For vegetarians of a—ahem—certain age and musical disposition, March 1 in Los Angeles promised to be just like heaven.
Oh, wait, scrap that reference—wrong post-punk English alt-rock band.
In any case, Morrissey is slated to play a sold-out show at the Staples Center that night, and this week word leaked that the venue was going 100-percent meat-free at the behest of the superstar vegetarian (Meat Is Murder, after all).
But, alas, no … or maybe … or probably not.
Given that rumors on the web are as easy to start as a fire in a bag of sawdust, who knows where this one originated. The Los Angeles Times cites “promoters” for the concert, while other sources claim it was someone inside the Morrissey camp.
The upshot: likeminded fans would be able to enjoy Moz’s moody crooning all night without the offending stench of hot dogs and brats wafting in from the concourse. Not only that, but it was reported that Morrissey had actually convinced the arena to shutter its McDonald’s outpost for the night.
Except, no. The Staples Center hurried to issue a make-nice press release—one that doesn’t actually address the “100-percent meatless” rumor. Rather, as PR folk are wont to do, it focuses on the bright side with a kind of relentless cheer: “At the request of Morrissey, a long-time animal activist and vegetarian, STAPLES Center will be adding a variety of vegetarian food items to those already offered at concession stands throughout the arena for his upcoming March 1 concert.”
How much the Staples Center is expanding its offerings is open to debate. While some of the mentioned items definitely don’t seem like standard Lakers-game fare (vegan sushi), others are the sort of stuff that vegetarians have been contenting themselves with at restaurants since well before The Smiths last performed together (cheese nachos, cheese pizza).
Asked to address the rumors head-on, a rep from the arena told the Los Angeles Times, “The original request came through the promoter, however, going entirely meatless was never an option as it goes against our philosophy of providing our guests with the greatest number of amenities and food options in an arena setting.”
“Greatest number”? Ok, so where’s the bouillabaisse? Where’s the flan? Oh, wait, let’s translate: “…as it goes against our philosophy of making a profit on food from things that sell in an arena—like hot dogs and burgers.”
Morrissey himself seemed to take it in stride, issuing a statement acknowledging the arena’s efforts to accommodate vegetarian fans (it almost goes without saying that Morrissey’s backstage fare will indeed be 100-percent meat-free). “I don’t look upon it as a victory for me, but a victory for the animals,” he said. A portion of the ticket sales will be donated to PETA.
But now this surfaces on the internet, from the Morrissey fanzine True to You: A statement attributed to the singer dated the day after the Staples Center press release. “Reports that the Staples Center will not be 100% vegetarian on March 1 are playfully untrue," the unverified release reads. "Contractually, all McDonalds vendors shall be closed down, and the only thing burning shall be my heart.”
And that’s how (more) rumors get started…
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Jason Best has worked for Gourmet and the Natural Resources Defense Council. He writes about food, sustainability and the environment.