From the week of October 18, 2001

Half-Baked Tales

Whale snit: Holy shit, a "special ongoing" series on whales ("Survival," David Holthouse, October 11)! Say, while looking at maps of where whales actually are, did you happen to notice where Phoenix is? Hint: the middle of the desert.

"Half-baked Howie" (Dempsey, October 11) reeks of a silly pissing match. The only problem is that Howard sits and Kristi obviously stands.

Thought 1: If publishing Howard's picture is no big deal, then run a photo of your critic. Hell, run one of yourself.

Thought 2: What's with the one-sentence-to-a-paragraph daily style of writing? Old habits die hard?

All this has made me hungry. Do you know where I can get some whale?

John Connally
via Internet

Dempsey Dumpster

Class clown: I'm really sorry that Kristi H. Dempsey is the new editor of New Times, once my favorite newspaper because of its dedication to excellence in journalism. It's a shame to see that goal go by the wayside as she turns New Times into a middle school newspaper level publication by repeatedly attacking Howard Seftel for no discernible reason. The current food critic at New Times is doing a fine job, as well. For her sake, I just hope Carey Sweet doesn't ever want to change jobs!

I know I won't trust anything Miss Dempsey writes from this day forward. Regrettably, because of these childish attacks on another human being whose livelihood is now threatened, I also won't be picking up New Times again until I see that she's gone. Miss Dempsey, you've got a lot to learn about journalism, and you've got a lot less class than Howard Seftel.

Penny Padegimas

Dempsey rules: I don't know Howie from a hole in the ground, but the story you told was just badass. I especially liked: "Of course, we didn't take the picture down." I admire your tenacity, and I hope that I never end up on your shit list.

Nic Diamond
via Internet

Journalistic hand-wringing: As a journalist, I often saw newsroom incidents that reminded me more of soap opera behavior than journalistic integrity and muckraking.

If the facts you reported in your "Half-baked Howie" story are indeed accurate, it reconfirms my thoughts that many in the field of journalism have lost touch with their purpose, to inform the public. Since corporate takeover of the media, they spend far more time protecting their own interests rather than being aggressive at reporting serious news that affects the lives of their readers.

Threatening a lawsuit regarding a food critic? Who cares? The Republic should spend more thought creating a worthy newspaper.

Jeff Topping
via Internet

Sweet revenge: Why does Kristi Dempsey still have a job? She apparently thinks it's cute and edgy to destroy the livelihood of a fellow journalist. Once again, New Times' credibility has been dragged down by the preening unprofessionalism of its self-centered staff. Unfortunately, the only way to even the score would be for New Times to print a photo of its restaurant critic, Carey Sweet.

Despite Dempsey's claim that restaurant critics hold no special claim to anonymity, I doubt you will publish this photo. And Sweet doesn't deserve the destruction of her career for Dempsey's idiocy.

I guess we'll just have to wait until Sweet gets a job with another organization; then New Times will publish a life-size poster.

Jon Conrad

No respect: What a weirdly pointless attack against a former New Times journalist. Like him or not, Howard Seftel was one of your best-followed writers for years. As a Valley resident for many of those years, I found his reviews to be consistently useful and, more often than not, entirely reasonable in both their candor and tonality.

What, exactly, as she claims, has Dempsey "busted" him for? For having a style that is his own? Would she "bust" David Letterman for continuing his "Top 10 List" when he moved from NBC to CBS? Or "bust" Rodney Dangerfield for repeatedly using his "no respect" shtick on myriad occasions in front of myriad audiences?

For the record, I don't know Seftel, am not in the restaurant business, and have no special interest in his career. Whether one likes his style or not isn't the point. What is the point is that an amateurish effort like Dempsey's accomplishes little more than giving others a renewed appreciation for the fact that Seftel is a professional who has the confidence and maturity to do his job in the way he sees fit.

We can only hope that Dempsey doesn't squash the creativity and personal style of her current staff. Or is this something she reserves only for people who move on to bigger jobs than those at New Times?

Eric Asch
Los Angeles

Picture imperfect: Kristi H. Dempsey's column ("Shtick Happens," October 4) left an unfamiliar taste in my mouth. Oh, yes, now I recognize it -- sour grapes. That you even entertain this sort of insensitive bashing in your paper is disgusting. Perhaps you didn't stop to think about the effects of displaying Howard Seftel's picture on his life and career. Or maybe you did, and that's even worse. If you have a problem with his writing style, then express it, just as you have, but why show his picture? If you have a problem with puns and running jokes, perhaps you should head down to the sense of humor store and buy yourself one. While you are at it, buy yourself a conscience, too. What you did is just plain cruel, and you have lost a reader.

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