From the week of December 24, 2009

"A Hundred Miles an Hour Down a Dead-End Street," Alan Prendergast, December 17

Speed Chills

Well, it looks like Victor Gabler is going to spend the rest of his days exactly where he belongs. Perhaps we could share him with other states he's been a complete screw-up in, but I don't think it works that way. As stated in Alan Prendergast's article, he's had plenty of time and chances to deal with his mental problems. Time now for him to be shut away and save society from his further predations. He may not be fit to stand trial. If that's the case, he can stay in the state hospital until he is. If that happens to be never, that's okay, too.

Just keep him away from society.

Pat Desrosiers

Denver

Cafe Society, December 17

So Long, Sheehan!

What a huge loss for Denver to lose Jason Sheehan's insightful, hilarious, brutally honest reviews. No one looks at and tastes foods like he does.

Jason, you will be missed.

Stefanie Smith

Denver

I'm very sad to hear Jason is leaving. I've been reading his articles religiously every week for the past seven or eight years; I've debated his words and talked about his points of view with many professionals in town. I own his new book and the short story collection in which he wrote about Sean Kelly's fingers, and have listened to his NPR barbecue segment at least twice.

Good luck to Jason. Seattle is a great food city.

Etai Bar-on

Denver

Here are my Jason Sheehan top-three lists.

Love

1. Almost always spot-on about the food

2. Great at finding hidden ethnic gems

3. Occasionally writes good prose when not boasting about what a badass he thinks he is or some inane detail about his past.

Hate

1. Bourdain wannabe stylistically and often with content, very self-indulgent with writing and often self-righteous about food.

2. Thought nobody in town knew what he looked like before his book came out.

3. Has a very obvious hard-on for Frank Bonanno.

I'm actually going to kind of miss you, Jason, but this town needs a new voice.

Jesse Hall

Denver

Well, goddamn it, Jason! How dare you take your insanity and talent to another city? Whose amazing food reviews are we going to read now every week that not only guide us to great grub, but crack us up? How are we going to know the best places on Federal to eat? Seattle's gain is Denver's crippling, angry, binge-drink-inducing loss. Fine, then! Go! We'll still be here when that cheap tramp Seattle shows you that she has fuck-all in the way of good green chile and BBQ.

Seriously, though, I hope Seattle treats you and yours like kings. May you continue to find great success and even greater food there. And thank you for an amazing eight years.

K.D. Bryan

Posted at westword.com

I cannot believe that you let Jason Sheehan go. This is a very sad day. For 27 years, I have read all the restaurant reviews in Westword. There is no doubt that the best critic is/was Jason Sheehan.

The only hope I have is that the mildew in Seattle will drive Jason back to Denver.

Dave Barnes

Denver

Jason: So you're really leaving. Damn.

I guess we shouldn't be that surprised. For years, you've been building a national reputation for yourself. The annual appearance in Best Food Writing. The Beard awards. The mention in Time magazine. It's not surprising, then, that you've finally decided to trade up and go from being the lead food critic for a free weekly in a third-tier restaurant town to being the lead food critic for a free weekly in a second-tier restaurant town. Congrats!

Denver's a decent restaurant town, for sure, but there's only so much you can write about every week, isn't there? The restaurant in the aquarium or a great taco truck are colorful objects for social commentary or slice-of-life pieces, but are they really food news? Probably not.

For a long time, your review has been the review that everyone reads, the make-or-break review, the review that had nervous restaurant owners and chefs skulking outside red newspaper boxes at eleven on a Wednesday morning or, more recently, checking their computers every thirty seconds or so.

The writer in me has long enjoyed your reviews (and envied the amount of public space you have to stretch out in): the novelistic openings, the pungent demotic language, the vigorous transitive verbs. The chef-owner in me has appreciated your catholic palate and your sharp take on the realities of the business (if occasionally I've wished you would get to the point quicker). That's not to say I agree with everything you write or share your enthusiasms; I don't quite get your love for red-sauce joints or greasy spoons or certain steakhouses. And I think your trashing of the Kitchen was unforgivable: The Kitchen has single-handedly changed the restaurant scene on the Front Range, and to dwell on what seemed to you like their sanctimoniousness was to miss the point completely.

But for the most part, you pilloried restaurants that deserved to be pilloried and performed some useful brush-clearing: Thanks for ridding us of ...well, I won't mention their names. But as good as you have been at snark, your real strength has been as an enthusiast: You have put more than a few restaurants and reputations on the map. Like, for example, mine. If I have gone from being a fitfully employed itinerant chef who slept on a mattress in a rented apartment to being a comfortable member of the city's culinary establishment, it's thanks to a very short list of people. There's my wife, of course. And my business partners. And then there's you. Your reviews, besides putting a swagger in my step for a day or two, gave me something as tangible as money in the bank — a reputation.

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