Smug SmackDown: Reclaimed Wood Cutting Boards

Smug Scout does not care about professional wrestling, nor does she understand how anyone would choose to watch bulging roughnecks attack each other. However, Smug Scout does care about and understand reclaimed wood cutting boards, and she has noticed so many of them recently that she has put together her own Smug match for you to determine which of some recently spotted reclaimed wood cutting boards is the Smug heavyweight. Smug Scout will sideline the silly mixed sports idioms while you look at three contenders for most Smug reclaimed wood cutting board. Smug Scout asks you to read the descriptions, study the pictures, make a selection, and see if you agree with Smug Scout’s winner below. If you disagree, you lose.

1. This is a reclaimed wood cutting board from Ravensburg, Germany. Smug Scout bought it over the summer at a farmers’ market in Oberstdorf, a town not too far from the reclaimed wood site.

2.  This is a reclaimed wood cutting board on which a wine bar called Covell in Silver Lake serves its cheese assortment.

3. This is one of a few sets of hanging reclaimed wood cutting boards on display in some boutique on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica (L.A.’s other Smug epicenter after Silver Lake). Smug Scout cannot tell you the name of the store.

Smug Scout hopes it is obvious to you that #3 is the winner of most Smug reclaimed wood cutting board(s).  First she will explain why the runners-up lost.

  1. This German reclaimed wood cutting board was purchased in Germany where such products are not Smug but rather traditional, ordinary, and even cheaper than their mass-produced Chinese counterparts. Smug Scout only paid about $7 for this numbered reclaimed wood cutting board (19 out of only 25 crafted!), and she was the only customer who asked if the wood was local, sustainable, and of course reclaimed. The brisk German wood woman showed no interest in boasting about the provenance of the wood; she simply said “near Ravensburg” (“in der Nähe von Ravensburg” if you insist on the original) and gave Smug Scout a brochure in exchange for her 5 Euros and immediate departure.  Smug Scout asks you to study the German Economic Miracle (Wirtschaftswunder) to understand why “Made in Germany” makes pragmatic economic sense rather than puffed up Smug sense.
  2. This Silver Lake reclaimed wood cutting board was used to serve cheese and “accoutrements” (which is just a Smug way of attempting to transform apple slices and pistachios into an exotic French delicacy).
  3. This Santa Monica hanging set of reclaimed wood cutting boards is the clear winner because it is used for nothing other than a frivolous store window decoration.  As we know, an object’s Smug quotient rises in an inverse proportion to its actual utility. If that sounds repellently mathematical, how about some realistic household examples? If you have a knotty pine plank that you “reclaimed” under cover of night from a White Mountain hayseed’s firewood stockpile and you hang it horizontally above your architectural couch, you are very Smug, but if you use that “reclaimed” knotty pine plank as a TV tray, you are much less Smug. By the same token, if you have a set of antlers you “reclaimed” from a White Mountain hayseed’s hunting cabin and you hang it above your decorative fireplace, you are very Smug, but if you use those “reclaimed” antlers as a hatrack, you are much less Smug.

If Smug Scout may be honest, she is ever-so-slightly charmed by the hanging reclaimed wood cutting board tableau.  She thinks it is ever-so-slightly clever to attach colorful paper fake tree growth rings to this hanging reclaimed wood cutting board tableau. However, she does not see any utility.  Well, maybe she can think of one. She wonders if the colorful paper fake tree growth rings could be used to fixate the gaze of someone on an acid trip. On second thought, that is not a likely consideration of the hipster logger who slices fallen trees into reclaimed wood cutting boards. Thus, the prize must go to #3.

Stay tuned for the next Smug SmackDown: Men in Kilts!

Smug Pencils in Silver Lake

Smug Scout has just found her new favorite colored pencils. They are from a Smug store in Silver Lake (that is the Smug epicenter of Los Angeles for those of you in other places). The store is called ReForm School, which has a Smug capital “F” to make the name appropriately ironic for this competitive neighborhood. When Smug Scout walked in and saw the dizzying array of local, sustainable crafts, few of them suggesting any actual, practical use or utility, she knew ReForm School is ahead of most of its competition.

Smug Scout was most excited to see a faux-industrial steel basket filled with what she can only call “bunches” of rustic reclaimed wood pencils. Each bunch is wrapped in recycled brown paper with two rubber bands to hold it all together. There is no brand. Smug Scout thinks that is Smug, as if to announce pointedly: “the brand is local forest, not some evil corporation.”

Yet there is a problem. These bunches of reclaimed wood colored pencils do not come with a sharpener.  As much as Smug Scout can picture these reclaimed wood colored pencils adorning her desk, she knows that if she has to use a Bowie knife to whittle down the bark, they will end up as blood-stained shards that she will have to compost.

Now Smug Scout understands why the reclaimed wood colored pencils are displayed in a faux-industrial steel basket. The steel basket is not just a faux-industrial receptacle that reflects the store’s eco-ethos but rather an interior design tip. You are not meant to write, draw, or color with these pencils. Nothing so utilitarian. You are meant to exhibit them in your living room, perhaps on top of the dead log you call a single-source coffee table.  They may never write a word, but they tell your visitors that you are Smug. And that is all the function any Smug object really needs.

Smug Juice from Silver Lake

Every so often Smug Scout sees a product that is so Smug that it all but takes her breath away. This happened to her yesterday in Silver Lake where she went to observe the self-righteously Smug local color. She was waiting on a line that barely crawled forward (all the better to attract hype-seeking hipsters) at a Smug coffee source called Intelligentsia, when she spotted a hand-stencilled sign advertising “Cold Pressed Fresh Raw Juice Made by the Juice Maids 16OZ $9.50.” Underneath the sign was some yellow-green liquid in a Mason jar that had a tiny label attached to a piece of string; the string was hand-tied in a jaunty little bow. The label read “Spirit in the Sky” and listed the ingredients: “cantaloupe, orange, basil, lemon ♥.”

Obviously every aspect of the product naming, advertising, pricing, packaging, and appearance signals Smug.  Smug Scout happily shelled out ten bucks.  Smug Scout could just drink her cute Silver Lake spiritual juice and stop right there.  Too bad Smug Scout has a few questions.

  1. Why are the makers called Juice Maids? Were they formerly milkmaids who went vegan?  Are there eight of them like in “The Twelve Days of Christmas”? Smug Scout is amused by the idea of eight virginal women cold pressing her fresh raw juice. That is a large crowd surrounding a Mason jar. She wonders if they ever fight.
  2. Smug Scout understands that cold-pressing is important because pacifists do not want their gentle fruit and vegetables cut and ground by some savage blade, but why did they have to add “fresh raw”? Might we have otherwise expected the fruit to be rotten, moldy, buggy, and disgusting? Might we have otherwise expected the fruit to be cooked? Smug Scout does know that cooked fruit in a Mason jar is not called juice.  It is called backyard artisanal organic jam and costs much more than $9.50.
  3. What is that elusive fifth ingredient? Smug Scout imagines asking the Juice Maids for an answer to that (completely sarcastic) question.
  • Smug Scout: What is that elusive fifth ingredient?
  • Juice Maid: Love and spirituality.
  • Smug Scout: That sounds like two ingredients.
  • Juice Maid: You need both of them.
  • Smug Scout: Only if they come in a Mason jar with a bow tie. And a shot of organic vodka.

Smug Farmers’ Market Find: 9/23

As her name dictates, Smug Scout loves to spend her time on the lookout for new Smug treasures at farmers’ markets.  Her local Sunday market in Mar Vista, which began as a small, not very Smug market, has grown into a Smug monster with a ferocious parking scene. Although it is not as Smug as the Portsmouth, New Hampshire market–no others are–Smug Scout was delighted to find a stand that brought her straight back to Portsmouth.  What could have possibly reminded her of Portsmouth?

  • Limited selection of produce
  • Much higher prices than other stands
  • Flowers available, some edible
  • Undecipherable green chalk board signs
  • Run by blonde, blue eyed men with hair in various stages of unwashed (from grimy to dreadlocked) and wearing tattered hemp t-shirts in a color you could only describe as “marijuana”

So imagine Smug Scout’s delight when she was about to pay for her dirty and deformed organic heirloom tomatoes and happened to spot baby patty pan squash with the blossoms still attached!  And she loved the careful recycled cardboard box display: single layer with blooms sticking up like cockscombs!

Then, as Smug Scout was carefully placing these gems in the reusable bag she brought, some weather-beaten rube approached her to ask a question:

  • Weather-beaten rube: Is that squash?
  • Smug Scout: In fact, it is baby patty pan squash, and as you can see, the blossoms are still attached, which you do not see too often with this variety.
  • Weather-beaten rube: [turns and departs]

Alas, not everyone values or even pretends to tolerate Smug Scout’s expertise. At least she got a toothy smile from the young dreadlocked farmer.