I agree with your editorial The Flyers That Must Cease Their Flight (April 26) that taxpayers should no longer be burdened by politicians’ bulk mailings. The federal government stopped mailing income tax packages to taxpayers this year and cited two reasons: most citizens have computers, and cost savings. It’s time the government was consistent and treated MPs’ bulk mailings the same way. Citizens who don’t have a computer could pick up their MP’s bulk mailing at the local post office.
Eric Acker, Aurora, Ont.
THE SPARK TABLE MANNERS
Two weeks ago, I had the experience of being the oldest, most hearing-impaired diner at a restaurant. I am 35.
I shouldn’t have been surprised; my meal was at a superhip Mexican restaurant in Toronto. But that’s the problem: Even if my party, a group of exhausted, taco-hungry parents, had the fuddy-duddy fight to ask for the blaring hip hop to be turned down, we knew there would be consequences – the way hot restaurateurs have been behaving of late, the owners themselves might have come over to chide us, or mock us on Twitter.
Globe and Mail food writer Chris Nuttall-Smith recently called out this trend in a piece on the growing food fight between diners (who are often impatient, demanding or flat-out rude) and chefs (who have been smacking down unruly customers on social media). It clearly hit a nerve, with a slew of reader comments, a continuation of the debate between the injured parties on national radio – and, this week, feedback from another Globe writer.
Feature writer John Allemang wrote from the point of view of the “casualties of a downtown-hipster scene that defines itself by eardrum-perforating ambience, unchewable house-cured offal, self-taught twentysomething chefs with laughable tats and a two-hour wait for unpadded seats at the communal picnic table.”
His story is partly a lament for baby boomers, who, if Mr. Allemang is any guide, feel frustration at the noise and rudeness of the food scene even more than I do. “Once you hit the age of a Barack Obama, the kind of restlessly fashionable dining experience that serious restaurant critics overvalue becomes disorienting, confusing and hard to take.”
But clearly the piece tapped into universal feeling. Online, younger “hipsters” themselves agreed with Mr. Allemang’s complaints. Facebook comments, meanwhile, ranged from the bitter and nuanced (“I suggest [restaurants] take a look at the way things are done in other parts of the world, where all customers are accommodated and made to feel welcome”) to the, well, bitter and direct (“Kiss this!!”).
The issue here isn’t just about dining, of course. Eating is about taste as much as anything. One commenter referred to Thorstein Veblen, who coined the term “conspicuous consumption”: “It’s not as if ‘fine dining’ was never a ‘pecuniary canon of taste’ and expressed form of ‘cultural capital,’” the reader noted. “See it for what it is, social exclusion for the expressed purpose of demonstrating cultural superiority in status.”
Kind of makes one’s stomach churn. As for any hope of resolution to this fraught battle? That dream may be harder to realize than a reservation at a new hot spot.
Dave McGinn is a reporter with Globe Life.
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