Chris Thompson 
Member since Oct 31, 2014

Recent Comments

Re: “Best Local Color 2016

Dear Rochester,

Once again, you have chosen Wegmans as the Best Place to Take an Out-of-Towner in the City Newspaper. Once again, I am confounded that you would make that decision, considering absolutely everything else in Rochester that would impress an out-of-towner, that would not make you look like the ominous homicidal local in the beginning of a teen horror flick who would think that the best hangout in in his town is the local gas station. I have tried incredulity, I have tried tough love, and now I think I know what the issue is. Rochesteris Wegmans hurting you?
I ask, because I also noticed that downtown Rochester was a runner-up for Best local eyesore. Rochester, who told you that you were so unattractive? Sure, youre going through some changes, but you are NOT an eyesore. My home town is under construction all the time. This is how cities exist and thrive. Is Wegmans telling you that youre ugly? Dont listen to him. He has no place to speak, especially with that giant robot rooster that crows on the hour at the East Avenue location, or the death trap parking lots at East Avenue and Monroe Avenue. You tell Wegmans that you ARE beautiful!...though I am not sure why they dont turn those hills of dirt in the inner loop into an adult slide park. THAT would be a place to take an out-of-towner.

Wegmans has been around for 100 years in Rochester. Ill bet Wegmans told you that this is a big deal. You know whats a bigger deal, though? The home of Americas premiere Suffragist. Its been here since 1866. Susan B. Anthony was arrested in the front parlor in 1872 for voting. That is much deeper than selling fruits and vegetables. Peoples freedoms were in the balance. Speaking of peoples freedom, do you not realize that Fredreck Douglass resided here since 1843, and you can trace his movements and activism all over town? Sure, he cant give you day-old sushi, but you can definitely see everything from where his former residences were to where hes spoken against slavery to where he is buried.
Wegmans probably boasts about how stacked it is. His newest buildings are always touted as major architectural feats. Are they Frank Lloyd Wright feats, though? Because the Edward T. Boynton House is designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the worlds greatest modern age architects, and it is a stones throw away from a Wegmans, and simply its faade is more enthralling than the cookie cutter design of all of the Wegmans strewn about the city. Also, I am sure that Mr. Wright didnt have to force smaller businesses out to make way for construction of the House.
Perhaps if Wegmans were only in Rochester, I might see why you would think that hes the best place to take an out-of-towner. But here is the thing, Roc: Wegmans has been seeing other cities for years. Theres a Wegmans in my hometown of Baltimore, and he keeps creeping farther south. Perhaps you think that Wegmans is all for you, Roc, but Wegmans does not feel the same way. Why would you stay in such a lopsided dynamic?...Also, it is just a grocery store, and not even the best in the city.

The bottom line, Rochester, is that Wegmans may not love you as much as you love him. Dont chase waterfalls. Speaking of waterfalls, while you were rapt in Wegmans hypnotic gaze, you may not have noticed that THERE IS A WATERFALL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CITY. How often does that happen? Thus far, I can only think of perhaps Tolkiens Middle Earth and Dinotopia. You are magic, Rochester. Stop short-selling yourself to your guests.

When I first moved to Rochester 8 years ago, no one suggested that a grocery store was the best thing that Rochester has to offer. If they did, I would have immediately packed my bags and left. Wegmans is a very nice place to get food, but the best place to take an out-of-towner? Only if the out-of-towner is starving. You can tell me if Wegmans is hurting you. Let me show you what else Rochester has to offer.
Love and Concerns,

A Baltimore expat.

9 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Chris Thompson on 10/26/2016 at 1:59 PM

Re: “Feedback 11/18

Dear Joe Struble,

Baltimore Expat here again. I see that you were not impressed by my comments about The Best of Baltimore choice of Wegmans as the "Best Place to Take an Out-of-Towner". You should note, though, that The Strong Museum of Play was on that list and also one of my examples of places that would be more exciting than going to a grocery store. The bonus is that there is a pretend Wegmans inside the Museum, so it is kind of the best of both worlds.

I also had no idea that pointing out the rich history of the city was "political correctness" and "PR boosterism". I should warn my friend who is a history teacher. I do not want her to get accused of being a PC/PR rep when she is trying to write an engaging curriculum for her students.

I am also sorry that the people who surround you are not as interested in this city enough to break their backs to make it even more attractive to both locals and out-of-towners. That is a shame. You might find some very interesting hidden gems in this town if there were more altruistic people around you. You might make you think twice about thinking imported fresh produce is the best thing to show someone new to the city.

Finally, thank you for pointing out all of the positive things you had to say about Wegmans (which sounded a lot like PR boosterism that I read on their website, actually). They further prove my point that it is just a grocery store, and also that it is a national corporation. This is what corporations do, especially in their home towns. You do not make money by being mean to people (unless you are a cable company). You fund things, donate to causes, and you treat customers with respect up front. The good people of Wegmans would be fired if they were not warm and welcoming to their customers, but that does not make it the best place to take an out-of-towner. It makes it best place to get food from a big-box retailer. So again, thank you, thank you, thank you, for pointing out that Wegmans is, in fact, as grocery store.

The Baltimore Expat

3 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Chris Thompson on 11/19/2015 at 9:32 PM

Re: “Best of Rochester 2015: Local Color

Dear Rochester,

We need to talk. You are really down on yourself for some reason, and I don’t know why. This is the only possibly reason why you would, for the 7th time in a row that you chose Wegmans as the City Newspaper’s “Best Place to Take an Out-of-Towner”. Your collective self-esteem is lower than it ever should be, because Wegmans is a supermarket, and there is no reason to think that any out-of-towner would think that this is the best that Rochester has to offer.

I know you know that both Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, two of the most pivotal civil rights activists in US history, are buried here, and you can visit and see their graves. There is no way anyone would think that is less cool than a place to get groceries and menial goods.

On First Friday, the Hungerford is a Shangri-La of artists of all types. The creativity is so diverse that walking through the different exhibitions is like walking through different dimensions of reality. It is better than San Jose’s. But you think that the bulk bin is what will mesmerize people.

You have some of the most fun festivals I have ever seen. I always regret having to travel in the summer, because I’ll miss at least two. For example, Jazz Festival and Fringe Festival are weeks concentrated with pure bliss. Even though there are paid/ticketed events, I don’t think I’ve seen festivals with so many free events that are so extravagant, I sometimes wonder if I missed the ticketing booth when I am watching and dancing to some of the best local and international artists in the middle of Gibbs Street or on the East & Alexander or in MLK Park. There is no way anyone who thinks highly of their hometown would think that the festivals are less impressive than fresh produce (which I believe is the law for them to be fresh).

You have a Museum of Play here, and it has a giant butterfly-shaped room that is full of BUTTERFLIES. If any bugs got into Wegmans, they would exterminate them, and they would definitely not let you play with the merchandise, so how is Wegmans a better place to take an expat than a museum where touching is encouraged?

I have gotten to know a lot of your citizens. I do not think I’ve met such welcoming, caring, community driven people in my life, and I have literally lived all over the world. My friends here are always doing five things at once, and all of their goals are aimed at making you even better, Roc. Whether they’re running their own restaurants or are involved in the Willow Center or the Gay Alliance or B.L.A.C.K. or if they just like to pay it forward in their own way, you have a population that cares about its fellow people a lot more than about where to get sushi and bread in the same place.

High Falls at dawn is dazzling. The old Subway system is an adventure. Cobbs Hill at dusk on that Parthenon-looking thing at the top of the hill is probably one of the most relaxing things you can do with your Sunday. I can give you a myriad of landmarks and events that you can take an out-of-towner that are better than a grocery store, so stop short-selling yourself. Take it from an out-of-towner, Roc: you are better than a supermarket. Don’t take an out-of-towner there and think it’s the best you have to offer. That is what small-towners in B-movies do right before disaster happens. You are much bigger and better than you think, Roc, so start thinking it.

A Baltimorean Expat.

9 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Chris Thompson on 10/28/2015 at 1:44 PM

Re: “Best of Rochester 2014

I would like to know if the voting for Best of Rochester is rigged, or if the People of Rochester just have low self esteem. The reason I ask is because I have lived here for six years, and for six years, Wegmans has won Best Place to Take an Out-of-Towner.

It is a grocery store.

Rochester is the epicenter of pivotal events that helped shape this country, from the American Revolution to the Underground Railroad to Women's Suffrage to the Industrial Revolution. Your main cemetery likely has the most iconic historical figures in American History buried in it than anywhere else in Upstate NY. There is a Great Lake less than 10 miles north of us. The RPO is world renown. Rochester's International Jazz Festival draws in people from all corners of the earth. The Hungerford has some of the best and innovative artists and artisans rotating through it. University of Rochester has the nation's first educational program focusing exclusively on Optics. Both RIT and U of R are doing research on things and making innovations that cause not just ripples, but waves across the world of academia and science. That is just on Wednesday. Yet you expect me to believe that the readers of an independent newspaper, the residents who should have their fingers on the pulse of what makes Rochester great, think that the best they have to offer an expatriot from Baltimore is a grocery store?

Have you seen High Falls at dawn or dusk? Have you been on the roofs of any buildings on Water Street and been able to see BOTH the Brighton AND the City Independence Day fireworks simultaneously? Have you rode a bicycle up Arnold Park at the dawn of spring, right when all the trees are flowering and the wind is blowing the petals around the Zen Centre. I saw the best roots reggae show at Water Street Music Hall. It was a local(ish) band playing: Mosaic Foundation. Not once did I think, "Man these are all great! But you know what would be REALLY great? A place where I can buy a pound of chicken AND cheese!"

I have heard many defenses regarding my disappointment at Wegmans winning Best Place to Take an Out-of-Towner.

"But it has so much food, and it's so fresh!"
It has lots of fresh food because it is a grocery store. It is probably the law that they sell fresh food. If it had lots of rotten food, then it would go out of business.

"I have not seen anything like it! I moved away from Rochester, and I have been all over the country, and I must say I miss Wegmans."
I understand that moving from your home town will make you miss your local stores. That is just homesickness. I miss Superfresh in Baltimore. However, I don't yearn for it or take my out-of-town friends there claiming it it the best thing about Baltimore.

"There is a bulk food/sushi/sandwiich/pizza/prepared food bar in it. Where else do you see that?"
Yes. In Albertsons (CA), Meijer (MI), Whole Foods (Everywhere), Superfresh (MD), Giant (MD), Kroger (NC)...I could go on. That there are bulk bins and specialty food bars in a place whose business is selling food is not unique or amazing.

"Whenever I bring my friends from [INSERT COUNTRY HERE], they are amazed!"
Your [INSERT COUNTRY HERE] friends are likely either amazed at the grandeur of American extravagance and abundance. Western European countries may have a Tesco or something similar, but not on the scale of US stores. Our stores are more spread out, but they still sell food. In other parts of the world, there simply is not a venue where one can get all types of food in one place. they may have a specific meat market, fish market, produce market, but not all under one roof or run by one entity. They would be just as wowed at an American pharmacy, where one can get both carcinogenic high fructose sodas and cigarettes and the prescribed medicine that are used to treat the effects of those items.

If when I came to town on 2008, someone blindfolded me and said they were going to take me to the best place to take an out-of-towner in the city and they took me to a grocery store, I would likely take a swing at them, and then I would immediately pack my things and move far, far away. Wegmans is a very good place to get food. However, for all reasons stated, I am convinced that either the vote for this category and Best Place to Meet Singles are rigged, or the residents of Rochester have low self esteem, or they are astonishingly oblivious of amazing things are happening in this city.

If Wegmans wins Best Drag Show next Year, I will KNOW that the contest is rigged.

24 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by Chris Thompson on 10/31/2014 at 10:07 AM

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