Between The Lines

The stories behind this issue's stories.

Fair Play

Spending the day at Greenberg Smoked Turkey ("This Turkey Really Has Legs," page 104), a 66-year-old family business in Tyler, Texas, I was naturally curious, "What's for lunch?"

That question, apparently, hadn't occurred to anyone else at the company that day, because the answer was so obvious. "The East Texas State Fair is in town!" Sam Greenberg, the 45-year-old steward of the smoked-turkey operation started by his grandfather, giddily informed me when noon rolled around.

At the fairgrounds, just outside the densely packed rows of local food vendors, Greenberg turned to me to explain how things work: "This is a free-for-all. You just go and pick out a whole bunch of things you think look good, and then we'll all eventually find each other."

One barbecue po'boy and order of ribbon fries later, I met up with the Greenberg group in front of the Kiddie Korral—a standard service offered by law enforcement at Smith County fairs in which lost children can be locked in a holding pen until their parents return to claim them.

One person enjoyed a corn dog without the carb-laden exterior. "I'm on Atkins," she explained. Another contemplated whether he'd need a Pravachol to get through the rest of the day. As for me, I never did get the funnel cake I wanted, but no matter. That po'boy stuck with me long after I returned to New York. Ryan Underwood

Free-Range Vineyards

I'm allergic to alcohol, so profiling Paul Dolan and his work at Fetzer Vineyards was an exquisite kind of torture. About a year ago, I discovered that I'm much less sensitive to organic wines. As I listened to Dolan explain his methods, I wondered if it had something to do with the chemicals that are normally sprayed on wine grapes or the additives that go into traditional wines.

At Bonterra, Fetzer's organic label and entrepreneurial "test shop," Dolan is testing a special subset of organic farming called biodynamics. Biodynamics involves practices such as planting during particular phases of the moon, and packing hollow cow horns with fresh manure, then burying them until the material composts into soft, fine soil that can be dusted onto grapevines.

If all this sounds very mystical, it is. Adherents believe in combining scientific farming methods with meditation and holistic environments in order to reconnect with the earth. At Bonterra, this led to cultivation of wildlife habitats alongside vineyards. Chickens and sheep roam the fields while workers tend the grapes. And yes, Dolan's team makes the special compost using buried manure-packed cow horns.

He says the techniques are working: "The chickens eat the cutworm, which used to attack our grape buds," he says. "The habitats draw out bobcats, which keep the jackrabbit population under control. Birds are attracted, and they control the insects." This year, Bonterra will do its first side-by-side test of wines from organically and biodynamically grown grapes to see if the different farming methods affect taste. I can't wait to try some. Alison Overholt

Eye on The Tiger

Exiting the New York State Supreme Court building to make a phone call ("Make the Buck, Then Pass It," page 31), I almost crashed into a gaggle of tabloid journalists and TV cameramen, shutters at the ready. Every time someone came through the revolving doors, they tensed. Since I had been covering the trial of Dennis Kozlowski, the former CEO of Tyco now accused of looting his company, I assumed all the hubbub was for him. Certainly, it had been earlier that morning, when he walked into court trailed by a media army. I told the group that they might as well relax: "He's not coming out anytime soon."

They looked at me, crestfallen for a few seconds. Then one of them said, dismissively, "Oh, you mean Kozlowski. We don't care about him. We're here for the tiger guy." (The New Yorker arrested for keeping a live tiger in his Harlem apartment, that is.) Guess 15 minutes isn't what it used to be. Jennifer Reingold

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