The Turn of the Screw

Letters to the Editor

Take out the trash: I am appalled by Jason Sheehan's "Drinking, Smoking and Screwing," in the February 9 issue. I have taken note of his restaurant critiques in the past, and have even visited several establishments based on his recommendations. Never again.

His crude language and obvious lack of decorum tells me that I should quit reading his articles, as well as the newspaper for which he writes. I am disgusted by the fact that Westword would print a review alluding to his sexual escapades with his wife (I'm sure she's proud of it, as well), his urge to relieve himself in the middle of the restaurant, and his tendency to drink too much and to smoke in other people's faces.



A visit to Panzano has always been a wonderful experience. I have dropped by the restaurant on several occasions either for drinks with friends or a relaxing meal. The service is friendly, and the food is a wonderful elevation of Italian fare.

In the past, I have considered a restaurant critic to be an elevated member of the community, someone with the means to experience all that the city has to offer and to describe the positives and negatives to their "friends." I now consider Jason Sheehan outside any community with which I would wish to associate.

Krista Wessling

Dark victory: Jason Sheehan, I really enjoy your columns. Keep up the good work, and don't ever lighten up.

Jason Kirkfield

Life of the potty: Jason Sheehan should write his disgusting dribble for Howard Stern. His journalism belongs on a roll of paper you find in a toilet. He obviously has a very limited vocabulary and even less developed intellect. He's lucky to even have a job writing in the same company as respected journalists.

Gerry Trammell

Here's a tip: Jason Sheehan received "atrocious" service from his waitress at Panzano, so he gave her "only" a 16.67 percent tip?! Perhaps he can afford to be generous since Westword paid for the meal. Somehow, the waitstaff profession has convinced the public that 15 percent is no longer an acceptable tip, even for sub-standard or, in Jason's experience, downright surly service. One is now expected to tip at least 20 percent (or at least $15 on a $75 meal) for what often amounts to maybe ten minutes (or less) of actual "work." Hey, it's not brain surgery! Nonsense like this is why I rarely eat at restaurants like Panzano and is part of the reason, I suspect, that high-end restaurants have such a high failure rate.

And Jason, you are part of the problem.

Name withheld on request

At your service: Jason Sheehan, your idea that automatic gratuities are presumptuous and insulting only proves that though you eat in restaurants constantly, you haven't worked in one for years. Think way back to when a young Jason got his first restaurant job. You may or may not have worked the floor, but I'm sure you heard the brokenhearted complaints of servers who, after serving a large group for a couple of hours and presenting their check, were slapped in the face with a $10 tip on a $300 tab. You are, obviously, an adequate member of the dining public. Your tips range from 15 to 20 percent. Sadly, Joe Applebees is not.

The average customer has no idea that servers in this town make $2.25 an hour and rely on gratuities/tips to pay rent. This is only magnified in large groups. Sure, I can blow off being stiffed by some jerk with a $35 tab, but when a VP from Janus Funds brings a party of ten in, racks up a $600 tab and tips $15, I cannot (true story). Large groups divvy their bills, and when that check comes around, everyone knows how many mojitos they had but very rarely remember to tip, either thinking that their cohorts will make up for it, or just not giving a rat's ass. The auto grat is the lifeline by which we service-industry folk ensure that when a large group starts scrutinizing their bill, we, the humble facilitator of their good time, don't get handed the short end of their cheap stick.

Name withheld on request

A Stab at the Truth

Questions, no answers: "A Vicious Cycle," in the February 9 issue, leaves me bemused. Luke Turf left a lot of gaps in it. There's no connection between Contrell Townsend's stabbing and those of his grandparents. One was stabbed by his wife, and Turf doesn't say who stabbed the other under what circumstances.

Turf shows no connection between Marcus Richardson and the Crips, other than the color of his clothes on the day he stabbed Contrell and the unfounded speculations of Contrell's pal, who had "seen him (Richardson) on the news" but apparently nowhere else. Blue is not a "Crips color." Many people wear it often.

I don't see why Contrell's parents should "expect to see society, or the school, take any of the blame." Their kid ran his mouth, body-slammed another kid onto a table, and punched him repeatedly for several minutes. He got stabbed to death in return. What does that have to do with society or the school?

I can't imagine why anyone would buy Calvin Hall's book or his planned "youth-intervention program." The guy obviously doesn't know how to keep kids out of trouble.

Marcus, the truly tragic figure in this mess, remains a mystery. What's his background? What did his friends have to say about him and his alleged gang ties? Turf overlooked half of the story.

By the way, I also looked at Adam Cayton-Holland's column for the first time since I wrote to you about him in December 2004. He's still a tedious, illiterate, un-funny punk. His space would be better filled with public-service ads.

David Hakala

Wiped Off the Map

Uncharted territory: Until I read Alan Prendergast's "Caught Mapping," in the February 2 issue, I didn't realize that Denver was the center of the MapQuest universe. The only things I use more than MapQuest maps are my Crocs, and I didn't know those were from here, either, until I saw Alan's story on that company last fall.

That's what makes reading Westword so much fun. No matter how much I think I know the city (I consider myself almost a native), I make a surprising discovery in every issue.

J.C. Hilton

Course correction: Nice article on MapQuest, but the facts are a little off. MapQuest was launched in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I know, since I was there and worked for Donnelly/Geosystem/MapQuest for ten years. I remember the launch with a Sun workstation and some SGIs on a folding table that quickly had a stack of SGIs and 2x4 supports under the table. Let's not forget the UPS plugged into the wall socket, packing tape over the cord on the floor so no one would trip over it, and a sign on the wall: "DO NOT UNPLUG!"

If memory serves me correctly, the site didn't move to Denver until December of '95. The move was the same night as the company Christmas party. I also think the move was prompted by a VP who didn't really like Lancaster too much. Oh, the AOL deal was $1.1 billion when it was announced, but actually was more like $700 million by the time the deal closed, due to changes in the AOL stock price. Still a great return on the investment.

If you're going to give details on a historical event like the launching of the first commercial web-mapping site, maybe ask someone who was there.

John Fix
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Editor's note: Although MapQuest's current general manager stated that the website was launched from Denver, this is not correct; the website was physically hosted in Lancaster at launch and was moved to Denver a few months later. And don't pay attention to the directions that MapQuest provides on its own website for its Denver office: Company headquarters moved to 16th Street last November.

Jumping Bail

Bad advice: I love music and go see lots of it. Over the years, I have read your paper and felt like I was getting a good indication of the bands and could weed out who I didn't want to see and who I might like, but lately things have changed.

In the February 9 issue, I read Jason Heller's article about Out on Bail ("Breakout Artists") and thought that this was exactly how I wanted to start my weekend. Obviously, Jason didn't bother to see Out on Bail before he wrote such a great review. Simply put, it was one of the worst performances I have ever seen. The band couldn't sing, couldn't play their instruments very well, and flat-out sucked. I don't know why anyone would put it in an alt-country genre; it was just noise, and very bad noise.

If you would like a music critic who actually will go see the band before kissing their asses, give me a call, but for now I will have to be more selective about who I go see, because the Westword music advice has slipped badly.

Bill Kaeding

Take Back the Mic!

And the award goes to...: It's funny taking a look back at my life before Jason Heller immortalized my open-mic performance at the Cricket on the Hill in the February 2 This Ain't No Picnic. It's practically unrecognizable! Being an overnight sensation has been a humbling experience for me, insofar as rock stars can be humble -- something like a mixture of autoerotic awe and living beatification. So I would like to take just a moment to thank Mr. Heller publicly for putting my musical career into turbo-diesel overdrive and recognize some of the people who have been so important to me up until now.

Mom and Dad, you bought my first guitar and kind of supported me playing all those years. I owe you a lot. If things go as expected, I should be able to pay you back in full in the next few months.

Chris Yonkers, you were totally a cool boss. I plan on still working at Tolin until I decide on a label to sign with.

Smiddy, Jesse, Marc, Ryan, Chris, Lynn, Dave, Bob, Doug, Shane, Shelly, Eric, Terry, Kristen, Frank, Mike: I totally respect you guys. Maybe you'll get famous someday, too! Any of you can send e-mail to and count on a personalized response within three to five business days.

Rah Real, Rachael Pollard, Doo Crowder, Ed Marshal, Uncle Phil, Wil Johner, Nicole Torres, Melissa Ivey, Lilly Hiatt: Your semi-fame has guided me like sizzling bacons of hope in the morning. Thank all of you. I wouldn't have been where I was before without you.

I don't know how this stuff works, exactly, so I might not be in Denver that much longer; I just don't know. But Hollywood or Maui or whatever, I shall always fondle a place in my heart for old Cowtown USA [kissing comic strip, holds up]! Thank you!

Nathan Perry


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