By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
It was the latest in a long line of Mad Magazine-type goofs dating back to the origins of this august tabloid, including such classics as arming the homeless ("Give Piece a Chance," April 1, 1999), desert tortoises halting the construction of Arizona Cardinals Stadium ("Super Bowl V," January 16, 2003) and human taxidermy ("Forever Yours," October 28, 2004). Back in the day, the paper even printed what was purported to be a big blotter tab of some hallucinogenic substance, and a lot of fools ate it. One reader called in and blurted, "I've eaten 10 pages and I'm still not high; what gives?!"
In case you've been high yourself for the past two weeks, "Xtreme Cuisine" was part Ashton Kutcher's Punk'd and part Swiftian satire, with a fictitious Chef Kazuki "Kaz" Yamamoto preparing illicit "moveable feasts" of rare, endangered or sometimes just taboo meats and vegetation for the famous, the well-connected and the über-rich. The parody claimed that Yamamoto would rotate his forbidden soirees among such select locations as Tovrea Castle, Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West, the Phoenician, abandoned eateries like Beef Eaters on West Camelback Road, and the Wrigley Mansion, in which the opening scene of the tall tale takes place.
Possessors of jaded palates were said to have paid thousands of dollars to dine on everything from seal sushi wrapped in gold foil and tenderloin of Bichon Frise to barbecued gorilla and breast of penguin sauted in Grand Marnier. The story grew more grotesque and absurd the further you read, and ended with none other than Arizona U.S. Senator Jon Kyl and Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon sinking their teeth into the grilled flesh of Mexican illegal aliens who'd sold a hunk of themselves to Yamamoto for just this cannibalistic purpose. For the legion of you with half a brain out there, Gordon made our list because he complained mightily when immigrants and their supporters marched up 24th Street recently, and Kyl's been bashing illegal immigration since Joe Arpaio was a Hitler youth.
Inspired by the 1990 film The Freshman starring Marlon Brando and Matthew Broderick, wherein Brando's character Jimmy the Toucan operates an illegal, mob-backed supper club similar to Chef Kaz's "Le Menu," "Xtreme Cuisine" mercilessly skewers loony environmentalists, animal-rights crackpots, egomaniacal celebrity chefs, culinary critics who'll eat anything, the rich and famous, anti-immigrationists like Kyl, and the craze for extreme edibles driven by the likes of Tony Bourdain.
Smart people got the joke. Not every single one of them approved of it, but they got it.
Among those who didn't, only a handful were concerned about anything other than the adorable little Bichon puppy supposedly consumed in the opening paragraphs. Hundreds of e-mails poured in to New Times and to the faux Chef Kaz's personal Web mail account from around the world, but only a couple of the outraged letters mentioned the bloody seal head Chef Kaz is holding on the cover, the penguins he's shown hunting with a high-powered rifle, the ancient saguaro he's pictured chain-sawing, or even the human liver he supposedly fried up with onions. It was that Kaz supposedly prepared tenderloin of Bichon Frise in a port-wine reduction for the assembled noshers at a private dinner that sent these readers on a murderous rampage.
From across the pond, Mary Alice Pollard of Cornwall, England, sent a pic of a caged tail-wagger supposedly headed for a Korean supper plate, excoriating New Times for running the story. "You dare do this to SELL YOUR PAPER? You are the lowest of the low."
To writer Lemons, canine-lover Kat e-mailed, "You are a monster and will be hated by many for supporting this awful way of living by eating dog meat." Jill from Phoenix announced that she was "appalled and outraged" that Lemons would write a story about eating dogs; she was apparently oblivious to the near-extinct pygmy owl reportedly being consumed in the spoof.
St. Petersburg, Florida's Sherry seemed a little confused about Chef Kaz's nationality (the phony culinary character was a Japanese-born, half-Korean dude in the story). "THIS COUNTRY DOES NOT KILL AND EAT DOGS!" she announced, adding, "If [Kaz] wants to kill dogs, he better go back to China. They kill anything." Amelia of Lexington, Kentucky, shared, "My Bichon Frise is cuddling me right now, and if you ate one of his brothers or sisters, you are one sick bastard. Eating your pet is one step away from eating your infant."
Susan from Pennsylvania described what she'd like to do to Chef Kaz: "How 'bout we put HIM on a grill! I put him in line with rapists, murderers and child molesters. They should throw him in jail with the other sick people and let them FEED off him!" A gal named Sandy called for the law to get involved, but included a macabre twist: "I hope some day soon I'll be able to read about Sheriff Joe cuffing [Kaz] and making sure he never uses his fingers again to shoot a gun, if you get my drift."