Oh, What a Release It Is
I want to commend Westword on its continued coverage of the prison system, most recently with Alan Prendergast's "Caught Off Guard," in the February 6 issue, and "Please Release Me," in the January 9 issue:

The pantyhose antics of the Department of Corrections officials depicted in "Caught Off Guard" humorously illustrate a very serious problem: This department is incapable of handling the severity of Colorado's prison problems.

Jan Harris

Do you really know what the Colorado Parole Board is doing? I honestly think you don't--but I do, as I've dealt with them up-close and personal.

I have been incarcerated since September 1994. I am doing a six-year sentence for second-degree assault (a fight, mind you). I have never been a "problem" in the system, with no writeups and no reprimands.

In October 1996 I submitted a parole plan. I was told on January 27, 1997, that my parole plan has been denied. So I pursued another plan, only to be told the next day that the parole officer felt it better if I paroled out of state--which will take almost four months to be approved or denied. I have nothing to gain or lose by waiting the extra four months. On the other hand, the State of Colorado gets the taxpayers' dollars to hold me longer.

I understand that the State of Colorado doesn't care about my welfare or your money; you wouldn't believe how they waste it!

They would have you believe that I am writing this to "get back at them." They may make me leave the state, but they can't stop progress.

I have nothing to hide. I have the truth.
Richard Wisecup
Canon City

Editor's note: If you missed Westword's prison series, "The Insiders," you can still read it on line at westword.com/extra/insiders.html

Station Breaks
Michael Roberts's January 23 Feedback column on the state of Denver radio gives a lot of credit to stations that really don't deserve it. Granted, the emphasis on local artists by some is a positive development, but overall, the state of the area's corporate/commercial radio is pretty bleak indeed.

For example, compare KTCL and KBCO today to what they were playing eight or ten years ago, and it becomes clear how bad things have become. Back then, artists like Cabaret Voltaire, Bauhaus, Frank Zappa, Tom Waits and Leo Kottke (and other, more obscure artists) could be heard regularly on these two stations. Back then, both of these stations had a real air of eclecticism to them, but today they are both computer-programmed by ding-dong consultants like the Gavin organization and Dennis Constantine. They've both been sucked dry of all their creativity and originality.

Of course, it's not totally their fault. Ever since the huge entertainment conglomerates decided that there was big money to be made on "alternative" music, things have been going steadily downhill. What do you expect from corporate America? Eclecticism has been replaced by standardization, and independent artists and labels are ignored in favor of major-label copycats. These stations used to be about music, but today the music is far subordinate to the almighty buck.

Consider three of the big trends today in music: the emergence of ambient/rave/electronic music, the new popularity of lounge/ cocktail music, and the explosion of international music and its hybridization with other musical forms. All three of these genres are virtually ignored by corporate/commercial radio in favor of creative geniuses like the Goo Goo Dolls and Stone Temple Pilots (like wow!). And the record industry wonders why sales are flat? Hellooo!

Well, anyway, the good news is that there is a tremendous amount of exciting and original music being produced nowadays (and some of it is actually on major labels). The bad news is that you don't hear it on corporate/commercial radio. You've got to go out and look for it (or rely on small, noncommercial stations like KGNU). I sense that a great many people out there are starving for something new in their musical lives. It would be nice if the powers that be in commercial radio would start listening--but, of course, we won't hold our breath.

Carl Finton

Dead Ringer
I am quite pleased that Mr. Roberts praised the latest Future Sound of London album Dead Cities in his top CD picks for 1996 ("The Prize Patrol," December 26). It's about time that Colorado catches up with the rest of the world and gives credit where credit is due. It is a magnificent album. The only gripe I have is the persistent comment about FSOL's work being merely an "alternative" soundtrack to the 1981 film Blade Runner. The press had previously said this with FSOL's album from 1994, Lifeforms (Virgin/Astralwerks Records). Yes, it does drift in places, but an alternative soundtrack to Blade Runner it is not. If anything, Dead Cities would be ideal to listen to while looking at spaghetti Westerns on the weekends!

Derek Jordan
via the Internet

Better Read Than Fed
I think Kyle Wagner and I have similar taste in foods. Little Nell ("To Nell and Back," January 9) only impresses me because I think it's a relatively inexpensive place to eat in Aspen. Plus, the bar scene is not bad, either. But I agree--the food is standard at best.

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