BIRTHDAY BLOGFebruary 1st, 2006
Check it out. I made the list.
Thanks for all the many birthday wishes. Can't write more, though, too many DVDs to finish watching.
In the meantime, enjoy this, courtesy of The New Yorker:
by Ben McGrath
Issue of 2006-02-06
As if the mainstream media were not beleaguered enough, now comes word that the Coca-Cola Company is about to release a new drink called Tab Energy. The plan is to capitalize on the popularity of the Red Bull genre while trading on the retro cachet of Tab, with those iconic pink cans— a plan that could threaten the sanctity of one of journalism's secret, and most self-conscious, power cliques: the cult of Tab lovers, who have persisted in drinking the pioneering diet soda, despite its virtual disappearance from the market.
“This is a lonely but inspired society,” David Bradley, the owner of The Atlantic Monthly and National Journal, said recently, before news of the brand's reëngineering had spread. “You can't imagine the purchasing and trucking and warehousing issues we address in getting Tab into Washington.”
The original Tab, which appeared in 1963, is still produced, though in dwindling quantities. You'd be unlikely to find it at Gristedes, however, because Coke stopped promoting the drink in the mid-eighties, after the cancer scare involving saccharin, an artificial sweetener used in Tab. Present-day Tab enthusiasts must seek out wholesalers (New York Beverage, in the Bronx, is a local favorite) or rely on a kind of sixth soda sense—“the ability to spot the pink,” David Edelstein, the film critic for New York, calls it—in obtaining their daily fixes.
Here in the city, drinkers include Steven Brill and Danny Goldberg, the C.E.O. of the radio network Air America, each of whom has an office fridge stocked with Tab. “I have unadulterated enthusiasm for it,” Goldberg said, adding that he has long since delegated the task of finding the stuff to an assistant.
The fact that Tab comes in a pink can and was conceived as a drink for women seems only to have bolstered the appeal—it's a “boy named Sue thing,” according to a financier, who picked up the habit from Bradley. (Brill, just to be sure, tends to crush his Tab cans as he drains them.) Then, there is the peculiar flavor (“It tastes like metal”) and the reputation for unhealthiness, a combination that Edelstein, who has four cases delivered to his house every other week, believes gives Tab “the courage of its convictions.”
Steve Isaacs, a self-described “Tab nut” and former Washington Post editor who teaches at the Columbia Journalism School, has been told by several doctors not to drink it. “I tell them to go to hell,” he said recently. Isaacs used to work at CBS, where his boss, Van Gordon Sauter, often drank two Tabs at breakfast. Now Isaacs may be the most influential Tab advocate in the business: he begins each semester by holding up a Tab and asking students to come up with a hundred story ideas inspired by the can.
At the end of last term, Isaacs threw a party for his students, at which he served Tab. “I was surprised at how many of them drank it,” he said. “One was putting Scotch in it. I mean, that sounds f***ing awful.” Isaacs no longer drinks alcohol, for health reasons, but he doesn't much mind, because he thinks that the flinty taste of Tab is like a fine Sancerre.
Tab Energy, for its part, is “really good-tasting,” according to a Coke spokesman, and “reminiscent of a liquid Jolly Rancher,” according to Fashion Week Daily, which recommends vodka as a mixer. The new can is slimmer, but it's still pink, with the same Pop-art font. Whereas old Tab has thirty-one milligrams of caffeine and zero calories, Tab Energy has ninety-five milligrams and five calories. Nicole Richie is an early proponent, which seems right—more Los Angeles than New York. (To be fair, Tori Spelling and Bobcat Goldthwait are reported to be fans of original Tab.)
Coke officials promise that the old Tab isn't going to be retired, which is good news for Edelstein. “For the last thirty years, through marriage, kids, fluctuations in my financial situation, Tab has been the one constant in my life,” he said. He was holding a glass of bourbon, but he swore that the taste of Tab lingered in his mouth. “Not to boast, but I've had eight cans today,” he said.