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July 30, 1998

"Famous roast beef" comes under scrutiny
Proposed legislation would require eateries to verify famousness of meat

BOSTON — In a decision welcomed by consumer activists and citizens alike, acting Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci has announced plans to implement regulations concerning the famousness of "Famous Roast Beef" at many of the Commonwealth’s eateries.roastbeef.jpg (21292 bytes)

"We feel that the overuse of ‘famous’ in regards to roast beef is threatening the very premise of democratic society," Cellucci said. "Everyone says their roast beef is famous. And I just don’t think that’s possible."

Cellucci said he first realized something needed to be done when he bought "famous" roast beef sandwiches from an eatery in Brighton.

"You see, earlier in the day I had found out that Celine Dion sang that Titanic song, and everyone — I mean everyone — made fun of me for not knowing that," said Cellucci. "I mean, how was I supposed to know that? I’m the governor, I have a lot of work to do, you know. Anyway, I went out to get roast beef sandwiches and ended up at a place in Brighton that said their roast beef was famous. I had never heard of this restaurant or its particular type of roast beef, but I didn’t want to get made fun of again, if in fact this roast beef was as famous as they said it was. So I bought it."

But it wasn’t famous after all. "The roast beef wasn’t famous, not even a little! I took it back to the State House to show it off and everyone laughed at me again. So I decided then and there to do something to prevent this type of thing from happening to someone else."

Not everyone is in favor of these new famousness regulations. Tom Jenkins, the owner of Tom’s Famous Roast Beef in Chelsea, said of the crackdown on not-so-famous roast beef, "We don’t mean that our roast beef is necessarily famous, but instead that the concept of roast beef is famous. If it weren’t that way, we would have called it ‘The Famous Roast Beef of Tom,’ which implies my roast beef is famous."

Cellucci said that there should be a standard of famousness, and his solution is levels of famousness. At a press conference he displayed a chart to show the levels of fame and how they relate to roast beef establishments:

Level 1
Representative Celebrities: Jack Nicholson, Michael Jordan, Madonna
Interpretation: Recognized by every American. Typically unable to go anywhere without throngs of adoring fans pawing at it, tearing off pieces of fat and gristle.

Level 2
Representative Celebrities: Cheech Marin, Billy Ray Cyrus, Raymond of Everybody Loves Raymond
Interpretation: A respectable beef. Famous enough to get into the best club sandwiches.

Level 3
Representative Celebrities: Nell Carter, Roy Clark, Jimmy "Superfly" Snooka
Interpretation: Used to be quite a house-hold meat, but experienced a dramatic career drop-off in the intervening years, often due to spoilage or tenderizer addiction.

Level 4
Representative Celebrities: Skip Stevenson (Real People), Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers), Charles Nelson Reilly
Interpretation: Riding out its minor celebrity. Only gets gigs as the "mystery meat" at Kiwanis events or obscure collectibles conventions.

Cellucci said of the rating system, "With this convenient chart, people won’t have to worry about being embarrassed with their roast beef selection. It also gives the owner an incentive to build up their level of ‘famousness’ so they can go from a Skip Stevenson to a Billy Ray Cyrus."

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