Sunday, August 31, 2008

Of Chicken Wings and Irresponsibility

I take many others to task in my profession for their careless use of words and their unwillingness to explain themselves. Now it's my turn.

A few days ago, I blogged a quick analysis of why I think the 40/40 Club failed at the Palazzo. I have a two-part view. One was that it was badly located in the resort and the signage for it was substandard if not non-existent.

The other, more controversial, is that it was a bad match for the Palazzo. The 40/40 Club is a business popular elsewhere among young, black urbanites that was poorly matched with the overall emphasis of the resort itself. The Palazzo is not marketing itself in any way, shape or form to the broader black community, does not advertise in any national black publications. Certainly, they seek wealthy patrons of all types, but the wealthy at the level of the Palazzo's clientele are not typically folks who hang out in sports bars. As I wrote, the 40/40 Club could have worked in many other places on the Strip. But the Palazzo was not in any way actively engaged in pursuing either of the 40/40 Club's core constituencies: Middle-class sports-bar goers or blacks.

I stand by this analysis.

However, I made a reference that was very poorly considered and placed in exactly the wrong context. I wrote of the intent of the post:

"I mean it to be an objective look at an inappropriate pairing between the aesthetic of a resort that envisions itself and markets itself as the lap of luxury and a place known for being popular among rappers and folks who like a good chicken wing."

I can see now how the reference to chicken wings was taken, as some sort of a slap against food seen by many as stereotypically "black." And that is absolutely, positively, not how I intended what I wrote. Chicken wings are also a food stereotypically found in sports bars.

It is the first thing I think of when I think of food in sports bars; I suspect I'm not alone in that. I've never been in a sports bar that didn't serve them. They also are widely associated with watching sporting events, or at least they have been in my life dating all the way back to the first time I attended a fraternity party in college on through every single Super Bowl viewing I've ever been to. You, too, I suspect.

I did not intend to use this as an allusion to black people. And I totally see why people think I did. So I apologize for the carelessness of this sentence and I'm sincerely sorry about the ire it has drawn.

I should have known better and I really, truly am sorry.


chuckmonster said...

Steve, when I read your original post, I was shocked and at somewhat offended by your choice of words. I spent a good deal of time considering, reconsidering and re-reconsidering what you wrote, in the form of a post of my own.

After a lot of silent, private, internal debate, I came to the conclusion that this was a lapse in judgement while making a semantic selection and hoped you would see it and act accordingly.

Thank you for having the courage to admit your error and to offer what I believe to be a sincere public apology and explanation.

Rob said...

You've got class. This was probably unnecessary, but you live by your creed with this response to the criticism and by taking responsibility. If only other people in the media would do the same. The Sun of all places... sounds like a vendetta to me.

Anonymous said...

I'm white. I'm a man. I like chicken wings.

Anyone who doesn't like chicken wings is just foolish.

Don't be sorry for a world that is overly sensitive and makes life a pain in the ass where we just can't speak our mind anymore and we have to over analyze every word that comes out of our mouths...or typed.

I like chicken wings, I like watermelon, I like red Kool-Aid......I don't think it makes me a racist...I just like tasty food.

Anonymous said...

of course you associated sports with wings: Buffalo Joe's, an NU rite of passage, exactly the way I thought you meant it. It is probably the worst location for a sports book/sports bar, without signs. I was there the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. I started calling friends to tell them to go there because it was a ghost town and it would be easy to place bets.

Anonymous said...


I posted the fairly long comment regarding your original analysis and sincerely appreciate this follow on post. As you noted, we all have a lapse in judgement and I do not think we should be burned at the stake for an honest mistake or oversight.

Hopefully not lost in all the hoopla surrounding a couple of phrases is your extremely valid observation of concrete problems with the 40/40 business model (i.e location, marketing, scale of business, poor food quality, requirements to open a tab for a minimum $30 when you use a credit card, lack of identity)

On a side note, as we continue to feel out the boundaries of the blogosphere, I believe bloggers will be judged by their ability to question, probe and discuss pertinent issues of the day while refraining from giving hate mongers a platform to propogate stereotypes.

The really ironic part about the post is that the chicken wings were absolutely horrible at 40/40.

So to make amends I offer to share a Vegas classic: 6 hot wings a smooth draft and $2 for video poker at a PTs of your choice.

Don't beat yourself up.

Cheers, Alex


Alex - let's do it. Shoot me an email. I love wings and it's a heckuva a lot easier to park at PTs.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for your most recent post. It is most appreciated.


Steven Horsford

mike_ch said...

I admit that I spend a second where I blinked and went "huh" as a reaction, but I knew what you meant.

In an odd sort of way, I almost feel like this kind of thing is more a reflection of the reader than your own writing, because if you had adjusted your words only slightly, you probably would not have inadvertently channelled bad imagery. I know if you had used buffalo wing instead of chicken wing, it would have passed by without registering any pause in my brain, because the term buffalo wing I associate with sports bars and not with old stereotypes.

That said, you're one of the more politically correct guys in this town/state that is full of blunt language, even blunter advertising imagery, and libertarian "I can say this because it's my right" punditry. I don't mean that in an insulting way, I just mean that every other writer (internet, print, or otherwise) in this town seems to be take a "if you're offended, it's your fault" policy. It would have been unexpected for a guy who wrote a book targeting a minority of visitors to trash-talk another minority of visitors. :)

Phil G said...

I think we all need to be careful getting overly concerned about PC language. Anyone who knows Steve even just from the blogosphere would surely not think his use of 'chicken wings' was a racial slur. Jumping on this sort of thing makes people afraid to even discuss this angle.

Anonymous said...

While I can see why people were offended, it seems pretty obvious that your intent wasn't to stereotype.

For the record, I just went to the 40/40 website, and the first two things listed on their menu are chicken wings. And that's true of probably 99% of all sports bars in the country (just google "sports bar menu" - in the ones that pop up, can you find ANY that don't serve chicken wings, usually prominently featured?).

And I don't think the observation that the Palazzo probably wouldn't be that appealing to people who would want to go to a place like 40/40 is racist or insulting at all. Venetian/Palazzo is a nice hotel, but it's pretty stodgy and conservative - it's basically a hotel for grandpas. A sports bar, an ultralounge, or a place fronted by a rapper would be a much better fit for one of the hotels that can actually try to be hip and pull it off, such as Mandalay.