I think Laura Shunk's reviews show an over-the-top type of criticism that is endless in negativity. Most restaurants struggle to varying degrees, however, I can't remember reading anything she writes that can just leave a place alone. If she goes to any restaurant in the Front Range, none of them hits the mark from top to bottom on their menu.
What a reviewer should hopefully find is those unique or "niche" items that make that particular place special. Your focus should be more on what people do well, not always what they do not do well. It is a challenging business. It is so easy for you to find flaws in any place.
I would go as far as saying that Laura shows lack of true knowledge of the industry and furthermore has an ax to grind with practically everyone. I could go on for pages about how I think she should be given the ax for her poor humor and pretentious and boorish attitude, but I think most restaurant people blow her off as a joke.
Editor's note: No thanks to Alan, Laura Shunk's last review for Westword is in this issue. She's moved to New York, and the hunt for her replacement is on. For more on the restaurant reviewer's role, see Cafe Society on page 34.
An interesting development is the role that "cyber bullying" has in society now that anyone can hide behind an Internet connection.
Juliet Wittman's review of Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde reflects a somewhat myopic view of organizations attacking gays and lesbians in the world. She mentions only one perpetrator, the American Christian fundamentalists, and asserts that in Uganda, under the influence of such fundamentalists, the government has attempted to make homosexuality punishable by death. It was important to alert readers about this.
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However, Ms. Wittman fails to mention the far larger problem for gays and lesbians: the specter of Sharia (Islamic law) under Islamic governments. There are five Islamic countries in the world that impose the death penalty for homosexual activities: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, Mauritania and North Sudan. In addition, regions of Nigeria and Somalia that observe Islamic law impose the death penalty for homosexual activities. According to demographers, Europe will become predominantly Muslim in this century due to mass immigration from North Africa and the Middle East. It is doubtful that a future Islamic Europe will remain as forward-thinking toward gays and lesbians as the present secular Europe it will replace.