By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
I was reminded that even in this, the greatest of all countries, the monied interests and the politicians (nearly all of them, it seems) are hand in glove with each other while the needs and desires of the general population are given little attention--when they are given any attention at all.
I could go on, but I'll spare you a flowery speech. Thanks for being there, Westword--for keeping us informed of events of importance that are quietly occurring in our community and that deserve closer examination.
Curtis V. Smith
That Tickles the Ivories
It was stunning to flip through the November 1 Westword to Alan Prendergast's "The Brico Requiem" and see a face from my childhood--in a younger incarnation than I'd known, at that. This woman was of mythical proportions to me even then. When my younger brother and I had to put away our blocks, we found the element of fun in imagining that the potato sack where they belonged was Dr. Brico, its opening her mouth hungrily gobbling the blocks. There was no disdain in this--just an instinct on which your article shed light. During my brief stint as Antonia Brico's piano student at age four (I was in way over my head), I didn't know of her accomplishments, and the famous connections meant nothing to me. The pictures of Albert Schweitzer on the picture-coated walls were of her grandfather, I thought, or some archetypal grandfather of us all.
Perhaps with the cataloguing of the concert tapes, I'll be able to hear the piano concertos my older brother played with the Brico Symphony in his youth and then fondly recall the gatherings afterward at a place called Bauer's. And then I'll indulge in one of my great loves--piano playing.
My son is very talented on piano and violin. He has perfect pitch, a photographic memory and can play the piano in the dark and the violin behind his back. He has won many honors with both instruments, including what I think was "Congress of Strings" in 1976, conducted by Dr. Brico. The musicians came from all over the United States; he was the only one from Denver.
I first met Dr. Brico in a doorway after a concert of her young students. I told her my son played the piano. She inquired about him, then invited us to her house to hear two piano students. They were great, and our family went to the public concert to hear them.
At a public library sale, I bought a small book by Albert Schweitzer. I was sure it was just private notes that he never intended to be published. In it was a picture of his leper hospital. I treasured the book very much but thought Dr. Brico would especially enjoy it. When I called, she said that she had all of his books, but then she asked the title and learned she didn't have that one.
When I gave it to her, she went to her room and came back with a fistful of rumpled bills. I said I didn't want anything but would like an autographed photo of her. It took her some time to find a brochure, to which she added a delightful autograph.
I was stunned and thrilled by Alan Prendergast's wonderful article. It is so precious to me.
What's the Alternative?
I would like to comment on Michael Roberts's November 1 Feedback column on the sorry state of Denver's commercial radio stations. It's pretty ironic, but ever since the Peak went on the air last year as a supposed alternative to what was already out there, things have actually gotten a lot worse than they previously were. If anyone still doesn't believe this, all they have to do is take the "thirty-minute channel-surfing test." This is where one scans our three pretentious "alternative" stations (KTCL, the Peak and KBCO) and sees if it's possible to go more than thirty minutes without hearing either Peter Gabriel, U2, REM, Natalie Merchant or Talking Heads. Sadly, nine times out of ten you lose. So much for "alternative," huh?
Of course, this sorry trend is nothing new. KTCL has been going downhill for several years now, ever since they decided to dump their more or less freewheeling approach to music selection in favor of standardization and computer-generated playlists, not to mention their abandonment of a musically sophisticated audience in favor of the teenagers they seem to covet so much nowadays. The Peak, meanwhile, is about as alternative as General Motors, while good old, stodgy KBCO has adopted a "world-class" approach to everything, including groups like the Eagles and the Doobie Brothers. Need I say more?
There was once a time when alternative (or progressive) radio was about turning people on to good music. Now it's just about playing the hits. Today's "alternative" radio stations have become the lapdogs of huge American media corporations and have an army of "experts" and "consultants" planning out their every move. Like everything else in our society, money rules, and a lot of great artistic talent never gets heard. Once again, corporate America has fucked up a good thing, and it's got plenty of brainwashed suckers in the radio business who are more than eager to go along with its version of "alternative."