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.
What's wrong with good old-fashioned imported sparkling mineral waters, you ask? As Katy McLaughlin explains, it turns out that super-chic restaurants are coming up against that verdant color Times columnist Tom Friedman first defined earlier this morning:
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.
The gold-standard cleaner machine is something called a "Natura" which "filters the water with carbon and then subjects it to UV rays to eliminate impurities." Can you put a price on Natura? Yes, San Domenico in Midtown charges $8 for the tap water that's got it all: UV rayed, but with all the heavenly terroir of the municipal water supply. Nevertheless:
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.
Cagey as always, Pursuits reveals neither the names nor number of these reportorial shock troops; how, in fact, does does one end up on the Journal's haute H20 beat?
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.
Similar premium plans abound all across the country; standing up to the uncouth fans of such provocative acts as Pearl Jam, the Police, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Silent Majority is finally making itself heard:
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: There's rock-and-roll rebellion as it should be; with nary an extraneous mineral, it goes down so easy like a fine filtered spigot water.