How to Sell More Papers by Pissing Off the Rest of Baton Rouge

From The Publisher

I’ve noticed an interesting developing trend in Baton Rouge print media: out-of-state imports with no fear of gratuitously sullying and/or expressing distaste for beloved local institutions.

I find it rather refreshing to read unfiltered, unneeded, less-than-endearing comments about things most Baton Rougeans hold dear written by people who haven’t been here long enough to know better. And if they have been here long enough, perhaps they’re just obtuse.

Why else would people representing area publications — whose survival is ostensibly reliant upon gaining and maintaining public trust and goodwill — so casually compose and publish words all but guaranteed to alienate the natives?

Let me explain what I’m talking about.

First, in the January issue of 225, the magazine’s new editor Jennifer Tormo introduced herself to the capital city in an editorial titled “Write on: A fresh start,” written less than two weeks after she moved here from South Florida. The first half contained all the niceties about being “already proud to live here” and the 225-mandated dose of smoke blown up our asses about the local music/art/entertainment scene.

She might as well have said she’s the president and founder of the Nick Saban Fan Club.

The second half, however, was all about how she’s a University of Florida graduate and a “born-and-raised Gator.”

Well, la dee frickin da! She might as well have said she’s the president and founder of the Nick Saban Fan Club.

Oh sure, Tormo may have thought she was making a connection with the purple and gold masses by going on and on about her football fandom and how she’s always been “fascinated” watching her team play in Tiger Stadium. But by that same logic, Jews and Muslims would’ve made a connection long ago simply by discussing their intense passions for religion.

And while it was a poor decision for her to broadcast her deep affection for all things Gator, it pales in comparison to the fatal error of her actually writing the phrase “my distaste for the Tigers.”

Florida-fans-lsu-corndog-sign
Tormo should start her next column with a funny joke about LSU fans and corndogs.

Did she sleep-write that while on Ambien? Did a rival hypnotically suggest to Tormo that she write that? Printing that phrase under her byline could prove as healthy for her career in Baton Rouge as when Ron Burgundy unknowingly told the city of San Diego to go fuck itself.

Either no one else at 225 reviewed Tormo’s article before going to press or, in only a few days as the boss, she had already pissed off everyone over there by blathering about her Gators.

Whatever the case, I find it gloriously entertaining, although not quite as entertaining as the veritable shitstorm prompted by a recent review of the new Louie’s in The Advocate by a woman from New Jersey.

Unlike Tormo, who waited until halfway through her editorial to cop to being a Gator fan, Leslie D. Rose told readers right up front that she’s from the Garden State and used that fact to establish her bona fides regarding 24-hour local diners. With a leadoff sentence almost bragging about being from New Jersey, and an article title like “New Louie’s near LSU’s campus is big on nostalgia; but service, not so much,” she managed to make most readers dislike her before the second paragraph.

If Louie’s standard hash browns are “unbearably spicy” for you, perhaps you shouldn’t be reviewing food in South Louisiana.

Speaking of the second paragraph, that’s where Rose mentioned she and her husband went to Louie’s on a Sunday at 1 a.m. As in, 1 o’clock in the morning. As in, when all the drunk students start piling in to put grease on top of all that alcohol. As in, when the wait staff is conditioned to be surly after dealing with countless blitzed frat boys and sorority chicks who think it’s OK to treat people their age waiting tables at 1 a.m. like crap.

Yes, she went to Louie’s at 1 a.m. with the aim of doing a food review for a local newspaper with a six-figure circulation. Shockingly, the service wasn’t all that stellar, especially when you consider she ordered — among other things that practically never get ordered after midnight — unseasoned hash browns.

If there’s one item on the menu the 74-year-old eatery — the second-oldest restaurant in town — is known for, it’s the hash browns. Seasoning, grease, and all. There’s usually a heap of them on the griddle just waiting to be smacked around and served. Apparently, on her previous outings to Louie’s during her eight years in Baton Rouge, Rose didn’t quite pick up on that.

And why did she special-order a bastard version of Louie’s de facto signature item? Because “the chef has a heavily spiced hand that makes the potatoes unbearably spicy.”

Louies-cafe-hash-browns
“Unbearably spicy” deliciousness.

Man, I can’t wait to read her take on Baton Rouge’s Indian restaurants.

As numerous commenters suggested, if Louie’s standard hash browns are “unbearably spicy” for you, perhaps you shouldn’t be reviewing food in South Louisiana. Yet, here she is, doing just that to my delight!

I’ve made my fair share of late-night pilgrimages to Louie’s. I’ve experienced my share of forgettable, even standoffish service, but I still went back. Because it’s Louie’s.

People here know the service, especially at that time of night, is not exactly award-winning. They also know 1 a.m. is not the time to be a high-maintenance patron ordering some bullshit unseasoned hash browns.

It’s like they have literary Tourette’s syndrome. They say things people around here find offensive without even realizing it!

Complaining about the normally slightly inattentive wait staff at Louie’s is like complaining about Baton Rouge’s humidity. We know about it. We put up with it. We don’t need someone from the state where Sonny Corleone was murdered to come in to make us aware of it.

Still, that’s exactly what she did, and I can’t tell you how much that amuses me.

Maybe for her next food review, Rose and her hubby should try another local institution with notoriously bad service: Fleur de Lis Pizza. In fact, she should make sure to go there on payday during banking hours while huge chunks of the staff go cash their checks.

Oh, and she should try to pay for the meal with a Visa or Mastercard. Man, I’m sure the locals would really appreciate a proud New Jerseyan incredulously informing them that it takes like an hour to get a pizza at Fleur de Lis, and that a restaurant in 2015 still doesn’t accept credit cards. The comment thread on that article would be so epic!

I find this new breed of imperceptive imported writers like Tormo and Rose intriguing. It’s like they have literary Tourette’s syndrome. They say things people around here find offensive without even realizing it!

And then they expect people to keep reading and patronizing their publications! How awesome is that?

It’s like they’re saying, “The things you love suck, Baton Rouge. And the things you hate, I find awesome. Please click ‘Like’ and share and subscribe!”

I, for one, hope more media members of this ilk start popping up on the pages and websites of Baton Rouge. After all, I’m sure there are still plenty of born-and-bred Baton Rougeans who haven’t yet been turned off by ill-advised commentary penned by someone from out of state.

“The things you love suck, Baton Rouge. And the things you hate, I find awesome. Please click ‘Like’ and share and subscribe!”

In fact, I’ll pitch some possible articles right here to rectify that. If you’re a journalist, blogger, or writer who’s new to our area and you want to instantly make a name for yourself by becoming a target for our collective bile, here are some headline suggestions. Feel free to take one, two, or all five and run with them.

 

  • “15 Reasons Why New Orleans Rocks So Much Harder Than Baton Rouge”
  • “Let Me Tell You Why I’m the World’s Biggest Falcons Fan”
  • “Why Can’t You Have Counties Like Normal People?”
  • “You’re Pronouncing Your Surnames and Cities All Wrong, Louisiana”
  • “Do You Realize How Stupid Your Southern Accents Make You Sound?”

 

Happy writing, y’all! And welcome to South Louisiana!RedShtick-Top-ColumnStop

About Jeremy White

Jeremy White
Jeremy White is an engineer by education, but a smartass by birth. He managed to overcome the obstacles presented by his technical background, and has brilliantly devised a way to make a living making fun of people.

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