as "Rowdy. Hilarious. Edgy. Irreverent." A co-host is Bryan Caswell of REEF.

Shortly after the show debuted, Zierlein began telling people that Stone was mounting a campaign against it. She had her supporters calling in to KGOW bosses to say Zierlein was drunk on the air, the claim went, and she had called Tony Vallone a "traitor" for appearing on Zierlein's show. The Houston foodie community began taking sides.

Southbound Food answered with a parody of Stone's show. (Over Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, a Leonard Pinth-Garnell character intoned, "What we're going to do is take food, and the excitement and enjoyment of it, and try to suck all of it out of it to get to the core, which is the protein, which is the vegetables...")

So what is the deal?

Zierlein tells Hair Balls: "To be honest with you, I don't really know much about what Cleverley is. I don't know if it is the name of a show or if it is a person or what it is. I was told there is a different food show in town, but I had never heard of it and I've been on Houston radio for over 12 years. I've heard the other show tried to make something up about Southbound Food to try and get us in trouble, but that tactic failed."

And Stone tells Hair Balls: "There's a feud? The things you have heard are absolutely false. They never happened. I don't know Lance Zierlein. I have no knowledge of his imbibing and I don't know who his boss is. I would never say anything derogatory about my dear friend Tony Vallone. I hope this clears things up and puts to rest any inaccuracies you have heard."

So there you go. No one knows anyone else in this alleged Battle of the Foodies.

We can only hope Tony Vallone can stay as safe as Switzerland in this supposed war.

Spaced City, Political Animals

Common Decency
A talk with a guardian of morality

By Richard Connelly

Daniel Bennett is a Montrose resident who shops regularly at the West Gray Kroger. Even if it isn't the more famous Disco Kroger, the location is still usually hospitable to Teh Gheyz and those who (somehow) can shop side-by-side with them.

He wrote a letter to the company recently about an incident in which, as he was checking out, a representative of the Houston Area Association for Decency was doing whatever it took to be a part of the Kroger program where nonprofit groups can sign up so shoppers can donate a bit of their grocery bill to them.

He objected, citing HAAD's antigay policies (James Dobson is part of the national group), but the HAAD rep "made clear that they don't have a stand on gay-rights issues."

He cc'd HAAD on his letter to Kroger, and got in reply a copy of what an HAAD rep sent to the company (grammar/language mistakes are in the original, as are the italics):

Dear Krogers,

On September 10 we received the attached letter from an outspoken male for the gay agenda who apparently shops at Krogers and claims to represent your customers. Even though our nonprofits considered the source, our risk management department has started an investigation of our known, on related to our growing list of over 2,500 volunteers. In doing so, we may have narrowed it down to the person shopping at the Kroger's West Gray location who has personal knowledge related to this gay male who frightened her. Gay data based on our large area only represents 3 percent of our population.

Even though this gay male complains about the Kroger cashier, our volunteers report that Kroger cashiers are always professional...this gay male has also belittled managers...

Bennett's understanding of "Decency" is blindsided by his gay agenda. Mothers shopping at any Kroger location needs to carefully watch their children — as gays might start the recruiting process. Since homosexuals cannot have children, our children are always at risk.

Thank you for the your lower prices at Krogers, which attracts conservative families.

Those liberal fags!!! They don't even like lower prices!!!!

The letter was signed by "Kay Brubeck, paralegal." Naturally we wanted to talk to her.

We called the HAAD. The woman who answered the phone confirmed Brubeck was their paralegal, but she wasn't there and probably wouldn't comment. We then had this conversation with the very cheerful woman. We identified ourselves and then:

HB: I just wanted to check...

HAAD: Wait a minute, who are you with?

HB: The Houston Press.

HAAD: Oh, you're the colorful newspaper.

HB: That's me, the colorful newspaper...

HAAD: What's going on?

HB: It's a letter we received, it's —

HAAD: Oh, I bet from that gay guy.

HB: Exactly.

HAAD: Well, why in the world would you call us over him? I read that, too. I agree with her. That's ridiculous...So why are you interested in a gay guy? Because you're the Houston Press?

HB: I don't know what that means, but —

HAAD: [Laughs] Well, the Houston Press is quite colorful...Why are you interested in that letter that we sent out because of that gay guy?

HB: Well, I'm kinda curious why you keep calling him "that gay guy."

HAAD: I don't know; what do you want me to call him?

HB: Isn't he just a person?

HAAD: Well, uh — I think probably we shouldn't comment because this is in our risk-management department now. It's just ridiculous. I guess you don't think it's ridiculous because you're calling about it trying to talk to her...To me, she didn't say enough [in the letter]. I thought it was kind of lightweight myself. Evidently, you're interested...Dishonesty comes in various ways and every way. But I don't think she was strong enough in that letter she sent out. He's just trying to hurt the [HAAD] by sending it to the Houston Press...

HB: Okay. And what's your name, by the way?

HAAD: Well, let's just get off the phone here, because I sense you're not up to good.

HB: Oh, okay. I'm evil.

HAAD: I'll look you up; I'll google you.

HB: Okay. Try not to be too shocked or offended.

HAAD: [Laughs] I just know the front of your magazine is very colorful, and I remember when Anna Nicole Smith was on the top of your magazine and this was at the grocery store. And she was in bed with that guy she married and it was just shocking...I know you guys have a place in the community, and that's all right, whatever. But I doubt whether they're going to let her to respond any more.

We don't think we really got to the bottom of anything here, but at least we know we're colorful.


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