Letters to the Portland editor: June 5, 2009

In praise of Pfeifle
By PORTLAND PHOENIX LETTERS  |  June 3, 2009

I can't tell you how much it means to have such a thoughtful, well written review of my new CD (see "Before the Goldrush," by Sam Pfeifle, May 29). Portland is pretty damn lucky to have Sam Pfeifle in our midst — a man who, each week, devotes a full article to one artist, giving careful consideration, in well-wrought language, and obviously, after no small amount of listening time. That's dedication to the local scene. And I just want him to know that his good work does not go unappreciated.

So thanks — he puts all this sweat, love and tears into a project like this, and hopes that at least one person gives it the full-eared attention that he has. And to think that he does this every week. He's de man. Portland's one lucky town.

Putnam Smith

Brunswick


WATCH YOUR TONE

As a Mainer-in-exile, I enjoy reading Brian Duff's food columns online as I plot which new restaurants merit a visit on my next trip back to Portland. But I was disappointed by the tone of a recent review (see "In The Raw," May 20) and hope it was an aberration.

I'm not sure it makes sense for the lone food critic at the only alternative weekly serving Maine to be so publicly dismissive of an entire cuisine or diet. After a two-paragraph intro that's entirely scornful and cynical ("nonsense," "cultists," "completely wrong"), what is there left to say? The compliments about a few of the menu items ring entirely hollow. Surely there were valid things to criticize about this particular restaurant and, yes, perhaps some of the tenets of the raw-food movement (it's fine to share an informed opinion). But I found it all handled rather poorly: If a music critic kicked off a review of an experimental noise album with a snide, 200-word hissyfit about how lame the entire experimental-noise genre is, why bother reading the rest? Where can the conversation legitimately go from there?

I had always thought that the editorial mission of the Phoenix's restaurant and arts reviews was not so much to provide a soapbox for an individual writer to spout their own preferences, prejudices, and internal belief systems, but more to suss how well the chef or artist accomplishes what they intended to achieve.

If someone opens an old-school Italian joint, the question should be: How much like mama's are their meatballs? Not: Italian places suck so this place sucks. Yes, there's room for a writer's personality, bias, and even snark in there, but this seemed over the top. Judging from the tone of this particular review, it would appear that if you happen to open a restaurant or be working in an artistic genre — especially an alternative one — that a Phoenix reviewer just happens not to like, as a whole, you are out of luck in terms of coverage in a very small media market.

Josh Rogers

New York City

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