Just when I was feeling badly I had not yet posted on the recent development in the world of New York Times' chief restaurant critic Frank Bruni, Bruni lets loose another gust of bad wind that makes me kind of glad I waited.
To begin: the ranting letter written against him by restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow. Chodorow has opened several successful restaurants, including China Grill and Asia de Cuba, and several disastrous ones, such as Rocco's, the demise of which television chronicled. Chodorow's $40,000 Times' ad opposite Bruni's column responded to Bruni's no-star review of Chodorow's latest venture, Kobe Club. In his rant, Chodorow recoils not from the negativity per se, but from what he considers Bruni's ad hominem attack. Chodorow complains that the "unfair" review hurts not him, as he is battle-worn and tough, but his servers and kitchen staff.
As Mimi Sheraton, former New York Times' chief restaurant critic, brilliantly asserts on Slate, Chodorow is in fact the one hurt--by his own letter. Now, all those unaware of the negative review will be aware of it. Moreover, by attesting to the critic's influence, Chodorow merely served to increase Bruni's power.
Too bad, because I have really started to dislike Bruni. While I may not agree with Chodorow's view--many other critics also panned Kobe Club--I do agree that Bruni tends toward the ad hominem, as I have already made abundantly clear on this very blog. Now, just today, we see that Bruni is also capable of agressing ad feminam.
Witness today's NYT review of the steakhouse inside the Penthouse Executive Club.
“Foxy,” I began, then stopped myself, wondering if I was being too familiar. “Are you and I on a first-name basis, or should I address you as Ms. Foxy?”
“You can call me Dr. Foxy,” she said.
“Is that an M.D. or a Ph.D.?”
“Yes,” she answered.
Now, this rudeness has already been addressed on Gastroporn, but I have to second that blogger's comment assailing Bruni for being so condescending to this Penthouse worker. On the NYT website, a "multimedia" show accompanies Bruni's article, on which you can relish such photo captions as:
Look at that meat. On the plate, I mean.
It's not so much that I think Bruni is demeaning women, as much as I think he is being awkward and dumb. Gridskipper has reported that Mr. Bruni is gay; maybe his being in a straight strip joint made him profoundly uncomfortable and he acted out. Unfortunately, his writing bore the brunt of whatever psychic burden being around nude women loaded on his shoulders. To wit:
You can find bliss in the soulless cradle of a strip mall. Why not the topless clutch of a strip club?
Get it? Get the parallels? I used to like Bruni's puns, but now I find he is precious and annoying when trying to make so many cute literary twists.
I am curious to see Bruni's next move. Many others are now also tuned in, including, my favorite post on the Strip Snafu, Feminist Law Professors.