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.

Johannah Sohn

Crushing Blows

Yahoo yammer: I would like to respond to the letter in the October 11 New Times written by a certain Steven L. Toth of Mesa. Mr. Toth's letter was quite amusing. His use of profanities and tired insults reveals who the "stupid prick" really is. I would almost bet this person is like the other foul-weather patriots out there. They are about as educated in Middle East history and dynamics as they are in our own colonial history. I beg Mr. Toth to name off the 13 original colonies or tell us who Lafayette was. They also fall into the simpletons-with-megaphones category. We the audience don't know what's worse: the loud, inarticulate ranting or the toothless posturing.

Mr. Toth and company are a detriment to our society. Yahoos who couldn't have cared less about the Taliban when they were destroying Buddhist statues several months ago now all of a sudden are intellectuals/politicians just because their "T" vocabulary has been nudged up one word. Here's a "T" word for Mr. Toth: typical.

Keep up the good work, Jill Stewart and New Times. It always amazes me how these blowhards are all so eager to pick up a copy of "leftist" periodicals. Something must excite those pea brains of theirs. Must be the adult ads.

John Loaffi

Will Steven Toth ever write another letter?: Bill Maher is allowed to say whatever he wants on a talk show which he hosts. This may come as a surprise to some who have written to New Times complaining about Jill Stewart's article ("Crushing a Contrarian," September 27), but you live in America! One of the most important ideals that America holds high is that of free speech by a free society. If you don't like what Bill Maher is saying on Politically Incorrect (read the show title, Steven Toth, you ignorant shame on America's name), then turn it off. You have the right to do that. Still unsatisfied, preach your anti-freedom of speech and expression Nazi-esque propaganda through the streets if you wish.

But for the love of sanity, don't believe everything you hear on TV coming out of Dubya's puppeteered mouth. Explore things for yourself. When Americans start to believe everything force-fed to them by our media, then we are no better than the misinformed unfortunate masses that Osama bin Ladin and the al-Qaeda have enslaved and starved for far too long.

Remember this, the "War on Terrorism" moniker bears a striking resemblance to the war on drugs, and there are millions of Americans who are under the thumb of the terrorists we call the police as a result of the war on drugs.

My point is this: As a nation, America needs to stand together to defeat foreign enemies. There is no doubt that we are doing this. Good. Yet we must also accept our differences as people and use this to defeat domestic enemies who wish to subdue and destroy our American freedoms which so many heroes of the past and present have died valiantly to protect. This is America, land of the free and home of the brave, and we have freedoms. This is why America is the greatest country in the world. People like Steven Toth need to accept this or be forced to go the way of the dinosaur because these are the impediments that block the path to freedom.

Brandon Norris

Insensitivity training: Regarding your defense of Bill Maher, you need to realize that there is a time and a place for the effective execution of free speech, especially if you are in the public eye as Maher is. This would require sensitivity and discipline, which evidently Maher does not have. So if the sponsors and a certain component of the public do not support Maher at this point, those are the consequences of his actions (or is the word "consequences" not politically correct these days?). Don't let the sign of "an emerging groupthink" scare you; it's not so bad. It is all under the freedom of speech that you so often preach. If you're concerned that the sponsors' response is some kind of a message, so also does Maher have a constant message when the guest profile is always 4 liberals to 1 conservative. Oftentimes it is 5 to 0 when Bill feels he needs constant applause to every phrase said by the guests and himself.

I also find it interesting that Bill Maher, who spends all his time entertaining and rehearsing, would think that he can (with far less data and information than the people making the decisions) evaluate complex political and government situations with the confidence and arrogance that he normally does. The danger of Maher's approach is that it would tend to influence the thinking of the less informed, when Maher himself may not be so well informed, but only entitled to an opinion.

There is no point in going any further because most people of the nation know what I am talking about. I really think that New Times is more concerned that God has returned to our society for now. I know Maher is concerned about this because he appears to be a proclaimed atheist. "God bless America" is certainly bringing to life the adage "there are no atheists in foxholes"; except possibly for New Times.

Maher has lost it before (remember the retarded children comment) and now perhaps he should feel some of the consequences. (Oops, there is that word again.)

You probably won't publish this, but I felt good about writing it.

Richard Belcastro


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