This Just In: Greenspun Media Group Lays Off Veteran Food Writer

“The critic, if he is to justify his existence, should endeavor to discipline his personal prejudices and cranks…and compose his differences with as many of his fellows as possible, in the common pursuit of true judgment.” – T.S. Eliot

“A good critic is one who tells of his own soul’s adventures among the masterpieces.” – Anatole France

“The duty of a critic is to educate, not pander to the lowest common denominator.” – ELV

We at ELV haven’t had a whole lot of respect for GMG ever since they canned us over eight years ago (as the first restaurant critic for both Las Vegas Weekly and Las Vegas Life magazines) for being “too critical.” (Translation: we value advertising more than integrity, and our publisher doesn’t want to take any heat for whatever some pesky critic has to say.)

Now we’ve just heard that a new round of layoffs has claimed uber-food writer Max Jacobson, leaving Las Vegas with a serious hole in the knowledgeable foodie department.

Mad Max and yours truly have been friendly rivals over the years, but regardless of our professional differences, the fact remains that he has serious street cred in the gourmet world (20 years combing the streets and hinterlands of L.A. for food finds and restaurant reviews for the Los Angeles Times), so his absence is a serious blow to whatever food/chef/restaurant crediblility has been building up here over the past decade.

Regardless of the reasons for his layoff (the imminent death of dead tree journalism is the likely culprit), his voice will be missed.

In honor of MJ, our staff thought this a good time to rebroadcast an interview I did with him way back in 2003, shortly after he took the Las Vegas Life gig.

Click here to hear our dicussion on KNPR – Part One; and here to hear Part Two.

p.s. You’ll need RealPlayer to listen to this ancient history….sorry. But listen and you’ll hear tales of cockroaches, wormy soup dumplings, and grilled cheese sandwiches sold with a bite already taken from them. Slapsy Maxsy also has some deceptively simple, yet essential advice for how to get the most out of your dining out experience. In Part Two, we review the long-departed Tre (that we both enjoyed immensely-so much for the power of critics), and expound upon our loathing for tiramisu and other cliches of the food world.

Update: 13 people in all were let go, including Melinda Scheckells, Editor-in-Chief of VEGAS magazine. (Translation: that soft-core porn rag is abandoning all pretense of having any informational or cultural merit, and henceforth will be great for lining birdcages, especially if those birds enjoy taking pictures like this to the bathroom.)

15 thoughts on “This Just In: Greenspun Media Group Lays Off Veteran Food Writer

  1. Jon the problem here is that being a “restaurant critic” for Greenspun media or others in this town, is that there is way to much backroom handshakes going on. When I read one of their publication and see a review on a restaurant that is great, I then turn the page to see an ad for that same hotel or restaurant. It damages the credibility of the critic. In the Chefs minds here in this town Max’s real name is Max “I never met a free meal I didn’t like” Jacobson. But in some defense for him; how can he write a true review by being critical if his bosses say “hey we can’t beat the restaurant up in a review, because we need them to renew their ad contract?” Thank god for you eatinglv for not taking ads and selling out!! Just keep telling it like it is…….

  2. Are you shitting me? That is garbage.
    Max was the first critic to venture in to Settebello and give us a little pub and has been a good friend ever since.
    Thanks for everything Max, hope everything works out.

  3. Good Luck Max in your future ventures. I always enjoyed your reviews-in fact, that was the first thing I went to the minute I got my copy of Las Vegas Life each month.

    As an “out-of-towner” who frequently travels to Las Vegas to dine, Max’s writings were one of my primary means of gaining information on the local dining scene. I wasn’t jaded by the fact that Max was reviewing a restaurant that a heavy advertiser in the magazine-I cared more about his insightful reviews about the food.

    As far as the publishers-they can kiss my very large backside. They should be ashamed of their poor customer service and communication to their subscribers-and communication is their business.

    All of a sudden last year the magazine stopped arriving in the mail-to be replaced with another one of their glossy rags that was filled with celebrity gossip and more photos of Kim Kardashian than I could stomach. No explanation, no “Dear Mr. dr we have made a change to your subscription for this reason.” I sent emails and numerous letters and never heard a thing. I sent the last rag back in a brown envelope with a “do not send again” note. They finally got the message….and Kardashian is still famous for being infamous.

  4. Max,

    My condolences on your recent exit (or is it perhaps a blessing in disguise?).

    If you have some time on your hand, drop by Los Angeles to say hello.

  5. Max, I only wish I owned a magazine so I could give you a job! Good luck in the future and thanks for always trying to tell it like it is regardless of the consequences. And to your ex-employer I’ll add that often “you don’t now what you got til it’s gone!” To John Curtas, I recently regaled Vegas with many of the same criticisms and then some yet, 1) I ended up winning a readers contest I didn’t know existed!(nice prize too…) & 2) it seems as if VEGAS took my letter to heart as I complained of what you spoke and argued that it was hardly the upscale kind of glossy it should aspire to being; they have since eliminated the “scene”photos and articles of young bimbos and put more upper crust philanthropic photo spreads in their place- at least it’s a start. But John, here’s a word of advice: if you put glossy paper in a bird cage you’ll end up with pee all over the place. Perhaps instead you should use the editorial section of the RJ since it is absorbent (and that’s the ONLY good thing I can say about it!)

  6. Max,

    Thank you for all your support over the years. I wish you well. What Vegas needs in my humble opinion is for all of you guys to get together & come up with an agreed upon rating system for restaurants. 1-4 stars perhaps. Then create a website or use ELV to post honest ratings that Vegas restaurant operators can trust & be proud to earn. We need something besides suspect Michelin to inspire us to get better each year. This is what makes Vegas different than other major food cities & keeps perpetuating the idea that we are all show. Vegas desperatly needs a “Feared critic” to keep great restaurants from becoming fat & lazy. I don’t think advertising would be a problem, but you would need to stay away from hotels & restaurants. If all the chef’s, owners, & operators in Vegas were tuning in, I’m sure there would be a plethera of advertisers signing up. Wineries, liqours, food products, kitchen equipment, uniform companies, online concierge services, etc………I dare say you could even make some money. That’s all I got.

    Cheers!

  7. The silencing of Max Jacobson’s voice is a huge loss for Las Vegas. There are only a few truly world-class writers of any stripe in the city, and Max is one. What distinguished Max was not only his powers of observation and expression, nor his breadth of experience, but also his insatiable interest in finding interesting food on all levels of eating, from street to 3-star, and his dedication to covering the valley far beyond the Strip.
    Vegas is too small a town to truly be an anonymous critic for long, and it takes a gargantuan amount of humility and sense of purpose to stave off influence from all sides. Some reviews might have been more inspired than others (and critics who agree all the time don’t have much reason to exist), but in the balance, I think Mr Jacobson can look back with a lot of pride.

    Sincerely,
    The guy who writes the text to go along with those softcore stories in Vegas magazine (thx to Melinda <3)
    (and also the guy who made sure there was a picture of Chef Trotter *in the kitchen* in my James Beard Foundation event story)
    (oh, and the current softcore cover story of Venetian Style, which I angled around a visit with CT)

  8. I agree, how can we all live without Max’s discoveries or semi-secret gems hidden in awful locations we could never find? Thanks, Max, for all your fantastic finds, insightful articles, and wealth of (multilingual, sometimes) dining advice. The food section is (was) always my first read in the Weekly, and perhaps the only decent section in VEGAS magazine. So Max, former colleague and fellow foodie: thanks for everything, and keep on doing what you are doing, wherever that is, but don’t leave us food review groupies hanging. Ah, and for all your love of the German language, luckily, there’s no such thing as unter-food critic. You’ll always be the über-food critic. Well, you and JC will have to share that prize….Ich wünsche dir weiterhin ganz viel Erfolg.

  9. I’ve known, and eaten with Max, for over three years now and can say he’s truly one of my favorite dining companions ever. In addition to being a damn good food writer, and someone who has forgotten twice as much about food and wine then I’ll ever know, eating with Max is and always be pure entertainment. He has literally eaten everything, everywhere, and not only retained an amazing amount of food knowledge but all sorts of other little snippets and stories from his 35+ years of travels. And did I mention that he speaks about a dozen languages to boot? Keep the great food tips coming, you don’t need GMG for that. PS – great call on Thai Pepper – even if they were out of Thai BBQ chicken. The duck larb made a nice substitute.

  10. How many times in the past 5 years has a restaurant reviewed by Max received a poor review? Very few times. Everytime I read one of his “reviews” I always say before reading it that it will be an excellent review.

  11. Max, the best of luck to you in your future endeavors! Your breadth of food knowledge is amazing. We could always tell when you really adored something, rather than when you were just “reviewing” it. I hope that our paths will cross again!

  12. Last time I checked Max wasn’t dead yet. He most definitely knows his stuff and certainly (despite dealing with small town politics and hand shaking) educated a hell of a lot of people. Which is what he is supposed to be doing. I don’t think I’ve had a bad or even mediocre meal because Max had to be friendly. And perhaps that is where you can draw the ethical line with a critic here. That’s the game for Vegas- and all of you comp-crazy cronies thrive on it. You know who you are. Another step backwards for a transition to a real city. Are we just a coal town secretly parading as a bustling metropolis? Seems likely. Best to you Max. Next time I’ll buy. Time to get back to the mine…

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