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Frank Bruni, You Just Pissed Me Off

October 1, 2007

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I’m angry. And cranky. And it’s all Frank Bruni’s fault. He’s supposed to be the cranky one, not me! I just read this article from yesterday’s NY Times, where Bruni lambasted the latest announcement that restaurants with sidewalk cafes could install portable natural-gas heaters. He titled this article, “Curbside, We’ll Never Have Paris,” and wrote:

“…New Yorkers, and I specifically mean the New Yorkers who, from the first rumor of spring to the dying gasps of an Indian summer, insist on restaurants with sidewalk cafes, apparently believing that nothing sauces roasted chicken like the exhaust from an M104 bus and there’s no music more relaxing than the eek-eek-eek of a delivery truck in reverse.

On the narrow and sometimes cobbled byways of Paris, Rome or Barcelona, a sidewalk cafe most likely has a view, a mood, a purpose beyond fresh air. (To be fair, it isn’t so fresh there, either.)

On Broadway, Columbus or Lexington, a sidewalk cafe has traffic — pedestrian and vehicular — so dense and close that a diner has to learn not to flinch. Wine helps. For me just three and a half glasses do the trick.”

First of all, I’ve eaten in Paris, Rome, and Barcelona, and their sidewalk cafes are often just as noisy, crowded, and congested as New York. Maybe this is because I can’t afford the meals that Mr. Uppity Bruni eats, but regardless, it is silly to assume those cities have better atmosphere. It is the same. It all depends on where you go to eat. Second, I love eating on the NYC sidewalks. The noisier the better. The more ridiculous people there are to gawk at, the better. And I am excited about the chance to extend these outdoor dinners for another month. Again, Mr. Bruni, not everyone has the full-time job of traveling the world and eating at fancy restaurants. I, on the other hand, sit at a desk… all day. And I can’t afford most restaurants that have the “relaxing back-garden” that you so highly regard. So I revel in my sidewalk cafes where there is fresh air (or at least fresher than my stale office building), and lots of NYC noise to entertain me. So what do I think of the idea of snuggling up with a warm sweatshirt, a glass of super-cheap wine, and a little portable heater in the crisp October-air? Sigh. Nothing sounds better.

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