“Fear not those who argue, but those who dodge.” -- Dale Carnegie
Abbe Diaz has her own blog PX This and is a regular contributor as a commenter on many others. Abbe is a friend of mine from back in the day when I was filling joints with people and she was serving booze. I’m sometimes a shoulder to cry on for her, and she often helps me through rough spells. When you talk to Abbe, one thing for sure is that she'll call it as she sees it -- no sugar coatings and no holds barred. She doesn't know how to be subtle, and this sometimes gets her in trouble, but I find it refreshing. She started to tell me about a recent ruckus involving Gawker, and I decided to just do it as an interview. I don't get many words in (which I’m sure some will find refreshing), I just figured it was best to keep out of the way. (Also see Round Two of this interview.)
Have you been causing trouble again? No.
So, what's the story? Oh god, the whole story? We might be here awhile.
Great. More time for me to sweat you. Ha ha. So what happened now? Gawker banned me. Again, I should say.
And by "banned" you mean ... ? They revoked my commenting privileges. See, it used to be that you had to go through this kind of "audition" process to be able to comment on Gawker's stories. But now I think anybody can comment, but I'm not entirely sure. In any case, the first time I got banned, it was for calling this writer, Joshua David Stein, a hypocrite.
Is he a hypocrite? Oh yeah. Absolutely. Oh lord, I don't even know where to begin.
At the beginning? Remember my last interview with you, I mentioned these blogger "circle-jerky" cliques, or whatever? Well, when Josh Stein first started writing for Gawker, apparently it was his "beat" to cover restaurants and nightlife. It just so happens that right around that time, I had this drama going on at my [PX This] forum [for restaurant industry employees]. I don't know if you recall, I mentioned a chef, and a grasshopper being planted in a sandwich wrap ... oh forget it, that's a whole other interview in itself. Anyway, we sent that item to Josh Stein, because we figured it was great restaurant gossip and very pertinent to the issues he covers. But for some reason, he didn't quite understand, and he ended up writing about some other thing. But he did credit me for it, and so I sent him a thank you note. I thought he was cool, we had no beef with each other.
Okay ... Then suddenly, a little while later, he wrote another item about me. (or maybe more about my forum). And in it, for no reason, he called the members of the forum "Koreshian." As in, ya know, the David Koresh cult that killed themselves? Nice, huh? A bunch of people get together in one place to discuss the plights of their jobs and their industry and that makes them "suicidal cultists." He also called our forum the "seedy-underbelly" of the industry, despite the fact the top few commenters alone have about 125 years of experience in the industry under their belts and come from some of the most well renowned restaurants in New York.
Why would he say that? Exactly. Good question. Next thing you know, he is being quoted on other websites, saying he’s “surprised” that I “haven’t killed anyone yet.” As in, I guess, I'm insane or something. Also, he called me "nuts." The best part was when he decided my siding with the workers who sued their employees for wages that were stolen from them makes me "Napoleonic." I'm not exaggerating. This is not a joke. Evidently, Josh Stein believes that supporting those who fight to uphold the laws of The New York State Department of Labor makes me a jackass. He thinks that these injustices (for which workers have been awarded millions of dollars in compensation) are merely "what [Diaz] sees as perfidious backstabbing." In other words, all these injustices are merely my "perception." As though I made it up. As though it means nothing. Okay, did you catch that? Workers fight for what rightfully belongs to them, and that makes them the "seedy-underbelly" of the industry. I support them, and that makes me " And somehow, in the midst of all this, people still forget that without these workers, these highly regarded restaurants can't possibly exist.
Okay. Oh wait, it gets better. A little while later, a new anonymously written blog pops up, it's called Sympathy for the Restaurant Industry. Funny stuff. Hilarious. Interestingly enough, right away, I get fingered by both Gawker and New York magazine as its creator, despite having been barely acknowledged by Gawker previously, and never having been acknowledged by New York at all. Everybody thinks this "S4RI" blog is so good, it must be written by Abbe Diaz. How fucking ridiculous is that? It just so happens this blogger is a "fan" of mine, so we decide to meet in person. Her name is Gwen Butler, and she's what Boston calls "the $3 Million Dollar Bartender."
She's the girl that got a $3,000,000 tip to open her own restaurant, right? Yes! You remember ...
Go on ... Okay so, NYM figures it out pretty quickly. Daniel Maurer pulls a Sherlock Holmes and he figures out it's not me after all, it's Gwen Butler. That very same day, Josh Stein writes this: "For those who love crazy tirades about the restaurant world but hate punctuation and capital letters, Abbe Diaz's non-anonymous PXThis is a real boon ... That forum brims with Ms. Diaz's invective-laced bromides against what she sees as the perfidious backstabbing restaurant world. She writes about it with Napoleonic pizzazz and an almost Cummings-ian disregard for punctuation ... Now there's Sympathy for the Restaurant Industry ... Is it the work of Abbe Diaz? There are two basic arguments for the blog being penned by Ms. Diaz. One is the pure unbridled crazy batshitness of it all ... Either Diaz is actually secretly capable of stringing together words into sentences using syntax and grammar, or there's another someone out there bursting with the same vitriol and petty anger ..."
And you took exception to this? The fact that the item once appeared at the very top of the Google list under my name cost me a potentially lucrative consultation project. Understand? It affected my livelihood. Even after New York magazine proved Joshua Stein wrong, he did not retract or update his writings. An "update" is a very typical and standard way of correcting oneself, but he refused to do so -- which is, quite frankly, dishonest and unethical. So now I'm thinking, "What is this kid's problem? What have I ever done to him? I've never been anything but nice and straightforward with him, and Gawker, for that matter." Even this one time when Gawker wrote awful things about a friend of mine, I handled it with humor. Oh ha -- okay long story short? Before all this, Gawker wrote an awful item about this editor friend of mine. A few nights later, we just happen to run into [Gawker owner] Nick Denton having dinner at The Waverly Inn. So my friend went right over to his table and told him off smack in the middle of his dinner, even though, granted, he wasn't directly responsible for the item. But when I recounted the story on my blog, I even said Nick Denton handled it graciously. But oh boy, the blogger who wrote the item, Emily Gould, she was not happy at all. She then proceeded to write more awful things about my editor friend. And of course, she dragged me into it, calling me "unintelligible" and "lamedropping."
I'm more confused than usual ... Sorry, I only bring it up to make a point. Emily Gould hating on my friend and me, for no reason. Josh Stein suddenly out of nowhere hating on me, for no reason. Ready for the punch line? It comes out months and months later (after they both quit their jobs at Gawker) they were sleeping with each other the entire time.
And you know this? Oh yeah. Fact. They each wrote about it too. Stein laid it out in Page Six Magazine, and Gould, being the woman scorned, unleashed her wrath on the cover of The New York Times Magazine. Classic shit. You've got to Google it. Fascinating in a very odd, perverse, media-inside-baseball kind of way.