I found nothing interesting in the food news to read or write about today. The most significant event of last week still is on my mind and I expect more to happen. Last time this was going on, the trend went on for several weeks until the cries of agony were heard in all circles beyond food and restaurant and things slowed down. Many believed that the complaints had little to do with the slowing down but the editors were afraid too much harm was done in too short a period of time and could be questioned on television or other media and their defense would be weak for such unprecedented chain of actions. The theory of why it had taken place was far easier to believe to their loss and I agree with those who think the editors had to put an end to the process in anticipation of significant public reaction and looking back I would say their timing to stop worked. What was not clear was whether the trend had died or was simply postponed.
The restaurant owners of the city of San Francisco lay claims to many notable things within their own industry but one has been out of their reach and that is the ability to effectively confront and challenge any out-of-control media person who may go on a rampage. One may say any writer can reach such a point and do much damage but the truth is the damage done is relevant to the credibility of the person. A restaurant writer can be effective in demoting or promoting an establishment or idea only as far as one is able to give weight to one’s words. Independent folk (such as myself) will find it hard to achieve such status because they are only heard as long as the audience finds them worthy of being listened to and if one cannot earn the audience’s ears, one cannot do any good or any harm. I personally have had good luck in this area and have been heard consistently. I would like to think my audience finds me worthy of being heard because some good is done as I have never intended to harm even though writing (shit) about certain people in high offices has been a regular activity in my realm. The non-independent folk, such as media writers, play a different game. They benefit from their positions. A newspaper or television personality can choose to go on a rampage and do great damage unless stopped at some point by the editors of the establishment. This person, unlike the independent media writer, can not be automatically shut off because their positions owns a large enough audience who have to listen regardless of the content.
An established media writer will write and if doing harm, will do harm and will be heard because of one’s ‘position power’ as I was taught in Organization Behavior management courses. An independent writer exists as part of an informal network and has authority because the audience gives this person authority by choosing to listen to such person. This is one of the basic definitions of authority. One can be found in a position of authority because others CHOOSE to listen to the person and follow the directions. The entire process may be informal and non-standard but works perfectly everyday in the real world. This person has little power to do harm unless gains too much credibility (is that why SOME are apprehensive at any place I visit?). On the other hand, a dependent writer exists as part of a formal network (i.e. job at a business, organization) and has authority because the job owns a certain audience and what the person in that job capacity does will be without regards to the effects on such audience. Even if this person loses all other credibility, the position power still entitles one to enough power to do the job which can mean do harm. This person can have too much power to do harm (unless literally stopped by a third party such as the editors of a newspaper) and no wonder one has to be anonymous. One may say the veil serves many good reasons, as I myself have defended in the past, but also serves to be an advantage if one seeks to harm with no end in sight SOMEDAY.
I peruse many sources of information in addition to other non-conventional means of acquiring information. San Francisco Chronicle has been one of my least worthy sources for as long as I can remember. My entire daily routine is limited to clicking the link under my bookmarks or typing the address sfgate.com/food and clicking to go there. God knows how many times I have done this and how much time has been wasted in my readings of those pages. My routine has shrunk to simply glancing at Michael Bauer’s blog daily. I read the title and think. I read the first sentence and maybe the first paragraph. Sometimes I skim through and look for what I may be interested to read a sentence or two but usually I skim the whole blog post in 1.5 to 2 seconds before I arrive at the last paragraph to read the first sentence again. The only other thing, besides the photographs I glance at, is the comments. If the post had some sense in it and was not totally mad or unreadable (2 seconds is all it takes to find out), I actually read through some of the comments and sometimes write something. I have been a favored person in this area since of all my intelligent or crackpot comments, I was only once blocked! I have always enjoyed the number of people who thumb down my comments since I know the wonderful Chronicle staff are always present in that crowd and suffered much confusion when people root for my comments! That has been my entire experience of reading Between the Sheets blog on San Francisco Chronicle AFTER I was wise enough to find out Michael Bauer is a bigger joker than I am and one should not take what is written there seriously. A very intelligent fellow told me once that much of America is fake and nobody would ever believe because it has got so big. His example was the Constitution of the United States was written as a JOKE originally but was taken as seriously as possible afterwards. Who will believe such tale? Nobody unless you know the person and qualifications. Who would believe Michael Bauer may be a crackpot lunatic writing what may be one day compiled as the samples of worst food writing ever? Nobody. The biggest disadvantage in this area is one has to read through much and be familiar with much and nobody is unless had to come across and follow the line of thoughts as I did by nature for writing a Discovery Blog which exists to such ends. This is another story but the bottom line in my experience has been a stop at MB blog can be a short experience and knock you off your track of serious thought. This I have followed with a click on the ‘Food’ tab to see the main page of SF Chronicle and glance at their articles. I hate to admit I still find some of the articles unreadable as in having been written without a real audience so they can make sense. I strongly believe a computer can be programmed to write better articles daily at less cost and make greater sense. Artificial intelligence is no novelty. Military is not the only beneficiary and in areas where time is an issue, programs take over all tasks. The computers not only run the entire financies of United States but also write the needed programs, repair them and so on. Each day brings trillions of transactions and events and no human can intervene effectively and efficiently but machines can keep up. I think time has come to allow machines to write food and wine articles and nobody would complain because they know who wrote them and the better staff will have their own niche to write. San Francisco Chronicle has great writers in this department and my only complaint is their contributions are incidents rather than regularities (except for cheese). These folk will never go away and even if they did, they will be brought back under some other guise. The rest of our fine local paper is a horror story, at least, in food and wine section.
It was only a few days ago when I was quickly navigating this ‘Food’ tab and only by accident happened to see a negative mention of Kokkari. The only reason I happened to see it is because that is where I look for the Scoop which has about 1 minute of interesting information once-a-week. I clicked the Kokkari article and did my skimming but returned in shock to the start 2 seconds later. The article sounded like somebody was trying to kill Kokkari. I looked at date and that was fresh of that day. I looked at the name and oh it was him. I began reading and jumping and stopped at the bottom. Kokkari now had two stars. Kokkari now had two stars. I am not saying Kokkari is anything on any scale since I never defend nor attack what is not specifically in my hands. I ate at Kokkari once but knew much about them indirectly because of a business connection. I knew enough to compare Kokkari to many restaurants and always thought their 3 star ratings had some good will incorporated in the scoring but was not undeserved. Kokkari now had two stars.
I have tried to make sense of the star system on many instances and have written essays about it and one way I have simplified it for my own sake has been that a credible writer’s system, such as Michael Bauer’s for a long time in the past, is valued if one can somehow calibrate his scores against one’s own interests and expectations. I thought of Bauer scores as a 2 meaning if one visits this location, something really bad ought to happen during the dining event. A 2 in my book, after reading so many reviews and analyzing why one got 2 and one 2.5 and one 3 and so on, was a strong indication that the establishment did not have their shit together and will inevitably disappoint greatly in one area of food, service and so on. Some establishments are consistent in what they always fail and what they always deliver and they often receive a 2.5 though not the best definition for 2.5 score. A score of 3 in my understanding means the establishment has their shit together and not only do a good job in all areas but are consistent. One can visit them on any day, any time and under any circumstances and nothing terrible will ever happen though they may be weak in one or more area depending on what is going that day. A score of 3 does not mean the location is GREAT in contrary to what the general public may assume. Kokkari is not a great restaurant unless one is having a casual conversation. Kokkari is a good restaurant. It stands for many things not needed to mention here and most of all can be summarized as a place that delivers. A great many of the great many who dine at large restaurants such as Kokkari do not expect the greatest dining experience. They expect the cuisine done right, the service done right, the dining experience to be fine and the bill not to be painful. Kokkari delivered this many hundreds of thousands of times in the City of San Francisco and added something GREAT to the experience of dining in San Francisco. Do all the contributions they have made count as much when weighed on a scale against any unpleasant experiences of dining there? Does Kokkari disappoints so many times daily, weekly, monthly for the Michael Bauer experience of dining there recently to be a true representative of dining at Kokkari? That question can be answered in many ways and I leave the answer to you. I will ask however, does Kokkari happen to fit a pattern of Michael Bauer rampage of giving scores of 1 to 2 to established restaurants within a short distance of Embarcadero Waterfront since his now forgotten unveiling? I think it does. I think one can draw a line of connecting the locations and eventually have a loop or belt of carnage that makes little sense. How do these places link together? I heard rumors of money paid to get Michael Bauer and his photo surfacing somewhere in the media and who can prove and not prove it but cash-for-service has always been the old San Francisco way of doing things and may be true. Why would Bauer pick on these specific restaurants? I don’t know. Are they tourist traps and need to go for the best of San Francisco dining? I don’t know but if so why Kokkari and why not the other places right on the water which brag about trapping anyone? I know Bauer is afraid of anyone who is connected and if politicians go there, or old money is around or owns the place, Bauer loses his apetite. That I know. Bauer targets any and all innocent folks from his track but if they can bite back, he is nowhere to be found. Gavin only has a few places left around and that was with help from the fine dependent writers who helped bring the scores for some of his places up little by little. Some say all places that get zero scores (for all practical purposes) are also of non-alliance with our fine mayor but not necessarily against him. Is this some clean up to make room for more politically-correct restaurants? Mayor loves Medjewel and the Kokkari incident will boost a possibly friend in Sens. Bauer is afraid of gangsters and nobody blames him for not going back for years to restaurants reputed for mafia connections (in San Francisco? who has heard of that? but is true), strong political connections and newly-arrived but definitely overseas gang expansions. Does that imply some connection between the Mayor, the Bauer and the problems of San Francisco? I don’t know but think it is only a conspiracy theory except for the restaurants being fronts for illegal setups which is a part of SF history. Gangsters are real and do bite back. Innocent restaurants are real and don’t bite back. What does all this come to? I haven’t found a clear definition of the problem or the situation to think of a clear solution or explanation but do agree Bauer has done some unfair harm and will not stop. A miracle may take place and Bauer give REAL scores to some, which would confuse the situation more, and then we have to assume he is only wrong about some of his crazy scores. What is for sure is Bauer will strike again and has not much standing in his way. I waited days for Eater.com to actually mention the Kokkari situation. SF Chronicle has basically bought Eater by taking the man away and Eater will be a nice docile and politically correct restaurant website from now on or looks such for the short term. There does not seem to be much resistance from that direction and the city gave up, after the fall of Gavin last year, leaving us with San Francisco Chronicle which can do no wrong unless too many people scream at the same time. What is left, for what it is worth, are the independent media who may dare to speak, in the absence of others but not necessarily always will, and be of some value when Bauers of our world go mad. Their high and polished positions enables them to be strong adversaries even when they make little sense in their actions. My suggestion is to keep the independent media alive though independence often goes against the nature of many fake restaurants of San Francisco and what they really do. The industry as a whole can benefit from the potentials of indpendent media in the long run and it is no fault of mine that wine blogs are hardly more than daily issues of garbage in many words and details. The possibility that something of value can surface exists within this realm of media that is not controlled and continues to contribute. On a personal note, I should have been more active in the industry and my own inactivity was in part due to making incessant changes to my crazy blogs but when the time arrived, I realized the restaurant industry are SHEEP in the true sense of the word. They exist as a set of routines followed daily that together make up a business and remain open to any and all such external (and internal?) negative forces and incidents. I believe independent restaurant media, such as mine, by nature provides some level of resistance to the uncertainties of the business field and I believe the restaurant establishment is so rudimentary in thinking, they have no clue how the world has changed and what they are up against thus not understanding why it is important to be receptive and supportive of independent media. The pay-for-help-us media can be bought by Chronicle, for as little as the cost of one salary, and the industry will not have that to use. What is left is true and honest that works and CAN but won’t necessarily do what the industry demands. This last group can save a day or more someday when trouble comes and it will. The industry lives in the past thinking money paid will save them and they know what they are doing for they have done it for so many years. Times have changed. They put Gavin and Getty out of business (and they can pretend to come back as many times as they want). They will put as many out of business as it takes to get everyone to agree their Special Interest groups run San Francisco. If life does not go their political (correct) way, they will have Bauers and others like him doing their bidding do all harm possible. San Francisco belongs to the ever-growing Special Interest of its own and the restaurant industry lives in the years past. They cannot pay and get out of this one. Political people are somewhat crazy and don’t understand business. The world has to say and go their way and that is that. Once enough INNOCENT restaurants are killed off by Bauers and the like, the industry will wise up and agree the old days are gone and this whole thing is new. How about being a step ahead and supporting independent media. Independent folk can bite as hard as Bauer does and question everything. That is the always-proven productive effort against organized crap such as Special Interest. The lesson for you today is to use your brain and be receptive to the true independent media. Why do I have a feeling everyone will do what they have done in the past and I will be writing in near future of what wrong was done to many other innocent businesses or people. I have never told anyone in my life that ‘ I told you so’ but have told many so.
*This post belongs to this week’s edition of Wine by Cush Magazine blog and published early in World of Cush also.