|I'm crazy about you, Pug Burger|
LOCATION OF OPERATION: NEW YORK CITY
PRIMARY MISSION: To attend Sniffapalooza Spring Fling 2010 and address key representatives of the fumiverse.
[Flibbertigibbet that I am, I managed to post two installments of my adventures at last April's Sniffapalooza in a timely fashion, and then neglected to write up my concluding reports. The ding-dong of my dum-dum chimes rang when I received the recent email about the upcoming Fall Sniffapalooza in October. Indulge me while I share my now-olden days gossip.]
Sat Apr 10 -- Primary Mission, cont’d
Lunch: 140 fume-o-philiacs pile into Opia’s banquet hall and hunker down over their salads and Bergdorf’s goodie bags. I’m riding a zippy little adrenalin kick as I’m gearing up to give my “Fumies Are the New Foodies” talk. I’m so glad to be the second speaker out of eleven -- but I still have visions of going over about as well as Annie Hall trying to be a chanteuse:
In the run-up to this weekend, Avery Gilbert (the sensory psychologist and a previous Sniffa event speaker) had advised me to keep my speech snappy and peppy. (What he'd really said was, “Try to wear nice shoes, okay, and don't pick at your underwear when you're at the microphone. This isn't blogging”. But I employed creative extrapolation to arrive at "snappy and peppy." Very helpful -- thanks, Avery.)
I'd decided to focus on insights gleaned from my bailiwick in the fumiverse's Wild West: YouTube.
As an early YouTube homesteader (Rancho Perfumo), I'd survived the hazing from tribes of feral teens and the oily “welcome wagon” comprised of foot and belly-button...uh..."enthusiasts." My lonely “Katie Puckrik Smells” flag flapped in the prairie winds, surrounded by bustling settlements of makeup tutorials and nail art how-tos.
But I was strong in the belief of “if you build it, they will come”, and gradually perfume lovers trickled into my channel, both the newly passionate as well as the fumecore faithful. And now I had a in-box of entertaining hate mail to show for my efforts. Speech-wise, it doesn't get any snappier than that.
Karen Dubin introduces me as “YouTube superstar Katie Puckrik” (jeez, I need to get a bigger flag for Rancho Perfumo), and I launch into my talk. I'm relieved that the crowd is engaged and ready to chuckle along. I conclude by reading out highlights from my most fervent naysayers, ending with my favorite semi-endorsement ever:
“I don’t really understand all of your jokes, but they seem really witty.”
I settle back at my table in time for dessert, and the speakers continue to truck along. Esteemed fragrance writer Chandler Burr takes the opportunity to jump the queue when a couple of speakers miss their entrance.
|Chandler smells skeptical|
I'd already had a chance to buttonhole Chandler that morning at Bergdorf's, when he was kind enough to submit to a quickie interview (which I promise to write up before the next Sniffapalooza blows past me like tumbleweed on the perfume prairie. He had some interesting things to say about deciding some of his perfume reviews were ultimately wrong, which I found disarmingly honest. And to which I could relate.)
During that conversation, Chandler mentioned chafing at fragrance fans' habit of breaking down a scent into notes in order to discuss it. (Fine talk for someone whose New York Times column is called “Scent Notes”!) He argued that the author of the scent composes not to highlight individual raw materials, but to build towards a finished work, which must then be viewed in its entirety.
Okay, smell bully! How about: people will get off on something any which way they choose, even if it's the “wrong” way? (There's that archive of messages from my foot and bellybutton pervs to support this statement. Apparently, I have more to offer than just my fragrance insights.) But I did appreciate Chandler's point that enthusiasts shouldn't get too caught up in the trees to miss out on the entire forest.
I'd mused to him, "I guess it's like saying to someone you're crazy about, 'I love your ribcage and the way your nervous system is configured', instead of what's really going on, which is you're filled with an unanalyzable craving for their whole being."
Chandler had brightened up at that, responding, "Oh, that's an interesting analogy, comparing [perfume appreciation] to humans. I've only made comparisons to architecture."
Which is what he does in his lunchtime talk. Which he begins by announcing in a querulous tone that he has a bone to pick with all of us. Cool! Midtown fume throwdown!
Chandler challenges the crowd to consider the "entire building" when trying new fragrances, and not the individual glass bricks, see-through concrete walls and flying buttresses. (You can tell I'm paraphrasing here, because that would be one stupid building.) He implores us to set aside our misguided scent notes approach and embrace his holistic review of perfumes.
The group listens respectfully, then resumes their eager comparative analysis of scent notes for the rest of the afternoon. And for the rest of their lives, probably. Because to employ another analogy, I might order the fancy Pug Burger at The Hungry Cat because I'm in the mood for a burger, but my inclination to enjoy it is enhanced when the waiter lists the ingredients: a Niman Ranch natural beef patty topped with melted blue cheese, thick-cut pork belly smoked on-site, and farmers' market avocado and red onion on a rustic sourdough bun smeared with housemade aioli.
And when I'm served that building of a burger, my taste buds identify and thrill to each one of its “notes”...until finally, I ravish it like someone I'm crazy about.
Click for my Sniffapalooza Sping Fling 2010 Debriefing Part 1 and Part 2.
Pug Burger photo from food blog Exile Kiss