Letters to the Editor
Snow job: On my annual ski trip to Colorado over the last several years, I have noticed a decline in civility at ski areas. I know some people may think it is unfair, but I blame the snowboarders. They take up more than their share of space on the slopes, and their bad attitudes are very evident in the lift lines.
But to imply that bad manners can result in murder, as Julie Jargon did in her April 17 "Boys Gone Wild," seems like a stretch to me. I agree that Breckenridge made a mistake with its off-color advertising, but it seems that wherever there is too much testosterone and alcohol -- whether at a bar in downtown Chicago or at a ski resort -- there could be trouble. Snowboards parked outside are optional.
Thrills and chills: I enjoyed Julie Jargon's "Boys Gone Wild"; at the same time, I was horrified by the story. Being a lifetime skier, I found it very interesting reading.
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The mayor's the man: I am becoming irate over various criticisms of Mayor Wellington Webb, including Kenny Be's April 24 Worst-Case Scenario and Patricia Calhoun's "The 7 Percent Solution," in the April 17 issue. In my opinion, Mayor Webb has been, by far, the most dedicated, competent and conscientious mayor that Denver has had in my 48 years of residency. He has been genuinely responsive to Denver's needs and has been instrumental in lifting Denver out of its "cowtown" image.
Mayor Webb has been highly fiscally responsible in bringing new revenues to the city of Denver, and in keeping DIA and other city entities on extremely good financial footing. As to any alleged "budgetary deficits," that blame lies entirely with the economically/ mentally challenged incompetents who are currently inhabiting the White House in Washington, D.C.
I say "Three Cheers for Mayor Wellington Webb!" He has earned and well deserves any and all perks due him, now and following his mayoral stint, and I hope there is at least one grand memorial built for him. I predict that it will a long time before Denver ever again enjoys a mayor of Wellington Webb's stature and dedication.
Big Mac attack: David Holthouse's April 17 "Want Flies With That?" was a brilliant little article...as scathing as a splash of hot fryer oil in the face. I'm making plans for my family to perhaps camp for a couple days at that Daddy Bruce Mickey D's backyard habitat so we can take in the wonderful sights and sounds of urban nature. I hear tell there's a pigeon aerie above the grill vents.
Kitchen confidential: Since Jason Sheehan's debut column, I have followed each and every restaurant review and its subsequent backlash with some amusement. I have read all sides, from those who love his behind-the-scenes takes on all that goes on in a kitchen to those who despise the very ground Sheehan walks on.
But crybaby Dave Query, you take the cake. Your petulant response last week to Jason's quite accurate review of Rhumba ("Going Nowhere," April 17) finally convinced me to write a letter to Westword. Thanks, Dave, for signing each restaurant that you are associated with so I can never visit them. There is no way I could consider enjoying a meal at your restaurants knowing that your management would resort to name-calling and vulgarity in a response to a critical review.
It's Sheehan's job to be a critic. If you can't handle a professional critique, then maybe it is time to, as you say, step away from the "demands and pace of a professional kitchen."
Critical mess: Goodbye, Westword!
I am a foodie...a person who people come to for restaurant, food and wine recommendations. People who know me know that my passion in life is food and wine. I've met the chefs of and eaten at some of the top restaurants in this country -- LeCirque, 21, River Cafe, Normans, Domaine Chandon, Phillip Jaunty and Cellars in the Sky -- and have eaten private dinners at Joseph Phelps, to name a few. I've been reading the Westword restaurant reviews for twenty years -- that is, until about a month after Jason Sheehan started writing. I used to go out of my way to pick up the latest issue, to make sure I was making the correct weekend restaurant choice. Not anymore.
If Westword considers Jason Sheehan a restaurant critic, it is because of the third definition in Webster's: "One who tends to make harsh or carping judgments," not a person who "analyzes, classifies, interprets, or evaluates artistic works" such as food. He is an amateur trying to act like a professional restaurant critic but is falling down as quickly as a soufflé that was removed too quickly from the oven!
Jason's review of Rhumba put me over the edge. Someone made the mistake of putting it on my desk; little did they know about the time bomb they were to set off. Since I stopped reading the restaurant section, I was only a little vocal about my opinions -- just telling my closest friends how disappointed I was with the newspaper. But Jason's "panning" of Rhumba so eloquently shows the lack of food sophistication this writer possesses that I can't sit idly by while the Front Range restaurant scene is dissed by an amateur, foodie want-to-be, professional-restaurant failure.
I have been to Rhumba many times (I have also patronized Jax and Zolo). The kitchen staff is very passionate about their food. Joe Schneider, the person in front of the stove, creates a very sophisticated palate of flavors using innovative ingredients. The food is not for the meek, Black-Eyed Pea market; the food is flavorful, with "in your face" flavors.
I challenge Jason to put his reputation on the line and get back into the kitchen. How about a benefit food challenge: Jason versus the many chefs he has so negligently criticized?
Westword, stop the farce and bring value to the Denver/Boulder restaurant scene by providing the consumers and advertisers with a professional restaurant reviewer.
Cherry Hills Village
The grill next door: Like a scorned schoolgirl, Dave Query doesn't focus on the food or any of Sheehan's pointed criticisms in his review of Rhumba, but on the writer's style and character. Query lashes out with cheap shots and personal attacks. And after claiming to "learn from and...make adjustments" to bad reviews, Query proffers a childish rant that makes me wonder if a man with such thin skin should be working in an industry where the public's opinion -- and, yes, that includes the opinion of a "mildly educated food critic" -- is all that matters.
I, for one, appreciate Sheehan's honest take on Rhumba and other area eateries. Too many food critics seem to be in bed with local restaurant owners and chefs, offering the restaurant-going public over-inflated reviews of mediocre establishments. I'm glad Sheehan hasn't cooked for Query or spent time in every kitchen in Denver. Food critics are paid to objectively comment on their experience at a restaurant -- food quality, service, atmosphere -- and not to tell readers that, despite serving second-rate food in a contrived setting, by golly, the staff sure does work hard. If Query thinks Sheehan's critical yet honest reviews are simply an attempt to create a "bad boy" image, he's obviously disconnected from the people who keep him in business: the customers.
News flash, Query: Discerning readers want an honest, focused restaurant review, not another fluff piece on some hoity-toity restaurateur.
In the future, I hope Query can heed his own advice and learn to turn a negative review into an opportunity to improve his services instead of looking at it as a chance to slam a writer for expressing his opinion. Typically, Sheehan's reviews, whether positive or negative, spike my curiosity enough that I visit each restaurant to form my own opinion. But Query's knee-jerk response changed all that. I'll keep my money out of Rhumba (and Zolo and Jax and Lola) until Query learns to take criticism like an adult and a professional.
Charge of the Lightbody brigade: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Military Matters," in the April 24 issue:
In 1991, I was the station manager of XEK-AM, a Mexican station with studios in Hollywood. Our programming was in English and covered the same market as did the L.A. Times. Andy Lightbody was part of our on-air staff, doing programs on high-tech and military issues. We had many calls from people thanking us for bringing Andy back. Unlike other "talking heads," Andy went out and gathered news and issues from legitimate sources -- his contacts -- that were far superior to what others did.
Andy and I are often on the opposite sides of political issues, but I respect him for his knowledge and acumen. Maybe it is time to review the reasons for this vendetta -- a religious writer against a military one. What would George W. Bush say about that following the Crusades in Iraq? Let it go, already -- no matter what "it" is. Remember Ollie North?
Rally 'round the flag, boys: Why is it the ones who are most pro-war don't have a fucking clue what they're promoting? (See Michael Roberts's "Rally Time," April 3.) How many of them can actually say "Been there, done that"? Floorwax, can you say you ate dinner with a buddy, then two hours later watched him get shot through the head? Lewis, tell me how you felt when that enemy soldier smashed your teeth out with the butt of his rifle. War is the most inhuman experience possible. Ask the men who were at Iwo Jima or the Chosin Reservoir or Hamburger Hill what they think of war. You won't hear, "It's great; I didn't really need that leg, anyway." People like Lewis and Floorwax should promote the war in Iraq. They know as much about it as Bush and Cheney -- which, of course, is nothing! Non-combatants, one and all.
If you have any pro-/anti-war qualms, do one thing: Follow the money. Yeah, right. Now it all makes sense, especially if your name is Boeing, Martin-Marietta, Lockheed, Grumman or Halliburton, etc. War is very profitable -- more so for those who don't have to fight. In America, war is good for all people who believe killing poor people isn't bad (that includes poor Americans). In case you're too young to remember, one of our sayings in Vietnam was "Killing for the sake of peace is like fucking for the sake of virginity."
Lastly, think about how the capitalistic/ democratic (ahem) system actually works. When the government buys something -- say, a $600,000 missile to replace one of the 750 fired in Iraq -- that creates a taxable income to the seller. Instant rebate! Then, when that seller's employee spends his already taxed income on groceries, more taxes on more profit. The grocer supplier pays taxes, the farmer selling to the supplier pays taxes, the diesel fuel for the tractor to make the food is taxed, the guy selling the fuel is taxed...ad nauseam! The more missiles the government buys, the more it makes in taxes. It's not really money; it's just taxes in motion. God bless America.
The belly of the best: The beautiful art form of belly dance, or Oriental dance (its correct name), has long battled the stigma (mainly in the U.S.) of being scandalous. Throughout the years, burlesque dancers and images from movies and TV have misrepresented the dance. Oriental dance has its roots in Middle Eastern folk dances done to celebrate joyful occasions, community festivals, weddings, childbirth, etc. Granted, many (but not all) performance costumes can be sexy, but no more so than ice-skating, cheerleading and many ballroom-dancing costumes (not to mention young ladies' street fashions, à la Britney Spears). The movements are also considered sexy, but they are natural feminine movements. They are intended to celebrate the feminine form, not as sexual come-ons. There are many men, all over the world, who dance the same moves (hip circles, shimmies, undulations, etc.) that women dance.
I regret that Julie Dunn did not do any research on belly dance for her April 17 "Belly, Belly Good." With statements like "forget the stripper pole and tassels and try belly dancing" and "less tacky than amateur night at Shotgun Willie's, belly-dancing could lead to all sorts of other exertions," Ms. Dunn implies that belly dancing is merely a step up from stripping and that the main motivation for pursuing it is titillation. As a personal friend and student of Dahlia (Dianne Losasso), I am certain she was disappointed by this correlation. Belly dancing is a difficult art form requiring years of study for a dancer to become truly proficient. More accurate motivation factors are learning an art form, self-expressing through movement, fitness and health.
Although I imagine Ms. Dunn meant to promote belly dancing, the Oriental dance community has been working hard for decades to dispel this type of misconception. Articles like this just set us back at least a few steps.
The bare facts: I was very disappointed to read the article that slammed an ancient art form by lowering it to the level of pornography. I have only been a student of belly dancing for six weeks, and personally, I find it very rewarding. The musical phenomenon best-known as belly dance has entranced its listeners and dancers for over a hundred years. The dance is more evocative than provocative and requires skillful body control and a disciplined isolation of every movement of the body. For a lesson in the history of belly dancing and an in-depth explanation as to why this popular and respectable form of dance is related to, and has so often been compared to, stripping, go to: www.shira.net/likestrip.htm.
I have not used, nor do I intend to use, my newfound expression to satisfy any man's carnal enjoyment.
Building concern: What, exactly, qualifies Daniel Libeskind's design for the DAM building expansion to be described as "a masterpiece"? It's clear Michael Paglia has only the highest praise for this project ("Sprouting Up," April 17), but what is he referring to? He doesn't tell us how the building's interior might help inform our understanding of art; why a jagged profile and a gleaming titanium skin are culturally relevant and thoughtful contributors to the neighboring Civic Center; or what sincere consideration has been given to the spaces between the buildings and the making of our outdoor experience.
The very eccentricity of this building calls for answers to fundamental questions. In what ways will the building facilitate the display of art or respond to the environment in which it is built? What are the lessons to be learned from Wright's Guggenheim or Gehry's Bilbao Guggenheim, both of whose usefulness and impact on the landscape are the subject of debate?
By now, we have heard enough that Libeskind is a world-class architect, Sharp is a brilliant museum director and Hamilton is an exalted benefactor. Amazing people, we are convinced. And no doubt the building shape and shine will be a marketing coup. But assuredly, beyond the hype, Paglia's column doesn't tell us why the building itself is noteworthy.
Color her world: Michael Paglia, I have to disagree with you on your review of Delka McCray's show at the Pirate Gallery ("Artbeat, April 3). I am by no means an art critic, but I know what I like. The paintings Dancers" and "Haunting" really moved me, and the colors could not have been chosen better to match the scene of the paintings. Her paintings not only held your attention, but they pulled you into their energy. I would call her work astonishing and mesmerizing. I totally love it.
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