Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why Do I Choose to Yelp?

Yes, my name is Gerry and I am a Yelper! I said that with the most declarative tone and highest pride any food lovers can exude, putting my name in the same caliber with any other food experts yelping and reviewing various kinds of restaurants or food establishments.

I wonder why do I join this Yelp bandwagon pretty late compared to all my other friends. Although at least one shot of espresso and crumbs of chocolate pistachio cake run in my blood, and despite the fact Yelp has been one of my most visited website, at home or unashamedly I admit at my work laptop, I have been reluctant to complicate my life with reviewing stranger's restaurant as if they will remember me and send me a thank you card later. 

But, certain angelic revelation came unto me one day and I was convinced to join the bandwagon and added "yelper" to my part time occupation, only mine is not about raving or bitching over the overly cooked fillet mignon or the not-so tender carrot. No, I refuse to do that, mine is, as I have alluded, contain an 'angelic' aspect,

And this is the reason. I've seen too many great small restaurants and talented chef destined to pack their cookware only because they don't get enough exposure in this super cluttered food business world. Places like Mike's place and Ippudo are reaching to a point of exploding because of glowing review from tons of Yelper, joining the hype at the moment, and at the same time, attracting multitude of crowds. Life is not fair I know, there is a gap distancing the famous and infamous, but I'm gonna try to do my part to make it a little bit fair-er.

And thus is the decision. Those restaurants worthy of five or at least four stars, will get what they deserve. From this day onward, you are going to see me cruising more on Yelp, writing my piece of mind for small restaurants that possess the potential to be the next Ippudo. It might sound petty for some people, but 'do unto others what you want them to do to you' right? With scanty marketing budget and unfamiliar brand name, a simple review from one customer or a rating boost from 4 to 4.5 star could be just what the fledgling entrepreneur needs to put his head at rest and face another day with confidence.

So in short, and yes, this post could have ended 30 minutes ago, but kudos for you who manage to stay until this point. For me, Yelp is not only a platform to evangelize your favorite bar or to express your resentment towards that fail-to-melt molten chocolate cake, but also a platform where people put all of their chips - aspiration determination and hope - into one single business, letting its fate to be determined by some strangers, freely to be crushed or to be actualized. What's your choice? As for me, I rather choose the later. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Response to Marine Urinating Dead Bodies

Only a few really know the cost of war, no one can really claim to understand what's happening out there only by sitting on their couch and watching BBC's documentation on war, just like no one understands tragedy and suffering without actually having your life tied to it, no matter how many movies you watch about death or even the holocaust.

After watching the video of soldiers urinating on dead corpse, and seeing the condemnation the whole world threw at them, I started to think. Of course, that was a stupid act, a 'completely inhuman', and 'utterly deplorable'. But still, granted that, what cause it? What is this shock viralling on the media?

Viktor E. Frankl, a holocaust survivor, in his book "Man's Search for Meaning" wrote that the prisoners upon witnessing so many scenes of beating, are hardened morally and mentally. Their impulse toward violence is increased (add to that the bereavement from food and rest), thus their capacity to handle, tolerate and commit violence is catapulted as well.

Not only the prisoners, the guards are also slowly transformed into a darker evil upon seeing and living and committing act of brutality in an increasing dosage. It dulls you, and suddenly gassing the Jews is not so bad at all. Let alone beating them or withholding food ration and in this case peeing on dead bodies. This kind of hellish environment forces the prisoner's life (and the guards as well) down to a primitive level, where humans cease to have meaning, merely an object, a thing, a weightless matter.

In a pretty much similar fashion, these soldiers are made to commit some atrocious acts which unlike the peeing video, never being taped and posted on Youtube - destroying community, shooting people on their head, bombing houses, and having to watch their friends being tortured and murdered on the battlefield. We often shriek and close our eyes upon watching such gruesome acts in a war or horror movie, these guys see it too often to even bother to close their eyes anymore. 

The urinating incident is indeed grotesque and insensitive, yet are we planting the seed at the first place? These people are put in hell; these are people who are commanded to 'kill on sight' upon seeing another human being and then to celebrate his death while the family, mother and daughter of that person gasping for breath trying to understand the gruesome reality of war. When morality is being taken out of the equation, when such immoral acts are their daily consumption, could they be blamed for urinating on dead bodies? 

If we were to be so "deeply troubled" at this incident, maybe what the world needs is a world without war after all. Maybe instead of putting all effort to bring justice to this, we should put greater effort in ending the war. Maybe war, even the most 'normal' activity of war, should trouble us greater, than the urination.