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Eat At Joe's?
August 6, 2013 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Four months ago, Philly resident Joe Groh did the right thing. Now he's paying the price for it. Groh is the owner of Joe's Steaks + Soda Shop at 6030 Torresdale Ave., and if that doesn't ring a bell, here's the name it used until March 31: Chink's Steaks, a Wissinoming landmark since 1949.

Everything looks the same, but something has changed. His business was down 10 percent in June and 15 percent last month. An online petition to keep the old name drew 10,000 signatures. Groh was condemned on social media. In separate incidents in recent months, Groh's rechristened place had "Chink's" painted on the pavement and on his front window by dead-enders with too much time on their hands. Some have abandoned him, some want to have it both ways. A little old lady, maybe 75, comes in with her son and daughter. She says to Groh, "You make me sick," orders a cheesesteak, sits down, eats it, then walks out telling him, "You still make me sick."
posted by porn in the woods (250 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Stay classy, Philly.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:54 AM on August 6, 2013 [18 favorites]


Today I learned that 10,000 people have little sensitivity towards other human beings.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:55 AM on August 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


America was, rightly or wrongly, less sensitive about such things then.

Pretty sure you can just strike out that "rightly or" bit.
posted by Gin and Comics at 8:55 AM on August 6, 2013 [39 favorites]


Anybody that doesn't get the response should google "Philly sports fans" for context.
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 8:55 AM on August 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


MeFi meetup at Joe's? Make it happen, brothers and sisters!

I lived on cheesesteaks when I lived in Philly--my inlaws still live in the burbs. I'll hit Joe up on my next visit.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:55 AM on August 6, 2013 [38 favorites]


The steak shop was named by founder Sam "Chink" Sherman, who got the nickname when he was a kid due to his almond shaped eyes. You can argue whether his friends meant it as an Asian slur or a sidewalk description.
No. You really can't.

Anyway: Of course, if it were "Sam's Steaks" and Joe renamed it "Joe's Steaks," a few people would shrug and come in anyway; most wouldn't have even noticed. The problem is that, by changing it, Joe admitted the old name was racist. That means that anyone who used to eat there must have been racist too, so they can't show their faces at that old racist place and admit they were racists. That little old lady bristles at the idea that she's implicitly being called a racist for having eaten there. Which doesn't excuse it, but that's the (mostly unconscious) thought process.
posted by Etrigan at 8:56 AM on August 6, 2013 [91 favorites]


Because heaven forbid a guy decides to change the name of his business to something inoffensive. That's apparently a bridge too far for 10,000 people.

Wish I was closer. I'd eat there as much as possible.
posted by zarq at 8:57 AM on August 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


There is no force on this earth so whiny as white people who have been told they were doing something kind of racist
posted by theodolite at 8:57 AM on August 6, 2013 [255 favorites]


I really don't like the write-up here: the author doubts "if any of Chink's customers connected the name with a racial slur", thinks the customers who hate the change due to political correctness "have a point", calls the people who objected "do-gooders", describes the graffitists as "dead-enders with too much time on their hands."

It's a controversial story already, dude, get out of the way already.
posted by forgetful snow at 8:58 AM on August 6, 2013 [19 favorites]


Does it bother anybody else that they're still selling "Chink's" merchandise on their online gift shop?
posted by bookwo3107 at 8:58 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


His website is still chinksteaks.com

Here's the Yelp page for the shop, in which someone notes that the week before the renaming, the old shirts were selling very well. It's odd he didn't pull the shirts right away, but I guess then he'd have a lot of dead stock on hand.
The steak shop was named by founder Sam "Chink" Sherman, who got the nickname when he was a kid due to his almond shaped eyes. You can argue whether his friends meant it as an Asian slur or a sidewalk description. America was, rightly or wrongly, less sensitive about such things then.
Sidewalk description? It was the 1930s or 1940s, so I'm going with Asian slur.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:58 AM on August 6, 2013 [4 favorites]




It should be noted that Stu Bykofsky is a very opinionated, kind of grumpy columnist. He also hates lawn signs, bicycles, and most liberals; I'm not surprised to see this column end with "If 10 percent of the do-gooders who cheered him for doing the right thing came in for an occasional steak or shake, he'd be fine."
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:59 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Only this kind of story would make me say the hell with a 75 year old. And after 35 years (!), the dude can name his shop whatever he wants.

The cadence of this article drove me crazy, like the "The second was backlash from some longtime customers who hated the name-change, calling it a surrender to political-correctness. They have a point." What is that point? Why dangle that kind of statement and not follow up on it? C'mon Stu, get it together.
posted by boo_radley at 8:59 AM on August 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


That means that anyone who used to eat there must have been racist too, so they can't show their faces at that old racist place and admit they were racists. That little old lady bristles at the idea that she's implicitly being called a racist for having eaten there.

That is a strange interpretation. I think its more likely that they don't want the name to change because they're against offensive to other races.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:59 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Philly Mag: Eat at Joes. How to Show Your Support For a Less Racist Cheesesteak. On Saturday, join our "Eat In" to support Joe Groh for changing the name of Chink’s Steaks.,
“If 10 percent of the do-gooders who cheered him for doing the right thing came in for an occasional steak or shake, he’d be fine” Byko wrote Monday, and, well, he’s right.

So on Saturday, at noon, we’re going to have an “Eat In” at Joe’s. We’re trying to get as many of our friends to show up and have lunch: A cheesesteak, some fries, maybe a shake.

This isn’t a political rally—God knows that cheesesteaks too often end up being proxies in our local culture wars. Instead, the point is that the rest of us use our hard-earned dollars to support a businessman who decided to make a decision not to offend potential customers, a businessman who could’ve continued making his profits off an offensive slur and chose not to. We’re putting our money where our mouth is.

Also, it will be very tasty.

posted by zarq at 9:00 AM on August 6, 2013 [18 favorites]


For what it's worth, more than one of my Asian-American friends have paid Joe's a visit in the last few days, specifically to support this almost boringly obvious decision that nobody should have gotten the least bit upset about in the first goddamn place.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:01 AM on August 6, 2013 [23 favorites]


"The second was backlash from some longtime customers who hated the name-change, calling it a surrender to political-correctness."

I've found that most people who complain about "Political Correctness" also consider "Happy Holidays" deeply offensive.

It's like they come this close to discovering that words have meaning, but they just miss it by a hair.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:02 AM on August 6, 2013 [90 favorites]


Google street view, looks pretty classic.
posted by PHINC at 9:05 AM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


[Winky ascii codas do not make racist statements okay here.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:08 AM on August 6, 2013 [19 favorites]


Considering the late owner of Geno's had a sign that said "Order in English only, this is 'merica" for a long time, I'm not super surprised at this backlash. Philly does have a reputation to maintain.
posted by hellojed at 9:09 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I stand by my point that political correctness is a system to extend and protect racism into the future by making everyone hyper aware of it.

See, in this system, as someone of German and Polish descent, I'm allowed to make all the Polish and German jokes I want... there used to be a ton of them when I was a kid.... now all we get in it's place is anger that our vocabulary and culture is being ripped away from us.

It's un-american. Possibly a communist plot.
posted by MikeWarot at 9:11 AM on August 6, 2013


What the hell is a "sidewalk description"? Does he mean "street slang" or something?

I feel for the owner, though; it's not actually true to suggest that this would be a trivial matter if the name had been "Sam's" and he'd changed it to "Joe's." There's a reason people pay large sums of money for the "goodwill" associated with an existing name. There will be a whole lot of people who are occasional customers of the restaurant who will simply think "oh, it must have gone out of business" when they see the new sign. He obviously had to change the name, but it would have been a difficult thing to weather regardless of people being stupid about "political correctness."
posted by yoink at 9:11 AM on August 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Geno's employees were wearing Fry Mumia t-shirts last time I was there.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 9:12 AM on August 6, 2013


What the hell is a "sidewalk description"? Does he mean "street slang" or something?

I think he means that the nickname "Chink" could be referring to a crack in a sidewalk.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:14 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Messing with history, and people's emotional attachment to it, is tricky.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:14 AM on August 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm going to eat at Joe's next time I'm in Philly. There's no goddamn reason for anybody to be upset by this name change.
posted by gauche at 9:15 AM on August 6, 2013


As a Phillyite, I have three deep dark secrets of Philly cheesesteaks to share.

1) Tourists come to town and gravitate to the big-name places -- Pat's King of Steaks, Geno's Steaks, Jim's Steaks. They are, by and large, wrong. Not that there's necessarily anything WRONG with the big boys, but why subject yourself to lines and hassles and the occasional anti-multicultural rant when just about every mom-and-pop pizza joint in town does a perfectly fine cheesesteak, and many in the burbs as well?

My go-to joint is (a) outside of Philly (Broomall) and (b) named after a town that it's not actually in. Locals will know it.

2) Many Philly people will tell you that a true Philly cheesesteak has to have Cheez Whiz on it. These people are also wrong. Whiz goes in the toilet. Cheese goes on a cheesesteak. Which cheese you prefer may vary and may contribute to your losing elections, but real cheese beats orange glop any day.

3) A cheesesteak says that you know you're in Philadelphia. One of these says that you know what real Philadelphians eat.
posted by delfin at 9:18 AM on August 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


How dare they take away our precious racist cheesesteaks
posted by edheil at 9:18 AM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Interesting, make a joke or two that refer to nationality, or race, you get politically correctness.... but make a joke or two about politics, and they slip right by. It's correctness, it's political, but there's noting good about it.
posted by MikeWarot at 9:19 AM on August 6, 2013


The problem is that, by changing it, Joe admitted the old name was racist.

Bingo. I used to spend some time in Bridesburg Tacony area of Philly and Chinks Steaks was a landmark. Chinks Steaks was a local famous trademark for the neighborhood and some guy comes in and changes it because HE says it's racist? That area along Torresdale Ave is middle class. Row homes and modest incomes. Regular working class people, mixed ethnicity. It's not an area full of racists, but it is obviously full of people who do not like being called racists.

A smart businessman tries to understand the local culture, a soon to be out-of-businessman runs roughshod over it.

I guess since "Gino" can be considered amongst the many slurs used against Italian-Americans, that dude in South Philly is going to have to change too.
posted by three blind mice at 9:19 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Whiz goes in the toilet.

Hmm. You guys might want to double-check your sewers for fatbergs.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:21 AM on August 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


but real cheese beats orange glop any day.

You Can Pry My Neon-Orange Cheese-Subsitute From My COLD HUNGOVER HANDS
posted by Greg Nog at 9:21 AM on August 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's correctness, it's political, but there's noting good about it.

I'm not sure if you don't understand the difference between the born-with-it-ness of race and the totally-chose-it-ness of political affiliations but I would strongly suggest that you read some of the past threads on this topic if your goal is to have a fruitful conversation with the people in this thread. That is my personal non-mod opinion.
posted by jessamyn at 9:22 AM on August 6, 2013 [34 favorites]


MikeWarot: " See, in this system, as someone of German and Polish descent, I'm allowed to make all the Polish and German jokes I want... there used to be a ton of them when I was a kid.... now all we get in it's place is anger that our vocabulary and culture is being ripped away from us."

People can still be as racist as they want, Mike. No one is ripping anything away from you by making individual acts of racism a stigma instead of acceptable.
posted by zarq at 9:22 AM on August 6, 2013 [26 favorites]


It's correctness, it's political, but there's noting good about it.

Uh, less people will be told they are inferior. That's good, right?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:23 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


now all we get in it's place is anger that our vocabulary and culture is being ripped away from us.

Won't someone please think of the rich, proud and ineffable culture of casual racial slurs? And the system of inequality that culture long supported?

Oh, incoherently angry old white guys have thought of that? Well, carry on, then.
posted by gompa at 9:24 AM on August 6, 2013 [30 favorites]


Gino is a real person's name. I've never met anyone named "Chink." If you don't want people to think you're a racist then maybe bare-knuckled defense of a name like "Chink's" shouldn't be on your list of things to do today. Perhaps somewhere in Guangdong there's a noodle stand called "Philadelphia Jackass Noodles" that's been there since 1831, but that doesn't make it cool.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:24 AM on August 6, 2013 [37 favorites]


TBM, considering 1) Sam wasn't Asian, 2) Sam doesn't even fucking own the joint any more, your point is kinda moot.

If an Indian guy came in and started a Lebanese restaurant and called it "Kraut's" or "Dago's", I'm sure the people bitching about the name change would be up in arms.
posted by notsnot at 9:24 AM on August 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Here's an article from when the sign went down in April
As the hydraulic lift rose one story to eye level with the Chink's Steaks sign, a few yards away Robert Quinn stood on the curb, venting - loudly - to his girlfriend.

"I mean, he's ignoring the 10,000 signatures on the petition to keep the name? Now, he's giving in to political correctness!"
I doubt any of them knew Sam "Chink" Sherman. And 10,000 casual racists can't be wrong, can they?


From the new article:
Sitting in a back booth at Joe's, I look Groh in the eye and ask him if he really wanted to change the name.

"In all honesty, no," he says, reflecting on its history and it being the only place he's ever worked and the affection everyone had for Chink Sherman.

But, "I am Joe. It's 2013. It was time to do it."
Sherman owned it for 50 years, and it's already been 14 years since it has changed hands. I wonder if folks will care this much in a few years.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:25 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


If an Indian guy came in and started a Lebanese restaurant and called it "Kraut's" or "Dago's", I'm sure the people bitching about the name change would be up in arms.

Now I want there to be a place called Honkie's.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:26 AM on August 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


No one is ripping anything away from you by making individual acts of racism a stigma instead of acceptable.

A thousand times this. This guy changing the name of his business is an exercise of free speech. People calling out racist language is an exercise of free speech. People considering the racial or other implications language they use is an exercise of free speech.

None of these things is censorship.
posted by gauche at 9:28 AM on August 6, 2013 [26 favorites]


I guess since "Gino" can be considered amongst the many slurs used against Italian-Americans, that dude in South Philly is going to have to change too.

You do realize that no one is making anyone change a name? This was a conscious decision by the owner of the restaurant. There was no law, or any type of force that caused the name change.

Moreover, Gino is an Italian-American name, and the restaurant owner was Italian-American, and named his son Geno. Your analogy is facile.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:28 AM on August 6, 2013 [31 favorites]


Celsius1414: "Now I want there to be a place called Honkie's."

What would you put on the menu?
posted by Gin and Comics at 9:30 AM on August 6, 2013


All the things that made American culture unique, and gave it texture, are being steamrolled flat into an emotionless bog of plastic people.

But I'm not allowed to feel bad about that because it had possibly bad connotations if you thought about it in a lawyerly way for a long time, and because I'm white, and should have no culture, nor history, nor feelings.
posted by MikeWarot at 9:30 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


notsnot: " If an Indian guy came in and started a Lebanese restaurant and called it "Kraut's" or "Dago's", I'm sure the people bitching about the name change would be up in arms."

I'm convinced that if the target of the slur had been an ethnicity other than Asian, there would have been louder protests years ago.
posted by zarq at 9:30 AM on August 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


TBM, do you think that Groh doesn't understand the place he grew up in and has been working for decades?
But Joe Groh, the 50-year-old owner and now namesake of Joe's Steaks & Soda Shop, started working at Chink's when he was 16, coming in after school to slice meat for Sherman. Groh and his wife, Denise, grew up a few blocks from the shop and lived with their children in the three-bedroom apartment above it for years.


I mean, this is the second race-related Philadelphia incident in two or three days on the blue. It's a complicated place with some deep-rooted neighborhood allegiances and issues, but that doesn't mean that this guy wasn't trying to make something better out of it.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:31 AM on August 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


If he must close shop in order to rid the world of that odious word, he shall be a hero and can stride proudly into the afterlife, having saved us--his spiritual customers--from the insensitive nicknames of the 1940s.
posted by General Tonic at 9:32 AM on August 6, 2013


All the things that made American culture unique, and gave it texture, are being steamrolled flat into an emotionless bog of plastic people.

Nope, just the racist shit. And nothing was steamrolled. The owner, of his own volition, changed the name.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:32 AM on August 6, 2013 [58 favorites]


Joe's is kind of out of the way, meaning that he doesn't get much business from folks from outside the neighborhood, except maybe those from elsewhere in the heavily white-ethnic Northeast heading to 95 on their way down to a game. We're not talking about Center City here. Demographically speaking, Joe's customer based resents being "forced" to become "politically correct" in a proportion far higher than would be the case if he drew from the Rittenhouse or University City neighborhoods.

So I have some sympathy for Joe. He is a good egg and and a bad businessperson. A more savvy guy who knew his customers a little better would have a) not bought the place or b) changed the name to somehow honor Danny Faulkner, or firemen killed in the line of duty, or something more positive with appeal to his customers.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:32 AM on August 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Perhaps somewhere in Guangdong there's a noodle stand called "Philadelphia Jackass Noodles" that's been there since 1831, but that doesn't make it cool.

No, come on though, that would be legitimately hilarious.
posted by elizardbits at 9:33 AM on August 6, 2013 [70 favorites]


All the things that made American culture unique, and gave it texture, are being steamrolled flat into an emotionless bog of plastic people.

If the only things that made American culture unique were racial slurs and tribalism, then we're better off without American culture. Fortunately, I think that there is a bit more to American culture than that.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:34 AM on August 6, 2013 [67 favorites]


What would you put on the menu?

Whatever it is, it'll be old and bitter.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:35 AM on August 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


does joe's have a veggie cheesesteak? the best one i have ever had was at Monks Cafe. i'd be down to at least try the shakes at joe's i guess, but the website url and merchandise need to change too.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 9:35 AM on August 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


[MikeWarot if you are not trolling please join the conversation already in progress. If you are trolling, please stop.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:35 AM on August 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


All the things that made American culture unique, and gave it texture, are being steamrolled flat into an emotionless bog of plastic people.

Oh please. Yes, definitely, this is a sign of the end times, this small business run by a local business man with a selection of old-timey regional specialties, changing its name. What will the Philly area do with its vast selection of pierogies, soft pretzels, tapas, Mexican pastries, pho, spice markets, German sausages, and microbreweries?
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:36 AM on August 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


What would you put on the menu?

Crackers?
posted by BrianJ at 9:36 AM on August 6, 2013 [35 favorites]


What would you put on the menu?

The Wonder Bread Sandwich. The secret filling is MORE WONDER BREAD!
posted by yoink at 9:36 AM on August 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


All the things that made American culture unique, and gave it texture, are being steamrolled flat into an emotionless bog of plastic people.

Please. This is just catastrophizing. Things change. New textures come into existence and are folded in to the mix, just as has happened with every generation and every wave of immigrants. What's being lost here is a word that a dominant set of ethnicities have used to hurt other ethnicities. If that's essential to America, than America is a pretty shabby place, but thankfully, I don't think it is essential.
posted by gauche at 9:37 AM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


All the things that made American culture unique, and gave it texture, are being steamrolled flat into an emotionless bog of plastic people.

It sucks how Philadelphians used to have emotions but now that a store is no longer named Chink's we have entered into a sterilized 1984 antithoughtcrime dystopia.

I miss emotions, for one.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:38 AM on August 6, 2013 [53 favorites]


All the things that made American culture unique, and gave it texture, are being steamrolled flat into an emotionless bog of plastic people.

Nah, jazz and blues are doing just fine.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:38 AM on August 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


All the things that made American culture unique, and gave it texture, are being steamrolled flat into an emotionless bog of plastic people.

O beautiful for racist slurs
For unreconstructed shame
For purple prose and lost privilege
Above the liberals' pain ...

*sniffles*
*chokes*
*can't go on*
posted by gompa at 9:39 AM on August 6, 2013 [45 favorites]


It sucks how Philadelphians used to have emotions but now that a store is no longer named Chink's we have entered into a sterilized 1984 antithoughtcrime dystopia.

I miss emotions, for one.


Missing things IS an emotion. Arrest this man! (But, you know, efficiently and dispassionately--it's not like I'm excited about it or anything.)
posted by yoink at 9:41 AM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


a long time ago, i had some girls i used to work with over for some beers.

we decided to play some drinking game where you name a category and go around in a circle naming things until no one can anymore. you have to drink if you can't think of something.

so we started with things like "states that start with S" or some such. then it was this one girl's turn, sweet girl but kinda dim. she says "let's do races!". i'm thinking oh dear god. she goes first and says "chink!" all beaming and proud of herself. i said, as nicely as possible, you mean chinese?. she was literally dumbfounded. "but they're chinks, right? that's what you call 'em?". i tried to explain that it was also like the n word.

she didn't get it. (i didn't hang out with them again. none of them really got it. sigh.)

i guess that's why many people are mad about this. they don't know or don't understand that was a racial slur. they just thought it was what you called chinese people.
posted by sio42 at 9:41 AM on August 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


All the things that made American culture unique, and gave it texture, are being steamrolled flat into an emotionless bog of plastic people.

No, no, he's right. American culture is being steamrolled - we are being turned into flat, emotionless, bog-dwelling, plastic people.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:42 AM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


[flag and move on folks.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:44 AM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


but that doesn't mean that this guy wasn't trying to make something better out of it.


Oh he was trying to make something better out of it. That's pretty obvious. But he played the game badly and he made a mess of his business and the invisible hand is giving him the smack down.

You see if he was a good, decent, progressive-minded do-gooder he could have just changed the name without the fanfare. Just change it. "Joes Steaks. Under New Management. Signed Joe" and that would have been it. No one would have noticed or cared. "Hey wasn't this place used to be Chinks Steaks? Yeah, I'm Joe I'm the new owner."

But no. He's gonna gain some marketing from this act of good will. He has to explain WHY he did it. Bad move there. Hoping to score points by slagging off the local community, associating them with racism, trying to make himself look good.

Say what you will about Philadelphians, they know how to score a game and this is less about a name change than it is about being played. Wake up white people. It's not always about race.
posted by three blind mice at 9:44 AM on August 6, 2013


The backlash to this is basically frustrated entitlement. That's what I see. A bunch of people feel entitled to use incredibly stigmatizing and hurtful language about other people - people who, by the way, have been on the losing end of the power dynamic in this particular culture for many decades now.

And a single person choosing to no longer exercise that sense of entitlement has frustrated the incredible entitlement other people feel. It's not longer okay, in some small way, to have racist terminology emblazoned on a business' sign, and that is just too much for the entitled to bear.

Many white people feel entitled to say racist words, and they will get angry at any perceived attempt to "take that away" from them. The feeling that you have the right, the entitlement, to use incredibly stigmatizing and dehumanizing language as a function of casual speech is racism and privilege and white supremacy, straight up.
posted by Ouisch at 9:45 AM on August 6, 2013 [32 favorites]


Seriously, he bought the place in 1999. Your framing of this as some kind of outsider coming in and making sweeping, publicized changes is just not accurate.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:46 AM on August 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


Oh FFS!

Are you from here? Ever been? People who say 'everything isn't about race' have never been to Philadelphia. Everything here is about race. This goes even more so when things have racist names.

associating them with racism

They associated themselves with racism by signing the petition. Joe didn't force them to do that.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:47 AM on August 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


Say what you will about Philadelphians, they know how to score a game and this is less about a name change than it is about being played. Wake up white people. It's not always about race.

Dang, if I throw some imagined Platonic Ideal Of Philadelphians on the ground can you divine how racist they are like you're reading animal entrails?
posted by Greg Nog at 9:49 AM on August 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


I agree that the name change was horrible. He could have used any of these alternates and maintained that Philly flavor of broken sidewalks.

crevice fissure aperture
cleft crack cut
gap hole rift
slit slot

I mean he picked Joe's over Aperture.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:50 AM on August 6, 2013


But no. He's gonna gain some marketing from this act of good will. He has to explain WHY he did it. Bad move there. Hoping to score points by slagging off the local community, associating them with racism, trying to make himself look good.

That just...isn't what happened. People had been trying to get him to change the name for ten years before he actually did it, there was a ton of bad press surrounding the old name that was at least as problematic as the backlash. There is just no way a silent name change wouldn't have gotten attention. Maybe try reading the article?
posted by advil at 9:51 AM on August 6, 2013 [22 favorites]


Anybody that doesn't get the response should google "Philly sports fans" for context.

Yeah, I'm ashamed to be a Philly sports fan because of this restaurant naming issue. I'm going to root for the Washington football team instead.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:53 AM on August 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


As a really, really white person, I'm distressed at the argument that I can only have a cultural identity in the absence of other cultures, i.e. by denigrating other cultures or squashing them flat. I just wanna sit here wearing my souvenir Scottish tartan and eat my grilled cheese Wonderbread sandwich and have earnest hipstery thoughts about comic books without feeling like I have to be the penicillin sent to wipe out helpless bacterial colonies, y'know? My comic book thoughts are not nearly impressive enough to warrant that. We are all beautiful slime molds, there is enough agar in the petri dish for all. Anyway, I think this metaphor has really fallen apart on me in an impressive way, so I'm going to stop now.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:57 AM on August 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


Thinking about it, the clever move here would probably have been to name it "Sam's" or "Sherman's"--that way you say "I'm still honoring the original, much loved founder/owner" but you take the offensive slur away. Of course, it's hard to know if that would have made much of a difference, but I imagine at least a few of the old timers would have been more mollified.
posted by yoink at 10:00 AM on August 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


While he's redecorating the place, he should also take down the sign with the unnecessary apostrophe in "The only steak sandwich of it's kind."
posted by emelenjr at 10:00 AM on August 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


The problem is that, by changing it, Joe admitted the old name was racist. That means that anyone who used to eat there must have been racist too, so they can't show their faces at that old racist place and admit they were racists. That little old lady bristles at the idea that she's implicitly being called a racist for having eaten there. Which doesn't excuse it, but that's the (mostly unconscious) thought process.

That doesn't resonate with my experience of the kind of folks I think are in question here. Were I to hypothesize, based on my own experience of people, I'd say that they just don't think a word of the relevant kind is such a big deal. That is, they just don't think it's racist, or think that it's so insignificantly so that it doesn't warrant changing a beloved landmark.

Of course it may be some of both...

Obviously that's not a defense of their actions...I just doubt the diagnosis of the problem.

The problem is compounded because there is a good bit of irrational, manipulative language-policing/language-bullying by the left. Normal people get fed up with that pretty quickly (and for perfectly cogent reasons). One practical downside of poorly-motivated language policing is that it helps to make people resistant to reasonable efforts like this one.

That's not the main problem with it, but it's one problem with it...
posted by Fists O'Fury at 10:01 AM on August 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


does joe's have a veggie cheesesteak? the best one i have ever had was at Monks Cafe. i'd be down to at least try the shakes at joe's i guess, but the website url and merchandise need to change too.

Don't see one on the menu. You are right about the one at Monk's, but I get annoyed because the mussels always look so good and I don't eat them.

If you are going to go all PC liberal *roll eyes*, you might as well cater to the vegetarians too. I'll stop in at Joe's for a milkshake and some fries next time I'm in the neighborhood anyway.

I've never been there but I've heard the name of course, it's pretty distinctive. I never thought about the name being racist because I just assumed nobody would tolerate a name like that anymore so there must be a non-racist explanation. I have too much faith in humanity sometimes. I assumed it must be run by Chinese immigrants making a joke of it or something. Glad to hear it changed.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:03 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was thinking the same thing, yoink. It's not fair to say that he should have done so, because in an ideal world people would appreciate the fact that it's not called "Chink's" anymore, but it probably would have been the smart play to go with "Sam's."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:03 AM on August 6, 2013


Chinks Steaks was a local famous trademark for the neighborhood and some guy comes in and changes it because HE says it's racist?

"he has worked there for 35 years and bought it from Sherman's widow in 1999"
posted by Hoopo at 10:03 AM on August 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


[MikeWarot I'm not sure what's going on but we're giving you the day off because this is just not improving. You can contact us via the contact form if you'd like to discuss this. Everyone else, please just reload the thread and move on.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:05 AM on August 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


The problem is compounded because there is a good bit of irrational, manipulative language-policing/language-bullying by the left.

Have I got this right? Calling someone a slur: not bullying. Telling someone to not use a slur: bullying.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:06 AM on August 6, 2013 [33 favorites]


Don't most restaurants in major cities normally have a big dip in sales in the summer?
posted by srboisvert at 10:07 AM on August 6, 2013


My go-to joint is (a) outside of Philly (Broomall) and (b) named after a town that it's not actually in. Locals will know it.

Man, I hate this coy crap. Do you really think that actually naming your favorite eatery on MetaFilter is going to cause it to become just INUNDATED with tourists? Ha.

Also, anyone who thinks three blind mice is worth engaging with hasn't been around for very long.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:08 AM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile, just down the road from me. *sigh*
posted by kmz at 10:09 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perhaps somewhere in Guangdong there's a noodle stand called "Philadelphia Jackass Noodles" that's been there since 1831, but that doesn't make it cool.

No, come on though, that would be legitimately hilarious.


Yeah they would probably do fine if they opened a second location in Philly.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:11 AM on August 6, 2013


jessamyn: "[MikeWarot I'm not sure what's going on but we're giving you the day off because this is just not improving. You can contact us via the contact form if you'd like to discuss this. Everyone else, please just reload the thread and move on.]"

This made the javascript new comment box read "0 new comments, show" for a bit, which is odd.


Anyway, if I were to get all Philly about it, I'd just say "Hey, I've worked here for 35 fuckin' years! Who are you to tell me I ain't gonna name my place after my own self? You wanna run the show, come in and pay my mortgage! Geddafug out!"
posted by boo_radley at 10:14 AM on August 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


Chinks Steaks was a local famous trademark for the neighborhood and some guy comes in and changes it because HE says it's racist?

"he has worked there for 35 years and bought it from Sherman's widow in 1999"


He even tried opening a second Chink's Steaks location a few years back, in a different neighborhood, intentionally keeping the name for the new place. Really, this isn't "some guy" and it's not a sudden change. If anything, the question is why it took him this long to finally accede to a using new name -- there have been complaints for years and years and years.
posted by cjelli at 10:14 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm strongly upset that my go-to memes and metaphors for things just get ripped away and random times....

Well, I for one am cheered by the opportunity for new memes and metaphors to emerge.

Like the one where the person who attacks and marginalizes out groups feels all put upon and sorry for themselves when their behavior gets called out. It's sort of like crocodile tears, except that it seems to be actually (and pathetically) heartfelt. I'm calling it "bigot tears" but it really needs someone with a better ear for this sort of thing.
posted by bjrubble at 10:15 AM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


And yet they're still selling Cheese Nips. Perhaps some day that too will pass.
posted by GuyZero at 10:17 AM on August 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Have I got this right? Calling someone a slur: not bullying. Telling someone to not use a slur: bullying.

Of course! Because my white person feelings are the center of the universe. It obviously hurts and embarrasses me when you tell me I am saying racist things and am therefore a bad racist person, and since I am obviously not a bad person then obviously I am not a racist so clearly YOU are the wrong and bad person, and how dare you make me feel bad for exercising my free speech, over something as petty as YOUR feelings.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:20 AM on August 6, 2013 [22 favorites]


What bugs me the most is the sense of privilege and propriety exhibited by these assholes. It's the same impulse NIMBYs, preservationists, HOAs, etc grant upon themselves that makes people think they're allowed to get up in everyone else's shit because it's so obviously their business.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:22 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


He even tried opening a second Chink's Steaks location a few years back

To expand on that slightly: tried, but went out of business in less than a year after a lot of local opposition in the new neighborhood. And there was a concerted effort about a decade ago in late 2003/early 2004 to try to convince him to change the name, which he (then) refused to do out of fear that he would lose more business than he would gain.
posted by cjelli at 10:22 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now on to the Redskins.
posted by spitbull at 10:24 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


What there this much furor when Beaver College was changed to Arcadia? I don't think so.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:25 AM on August 6, 2013


Now on to the Redskins.

Clearly named after no-parking zones on sidewalk curbs. What's the big deal?
posted by yoink at 10:26 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


BRAINLESS TWITS OFFENDED BY NO-BRAINER
POLICE SEEKING SUSPECT IN WHIZ-FLINGING INCIDENT
posted by mintcake! at 10:27 AM on August 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


But no. He's gonna gain some marketing from this act of good will. He has to explain WHY he did it. Bad move there. Hoping to score points by slagging off the local community, associating them with racism, trying to make himself look good. .
posted by three blind mice at 12:44 PM


I don't see where he was trying to gain some marketing from the name change, but I didn't really follow this when it was happening. How did he do that?

Also, I don't where you are getting the idea that there aren't plenty of racists in that area.

That area along Torresdale Ave is middle class. Row homes and modest incomes. Regular working class people, mixed ethnicity. It's not an area full of racists, but it is obviously full of people who do not like being called racists.

I grew up in Northeast Philly and I can tell you for certain that there are most definitely racists to be found anywhere you go. I'm not saying all the people there are racists, or even most, but there are certainly enough to make a difference. I remember when I was a kid, the black family that tried to move into Bridesburg (another neighborhood you mention) and was chased out by angry white people. I've witnessed enough to know that this thing with Joe's Steaks isn't just a bunch of working class folks with hurt feelings.
posted by orme at 10:28 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is apparently a Racial Slur Database.
posted by zarq at 10:29 AM on August 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Have I got this right? Calling someone a slur: not bullying. Telling someone to not use a slur: bullying.

Of course! Because my white person feelings are the center of the universe. It obviously hurts and embarrasses me when you tell me I am saying racist things and am therefore a bad racist person, and since I am obviously not a bad person then obviously I am not a racist so clearly YOU are the wrong and bad person, and how dare you make me feel bad for exercising my free speech, over something as petty as YOUR feelings.


Um, you guys do realize that Fists O'Fury was not suggesting that this name change (which F O'F described as "reasonable") was a result of "bullying," right?
posted by yoink at 10:29 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why are petitions good but peer pressure is bad.

How are they defending against "censorship" by attempting to "censor" the owner.

Life is full of questions.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:30 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is apparently a Racial Slur Database.

Which, oddly, does not have an individual entry for "chink."
posted by yoink at 10:32 AM on August 6, 2013


2) Many Philly people will tell you that a true Philly cheesesteak has to have Cheez Whiz on it. These people are also wrong. Whiz goes in the toilet. Cheese goes on a cheesesteak. Which cheese you prefer may vary and may contribute to your losing elections, but real cheese beats orange glop any day.

I hope nobody reads that and decides not to try a cheesesteak with cheez whiz. whiz is delicious on a cheesesteak. It's salty and tangy in a way circular slices of "real provolone" will never be.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:32 AM on August 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's salty and tangy in a way circular slices of "real provolone" will never be.

I'm not sure that's giving it the positive spin you're looking for. ;D
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:33 AM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


yoink: "Which, oddly, does not have an individual entry for "chink.""

Yes it does? Click "See the full list" then scroll down.
posted by zarq at 10:34 AM on August 6, 2013


Ah. They're clickable.
posted by zarq at 10:34 AM on August 6, 2013


As seems often misunderstood, saying "this term is racist" is not censorship, and someone choosing to listen to that sentence is not being censored.

What there this much furor when Beaver College was changed to Arcadia? I don't think so.

You know when banks or whatever ask you for "secret questions" and sometimes it asks what your high school mascot was. Well, ours was the beaver (same all-girl school that had a house named Cramp with the house colour red), and every single time I tried, they have refused that as an answer.
posted by jeather at 10:35 AM on August 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


At least we still have The Cracker Barrel.
posted by spitbull at 10:35 AM on August 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


There is apparently a Racial Slur Database.

Urban Dictionary is a better version of the same sort of thing because you get a lot of varied opinions and folks vote. Heavy internet-people bias. They have a rich entry for chink.
posted by jessamyn at 10:35 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ah. Thanks, Jessamyn.
posted by zarq at 10:36 AM on August 6, 2013


delfin: "As a Phillyite, I have three deep dark secrets of Philly cheesesteaks to share."

Allow me to respond, also as a born and raised Philadelphian:
1) Tourists come to town and gravitate to the big-name places -- Pat's King of Steaks, Geno's Steaks, Jim's Steaks. They are, by and large, wrong. Not that there's necessarily anything WRONG with the big boys, but why subject yourself to lines and hassles and the occasional anti-multicultural rant when just about every mom-and-pop pizza joint in town does a perfectly fine cheesesteak, and many in the burbs as well?
There are certainly some good steaks to be had outside of the well-known names in the city, but there is a very noticeable gap between what you'll find at the average mom-and-pop pizza joint (I've had steaks from dozens of pizza places throughout the 5-county area) and what you get from a place that makes its living primarily on steaks.

I'm not saying the big names are leaps and bounds above, and certainly I've had steaks from other places that I'd rank right there with the big boys, but when you're doing more volume on steaks, you can afford to get better, fresher rolls, better cuts of meat, etc. Maybe your experience is different, but I never had much luck finding suburban places with the authentic crusty-on-the-outside chewy-on-the-inside rolls like you get from Sarcone's and Liscio's. I'd always see Amoroso's mass-produced rolls, which are passable on a deli hoagie, but just don't cut it for a cheesesteak. (Steve's Prince of Steaks is one exception to this rule that comes to mind.)
2) Many Philly people will tell you that a true Philly cheesesteak has to have Cheez Whiz on it. These people are also wrong. Whiz goes in the toilet. Cheese goes on a cheesesteak. Which cheese you prefer may vary and may contribute to your losing elections, but real cheese beats orange glop any day.
OK, them's fightin' words. A cheesesteak with whiz is *delicious*. I'll go with provolone occasionally for something different (or if I'm at a place that doesn't do whiz) but there is something about the way the whiz seeps into the nooks and crannies of the steak and bread that really ties the whole thing together, making it more than the sum of its parts. I can understand why nobody would want to put whiz on potatoes or broccoli, but it doesn't follow that real cheese tastes better just because it's real.

I don't care if whiz is made from used tires -- it's always going to be my first choice on a cheesesteak.
3) A cheesesteak says that you know you're in Philadelphia. One of these says that you know what real Philadelphians eat.
Roast pork is indeed awesome, especially with the sharp provolone and broccoli rabe, and I think the city's big enough for both to be considered "real" Philadelphia eats. NYC doesn't have to choose between pizza and hot dogs, after all!
posted by tonycpsu at 10:40 AM on August 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm not sure that's giving it the positive spin you're looking for. ;D

Yeah, I didn't word that very well. Anyway, it's a cheese and a condiment all in one. It enhances the rest of the sandwich. I'm not saying go out and buy cheez whiz, but try it on a cheesesteak sandwich.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:41 AM on August 6, 2013


Oh he was trying to make something better out of it. That's pretty obvious. But he played the game badly and he made a mess of his business and the invisible hand is giving him the smack down.

A (probably temporary) 15% decline in business is hardly a "smack down." Some racists decided not to eat there. Good.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:42 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


stupidsexyFlanders had it right: he should have renamed the place after a local hero or after something the type of people apt to complain about a name change wouldn't dare speak against. That would have been the way to protect himself.

You think the local wags would have said a peep about "SEAL Team Six Cheesesteaks"?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:45 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not even from philly and I got into an argument with someone about whether cheez whiz or provolone was better and she refused to speak to me ever again.

I put provolone on everything and even I think cheez whiz is better on cheese steaks. Its not even a competition.

Now provolone piccante might be good, Any place have that ?
posted by Ad hominem at 10:46 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Balboa, Utley & Dawkins Steaks
posted by Drinky Die at 10:47 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


We put provolone on french toast in our house. Seriously. Skip the syrup, add cheese, and salt. You'll thank me.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:48 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The cheese steak seems to have started with cheese whiz.
"As the story goes, the two brothers operated a hot dog grill at Ninth Street and Passyunk Avenue in 1930, when Pat said to Mr. Olivieri, "Here's a quarter. Go to the Italian Market and buy a hunk of steak."

The brothers cut up the steak, grilled it with sliced onions, and slapped it on a roll.

A cabbie drove by and asked what they called that sandwich. "I guess you call it a steak sandwich," they said and sold it for a dime. That was the birth of the Philadelphia steak. Cheese was introduced 22 years later. First Cheez Whiz was slapped on the cooked steak. A few years later, they began serving it with provolone and American cheese and pizza sauce."
posted by cashman at 10:48 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Drinky Die: "BalboaFrazier, Utley & Dawkins Steaks"

FTFY.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:49 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]





A (probably temporary) 15% decline in business is hardly a "smack down." Some racists decided not to eat there. Good.


I hear what you're saying, but 15% is a lot of money for a small business owner. Vendors and staff don't generally accept righteous satisfaction as payment.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:49 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always liked provolone, onions, hot peppers (the pickled kind you often just put on yourself) and (gasp) ketchup.

WaWa used to have a few branches with a griddle, and I would sometimes go late, late at night and get two steaks.

When I lived downtown, I usually went to the one in Reading Terminal or the one on South Street (on a Repo Records run).

Man, I miss Philly, despite the assholes in the article.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:50 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I hear what you're saying, but racists have money too!" I've only read a few of the guy's interviews, but he changed the name, so I think he's okay with the racists going elsewhere.
posted by cashman at 10:51 AM on August 6, 2013


I'm not saying he should court racist business. Only that 15% is nothing to sneeze at.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:52 AM on August 6, 2013


All this talk of street food is making me hungry and dying for currywurst.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:52 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sure if he just explained that the name change was due to egomania instead of trying to be less racist things would have turned out fine.
posted by ckape at 10:52 AM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


The thing to keep in mind is, as has been pointed out by locals, his place doesn't get much out-of-neighborhood traffic. Replacing that 15% may be tricky.

He did the right thing, so of course we're rooting for him, but the restaurant business is harsh.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:54 AM on August 6, 2013


Drinky Die: "BalboaFrazier, Utley & Dawkins Steaks"

Pfft, Frazier never even got an Oscar.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:55 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Growing up in rural Wisconsin, we had an old grocery store, mom and pop thing. This was in the early 80s, before America became a giant cesspool of gentrification.

My dad said he'd never buy the meat there (the guy was a butcher), but we bought other stuff (cereal, candy, soda, whatever) if we needed something quick. As a kid, I loved it, he'd have those chocolate covered vanilla cream candies. Old school.

Anyways, it was called "Chinks". Officially it' was "Heldmann's" as that was the guys name. But everyone called it chinks. I had no clue there was anything racist about it, in fact, to me, I thought it was for clanging change. I was like 5 or 6, dig.

Year later, I realized the name might have had some other meaning so I asked my mom about it, and they told me, that like Joe, he had "almond shaped eyes" and so he had that nickname which stuck.
posted by symbioid at 10:56 AM on August 6, 2013


How about Get Off Da Field, Santa! Cheesesteaks?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:58 AM on August 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


He did the right thing by renaming it... after 14 years of pressure? Maybe that's why all us chinks didn't flock to his shop immediately and start throwing money at him.
posted by danny the boy at 11:00 AM on August 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, that's the other thing: he did the right thing much too late for people on the right side of this to get excited about it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:02 AM on August 6, 2013


All the things that made American culture unique, and gave it texture, are being steamrolled flat into an emotionless bog of plastic people.

I know Mike's gotten the day off, and this is not me trying to fight with him directly, but this struck me really strongly, because it so completely erases things that make American culture unique unless they come from white people - that contributions from white people (which Italians and Irish did not used to be, let us remember) are what makes our culture unique, and if those things are offensive to people who are not white, well, it doesn't matter, because we don't count as Real Americans. Depressing to see it laid out so plainly.
posted by rtha at 11:05 AM on August 6, 2013 [32 favorites]


This backlash seems highly predictable to me. Racist/Stupid/Asshole all generally present themselves in one specimen.
posted by GoingToShopping at 11:06 AM on August 6, 2013


Whenever i see someone complain about 'political correctness', my brain automatically replaces it with complaining that they can't act like total bigot shitheels anymore without catching flak. Wah wah wah for them, I suppose. It's invariably followed by lots of whining that demonstrates a clear inability to understand what 'censorship' and the 'first amendment' actually mean, which is doublefunny.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:07 AM on August 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


One of the things that has brung me the most joy recently is cheesesteaks becoming A Thing in the Bay Area. All of a sudden we've got like four places that specifically serve them.

Now, I spent the back half of my childhood in Mechanicsburg, PA (central PA, midway 'tween the P's in the most literal sense), and spent many of those years and many of my college years experiencing Philly facefirst, so I know from Real Cheesesteak.

But, you know, sometimes, nostalgia can elevate a crappy cheesesteak into a...well, a less crappy cheesesteak. The thing is that cheesesteak is a comfort food born of a very specific city, and where the cheesesteak comes into its own is when the weather is either really fucking cold or really fucking hot.

Every other weather condition, hoagie, really.

But when it gets down to 20 below and the snow is piled up in these horrific gray piles and it's leaden overcast and the wind cuts right through the coat you paid a couple of hundred bucks for at Burlington, Jesus Christ, and, FUCK, it's only Wednesday...that's cheesesteak weather.

When it's 98 degrees with 98 percent humidity and the entire city feels and smells like the inside of a gym sock, fuck it, it's not going to get any hotter, and that's cheesesteak weather. Why? Because fuck you, that's why. I'm gonna eat a cheesesteak.

If it's raining, any time of year, fuck the umbrella, get a cheesesteak. Then you don't give a shit that you're wet.

And, finally, cheesesteaks must have the appropriate side dishes. The canonical cheesesteak side is the Krimpet. Not any of this Hostess or Little Debbie shit. Krimpet or fuck off.
posted by scrump at 11:07 AM on August 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


Philly is weird, man. My shrink is an old white guy who is awesome in almost every way but for the fact that he once in a while reveals racial prejudices that have me wincing. Like I was describing this student who threatened to staple my face, and he asked if she was a black woman. I was like...whoa racist shrink alert what the hell does one do but get another shrink, I guess.
posted by angrycat at 11:07 AM on August 6, 2013


None of my comments should be taken as defending the name or even the guy. I was only speaking in practical terms of what he could have done to avoid the backlash. That a) the name really needed to be changed and b) he should have done it sooner ... those things seem self-evident.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:09 AM on August 6, 2013


(bracing himself)

I wish we had more cheese steak places in Chicago and less soggy, pepper-laden "Chicago beef" places. They're a poor substitute, IMO.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:11 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


rtha: "I know Mike's gotten the day off, and this is not me trying to fight with him directly, but this struck me really strongly, because it so completely erases things that make American culture unique unless they come from white people - that contributions from white people (which Italians and Irish did not used to be, let us remember) are what makes our culture unique, and if those things are offensive to people who are not white, well, it doesn't matter, because we don't count as Real Americans. Depressing to see it laid out so plainly."

Plus, you're girls. And not even hot ones. Besides, I was just joking. Lighten up.

HAMBUR CHEESESTEAK
posted by scrump at 11:12 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Personally, I would have just renamed it "Chunk's"

HAAY YOU GUYS!!!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:14 AM on August 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


scrump: "Krimpet or fuck off."

Philadelphia: The City of Brotherly Love Krimpet or Fuck Off
posted by tonycpsu at 11:14 AM on August 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


I know! Girls who won't even make you a damn sandwich!
posted by rtha at 11:15 AM on August 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


DirtyOldTown: "None of my comments should be taken as defending the name or even the guy."

No one thinks you're defending anything--there have been enough actual racists in here defending themselves that the contrast is plenty sharp.

But I thought we moved beyond the whole 'you get rewarded for meeting the least of society's expectations' thing when we were 8. You do the right thing because it's the right thing, not because you're going to be rewarded--and you do it even if you get punished. Because the right thing is the bare minimum for adults.
posted by danny the boy at 11:17 AM on August 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Out on my run this morning, I passed a car blaring talk radio just long enough to hear a caller say "y'know , they should have just changed one letter, made it chenk's or something. Honoring the spirit of the original."

Way to miss the point entirely.
posted by ActionPopulated at 11:17 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Personally, I would have just renamed it "Chunk's"

Fat-shaming.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:20 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


DirtyOldTown: "The thing to keep in mind is, as has been pointed out by locals, his place doesn't get much out-of-neighborhood traffic. Replacing that 15% may be tricky.

He did the right thing, so of course we're rooting for him, but the restaurant business is harsh.
"

From the article:
As always, 90 percent of his business comes from outside the neighborhood, a lot of New Jerseyans grab a few sandwiches as they head to the nearby Betsy Ross Bridge, but the recent decline in his business - after a small spike post-name change - "scared me," he says. He's giving some reluctant thought to moving, which would kill the 14 neighborhood jobs Joe's provides.

posted by zarq at 11:21 AM on August 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


If anything, the question is why it took him this long to finally accede to a using new name -- there have been complaints for years and years and years.

The obvious answer is brand recognition. The obvious question is why you would want that brand name to be the one you're recognized for.
posted by Hoopo at 11:22 AM on August 6, 2013


I thought we moved beyond the whole 'you get rewarded for meeting the least of society's expectations' thing when we were 8. You do the right thing because it's the right thing, not because you're going to be rewarded--and you do it even if you get punished. Because the right thing is the bare minimum for adults.

Totally agree.

My point, which again I borrowed from stupidsexyFlanders above, was only ever that were he shrewd, he could have changed the name in a way that insulated himself from backlash. If he'd done the name change in way that his locals could have, were they of the type, chosen to take it as about something else, he might not have lost so much business.

My work has me dealing with small restaurant owners every single day, so I was just looking at it from a perspective of: since the name change needed to happen, couldn't he have done it in a way that didn't put his business at risk? If it was possible to do the right thing (however late, however rudimentary a form of human deceny it represented) and still avoid the part where he got dinged in the pocketbook, that would have been the way to go.

Also... re-reading, I misspoke, the local who posted above didn't say his traffic was purely neighborhood based, but that it was an out of the way place that doesn't draw in people who aren't already passing by. Same point still applies, though.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:26 AM on August 6, 2013


You may also be interested in Al the Wop's, a divey old steakhouse in Locke, CA, which is the only (I think) surviving rural Chinatown in the country.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:27 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I live in Philadelphia, and it certainly IS a racist city. There's a proud tradition of distrust of the other in every neighborhood you can name here. For Chrissakes, the Italian Market was trying to keep Mexican vendors out up until a couple of years ago. It didn't matter how many vacant storefronts they had.
That being said, Joe's/Chink's has been consistently ranked one of the best cheesesteaks in the city. They'll recover.
posted by SPUTNIK at 11:28 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I live on Tulip St on the same block as Joe's. There are a ton of people inthe area butt-hurt over many societal ills thath they blame on the OTHER. The area used to be predominantly white with a sprinkling of minorities, but now has decent portions of LAtinos, Blacks, and some Asians. The older whites who stayed for some reason hate to see a house get sold to a minority family. They openly talk about it to me cause I'm a white chick thath bought a house (thank god!, several have said to me). It's just bizarre because you can go walk up on torressdale and night and see prostitutes and pill heads galore and doing an eyeball count, you see a fair share of whites doing the same things the old guard blames the minorities for doing to bring down the neighborhood. To these people, being forced to live in a blended world is like forcing them to live in the 3rd world. They complain about such things as:
"that black lady always has the ambulance there!" (lady appears to have some sort of breathing issue. Why are you complaining?)
"At least the mexicans are catholic!" (comparing latinos and blacks moving in)

And there's some bizarre reverse stuff going on where the minorities see a white girl walking around and automatically think I'm working (prostituing) because why else would I be in the area at night (ummm because I live here and am getting some take-out)

There's plenty of crap to blame for the decline of the neighborhood, and plenty of people to be mad at for endagering the place (the the guy who attacked his wife and baracaded himself in the house, or the mom who killed her kids, or the disgusting people that kept a dungeon of handicapped people to steal their social security checks - all of which happend in the past 2 years) but to them its just easier to blame those non white people. They need to STFU, downers.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:29 AM on August 6, 2013 [17 favorites]


So part of the enjoyment of eating here for a lot of the angry customers was the novelty of the place's name. "Ha, I'm eating at a place called 'Chinks.'"
posted by ChuckRamone at 11:29 AM on August 6, 2013


[The ironic voice stuff is maybe okay for a one-off joke, less okay as an ongoing thread contribution. love your bealeaguered mod]
posted by jessamyn at 11:30 AM on August 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Joe's/Chink's has been consistently ranked one of the best cheesesteaks in the city. They'll recover.

Here's hoping. I have no particular love for this guy who ran the place with that awful name for 13 years, but he does employ 14 people, and I hate the idea that if he fails, wags will use it as some sort of bogus object lesson about "political correctness."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:33 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


What there this much furor when Beaver College was changed to Arcadia? I don't think so.

Maybe not in public, but in the community of graduates, yeah, there was. Some of us were kind of proud of it. (But apparently, applications jumped by a third after the name change, so there you go.)
posted by mephron at 11:36 AM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I AM SORRY, JESSAMYN
posted by scrump at 11:43 AM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


[The ironic voice stuff is maybe okay for a one-off joke, less okay as an ongoing thread contribution. love your bealeaguered mod]

I do love our beleaguered mod!
posted by ogooglebar at 11:44 AM on August 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


angrycat: "Philly is weird, man. My shrink is an old white guy who is awesome in almost every way but for the fact that he once in a while reveals racial prejudices that have me wincing. Like I was describing this student who threatened to staple my face, and he asked if she was a black woman. I was like...whoa racist shrink alert what the hell does one do but get another shrink, I guess."

Maybe he gets off on black women stapling his face?
posted by symbioid at 11:46 AM on August 6, 2013


I wish we had more cheese steak places in Chicago and less soggy, pepper-laden "Chicago beef" places. They're a poor substitute, IMO.

OK, now them's fighting words! An Italian Beef isn't a "substitute" for anything, and I'll take a proper beef sandwich any day of the week.
posted by kmz at 11:50 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anyways, it was called "Chinks". Officially it' was "Heldmann's" as that was the guys name. But everyone called it chinks.

Growing up in rural/suburban Washington state, it was not uncommon for people to call the convenience store or gas station the "chink store" or the "gook store" because the shopkeepers were Asian. And people said it in front of me all the time, even though I'm Asian.
posted by ChuckRamone at 11:51 AM on August 6, 2013


Oh man, that sucks, Chuck :\
----------

In Wisconsin we call Illioisans FIBs (Fuckin Illinois Bastards). So there's this food cart Fine Italian Beefs. Yeah. FIB...
posted by symbioid at 12:05 PM on August 6, 2013


The place was really really white at the time and people said all kinds of racist things. A homeless black dude who was in the area also had an unfortunate nickname. At the time, all that casual racism seemed pretty normal but now when I think of it, it's a little jarring.
posted by ChuckRamone at 12:09 PM on August 6, 2013


Ricky Roma: Well, you want to swing by the Chinks, watch me eat, we'll talk?
Shelly Levene: I think I'd better stay here for a while.
posted by porn in the woods at 12:16 PM on August 6, 2013


NYC doesn't have to choose between pizza and hot dogs, after all!

...and hot pastrami and Indian food and bagels with a schmear and cheesecake and halal shwarma carts and...
posted by aught at 12:18 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not an area full of racists

You know something, it kind of IS an area full of racists. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of fine and decent folks there too, but it's also chock full of racist asshole white flighters who complain about how Chink's hasn't been the same since they started hiring "wetbacks" to work the grill.
posted by snottydick at 12:22 PM on August 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm still sad that the veggie cheesesteak lady in RTM closed up shop.
posted by cashman at 12:31 PM on August 6, 2013


Gin and Comics: "Celsius1414: "Now I want there to be a place called Honkie's."

What would you put on the menu?
"

Homemade crackers?
posted by Samizdata at 12:35 PM on August 6, 2013


yoink: "What would you put on the menu?

The Wonder Bread Sandwich. The secret filling is MORE WONDER BREAD!
"

And mayo. Got to have mayo.
posted by Samizdata at 12:36 PM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I would totally eat at a place called "Philadelphia Jackass Noodles".
posted by slogger at 12:37 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


yoink: "What would you put on the menu?

The Wonder Bread Sandwich. The secret filling is MORE WONDER BREAD!"

And mayo. Got to have mayo.


And some water on the side for dippin'!
posted by 4ster at 12:38 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whatever happened to the place from AskMe with the Sweet Poontang Sauce? That asshole still around?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:44 PM on August 6, 2013


Here it is: still there, still an asshole, apparently.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:47 PM on August 6, 2013


Grilled American cheese sammiches. Mac & Cheese. Tater tots. Apple pie. McNuggets. Chow Mein. Fried rice. Hot dogs. Chicken fried chicken. Chicken fried steak. Turducken.
posted by zarq at 12:47 PM on August 6, 2013


...and hot pastrami and Indian food and bagels with a schmear and cheesecake and halal shwarma carts and...

Pastrami, yes, a certain kind of bagel, yes, but those other foods aren't ones people associate with NY. Even if there is a certain kind of shawarma cart specific to NY. But Indian food? What?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:53 PM on August 6, 2013


Urban Dictionary is a better version of the same sort of thing because you get a lot of varied opinions and folks vote. Heavy internet-people bias.
Speaking of racist slang, I am especially fond of the second definition on this page.
posted by pxe2000 at 12:56 PM on August 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


All the things that made American culture unique, and gave it texture, are being steamrolled flat into an emotionless bog of plastic people.

Whoa. If casual racist slurs (and acceptance thereof) are what made American culture unique, I'm happy to be something less than unique. Give me a big, fat, heaping helping of commonplace.

No one is telling you you're "not allowed to feel bad about that." Feel bad about it if you want to, but don't expect many people here to either join you or think you're a hero.
posted by jennaratrix at 1:04 PM on August 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Growing up in rural/suburban Washington state, it was not uncommon for people to call the convenience store or gas station the "chink store" or the "gook store" because the shopkeepers were Asian. And people said it in front of me all the time, even though I'm Asian.

It is pretty common in New York for any corner store run by middle easterners to be called Habibi's and anyone behind the counter to be called Achmed.

So when you hear "Ayo, Ach, lemme get a dutch master",chances are the guy's name isn't really Achmed.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:07 PM on August 6, 2013


Pruitt-Igoe: " Pastrami, yes, a certain kind of bagel, yes, but those other foods aren't ones people associate with NY. Even if there is a certain kind of shawarma cart specific to NY. But Indian food? What?"

New York Cheesecake is a thing.

So are Halal carts.
posted by zarq at 1:09 PM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Err, on topic - good for Joe. If I lived anywhere near Philly, I'd happily buy a cheesesteak from him. I think it's a sign of hope when something like this happens; someone looks at a freakin' INSTITUTION ferchrissakes and instead of seeing the history as harmless and traditional and whatnot, instead sees shame and racism and says, "Hey, I think I'll do something about that."

And then the backlash happens, and my little spark of hope for humanity goes out.
posted by jennaratrix at 1:10 PM on August 6, 2013


Cheesecake, yes. But even though halal carts exist and the NY version of them is unique in some ways, doesn't put them at the level of pizza, bagels and cheesecake.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:14 PM on August 6, 2013


And mayo. Got to have mayo.

Miracle Whip goes best with Wonder Bread.
posted by TedW at 1:16 PM on August 6, 2013


Junior's cheescake. I dont even need to look at that list. If Junior's isn't at the top it is wrong.

Don't forget Egg Creams, Cel-Ray,Manhattan Special, New York style hot dogs and Cronuts

Chicken and rice with white sauce is still underground, give it 10-15 years and it will surpass pastrami easily.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:19 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]



In Wisconsin we call Illioisans FIBs (Fuckin Illinois Bastards). So there's this food cart Fine Italian Beefs. Yeah. FIB..

That food cart actually makes a pretty decent cheesesteak - it's a friggen mess to eat, though.

that's sort of the best part, too
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:20 PM on August 6, 2013


Pruitt-Igoe: "Cheesecake, yes. But even though halal carts exist and the NY version of them is unique in some ways, doesn't put them at the level of pizza, bagels and cheesecake."

True. And I agree with you about the Indian food. :)
posted by zarq at 1:24 PM on August 6, 2013


ChuckRamone: "Growing up in rural/suburban Washington state, it was not uncommon for people to call the convenience store or gas station the "chink store" or the "gook store" because the shopkeepers were Asian. And people said it in front of me all the time, even though I'm Asian."

Let's not forget that language changes over time, and by region. It's important to consider context before becoming outraged.

It's incredibly uncouth to say "negro" or "colored" in 2013, but a few organizations like the NAACP and UNCF have kept their names.

Also, consider the etymology of Baltimore's arabbers. It's origin is racially-linked in some not-great (and convoluted) ways that are almost completely irrelevant in 2013.

On the other hand, there are some phrases that were kind of racist when they were coined, and have become increasingly racist over time. This appears to be one of those cases (See also: The Washington [Football Team]).

I feel bad that Joe Groh got stuck between a rock and a hard place for inheriting the name of a very old restaurant, and understand why he took so long to change the name -- brand recognition is everything to a business, and the name wasn't even his invention... If we want to get mad at somebody for being unabashedly racist, it's probably a better idea to focus our rage on the 10,000 assholes who signed that petition.
posted by schmod at 1:25 PM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


For some reason I am reminded of the old Donges Gloves sign, once famous in Milwaukee at West State and Old World 3d Sts, and announcing a store that was probably 100 years old or more.

"Gloves That Burn and Some That Don't Burn"

Any Milwaukee mefites able to confirm if that still exists?

There are a lot of wonderful old business names and signs that are worth keeping. The calls of "political correctness" imply some generalized opposition to nostalgia in general, as opposed to unfortunately racist objects of nostalgia, in particular. Plenty of old business names deserve to be preserved and celebrated and I doubt anyone disagrees. See Rock City! Eat Stuckey's Homemade Pies!
posted by spitbull at 1:37 PM on August 6, 2013


I've found that most people who complain about "Political Correctness" also consider "Happy Holidays" deeply offensive.

Well they're the same sort of thing. We say "Happy Holidays" as a way of being polite and hospitable to people who don't celebrate Christmas. And we stop using racist slurs as a way of being polite and hospitable to the people who've been the target of racist slurs.

Both get labeled "political correctness" by those who don't care about being polite and hospitable to people who aren't just like them.
posted by straight at 1:37 PM on August 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


straight, we're going to have to talk about changing your username.

; }
posted by spitbull at 1:39 PM on August 6, 2013


I feel bad that Joe Groh got stuck between a rock and a hard place for inheriting the name of a very old restaurant, and understand why he took so long to change the name -- brand recognition is everything to a business, and the name wasn't even his invention...

Add to that that if you actually knew Sam "Chink" Sherman you'd think of the name simply as "that guy's name"--that, after all, is the way names work; once you know someone well, the name loses all other associations, it just becomes the way you summon up the gestalt of "that person"'s identity. You wouldn't think of it as "ethnic slur for Chinese people." The restaurant would be "Chink's" because it was the restaurant that your pal/boss/neighbor Chink built.
posted by yoink at 1:42 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


TedW: "Miracle Whip goes best with Wonder Bread."

My wife introduced me to the culinary debacle/miracle that is Wonder Bread, Oscar Mayer bologna, Ruffles BBQ chips and Miracle Whip.

On the other hand, even she won't accept my dad's combination of whole wheat bread, chunky peanut butter, Velveeta, and raisins. When I told her it was a taste of my childhood she said that explained a lot.
posted by scrump at 1:47 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pruitt-Igoe: "Cheesecake, yes. But even though halal carts exist and the NY version of them is unique in some ways, doesn't put them at the level of pizza, bagels and cheesecake."

True. And I agree with you about the Indian food. :)


There are two famous-in-New-York-at-least streets in NYC that have just rows of Indian food (East Village and Murray Hill). The owners will come out and say "we have the best chapatis" and the next door guy will be like "no we do" and they're all decked out crazy spangly and some films have been shot in their interiors.

So...not like cheesecake/pizza, but, it's not crazytalk to associate Indian food and New York. New York, we got everything.
posted by sweetkid at 2:09 PM on August 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


[Also, can we cut out the "White people are _____" rhetoric that's bubbling up in this thread? While white Americans do indeed have untold advantages and privileges compared to the rest of the population, racism is not a zero-sum game. Trading one kind of racism for another will not raise the level of discourse or solve any problems.

Maybe I'm a little sensitive to this because I don't live in a majority-white area, but it really sucks (in a distinctly threatening way) to have racial epithets thrown at you when you're in the minority. I know that we're doing this all in a ha-ha knee-slapping kind of way, but I cringe whenever I see a circle of white dudes legitimizing this sort of behavior through self-deprecating and ironic comments.]

posted by schmod at 2:12 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just control-f'd "white people" and don't see what you're saying.

Also why did you write so small.
posted by sweetkid at 2:14 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Damnit, now I want samosas. Why does everything make me want samosas]
posted by Ad hominem at 2:19 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Because fresh samosas are awesome? And they're the world's best excuse to eat tamarind chutney?
posted by GuyZero at 2:20 PM on August 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


Also related: Dusty's Bar in Minneapolis.
posted by nickmark at 2:22 PM on August 6, 2013


oh that's bad.
posted by sweetkid at 2:26 PM on August 6, 2013


sweetkid: " There are two famous-in-New-York-at-least streets in NYC that have just rows of Indian food (East Village and Murray Hill). The owners will come out and say "we have the best chapatis" and the next door guy will be like "no we do" and they're all decked out crazy spangly and some films have been shot in their interiors.

So...not like cheesecake/pizza, but, it's not crazytalk to associate Indian food and New York. New York, we got everything.
"

*nod* We do. I used to eat on East 6th a lot.

I guess it just didn't seem to me that New York might be known to outsiders for its Indian food.
posted by zarq at 2:35 PM on August 6, 2013


Metafilter: control-f'd white people
posted by cashman at 2:36 PM on August 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


I guess it just didn't seem to me that New York might be known to outsiders for its Indian food.

Agree - but prob compared to elsewhere in the US
posted by sweetkid at 2:37 PM on August 6, 2013


There are two famous-in-New-York-at-least streets in NYC that have just rows of Indian food (East Village and Murray Hill).

And London has Brick Lane, and Toronto has Gerrard Street, and Vancouver has Main Street, and...

it's not crazytalk to associate Indian food and New York. New York, we got everything.

I don't think it's crazytalk. But again, I was just thinking of *iconic* foods, which I'm sensing means different things to different people.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:37 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think we're agreed.
posted by sweetkid at 2:41 PM on August 6, 2013


At least we'll always have a Ray's Pizza. :)
posted by zarq at 2:47 PM on August 6, 2013


schmod: "[Also, can we cut out the "White people are _____" rhetoric that's bubbling up in this thread? While white Americans do indeed have untold advantages and privileges compared to the rest of the population, racism is not a zero-sum game. Trading one kind of racism for another will not raise the level of discourse or solve any problems.

Maybe I'm a little sensitive to this because I don't live in a majority-white area, but it really sucks (in a distinctly threatening way) to have racial epithets thrown at you when you're in the minority. I know that we're doing this all in a ha-ha knee-slapping kind of way, but I cringe whenever I see a circle of white dudes legitimizing this sort of behavior through self-deprecating and ironic comments.]
"

Where your comment goes off the rails is in implicitly comparing the discomfort you feel at hearing jokes about whites with the actual lived reality of discrimination experienced by POC every day. While your discomfort level may be approximately the same in either case (you personally may recoil just as much from anti-white jokes as from anti-POC jokes), there is a vast difference between how you experience the world on a daily basis and how a POC experiences the world on a daily basis.

I'm not talking abstractions. I'm talking about real, actual, living experience. POC are literally treated differently because of their skin color, by retail establishments, governmental apparatus, and other people. In everything from basic social interactions and etiquette to perceived social status.

You call it "trading one kind of racism for another". There is no way that could actually ever happen in the United States, because that would require POC to acquire command of not only the levers of government but the levers of corporate power, as well as institutionalize anti-white discrimination over centuries, ingrain anti-white sentiment into the language, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Your comment, bluntly, reads like the "won't someone think of the MEN" derail that inevitably crops up in discussions about feminism.
posted by scrump at 2:48 PM on August 6, 2013 [22 favorites]


WHITE PEOPLE ARE BIPEDS.

More often than not.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 2:58 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


yeah, racking my brain and that's the only generalization I can muster about the white people.
posted by sweetkid at 3:00 PM on August 6, 2013


Well, they tend to have less skin pigmentation than a lot of other racial groups.
posted by nickmark at 3:02 PM on August 6, 2013


WHITE PEOPLE ARE VIVIPAROUS.
posted by ogooglebar at 3:02 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am given to understand from hacky comedians that whereas white people are like THIS, black people are like THAT. Heady laughter usually follows said observation, though I am unclear why.

Seriously though, I despise those jokes.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:05 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, they tend to have less skin pigmentation than a lot of other racial groups.

Yes, but I know an Italian American girl who's about as dark as me (Indian American) but I'd not be considered white but she would.
posted by sweetkid at 3:05 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Vancouver has Main Street

I walked to the Punjabi Market on Main when I first got to town, and it's really not very big. I think you probably have to go out to Surrey or something to find more of an Indian presence, but I've never spent much time out there.
posted by Hoopo at 3:19 PM on August 6, 2013


She says to Groh, "You make me sick," orders a cheesesteak, sits down, eats it, then walks out telling him, "You still make me sick."
I question the veracity of this story. If this really happened in Philly, obviously it would have been followed up by the old lady intentionally vomiting on Groh's preteen daughter.
posted by Flunkie at 3:38 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I associate NY with Chaat because I've never seen it elsewhere and it blew my mind the first time I had it. But I'm sure it's all over the west coast too. Oh also all Jewish delis ever.

Anyway, I'm going to Philly in 3 weeks and this place is right off 95? I'll definitely be hitting this spot up for 4 meat slabs.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:39 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The URL to his website is still "ChinkSteaks" :(
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:40 PM on August 6, 2013


While your discomfort level may be approximately the same in either case (you personally may recoil just as much from anti-white jokes as from anti-POC jokes), there is a vast difference between how you experience the world on a daily basis and how a POC experiences the world on a daily basis.

Look, if you don't judge my gold chains, I'll forget the iron chains.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 3:48 PM on August 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


This whole topic and the discussion of it are totally inane, so that means it's time for my name-change joke.

A man is appearing in court with a petition to change his name. The Judge asks him why and he says it's an embarrassing Germanic name that he'd like to Americanize. So the Judge says, "State your name for the record." The guy replies, "My name is Adolph Schitz." The Judge grants the petition and asks him for a new name of record. The guy says, "Joe Schitz."
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:00 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I dunno, I still think that song is a joke. I mean a song named Accidental Racist seems to be actually Racist.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:00 PM on August 6, 2013


Jessamyn wrote earlier: I'm not sure if you don't understand the difference between the born-with-it-ness of race and the totally-chose-it-ness of political affiliations

And I don't want to make light of race (born with) vs politics (choice), but my experience growing up in the Northeast is that many here are born into political affiliation and affiliation. They have a choice in the matter, but it's almost a theoretical concept that they might choose.

posted by zippy at 4:15 PM on August 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


dunno, I still think that song is a joke

Maybe not hah ha funny. But very sophisticated meta commentary. The name Accidental Racist refers the the song itself, not any of the characters. It is itself is a scathing critique of how we deal with complex issues in America, with platitudes and false equivalencies.

That is the only way I can explain it to myself.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:17 PM on August 6, 2013


PotomacAvenue: I suspect that's because he's afraid to lose his web/search engine presence. What he probably needs is a new website with 301 redirects for all pages from the old domain, but maybe he hasn't set that up yet.
posted by R343L at 4:21 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


you're all a bunch of istists.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 4:31 PM on August 6, 2013


That area along Torresdale Ave is middle class. Row homes and modest incomes. Regular working class people, mixed ethnicity.

Torresdale Ave? That'd be not too far from where this happened. It's Philly, we invented Redlining. Racism's always there under the surface. Whenever it surfaces we say that's not who we really are but if we're honest we know better.
posted by scalefree at 4:43 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Similar case to Edwin Brown in Australia.
posted by unliteral at 6:22 PM on August 6, 2013


here your comment goes off the rails is in implicitly comparing the discomfort you feel at hearing jokes about whites with the actual lived reality of discrimination experienced by POC every day.

Sure, but being shitty to people in a way that is somewhat less shitty than others is still being shitty.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:36 PM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey Potomac Ave, we've got fantastic chaat here in Philly too. Completely worth adding to your Philly food tour along with Joe's.
posted by ActionPopulated at 7:08 PM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: This whole topic and the discussion of it are totally inane
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 7:12 PM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


scrump: "Your comment, bluntly, reads like the "won't someone think of the MEN" derail that inevitably crops up in discussions about feminism."

I made no claims of any sort of [false] equivalency between racial epithets thrown at white people and POCs -- I specifically addressed this in the very line that you quoted. They are very much not equivalent, thanks to centuries of entrenched institutional racism in America.

However, all racial epithets hold one thing in common: They're used by a person or group in a position of power to threaten a minority. There are cases where these epithets are used ironically or to symbolize solidarity in an enclave, but even if we're joking here about "crackers," or my LGBT peers internally refer to themselves as "fags," I'm going to duck if I hear either of those words shouted from a passing car.

I'm not going to pretend that my overall experience is in any way equivalent to that of any other person. I've never been greeted with skepticism at a job interview because of my appearance or gender, my identity has never been challenged or questioned at a voting booth, and I've only once been unfairly targeted and detained by a police officer.

That being said, I do find it upsetting that we're reacting to the (very real) issue of harmful racial epithets by making self-deprecating jokes about the epithets that apply to ourselves. It's a crass display of entitlement.

My comment was meant to say "In my extremely limited experience as a white male, I've encountered the humiliation and intimidation that racial epithets can bring. I can't even imagine how horrible it would be like to encounter this sort of thing on a daily basis."

Also, on the feminism bit... I actually do think that we need to talk about this more. It's an unpopular position, because it's often used to derail (very important) conversations that we need to be having about women's rights... However, because any similar discussions are automatically treated as a derail, we're not having fruitful discussions about the definition and role of masculinity in the 21st century, and we're failing to discuss or address growing statistical evidence of widespread male underachievement.

Yes. I do imagine that I very much sound like "that guy," but my point really is that "We're just as racist against ourselves" is a terrible reason to use to somehow justify or cope with the fact that we live in a society that is rife with racism.
posted by schmod at 8:51 PM on August 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


On a related note, the sports teams for the Pekin, IL, high school were the "Chinks" until about 1980. The mascot was dressed as a "chinaman", complete with "coolie" hat.

Even more amazing, some folks protested the name change. (Mama, don't let your babies grow up in small midwestern towns.)
posted by she's not there at 1:48 AM on August 7, 2013


...or, Philly.
posted by she's not there at 1:58 AM on August 7, 2013


This entire thread is an adequate demonstration of the idea that anti-Asian prejudice and racism is still considered in many circles to be harmless, or, worse, justified. If this article were over a football team finally changing its name to the "Washington Snyders", we would probably hate the name but love the action. If it were about a pastry shop renaming itself from "Uncle Tom's Tasties", few to none would argue that actually the owner's uncle was Tommy Genoa, who made the most lip-smacking cannolis, and so any parsing lacking that obscure, arcane apology is therefore emblematic of a contemporary political overreach.

The idea that assuring a 34-year-old natural-born US citizen that American culture doesn't hate them would somehow be diluting that culture to the point of irrelevant mediocrity is also an adequate validation of that cultural hate and of the hate of those who so profess.. Just in case you were wondering.
posted by Errant at 2:29 AM on August 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


The "entire thread"? How much of the entire thread did you read? That's not even close to the majority viewpoint. I haven't counted it up, but eyeballing it, I think it's closer to 1 or 2%, if that.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:55 AM on August 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


Well they're the same sort of thing. We say "Happy Holidays" as a way of being polite and hospitable to people who don't celebrate Christmas. And we stop using racist slurs as a way of being polite and hospitable to the people who've been the target of racist slurs.

I worked retail for a long time, and I always said "Happy Holidays" because that way I didn't have to keep thinking about which holiday was coming up -- the damn shopping season runs from Halloween to 12th Night, at least, and that's if you're limiting yourself to Western European, Christian holidays. Jeeze, Equating "happy holidays" with racial slurs is insane. Note: I realize that you weren't doing that, but I've heard people do it, and it drives me nuts.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:08 AM on August 7, 2013


Also, while it's possible for white men to feel legitimately threatened in many situations, I just don't think it's possible to get the overwhelming and constant judgement and bias that people of color and women face. Even if our immediate environs are "not for us," we can always retreat into every aspect of popular culture for validation. That doesn't help in the immediate moment when you have been punched or something, but it's not nothing.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:13 AM on August 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, also, this random small text thing is kind of annoying. I'm having a little trouble with my left eye lately (I think it's my eye and not my brain, but who knows), and random small text makes me think that I am focusing wrong. Just sayin'.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:15 AM on August 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ah, but wait. Maybe Errant wasn't talking about the viewpoints of the people in this thread, but the awful examples of prejudice against Asians recounted herein.

In that case, carry on, makes sense. Makes more sense than supposing that's what any appreciably sized contingent here was thinking, so I'm hoping that's what you meant.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:32 AM on August 7, 2013


I assumed that was what Errant meant. If i'm wrong, this thread has gotten to metasarcastic for me.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:50 AM on August 7, 2013


Huh.

Lived here thirty years, always thought it referred to the dictionary definition of cleft, as there are a number of businesses that are in tiny spaces that do well and become legendary. Never been to the place and am surprised to hear of it's origin and pleased that Joe changed it's name on principle.

And yeah, philly people are NUTS.
Maybe it's time to get a steak there.
posted by djrock3k at 8:52 AM on August 7, 2013


There are two famous-in-New-York-at-least streets in NYC that have just rows of Indian food (East Village and Murray Hill). The owners will come out and say "we have the best chapatis" and the next door guy will be like "no we do" and they're all decked out crazy spangly and some films have been shot in their interiors.

Yeah. While I was mostly talking off the cuff earlier about the things I like that I get mainly when I go to NYC, this -- along with Jackson Heights in Queens -- is what I meant when I threw in Indian food. There's a certain intensity of Indian food presence in a few neighborhoods in NYC that make it a different phenomenon from the humble Indian restaurants in my college town, or anywhere else I've been in the U.S.

Though mainly I just love Indian food, in the way only a white boy from the suburbs whose mother never even used garlic when he was growing up can love it. I even love Indian lime and mixed pickle.
posted by aught at 8:52 AM on August 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love the pickle (mango and lime) so much. I actually don't like going out for Indian food that much because the food I grew up with isn't popular in the US (or anywhere in the diaspora really) - Maharathi food.

There's a certain intensity of Indian food presence in a few neighborhoods in NYC that make it a different phenomenon from the humble Indian restaurants in my college town, or anywhere else I've been in the U.S.


Yeah, and the only other examples people have provided are outside the US. Perhaps it's just a matter of time before NYC is known for Indian food as much as cheesecake. Who knows.
posted by sweetkid at 9:02 AM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The URL to his website is still "ChinkSteaks" :(

Even worse, "joessteaks.com" redirects there. Seems like it should be the other way around.
posted by aught at 9:04 AM on August 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


as I Philly res (well, sort of, Upper Darby), does anybody know if the you-make-me-sick people are saying, 'no Chink refers to something non Asian you stupid white-people persecutors' or is it more yeah Chink refers to Asians no big deal? I couldn't tell fer sure from Stu's editorial.
posted by angrycat at 10:46 AM on August 7, 2013


does anybody know if the you-make-me-sick people are saying, 'no Chink refers to something non Asian you stupid white-people persecutors' or is it more yeah Chink refers to Asians no big deal? I couldn't tell fer sure from Stu's editorial.

Well, they sound like old timers, so presumably they know full well that the name came from the original owner's nickname. Presumably they also know that his nickname derived from the notion that he had "asian-looking" eyes. So it's a little bit from column A and a little bit from column B. I mean, it's not like the place served Chinese food and called itself "Chinks," but it's also not as if his name was a shortened form of "Chinkowski" or something.
posted by yoink at 10:56 AM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


So it's a little bit from column A and a little bit from column B.

ISWYDT
posted by ogooglebar at 11:58 AM on August 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


That area along Torresdale Ave is middle class. Row homes and modest incomes. Regular working class people, mixed ethnicity.

Torresdale Ave? That'd be not too far from where this happened. It's Philly, we invented Redlining. Racism's always there under the surface. Whenever it surfaces we say that's not who we really are but if we're honest we know better.
posted by scalefree at 4:43 PM on August 6 [1 favorite +] [!]




I worked at a hotel in North Wildwood (aka Phila by the sea, and NORTH Wildwood so its the white area, cause everybody knows the minorities go to the more run down wildwood, and Wildwood Crest, well noone in phila can afford that) and the manager freaked out once because a large black family had rented out 5 or 6 rooms in a block and they were all in the pool, sitting on the porch chairs, grilling, and other such shore motel activites. THe manager actually went to a group of them that were hanging out talking in front of their room and asked them to GO INSIDE because he didn't want so drive away potential (white) renters. He endless complained in the office about how it looks like "monkeys" took over. I reported his to the owners board (condo motel). This guy was a retired Phila cop. And so it goes withthe circle of disrespect between the people, the authority in charge of protecting them, races, and everyone else that's not in your group in the city of Brotherly Love. Except for parts of West Phila which can be a secluded hippie paradise of fresh chard and non judgement of female body hair or race or orientation or vision correction.


Anyway last night I walked to Joe's and got a LArge american cz steak with Fried onions and a strawberry float and everyone inside was nice an happy and wearin Joe's uniforms, fair amount of business going on, mixed races sitting at tables, and I also noted they expaned the hours and are open till 9 now. I slept on my back because my stomach was too full.
posted by WeekendJen at 6:32 AM on August 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, and the only other examples people have provided are outside the US. Perhaps it's just a matter of time before NYC is known for Indian food as much as cheesecake. Who knows.

I don't know how it compares to the streets mentioned in NYC, but Chicago has Devon Ave.
posted by kmz at 6:52 AM on August 8, 2013


I don't know how it compares to the streets mentioned in NYC, but Chicago has Devon Ave.

Thanks for the tip - I'll check that out someday when in Chicago.
posted by aught at 7:06 AM on August 8, 2013


Philadelphia Jackass Noodles

Call Philadelphia Drunken Jackass Noodles, make it all about variations on drunken noodles, and you've got yourself a deal. Oh, there was no deal, right...d'oh

The name would just be so bizarre and enticing, especially if there was no attempt to fuse Philadelphia cuisine with Thai...just maybe some knock-off decorations with newspaper clippings and shit like you see in a chain steaks restaurant outside of Philly, and the freakin' snack cakes but that's it, drunken jackass noodles all the way.
posted by lordaych at 12:47 AM on August 13, 2013


lordaych: "The name would just be so bizarre and enticing"

Especially when you order it with a side of screaming pork.
posted by boo_radley at 1:18 PM on August 14, 2013


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