Let’s rewrite the ending of the Memories Pizza saga, shall we?
I know what you’re thinking: “Will, why are you being nice to folks who openly showed discrimination to people just like you?”
Because we should ALL be talking to each other, even those we don’t agree with. My independent nature isn’t just a streak—it makes me who I am.
For the life of me, I don’t understand why people are raising money from those “in sympathy” to the situation, rather than joining together to see what people from all walks of life can do as one.
About a week ago I wrote a letter to the owners on Facebook:
“Hi there… my name is Will Pollock and I’m author of “Pizza for Good.” I’m an Atlanta-based freelance journalist, and was wondering if you’d seen my post, here:
congratulations on a successful fund-raising campaign… I’ve been so frustrated by all the vitriol on both sides of this story, and I’d like to make an offer to you.
wouldn’t it be great to show an example of people who might disagree on philosophy and other points joining together to do something good for those less fortunate? “Pizza for Good” is all about unlocking the power of pizza as a community builder and money-raiser. Please have a look at the website and let me know what you think.
I’d love to come out there and do a book event, where we can invite all walks of life to support you, support a local charity of your choosing, make amends, and show that folks can come together even in the face of all the hype and weird people who’ve adopted the issue as their own.
Honestly, I don’t like the language used on either side and I’m betting you might agree with that point.
Anyway, think it over and let me know. have a fantastic day and just know that as a gay man I’m pulling for you guys to have all the success you can possibly achieve.
Please help me spread the word, and get this post in front of them. Folks in Indiana are kind and generous. They—and we—have it in us. ❐
There are many things in this life that bring us together. Music is one, pizza another. Baseball sometimes. Oh and also, puppies.
Dividing lines in America, though, are still brightly lit and sometimes they surprise even this jaded New Yorker.
Take for example the recent dustup over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Depending on whom you ask, the law would either protect religious liberty or give a pass to folks who want to discriminate against anyone they saw as objectionable. (Governor Mike Pence quietly signed a “fix” to the bill yesterday.)
Caught in the crosshairs of this kerfuffle is Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Ind. When approached for comment by a local news reporter, the owners publicly stated support for the bill, saying they would refuse a request to cater pizza to a gay wedding. (Any fellow gays who would want to have your wedding catered by a pizzeria, a word please.)
In today’s social-media climate, it’s not enough to just say “oh wow, I don’t agree with that.” Or, “you go, girl.” Simple disagreement is like so 8 years ago, before Twitter, Facebook and Yelp. Let’s take a moment to witness the “hyper” in “hyperbolic”:
Or what about this gleeful post on DailyKos that celebrated how the restaurant had to shut down:
“Hahahahahahaha!!! Because of the backlash over the statements that it was a ‘Christian establishment’ and wouldn’t serve gays, Memories Pizza is closing ‘until things cool down.'”
All this noise reminds me that we tend to take political footballs and run them down the field like we’re Marshawn Lynch, pissed off because someone stole our bag of Skittles.
The Atlantic put up a post that absolutely nails it:
“The owners of Memories Pizza are, I think, mistaken in what their Christian faith demands of them. And I believe their position on gay marriage to be wrongheaded. But I also believe that the position I’ll gladly serve any gay customers but I feel my faith compels me to refrain from catering a gay wedding is less hateful or intolerant than let’s go burn that family’s business to the ground.”
I’m proud to say I love having voices around me that disagree (including the ones in my head). I WANT discussion and dialogue, because without it, we’re no better than apes who sling their own shit at each other. I love my friends with differing opinions no less than the folks with whom I agree. But if the era of quiet disagreement is over, then we owe it to ourselves to find the 21st Century equivalent.
Do I want any and all people to have access to the best and most awesome meal on the planet? Yes, #PizzaforAll, please. Do I simultaneously want the folks at Memories Pizza to be able to refuse service as a private establishment if they so desire? Even more so, yes. Do I ever in my lifetime want to see a gay couple’s wedding catered by a pizzeria? I could think of no greater offense to the institution of marriage, so no.
I wrote Pizza for Good based on the simple premise that pizza is so beloved, so widely cherished, that it can be used as a change agent in local communities. To join people from all walks of life. Scott Wiener’s “Slice Out Hunger” raised freakin’ $30,000 in one night last October by offering donated pizza for $1 a slice. My pizza-related charity ARTvision Atlanta has raised more than $55,000 over nine years of fundraising. Pizza has the power to bring us together.
Here’s my proposal. Like with any business, the fewer people you disqualify for personal reasons, the greater your business will be. That’s not an opinion, it’s math. If I owned a pizza joint—and that might yet happen one day, you never know—I’d want it to serve everyone, not just one segment, or only my compatriots. All. But that’s my choice, just as it is Memories Pizza’s.
No personal choice of conscience, no matter how boneheaded or misplaced, deserves the type of death threats and vitriol Memories Pizza received. Even though they had to close because of it, the GoFundMe page set up in their honor has raised more than $500,000 and counting—and there’s talk of them reopening again sometime in the future.
I can see a day where a controversy like this actually changes minds, instead of sending people to their respective corners to fume, raise money, rant, raise ire and get back-slaps from people who already agree with us anyway. I hope the judgment of Memories Pizza becomes just that eventually. A memory.
Speaking of which, many of us can agree that Mara Getz knocked it out of the park with her “Star Search” rendition of “Memory” (I’m talking to you, Rachel Brown). Not all of us can agree on the merits of body glitter, though, and that’s OK.
We’ll be better off as a people if we celebrate, augment and agree on what we share in common instead of exploiting what divides us. Invariably those divisors are not as imposing as they look. ❐
UPDATE: “Because pizza should be use for good.” I agree… A new GoFundMe drive has been set up to benefit LGBT homeless youth, through Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund. Click over and check it out… they’ve raised more than $60,000 so far, trying to match or exceed what The Blaze raised for Memories Pizza.
UPDATE II: Just sent a Facebook message to Memories Pizza to see if they’d be willing to do a joint event with me sometime in the future. I’ll post again to let you know what I hear.
UPDATE III: Memories Pizza read my message on FB, so I’ll update again if I hear something. invitation remains open!
As a kid I would pretend I was asleep… but instead I’d turn on my teeny B&W TV to watch episodes of Star Trek—and Spock was a big reason why.
“Trek” is one of the last science-fiction series and franchises to actually tell stories, and meaningful ones, that still resonate today. Nimoy was also a celebrated and accomplished photographer—something I’m going to write about in the not-so-distant future.
And I’ll do op-ed post soon with excerpts from my interview with him, but in the meantime:
“Spock’s intelligence, bravery, courage, and good judgment don’t win him the universal admiration of his crewmates or of the world. But he did earn their respect, and over time he accomplished most of what he set out to do, from saving their ship, the Enterprise, to brokering peace with the Klingons, to aiding Romulan dissidents.” – Matt Yglesias
Live long and prosper…
Here are two tweets that were among his last:
And reaction from around the Trek Universe:
When ARTvision Atlanta debuted in December in 2011 as a stand-alone event, it meant that Pizza for Good, art sales and general fund-raising stretched out the entire month. And in 2014, we had many exciting milestones and happy syncronicities of which we’re very proud.
1 Dec. 2014
We started the month as we’ve always done, commemorating World AIDS Day with a quote from ARTvision artist Dee Ruff. This day always marks the kickoff of fundraising for Positive Impact. “Positive change can transform disappointment into contentment,” she says. “Positive change can transform PI clients into a state of peacefulness, and it can happen piece by piece, just like a mosaic.” (more)
We sold our first-ever birdhouse, crafted by first-time AV artist Gene Rector. The piece, “Sea of Prayers,” is made of reclaimed wood and makes the perfect addition to anyone’s backyard. The piece sold for $200 to Jd Isaacs upon being posted to the web, ahead of our Preview Night and Main Event.
Our VIP Preview & Pizza for Good book signing was abuzz and alight with new connections, friends and about $2,000 in donations for PI. The Main Event featured #AVSquared winners and a presentation for Michael Baker and Paul Plate, who will be departing the agency this year.
We were lucky to have AV sponsor Lorikay (Stone) Photography on hand to capture some of our proudest moments.
I met with a TV development rep (I won’t name her since we’re still in discussions) to discuss adapting Pizza for Good in to a series. More on that as the year unfolds, but it certainly is an exciting possibility. Keep your fingers crossed!
Someone mentioned to me how much they love fontina cheese, and it got my wheels turning to develop a pizza based on that type of cheese. The result? “Fun Tina,” which is an olive-oil-and-lemon base, with grated fontina cheese, caramelized shallots and crispy kale. This pie became my new favorite in our arsenal; I’ll post the full recipe very soon.
Cooking for The Annual NYE Gourmet Pizza Extravaganza is just as much fun as hosting the party itself. My co-host and sous chef Michele Segré and I churned out some super-tasty offerings. In addition to “Fun Tina,” we also crafted a wacky pie called “East Meets West,” which is an Asian-inspired glaze topped with mac ‘n cheese bites from Trader Joe’s, and
mozzarella. Pretty yummy stuff. We had a number of generous donations and great sales—all of which we’ll total up and post next week.
This event could not be a success without sponsors, volunteers, artists and attendees. My co-host Michele; our sponsors Baraonda, Rose Squared, Metro Gallery & Framing and Lorikay Photography; displaying artists like Leesa Brown, Greg Davis and Dee Ruff, among 20 others; and our many attendees of both the first ARTvision event and the New Year’s Eve pizza party—have all transformed a small gathering in to a change-making annual tradition.
Cheers to a fantastic 2015! This year, ARTvision will celebrate its 10th anniversary with “ARTiculate: Global Expressions.” More on that in the coming months.
As we enter the 2014 holiday home-stretch, just a quick note to let you know how much I appreciate the followers of the Pizza for Good book blog… past, present and future! Here are a few pieces of video candy for you to enjoy in the days leading up to Thanksgiving:
“There’s a joy in reaching for something more.” Have a look at the PFG mini-doc:
Also (with a h/t to Jason Maynard), here’s a gal named Mary Risely whose no-nonsense approach to Turkey Day is rather refreshing:
Finally, have a look at my gal pal Nancy Giles as she test-drives a new, wifi-enabled crock pot that is now on my shopping list:
Pizza for Good is a great way to enjoy pizza and to bring people together for the holidays. Buy it today—the eBook OR the print version—and you won’t regret it! As always, online reviews are greatly appreciated.
Most of all, cheers to a safe and happy Thanksgiving! 🙂