(Photo: The more things change, the more things snark the same.)
Yesterday, I decided to end my contributing relationship with the news & features site, Gapers Block. On Valentine’s Day, I wrote a Drive-Thru food & drink post for them regarding changes at the Randolph Street Intelligentsia coffee bar that had me feeling left out as a regular customer. The same day, I noted publicly on CHICAGO CARLESS the renewed, positive relationship I’ve had with Chicago’s other groups news blog Chicagoist.
Back in 2006, Chicagoist and I differed over the importance of tightening noise-nuisance legislation to protect the many thousands of new residents of revitalized downtown Chicago neighborhoods. At that time, Chicagoist engaged in unnecessary, ad hominem attacks against me and other downtown residents who spoke up in defense of our right to quiet in our own homes. I rebutted the one-sided editorial bias in these pages, and complained about it to Chicagoist’s corporate owners (with no response ever received).
Ultimately, downtowners won the new noise legislation, but the unnecessarily hateful behavior of Chicagoist severely damaged my opinion of the site, and for most of the next three years I rarely read it, much less recommended it to anyone.
In the past few months, however, things seemed to shift in the relationship between CARLESS and Chicagoist. The news site positively covered several stories from my blog (including December’s CTA homeless harassment issue), and Chicagoist editor Marcus Gilmer and I have had several back-channel conversations regarding various news leads.
So you can imagine my surprise when two days after posting a shout out to Chicagoist for what had become a positive relationship again, on Monday Chicagoist scribe Chuck Sudo penned a personal attack on me and my blog over the Intelligentsia post I wrote for Gapers Block, adding insult to injury by dragging up all the old hate from 2006 and aiming it directly and very publicly at me.
What an attack on CHICAGO CARLESS or a noise debate from 2006 has to do with a dissenting opinion about a coffee bar article published in the pages of Gapers Block is beyond me. As I communicated to Gilmer in a pair of emails yesterday that also did not receive a response, for Chicagoist to engage in unnecessary and wholly irrelevant attacks on a fellow blogger over a dissenting opinion is gratuitously cruel.
It’s also uncalled for. All of the pricing information included in my Gapers Block post came directly from Intelligentsia staff at the Randolph Street store. Chicagoist would have known that if Gilmer or Sudo had simply asked me.
So would Gapers Block, for that matter. Considering that the Drive-Thru food & drink editor, several commenters, and quite a few of my Twitter followers (not for nothing including the Chicago Tribune‘s own ColonelTribune) reacted positively to my post, I was surprised for Gapers Block not to take any active stance in the defense of one of its own volunteer writers, especially one bearing the brunt of an attack on his personal blog for words written for and copyrighted to Gapers Block.
I read Sudo’s withering attack and an equally disheartening response regarding it from Gapers Block (telling me not to be so “thin-skinned”) while sitting in the thankfully empty back room of Lido’s Caffé in Oak Park. I should have been writing an article for the Chicago Journal. Instead, I sat there for an hour, stunned, trying not to cry.
Many people assume that because my opinions are strong, so, too is my tolerance for willful offensiveness. They’re wrong, of course. Senseless attacks of the kind Chicagoist apparently thinks generates ad revenue are usually confined to the province of anonymous commenters (of which there were many in response to their attack on me, of an equally invective nature). To find one yet again aimed at me from the front page of a colleague blog was sickening.
Last week on my favorite guilty-pleasure podcast, Feast of Fools, hosts Fausto Fernós and Marc Felion discussed how hard it can be to deal with such uncalled for attacks. In particular, Fernós said a telling thing: “The job of the haters is to hate.” He went on to say you can’t change them, they don’t want to do anything else, and you just need to let them hate and move on.
That was easier said than done yesterday. Fernós and Felion don’t know me personally, but we do share a common friend, the fabulous Cincinnati Jamie. Sitting there unexpectedly demoralized at Lido’s, I found myself emailing the show, asking for advice.
On my ‘L’ ride back downtown, I got a heartfelt response from Felion that helped me put things in perspective. There isn’t much you can do about ignorance but let it be and rise above. And so I will.
Chicagoist can keep on being Chicagoist, and I suppose I can keep on being a lapsed fan. As for my foodie posts, I think it best for all concerned that I confine them to the pages of CHICAGO CARLESS where I can best promote them and, if need be, come to their defense.
Gapers Block can keep on being cool, and although I’ve chosen not to write for them anymore, I can still be an active reader.
And Fausto and Marc? You two can be my heroes. I am grateful for the words of support, they meant a lot to me at a time I needed to hear them. I’ll just let the haters hate. But from the bottom of an altogether more loving heart, I have two words for the Feast of Fools team: