To be a successful publisher you need to a ruthless, conniving, cunning, underhand, backstabbing bastard. Just take a look at some of the unsavoury champions of this industry –Conrad Black (Canadian) charged with racketeering, Rupert Murdock (OzStrayn), just a plain nasty James Bond villain bent on taking over the world and that other power hungry schemerRobert Maxwell from the UK and the Ukraine before that whose 'fraudulent activities were carried out intelligently, tenaciously and ruthlessly'. This fat, greedy tycoon was either pushed or jumped off his yacht after going into massive debt and defrauding the pension funds of his failing media empire. His body was found floating somewhere in the Atlantic causing a big stink no doubt.
To venture into the publishing business you need either to be already immensely rich or have to start from the bottom and work up, be nice and get backing from advertisers. In the small expat community of this tropical city, to be a publisher you have to be nice to everyone, do the rounds of openings and parties and look well groomed with a good set of smiling pearly teeth and more importantly write articles that keep your advertisers on board. That means write positive articles especially about food and drink because if you look at the monthlies published for the benefit of expats, they are generally kept solvent by the advertising revenues of restaurants and real estate agencies. Write negative articles and you will go down. Magazine design is also essential. Compare the designs of Mazatlán's two monthly information magazines - one is getting there and the other is positively awful.
To be a food and drink critic it is essential you keep in with the restaurants and bars and choose good establishments before you go so you can write a positive review. This also ensures the waiters won't spit in you dish before they bring it from the kitchen. I have worked in many of the top kitchens around Europe and I know that happens. (My rice pudding was voted best in London by a famous critic Fay Maschler, but my spit roast suckling pig was given an indifferent review but that didn't warrant putting glass in the critics dish.) So if you fear having spit in your food, anonymity is the best approach and come with a guest as single diners can sometimes be picked out as a critic especially if they spend a lot of time perusing the menu, ordering many dishes and not eating them all and generally looking shifty writing on a pad.
Here at MazReal we don't have to be sycophantic and can be as disparaging as we need to be so we will be discussing two establishments - one an eatery that needs to be banned or even destroyed and the other is a bar in a very strange location.
Thorney pretending to share a joke with an imaginary long line of people waiting for service outside his dark hole-in-the-wall eatery 'Thorney's Surf Burger Bar'.
Thorney is the proprietor of a dirty hole in the wall that sells "The Surf Burger". It has a greasy grill, a grubby refrigerator and concrete tiled bar and metal stools to sit on. There are a set of white hand prints on the wall that seem to me to have come from a person frothing at the mouth dying of food poisoning trying desperately to find a way out. They go inwards in a disorientated way and I fear for that person's life. Thorney sleeps in the dark recesses of his hole on a brown stained mattress behind an unwashed curtain strung over a piece of string attached to the walls. Thorney hovers inside waiting for custom. Sometimes he leans on the 'Take Away' bar smoking a cigarette and swatting flies with a red fly swat that never leaves his hand. He told me he makes the best Surf Burgers in town and in fact makes "The Surf Burger." According to my research a surf burger is meat patty burger with fresh ingredients and sometimes a 'special' sauce that is served from a reputable bar or restaurant that is close to the sea.
On enquiry Thorney said after smashing a fly on the counter with his swat:
"I make my speciality surf burgers with mashed up shrimp and a special sauce."
He picked up the fly with his finger, looked closely at it and flicked it into his kitchen.
"You don't seem to be busy." I said looking at the dead coals under his grill.
Not one for conversation, "It gets busier." he said grinning a huge grin and taking a deep drag on his cigarette.
I have never seen anyone sitting at his bar enjoying The Surf Burger and I presume the only people he may persuade to enter his premises are those unfortunate people who carry a white cane and wear dark glasses. If they are even more unfortunate to have lost their sense of smell and taste he may watch them get stuck into one of his legendary surf burgers but I don't think they have ever left the premises. I now know that 'special' ingredient he keeps banging on about is 'blind person'.