Well folks, I did it. I fucked up.
You might have noticed I haven’t posted a review in some time. The bad news is my clenched-shut asshole of a bossman sure noticed too. The deadline is tiptoeing along and minutes away from my door, and what do I have to show for it?
A positive review, readers. A pleasant experience. In fact, not just one, but two separate instances where I did not expect much and the establishment, rather than meeting my expectations, exceeded them. It feels wrong somehow, fully endorsing a place of business with no reservations, almost dishonest, after everything the world and I has been through so far.
My past columns often have solutions to my problems (almost never for the real big problems though, but what ever does for those except a gun or an open window several stories up?), so I thought I’d give a few of my most indignant reviews a shot.
Buckle up folks, we’re going to ask to speak to the managers today.
Lord have mercy. An oldie, but definitely not a goodie here.
One of my first columns (long before the trap of food, arts, and culture without an asshole ensnared me with a predatory contract), where I thought it was my job to have fun first, and then report the fun to my faithful readers. Everything was supposed to work out just right in those days, didn’t they know I was always right, that it was thanks to me, the customer, that they were getting their paychecks every week? You better believe parleys with managers were requested on a near-daily basis, and threats to never again frequent these premises bandied about like hotcakes. The one-star rating (not just the name of the establishment but an ill portent of things to come), which really should only be used if one sees a rat on the floor or a whole finger in their dish, was liberally assigned to places that so much as had a weak WiFi signal. Like most people, I’m not proud of the things I did in my youth.
Let’s instead hear from some righteous indignation for a change.
This one failed to sway my newly-positive attitude just as much as the first review. True, it took a few months to scratch off all the hair on my body, another two or so to learn how to walk on two feet again once the muck wore off, and it goes without saying I never felt the familiar touch of a female hand throughout the entire ordeal. But hey, it didn’t last forever, and that smoothie was still pretty good.
The pressure was on. I didn’t just have a contract to fulfill, a job that I forced myself to trudge along with even though I despised it, but I also had a responsibility to my readers. They looked to me to reveal the truth of their restaurant-going world, and I couldn’t let them down by being all suddenly happy in a world that trampled on the mere threat of a flower growing out of the cracks in the concrete ground.
I thought for sure this would get me out of my existential funk. Nothing good can come out an experience that requires you to cut off fingers toes and eyes (and never mind how I got my eye back later on, folks). Nonetheless, this one struck a chord with me.
Look, the cat’s out of the bag now. I recently enjoyed a particularly good ramen stand. It was the exact opposite of what I endured to enjoy this authentically Japanese ramen from my past, and I enjoyed the uncomplicatedness of it so much I came back, many times after. I checked in, even. Folks, forgive me a yelp sinner, but God in heaven above I checked in to this place! I’m what they call a regular now. In my defense, it was half because they were offering a free cold sake with a check-in (one valid offer per person per visit, of course), but also because… because..
I also did it because I wanted people, strangers even, to know I had been there and enjoyed it.
Lord, forgive me, for this review… I couldn’t forget it if I tried, it’s seared into my brain for all to read once I finally die and the coroners saw open my skull to see what the matter with me was:
This place is rad.
Their spicy miso ramen hits the spot (and unlike a place like Ichiran they don’t blow smoke up their own ass), Japanese beer is cheap, and there’s consistent 90’s R&B coming through the speakers.
But my favorite thing of all about this place is that almost no one is ever here when I come in. On weekends at anywhere from 2 to 7 pm I can expect a decent bowl of ramen and cheap Orion beer, all by myself.
So don’t come here, folks. Between the hours of 2 to 7 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, please don’t come to this place. I need this place, to relax, to unwind, to be alone with my thoughts for a while.
Don’t fuck this up for me, folks. Don’t come here.
Imagine that. When the last place promised a cheap authentic bowl with no one talking to you, and failed to deliver that, this place promised nothing, and gave me everything I wanted. Look at that review it coaxed out of me. So unadorned. So earnest.
What was happening to me? I’m here to review not just the restaurants, but also the dysfunction, the dystopia. I feel I’m as much a reporter of the end of the world as I am the end-all brunch spots. Had I been so long in the suck of modern apocalypse that I never had an honest-to-goodness good time? What were these new feelings that were welling up in my heart, ready to spill over into the text fields of my yelp reviews?
The answer to that question may present itself, after this week in Arts and Culture:
I’d say it was this visit to Unidentified Flying Chickens that instilled this perpetual feeling of dread that pervades my goosebumps every time I look behind my shoulder down a dark alley, every time I wake up from a nightmare, every time I shudder after I close the private browser and zip up my pants, but I suppose living in an apocalypse hellworld and writing professional Yelp reviews can do that to a man too.
At any rate, I went to the aforementioned ramen stand and had a good meal. As I was walking around the same block, I saw a pie place, and figured what the hell, time for dessert.
Folks, I’m ready. I’ve finally come to realize my purpose. It’s not just to perform for you, it’s not simply to hold up a mirror and make you see all the shit I’ve been tiptoeing through to get to the latest poke joint.
It’s to be honest.
In that spirit, the Last Elite Yelp Reviewer Presents… a review of Petee’s Pie Company.
Coming up next time, Yelp will most likely flag my only positive review as “not recommended” and it’ll make me so mad I’ll inevitably go back to being my shitty old self.