Black Hogg Returns: Readers Fight Back
Besha Rodell's takedown of the hottest restaurant in Silver Lake, predictably, outraged some readers ("Black Hogg Down," Jan. 18). How, they wondered, could Rodell be so mean? Especially when the L.A. Times had previously given the place a rave?
Writes Nahteehk, "I went to Black Hogg after the first review of the restaurant [in the Times] and agreed with what was written. I'm very shocked that Besha Rodell, well-known for her reviews, would stoop to a written lashing of one's character. I am thoroughly appalled by the personal attack on the chef, a small-business owner. Clearly Rodell had an ulterior motive by making an example of Chef Park and attempting to end a career before it could really get going. Disgusting, Rodell. Shame on you!!!"
Adds Annieyuan21, "I couldn't disagree with this article more. Not everyone likes foo-foo fine dining dishes with a 10:1 plate-to-food ratio. Every meal I've had at Black Hogg has consistently ranked in my top 25 food experiences."
We also heard from Park himself. He writes, "After reading (and recovering) from Besha Rodell's review, I feel compelled to express my disappointment with the way in which the author handled the article. In a story heavily focused on my background, I was astonished that Ms. Rodell never bothered to properly interview me. She explained only after publication that she was the unnamed fact checker who called to confirm brief details about me, and that the food editor, who did not identify herself by title, had also called to verify the same information. Nothing more. Not only was this an inadequate attempt to get the full picture of my experience, but I find the deceptive nature of these unidentified calls ethically questionable. It's information I would have happily given anyway.
"Had Ms. Rodell genuinely reached out to me, she would have discovered that I owned a local franchise of a sandwich shop for nine years. I handled food daily and learned the ins and outs of operating a restaurant. Then, at 34, I sold the business and moved to Manhattan with my wife to attend one of the best culinary schools in the country, and to learn in some actual New York City kitchens. My time there was curtailed by the birth of my son, but I made the absolute most of my experience in New York. In preparing to open Black Hogg, I rented a kitchen in L.A. for one year to hone and develop the menu we currently have. I may not have gained experience through the traditional path, but I have strived to create food that is both unique and delicious.
"We love and appreciate the locals of Silver Lake who frequent Black Hogg regularly, and we invite residents throughout Los Angeles to come judge the merits of our food for themselves."
Doug McIntyre sent us a thoughtful email in response to Zachary Pincus-Roth's Jan. 18 cover story about sitcom warm-up comics ("The Toughest Job in Comedy").
He writes, "Pincus-Roth's otherwise excellent piece is marred by the omission of Ray Combs' huge contribution to studio audience warm-up. In the mid-1980s, sitcom producers would move the shoot date of a pilot episode if Ray Combs wasn't available — he was that valuable.
"During the taping of the pilot for Amen, Johnny Carson sat in the green room and heard the audience roaring during scene changes. Carson asked what was going on to cause that much laughter. He quickly realized the warm-up guy was much funnier than the show itself. Ray Combs made his Tonight Show debut shortly thereafter, was signed to a deal by Carson and eventually found fame as host of The Family Feud. In his time, he was the undisputed King of Warm-Up, and you can still hear traces of Ray's act 'borrowed' by today's crop of warm-up performers."
On the Beach
Readers also reacted to Paul Teetor's piece on crusading Hermosa Beach Councilman Patrick "Kit" Bobko ("Mr. Clean of Hermosa Beach," Jan. 18).
Writes keyrock, "This is disgusting. Small beach town with incredibly corrupt police, meter maids and drastically overpaid firemen. Considering what happened in Bell, I hope some of the bigger media outlets pick up this story. This guy Kit has some serious cojones. We need more people like him in politics."
Ann Cooper writes, "What Kit or Teetor forgot to mention is that the city of Hermosa Beach is heavily understaffed. City officials would rather pay overtime than hire full-time pension[ed] employees, and then publish ridiculous, overtime-inflated numbers as if this was a salary made by every officer or firefighter or parking enforcement operator. It's a mean-spirited tactic and hardly worth the lead of this story. The investigation was more than five years ago. Old news. Please.
"What Kit has done is serve as a constant and provocative figure trying to solve the city's finances and dilemmas in an even-handed and spirited way. Negotiating a settlement that ended a potential $800 million lawsuit over the city reneging on an oil contract is no joke, and replacing it with a solution that could bring hundreds of millions in revenue to the city through a new operator? Now we're talking turkey, folks. Bobko is a freakin' ball buster, and as a former resident of Hermosa, I sort of love and hate the guy. Many residents think he's rough around the edges and intimidating. G-d help you if it's your turn to speak at a council meeting and he's had a bad day; you may leave in shreds."
You Write, We Read
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