Sky Full of Bacon


Andy’s Thai Kitchen and LTHForum as a Reaction to 9/11

Apologies for the bad language but if you follow my Twitter feed, you know what this is about. I went to Andy’s Thai Kitchen, the new restaurant from the longtime chef of TAC Quick, and ran into a group of— I don’t want to say LTHers because that could be anybody; LTH insiders will do for now. There were three of them and four menus, so I didn’t presume to sit down, but as the place is small, I chitchatted with them from the adjacent table. When I addressed one of them, a former friend and now a Tribune contributor, directly he instantly turned belligerent, and in no time was screaming “Go fuck yourself!” at me. (Needless to say, I decided there was other company for lunch that wasn’t barking mad to be had, and left.) I now regard that as the unofficial motto of LTHForum, since when I called him out on it on Twitter and Facebook, the response of present-day LTHForum management was to deactivate my account. Calling out bad behavior was an unforgivable offense, but they apparently approve of an LTHer bullying diners out of a restaurant. (No word yet on how the Tribune might feel about a Trib stringer chasing other food media out of an establishment.)

Hmm, chasing people out of the great ethnic restaurants in town— now that is a strategy shift from when I ran the place. I don’t really have anything beyond that to say about the incident itself, but it does point to something I’ve never really talked about, which is the broader implications of leaving LTHForum when I did at the end of 2007 to pursue what would become Sky Full of Bacon and all these other things I’ve done.

David Hammond has mentioned that the growth of our community on Chowhound seemed to be spurred in some oblique way by 9/11— my time there certainly coincided with that post 9/11 period of foreboding— and if that’s the case, then you have to see our central mission, cherishing and promoting Chicago’s richness of ethnic food, as in some way being a response to 9/11, a celebration of the American ideal of immigration and cross-pollination, of the city as a place where peoples met peacefully and shared food and culture. We went to Thai and Arabic and Mexican and Indian restaurants, whether we thought about it or not, to keep our world from closing down into fortress America, to celebrate the polyglot world that comes together, uniquely, in American cities like ours.

And of course a big part of our spirit of adventure, on Chowhound and explicitly in how we founded LTHForum, was sharing it freely, staging dinners, inviting strangers, and above all, not keeping secrets— if you discovered something, you might sit on it long enough to feel you’d investigated it fully, but always, the idea was to get it out there for others to try as quickly as possible. It was as inclusive as possible, and we took joy in total strangers acting on our suggestions— or vice versa.

Beyond its social gathering role, I think LTHForum had a mission, at that point, to get the food media in Chicago to pay attention to more than just the strip along the lakefront— downtown and Lincoln Park, with a minimal awareness that there was such a thing as Chinatown. And the thing is… that mission was largely complete within a couple of years. Suddenly the food publications in town routinely dropped the names that had once been our secrets— Katsu, Katy’s Dumpling House, Uncle John’s BBQ, TAC Quick. (Even if they had heard of these places before, as they sometimes surely had, they hadn’t assumed their readers had, or would care to, until we showed them that we were their readers and we cared to.)

So when I left LTHForum around the end of 2007 over some personal and monetary issues (if you’re reading this, I expect you know how that turned out, many years later), part of the reason I did so without a lot of regret was a feeling that, hey, mission accomplished. And also maybe a sense that after four years, personally it was time to graduate.

Which has sort of made LTHForum the small town where the people I went to high school with still live, and where they haven’t changed, even though I have. At least that’s how I look at this incident; the anger of the person who is still there towards me who left is 1000 times stronger and more vehement than the fairly pallid regret I feel that things worked out a certain way.

But why is the LTH inner circle so worked up in the first place? I think one answer is that the evolution of interactive food media has continued. LTHForum, when we founded it eight years ago, was the cutting edge of democratic, populist food interaction online; newspapers had been one voice speaking to many, Chowhound was many voices speaking to many, but in a constricted way that didn’t let discussion really flow and community form. LTHForum was, at the time, as open and welcoming a platform as you could imagine. There were restrictions and moderation to keep the community peaceful, but beyond that, it was as democratic a platform as you could wish.

Jump ahead half a dozen years, though, and we have a very different world— the flattening of the food world into equals which was implicit at LTHForum has become the anarchically classless free-for-all of Twitter and Facebook, the universal achievement of “freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one” through blogs. The unity of a well-behaved, fairly likeminded community which was our strength in 2005 or 2006 seems too constricting when Twitter gives you an outlet to snark at the person who the moderators just pulled your post mocking. Instead of belonging to a relatively stable community, we are all continuously reshaping our food worlds and the audiences we talk to and belong to.

So the people who rose to become LTH insiders and the center of adulation in the wake of the departure of so many of the original LTHers, find that they’ve done so right when it stopped counting for much. You can be fawned over on the board but Twitter and Facebook will be out there, arguing (if a Tweet counts as an argument) that that place blows, or worse yet, snarking on, even parodying your purpler prose— and you may in fact have no way of even responding.

The instinctive response, which seems to be theirs, is to circle the wagons closer, guard the community against outsiders that much more. This is not irrational— it increases the value of the social side of things to those for whom that has value— but it obviously isn’t going to matter to those already outside the circle. And it’s led to a clubbishness and insularity— a suckup atmosphere at times, different rules for different people— that is antithetical to what LTH was founded as. (For instance, discoveries have been kept quiet, out of the awareness of the hoi polloi.) If this is a problem, I don’t have a solution; all I am doing is observing that just as LTHForum felt so cutting edge and like it was putting an end to boring, old school newspapers, now something else, basically anarchy, is making it seem out of date, not responsive enough to a community which isn’t likely to be moderated by anything except itself.

But I still don’t think that even if I was still at LTHForum to this day, knowing that that was happening out there would be enough to make me angry enough to scream “Go fuck yourself!” in a Thai restaurant at someone who’s simply moved on. I’d hope I’d have the vision to see that that’s just hastening the demise of one model for participation, and there’s no sense in going down with that ship. It was an exciting time to be at the cutting edge in 2004; it is now, too, whatever the cutting edge proves to be next.

UPDATE 9/15: So I am told– I can’t log in at LTHForum and see that it says that I can now log in– that there is a post at LTHForum explaining that, oh no, I wasn’t banned, that was a “probationary” period. Probation, obviously, is what you do when someone has done something wrong and you want them to cool down and think about the error of their ways. But they don’t tell me what I did wrong.

Was going to Andy’s Thai Kitchen wrong? There was certainly a likelihood that LTHers would be there that day, but since only a few LTHers would go nuts like that at the mere sight of me, it’s hard to know where I’m allowed on any given day.

Or am I supposed to stop being yelled at public places by enraged LTH insiders? I’ve actually gotten quite good at that in the last 5 years, versus around 2008 when it was more common, so I feel I’m being judged unfairly here for one little misstep on my part.

In all seriousness, talking about this in terms of my alleged offense and its disciplining shows that they remain clueless about the real offense here, which is a member who believes he can turn abusive in public with no consequence. (I have since learned this was by no means the first time other members have been abused by him in some fashion.) Yet the moderators specifically refused to answer a member’s question about whether he had faced any consequences for this behavior (which obviously means no).

Besides the disrespect for and even danger to other members, this obviously disrespects the restaurant and restaurateur to turn the restaurant you’re supposedly honoring with attention into the site of a brawl. Any word of respect paid to Andy’s Thai Kitchen on the board is a lie if you respect the man’s place of business so little. It will do LTH grave harm if it becomes known that its attention, and winning a GNR, means its members consider that license to treat your restaurant as their drunken clubhouse and have fights there.

This issue is not going to go away, though individual members already are, until the management of LTHForum recognizes that it has to deal with three serious issues:

1) What is the appropriate code of behavior for LTHers in public places? If you’re going to suspend members for what they say on Twitter and Facebook, clearly their actual behavior in public at a lunch that produces a post, or at other events, is within your purview. (One of the issues here is the reported feeling that this individual’s verbal abuse was, in some sense, coming with the approval of the management.)

2) What is the standard for respectful treatment of the restaurants written about at LTHForum?

3) What is the disciplinary system for members who violate these rules, and how can you ensure that it applies equally to all members and close friends of the management don’t get a pass?

Not to idealize the early years when myself and others were in charge, but we did strive to have transparency, to explain decisions (especially bannings) carefully, and I believe there was trust in our basic fairness and intentions. LTHForum needs to act now to regain that trust.

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34 Responses to “Andy’s Thai Kitchen and LTHForum as a Reaction to 9/11”

  1. Rob Gardner Says:

    There’s much that could be litigated or disputed over the founding of LTH and the move from Chowhound. Surely, I have ideas and grievances, but I’m not really interested in airing those except for this. When it was apparent that we were not wanted on Chowhound, my initial idea and instinct was as a community, we should just move to another existing food site like OA, Mouthfuls, or even, god forbid, e-Gullet.

    My thinking was mostly about not wanting us to put ourselves in a position to have to police ourselves, but I also saw a lot of value of keeping the us v them system. More specifically, it worked well when the “big dog” was Jim Leff or Steve Plotnicki or Steve Shaw. It kept our community more democratic and aligned because no on could be on the top.

    When we decided to form our own web site, one person asserted control by registering a name and arranging hosting. It seemed benign to a lot at the time but it also set off a new big dog and a lot more.

    Listen, there are a lot of reasons why it made sense to start LTH and not just be posters on another site. I just think things that happened this week were the results of changes that date a lot earlier than 2007. I kinda think my initial instincts were correct.

  2. Michael M Says:

    Can’t we all just sit down together over a nice meal and come together as one community and agree to go fuck ourselves?

  3. Michael Gebert Says:

    An interesting point, Rob— there’s definitely some benefit to having the Establishment to define yourself against— but I think one point of my piece is resisting seeing the first three or so, highly successful years of LTH as merely the gathering storm. I know that you, as the guy most under the gun from Gary, didn’t exactly experience it that way, but I’d say that on the whole, the democratic/populist ideal worked, and that that was the crucial time for it to work, and a lot of people with pentup energy about food here found an outlet for it for the first time and made their impact.

    By the time LTH started changing into something that had less importance to the food scene, it was because the impact had been made and many of the people– including you and me– had moved on into other places and new platforms. That’s why I don’t sit here bemoaning a lost kingdom– we took it apart and carried it with us to new territories. The guy who “owned” it and lost it always had less of it than he thought.

  4. Kenny Says:

    I don’t fully buy the “Mission Accomplished” explanation for LTH becoming less relevant. For one thing, there continue to be hundreds of undiscussed ethnic eateries in the area, some of which are surely gems. But more importantly, there was from the outset or shortly afterwards a mission which your post does not mention. Perhaps it is true that the founders wanted the world to take more notice of ma n pa ethnic joints, but there us another thing they wanted the world to notice: themselves. On several occasions I heard founders lament that they did not get media passes to this or that foodie event. What was,at the start a policy against accepting freebies turned into one where the leaders happily accepted invitations from prominent restaurant owners to special LTH parties and events, on the house. It seemed to me that getting themselves noticed became more important than getting restaurants noticed. In that sense I guess to some extent the mission was indeed accomplished, but I’m not buying that there isn’t still an important place for a site which has the Mission that you say LTH had at the start.

  5. Michael Gebert Says:

    Are you suggesting that writers have egos? Shock!

    Yes, all true, if there’s anyone you don’t have to convince of the effects of ego on LTH, it’s me, and the policy was never observed in total even at the start (Raymond at Three Happiness gave Gary a bottle of Chinese whiskey the first time I went there). There was definitely a contradiction between wanting to matter and wanting to be independent, wanting to be able to just talk amongst ourselves freely and wanting to be listened to by the outside world. Mainstream media had the last century to develop policies and ease the guys who didn’t follow them out (as I’ve often noted, today most of Mike Royko’s work would get you fired in some way); we did it on the fly without a clear sense of what we were after. (Although the media passes one was totally stupid; all you have to do is ask, plenty of bloggers were already doing that by 2004 or whatever.) One thing I will say, though, is that whatever baksheesh LTH got in that regard is NOTHING compared to the total flow that’s out there. Use that point however you choose in regards to other outlets on the preview dinner circuit.

    As for the mission, there has to be the willingness to actually go out and do that. A few people at LTH still have that, and I’ve linked them on Grub St. when they do (as part of my mission to cover the things when I can that my 2006 self would have liked to see covered). Over 500 people downloaded Andy’s new menu from me yesterday; that was me carrying it on in my own way, elsewhere. Maybe some new platform will come along to carry it on at an LTH-way-back-when level.

  6. Michael M Says:

    Kenny,

    Please stop by the moderators table at the next LTH event to pick up your personalized “go fuck yourself”.

  7. chris Says:

    I’ve lurked on LTH and occasionally posted over the years. I’ve used it to find many places, way too many places to even begin to list. For many years I didn’t know who the owners of the site were, never really looked for the “founder”, “moderator” tags because everything was very even sided.

    In my opinion there were three big things that changed the dynamic. First, was Ronnie becoming a small partner in Prairie Fire. I know he was always very open with his connection but he really never should have posted on that restaurant. Even though he wasn’t an owner of LTH at the time, he was a very respected member and moderator. I had an atrocious meal with eight people there that I never posted about partly because I liked Ronnie but mainly I didn’t feel comfortable.

    Next came the buying of LTH by the big four. They not only became moderators, founders or whatever but owners. It killed a bit of the community. It killed some of the openness.

    Final change was GWiv posting about Barn and Co. Essentially becoming his vehicle to talk about dinners, changes, etc. They would regulate everyone else to the professional forum but not his announcements.

    All of this has lead to the low traffic in my opinion but most importantly, no one posts anything anymore. There is room for both blogs and discussion forums, LTH just isn’t the place for discussion anymore.

  8. Todd Lemmon Says:

    It’s sooooo great to be just a guy who loves food but isn’t 100% involved in it to the point where any perceived (or real!) slight would unleash shit like this. I’ve known Mike for a long time. I was excited when he started SFOB. It’s a really fantastic achievement and resource we should all be grateful for. Pretty rude of him to take his 20-sided dice and Dungeon Master hat to go try a different game. Too bad the coven or cell or whatever it’s called over at LTH couldn’t be big-hearted, magnanimous and, well, decent.

    I admit to a shameful, deep pleasure when things like this happen because I love a good self beclowning more than most people do. And this guy sounds like Gacy’s Pogo; the dirty, drunken clown in Uncle Buck and Pennywise all rolled into one.

    There’s a general coarsening phenom going on that enables and encourages people to do utterly inappropriate things. Yes, a lot of it is the faux anonymity of the web board and twitter and…whatever. But, really, imagine someone screaming “Go fuck yourself” to your dad at a restaurant or your mom 40 years ago. The mind simply folds in on itself.

    What a breach of everything that keeps us from becoming, well, embassy bombers and ambassador-body draggers.

    What a scrunched, pinched, cramped, sclerotic view of human interaction and society.

    Shame on the sane still among us for not being more vigilant and face punchy about this trend. We let people do it hoping it will get sorted over time. I’m starting to think not.

    A. Guy. You. Know. Shouted. Go. Fuck. Yourself. In. Your. Face. In. A. Public. Restaurant.

    wow.

    When we let that stuff get too abstracted, we are in a dangerous place.

  9. Wendy Says:

    Picking up somewhat along Kenny’s point, I don’t feel like a mission had been accomplished, but that there was a gradual turning point in the course of the late ‘aughts when the priorities of the forum shifted, and the rules of engagement changed. At no time did the shifted priorities and alliance systems become more apparent than during the GNR season. The site became less about discussion, and more about who at the top was aligned with who, what people and restaurants were sacred, and most of all, whose posts were pulled today for engaging in what they had done the prior three-plus years — posting honestly about food and attempting to maintain some standards for the forum. Anyone who resisted or spoke against this slide towards cronyism was alienated, dubbed a “troublemaker,” and badmouthed within and outside the forum.

    LTH seems to have had a particularly hard time adjusting to a post–blogging and Twitter world. Instead of finding ways to reach out to the growing number of non-LTH Chicago foodies, the LTH reaction has been to become more xenophobic and insular. The “official” LTH response to Twitter, in particular, is especially vehement and paranoid. (Ever notice the number of “shell” Twitter accounts and lists by LTH insiders, ready-made to eavesdrop on former LTH members?) More than once, I’ve been angrily confronted by LTH insiders who perceived some of my tweets griping about the forum as being disloyal. Just because I’ve posted on LTH (or even still do) doesn’t legally obligate me not to ever exercise my right of free speech lest my words be perceived as negative by the LTH insiders. I joined a food board, not a cult. Of course, I’ll still go on the forum from time-to-time, partly because there is a small handful of people who I do like and will post something worthwhile now and then, and partly for the entertainment.

    At the end of the day, this is only about food – it really shouldn’t be so damn complicated to discuss it without feeling like you have to abandon all of your morals and ethics to do so.

  10. Michael Gebert Says:

    Thanks, Wendy. It’s funny that they just did a survey, and probably the most useful, if painful, feedback they could ask for from users about the current LTH experience is on my blog, where it is of course anathema and only to be dismissed immediately.

    Loyalty is a rich one coming from any of them. I know they think their self-righteous beef with me is that supposedly I turned to bashing LTH on Twitter when they’d done nothing to me. The problem is that the timeline is the opposite. From the time I basically quit LTH in July 2007 I stayed silent about what Gary was up to except to those who really needed to know. Probably for two years. And all that did was give him a chance to badmouth me, telling people like them they had to choose him or me. And they’re the ones who chose LTH’s near-wrecker over its whistleblower– while I kept his secrets. Lopata flipped on a dime from supporting my effort to stop Gary to being his drinking buddy and shunning me. Ronnie joined in with him on harassing me on the board. Dickson, of course, was the original one conspiring with Gary to screw the other moderators. Gary even tried to wreck my freelancing career by telling people like Heather Shouse I was lying about being nominated with Sula for the Beard award. So many of them sided with the guy who nearly lost LTH over the one who tried to protect it, which says what about them? So if I arrived at mocking them on Twitter after a couple of years, or just commenting as a thoughtful observer who might know a thing or two (just as bad to them), it was after they had already shown who they were towards me.

    Speaking of being watched on Twitter, I used to get tweets from a number of LTHers who followed me and would occasionally say “Hey, don’t you think that’s too harsh” about this or that bit of snark. Haven’t heard from one of them about being screamed at by Lopata and then having my account turned off for daring to speak out about it. They know not to mess with the inner circle.

  11. dan Says:

    Another long-time lurker/mildly frequent poster chiming in — I remember when I was first learned about LTH. It was great! Plenty of affordable options that I never would have learned about otherwise. It was a critical, challenging community — and it was a good one because of that. Snark and cynicism might be a little over done these days, but they can also serve a purpose. Hold members to a decent standard — or just run the risk of becoming Chowhound – Chicago 2.0.

    As mentioned, the growth of assorted social media platforms seemed to torpedo the forum as much as anything else (from my non-inner circle perspective). Anyone who so much as breathed about a personal blog or something got the standard, “Well, I don’t have time to read every blog post out there. How about you post something here?” Way to build goodwill and foster a welcoming environment.

    Some things never made sense to me — such as the utter antipathy towards Lula’s. I go there often but quickly stopped posting about it. I got the sense that The Powers That Be didn’t care for it and were never going to bother supporting it (and yet Nightwood, which in a lot of ways, is a lot like Lula’s, gets showered with attention). So no one gives a shit about Lula’s and… The Bad Apple is a GNR?

    Which is another thing, also as mentioned — the standards for what’s a GNR and what isn’t is crazy. I mean, I like Bad Apple (a lot), but a GNR? When Kuma’s gets the boot for being too popular, at least they have a point of view. Bad Apple is a fine neighborhood bar with good burgers. I suppose FNBWGB isn’t as catchy.

    I forget when, but I distinctly recall Gary putting up a thread about a restaurant — maybe it was Lillie’s Q. I sent a note to the moderators that there was already an existing Lillie’s Q thread (from Hammond, if memory serves). But Hammond’s was critical while Gary’s was largely fawning — and, I’m paraphrasing here, he said he felt like starting a new thread anyway, despite the existing one, so that’s how it went.

    Also, a question that I’ve always been curious about — when a restaurant loses its GNR status, does anyone go and remove that plaque? I’ve thought about asking, but I suspect the question would just get deleted rather than answered.

    So I mainly stick to the drinking section these days since it seems a little more carefree and relaxed. Which is just as well since I think I like drinking more than eating lately.

  12. Alan Lake Says:

    ” Alan Lake was browbeaten into not inviting me– one of the only actual journalists!– to his preview dinners for Pensiero.”

    I’ve been working in NY this last wk and this just came to my attention. Why would you say this? Who was I browbeaten by? Where did you get this information? You are dead wrong Mike and frankly, this comment is insulting. The truth is I invited my friends– and since we are more acquaintances than friends and I had a limited amount of guests I could invite, I used my invitations as I saw fit. My prerogative.

    I, not you, have been working in the food industry for 3 decades and understand what these pre-opening training run throughs are for, and what we expect to derive from them by putting the staff through their paces under semi-realistic conditions. It never once occurred to me to include you in the Pensiero mock service runs. Press was not my motivation and until this moment, it also never occurred to me that you may have seen this as a slight. It was not. It never even crossed my mind.

    Please don’t project your read on my actions when they are not based on anything but conjecture, that’s not good journalism. I’m a straight forward individual. In the future if you want to know something about me or my actions, you need only to ask me.

  13. Michael Gebert Says:

    I was told this at the time by what I considered reliable sources, however, I have removed it above. I most certainly appreciate that you have been cordially grownup to me when others have not; the same goes for Steve Z.

  14. Alan Lake Says:

    So it’s alright to slander my name and integrity with gossip and hearsay? This reminds me of Jr. High. Do you really think I pre-submit my business decisions for my friends approval? If so, that just shows how little you do know of me. Very disappointed in the way you handled this by dragging me into this soap opera.

  15. Michael Gebert Says:

    Apparently a lot of people have thought it was okay to slander my name with a lot of things for a very long time, Alan, I’m kind of desensitized to it by now. Again, I apologize for stating what I believed to be true based on the only sources available to me at that time. Which was very few since EVERYBODY WAS BEING TOLD THEY BETTER NOT TALK TO ME. (Even on the board– there were a couple of instances I witnessed where somebody replied to me and then their reply was pulled or reedited to avoid direct response to me. LTH could teach the fuckin’ Amish about shunning.)

    I look forward to my first apology from anybody about anything involved in the multi-year campaign to make me out as the worst person ever in the history of LTHForum because I stood up to a couple of guys trying to screw over everybody else there. Again, I’m sorry to have dragged you into it, but you of all people should know who DIDN’T start this flare up of the shitshow, except by the mere fact of walking into the same restaurant as a well-connected nut job.

  16. Josephine Hyde Says:

    “Josephine rescinded an invite to a party at Gary’s insistence.”

    Mike, in Kansas they call this “Hogwash”. As a hostess, I have never rescinded any invitation to you or anyone else. I find it insulting that you assert I did so at anyone’s direction. As a professional psychologist, I am aware that in any group there is friction from time to time. I decide who I invite to my home, and that sometimes includes people who do not enjoy each other. They must deal with it.

    However, I am often the last to know about conflicts. No one of my acquaintance has devalued you to me. I thought we were on good terms until I read your words. If that were not the case, why did you greet me enthusiastically one recent Christmas in front of Fox and Obel? Why did you respond cordially to my congratulations on your Beard award?

    I am angered by the falsehood you casually toss into your diatribe, considering the nice gestures I have made toward you and your wife. Perhaps you do not recall these: welcoming your small children to an otherwise adults-only Christmas party, babysitting so you could go out on your anniversary, and finding a substitute sitter when my daughter was ill on a night of a promised babysitting. All of these things I did out of positive regard for you and your family, and this is my thanks?

    Perhaps you just threw me under the bus because you thought I wouldn’t defend myself. Or was it because I am not, in fact, an LTH insider, something which rather seriously undercuts your claim about me being a puppet of some cabal?

    Get over it and get back to the important thing: writing passionately about food.

  17. Michael Gebert Says:

    Okay, I’ll take another one out. Guess I’m going to hear from all the old gang in high dudgeon now, after so long. I’m sure I imagined it all, including Pigmon screaming “go fuck yourself” the other day. Funny how I never seem to hear from current LTH participants about how there might be something wrong with that, only with anything that comes out of my mouth.

  18. Josephine Hyde Says:

    Mike, that does not sound like an apology to me. But perhaps you do not consider me that important. Again, this undercuts your indignation at a slight from me, albeit an invented one. For my part, I really do not care what your beefs are with LTH. Just leave me out of it.

  19. Phil Says:

    As a longtime reader (never posted) it sucks that this happened but judging by your explanation and the comments, I think it’s you who owes folks at LTH an apology at this point. How is that the actions of one man make the entire site at fault? So some guy says go fuck yourself and you decide to classify him with the rest of those there? That’s as childlike/unprofessional as someone who writes stuff they havent even verified, kind of like the post here where you call out people who quickly defend themselves only to bring back the go fuck yourself guy. They were there at his side?

    Quite frankly I find the actions of all involved to be childish and frankly, amusing. This includes the current “insiders” whoever they are as well as the people who decided one guys actions would be held accountable for all. I saw the stuff on twitter and you and your buddies on there behaved as moronic as you explained how they behave. In end, it looks like foodies are as sensitive and clanny as any.

    Kind of makes the whole thing rotten, enjoy your continued effort to make sure anyone who posts or talks about LTH is an asshole insider. Its working, well with the few folks on twitter who love you. Shocking none of them have mentioned you being called out by folks you called out. So the game goes. Its like high school all over.

  20. Michael Gebert Says:

    “How is that the actions of one man make the entire site at fault?””

    Please see above: I called out one man’s actions (which involved rather more than merely “saying” it); the management made an official choice to ban me for what I reported about his conduct. I would love to hear an argument for this as anything other than a decision to line up on his side and support his actions, which is all I’ve said above.

    If there is a clarification to be made, it is to reiterate what I consider perfectly obvious, which is that most LTH participants are not to be tarred with the anger management issues or poor managerial judgement of a few LTH insiders.

    “They were there at his side?”

    Actually, yes, one of the offended commenters above was sitting right there, and did nothing as it was happening. As was an owner of LTHForum.

    This is just to clarify a few factual points; I don’t disagree with much of your comment, particularly the last line. In defense of my “few folks on Twitter,” so called, I can’t imagine any of them have looked at this since a day or two after it went up, whether or not LTHers continue to check it regularly.

  21. 3rd Party Says:

    Ever heard of “taking the high road”? Boo hoo–someone said something nasty to you. You were temporarily (and wrongly) banned from the site you ran. You could have ended it at calling out this inappropriate behavior, and many would have left with the simple impression that the culprit was being an a-hole, and you were the victim. Instead, you couldn’t let it go, you brought others into it, you haven’t really acknowledged any possible wrongdoing on your own part (other than pulling down your comments), and you selectively address only the aspects where you are in the right. You also left out every part of the conversation that “escalated”, now leaving me wondering whether the offending comment was actually out of line. I have no real connection to any of the parties involved, so you can see how public these things can get. To me you are a local food journalist who has lost some integrity in my eyes.
    Must say, the Jr. High dynamic is interesting to observe.

  22. 3rd Party Says:

    And, believe it or not, I do mean what I said constructively–you’re better than that.

  23. Michael Gebert Says:

    So wait, I have to prove that there was a context in which yelling “go fuck yourself” at me in a restaurant was NOT appropriate? That’s kind of what you’re saying…

    Of course, if I actually did type up an accurate (and tedious) transcript to answer you, I’d be at fault for prolonging this and obsessing about it. You want the truth? Steve Z. will probably give you a pretty straight version of it. There’s not much wiggle room for equivocating over who went nuts and who didn’t, in any even marginally honest account.

    I think I’m done playing this silly game. Happily, this thread’s comments will shut off automatically in a couple of days. Last chance to tell me I was in the wrong for… going in a restaurant.

  24. L Says:

    You and several LTH posters, past and present, have made a habit of publicly bashing LTH and its members on twitter for quite some time now. Someone has even created a twitter account, which you follow, devoted solely to poking fun at a frequent LTH poster (Poor Mr. Pie, ie Pie Lady’s husband.) And you wonder why you’re no longer “welcome” on the forum? Or why forum members would be hostile to you in public? I’ve wondered for a while why you & the others even bother to look at LTH anymore (& it’s clear that you, Kennyz, et al continue to monitor it on a regular basis) if it irks you so, but I now see that it’s a combination of sour grapes and arrested development, in that you behave like a gossipy, vindictive 8th grade girl. You’re right, it is a silly game you’ve been playing, but I seriously doubt you’re done. I, however, am done reading your blog and subscribing to your twitter feed. Your juvenile tirades were amusing at first, but now they’re downright creepy. I’m interested in reading about food; I’m not interested in the rantings of a resentful, paranoid whiner. If I wanted that I’d read a 13 year old’s diary.
    And no, I’m not an “LTH insider,” whatever that is. Just someone who is sick of reading your sanctimonious crap & thinks you could benefit from some therapy to deal with your resentment issues…or at least keep them out of public forums.

  25. Michael Gebert Says:

    Now I’m guilty of following a Twitter account. Awesome. I am told that, in their private discussions, LTHers have quite a line in inventing new rules of which only I am, retroactively, in violation.

    For the obvious problems of cause and effect in your chronology, which has me shunned in 2008 for things done in 2012, please see comment #10.

    If only my food posts could draw so much traffic nearly a month in! Where could it be coming from, I wonder? Only two more days!

  26. L Says:

    I’ve never had a “private discussion” with an LTH member. I’ve never even posted, just read it. My point was that your online behavior is juvenile, unprofessional, and rife with paranoia & resentment. Not what I’m looking for when I want to read about FOOD.

  27. Michael Gebert Says:

    You want to read about FOOD? That’s awesome, this site is full of posts about food. And videos about food. And sometimes, if they’re lucky, I get one comment on them. Usually from someone I know.

    But this time, I’ve got all kinds of new voices popping up to tell me I’m a jerk because I dare call out shameful behavior. My online behavior is juvenile and unprofessional? You mean spending hundreds of hours creating videos? Was that the online behavior you were thinking of? I need to take the high road– you mean like when I walked away from LTH and rather than brood about it, I started on a whole new path that’s led to many wonderful things (via my own hard work), while others sniped at me behind my back? You were gonna mention that shortly, weren’t you, once you told me I was a vindictive 8th grade girl? Because that’s the kind of support that makes it all worth while.

    You have no idea about any of this, you have no idea what led to LTH’s management breaking up or so many of my “friends” dropping me or the work I put into creating new, personal, innovative content that has resulted in all kinds of new personal achievement. You have no idea about any of this but you think you can come on my site and tell me that I’ve somehow failed to provide you with interesting content about FOOD in just the way you want it? If you’re an LTHer pretending not to be, shame on you for siding with abusive behavior and ill-tempered management. If you’re not, hey, thanks for looking at what I do, which I do for the pleasure of doing it thoughtfully and well and which would be rewarded by the smallest word of appreciation, and coming here instead to tell a stranger he’s an asshole.

  28. L Says:

    WOW.
    Thanks for proving my point. “An LTHer pretending not to be”?? Seriously?? I repeat, seek professional help for your paranoia/resentment issues.

    You retracted (but didn’t APOLOGIZE for) allegations of “shameful behavior” you “called out” when those people “popped up” to set the record straight (see above comments by Alan Lake and Josephine Hyde.) Do you really expect me to respect your journalistic integrity after that? Sorry, but no. There’s plenty of other “food bloggers” out there who just write about food; they don’t bitch & moan about their personal soap operas, or snipe at other bloggers/critics/publications, or snark on whomever/whatever they perceive to be beneath them. That’s what you do, that’s why I won’t be reading your blog or Twitter anymore, and that’s what I’m talking about when I describe your online behavior as juvenile and unprofessional.

    ps, sorry, I didn’t realize you had exclusive rights to telling strangers on the internet they’re “assholes.” Glass houses, pal.

  29. Michael Gebert Says:

    So you were a dedicated follower of this blog? Which videos in particular were you a fan of? Name three, in sufficient detail that I can believe you actually watched them?

    Sorry, you come here and have a full case against me (taking the worst interpretation of me in every case), yet don’t have a word to say against screaming at someone in public, or banning someone for reporting abuse, or, for that matter, the least mention of what you did like before– I don’t buy that you were ever a real reader who’s suddenly been turned against me.

  30. L Says:

    “Dedicated follower?” No. More like occasional viewer/reader. Which also describes my LTH habits. I’m not writing you a book report.
    But I can tell you I worked with a chef you interviewed a couple of years ago who referred to you as “that chubby, goateed, stained pants food douche.” I did watch THAT video several times, because in one scene you can actually see him roll his eyes at you!
    As far as “screaming at someone in public,” I will repeat, you have been doing the same thing online for a while now with your snarky, deprecating remarks about LTH posters, other food bloggers/writers/critics, publications, restaurateurs, etc. Pot kettle black. You hide behind a computer, while the other guy said it to your face. & it was all over WRITING ABOUT FOOD! You’re both immature idiots, now get over it, grow up & move on.
    Ok, I feel I’ve sufficiently made my point and this back and forth is getting about as creepy as the neuroses you display on your FOOD blog, so I’m gonna bow out now.

  31. Michael Gebert Says:

    “that chubby, goateed, stained pants food douche.”

    That could be ANYBODY writing about food!

    So relieved that you were able to stop before anonymously attacking a stranger on their blog multiple times became kind of nutty or something.

  32. Alan Lake Says:

    “They were there at his side?”

    “Actually, yes, one of the offended commenters above was sitting right there, and did nothing as it was happening. As was an owner of LTHForum.”

    Can’t help but think you’re talking about me again but @ this point, you’re the star of the soap opera.

  33. Michael Gebert Says:

    Well, yeah, since there were only two other people besides Lopata and me in the whole dining room. I grant you it all happened rather quickly and startlingly, but still, one person saying “Jesus, Rob, chill the fuck out and sit down” would have made this a quickly forgotten incident. Instead of a joke for years to come, I suspect:

    https://twitter.com/jmlenart/status/255854313153384448
    https://twitter.com/dschleifer/status/256116302463242240

    And hey, that’s just in the last 24 hours. This one’s never going away, it’s too juicy– and, I suspect, for a lot of people too symbolic of how LTH is run today.

  34. Sky Full of Bacon » Blog Archive » The problem with a GNR award for Andy’s Thai Kitchen Says:

    […] nominated Andy’s Thai Kitchen for a Great Neighborhood Restaurant. Andy’s, of course, is the place where like the Sharks running across a Jet, a person who was on the outs with the LTHForum inner circle […]

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