It's been a while since we last checked up on the Wall Street Journal's Pursuits section, which back then was likely the most immanently compelling nugget of weekend media this side of The Mclaughlin Group. We're happy to report that nothing's much changed; just like its predecessors, this week's edition is an intoxicating Borgesian compendium of curiosities and improbabilities, each designed to tickle the heart strings of those mythic goblins who have a surplus of capital and a shortage of good sense. And so we learn this weekend that filtered tap water's become the hot new fine-dining beverage of choice, while this year's Lollapalooza is offering lakeside cabanas starting at $32,000 for more refined would-be moshers: That splish-splashing you hear is Kurt Cobain turning in a grave filled with a few hundred discarded liters of Pellegrino, but, no matter, what's past is past.
Restaurants are in a bind these days as "green" pressure mounts to cut down on the plastic and glass waste from the bottled waters that have become popular in recent years. Yet many feel tap water isn't fancy enough. So they're dressing up plain old spigot water by installing expensive triple-filters and "reverse osmosis" systems. They're filling carafes with Japanese charcoal, running water through special stones to add minerals, and serving house-made seltzer.
Recent visits by reporters to restaurants in Los Angeles, Washington, the San Francisco Bay Area and New York found that overall, luxe tap water is better-tasting than what comes directly out of the faucet, but not quite as unique as some of our favorite brands of imported mineral water. At Incanto, the carbonated water had fewer bubbles than we're used to, which the owner says is on purpose: He prefers a subtle fizz that doesn't distract from the food.
Ponder that for a second before turning to the full class-war specter haunting America and the West: indeed, why is it that big, multi-day rock festivals have always seemed to favor the poor? The mud, the overfilling toilets, the loud noises: from Woodstock to Bonnaroo, such factors have perennially conspired to prevent people of means from having a comfortable and clean good time at such events. Well, John Jurgensen reports, let 2007 go down as the summer the chains were broken:
Once havens for disaffected youth letting loose, music festivals are going after an older, wealthier crowd this summer with more mainstream acts, higher-priced tickets and a slate of VIP perks.... At Sasquatch in Washington, fans who pay about $300 extra for a "Solid Gold Superticket" can take hot showers in air-conditioned bathrooms. (Regular campers get porta-potties and no showers.) Holders of American Express Gold Cards have recieved a special offer for the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in California; for $549 — more than double the regular price — they get entry to the only cocktail bar on the grounds.
David Carpenter and his wife, Vanessa, both 31, will attend Bonnaroo for the first time this year. They plan to take advantage of the festival's VIP package.... "We're quiet suburbanites," says Mr. Carpenter. He adds that if he "was 21 years old," he might buy a regular ticket. "But I'm more mature and better off now, so I said no thanks to that."No thanks to that
Latest Gourmet Offering: Tap Water [WSJ]
The VIP Rock Fest [WSJ, not online]