I wrote this post for entertainment purposes, with no agenda to even any scores or to out anyone's behavior. That said, I am not so naive to think that nobody will be hurt or angered by it. The volume of links coming to my blog from an LTH sub-forum that a system message tells me I am "not authorized" to read lets me know that behind the scenes, people are already watching this blog with, well, let's call it "interest". After writing this I seriously considered not publishing it, but in the end I decided that there's nothing here that I would not say to anyone in person, and this post is just the stuff I'd be writing on the forum itself if the regime would tolerate it. I'm also comfortable with any repercussions that may come my way; heck, what's one more kennyz removal from an LTHForum member's Christmas Party invitation list?
Without further adieu, the top 10 most ridiculous LTHForum threads of 2011:
10. Owners of New Restaurant Condone Rape and Murder
In this astounding thread, a poster makes the case that by choosing the ubiquitous-in-Belgium name "Leopold," these innocent, hard-working restauranteurs made a grave, revolting choice. More astounding is that a number of people actually agreed with him. (link to thread)
9. The NBA Plays on Christmas, and Slow Foods Holds an Event in September
At first I thought the second post in this thread was written with tongue-in-cheek, but as the thread progressed it became clear that the now-part-owner of LTHForum who authored it was serious in his self-aggrandizing stance about Slow Foods holding an event on the same day as the admittedly fun, but hardly major-news LTHForum picnic. I still do a double take when I read this one. (link to thread)
8. My Mother in Law's Friend's Maid is Polish, so I Know Good Pierogi and Yours Suck!
OK, this thread isn't about maids or pierogi; it's about Big Jones, which a particularly annoying poster claims is to Southern food what Red Lobster is to seafood. He offers little to no evidence, but tries to bolster his case by bragging about time he spent in low country. It's an all-too-common and all-too-annoying practice on LTHForum, but this poster takes it to another level. The Big Jones chef responds thoughtfully and passionately, which eventually brings the thread back to something less ridiculous. (link to thread)
7. LTHers Enthralled By 3rd Grade Math Problem:
This thread starts boringly but innocently enough with a complaint about automatically-added gratuities, and rapidly devolves into a discussion dominated by a poster who is bizarrely riveted by some of the most mundane things that happen in restaurants. As they often do, Moderators join yours truly in a hypocritically snark-heavy response that seems to go right over said poster's head. (link to thread)
6. "Reader Real Deal" or "Raw Deal" for LTHForum and it's Readers?
This one really irked me. I'm sure the dude who started this thread is a nice guy, but he posted one useless "deal" after the next. He did not have his facts straight about the restaurants involved, and could not answer even the most basic questions about what the offers involved. Why the Moderators allowed (and continue to allow) him to post this drivel without at least collecting some ad revenue is beyond me. (link to thread)
5. Next Thread Please
I'm not going to post a link to this one. My readers don't deserve to be treated so poorly. The monstrous Next threads (yes, there are several) are complete debacles, devoid of usefulness. You can find pages and pages of scintillating comments like "just emailed my request, waiting for a response," or "clicked the button 5 times and nothing happened." Good luck trying to locate something of interest on LTHForum about the food or experience at Next. This was a case where the Moderators needed to take a firmer stance about what would be tolerated, and by failing to do so they allowed the whole forum to be dominated by useless fly-by posts for weeks at a time.
4. Newcomer Gets Off the Deal Train Quickly, but Not Before Laughable Missteps
For pure deal site ridiculousness, the Reader Real Deal thread was no match for the one started by a company called Bunchbite. The thread's only one page, so read it all the way through. It speaks for itself. (link to thread)
3. Dear Michelin: Winnetka is our Napa
I find just about all Michelin star discussion ridiculous, and this LTHForum is a perfect exemplar. All kinds of time-wasting prognostication here, but the real hilarity comes in the form of a long time frequent poster's case that 40+ additional mediocre restaurants should get stars, and that the Chicago Michelin Guide should treat suburbs like Winnetka with the same reverence as San Francisco's Napa Valley. (link to thread)
2. Hypocrites Attack Well-Intentioned Chef
I hesitate to write this one, because in it I'm directly calling out people that I like and respect, but their behavior in this case disturbed me enough to note it here anyway. Moderators and one prominent poster who is also an experienced chef acted in a mean-spirited way towards another chef trying to get a thread going about his place. The worst part was the grossly hypocritical claims by this chef, supported by his Moderator friends, that Chef Foss was being "manipulative". This insult came from the same chef who had invited LTH friends to a free preview dinner at his former restaurant, and then watched those friends/ LTHers write glowing pre-opening reports. It's the same chef who also just saw a friend of his - a prominent local food writer and LTHForum Moderator - start a thread about his newest venture. I know and like the main actors in this thread, but I was bothered significantly by the suggestion that such overt LTHForum manipulation is somehow less troublesome than the very honest, straighforward way in which Foss approached things. (link to thread)
1. Cleaning out Coupons, but Dirtying LTHForum's Reputation
My snarky responses in this thread, a fraction of which still remain, nearly got me booted from LTHForum for good. Here, an LTHer begins planning a particularly disturbing, regularly scheduled gathering where a single, modest coupon will be shared among a table of 8 or so participants who will try to make sure they don't spend more than a few pennies. They'll end up reserving a large table at prime dinner time, then they'll share just a few dishes and spend a tiny fraction of a normal per-head amount before handing the coupon to the server. Oblivious to how rude this is, the event planner and Moderators didn't much like it when I pointed out the ridiculousness of the behavior. The planner made the reservation under "LTHForum", and the manager of this place - who knows me and my involvement well - shared with me how this behavior seriously damaged his formerly-positive view of the forum. And to the Moderators I was the bad guy. Oh well. (Link to thread and link to next thread)