Mixed in with the many recommendations for west county restaurants, I got several really tasty bits of hate mail. I responded to the hate mail in this week's column, simply because I couldn't resist. (As an aside: that's probably the last time I'll write an entire column in response to reader mail. Not only did it really end up being a lot of work, because I struggled to really make my points well, but I just feel like it's a little too self-indulgent. Given that my entire column is self-indulgent, for me to say that is kind of a big deal.)
In this week's column, I quoted a reader named Bobby, who had a lot to say to me. I used maybe 0.0001% of what he wrote. Since the guy went to so much trouble to write these diatribes, I figured it was only fair to reprint them here. So, here you go. Let's see if you stick with them longer than I did.
In you column entitled, "West County's great, as long as you don't like food", you reveal quite a bit about yourself, and you sir are what is wrong with our society, St. Louis and America. You have chosen to flee to the deep suburbs to live in a land of cookie cutter Mc Mansions.
You move your family into an area conceived and built on capitalistic greed, and then lament it is all strip malls and chain restaurants. Your world was designed by contractors with the promise of sanctuary from the evils of the urban environment. Be careful what you wish for. Your wish has been fulfilled.
Now you have the audacity to complain your genetically engineered utopia is devoid of character. Of course it is, you paid a steep premium to have you world scrubbed free of character, and the price I am referring to is not over inflated real-estate, but the little bit of your soul you lose every time you patronize a Chotchkie's or Shenaniganz, spend every evening in a big box store, or sit on the highway in your mini-van waiting for hours to get home.
You left a wonderful urban landscape, maybe your parents or grandparents actually did the leaving, but here I am using the collective you in a metaphorical sense. You left the culture and sophistication of the city for the safety, security, and comfort of the hinterlands, and now you want the people who have worked hard to build and nurture that ambience to transplant it to your pathetic little Shangri-La.
Restaurants, architecture, museums, farmers' markets, galleries, theaters, record stores, films, cathedrals, clubs, sports venues, parks, rare bookstores, libraries and concert halls are all part of the fabric of their neighborhoods. Those things cannot thrive outside their natural environment.
The saddest part is people like you do not even understand what you are actually missing. You think you can pick up a few restaurants and sprinkle them throughout the wasteland you have created out there and they will magically bring character and culture. You are wrong.
Restaurants and bars, more so than other cultural institutions, are shaped by their patrons and surroundings, and to succeed in West County an establishment would have to be as whitewashed and family ready as all those chains you are currently bemoaning, and once you filled them with all the happy drones in pastels and polos all charm would dissipate and the franchising would begin.
Okay, you know, on second thought, never mind. He goes on like that for several more paragraphs. And that was just the first of the three. I think you get the idea. There's no way you read all that.