Webb Report: What’s tired and what’s wired in 2018?


Listen up, trend-watchers! The new year is weeks-old. If you’re holding onto the last shreds of 2017, it’s time to shake them loose like they’re Steve Bannon and you’re everyone Steve Bannon once relied on for political capital.

Still eating food in 2018? Oh, sweet chubby baby, we’re eating Tide Pods now, just because we can. It can be hard to keep up with the rapidly shifting flavors of the moment, and we here at the Webb Report are here to help. It’s been far too long since we read a good ol’ cultural barometer, so here’s what’s tired and what’s wired in this dystopian free-for-all we’ve built for ourselves.

TIRED: Longing for the old days, when slackers roamed this sleepy college town all dazed and confused

WIRED: Engaging in a multi-city cage match to the death for a piece of the megalithic corporation pie, while Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Apple’s Tim Cook look on like Statler and Waldorf

TIRED: Binge-watching “Black Mirror” on Netflix and realizing that, wait a second, this is about us, isn’t it? Dang it

WIRED: Being upset that the Google Arts & Culture app’s art selfie feature doesn’t work in Texas due to privacy laws

TIRED: Becoming a nomadic ice-person, neither dead nor alive, cursed to wander the north side of the Wall

WIRED: Staying home for a slightly-below-freezing day in Austin

TIRED: Homophobia

WIRED: Going to Olive Garden after seeing “Call Me By Your Name”

TIRED: Provoking the brutal dictator of an isolationist regime with nothing left to lose into a new nuclear Cold War for like, retweets or something, I don’t know

WIRED: Brendan Fraser’s 1999 bomb shelter comedy “Blast From the Past”

TIRED: Tonya Harding, figure skater

WIRED: Tonya Harding, so much more than a figure skater

TIRED: Facebook removing the news from its news feed, ensuring you will never know about whatever societal ill is trying to kill you this week

WIRED: OK, I admit that is actually a really cute picture of Linda’s 3-year-old. Like!

TIRED: “Fake news”

WIRED: Screaming into the empty night sky

All gassed up

Huge, super-clean bathrooms. Fresh sandwiches. Pajama pants covered in little beavers. Home decor. Awesome snacks. Really big car washes.

Texans know where it’s at when it comes to gas stations, and Buc-ee’s is the best of the best. We knew this already. This is nothing new.

But now it’s official. GasBuddy listed Buc-ee’s as the top gas station brand in America, as ranked by customers. These customers know what they’re talking about. Coming in second is Kelley’s Market, which is based in Illinois, followed by Kwik Trip, QuikTrip (yeah, those are two different places), East Coasters’ beloved Wawa, Hy-Vee, QuickCheck, Sheetz, Parker’s and NOCO Express rounding out the Top 10.

Buc-ee’s ranked No. 1 in all the categories reviewed by customers: coffee, outdoor lighting, customer service, cleanliness and restrooms. Take that, Wawa.

— Katey Psencik, American-Statesman staff

Wrap us up for the road

Taco fans, it’s time for a road trip. Austin-based Torchy’s Tacos just opened its 52nd location, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

That’s a huge milestone for any franchise, and it’s also a big potential undertaking for taco enthusiasts: “Just throwing this out there, but with this new addition, someone could potentially visit a different Torchy’s every week of the year,” NPR reporter (and former Statesman intern) Wynne Davis pointed out on Twitter.

Torchy’s has locations in Amarillo, Austin, College Station, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Lubbock, San Antonio, San Marcos, Tyler and Waco. Another one is slated for Escarpment Village on Slaughter Lane later this year. Out of state, the tacos have homes in Denver; Fort Collins, Colorado; Norman, Oklahoma; and Oklahoma City.

The taco chain is known for its special tacos every month (the Roscoe is this writer’s favorite) and for its “Damn Good Tacos” slogan, which recently was the subject of a trademark war with a Fort Collins taco restaurant.

But, back to the road trip. A potential Taco Tour of all 52 locations would take Torchy’s enthusiasts through three states, with multiple Torchy’s locations in each city. Think that sounds like a good idea? We’re ready.

— Jake Harris, American-Statesman staff

‘A chancla to the head’

A video posted to Facebook by NowThisFood earlier this month called nopales (or prickly pear cactus) the “hottest food trend in 2018.” We wrote about it, and American-Statesman readers came out in droves on our Facebook page to denounce the traditional Mexican dish’s designation as a fad.

Read a sampling of what they had to say below. Some comments have been edited for clarity, style and grammar.

  • Eva Desafia: “How is this a ‘hot new trend’ when like 25-40 percent of the population has been eating this for centuries? Or is it only a ‘hot new trend’ when it’s something Anglos decide to do?”
  • Lett Gerard: “It’s never been the new avocado toast. White people just like to take from other cultures what has always existed and make it seem as if (they’re) onto something new. We’ve been eating avocado all along as a taco, in a bolillo roll or francescito, in a tortilla or with tortilla chips. The annoyance and arrogance.”
  • Robert i Lubow: “I’m waiting for the inevitable Horchata Boom.”
  • Veronica Guzman Hays: “Those who think nopales are a ‘hot new trend’ need a chancla to the head.”
  • Michael Aragon: “Huevos con nopalitos finally made it big-time. The little viejitas hustling nopales at the Riverside H-E-B about to make some (money bag emoji).”
  • Andy Alaniz: “My grandma was decades ahead of her time.”
  • Patricia Beard: “Oh no! This is not designer food. It is everyday food!”
  • Laura Bozarth Jackson: “They are a day late and a dollar short. This has been in my family for at least 90-plus years. My mom loves them with eggs. There is a lot of history in food when you think about it.”
  • Amy Barth: “Oh, they’ll try cooking it once, get grossed out by the slime and then move on to something else.”

Nopales can be eaten raw or cooked. The taste of nopales is sometimes likened to green beans.

— Amanda O’Donnell, American-Statesman staff



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