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Beer Today, Gone Tomorrow
I can't thank you enough for the incredibly realistic portrayal of the Coors Field vendors in Justin Berton's "Blood Sweat and Beers," in the July 8 issue. Having been a vendor with the Rockies for their first five years, it brought a smile to my face. But the one thing your story couldn't tell was the exquisite joy of being able to be a part of something so special. For me and many others, it was more than the best job we've ever had. I had the opportunity to work with and meet some of the finest people I will ever know. To become a part of these people's lives, not just to serve them a beer, was a true honor. These men and women are more a part of that stadium than anyone will ever realize.

So to Earthman, Shellie and all my other fellow vendors (even Bob), I raise my own beer and scream the words "Sixteen ounces of pure liquid love!"

Howie Kaplan
via the Internet

Congrats to Justin Berton, who tells the story of how Denver has further turned sports into a cutthroat business. As a seven-year vendor myself, I have been fortunate to work at a great stadium with fans who love the game and have become my friends and customers. For someone who dreamed as a boy of playing on the field of dreams, vending on the field of beers is the next best thing.

Paul "The Sauce" VanBeusichen
Denver

Another Poor Performance
Regarding Stuart Steers's "Born and Razed," in the July 8 issue:
The people living in the 250 low-income housing units are not all "criminals" (as your sub-headline painted the picture: "Terrorized for years by the criminals next door..."). I don't know any of the people living in East Village, but a good guess would be that most are folks just getting by, unable to afford Denver's escalating rental prices.

I've lived in Five Points for six years, the last three just a few blocks away from East Village. In my short time here, on my block alone, I've seen a nonprofit housing developer buy three properties, displacing seven low-income units and a popular soup kitchen (to be replaced with mostly market-rate condos). Two hundred feet from my front door is Sonny Lawson Park--recently fenced and locked, without warning, and closed to the public unless you have a permit. Across the street is a liquor store (owned by a "pillar" of the community) that does big business selling 40s to any alcoholic looking for a fix.

Near the end of the article, Steers says that mixing middle-class and low-income is a national trend and that cities "are now acting on the theory that poor people and their children will be more successful at work and in school if they have neighbors who act as role models." Do poor people, me included, have a disease I'm not aware of? The only thing different between poor people and other people is that poor folks do most of the hard work wealthy folks refuse to do. Millions and millions of people are not paid a living wage, and for that they're called some kind of inferior sub-human being that needs "role models."

The only thing we poor people need is to organize to stop undemocratic neighborhood association dictators and well-intentioned yet grossly out-of-touch bureaucrats like Jennifer Moulton.

Mark Schneider
Denver

Rocky Mountain Guy
I enjoyed the July 8 Off Limits item about the commercialization of John Denver songs. You missed one good opportunity, though. I'd have suggested that even the People's Republic of China could get in on the act. I don't know the album name or the year or anything, but the august, though late, Mr. Denver wrote and recorded a song called "Shanghai Breezes," presumably while he was farting around in Asia a few years back. I like the song, but I'm afraid most people today would say it stinks.

John Ottem
via the Internet

Why must you continue to bash and belittle John Denver? Why won't you let him rest in peace? Is it because he displayed more talent in one song than you have in two decades of mediocre Westword issues?

Jayne Fox
Denver

That's the Way the Ball Bounces
Eric Dexheimer's July 1 "Devil to Play," about Larry Gabler and the Colorado Tennis Association's ratings fiasco, is a very accurate and honest assessment of the USTA's 4.5 tennis league.

Before reading the article, I had a negative impression of Larry Gabler's practices. I now see that Mr. Gabler has a much better understanding of who is a 4.5 player than does the Colorado Tennis Association. The CTA has no concept of who belongs at what level, yet they routinely keep 4.5 teams from being able to compete by raising players to 5.0 based on an unreliable formula. The only team they can't touch is Mr. Gabler's, because he understands how to play their game better than they do. What has happened in Colorado is that the CTA has become Mr. Gabler's biggest ally by making sure no other team has the same high level of talent as Gabler's team. It appears that Mr. Gabler has complete control of his players' ratings, while the rest of us are controlled by the misguided practices of the CTA.

Many of my fellow tennis players are sick of the arrogant way the CTA applies ratings. The problem is that they are the only tennis league in town, and they don't seem to listen. It's easy to understand why so many tennis players turn to golf after being wrongly rated by the CTA.

My hat is off to Mr. Gabler for sticking the CTA's nose in their own stink. If they were smart, they would consult with Larry Gabler to design a fair playing field for all of us. I'm sure it will be hard for the leaders of the CTA program to realize that the way they are rating isn't working. I hope they have the courage to try to fix the problems.

Jesse Aragon
Denver

I enjoyed Eric Dexheimer's tennis story, which inspired me to give the sport one more try. But remind me to avoid any court where Larry Gabler's team is playing--I humiliate myself enough all on my own when I play, thank you very much.

Ed Abrams
via the Internet

I'd be curious to have the question answered as to how Larry Gabler gets "any player he wants" into the very exclusive Denver Tennis Club. Or do DTC members also contribute to his "coaching skill" by waiving whatever membership requirements they might otherwise have in order to benefit his/their 4.5 team?

Do you know whether each of this team's players actually resides in the Denver metro area? As opposed to, say, some commuting up or down from Colorado Springs or Fort Collins to play in the DTC's "local tennis league"? That subject could warrant a follow-up article. Both Colorado Springs and Fort Collins also have their "local leagues."

Please do not use my name; I am already in hot water with the CTA over these issues.

Name withheld on request

Eric Dexheimer replies: Not all members of Larry Gabler's team belong to the exclusive Denver Tennis Club, although many do. The club, of which Gabler is a longtime member, lends the team its name and permits it to use DTC courts for home matches. This is not always the case: Last year Gabler's team played at Cherry Creek High School. As for members of his team being from outside Denver, I didn't meet any who were. But as I stated in the article, Gabler is up front about recruiting good players from wherever he can find them.

You're All Wet
I would like to respond to the July 1 Off Limits item regarding working conditions at Colorado's Ocean Journey. Since I have never volunteered with any organization, my perspective is based solely on my experiences with the staff and volunteers at Ocean Journey. My observations and experiences have been overwhelmingly positive! I have found the staff and volunteers to be positive, engaging, receptive and adaptable. When a problem or situation arises, all efforts are made to engage everyone to help find a solution. There are meetings with volunteers for forty minutes before their shift to provide information and to receive feedback on any and all issues. There are continual tours on the Journey path by individuals with radios to solve any questions or problems, along with personal contact with each volunteer during each one of their four shift rotations. After each shift, there is a debriefing session to receive suggestions and to help solve any issues. There is a clear understanding at Ocean Journey that volunteers need to take breaks during their shift rotations, and every effort is made to accommodate that need.

My personal experience is that this organization practices what it preaches! I would like to invite any volunteer who feels mistreated to contact me directly at Ocean Journey. I will work to help resolve the problem and guarantee that they will remain unnamed in the process. Let's work together and move forward in a positive manner.

Pat Kelley, day captain
Ocean Journey

I can think of a few more appropriate hand signals for Ocean Journey. The first: imitating a pickpocket--which Ocean Journey does for real, with the amount it charges for its disappointing exhibits. And then there's the old finger--which I'm ready to give the place after my first, and last, visit.

J.T. Miller
via the Internet

I have just finished your item on Ocean Journey, and I am incredulous, to say the least. For the last eight years, I have been involved with Ocean Journey as a volunteer. I am currently a Volunteer Team Leader. I am responsible for a group of seventeen volunteers, and I am a volunteer myself. I have seen Ocean Journey grow from a struggling startup to the magnificent world-class aquarium it is today.

In the initial days, I remember working long days at events and talking so much my voice was hoarse, but never in all that time have I suffered the Dickensian-type treatment discussed in your article. At the present time, I am amazed at the quality of their staff and truly amazed that even with the overtime being put in by the paid staff, the operation is still one that exhibits courtesy and respect to its volunteer base.

Is the organization perfect? Of course not. But to say that this organization ignores its volunteers and treats them badly is unjust and untrue.

Douglas H. Greenspan
Denver

As I sit reading a memo dated May 28, 1999, from the volunteer services department of Ocean Journey, I wonder how your Off Limits column included a section regarding the volunteer experience. In the area entitled "breaks," it states clearly: "Please take breaks to use the water fountains or restrooms during rotations on your shift." Seems pretty clear to me.

As a paper that espouses justice and the "right thing," I find it deplorable that you would take the word of one disgruntled volunteer to showcase. As any good journalist would know, substantiation and validation of published information is critical. I am sure that if you were to stand outside of Ocean Journey and at random query volunteers as they left the building, you would find the opinion of this individual to be isolated and unique.

I challenge you to be one of the first newspapers to begin showcasing positives rather than negatives. Perhaps in doing so, your credibility as a paper and as individual journalists will surpass the tabloid nature of your reporting of this incident.

Diane Gibason
via the Internet

Here Comes the Calvary
I would like to personally thank your outstanding staff writer Alan Prendergast. Alan's dogged persistence of the Calvary Temple issue--most recently in the July 1 "Amazing Grace"--has kept the truth alive for the hundreds of elderly distressed investors promised repayment for decades by Pastor Charles E. Blair and Calvary Temple elders. The good name of Calvary Temple has been lost!

Westword is the only news media to keep the focus on Colorado's largest religious scandal. Your various articles over time are examples of the best journalism your readers have come to appreciate.

Joel N. Levitt
Denver

For Christ's Sake!
First of all, I want to say that I appreciated your printing both the positive and negative feedback to Julie Jargon's June 17 "Too Much Church," about the Denver Church of Christ.

I am a member of the church, and I love what it has done for my life. I have grown so much in my relationship with God, it is incredible. I encourage anyone who is upset, frustrated or just intrigued to really check it out for themselves. I promise the goal of the church is not to manipulate people's minds, but to present the truth. People can accept it or not.

There are many negative things in the article and in other articles about the church, and I don't agree with most of them. Some things may be taken out of context so they appear to sound worse than they are. It would be fruitless to discuss or defend everything. I can assure you that even though none of my family members besides my husband belong to the church, my relationship with them is better than ever. I credit that to God, with whom I probably never would have built a deep relationship if it wasn't for some of my friends in the church who were doing the same.

I agree with another wise writer who said, "Don't believe everything you read."

Rikki Stout
via the Internet

Having been recently recruited by the Denver Church of Christ, I absolutely agree with Julie Jargon's article, "Too Much Church." During my recruitment by the church, I was sent flowers, gifts and cards as a way to get me to join. I never joined, and I warn anyone interested to stay away from this church.

It is the most dangerous cult out there.
Name withheld on request

I am very saddened by your continued bashing of God's modern-day movement. I have been a part of the International Churches of Christ for many years, and I have never seen a group of individuals more committed in heart, mind, soul and strength than those who are a part of God's kingdom.

I am also dismayed by your lack of a pure heart, to follow God at any and all cost. Thanks to people like yourself, Satan continues to stop souls from being saved and lives being changed for all eternity.

Melba Hoffman
via the Internet

Poor Sports
I realize that it can be fun to take contrarian views, but some of Westword's Best of Denver choices in the June 24 issue were simply absurd. I found this to be particularly true for some of your sports choices. For example, Brian Bohanon as the Best Pitcher on the Rockies? First of all, there is no "best" pitcher in a Rockies uniform; the entire staff is a parade of horribles. But if one had to choose the least bad pitcher, there is little doubt that it is Pedro Astacio. Astacio is about to become the all-time strikeout leader in Rockies' history, and his earned run average is nearly a full point lower than Bohanon's.

I also think you missed the boat on your Best Coach choice by failing to recognize Fisher Deberry's incredible accomplishments at the Air Force Academy. Westword's choice, newcomer Gary Barnett, has yet to win a game in Colorado, while Deberry has made a career of beating powerhouse opponents with a squad of smaller, less athletic players. However, your readers probably got it right by selecting Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan, who, along with coaching legends Vince Lombardi and Bill Walsh, is one of only five coaches in history to win back-to-back Super Bowls.

Finally, Westword's choice of Bubby Brister as the Best Bronco is not merely absurd, it is insulting.

Your readers made the obvious--indeed the only--choice by selecting the NFL's reigning MVP, Terrell Davis. Last year Davis entered the pantheon of elite runners by becoming only the third back in history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season. Brister, on the other hand, has been nothing more than a backup to John Elway. By selecting Brister over Davis (or, for that matter, Shannon Sharpe, Bill Romanowski, Ed McCaffrey or any number of other Broncos), it's as if Westword were saying: "Hey, we have a printing press, and we can say anything we feel like, regardless of how stupid or inaccurate it is."

Well, Westword, screw you, too.
Steve Silverman
via the Internet

More Colorado classics: Marilyn Hickey Orchard Family Christian Shopping Center (Beau Monde Bible Marketplace); Sunday-afternoon traffic jams on I-70, weekday rush-hour traffic jams on I-25; lawn-mowing ban, wood-burning ban; three-judge court system executions; plutonium transfer from Rocky Flats to New Mexico by truck; bulldozing Cinderella City; Dealin' Doug commercials; 99 cent MSG wok buffets; PT's topless patron dancing; city spring runoff; ski mountain mud season.

M.A. Eckels
Denver

The Never-Ending Song
Loved the two-part "Songs of the Century" series; Michael Roberts is one of my favorite music critics of all time.

But someone who knows better should have caught the typo in the first verse of the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the U.K."--it's "I am an anti-Christ/I am an anarchist."

Nick Kent
via the Internet

Sour Notes
Regarding the June 17 and July 1 Feedbacks, concerning the last attempted revival of the Rocky Mountain Music Association:

It is true that the RMMA is beyond saving. There are two main factors: One, short of going to court, there was no way to hold anyone accountable once things went awry. The mediation services cannot require anyone to come to the table. And two, the organization eschewed the nonprofit community's educational literature, counsel and workshops (often listed in Westword's calendar). Do not get involved with arts organizations that disallow the support network available here. (If interested, Colorado Business Committee for the Arts is a start.)

So I was not surprised by the quick collapse of the recent "revival" (nor was I involved). But it revealed the mindset of the local music "scenesters." They want a tax-exempt organization with this agenda: The musicians meet at a bar and howl for Big Media to play their music and for government support. Who cares? It's a bunch of white, rich, overgrown kids yammering "Gimme, gimme." They act like it's all a beer commercial. That's all they know, poor dears.

It's a shame, because now more than ever, the community really needs programs for musicians working in the schools, giving lessons and keeping gifted kids interested; visiting senior centers, summer camps and hospitals; working to breach the gap in the diverse music scene; working to promote tourism; serving dinner at homeless shelters and raising a house with Habitat for Humanity. Doing the community building in order to grow a music scene into a cultural and economic attraction. (Remember? The goal?)

Anyway, the scenesters are making some overdue changes, but their weird science still prevails: They are putting together--ready?--a panel discussion. And they want the world-champion Broncos to play their music at games. Sheesh.

John Carter
Denver

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:

Westword Letters
P.O. Box 5970
Denver, CO 80217
or e-mail to: editorial@westword.com.

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

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