Your cover ("Guerrilla Cuisine," 9/25/09) was an irresponsible advertisement for RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company. It showcased a prominent teen mentor from Madison's Ironworks Café holding an easily distinguishable pack of Natural American Spirits (an RJ Reynolds product) with a cigarette hanging off his lip.
Thousands of Isthmus readers (31% with young children) brought home that glamorized image of smoking in Madison.
Cigarette ads were banished from TV and billboards years ago because of their harmful effects on kids. Yet Isthmus still ran a free product placement to RJ Reynolds, notably a prominent Isthmus advertiser.
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time Isthmus has featured tobacco prominently (and positively). Past Isthmus editions have displayed modern creative leaders like David Lynch and David Sedaris puffing cigarettes.
I'd prefer Isthmus drop advertisers whose products kill readers when used as intended, but at least stop making editorial decisions that carelessly expose Madison children to glamorous images of smoking.
Tip to restaurateurs: If you want to persuade me to eat your food, don't show me a picture of your cook with a cigarette dangling from his lips and 40 more waiting in the on-deck circle.
Richard S. Russell
And another thing
"Guerrilla Cuisine" presented an intriguing window into Ben and Jonny Hunter's exploration of food and community-building. But its description of the Catacombs was inaccurate.
Catacombs was a coffeehouse and student-outreach ministry at Pres House on Library Mall, begun long before Ben and Jonny's time. It was a way of reaching out to students - creating a safe and welcoming space. Good, cheap food, loving and caring - sort of "What would Jesus do?" but with coffee and a little live music!
The author writes that a pastor was hired to "hold court" at the Catacombs. The choice of words - communicating arrogance and disparity of power - does not fit reality.
I remember a friendly bald guy hanging out and drinking coffee. Students hung out, sometimes with him. They talked about breakups and depression. God and life.
The article says "having that pastor sitting there, asking each patron, 'Are you a Christian?' was too much for [Ben and Jonny]." Sounds like boundary-violating, Bible-thumping Christians at it again!
Except it simply did not happen. Was faith part of conversations at the Catacombs? Sure. But, grilling students - "each patron" - about their religious beliefs wasn't part of the Catacombs experience.
I was extremely disappointed by your story on the Underground Food Collective and its sidebar on raising an endangered species for food.
The notion that killing is beneficial to an endangered species is ludicrous. If this argument is based on the notion that no one would raise Red Wattle pigs as pets, perhaps the Underground Food Collective should also be serving up bald eagle. In the 1930s, 15 breeds of pigs were raised for food, and six of these breeds are now extinct. There are currently only about 300 Red Wattles in existence.
How could the Hunter brothers cater to the vegetarian or social activist while simultaneously serving up veal and endangered pig? If such endeavors are "not just about making a profit, but making a difference," it is most certainly a difference for the worse.