I had not yet seen the review of the Cuckoo’s Nest restaurant when I saw it referred to on Facebook. But once I read it, it left a bad taste in my mouth. Below is my buddy Mark Mishler’s response to the review, and the only things I changed were the reference date and adding the reviewer’s name.
As this mostly terrible year comes to a close, a mostly irrelevant article in the December 28 issue of the mostly insignificant Albany Times Union caught my attention as a tiny example of what could charitably be called complete insensitivity to the history of slavery and racism in the US (and, therefore, a neat little coda to a year filled with a resurgence of violent neo-Nazi and racist activity and apologies for it from those in power.)
The article is a review of a new restaurant in Albany, the Cuckoo’s Nest, which apparently has a “Southern” theme, whatever that means. The headline is “Rebel Yell”. Describing this new restaurant (in what used to be a wine bar), the Times Union reviewer, Susie Davidson Powell, writes that the changes to the previous decor serve to “recalibrate the familiar wine bar with antebellum warmth.”
Does the Times Union not understand that there is nothing quaint about the violent and terroristic “rebel” culture that supported slavery and Jim Crow? Or, that there were many, many people – primarily the African-American people who lived there the time – who did not find the antebellum period in the Southern slavocracy states to be filled with cozy “warmth”? How could this nostalgic elegy for the period of slavery pass the eye of the editors at the Times Union?
I should add that I have no idea whether the views of the reviewer reflect the views of the restaurant’s owners. Maybe the reviewer did not do them a positive service by couching the review in these terms. I look forward – though not really optimistically – to a new year in which the horrors of racism and slavery in this country are fully acknowledged and addressed.
I’ve not been to the restaurant, located where the Gingerman used to be on Western Avenue. (I’d been to the Gingerman several times over the years.) Let me reiterate that this is a reflection of the review, not the restaurant.