Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Unrealistic Expectations

The Buffalo Chow food blog has shut down. They've posted their reasons, but for me, there are several things worth noting here:

1. This is the second time they've shut down in the space of two years. The reasons given the first time were largely similar to the reasons they gave the second time.

2. They seem to genuinely believe that one blog could change the dining patterns of an entire city, in a fairly short time. Maybe I'm being uncharitable there, but I honestly can't think of any other way to parse the fact that a single trip to Olive Garden destroyed their desire to write about food.

3. I wasn't a terribly big fan of theirs, anyway, because of the tone of their writing. I didn't get a sense of a true love of food. The tone there was almost always of the "Don't worry, you heathen masses, here I am to show you The Light!" I hate that. No matter what the subject -- music, movies, books, food, hand tools -- I can't stand it when people work from the assumption that I am in desperate need of the "voice of reason" to show me the error of my ways. Give me food writing like Anthony Bourdain -- not in terms of voice, but in terms of passion and love of the food. Don't give me a food blog that reads like it's being written by Joe Bastianich.

4. For folks who seemingly intended for their reviews to serve as a resource for those in the area who want to look up reviews of local restaurants, removing all that material entirely is just a crappy thing to do. Don't want to write anymore reviews? Fine. Delete them all and salt the earth where they once grew? Give me a break. (UPDATE 6-18-11: They've restored all previous content.)

5. Finally...well, that's about it. Oddly enough, I didn't realize that the Buffalo Chow folks were on Twitter until just last night, so I started following them -- just in time to learn that they'd picked up their ball and gone home again. Oh well. But as I posted to Twitter immediately after I stopped following them again, people who assume that because I don't care about something in precisely the same way that they care about it, I must not care about it at all bore me.

I'm reminded of a similar incident from years back, when I was active on the rec.music.movies newsgroup. One of the regulars at the time was a guy from Quebec who was getting his doctorate in music composition. It was nice to have an actual trained musician on the group -- for a while. But very quickly, a tone started to infect his posts that became deeply annoying, very quickly. He would get curt sometimes, if not downright angry, at dissenting opinions from his own. If you liked a film score that he didn't like, he'd get pouty about your failure to defer to the wisdom of the trained composer. (That the folks who wrote the scores he didn't like were also trained composers never seemed to enter his mind.)

Then he decided to take it upon himself to educate the denizens of the newsgroup, and started a series of posts about classical music for film music fans. It was all very condescending and arrogant and insulting, and as soon as he realized that everyone wasn't lining up to thank him for having descended to our level to toss down his pearls of wisdom, he got very angry indeed, wrote a few more posts flaming everyone there (including me, which was odd because I hadn't even responded to his posts in a while), and stomped off, never to be heard from again.

That's what this was like. "A few years of blogging, and yet, Olive Garden is still busy!" Well, shit. Welcome to the real world. As Stephen King said in On Writing when he noted that Americans don't tend to value their creative folk all that much, "it's a case of tough titty said the kitty, 'cause that's the way things are."

And frankly, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if their fellow diners at Olive Garden actually liked their dinners just fine and didn't want to admit it in front of their foodie companion.


allthingsjennifer said...

Great line. :)

"A few years of blogging, and yet, Olive Garden is still busy!" Well, shit. Welcome to the real world.

csmith2884 said...

Places like Olive Garden have one big thing going for them, sameness. I love food but am sometimes intimidated by non-chain restaurants and some are awful. Knowing what you will get even if it's so/so has a value.

fillyjonk said...

People who are self-appointed "betters" who want to tell "the masses" what they can and cannot like make me tired. I know food experts who openly enjoy things like Twinkies now and again. Just because you're knowledgeable about something doesn't mean you have to get the vapors every time someone mentions more common fare. (I see this thing in movie buffs, too. Sometimes you can enjoy a movie that a critic would call a big stupid mess. Sometimes the "big stupid messes" are the most fun movies.)

Belladonna said...

I've had some tasty meals at Olive Garden. Gourmet fare? Not hardly. But when a group of family or friends wants to gather, it works. Not every meal needs to be a culinary orgasm.

LOVED the Steven King book "On Writing." I listened to the CD version. Usually I HATE "read by author" audio books, but for Steven King I make exceptions. I don't always like his stories but I adore his sentences.