TipsyCake video sparks online backlash

February 23, 2012|By Leonor Vivanco, RedEye

TipsyCake bakery is getting slammed on social media over what some in Humboldt Park say are tasteless remarks made by its owner.

Owner Naomi Levine said in a CitySoles TV interview posted on YouTube this week that she chose the Bucktown location at 1944 N. Damen Ave. to open a storefront where "nobody would be too scared." CitySoles, a Wicker Park store, posts videos about Bucktown and Wicker Park businesses to its website.

Levine opened TipsyCake in 2006 in Humboldt Park, where the pastries are still produced, but picked Bucktown for her shop because there were "too many gunshots in the cake" in Humboldt Park, she says in the video. She says her clients would not feel nervous about going to Bucktown.

In the video, which has since been pulled from the CitySoles website and its YouTube channel, Levine highlights a caramel slice pastry she calls "crack" because "in Humboldt Park the cops would knock on the door and ask to taste the crack."

On Thursday morning, attempts to get the bakery to comment were unsuccessful.

Humboldt Park residents have posted comments on various social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Yelp that Levine's remarks were insensitive, offensive and disparaging to the community.

Some demanded an apology for the comments.

Resident Juanita Garcia, 32, had her inbox flooded with emails about the video. Many of her Facebook friends have posted about it as well. She's been to the bakery and lives about a block away from the Humboldt Park location.

"I've lived in Humboldt Park all of my life. I have a completely opposite perception of this community than she does," said Garcia, who is a volunteer at the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and coordinator of the Humboldt Park No Se Vende campaign. The name of the campaign to challenge gentrification translates to Humboldt Park is not for sale.

The neighborhood, home to the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, does have its "social ills," she said, but it's also a community that celebrates its culture and hosts festivals.

"There's a lot of good things happening in the community and for someone to make outrageous comments is a reason for the community to get together and speak out against it," she said.

lvivanco@tribune.com | @lvivanco

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