April 14, 2005

Exogenous cultural factors  

1. Some bloggers are apparently being pressured into drug use by this bizarre DEA publication. [via The Modulator]

2. Raffi Melkonian clarifies his defense of Charlie Trotter's foie gras exclusion here, invoking not animal cruelty, but rather menu coherence! Meanwhile Barrett at TMC has written a couple of colorful posts on the fiasco. More here on foie gras.

3. Caleb McDaniel may still be looking for advice on tipping the baristas at the local coffee shop; Paul Musgrave wonders to what extent tipping variations are culturally determined. I'm inclined to disaree with Caleb's assertion that tipping is in the strictest sense a gratuity; it's hard to see this exclusively as a gift when expectations are imposed (ie putting out a tip jar), especially when future encounters are at stake. For Paul the simple answer is: to a very great extent -- although we may well have different definitions of culture.

4. And some literary bloggers have banded together to leverage their influence: collectively, they'll choose a book to recommend every couple months, and the impact of these choices should have a considerable effect on the industry. Can other blog communities find similar ways to increase their profile by acting collectively?

Caleb  {April 15, 2005}

You're probably right that it's not in the strictest sense a pure gift. I would have been more accurate if I had said it's not a pure wage.

There are expectations that I'll get my mom a present for her birthday. But that doesn't mean that when deciding what to give her, I'll run some sort of calculus about how much she's done for me lately. Because it's a gift. Same with gratuities. Yes, part of it is expected, but not all of it is earned.

paul  {April 15, 2005}

Fair enough. I agree that it's not a pure wage, although here again I'd argue that neither is the tip in a restaurant, even though that tip has a much stronger wage component.

What would you say about taxi tips? I guess I don't know the wage structure there, but I consider that tip much less optional.

Haggai  {April 15, 2005}

Obviously no discussion of tipping is complete with some of these quotes:

"Do you know what this is? It's the world's smallest violin, playing just for the waitresses."

"You don't have any idea what you're talking about. These people bust their ass. This is a hard job."

"So's working at McDonald's, but you don't feel the need to tip them. They're servin ya food, you should tip em. But no, society says tip these guys over here, but not those guys over there. That's

"Hey, I'm very sorry that the government taxes their tips. That's fucked up. But that ain't my fault. it would appear that waitresses are just one of the many groups the government fucks in the ass on a regular basis. You show me a paper says the government shouldn't do that, I'll sign it. Put it to a vote, I'll vote for it. But what I won't do is play ball. And this non-college bullshit you're telling me, I got two words for that: "Learn to fuckin type." Cause if you're expecting me to help out with the rent, you're in for a big fuckin surprise."

Interestingly, the scripts on-line that I cut-and-pasted from had different characters saying those lines from what ended up in the movie. In the script, Mr. White is the one who doesn't want to tip, and everyone else argues with him. In the movie, Mr. Pink is the one who rails against tipping, and Mr. White ends up arguing with him more than anyone else does.

Haggai  {April 15, 2005}

Er, that should be, no discussion of tipping is complete *without* some of those quotes.

Caleb  {April 15, 2005}

I guess I think that tips in different contexts can be placed along a spectrum, from more purely gratuitous to more purely compensatory. Since tips for waiters and cab drivers are incorporated into the wage structure, those tips fall closer to the "compensatory" pole, whereas tips for baristas fall closer to the "gratuitous" end.

The mistake would be to confuse the two poles and treat either gratuitous tips as compensatory (thus demanding, for instance, that baristas do something extra special if they want a tip) or compensatory tips as gratuitous (treating tips for waitresses and cabbies as "optional").

paul  {April 15, 2005}

Caleb -- I think we agree.

Haggai -- thanks for reminding me of that quote, it's a great one. Do you think that was the original version of the script? I think it worked well the way it ended up -- Pink was the just the right one to be a prick about the tips...

Frolic  {April 16, 2005}

Turing away from tipping, what literary bloggers to you recommend? I'm looking for bloggers who can keep me up to date on the books worth reading. Too many lit bloggers I've read post bloated treatises that seem like attempts by MFA graduate to avoid writing that first book.

paul  {April 16, 2005}

I think the blogroll here seems to be pretty representative, but I have to admit I don't actually read any of the blogs listed. I read a number of poetry blogs though... for some reason I find these to be far more interesting.

Haggai  {April 16, 2005}

Not sure what stage in the game the script was at that point. It might have been a case of just shifting some of the names around, although I only read a couple of parts of the script. For instance, Mr. Pink is the one in the script with the Like a Virgin theory, not Mr. Brown as in the movie. The way it ended up in the movie, in those particular cases, certainly worked well.

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