Of Jackasses and The Olive Garden

Posted: March 9, 2012 in Society
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Note: If you are a regular reader of this blog there’s a good chance that today’s title is not directed at you.

That being said, when did we become a such a society of pretentious jackasses? Oh sure, we’ve always had a few of them here and there, but the problem seems to have reached epidemic proportions. And with that being said, please take a moment to read Marilyn Hagerty’s review of the Olive Garden. Go ahead…I’ll wait. It has a direct bearing on what comes next.

Done? Good. Here’s the thing. The review was honest, charming, and the new Olive Garden is a big deal for the people of Grand Forks. So why has the review gone viral and received over 230,000 page views (an amazing feat for a paper that gets excited over 5,000 hits)? It’s not because the 85 year old food critic for North Dakota’s Grand Forks Herald wrote an honest review of a new restaurant.

No. It went viral because the members of the Pretentious Jackass Society thought it was funny. Sites like Fark, Gawker and Boingboing posted the story, and that was enough to light up Twitter and Facebook. Granted a number of the news outlets and responders saw it for what it is: A charming review. The story of the review and its author was even covered by the Wall Street Journal (though it probably didn’t hurt that her son is the WSJ reporter James R. Hagerty). So it’s making the rounds.

Fortunately, while many make fun of the review there are those who realize that pieces like Marilyn Hagerty’s review harken back to something we as a society seem to have lost: An appreciation for the simple things. A gentler, simpler time. Common courtesy. And the joy of the everyday.

As a former reporter for the Aiken Standard I spent time with Charlie Daniels on his tour bus (a really nice man), interviewed the nation’s first Secretary of Energy (James R. Schlesinger), spent more days than I can count with (now) senator Lindsey Graham, managed to blow Governor David Beasley’s mind when the Bridgestone/Firestone plant opened in Aiken, and was invited to dinner by Leslie Uggams and her husband.

I also covered various flower shows, city council meetings, church programs, hundreds of grip-and-grins (“here, snap a picture of me giving these folks a check…”), interviewed Santa Claus, covered eight Christmas parades in 2 days (that was cool), attended horse shows, the Triple Crown, saw more officers installed in civic organizations than I can count, and chronicled more butt-numbing meetings than I want to remember.

And I wrote them ALL as if they were the most important things I had covered that particular day. Did I roll my eyes when I got certain assignments? Sure. Every reporter does. Was that ever reflected in the story? Never. Because those stories were important to somebody, and even the simple ones and the boring ones were an important part of someone’s life. So I didn’t have the right to make light of them. Even if the story only merited a couple of paragraphs in the paper, they were good solid paragraphs.

And I have tried to retain that attitude. It’s all important to somebody. And what may be a not-so-big-deal to one is a really big deal to somebody else. No matter what the snarky pretentious jackasses say.

And through it all, the Grand Forks Herald’s star food reporter put the whole episode in perspective via a quote in the Wall Street Journal story.

“I’m working on my Sunday column and I’m going to play bridge this afternoon, so I don’t have time to read all this crap.”

You go girl…uh…ma’am.

  1. Peter says:

    I guess you called em as you saw them… :^P Good points.

  2. Mary says:

    Thomas – so true, so true – great article!

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