Letters for October 18, 2007

Where’s the responsibility?

Re “Deadbroke dads” by David E. Cook (SN&R Feature Story, October 11):

“Responsible fatherhood” is not having children out of wedlock or never marrying the woman who is the mother of your child(ren). Having nearly 70 percent of the black children born out of wedlock in this country is a national disgrace and a bona-fide tragedy for the children affected.

Sorry, but spending time with your child in lieu of supporting them monetarily is unacceptable. I don’t doubt that the system is making life miserable for Mr. Gay. After all, the government cannot manage anything effectively (i.e. DMV, Postal Service, etc.). Government is the bully because it can be the bully.

Mr. Gay’s plight does seem a bit unfair, especially since the mother of his child has six other children from different “relationships.” She took the child and left. Where is her responsibility for child support?

But better he takes the brunt of the “system” than me via my taxes. I am not the one who chose to sleep with (and eventually impregnate) his child’s mother. Rather than talking about “responsible fatherhood,” how about we talk about “responsible non-fatherhood.” Men: If you cannot afford to monetarily support the child, don’t make one! There is no “right” to fatherhood in the Bill of Rights. There are a multitude of ways to avoid pregnancy, both for men and women.

The best way for a man to avoid all of the harm that is done to a child borne of an illicit affair is to just simply keep it in your pants! All that is required is a bit of self-discipline. Maybe that is the real problem here.

Dennis Johnson

Brains, not buzzkill

Re “Execution style” by Josh Fernandez (SN&R Arts&Culture, October 4):

An uncertain sense of déjà vu crept over me as I read this story and its descriptions of City Assault. When I read that a mother of young children was playing the City Assault game, the reason for my déjà vu dawned on me: Change the word “game” to “contest” and change the name “City Assault” to “Hold Your Wee for a Wii,” and it’s the same mindset that led to the death of Jennifer Strange just 10 months ago during radio station KDND 107.9’s “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” fiasco.

As did 107.9’s deejays back then, City Assault’s gamemasters have received—and have chosen to ignore—forewarnings from outsiders that the game was “not something that’s appropriate” (i.e., potentially dangerous or even fatal).

Two differences thus far between City Assault and Hold Your Wee are: Nobody has died playing City Assault—yet; and whereas the February 1 issue of SN&R called Jennifer Strange’s death, “Difficult to believe …” and “This is a sad one …,” SN&R glorified and promoted the playing of City Assault, calling the forewarnings about the game’s risks “buzzkill.” One has to wonder if KDND’s deejays used the same term in dismissing the forewarnings about Hold Your Wee.

Permit me to make two very sincere pleas. Of the organizers and players of City Assault I beg this: If and when someone does die or gets seriously hurt, please don’t get on television like 107.9’s deejays did and cry big crocodile tears and whine that it was meant to be just a “game” and that you didn’t realize how asinine a thing it was to do because someone could get hurt or killed.

And of SN&R I ask: If and when someone does get hurt or killed playing City Assault, please don’t categorize it as “difficult to believe.”

G. Koski

Not all revolutions are created equal

Re “You say you want a revolution?” by Sena Christian (SN&R Green House, October 4):

I would like a revolution, but I don’t believe I’m going to find it at high-tech conferences populated by suits and venture capitalists. They’re part of an economic system that’s way out of whack. The minimum-wage human-power price of the energy available from just one gallon of gasoline would be at least $500. But a truly sustainable economy can and will provide for our needs at this price level.

Other economic misconceptions are that we need to drive, need electricity or need money. This is not true; all these are just means to an end. But capitalist whiz kids make money by wheeling, dealing and conning us into thinking anything that makes a profit is economical, and anything that doesn’t, isn’t.

Let’s be clear: We really need clean air and water, healthy food and warmth. These true needs are the only ones that should qualify as “economic demand.”

I’m really worried by current responses to the problems of fossil-fuel depletion and climate change. Well-meaning officials and uninformed citizens take baby steps when fundamental change is crucial. By the time most people figure out that radical steps are needed, we will have frittered away so much time and energy on superficial and ineffective projects that there will be very little left for serious efforts.

There’s no magic high-technology to be invented that will save us from fundamental change. The traditional technologies we need to live sustainably—and comfortably—are already available. We just have to be smart enough and independent enough to use them. Again.

Underdogs need to ignore conventional leaders and simply do it ourselves. There’s nothing stopping us from starting now to live like the Amish. Why wait? We’ll be happier and healthier, too.

Muriel Strand

Stone-cold review

Re Kate Washington’s “And it stoned me” (SN&R Dish, August 23):

As the chef and one who has never met Kate Washington, I wonder why she wrote such a seemingly vindictive article. I’d also suggest she contemplate the effect that her job has on our community and on the local eateries that she so briefly passes through on her way to judgment. It’s like a police officer glancing at a crime scene and immediately finding the suspect guilty. Perhaps if Washington visited a restaurant more than once before passing such a hard verdict, as she did upon the Stonegrill and Bar, she would have found a very comforting place to eat and people who care about what they’re doing.

The negative tone Washington employed throughout the piece began with the first line, where she states she is no fan of “gimmicks” at restaurants. Our stone-grilling method of cooking is such a gimmick, in her mind, which would indicate [that] any unconventional or non-Western manner of food preparation is a gimmick, which must be news to fondue restaurants, Japanese restaurants that feature shabu-shabu and any Mongolian or Korean style barbecues that were cooking on hot stones long before there even was a Stonegrill and Bar.

Speaking of other restaurants, Washington cannot see her way to even review Stonegrill and Bar without mentioning Nishiki and Cornerstone, free-standing restaurants with their own management personnel and, while I believe them to be very good restaurants, outside of the owners, the three restaurants have very little to do with one another. It is none of Washington’s concern what other businesses the owners have unless it somehow affects this restaurant. To compare them is simply out of the scope of what a dining review should be.

Washington writes on the layout of Stonegrill and Bar without obviously having asked anyone who works there about it or doing any actual looking around to learn about it. She completely ignored and disregarded the main dining room upstairs; apparently she didn’t even know it was there. Criticizing the size of the bar in relationship to the total restaurant space while completely missing the 90 seats in our main upper dining room makes Washington come off as ignorant.

Once Washington finally gets to the food, she complains about the bread. We make our bread fresh in house daily, we generally receive nothing but compliments and I am personally sorry she did not enjoy hers. But before moving on to other foods she sampled, Washington makes a terrible comment about how she doesn’t like the pairing of Cajun and pasta. I’m not sure if she ever lived in the South or, more importantly, Louisiana, as I have, but if she did she would know the mixing of Cajun and pasta, while a newer trend, is not uncommon. Regardless of that, she criticizes one of our most popular dishes without having actually tried it.

Based on Washington’s description of how she sampled our “gimmicky” stone-grilling concept, she totally screwed it up. She admits to not only not understanding the server’s preparation instructions, but saying she “had tuned out by then.” For her to ruin her own dinner and actually state that she had completely tuned out the server and the information that was being given to her, well, I’m not that surprised she had a negative view of her meal. Her description of how to use the stone is, for obvious reasons, not very accurate. If you don’t listen to the servers, you truly don’t know how to handle the food on your stone. This is a method that has never been used by most people. Imagine if the only cooking that you had ever done was on an outdoor barbecue and then someone gave you a stove and range. It might be helpful if some instructions were given, and retained, on this new device.

We are the first Stonegrill in California, and I can assure you, as a chef, that this is a completely new and innovative way of cooking. To comment on why our style is healthier, which Washington vaguely mentions (again, without any understanding), it’s simply that on the stone there is no need for butter or oils that are used in other forms of cooking.

At the very tail end of her review, Washington says she enjoyed the meat. Since this is the main course of the meal, it would be a very important part of our dining experience and, one would think, the dining review of our restaurant. Having this mentioned earlier would have cast the rest of her review in a more balanced light. Coming at the end, after so many negative and uninformed comments, it’s likely many people had stopped reading by then.

But even this little bit of sugar comes with some lemon: Washington says her meat was accompanied by “a thin, sweet, flavorless Kansas City barbecue sauce that would be instantly disavowed by any honest citizen of Kansas City.” I do not know where Washington is from or where she has lived, but I do know I spent 22 years of my life in Kansas City, so I have gained a sense of a local tradition. My sauce is not KC Masterpiece or whatever commercialized brand people mistakenly associate with Kansas City; mine is a true, homemade, sweet and tangy K.C.-style BBQ sauce.

To have anyone come in and review something that we have spent so much time working on, and to do so with such little effort, is frustrating. Washington visited once, sharing one meal with her father. She didn’t even look around enough to know we had a 90-seat dining room. It just doesn’t seem fair to cast one’s opinion on someone else’s work while having so little information about the subject, what they are trying to do or what their vision is. We have worked hard to provide a quality restaurant experience, and we have a growing list of guests who leave happy and return because they enjoy that experience.

My biggest disappointment with Washington’s review is that some of your readers will never have that experience, or they will wait longer than necessary to try what is not a gimmick but simply a new way of discovering food.

Matt Warren
executive chef Stonegrill and Bar


In “Life of a circus elephant” by Jennifer Davidson (SN&R Green Days, October 11), the name of the elephant in the photograph is Lota, not Loto. This has been corrected on the Web site.

In “Make noise not war” (SN&R d’ART, October 11), Anne Stokes was not credited for her amazing photographs. This has been corrected on the Web site.