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Friday, March 28, 2008

In Which a Newspaper Addresses Some Problems with Its Restaurant Critic

To: Lou Spanisi, Restaurant Critic
Re: Recent restaurant reviews
cc: Associate Lifestyle Section Editors; Managing Editor; Editor in Chief

Dear Lou,

We’re deeply troubled by some of the restaurant reviews you’ve submitted for publication over the last couple of months. Frankly speaking, the pieces lack culinary insight, are laden with obscene—often belligerent—language, and frequently fail to mention a restaurant or food. In fact, in many instances we’re pretty sure you’re not even visiting actual restaurants. I’d like to cite some excerpts from your submissions to highlight my point.

Your proposed titles (“Home, Shit Home” and “Home Is Where the Whore Is”) gave this one away. In the review you describe the “restaurant” as a “ramshackle dive with faded, puke-green siding that rips off at the slightest gust of wind.” You go on to describe the furniture as “pressed-wood Wal-Mart crap that requires only an Allen wrench for assembly but it’s the best the man of the house can do while busting his hump as a meagerly paid hack writer for the local rag.” Lou, I’ve been to your home, and it’s clear you were describing it. And I resent you calling our fine newspaper a rag.

Your lead-in for that same piece was “Slutty service, slutty meal, slutty experience.” While a definite attention-grabber, it was entirely unsuitable for publication in a newspaper. Later in the review you echo this inappropriateness with the following: “When the server—a woman named Lana, with whom I’ve had sex many times—asked me how my meal was, I replied, ‘I don’t know, why don’t you ask Ted Schuster, the guy you’ve been running around with for the last eight months. Now get me another box of wine’.”

Lou, your wife’s name is Lana. And the entire newsroom is aware of her infidelities because of your blog that you share with us daily (which, by the way, is unauthorized use of company Internet and e-mail). We are truly sorry for whatever is happening at home, but we have a paper to publish and many of our readers rely on your restaurant reviews when deciding where to spend their hard-earned money. We can’t let our content be compromised because your wife, as you put it in your review of Antonio’s Italian Kitchen, “is a manipulative rogue who ruined [your] life the moment she said, ‘I do’.”

It adds nothing to the substance of your reviews when you inexplicably launch an unwarranted attack on Family Law Attorneys (as you did in your review of Kabul on Main Street). That review was particularly reckless in that you claimed the Afghani food was “so bad, you know that terrorist cells aren’t holding any meetings here. In fact, no terrorist—not even the most dedicated martyr—would be caught dead here.” It got worse when you went on to write that Family Law Attorneys, as you kept perseverating to throughout that article, are “worse than terrorists, for at least terrorists can unite a people rather than a certain kind of lawyer whose sole purpose is to tear families apart.”

We’re not sure why you even tried to review a Dunkin’ Donuts, but you did. And the results were—as usual—hostile. You wrote that its tagline, “America runs on Dunkin’” should actually be “America Walks on Dunkin’,” or “America Rides its S.U.V. to, Then Buys a Couple of Dozen Deep-Fried Artery-Cloggers at, Then Sits Its Fat Ass on Its Couch on Dunkin’.”

We’re not sure what the problem is. Most people envy the job of restaurant critic—after all, we pay you to eat out. Lou, I don’t relish the position I’m in right now. Believe me when I tell you that we are truly worried about you. In fact, Gary, one of the copyeditors, wept openly when he read in one of your rough drafts that you were crouched in the corner of a bodega smearing Twinkie filling under your eyes and blaming a vast government conspiracy as the reason the entire Small Wonder television series hasn’t yet been released on DVD. Lou you need a fresh start. We have high hopes for you as our new lifestyle correspondent in Baghdad.

The Editors

Frank Ferri is a copywriter who thinks he's funny. Visit him at