Thank you, Jonathan Gold.
My last photo with Jonathan Gold
Rest in peace, Jonathan. The doctor diagnosed you, and you left us shortly after, within a couple of weeks. I can't imagine how horrific that must've been. I can't imagine the staggering fear you must've felt. I suppose if I tried hard enough I could imagine but then those feelings would soon dissipate and I'd be back to thinking about what tasks were ahead of me, going through my day to day life. But not for you.
Death came to visit and it stayed, then it took you.
I know how much people say you did for their careers or restaurants. I know to what degree you were an inspiration for so many aspiring food writers of my generation and beyond. I know about the millions of readers who enjoyed your ceaselessly entertaining and thoughtful restaurant reviews that garnered you a Pulitzer Prize, the only one ever in your category of restaurant criticism. I know the power a Jonathan Gold recommendation wields as far as attracting new customers or getting the word out for any restaurant.
I know people have virtually deified you since your death from a mercilessly aggressive cancer. There are murals of your likeness on the walls of restaurants of which you single-handedly rescued from sure extinction. You shun the hatchet job, the kind other restaurant critics relish to write in hopes of going viral. You'd rather have a restaurant's special shrimp taco or irresistibly ambrosial toothpick lamb go viral among Angeleno eaters. You much prefer celebrating a restaurant over eviscerating it. This is why you are literally the Patron Saint of L.A. Restaurants. You've done the work of a saint in L.A.'s forgotten neighborhoods and strip malls, for mom & pops and food trucks, shining your golden light on their delicious and worthy creations. There's no need for canonization from the Church. The City of Angels and her multi-race, multi-culture, multi-everything multitude have already done this.
I know personally how you mentioned that one of the few food blogs you read was this very one. I couldn't believe my ears when I heard you say this on the radio at a talk honoring your Pulitzer win. I felt for a moment your golden light shining upon me. Is this what it's like for a restaurant owner or chef to read a glowing review of his or her establishment? Pure exhilaration, that's what I felt. Your endorsement was, well, pure gold to me. I felt like the richest man in the world.
But all of the riches in the world can't bring you back. We all die someday. Some of us will have the mixed blessing of a dying time long enough to process death. The Kübler-Ross model or five stages of grief is an unattainable luxury for the terminally ill if the death is swift. The news of your death was a shock to us all. Most of us didn't even know you were sick when the word spread. When death sweeps in and claims its soul, there is rarely an indication of how much time is budgeted for saying goodbye. My hope is that you were able to experience some kind of loving release from your family and close friends, for to be engulfed in fear and anguish up to the final moment is no decent way to die.
I am in gratitude to you, Jonathan, because you shaped my life for the better. We continue to celebrate you as we grieve your death. I just hope you didn't have to suffer too much. Thank you, J. Gold.