Wandering Eye: Foo Fighters' outrageous photo policy, Kacey Musgraves' humor, and more

The Washington City Paper (no relation) has a deep profile of Jeff Mills, the D.C. school system's former food czar-turned-whistleblower. Tens of millions of dollars in overpayments for food bought to throw away have not quelled the district's enthusiasm for Chartwells, its private school-lunch contractor, writes Jeffrey Anderson (a former Baltimore City Paper reporter). And the public knows about it all only because of Mills. "I didn't feel like I had a choice," Mills tells Anderson. "If it were business in the private sector I would have walked away. But school food services affect kids' lives. I grew up in the program, so I kept banging my head against walls." The story is not so cut and dried. D.C. schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee was closing schools during the contract period. School lunch programs rely on a per-meal federal reimbursement, and counting these meals in an era of salad bars, "grab-and-go" breakfast options, and other innovations can't be easy. Add in vendor reimbursements (a big sticking point in the contract Mills administered) and you've got a complicated problem to manage. Most school systems do food service in house, and most break even or realize a small surplus, Anderson writes. Not D.C. though—and apparently that's the way the big bosses like it: "Internal DCPS emails show the harder Mills tried, the more resistance he met. In Jan. 2012, as DCPS was about to re-bid the contract, Mills wrote to incoming Chief Operating Officer Anthony DeGuzman and challenged the assumptions DCPS had made in privatizing food services. For instance, from 2003 to 2007, DCPS paid more than $6 million per year to subsidize gaps in the federal reimbursement program, Mills wrote. That amount had since increased by $2 million each year. Revenue projections were off by $6 million per year. Average net losses came out to $10 million per year." Things are no better now, apparently, yet D.C. school officials are trying to renew Chartwells' contract: "DCPS is pulling the same game they did in 2012," says Mills. "They submit the Chartwells contract at the last possible minute and then say the kids won't eat if they don't approve it. It's disgusting." (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

Also in Washington City Paper: a takedown of the photo policy put forth by the Foo Fighters, who are playing a big-deal Fourth of July show at RFK Stadium over the weekend. Here's the gist of the release form: "the band approving the photos which run in the City Paper; only running the photos once and with only one article; and all copyrights would transfer to the band. Then, here's the fun part, the band would have 'the right to exploit all or a part of the Photos in any and all media, now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe, in perpetuity, in all configurations' without any approval or payment or consideration for the photographer." Well then. As the paper notes, musicians of the Foo Fighters' stature would almost certainly not agree to such terms with their music. And some bigger acts—they cite The Rolling Stones—don't have photo policies that are nearly as restrictive. So the alt is asking readers to send in their pictures, and if one of the pictures gets used in the paper, the photographer will get paid. Which is how it should be. (Brandon Weigel)

 

Last month, Kacey Musgraves released her sophomore album, "Pageant Material," to plenty of critical acclaim and more than a few predictable "Musgraves saves country" essays that you should not waste your time reading because country music is just fine and doesn't need saving. But it is true that "Pageant Material" is one of the year's best for many reasons, though not because it's authentic or any of that; indeed, it's more of pop-traditional bridge—part Western Swing, part Disney Channel pop. Also: It's a very, very funny record, something that Ann Powers over at NPR highlighted in a piece published yesterday, "The Key To Kacey Musgraves' Hard-Won Country: Funny Women," which praises Musgraves for "tak[ing] risks in such a charming and self-confident way that they feel like privileges to which everyone should be entitled" and connects her record to a number of comedic country "foremammas," including Minnie Pearl and Dolly Parton, and reminds us of June Carter Cash tracks like 'You Flopped When You Got Me Alone.' On the title track, Musgraves says she's not "pageant material" and admits, "I'm always higher than my hair/ And it ain't that I don't care about world peace/ But I don't see how I can fix it in a swimsuit on a stage." On 'Family Is Family,' she begrudgingly praises blood relatives who "own too much wicker and drink too much liquor" and "might smoke like chimneys, but give you their kidneys." It's funny, lackadaisically devastating stuff. (Brandon Soderberg)

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