The opening paragraphs of my profile on local entrepreneur and designer Linda Derschang:
Linda Derschang is sitting on a patio at the corner of First Avenue and Blanchard Street. I first see her from across the street. She is under a dark-blue awning outside her new restaurant and bar, which is the very old restaurant and bar Queen City, previously known as Queen City Grill, and before that Queen City Tavern.
She is wearing shoes that are silverish and dusty gold. She greets me warmly. As we enter the building, I notice gray, black, and white tiles below its front door. There is a Greek key pattern on the tiles that box the words "Queen City Est. 1910."
An email I received the day the profile was published:
I was reading with interest your piece about Linda Derschang's new/old bar, but then I got to the first sentence in the second graf. I'm sorry, but who the hell really cares about what color her damned shoes are? How is that in ANY way relevant to the news that she has a new/old bar? Then, of course, the photo at the top of the piece has her wearing totally different shoes, and the ONLY reason we notice that, is because YOU brought up the color of her shoes.
The color of her shoes is of zero relevance, and acts as a jarring WTF at the very beginning of the piece.
Best wishes, Casey Hamilton
I have a feeling that Mr. Hamilton abandoned my feature after that second paragraph. But had he made it even to the fourth paragraph, which describes the remodeling of Queen City ("Tall, unhung mirrors, one with a dark mahogany frame, lean on a wall. A row of short lamps, which will be placed on tables, wait with nun-like patience on a windowsill. One light fixture, which has a simple moderne elegance, is set next to the top of the wooden bar..."), I'm very certain that any confusion about the shoes and their function in the work would have cleared. The piece is more about Derschang the designer than Derschang the restaurateur.
Food is, for sure, important to Derschang; but her background is really fashion, art, and decor. It is not an accident that the first business she opened in Seattle was a clothing store for the hipsters of its time (1987 to 1994). Nor is it an accident that I spent so much time describing things like the pews in Oddfellows Bar + Cafe. I'm far more interested interior design, architecture, and urban history than chow (though I'm a big fan of the burger at Smith). Lastly, if my piece had mostly been about food, then I would understand how a description of her shoes might seem neither here or there, or even tasteless. But the fact they appear so soon in the story should have strongly signaled to the reader the direction my piece was taking.