A few weeks ago, my wife noticed a film crew outside our local bakery, Lafayette. Its a nice looking old Village place from the outside: stainless steel, glass counter, all kinds of cakes and cookies on display. Its the kind of place I grew up with that still uses red and white twine to keep boxes shut, instead of the cellophane tape that the high-class places in the neighborhood use. A few years ago, Lafayette become famous with 'Sex in the City' fans who wanted the same cupcakes that Carrie Bradshaw pigged out on.
As it emerged that evening, the reason for the crew's presence was that the baker (son of the nice-old-lady owner and, truth be told, more than a little on the creepy side) introduced a new cookie for Martin Luther King Day - and President Obama's inauguration the following day: Drunken Negro Head Cookies. Ugly, poorly made, disgusting and downright unappetizing, even without the added dollop of racist acid.
By now, you may have seen the story. He's been picketed by the New Black Panthers, the Community Board has been looking into his activity, and - thanks to his cryptically veiled remarks about Obama getting what Lincoln got - the Secret Service has been checking him out.
All this is warranted. Ted the baker is clearly an idiot and a racist, and he deserves to be rebuked. He's apologized in a way, but its the kind of apology that's done for expediency's sake, and to preserve his business in the light of the hit he just inflicted on himself. But my wife and I are wondering: what's the object of our protest now? To drive him out of business? What exactly are we trying to get from Lafayette Bakery?
A sincere apology, one that was felt to be real, would be good. So far that hasn't happened. I want it to happen; I want Ted the baker to realize how hateful his action was. But, at the same time, I don't want to see another old Village institution go out with a whimper, to be replaced with another martini bar for trust fund babies.
Well, tonight, Arnold Diaz will be following up on the piece he did back on January 20th. If there's a mea maxima culpa in there from the baker, good. If not, I'm afraid I still can't go back in there, and I can't do otherwise than tell friends to stay out of Lafayette as well.