Readers' digest: Always enjoy your Best of Denver issue -- discovering new places to eat, people-watch, shop, etc. Almost as enjoyable is reading the readers' choices. A few always stun me, and this year is no exception:
1) Best Hair on a Media Personality -- Female: Adele Arakawa? Huh? I guess interns at the 9News newsroom were busy stuffing the ballot box that day. The workers at Supercuts mock that 'do.
2) Best Taco: Benny's? Folks, raise the bar. My junior high school cafeteria made a better taco.
3) Best Spaghetti and Meatballs: Saucy Noodle. What, Chef Boyardee wasn't available as an answer?
Keep up the good work -- perhaps a Best Of issue twice a year?
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Party on! For eight years, I've hosted a Best of Denver party. My guests are given copies of the Westword ballot, which then becomes the topic of conversation for 20 to 25 people during the course of a fun evening filled with lively conversation. Following the release of the Best of Denver edition, phone calls and discussions are generated based on the selections of Westword and comparing them to the readers' choice -- when we can locate the readers' choice winner.
Most of us have come to realize that advertising, marketing, public relations and plain old politics have come to play in the decisions made by Westword. We also realize that some of that comes to play in the readers' choice as well. But our basic concern is the treatment of the readers' choice by Westword. The positioning of this title downplays the selection; the font is so small as to be difficult to find.
Basically, I find this treatment of the readers' choice to be an insult to the readers of Westword, as well as those individuals/groups/businesses that may have won readers' choice for a particular category. Westword does not need to provide the same write-up as for the general Best Of category winners. But it should acknowledge that a readers' choice does exist, rather than seeking to hide this information.
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What a drag: Just wanted to say thanks for blowing it for kids who like to race with Best Illegal Drag-Racing Venue. Given that kids, as well as adults, are gonna race, at least they'd found somewhere they could do it without killing themselves or anyone else. Not to mention a "sting," as you put it, which would only result in damaging some kids' records and the racers finding somewhere else to go.
Perhaps a little more time should be spent on the drinking-related driving accidents, instead of kids who are sober and racing their cars. That is, if safety is the greater issue, of course, and not just what seems cool to your target reader.
A mix-up: I really enjoyed your music awards for Best of Denver, but oh, man, DJ Quote for Best Mix Tape! I mean, sure, if you like crappy blends and dead space. I'm pretty much a sucker, commercial-kinda-mix show guy, so I'm easily pleased -- but I had to stop Quote's CD, because he stops in between tracks!
Other than that, big ups.
High hopes: Best Radio-Host Return? You guys are obviously high. Jay Marvin sucks. He couldn't lead an interesting discussion if his life depended on it. If AM760 wanted to stick Jay in the 8-11 p.m. time slot to replace Phil Hendrie, I could maybe see doing that. But he can't hold a candle to Morning Sedition. The station is losing listeners because of this guy. Now Westword has vindicated his existence there. Jeers to Westword and 760 for such poor judgment.
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Higher hopes: Pop quiz -- Westword staff, get out your No. 2 pencil. You must have been on crack when naming Drew Soicher Best TV Sportscaster.
Shame is the name of the game: In the Best of Denver, you chose to celebrate the Rocky Mountain News's release of the alleged victim's identity in the Kobe Bryant rape case with Best Kobe Bryant Coverage Decision. While Westword may find this a celebratory decision, those working to end violence against women have a very different perspective.
Throughout the Kobe Bryant court battles, there was a permanent struggle to keep Mr. Bryant on trial, not the alleged victim. However, with the protective rape shield laws dropped and the News blurting out her name, the question quickly changed from "Did Mr. Bryant rape a woman?" to "Who is the woman accusing Mr. Bryant of rape?"
Applauding such actions only perpetuates the notion that women should be put on trial with accused rapists, investigated and held up to the public light for ostracism as if they, too, were suspect of a crime. This is an all too common practice that has direct correlations to U.S. Department of Justice statistics showing that a mere 26 percent of sexual assaults are reported.
Consider what you recognize as admirable behavior. Sure, the Rocky broke a story, but they also may have broken a life. Is that what journalism is for?
Separation of Churchill and state: Ward Churchill gets several notorious mentions in your annual Best of Denver issue. For Best Candidate to Replace Gary Barnett, you spout racist gibberish: You asininely assert that professor Ward "Sacred Buffalo" Churchill would "stress the value...of listening to everything quarterback Osama bin Laden says in the CU huddle."
Your lampooning continues when you praise talk radio's Caplis and Silverman for their "doggedness" in research "advancing" the Ward Churchill media lynching. Never mind the death threats that Churchill has received because of the behavior of right-wing blowhards like Caplis and Silverman. And certainly never mind the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children sacrificed for U.S. control of oil and Zionist nightmares.
As Churchill has said, along with Malcolm X, the chickens are coming home to roost and will continue to do so. In 2000, I went to Iraq on a peace mission, delivering essential medical equipment and researching the effect of a decade of continuous U.S. bombing and U.S./U.N. sanctions. While there, a dean at the University of Mosul lamented how deeply this U.S. violence had traumatized a generation of Iraqi youth. He feared for the future of Iraq because, as he put it, Saddam Hussein was politically moderate toward the U.S. compared to the political opinions these traumatized youth had developed as a direct result of the ongoing U.S./U.N. war against them. That was five years ago, before the current U.S. invasion and occupation terrorizing the Iraqi people.
So now Westword joins in the media lynching of Churchill, the messenger, without lifting a finger for more than a decade in exposing U.S. terror in Iraq or elsewhere. While the chickens are roosting, Westword's liberals think they can have their cake and...
Editor's note: If you didn't get a copy of the Best of Denver 2005, the entire editorial content (including readers' choices) is available online at www.westword.com. If you did get a copy, grab a pen and note these corrections. While the Bagel Deli & Restaurant at 6439 East Hampden Avenue is definitely the town's Best Jewish Deli, it is not a kosher deli. Though Armando's certainly qualifies for Best Pizza in a Pasta Place, the address should be 16653 East Smoky Hill Road in Aurora (the Cherry Creek outpost is closed). And finally, the new Visitor Information Center is indeed the Best Store on the 16th Street Mall -- but free coffee is not among the amenities you'll find there. Our apologies for the errors.
Jeerleader: Regarding Luke Turf's "Sis Boom Bah," in the March 17 issue:
Is Janeisha Lewis a victim of the system? Hardly. She's a smart-mouth teen who refused to obey Officer Rice's lawful order to stand back from a fight. Lewis wanted to be a punk, and now she's paying the price. Lesson learned: Disobey a police officer, get arrested. That's the way it's supposed to be.
Lewis wants to be in the Navy? Trust me: With her attitude and lack of maturity, she doesn't have what it takes to be in the military. Lewis needs to grow up and learn to take responsibility for her actions.
Educate, don't incarcerate: I wanted to thank you for Luke Turf's "Sis Boom Bah" and the look inside the justice system regarding juveniles. There seems to be nothing in place to help children with problems; instead, people just turn them over to the legal system. This is not the answer for children who can be helped out of a tough situation. Everyone makes mistakes, and either our educational leaders have forgotten that, or they are perfect and always have been (which I doubt).
I have a ten-year-old son who was recently introduced to the justice system by his school. Although he has an issue with controlling anger, he is a very sweet and affectionate child. I have been seeking help for him for about four years, always getting the response that "he is too young to receive help, for he will not understand what is going on." I now know that what they meant was that he was too young for the police to handle: They cannot intervene until the age of ten. Thanks to what I believe was police coaxing, my son now has a record that will follow him for life.
I don't think the justice department and law enforcement care about what they do to a child's future. As a parent and member of the community, I know firsthand what one over-escalated issue (on either side) can do to wreck the rest of your life. Children need help to grow, not handcuffs to hold them down.
Name withheld on request
At your service: Thank you to Jared Jacang Maher for his honest journalistic insight into Reza Zadeh and the former Sigma Pi house ("To the Lighthouse," March 10). I think what Reza is doing shows the true nature of Jesus and his ministry, and what Christians today should do more of: serve others no matter who they are or what they've done, and show God's love through actions and not just words.
Thank you, Westword, for presenting this story the way you did.
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I think I smell a frat: I'm certainly not one to complain about one less frat house in the world, but if the best replacement for it is Reza Zadeh's vision, maybe we're better off with the party-hearty Greeks. Zadeh's intentions appear to be good overall. But like most evangelicals, he just doesn't get it.
It's true that many young people have little to no interest in Christianity. This has less to do with an image of stodginess than he thinks -- though Zadeh's use of a limp parody of a fifteen-year-old novelty song does little to make Christians appear "hip." The truth of the matter is that many people, college-age and otherwise, simply can't stand the evangelical mentality. Taking time out of a sermon to give us another iteration of "God Hates Fags," for example. Or explaining how a natural disaster that killed 150,000 people is actually a good thing. This sort of smug, self-satisfied, holier-than-thou rhetoric used to espouse prejudice and bigotry is what drives so many of us away from the church.
Practice what you teach: If it works, run with it. We need more Jesus in our life, and that is for real. I am a strong believer, and I may not be perfect, but I know there is a God, and people everywhere should be taught about him. There could never be enough houses to worship in.
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Love is all you need: Lighthouse minister Reza Zadeh wants to avoid being preachy and judgmental, but he is not any different than Reverend Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps. Zadeh says homosexuality is wrong, and he tells a lesbian student that she is going to hell. This is the kind of hateful bigotry that drove me away from "Christian" churches. No amount of phony hipsterism is going to camouflage this hatred, and Colorado State University students are going to see right through him.
Jesus preached love, not condemning people. Zadeh and most "Christians" are not real followers of Jesus at all, because they hate. I believe that when you condemn other people to hell, that's where you're going. Hope you like it hot, Zadeh.
A man of vision: I met Pastor Zadeh when I did a lecture at the CSU campus last November. I was involved in campus ministry for twelve years before becoming a professor at the Denver Seminary in 1993, so I appreciate your willingness to look into Reza's life and vision for outreach at the CSU campus. Unlike many stories on Christians in mainstream periodicals, Jared Jacang Maher's article was not condescending or mean-spirited. It seemed to be fair and explained the serious situation at CSU very well. Thank you for that.
Douglas Groothuis, professor of philosophy
Fight to the finish: Thanks to Jason Sheehan for not pulling punches with the March 17 "Cry Fowl." I trust his reviews.
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Mean machine: I've often enjoyed Jason Sheehan's sarcastic wit, but with the March 17 review of Sparrow, I think he's gone over the deep end to mean, petty and vindictive. And unprofessional.
For example, I don't like the use of "fuck" in a restaurant review -- not once, but several times. Use a thesaurus, Jason -- you're not behind the stove anymore! Even more disturbing than the excessive expletive usage is the nasty tone of the review. My office is nearby, and I have eaten at Sparrow many times, for lunches and dinners, sitting at the bar and at a table. The food doesn't even resemble the disaster he refers to. Maybe other diners (including some of Jason's acquaintances he "once considered rational and right-thinking people," who also got the shaft in his review) and I have no tastebuds.
But here's my real theory behind Jason's endless diatribe on poor Sparrow: Since Sparrow is obviously doing well and meeting a neighborhood need for good food and a pleasant dining ambience at reasonable prices (unlike Vega, sadly), I think that just pissed old Jason off. To hell with his friends who like the place. If Sean Yontz couldn't make a go of it in that location, then damn the torpedoes, no one should.
That kind of lack of objectivity is not what I read Cafe for. Jason, be witty, be funny, be whoever you are, but don't publish such an unprofessional and vitriolic restaurant review that puts down your readers and friends as well as the restaurant.
Maybe it is Sheehan who should be "grounded," not Sparrow. I really don't think most of us "John and Jane Q. Pocketmoney" diners who support Sheehan, Westword and the restaurant business in Denver are interested in anyone's immature rantings and ravings. I'll be using this review to pick up dog poop in the neighborhood.
What the F does he know: There's no accounting for taste, but it's always good for a food critic to have some. Jason Sheehan's review sounded more like a bitter journal entry about an ex-lover's new interest than a restaurant review. Using the F-word to describe a salad seemed over the top, and turned what should have been a negative review into an idiotic editorial.
It's no secret that critics love to hear themselves talk and tell the masses what tastes good and what sacred rules should never be broken in the kitchen, but, as Sheehan pointed out, in Sparrow's case, the masses aren't listening. Sheehan is free to write what he feels, but he should take a course in review-writing and lay off the pompous and contradictory style that made him look like a jackass in my eyes for good. Sparrow will survive because it has the basic things a restaurant needs: a talented and creative kitchen and loyal customers. Fucking food critics come and go.
Read it and reap: The first thing I do when a new Westword comes out is turn right to Jason Sheehan's latest review, despite the fact that I will never set foot inside 90 percent of the restaurants he reviews.
I just enjoy reading his writing.
Robert James Margesson
A wing and a prayer: Reading Jason Sheehan's review of Luciano's Pizza and Wings ("Buffalo Bills," March 10), I found a few things apparent:
1) Jason has no idea about Buffalo wings. There is a huge difference between all of the competitors he mentioned; to discount them and put them all in the same category was unjust.
2) He fails to mention that this town had no good pie. Or good wings. With Luciano's, we are blessed to have a real pizza-and-wing joint. To say that this cuisine is better off left in cold Buffalo couldn't be further from the truth. Isn't Jason from Rochester, New York?
I hope his review doesn't cost a good old Buffalo boy business. If it does, he might have a swarm of old-school Buffalo boys on his hands, swinging and knocking out teeth like Jason mentioned in his pointless article.
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Slice of life: I'm a proud Buffalonian who has lived in Colorado for twelve years, and although I've grown to love our life, I've yet to find one single slice anywhere in the state that I can hold up to my native-Coloradan wife and say, "This...now, this is the stuff, the way God intended for us to eat."
Jason Sheehan has done a major service. Now I gotta make a run for Luciano's.