Poor Monroe

I know, I know, if I don’t like it, I shouldn’t live here. We didn’t move back purposefully, though. It’s true we’re staying a bit longer than I had intended, but it’ll be all right. I just keep telling myself that.

The city of Monroe, Louisiana is dismally uncultured. I know I seem to be extremely pompous by saying it, and saying it so often, but it’s true! All of the good restaurants close or have to “dumb down” their cuisine to stay open. The places everyone says are “fabulous” or “phenomenal” are, to me, anyway, purveyors of overpriced, mediocre food that is really just enough to make me pissed off that I’m not somewhere else having the real thing. The big theater productions only come to the Civic Center during the week, when they come at all, and then most people are too busy to go. Even the good MOVIES don’t play here — you have to drive to Shreveport to see an independent film. And I am actually racking my brains for a way to help change this. I promise. My reluctance to actually do anything is for a variety of reasons, the main one being the burning question, “Why should anyone listen to me?!”
Who the hell am I to talk? I am no Glen Kennedy or member of the Little Theater acting company. I am no restaurateur or writer for the News Star. Despite my reputation for intelligence, I am wallowing in career limbo while I finish up my belated degrees, and I’m almost certain people think I have an unfortunate fashion sense and an awkward turn of phrase. Who in the name of all that is holy would ever listen to me? The likliehood of anyone listening to me is probably lessened still by the fact that I also don’t care if they listen or not…

And yet, I must act. I must do something: if nothing else, find a way to get my opinion on one of these subjects aired. The reason being that it has started to actually anger me when I read the restaurant reviews in the News Star. Actually, I seem to get quite angry when I read most things in the News Star. Maybe I have an anger problem. I probably need to lay off the News Star. I doubt they would let me write for them. I don’t have a journalism degree or any real published clips to submit. All of my published writing is poetry. But… but…

Okay, y’all can read it and tell me if I’m crazy or too nitpicky or what. I will use an example of this article (http://www NULL.thenewsstar NULL.com/apps/pbcs NULL.dll/article?AID=/20060824/ENTERTAINMENT/608240357/1040) because it’s recent. One of my problems with the article is sort of irrelevant, I guess. I was sort of ticked off that the author and her buddy (husband?) who ate at the restaurant were vegetarian. I know that objection is a bit unreasonable, but let me go ahead and tell you why I didn’t think it was appropriate in this case for the food writer to be a vegetarian. First of all, I think it’s safe to assume that most people in Monroe, Louisana are not vegetarians, and therefore the author was not representing a typical slice of the Monroe population when she ate at the restaurant. She couldn’t possibly have a typical experience, because there’s an entire food group that she doesn’t eat. She might have gotten around this if she had brought someone else with her who wasn’t vegetarian, but apparently this didn’t occur to her.
Okay, with that out of the way, let us on the the meat, or rather, vegetables, of the article. (Ha ha.) The title of the article and the conclusion of the article imply that the experience was good, but every other sentence expresses dissatisfaction. There weren’t enough vegetarian items on the menu. The soup was too salty and there wasn’t any cheese on it. Then, she neglects to mention specifics about the specialties of the house (if you can’t eat them because you’re vegetarian, you should at least mention what the restaurant is famous for or bills itself as being famous for.)

The author neglects to offer a basic rundown of the name, address, hours, basic style, and average price range of the restaurant. The end of the article sort of peters out: there is cake and ice cream on the dessert menu, but she didn’t have any. Okay, so why does that make her want to go back? What kind of cake and ice cream? Guava cheesecake with a scoop of Aztec coffee ice cream and dulce de leche sauce would make me want to inquire further… The article does not convince me that the restaurant is worth a second visit, nor am I convinced that the author and “Carl” are going to return for second helpings of cheese and vegetables, either. Although… $1.50 for a margarita? We are so there. (Actually, I like Ernesto’s, but I’m just talking about the article.)
I know not many people are as obsessed with dining out as I am. I just think there has to be someone on the staff of the News Star better suited for writing about dining out, even in a place as barren as Monroe. Someone who would do things a little differently, like order from the chef’s specialties, or get a group together so they could all sample items more representative of what the restaurant has to offer. Someone who would be able to describe the food better — saying it is the best salsa in Monroe, maybe due to extra garlic, does not tell me why it’s so good. Is it fresh? Chunky? Complex in its flavor? And again, if she had problems with her order, and the service, why would she go back? Is it because she’s afraid to say “I disliked this restaurant and I do not recommend it to like-minded vegetarians like myself!” ?

Thing is, I haven’t ever been employed by a news paper. Maybe they told her she had to write a positive review because Ernesto’s paid for it, and she was actually fighting The Man by putting in that stuff about the negative side of it. In fact, the whole article could actually just be a cover for a freedom liberation movement and one day, when they have liberated us all, I will be sorry for criticizing it. So anyway, I might not even know what I’m talking about. I probably just have too much time on my hands. And I certainly wouldn’t be an expert on dining out. As much as I love it, I don’t get to do it much. I’m am going to go for a walk now, and then I have to do some laundry in preparation for this weekend.

Friday is my brithday, and James (http://www NULL.ambardia NULL.com) is taking me to Shreveport to eat sushi. :)

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