Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Jonathon Gold I Never Knew

More stunning than Jonathan Gold's passing itself has been the outpouring from the entire Los Angeles community itself in reaction to his death.  Yes, it was obvious that Jonathon Gold was widely known and recognized, but I did not expect the reaction which equals or exceeds that accorded to a rock star or other illustrious celebrity or personality.  I was stunned to read Tweets from civic leaders and sports journalists, not just the food community, about Gold's passing.  And the Gold colored light displays all over Los Angeles from downtown to the Los Angeles Airport put an exclamation point on this.

Many of my "imaginary" friends (i.e., people I know only through social media and have never met in person) posted photo-ops with Gold to express their admiration and grief.   Unfortunately I never had the occasion to meet Gold in person, primarily because I'm not a foodie per se, but rather view Chinese-American food in the larger context of Chinese-American culture and history.  Consequently I have never attended a foodie event where I would have had the opportunity to meet him personally.

However, I knew that Jonathan Gold was familiar with me since he followed me on Twitter.  However I am just finding out that he was more familiar than I realized.   Having a celebrity Twitter follower, such as Paula Abdul, doesn't necessarily mean anything, since it often just means that one of the celebrity's assistants does the following, and if they're following thousands of people it is doubtful that the celebrity will see any particular tweet that you post.  However in the case of Jonathan Gold, since he only followed a few hundred people on Twitter, I figured it was likely that he would see at least some of my tweets.  This was confirmed by the fact that he "liked" a couple of my tweets over a period of years, so at least he was paying some attention to me.

Two events earlier this year demonstrated that he was paying more attention to my tweets than I had realized.  First, he mentioned me by name in his Los Angeles Times review of Longo Seafood in Rosemead.  Then when somebody asked him on Twitter about Chinese buffets, he demurred giving an answer and merely told the requester to check with me.

But it was only in the past month that I realized that he was actually following me quite closely.  Just a few weeks before Gold passed away, I stumbled across a tweet he made back in 2013 about Frank Shyong's profile of me in the Los Angeles Times, where Gold specifically referred to me by the Chandavkl handle I use here, on Twitter, and on the food message boards.  Since that was before I had done anything in the way of food writing, that shows that even though he stopped posting on the Chowhound message board, he was monitoring that board closely, where I would frequently post on new Chinese restaurant openings, primarily in the San Gabriel Valley.

And since his death, I read in one of the many tributes written to Gold about how his greatest food passion was eating at hole-in-the-wall Asian restaurants in the San Gabriel, eating at dozens of them that he would never have time to do a written review for.  This reminded me of an incident a couple of years ago where I was talking to the manager of a recently opened Chinese restaurant in Rosemead which had caught my attention and which I had mentioned favorably on the Food Talk Central message board.  She mentioned how Jonathon Gold had eaten at her restaurant, and I was wondering how or why Jonathon Gold would have gone to that restaurant which had received nothing in the way of mainstream publicity.  Now I see that I was helping him scout out Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, even though he already had a regular network of food scouts at the Times.

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