Letters to the Editor

From the week of September 7

Village Idiots

Last, but not East: The first few paragraphs of T.R. Witcher's "This Old Housing Project," in the August 31 issue, left me confused. Was the author trying to gain sympathy for the plight of the residents by illustrating their squalid living conditions? If so, he failed. I wondered how someone moving out of any apartment could be so thoughtless as to leave it in such condition. If they have no respect for themselves, perhaps they would care about their neighbors enough not to leave a health hazard when they moved out.

Steve Martin
Cheyenne, WY

East meets best: East Village can be sentimentalized to death, but redevelopment of this property is both desirable for the city and beneficial to low-income residents. The trick here is to combine market forces with zoning -- in other words, create a win-win situation.

Post Properties is a leader in construction of new-urbanist communities. Ideally, these communities should contain varied elements, both social and economic. The financing mechanism, however, needs to be tweaked to allow genuine mixed-income housing. As Witcher's article points out, the city does have leverage. But it needs to keep its eye on the larger goal: an artful increase in density that will help make Denver genuinely urban. Since this is Post's specialty, Denver's city apparatchiks ought to be taking notes rather than throwing up obstacles.

There's an opportunity here to do something really wonderful. Let's not blow it in the name of feel-good politics.

Walter Hall
Phoenix, AZ


Truth or Consequences

You made your bed, now lie in it: It's a real cabeza-scratcher why I should feel anything but a sort of bemused disgust for the rubes who were taken for a ride by Oscar "Never give a sucker an even break" Paniagua (Karen Bowers's "The Truth Hurts," August 31). This con artist should be locked up forever, and some of these folks just got here from a barrio outside Caracas, so they can be excused. But others have certainly been here long enough to have heard of such things as licensed psychologists, marriage counselors, social workers and medical doctors. I've watched some of those Spanish-language soaps on Channel 50 (where Paniagua ran his ads), and some of the characters are medical doctors!

We laugh at the mouth-breathers who send their paychecks to helmet-haired evangelicals on Trailer Trash TV, or who line up to have their rheumatism and rickets cured at a tent meetin'. I think what Paniagua's victims deserve is a heapin' helpin' of the same kind of derision, not a celebration of the diversity that makes them easy marks for witch doctors, clairvoyants, psychic healers and other heebie-jeebie medicine shows. I didn't read where one of these folks admitted they were idiots not just for believing in Paniagua, but for believing in this mystical crap in the first place. You don't, after all, see me eating haggis to cure TB or hangovers, or going to business meetings naked and painted blue.

It may be grossly impolitically correct of me, but I feel neither sympathy nor empathy for these suckers who believed this guy could, in essence, pull chicken-liver "tumors" out of them and cure marital, substance abuse and health problems they didn't even know they had. They were begging to be fleeced, and they were.

J.M. Schell
Arvada


Romophobia

Broncos lineman:"Words Get in the Way," the August 31 column by Michael Roberts, was a good piece. People dance around subjects when limiting their vocabulary. But I have a problem: I'm not much of a football fan, and Romanowski drives me crazy; still, I can't help but think he's being treated unfairly regarding his alleged use of the word "nigger." The implication is that he's racist. Listen, the guy rubs elbows every day with more African-Americans than most white people do in a lifetime. Fact or fiction? Black Broncos on the current team have come to his defense, saying if anyone would know if he were a racist, it would be them. How can you argue with that?

So I object to Roberts's line about how Bronco fans act "predictable" and "disturbing" regarding the Romo incident.

Chris Dickey
via the Internet

Smoke gets in his eyes: In "Words Get in the Way," a "witty" remark about Tiger Woods being stung by a wasp is an allegory for him beating all white people? In "The Need for Weed," in the August 24 issue, "crackers" are in the audience at the Up in Smoke tour? The ironic, self-loathing white-male thing is so played out that only Michael Roberts could be the one to lay it on us every week.

Don't forget that hip-hop was, from the very beginning, dance/party music -- and if you listen to all of the Ultimate Beats and Breaks LPs, you'll appreciate just how open-minded the original hip-hop DJs were. There's no need for second-rate liberal-arts graduates such as Roberts to keep telling everyone how lame and uninformed white people are; it reeks of an alienated suburban upbringing adjusted to by creating a sense of personal cultural superiority (i.e., indie geek rock bands always being better than what was on MTV). Could we please stop this annoying overanalysis of the racial composition of the crowd at Up in Smoke and other dumb, mass-produced consumer spectacles?

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