Adoree Blair

Government Work Is No Picnic
I am a loyal Westword reader and savor your attacks on people and institutions that richly deserve it, but I must take exception to an "inquiry" you made about the Denver Department of Social Services' tradition of an afternoon picnic for employees in your article "Afternoon Delight," by Karen Bowers, in the August 16 issue. In this case, I say butt out!!

Government employees are employees, just like everybody else. We are not elected officials. We don't get high salaries and lavish expense accounts, and we don't get to go on $30,000 retreats. Many of us exist at just above the poverty level, although some may work their way up to the middle class. The people who get out of work for an afternoon are not overpaid managers who spend half their week schmoozing with other overpaid managers. They are people who work hard five days a week, fifty weeks a year except for the major holidays.

The money you quoted being spent was the salaries that were paid to these people while they were picnicking. The money would've gone out anyway, and the departments remained open. The people paid for their own food through "a small cash contribution (to cover their food and drinks)." Tell me of any managers or government officials who would ever consider paying for their own food--and at such a pedestrian event as a picnic! So, as usual, the government makes a stand on the backs of those who can least afford it. Getting an afternoon off for a picnic is a pitifully small token of appreciation, and every employee everywhere deserves at least that.

While I completely applaud your looking into government waste, I think you're looking in the wrong place. Depriving hardworking people of one of their few breaks in the monotony of work will not save the country!

Eve Leedy

Another Dead-Letter Day
I am one of the millions who was deeply struck by the recent passing of Jerry Garcia. I am also one of the thousands who were somewhat dismayed by Michael Roberts's biting, sarcastic and insensitive Feedback column of August 16. I do not deny Roberts's right to his opinion (or ignorance), but I think it quite unfortunate that he (and Westword) made such a shallow effort at analyzing and discussing the phenomena that was, and always will be, Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead.

I have no pretensions that the music and movement of the Dead speak to all people, but I am confident that millions of people worldwide are better off thanks to their efforts, myself included. Jerry Garcia and the Dead did not just dispense music and merriment (though they were clearly in a class of their own at doing so); they also donated vast sums of money through a long series of benefit shows and organizations to such groups as the REX Foundation (developing modern classical artists), SEVA (for the blind worldwide), the rainforest, earthquake relief and countless others. Beyond that, though, they spoke to their listeners on a spiritual level, allowing us each to reflect on what it was to be a human in the "family of humanity." As Carlos Santana said at his Fiddler's Green show, "The Grateful Dead always played with an open heart, and we should always keep that."

We will miss Jerry Garcia and the good times that went along with the shows, but at least we have our memories (or what's left of them), the music and a better sense of how we all fit together on this earth, thanks to him and the Grateful Dead.

My only comment on the other letters printed is that, while heartfelt, they addressed the superficial implications of Garcia's demise without reflecting on the true nature of the voyage for which "Captain Trips" was the reluctant pilot. I have at least tried.

Jim Conway, M.D.

Never being much of a fan of critics or the Grateful Dead, I still respect both and have followed with interest the attention that has focused on Jerry Garcia, his demise and the subsequent uproar following Michael Roberts's "epitaph." Regardless of what I think of any critic's right to comment upon an artist's work (art being a courageous venture in any form that the critic is obviously incapable of, hence his or her job choice), it amazes me that the fans of the Grateful Dead are so vehement about Michael's opinion. I ask the fans: Did Jerry Garcia give a shit for any critic's opinion? Obviously not, or he would have given up thirty years ago. Should you give a shit? Maybe you could listen to music and opinion with some of the freedom he had. Maybe instead of writing useless letters that have the same negligible effect upon people's opinion of the music as Michael's, you could write a letter to your congressman or representative to let them know your opinion on the 104th's plan to drastically reduce environmental protection. Or maybe a letter to the government of Indonesia to help end human-rights abuses. These were issues Jerry Garcia cared deeply about. These letters, while their effect may be small, will impact directly on people with the power to change. Your letter to the local advertisers' rag does nothing but churn a useless tide.

Mark Glotfelty

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