While languishing in a media atmosphere apparently devoid of any relevant or exciting television programming for weeks on end, TV Dinner has to apologize for>"/>
While languishing in a media atmosphere apparently devoid of any relevant or exciting television programming for weeks on end, TV Dinner has to apologize for completely looking over the few gems offered by the recent "Watch Other People Do Their Jobs" phenomenon that seems (hopefully) to have come to full fruition this year. You don't have to worry about hearing about the hundred mildly different spinoffs of Storage Wars or Auction Hunters or Bullshit No One Needs Round-Up here, but charming former pitchman Mike Rowe's long-enduring illuminations on society's most seemingly unbearable professions are definitely worth talking about. To pair with Dirty Jobs, I chose The Honey Hole, a small, utilitarian sandwich shop jampacked with charisma and given a name that definitely rivals Rowe's show as "Single Easiest Intellectual Property To Make a Porn Parody Out Of."
The Cuisine: Although Capitol Hill certainly isn't short on amazing sandwich places, The Honey Hole stands out as a pretty consistently packed monument to the east side of the Pike/Pine Corridor, whether it be the relatively laidback first stop before many an aspiring Broadway rager wanders off to do shots at The Garage or just a cozy little haunt for an unpretentious business lunch.
Honey Hole's specialty lies in wryly-named twists on old deli standards like the pulled pork sandwich ("Buford T. Justice"), the Philly cheesesteak ("Fast Eddie") or the Reuben ("Corleone"). However, the restaurant's most practical subversion probably comes from its extensive vegetarian menu, heavy with Roma tomatoes, Field Roast, and goat cheese.
I ordered The Gooch -- partly because it's my favorite thing on the menu, but mostly because ordering anything with au jus to go might as well be the prime litmus test for how seriously a restaurant takes their take-out. Fortunately, The Honey Hole delivered on both counts, with a predictably outstanding sandwich wrapped in foil along a white, lidded container which had been carefully vented with a single puncture. As if they hadn't aced the care package already, they also threw a lollipop in the bottom of my bag. Good form.
The Gooch itself is Honey Hole's take on the French Dip, combining the comforting familiarity of diced tri-tip steak and french bread with red onions, cheddar, and the delightful sting of horseradish mayo. Skeptics of any french dip sandwich that would dare place cheese on the famously spartan diner staple should really try the Gooch before they draw any further conclusions. Honey Hole's fries may lack any kind of discernible zing, but that's forgivable when they're essentially just there to frame the incredible main courses.
The Entertainment: Dirty Jobs entered its seventh season on Discovery Channel a couple weeks ago, once more treating audiences to the adventures of prolific narrator and former dollmonger Mike Rowe as he tackles physically exhausting, mentally straining or just generally unpleasant-sounding work all across America. Rowe and Dirty Jobs are no stranger to Washington, having previously visited Shelton's Taylor Shellfish Farms to harvest geoducks and Wenatchee's Rocky Reach Dam to assist mechanics in the dam's epic regular oil changes. This season, the show promises to cover something called a "fish squeezer," which I'm simply going to leave to the professionals to explain.
Of all the exoticism and fetishizing of "lower" cultures that goes on in modern television under the pretense of widening perspective, Rowe's show seems exceedingly earnest in its quest to not only scoop the most foul, humiliating, or straight-up dangerous job in America, but to attempt to reshape prevailing, entitled attitudes towards manual labor and filth. It helps that Rowe genuinely takes stock in the show's mission statement offcamera, extolling the virtue of hard labor's filth well past company hours.
Dirty Jobs isn't important because its looking at things that are novel or obscure, but rather because it shines a light on jobs most of us know full well have to exist, and making damn sure we see the human face of these responsibilities. Even more admirably, Jobs does so without resorting to reductively maudlin pleas to your sympathy. There are no melodramatic pop songs laid over a sad, old wrinkled soul's broken hands laid over a Honey Bucket logo. There are no boilerplate Hands Across America-esque montages forcing the plight of the modern man down our coddled, perfect throats.
Dirty Jobs doesn't aim for pity. Rowe is always quick to admit that the jobs he profiles usually end up being much more difficult than first assumed, but the focus on misery is never quite front and center. A more responsible, more equitable society will never come out of merely forcing yourself to feign satisfaction with your station in life out of a vapid, half-hour long comparison to something that you could imagine being more terrible. Dirty Jobs shows that the path to gainful employment in occupations wrack with conventional social stigma aren't as comprised of failure and shame as any prejudices might lead you to believe.
As documentary/reality television shows become increasingly obsessed with materialist desire and showing juicy, sensationalist clips of people at their absolute worst, its good to see that after seven years, one of the genre's most notable forefathers haven't lost touch of that niggling "Discovery" detail of the Discovery Channel. The light-hearted antics and open-minded swagger of Rowe and his crew are critical to not just remind people of the hard work that goes into their creature comforts, but that this work is done by real people with real hopes and real passions, not just broken-down stereotypes that exist for better-paid servants with cleaner fingernails to hang their guilt and insecurities upon.
The Pairing: Overall, The Honey Hole and Dirty Jobs both provide essential nourishment while relying on simple, personable charm rather than over-produced gloss to keep your attention. With Honey Hole, it's proven sandwich shop crowd-pleasers either served as a quick pick-up or a perfect compliment to a few after-work beers or wells. With Dirty Jobs, it's an attention to human detail and industrious optimism over petty squabbles and empty mystique. Both properties just have a sort of raw honesty to them without ever having to sacrifice too much in the way of mass appeal.