Letters

Can We Be Frank?
Westword has sunk to a new low with Dewey Webb's "Final Episode" Killer Curse, in the June 4 issue. At last you look like the sleazy tabloid you really are.

Ray Brown
Denver

The connection between the last episode of Seinfeld and the death of Frank Sinatra is obvious. Sinatra watched the final show and was bored to death.

Dixie Darr
Denver

The Rest Is History
Thank you for Harrison Fletcher's article on the Sand Creek Massacre ("Battle Cry," May 28). You spent a great deal of space attempting to condone the actions of U.S. troops against a group of humans who surrendered themselves to the care of the U.S. government. Their trust in that government got them killed (brutally), even while they stood behind the very flag that represented that government.

I can't think of a clearer illustration of what can happen to a people when they surrender their freedoms to a government...even a government that founded itself on protecting those freedoms. We should not, under any circumstances, diminish the important lessons of Sand Creek. It should not be whitewashed (no pun intended) to make it palatable to U.S. citizens. Let's try teaching history as it really happened!

I hope that Mr. Campbell will get more press and support for his bill.
Holly Durkin
via the Internet

Great story by Fletcher! Nice, vivid use of language.
Margaret Dolin
via the Internet

I am responding to Donald Ferry's absurd letter in the June 6 edition of Westword. I've known Dr. Meranto for about three years now, having taken several classes with her, including Native American politics. Though Dr. Meranto and I don't always agree on everything, I consider her a friend. That said, I've never read more bilge about a person's position on a subject as Mr. Ferry's mischaracterization of Dr. Meranto's opinion of AIM. When she and I spoke the day of the rally at the Auraria campus, she said she felt AIM could have better used the forum to get its message out and that the method it has and continues to use has not been very effective. She suggested that rather than beat a drum and walk around in a circle, AIM could have used the opportunity to teach passersby about the issues, passing out fliers as they did with a reading list so they could educate themselves with well-documented examples of the horrors committed against Native Americans in the past and how they continue to be marginalized politically. Further, to suggest that she has no sympathy for the plight of Indians or, more to Ferry's point, to suggest that she harbors some malice for Natives or is some kind of Nazi because she disagrees with AIM's methods is absurd.

Ferry owes Dr. Meranto an apology. Oh, and yes, being a published Ph.D. and director of Native American Studies does make her an expert on the subject, Mr. Ferry. To match hers, what credentials have you got?

Robert Sampron
Denver

When Irish Guys Are Smiling
Thank you for Chris LaMorte's piece on Sean McPhilemy's The Committee ("Emerald Ire," May 28).

The outrages detailed by McPhilemy--the systematic collusion by the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Unionist politicians, British civil servants and Protestant clergy in the murders of non-political, non-violent Irish Catholics--certainly furnish more than enough explanation for the Provisional IRA's reluctance to shed its arms. More important for a peaceful, just outcome in Ireland, the book furnishes ample proof that the British government must disband the RUC, finally, forever and for always--if necessary, with garlic and a stake through its heart.

Terry Deem-Reilly
American Ireland Education Foundation

It's the Realtor Thing
Eric Dexheimer's "Foreclosure Encounters," in the May 21 issue, provided an entertaining view of the underside of foreclosure investing. It generally reflected an accurate understanding of the law. But we wish to correct some misinformation in the quote attributed to Frank Meeks.

Meeks is quoted as saying, "To preserve your equity, you gotta have cash." Later he is quoted as saying, "If you don't have the money to redeem, you got nothing to sell." Neither statement is accurate.

If someone has equity in his home but insufficient funds to redeem, he can simply sell the home for its fair market value, use a portion of the proceeds to redeem, and keep the remaining proceeds. For example, someone with a $100,000 home, having a first mortgage with a remaining balance of only $40,000, can redeem the property by selling the home for $100,000, using $40,000 of the $100,000 to redeem. Even after paying the costs of sale and other related transaction costs, the homeowner should net approximately $50,000 from the sale.

Perhaps the most important thing a homeowner with equity can do when being foreclosed upon is to list the property with a realtor experienced with foreclosures. The realtor can help the owner sell the home and realize the owner's equity in the property. Talking to a lawyer might also be useful.

Jonathan A. Goodman and Richard Byron Peddie
Denver

The Busboys Stop Here
Kyle Wagner made several mistakes in "Gratuitous Behavior," in the June 4 issue. Please allow me to set the record straight.

First, I was quoted as saying, "Why would anyone work somewhere that they lose part of their tips for credit cards or for busboys when there's so much work available out there?" I did not make that remark. As an advocate for the industry, I would not be derogatory to our workers.

Second, Ms. Wagner stated that tipped employees make $2.02 per hour. That is incorrect. Tipped employees may be paid a minimum of $2.13 per hour if they make at least $3.02 per hour in tips ($2.13 plus $3.02 equals $5.15 minimum wage). Paying tipped employees less than $2.13 per hour is illegal according to state and federal law.

Third, Ms. Wagner quoted an official of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment as saying, "Since busboys in Colorado don't normally get tips from customers, the restaurant can't take money from waiters' tips to give to the busboys." That is incorrect. Federal and state laws allow for tip-pooling arrangements that include bussers. The new Colorado Minimum Wage Order Number 22, expected to go into effect August 1, will also allow tip-pooling among employees "who customarily receive tips," including bussers.

Ms. Wagner attempted to make sense of an extremely complicated issue that involves laws, regulations and customs developed over time. Restaurant-industry staff and employees try very hard to distribute tips left by customers in a manner that is fair to customers and employees alike. Lawmakers and regulators recognize that.

I urge your readers to remember the old adage "If the service is good, tip your server. If the service is bad, tip off the manager." And eat out often.

Peter M. Meersman
President, Colorado Restaurant Association

Kyle Wagner replies: To clear up confusion once and for all--or at least until the rules change August 1--busboys can receive tips (although they don't get them often in this town), which means that restaurants can engage in tip-pooling. And to further clarify the situation, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment last week decided to drop the words "from customers" from the official description of who hands out those tips. My apologies for the minimum-wage error.

A Brush With Fame
I'm pleased to see that you commissioned art from Jordin Isip, whose work is frequently seen elsewhere, notably in Time magazine, for your June 4 cover. Filipino-Americans regarded his grandfather Maning, a painter, the pillar of their community in New York during the 1930s and 1940s. Jordin's dad, also an artist, is my contemporary; my childhood is partly chronicled in his family's home movies. Maning's paintings played a big part in my becoming an artist.

Alfredo de la Rosa
Boulder

If He Had a Million
I wish Bill Gallo would stick to writing movie reviews instead of sports reports, because he is obviously living in the pre-Neanderthal age. This is the future and the state of pro sports in society today.

There are people in this world who actually believe that pro athletes are worth every million they can get...and I am one of them. The obscene and abusive treatments heaped on athletes by the fans and the media legitimizes jocks as our whores for Sunday-afternoon leisure. They risk life and limb for amounts of money they can never take with them--to heaven, that is.

Roberto Alomar an altar boy compared to Latrell Sprewell? Get real. I can forgive a guy for choking me, but I would annihilate a son of a bitch for spitting in my face.

Welcome to the 21st century, Bill.
Steven Saulsbury
Denver

Boa Scouts
I enjoyed reading Linda Gruno's June 4 "Snake Charmers," about the jump-blues group Boa and the Constrictors. It's about time blues groups got more exposure in Westword. However, there are some background flaws. First, Wynonie Harris was a male vocalist, in a similar manner as Roy Milton. I suggest your staff obtain a copy of Blues Who's Who (Sheldon Harris, Da Capo Press) when researching blues artists from the past.

Also, the development of jump blues in the 1940s to rhythm and blues in the 1950s was based on economics rather than the notion that "the world was ready to party." Prior to World War II, swing musicians worked in large orchestras commonly referred to as "big bands" or worked in medium-sized groups developing the swing idiom in the Midwest, Oklahoma, Texas and the Gulf Coast region. With the arrival of war, the economy changed. Entertainment establishments could not afford to pay the fees for large bands. At the same time, African-American swing-music fans and musicians from Texas and Oklahoma migrated to California for wartime employment. In order for these musicians to keep playing, they formed smaller groups and rearranged their swing material to fit the scaled-down outfits. The smaller jump-band trend continued after the war and into the 1950s (partially due to the recording ban imposed by the musicians' union), eventually becoming rhythm and blues when Ruth Brown, LaVern Baker, Etta James and Jackie Brenston were making their hits. When white America's country and hillbilly music merged with black America's blues and rhythm and blues, we got rock and roll.

Mr. Boa, please don't knock other forms of blues music as "back-porch, real-deep-down, dog-painful, my-baby-left-me stuff." I'm glad you guys are doing the blues, but remember, jump blues is only one of several styles of blues expression. Blues music already has a bad rap that says it's nothing but twelve bars and three chords full of sadness. Blues is about real feelings from real people, whether these feelings are good or bad. It's good taste and believability that makes a blues group worth its salt, no matter what style they choose to express it in. Also, the blues in all forms contribute to the cornerstone of American music, from jazz to country to rock.

P.S.: Regarding Michael Roberts's April 30 "Breaking Up Is Easy to Do," we're all responsible for any kind of music scene here; it's up to us to put Colorado on the music map instead of becoming North New Mexico, South Wyoming, East Kansas or West Utah.

R. D. Jones
Littleton

I don't want to give the impression that I do not support local artists of all types, especially other bands playing the same styles as I do. Quite the contrary: I think that it's great to see the jump-blues thing happening. However, I think that it's clear that you have not done your research on the local music scene. There are a few local bands doing the same thing, and much more so in the public eye. I hope to see Boa and the Constrictors, but the fact is that I and most of the people I know have never even heard of them. It is my humble opinion (and it is just an opinion) that you should check out some of the other swing/jump blues bands in town.

Tyson Murray
via the Internet

Linda Gruno's article on the jump-blues idiom and Boa and the Constrictors was well-written and informative. But as the jobless bassist in the band, I feel the need to clarify something for my family and bandmates so that all can sleep easier: Guys, I really do have a job.

Maurice Zamora
via the Internet

A Long Time Coming
The length of most of the articles printed in your paper is absolutely absurd. Wow--to think I considered linotype as a profession.

Phil Dietrich
Aurora

Letters policy: Westword wants to hear from you, whether you have a complaint or compliment about what we write from week to week. Letters should be no more than 200 words; we reserve the right to edit for libel, length and clarity. Although we'll occasionally withhold an author's name on request, all letters must include your name, address and telephone number. Write to:

Letters Editor
Westword
PO Box 5970
Denver, CO 80217
or e-mail (include your full name and hometown) to: editorial@westword.com.

Missed a story? The entire editorial contents of Westword, dating back to July 1, 1996, are available online at www.westword.com/archive/index.html.

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