Wow, do you *really* think extracting my one comment about Simon and Taylor Hicks reflects the overall tone of my post - which was an attempt to reach agreement with someone who I didn't, on the first pass, agree with? I went out of my way to try for a meeting of the minds, which is R-A-R-E on the internet, and quite honestly, I'm proud of myself for having done so successfully from what I can see. I could have attacked; instead I tried to actually read what mtureck wrote, think about it for a great deal of time, giving his points the respect they deserved, and then strive for a point of agreement, and I think I did so very effectively, providing two different - yet valid - points of view on the same issue.
Comparing your (one might say) uppity Maggiano's comment in the same way that you compared my Chef Geoff's comment - am I entitled to say, "Oh, ick. Does this mean we can't talk about fettucini with meat sauce any more?" Because I think it's the exact same thing. If you don't, then please tell me what the difference is.
From where I interpret it: bad post, Charles. You took a potentially contentious thread, that had turned positive, and turned it back into something negative.
Really? "Oh, ick?" I make a New Year's resolution to stop calling people "asshole" -- not, mind you, to stop acting like one -- and I get read out for writing "ick?" I may as well go back to my less temperate ways.
Anyway, since you missed the point completely, let me re-iterate. It's not the criticism of Chef Geoff's per se that I find unfortunate. I'm occasionally critical myself. It's the strain of un-cut snobbery that seemed to be creeping into the discussion, as evidenced by the (yes, representative) quotes I pulled out. If I dislike Maggiano's it's not that it fails to exist on the culinary/artistic/astral plane appropriate to someone of my refined tastes, nor is it that I'll have to rub shoulders with the proletariate I dislike Maggiano's it because it kind of sucks.
Now, mea culpa. I'm not perfect in this regard, either. But I try not to trot out my snobbery as some sort of emblem of my refined tastes. A while back I was walking by the Applebees that has somehow sprouted in Columbia Heights, amongst all the hipster and ethnic joints, and being a bit drunk I told Mrs. B that I wanted to see what kind of unrefined idiot goes out to Applebees on a Friday night. Of course, the answer was obvious:
"the stupid, ill-informed, unsophisticated, masses," the kind of people who are holding on to their homes against the yuppie juggernaught in Columbia Heights by their fingernails, and for whom Applebees is, in fact a big night out and a pleasant change from a busy life. Mrs. B of course gave me a withering glare when I walked out -- she was always the utlimate small d democrat -- and I felt, as someone once wrote "lower than whale shit." But it was an important takedown and a strong reminder that our access too and enjoyment of great food doesn't make us, or the restaurants and chefs we deign to embrace, somehow superior on a moral or aesthetic sense.
And that thought, coupled with the fact that sometimes a bacon double cheeseburger just hits the spot, makes me feel, as I said, a little queasy when the discussion strays from the quality of the food towards the artistic merits of the joint at hand.
As should be clear, I'm not particularly interested in some negotiated settlement between opposing viewpoints. I like finding common ground, and even post nice stuff every now and again (not that anyone seems to pay any attention ). But I'm more interested in a "free and frank exchange of ideas," as the diplos say, perhaps as part of some dialectical process which, even if it doesn't resolve itself into an obvious synthesis, does drive us towards a better and more complete understanding of a subject that is obviously important to us. Even if disagreements are not resolved, even if they become heated, I generally come away having learned a little.
I, too, take time to consider before I write (though this gap was the result of a busy weekend and the websight being down, not three days of rumination). So it's a little disappointing to be attacked not for the substance of my work, but for the perceived shortcomings of my thought process. I kind of like being called "uppity," though. I guess I just don't know my place.