Careers and Corn Dip

Thirteen years ago, I was the quintessential post-college cliché: I had an English degree on my wall and a giant grinder in my hand, which I used to sprinkle pepper on wealthy Nashvillians’ salads. To be fair, I’d spent years after college working at a weekly paper, but the closest I came to writing full-time was helping hookers and pimps write thinly veiled classified ads for sex.

 

True story.

 

Once I exhausted the number of ways “full body massage” could be used in a sentence, I jumped ship for a position with a company that sold trade show exhibits. I learned two things from this genius career move:

 

  1. I am not good at selling trade show exhibits.
  2. How to spend a year looking busy when the bosses walked by.

So I went back to waiting tables, the one job that has always taken me back no matter how many times I’ve broken up with it.

 

Me and my first restaurant review. Months later someone had the bright idea to add in actual pictures of the food.

WORD UP My first restaurant review. It only took us a few months to figure out we should include photos of the food.

There I was, serving $400 bottles of wine and watching Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton make out on the patio, when my dear friend William Williams (yes, that’s his real name) mentioned a new newspaper was starting up. I didn’t believe it at first: Newspapers don’t just start up, they’re like dinosaurs—they’ve roamed the earth since the dawn of time and are mostly extinct.

 

But Big Billy Williams doesn’t lie, so I picked out a pretty new font for my resumé, shined up my best pair of chunky black heels and showed my very official-looking portfolio to the publisher. I mean, it was leather bound and everything. Our conversation went like this:

 

Him: What would you like to write about?

Me: Food and people.

Him: Sounds good to me. Let me introduce you to the lifestyle editor.

 

And so he did. The editor and I had a lovely conversation and he called a few hours later to offer me my first real job in journalism. I was so grateful that I kept quiet in the following months when he’d eat big slices of broccoli-and-vegan-cheese pizza, spend the next hour farting them out in his steaming hot office, then call me in for a chat.

 

“Come on in and close the door, Dannygirl,” he’d say. Still makes my eyes sting when I think about it.

 

NICE RACK The City Paper in its many forms over the past 12 years. Photo courtesy of SouthComm.

NICE RACK The City Paper in its many forms over the past 12+ years. Photo courtesy of SouthComm.

But that was The City Paper. It was like the Island of Misfit Toys, except with writers and reporters in an office park. We were quirky. We were wacky. We were totally making it up as we went along. And we all had a role to play: the young, go-getter news reporter who lived to scoop the competition; the middle-aged lifestyle writer who flashed her bra during company meetings to lighten the mood; the perennially single resident flirt who also happened to be a vegetarian germophobe. Just a bunch of good people trying to keep local news local and not write anything that might warrant a correction in the next edition.

 

At the risk of sounding like some crusty old ink slinger, I loved that job. I was proud of the paper and felt like a part of something significant. And I’d like to think I did a lot of growing up between those beige hallways, but maybe I’m wrong. My friend and former editor Catherine Mayhew recently reminded me of the time the Junior League ladies came in for a meeting and I was dressed as a dominatrix. But hell, it was Halloween.

 

After years on the edge of existence, The City Paper will cease operations today. People will say it’s a shame and an injustice, then get the news on their phone like everyone else.

 

I hear that the original crew is getting together for drinks, but that’s happening many miles from me. So I’m celebrating with Corn Dip, a recipe Catherine gave me many moons ago. She got it from Patsy Bruce, the woman who co-wrote “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.” You might not think corn, mayonnaise and cheese work well together, but sometimes the oddest combination of ingredients makes a really special recipe.

 

Corn Dip

 

Courtesy of Patsy Bruce

 

1 15-ounce can white shoepeg corn

1 bunch green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup Parmesan cheese

½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese

 

Drain the corn and combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl. If the dip looks too dry, add a little more mayonnaise.

 

Comments

  1. Jamie Vallecorsa says:

    I LOVED that paper. I had no idea it was ceasing publication. When I returned from
    Southern California I grabbed a bunch of old copies including the last one. I saw your quotes in the article about the paper’s history. Now I don’t know how I am going to stay current on all the new food happenings in town. I always appreciated the political writing, too. Oh. And by the way, that Corn Dip is bitchin’ – I think I first had some at Gina’s shower.

  2. Catherine Mayhew says:

    We did really good work, but we were so inappropriate doing it. That’s my favorite memory. I got to throw all that corporate training out the window. So liberating. And nice post.

  3. Mark Lee Taylor says:

    Danny, it was always so much fun for this poor old publicist to pitch the “same-old, same-old” pay party publicity items! Good times here are not forgotten! MLT

  4. katherine dirga says:

    Good one, lady. And I appreciate any recipe whose parting advice is: “If the dip looks too dry, add a little more mayonnaise.” Words to live by.

  5. Even though I rely heavily on my phone, I really am going to miss it! I think my dad probably introduced it to me – he was always picking up free things, much to the chagrin of Mom. But – Patty’s daughter wrote food reviews so this one was all good.. Back in the day, I can remember grabbing copies and reading them out loud during dinners out with the hubs. Now, I can’t even remember if I ate dinner. And now I am just hungry for some corn dip.

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