The True Meaning of Labor Day

labor-day-flag

Labor Day. Some say it’s getting too commercial—too gaudy. Stores put out their festive Labor Day decorations months in advance. Homeowners race each other to string up their Labor Day lights first. And radio stations play the same Labor Day songs nonstop. Yes, America, it seems somewhere along the way we lost the true meaning of Labor Day.

Let’s not kid ourselves. Labor Day ain’t what it used to be. What used to be a humble observance has morphed into an orgy of crass secular celebration, an orgy whose key bowl is the first Monday of September and whose keys are the picnic hamburgers, potato salad and corn hole boards that we worship instead of the true spirit of Labor Day.

Now everyone everywhere takes advantage of this precious holiday for all the wrong reasons. Over at Fox News, the Fair and Balanced Squad runs hyped-up stories about the supposed “War on Labor Day.”

As if.

Oh, yes, there is a War on Labor Day, but it’s not the one Fox News claims it is. Just because one small town in Pennsylvania or wherever wants to honor a little thing called the Constitution and refuses to erect scenes from the first Labor Day in front of city hall does not mean Labor Day is under attack. In fact, it’s pretty hilarious that Fox News would choose to defend Labor Day from “attack” when it continually practices none of Labor Day’s most cherished values. But that’s another commentary!

A brief side note: To those who actively celebrate Labor Day, it would be nice to see some of you step away from the Labor Day shopping lines for a moment and donate your time to a local soup kitchen or give toys for children who will have no toys this Labor Day.

The Internet has only exacerbated the issue, in my opinion. What was once a quiet, dignified celebration of American workers has ballooned into a self-serving social media frenzy. Oh, how handsome your family looks on Labor Day in front of your Labor Day tree! Right there in my Facebook feed. Aren’t you all SO perfect?

And what about those Americans who do not work? To them Labor Day is nothing but an organized insult, one that brazenly touts the virtues of gainful employment and national progress to the nation’s be-couched. As a country we spit on an entire group of people with our Labor Day preening.

So.

What is the true meaning of Labor Day? It’s not about the Labor Day gifts or the Labor Day movies or all that delicious Labor Day eggnog. Labor Day is a day in which we celebrate the virtues of working by not working. Let us never, ever forget this fact.

So Happy Labor Day, America! And to our Jewish friends, please enjoy all eight days and nights of this special Labor Day season. And to our black brothers and sisters, Happy Laboranza.

Joe Donatelli is a journalist in Los Angeles. Follow him @joedonatelli.

Photo by Robert Couse-Baker

Is It Good? Blaze Pizza

blaze-pizza-sign

Blaze Pizza solves the biggest problem in the pizza business: how long it takes to make a pizza. Making a pizza takes forever. By the time you drive to a pizza joint, wait for the waiter to take your order, put in your order and then pick at a salad while the restaurant’s wood-fire authentic Tuscan Italian brick oven takes one complete World Cup qualifying and tournament cycle to make your pizza, you are dead because you can’t live for four years on one small side salad.

Blaze Pizza, with its aggressive orange color scheme and flame logo, is all “Eff that. Hurry up and pick some toppings, and we’ll nuke your artisanal pizza in 180 seconds, you go-getter, you.”

That’s 175 seconds too long, but it’s progress.

I recently checked out the Blaze Pizza at The Grove Farmer’s Market.

Just like Chipotle, there’s an ingredient line, and you can customize your pie.

blaze-pizza-ingredients

We didn’t customize because my wife didn’t want to see how high I could get the workers to stack jalapenos on a pizza before a manager got involved, but customizing is an option. If you want mushrooms and applewood bacon–you got it. If you want chicken, sausage, pepperoni and meatballs–they’ll do it. If you have enemies, you can slide a piece of paper across the counter with a name and address and “things happen,” no questions asked. They really aim to please.

Our pizza topping sherpa was training a new employee, and the new employee was timid with the toppings, and the veteran employee kept throwing more on. This is exactly what I like in a food establishment–wanton disregard for efficiency in exchange for maximum customer satisfaction. We ordered the Red Vine  (ovalini mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, parmesan, basil, red sauce, olive oil drizzle) off the Signature Menu. This is what it looked like. You can tell from the lack of dead animals and spices that my wife selected it.

blaze-red-vine-pizza

The crust was thin, which was fine by me, because I prefer tasting ingredients over chewing a pound of white bread. The ingredients were fresh, and half a pizza was the perfect amount of food. We also had salads and drinks. The whole thing came to $20. Not bad for a date-night meal before a movie.

And so now the question…the big question…the only one that matters.

Blaze Pizza: Is it good?

It is.

Blaze Pizza is good.

When I want world-class pizza, I will go to Mozza. When I want volume, I will go to Shakey’s. When I want to eat a pizza at lunch on a workday without having to wolf down three slices in five minutes because it took 55 minutes for the pizza to reach the table, I will go to Blaze.

- @joedonatelli

The 19 Funniest Exercise Fads of All-Time

prancercize-horse

I have a new piece on Livestrong rounding up the 19 funniest exercise fads of all time. My favorite, by far, is Prancercise, pictured above. What is Prancercise?

From the list:

If you ever see someone prancing through the park like a horse, don’t call the cops. They’re not on LSD. They’re Prancercising. Joanne Rohrback’s Prancercise video has more than 10 million views on YouTube. And, yes, to answer your question, Prancercise is real. A book is currently available on Prancercise.com, where you can also view a photo of Rohrback prancing in a field with what appears to be a Photoshopped horse. The Prancercise inventor, for some reason, always looks like she’s dressed for lunch at the country club. She describes her prancing workout thusly: “It’s about self-expression. It’s about nonviolence. It’s about conservation.” Actually, it’s about strapping on ankle weights, turning up the volume and exercising like nobody’s watching!

Even more ridiculous exercise fad: Treadmill Bike.

You can read all about it here.

Reason Calls Me Fat

reason-fat-man

I made my debut on Reason.com today, and the libertarian publication called me fat. It’s OK. I wrote about being fat. Still, they could have said I was “ample” or “stout” or that my waistline was  “Keynesian.” They could have said: “Food Stimulus Victim Apologizes to His Fellow Taxpayers.” So much kinder and more accurate.

It all started a few weeks ago when the managing editor of Reason.com asked me to write a “non-deadly serious” take on Obamacare.

The resulting article, I’m happy to report, is probably the least serious opinion ever written about our national health care law.

It contains the following words:

  • lawn ornament
  • free-range meatballs
  • shorts
  • tater-tots
  • Queen of Wien

Feeling the heat yet, Tom Friedman?

In the article I wrote an apology to people who take good care of their bodies.

On behalf of everyone who’s ever put Doritos on their sandwich for extra crunch or drunken copious amounts of beer out of a lawn ornament while tailgating, I’d like to say, “I’m sorry.” With no chance of repeal or reform of Obamacare anytime soon, our personal health and finances are more closely intertwined than ever. Many of us are simply not up for this massive responsibility.

You can read the rest here.

The article is already starting to receive comments.

This was a good one.

The overweight guy is likely to die…He’s a net financial gain to society.

This next one I like better, mainly because it doesn’t involve my death.

I couldn’t survive in France. Ketchup is my favorite vegetable.

I am SO proud to finally be contributing to the important national discourse my fellow citizens are having about important federal legislation, ketchup and France.

- Twitter:@joedonatelli

 

Is it Good? iPic Theater

ipic

Well, that’s it. All other movie theaters are ruined for me forever. (SETS ARCLIGHT MEMBERSHIP CARD ON FIRE.) I’ll never go to another one without comparing it to the iPic. Thank you, iPic. Damn you, iPic.  You’re the best. And the worst. I love you. And I hate you.

The iPic in Westwood is a premium movie theater experience featuring reclining chairs with soft blankets and pillows. I could stop describing it right there, and it would stand as the most comfortable movie theater experience I’ve ever had. It’s like flying first class in a movie theater. Somewhere else in the world suckers are paying good money to sit upright in movie theaters while you lounge in the theater like you’re in your own living room. But that’s not all.

The iPic also offers drinks and food delivered to your seat by a courteous wait staff. The food is OK and pricey (if you’re not one of the high-paid lawyers or UCLA types who works nearby), but you get to eat it at a table at your seat, and it’s far tastier than your traditional movie theater hot dog that may or may not actually be made of recognizable animal parts.

iPic is movies for the, well, not 1 Percent. Wherever the 1 Percent watches the secret good movies that are never released to the public probably isn’t open to guys like me. Let’s say The 5 Percent. The iPic is movies for the 5 Percent.

jeanralphio

The iPic also has a restaurant and a bar. For some reason the music and vibe outside of the theaters themselves is ootz-da-da-ootz Jean Ralphio, like some kind of trendy-dance-club-meets-Beverly-Hills-Asian-fusion-restaurant. Can an establishment offer both Junior Mints and bottle service? The iPic may one day answer that question.

But these are just tiny quibbles that stand in the shadow of the main attraction. It’s the chairs that make the iPic. If you’ve read an “Is it Good?” before, you know seating is one of my top two main factors in whether I enjoy an experience that requires me to leave my home. Human beings are not meant to sit upright for two-and-half hours, which is what most movie theaters demand. It’s not the worst discomfort in the world. There are people in refugee camps who stand in line all day for food, so I’m not about to complain that movie theater seats make me slightly achy, but if a movie isn’t good, you do notice your discomfort, and you just can’t wait for the thing to end. That isn’t a great use of $16.

Not a problem at the iPic.

I saw a mediocre movie–Jersey Boys–and enjoyed every minute of it because the chair was just so damn comfortable. It was soft. It was orange, which I liked for some reason. It reclined. You could spread out. You could kick your feet up. You could build a little fort, which I thought about doing during Jersey Boys, a movie that suffered from the classic biopic problem of trying to show you everything and actually showing you nothing.

The thing the iPic lacked was that we’re-all-packed-like-sardines-and-we’re-going-to-experience-this-movie-together feeling you get during a movie at a non-deluxe theater. For a film like Jersey Boys, it didn’t matter. But for a movie where you’re like, “Can you believe this movie? It’s amazing!” you’d lose some of that community–the salty, buttery touch of the common man.

It’s a premium experience, and you pay for the premium. Tickets are $19 if you’re a member, $29 if you’re not. Tickets do come with complimentary small popcorn, which is no small purchase in Los Angeles. Call it a savings of $5, at least.

And now the question…the big question…the only one that matters.

iPic: Is it good?

It is.

iPic is good.

It’s The Titanic of places you could possibly see The Titanic.

ipic-chairs

- Twitter:@joedonatelli

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