Food critic Besha Rodell had lots to say about ink., Michael Voltaggio's much-vaunted restaurant in Hollywood where, she wrote, “ego and location intersect” (“That Touch of ink.,” June 22). And readers had much to say in response.
Nick writes, “Terrific review. I couldn't agree more that the place falls short on taste. My dinner there was beautiful to look at and extraordinarily mediocre to taste. The saving grace was their cocktail program, which was very good.”
Todd Chow agrees. “You nailed it. Tried the place several times, each time hoping it would be better.” He adds, “Concept, technique, presentation OK. But what about the taste?”
Others responded to the opening of Rodell's review, in which she noted that her waiter sported both a number of tattoos and a Rolex.
“What does the server's choice of watch have to do with the restaurant's review?” Howard writes. “Go back to Atlanta, idiot. We don't need another pretentious restaurant critique [sic] trying to sound relevant.“
Grace_anth6286 points out Howard's typo. (Yep, Rodell is a critic, not a “critique.”) “Maybe I'm just being picky, but if you're going to take the time to insult a professional writer, you should check your spelling,” she says, adding, “Excellent and evocative work. I feel like I know exactly what it will be like when and if I go.”
Keith Culling agrees. “I'm at that place where neither tattoos nor Rolexes impress me,” he writes. “As described, ink. sounds like the stereotypical joint where image is everything. Ms. Rodell has convinced me that this is the destination for a feast for the eyes. Yet I'm not inclined to plunk down my non-titanium credit card for the visual memories. I'll wait for the coffee-table book.” And, Keith, you know there will be one!
Moabdullajd notes, “In your first two reviews, you've just told everyone to hold the F*&@! up for two of Los Angeles' newer, more notable restaurants! This is not a criticism — I find it refreshing, in both senses of the word.” He adds, “Absolutely brilliant intro to the review making the connection between terroir and winemakers and then transitioning into the rest of the review.” Thanks, Moabdullajd. We're glad you like it. There's more this week from Rodell on page 32.
Big Brother Is Videotaping
Readers were horrified by Jon Campbell's expose on the automatic license-plate recognition that cops are using to watch us even before we commit crimes (“Electronic Cops Track Millions,” June 22).
Michael B. Fultz writes, “This is a great article. As someone who drives through L.A. regularly for business, I find it quite unsettling that this is occurring on a continual basis. At least we don't have average-speed cameras like in Britain. The cameras actually scan you at regular intervals along the freeway, and if you arrive at a scan ahead of schedule (a celebratory achievement in the U.S.), you are immediately mailed a citation. Now THAT'S effed up.“
Martin Aubrey adds, “I live in L.A., and this is a travesty. The taxpayer dollars could be put to much better use, e.g., public works projects, arts in schools, etc.”
A reader who calls himself “Live and Let Live” disagrees. “This tech creeps me out— it's disturbing. But what creeps me out many times over is when someone burgles my house or one of my vehicles, there is no record of who did it. Statistics tell me that, if they were not able to get everything they wanted to steal, they'll be back again.
“If license-plate recognition can put a dent in such activities, I gladly render that loss of privacy. It's a matter of which evil is greater. It's time to surrender a little personal privacy until we can find a better way to do it. The ACLU does not have my support on this issue.”
Partisan Pat is horrified by that conclusion. “More than one Founding Father,” he writes, “just rolled over in his grave.”
When in Rome
We also heard from a reader who truly disliked Karina Longworth's June 22 cover story on Woody Allen (“Woody's Roman Holiday”). He made such a long (and thoughtful) argument that we herewith turn over the Comments page to him.
“To call this review 'trite' is a compliment,” Doug Tarnopole writes, and then quotes Longworth: “ 'That Allen is still making films about men grappling with the illogic of love, well into his 70s, particularly in light of his own life experience, gives the work the weight of tragedy. He's been using his art to ask these questions for 40 years, and he still hasn't figured it out. “About the important things in life, you learn nothing,” Allen acknowledges. “I know this, I'm older now. It's really true.” ' “
He continues, “It should be front-page news that this 31-year-old film critic has ironed out that whole love thing in her spare time. She would be the first human being in history to have done so. She really ought to come back into the cave and let the rest of us benighted fools in on the secret.
“I have to add this: Virtually all artists, great and small, end up repeating themselves, both because most people, even most geniuses, don't have more than one or maybe two great ideas and, more importantly, because the human condition sort of limits the possibilities. What 'new thing' can be said at this point? Not much, if anything, though new ways of saying old things are good enough — just as saying 'I love you' to a loved one repeatedly, in perhaps somewhat different ways, is not exactly, like, you know, needlessly repeating oneself. If she understood a thing about Woody Allen's real themes, she'd realize that he thinks we're all checkmated at birth, and the best we can do is console each other along the way — in various ways, including by 'tell[ing] funnier jokes.' Whether or not she agrees with that is her affair, but a critic should first understand and then critique.
“Sure, To Rome With Love might suck. It happens. What most annoys me is the ridiculous critic-sneer that comes through so loud and clear. She should be so lucky as to have a tenth of the insight into the ultimately tragic human condition as Woody Allen does. Oh, and that insight is utterly derivative — they were onto it in Gilgamesh, after all. So, we should concentrate on something else, right? Like, what, exactly?
“It's almost enough to make you think the ultimately unfair trope that all critics are failed, frustrated artists is true. (It isn't — at least not for all critics.)”
Speaking of Longworth, she was a big winner recently in two journalism contests. First, she took first place for business reporting from the National Association of Black Journalists for her story about Elvis Mitchell taking over the film program at LACMA. Second, she won first place in the category Entertainment Criticism/Reviews from the Los Angeles Press Club.
The Weekly took five other first-place awards at the Press Club's awards gala last weekend. Mars Melnicoff won first place for Hard News Reporting for her story about L.A. County's “war on desert rats.” Chris Vogel and Simone Wilson won Online Multimedia Package for their work on the Tupac Shakur killing. Hillel Aron took the Sports category for his story about L.A.'s bicycle activists. We also took first place for our presence on Facebook, and longtime L.A. Weekly contributor Ted Soqui won first in the News Photo category for his now-iconic photo of an Occupy L.A. protester.
Finally, we had two near-misses: News blogger Simone Wilson took second place in the Online Journalist of the Year category, and former staff writer Chris Vogel took second in the Print Journalist of the Year category. Congratulations to all.
You Write, We Read
Please send letters to L.A. Weekly, 3861 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. Or write us at ReadersWrite@laweekly.com. Full name and contact information preferred.