Last month while at GiGi and David’s, NPR somehow made it into our topic. I think David had mentioned eventually publishing his novel and then landing an interview on NPR as a goal, an all too lofty and impossible goal. I had rolled my eyes and told him not to put himself down like that.
“You know they did a series on cicadas? Not one story, but a SERIES. I think if they have enough time for a week on loud and aggravating insects, you should be good.”
They laughed, but I wasn’t really joking.
Thing is, I do like NPR. They have this mix of serious news, funky bands you’ve never heard of and quirky stories, like the cicadas, although being in Jersey, I had more than enough of them this summer.
Buuuuut… sometimes they are just annoying. I don’t mean just in that know-it-all/elitist/hipster tone they drift into, but in how they are presenting some of those “quirky” stories.
They started to get on my bad side last month when they provided a little too much coverage of Miley “Twerk” Cyrus at the VMAs. It’s already enough that Miley and her tongue was all over ABC, NBC and FOX, but NPR? It was like someone from TMZ got a respectable job but hadn’t lost their taste in pop culture banality.
Let me go back a few months to June, when they ran this stupid story on Blacks sudden love of moscato wine. An excerpt:
Brager says one would typically describe the average wine drinker as older, white and upper-income, and they are equally split by gender. Not so with moscato drinkers.
“Much more African-American,” says [senior vice president of beverage/alcohol practice at Nielsen, Danny] Brager. “Much more Hispanic, much younger, much lower-income, much more female.”
Brager says African-Americans are three times more likely to drink moscato than some other table wine.
That’s believable, especially if you listen to hip-hop. As long I can remember, some rapper has been name-dropping some type of alcohol in his or her song. For a while it was the champagne Cristal. I distinctly remember the liqueur Hypnotiq being big when I was in college, and ciroc vodka is trending a bit right now. But moscato has trumped them all.
Yes, that explains it! The Black and Brown people are crazy for it because “106 & Park” has told them to! More:
And moscato is really sweet and has low alcohol content. Sweet enough and weak enough, in fact, to make a wine drinker out of anyone, which is why winemakers love it so much. People who don’t think of themselves as wine drinkers, who are intimidated by the idea of a wine tasting, who would never, ever try to search out “earthy tones” in a deep red — those people drink moscato, and they like it.
Over the course of my interviews for this story, a handful of wine experts wouldn’t even be interviewed for the story. If you Google “moscato,” very soon you’ll find decrying the drink as “ghetto.”
Eyeroll. Pardon me for continuing with this week’s theme of jerkiness, but this story, repleate with Lil’ Kim lyrics, doesn’t have the complexity or nuance of a Dr. Suess book. It winds up saying that young Blacks (and Latinos!), so mesmerized by the influential power of rappers Drake and Nikki Minaj, have taken up a love affair with cheap white wine since Jay Z told us not to sip the gold labels back in ’06. And that’s all there is to it. The end.
Or not, because NPR decided to focus on the shocking lack of color in the microcosm that is American craft beers. This story I didn’t miss, and is what led me to discover the previous non-story. I first read about it at Rod Dreher’s blog:
It’s like something out of Portlandia. Here’s the headline:
Racist beer! Seriously, I swear, this is real. The answer, in part:
Looking at the nation’s community of home-brewers also sheds light on the matter, says brewer Jeremy Marshall, of Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Andres Araya owns the 5 Rabbit Cerveceria in Chicago. He says “home-brewing doesn’t really exist in Latin America.”
“Craft brewing is rooted in home-brewing,” Marshall says. “And if you look at home-brewing, you see nerdy white guys playing Dungeons and Dragons and living in their mom’s basement, and I know this because I was and am one of them.”
In truth, this is kind of interesting from a food culture perspective. But only NPR would worry about the lack of blacks, Hispanics, and Asians in the tiny craft brewing industry. Only 6.5 percent of US beer sales are craft brews. Nearly everybody — white, black, and everybody else — prefers Budweiser, Coors, and the like. I drink craft brews exclusively — bought a six-pack of Tin Roof Blonde and a six-pack of New Belgium’s Ranger IPA today — but people like me are relatively few and far between. May our tribe increase, and diversify!
Still, who cares about the color of the people who make craft brews? Who besides NPR, I mean?
Not me. The headline asked the question like it is some serious, pressing issue, which made me want to read it even less. Maybe all us colored folk are too busy still sipping moscato.
Maybe we’ll get on home brewing when Jiggaman tells us to do so.
NPR, moving out of the liquor store, moved on to question the dearth of diversity in the gym. Specifically, in CrossFit.
The CrossFit ethos eschews stuff like workout machines and the amenities that many big fitness chains provide, instead emphasizing stuff like Olympic lifts and gymnastics. It’s kind of showily no-frills, and gyms — or “boxes,” in CrossFit parlance — are often just huge garages with chin-up bars, mats and free weights. People who CrossFit together often form tight-knit cliques, leading to a reputation that CrossFit is a little culty and militaristic.
So just how white is Crossfit, anyway? It’s tough to say, in part because of the company’s peculiar corporate structure. People who own CrossFit gyms aren’t franchisees but “affiliates” — they’re licensed by CrossFit HQ but set their own rules, hours and workouts and buy their own equipment.
But even if a given CrossFit location were ethnically diverse, it just can’t be economically so: a CrossFit membership can easily cost north of $200 a month — less than a personal trainer might cost but easily five to 10 times what someone might pay to go to a big fitness chain like 24 Hour Fitness of Planet Fitness. Matt and I wondered just why CrossFit is so pricey, considering the stripped-down approach to gyms. Greene said the price is because of how much CrossFit trainers are paid relative to trainers at big gym chains who work on commission. (“A trainer isn’t just taking you out on the machine circuit and making minimum wage,” Greene said, taking a swipe at other gym chains. “At Crossfit, we’re talking about the professionalization of the trainer.”)
That cost would be way out of reach for most people, but more so for people of color, who are more likely to face economic barriers to exercise. Two hundred dollars a month is an inconceivable amount for lots of people to pony up.
Hmmm… so although there’s no telling how white it actually is, and with the admittance of it being a very stripped down, no frills gym AND far more expensive than your average membership, NPR still feels the need to question why the Blacks aren’t signing up? Hmmm… let’s see, I could go to Zumba with my girls or CrossFit that looks like a warehouse and features chin-up bars… which one will it be? Decision, decisions?
So, after that story appeared in my FB Newsfeed, a few days ago, enough was enough for me. I unliked the NPR page. I’m a young(ish) Black woman who does not take wine tips from rappers, does not care about the color of the brewer of my beer, and has never given not even a single damn about how many colored folk are into CrossFit or not.
I’m starting to miss those cicadas.