Matt Buchanan

Matt Buchanan

Most Recently:

In this Sunday's forthcoming New York Times Magazine—which has been magically sent backward in time, from the future, to the internet of today—I have a short piece on how dynamic, demand-based pricing is probably going to become a staple of supremely popular restaurants as logistics-driven startups, of a piece with Uber and Airbnb, begin looking to disrupt (lol) woefully inefficient restaurant seating systems. In summary: Hope you like eating out on Tuesdays at 9PM. Unless you are rich, then why are you worrying about this, or anything at all? It'll be just fine. You'll be just fine. Everything's fine.

The Tall, Skinny, Shining Skyline That L.A. Deserves

For the last forty years, an odd rule from the Los Angeles Fire Department, known as Regulation 10, has required that every skyscraper in the city have a helipad for potential emergency rescues. This is why, architects argue, Los Angeles has a thoroughly medicore skyline. Here are a whole lot of them complaining to the New York Times about Regulation 10: READ MORE

Pity the Poor Bodega Cigarette Man

Upon closer inspection of the shelves, he noticed that the rear wall stopped short, a couple of inches from the other side, suggesting a gap in between. He peered lower. There was a pinpoint hole in the rear wall. Below it, a toothpick lay on the shelf. Deputy Davis, 43, stuck the toothpick in the hole. READ MORE

Hotels Are People Too

It's increasingly hard to escape the sensation that the primary proprietors of the so-called sharing economy don't so much share as take—from their users, from their contracted workers, from the localities in which they operate, by utilizing infrastructure that they do not contribute toward. It's everybody else who shares. READ MORE

The Rats Among Us

On Tuesday, Dr. Lipkin and his colleagues published their initial results in the journal mBio. Although the scientists examined just 133 rats, they found plenty of pathogens. Some caused food-borne illnesses. Others, like Seoul hantavirus, had never before been found in New York. Others were altogether new to science...So far, they have identified 18 unknown species related to viruses already shown to cause diseases in humans. Two of the new species were similar to the virus that causes hepatitis C.
One scientist told the Times that the discovery of these brand new, never-before-seen viruses in New York City rats is not "a call to wage war on rats just yet." This scientist lives in Montana.

Pathogen Privilege

Amanda Uhry, who runs a consultancy called Manhattan Private School Advisors, which, as its name suggests, helps parents through the private-school application process, said she recently turned down a half-dozen clients when she discovered that they were opposed to vaccination. For a long while she had never inquired about the issue, but a few years ago, a child she was working with missed his kindergarten interview because of whooping cough, which left her stunned. "I thought, Whooping cough? Who gets whooping cough anymore?" she said.
While the Times strains to paint the wealthy parents New York City as marginally more reasonable than the wealthy parents of Los Angeles when it comes to anti-vaccination fervor, it's clear that their pampered, all-organic, macrobiotic-fed, micro-managed children—who are able to skirt the city's otherwise rigorous vaccination requirements, thanks to their malevolently ignorant parents' preening—are going to reintroduce us all to antiquated diseases which had otherwise been wiped out of the public sphere. Call it pathogen privilege.

The Tortilla's Last Light

In May, in the course of conducting what could be the Awl's first annual Chipotle State of the Union survey, idk, Bobby Finger discovered that far more people ordered bowls than burritos, even though Chipotle is generally known as a burrito chain. Today, in a piece on the rise of grain bowls as a meal format—which strangely omits the Korean dish dolsot bibimbap, the ultimate bowl of grains and cool stuff—is official confirmation of the tortilla's fall from grace: "For evidence that the bowl has gone mainstream, look no further than Chipotle, whose burrito bowl is the biggest selling item on the menu." READ MORE

The YA Books No Adult Should Read

A thing I compulsively do after I pick up my Kindle, but before I start actually reading anything, is browse through its bookstore. Even though I rarely buy books from Amazon in order to avoid contributing to the downfall of publishing as we know it or whatever, I have made at least a few random purchases, like Eric Schlosser's Chew on This, which, in the fog of early morning and the kind of gross, glowing wintergreen glaze atop the Kindle's black-and-white E-Ink pages, seemed like a sequel or an update to Fast Food Nation, which I had never read in its entirety. I was immediately struck not just by how repetitive of Fast Food Nation it seemed, but by how jarringly simple the writing was, so I stopped reading it. READ MORE

Ban Cars from Central Park

The mystery of the bear cub found dead on Monday in Central Park is one step closer to being solved: It was revealed on Tuesday that she died after being hit by a car. READ MORE

The Rise of Fake Good Cocktails

New York City’s restaurants are in the midst of an epidemic of not-goodness. Sit down in any new dining room, and you are handed a cocktail list. Each drink on this document will have one ingredient you have heard of and seven that were apparently named after distant planets. Sometimes you may think you recognize a cocktail that you like (a good cocktail, in other words), but everything you like about it has been replaced by some other thing that you’re not sure about. “Hello there, that sounds like an old-fashioned!” you think. “But with burdock syrup instead of sugar, Croatian absinthe instead of bourbon, and hemlock bitters instead of Angostura.” If curiosity gets the upper hand and you ask for one, you will wonder why you couldn’t have had an old-fashioned old-fashioned.
New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells laments the rise of fake good cocktails. While he focusses mainly on their burgeoning presence in restaurants, they are becoming a true epidemic, having also crept into a number of lesser bars, looking to ring up the higher drink prices previously commanded by superior establishments. Like the rise of fake good coffee, places that pour fake good cocktails rely heavily on a handful of once-useful visual signifiers, forged by the actually good cocktail joints, in order to convey their supposed quality: "ingredients [that] appear to have the right pedigree," as Wells put it; concoctions which appear in or allude to the spirit of pre-Prohibition or tiki or some other favored era of fancy bartenders; rows of bitters; beautiful barware; whimsical cocktail names; a bartender's choice option; and the coup de grâce, suspenders. READ MORE