Sky Full of Bacon

Where are the LTHForum-planned events?

Mil-Walk-A-Thon, April 2004.

I don’t pay much attention to eGullet, nothing against it but I never had the urge to lavish even more of my time on a different food chat board when I was already spending vast amounts of time helping run one, LTHForum. It would have been sort of like learning both WordPerfect and WordStar, back in the day. So I was fairly floored today to run across this mention of an event being planned at eGullet. One LTHForum moderator was plugging it, another was in fact the planner— of a weekend-long orgy of dining to which literally dozens of people were coming from out of town to dine and drink at multiple restaurants.

I don’t fault Ronnie Suburban for planning something with his old eGullet buds, far from it. And indeed I assume the original announcement was made long before he took on any official duties at LTHForum. Nevertheless it drives home a thought that has been floating half-formed in my head for a while, which is that the social aspect which was the primary cause of LTHForum’s existence seems to have just about died out there. (Short history: Chicago Chowhound users tended to get together socially, unlike most other Chowhound boards; Chowhound management discouraged this because it might lead to broadening of laser focus; eventually harassed-feeling Chicago users started board of our own where getting together at places we were talking about was a feature, not a bug.)

Pulaski-thon, May 2004.

It’s great that this is going on for eGulleteers. But where are the LTHForum events to which comparable organizational effort is being devoted? (There is the annual picnic, which will recur around Labor Day.  But where are the new ones, the ones that don’t have inertia and Cathy2 behind them?) One of the big attractions for so long of LTHForum was the frequent array of events to which total strangers were invited to come and introduce themselves to the broader group. This could be anything from casual lunches to planned dinners to the epic “Thons” I’m commemorating with these photos, in which a dozen or two LTHers, group slowly morphing as the hours passed, would minutely examine some stretch of the city and wind up eating a little something at, literally, a dozen or more places in one day. It was a huge part of what built the community and kept it civil and made it stand out from the various other places (Yelp, say) where one could certainly express one’s opinion to likeminded folks online, but never expect to make friends or have lunch with them.

There are still some events on the board— even ones planned by LTHForum moderators; David Hammond is planning a Maxwell Street tour this weekend, highly recommended, for instance. And there’s a dinner here, a dinner there. But where are the lunches thrown together in a fit of enthusiasm to hurriedly check out this or that new discovery?  Is there really institutional support for the events people plan? Do the heavy hitters sign up and show up to set an example and encourage the shy to come out and join the fun? Not that I see.

The lavish, ambitiously planned and extremely well-attended eGullet event stands in striking contrast to an LTHForum which seems… too pooped to party? Perhaps. I’d love to see you prove me wrong, LTHForum. They were good times, just look at the pictures.

47th-a-Thon, April 2006

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