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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?

J.R. Armstrong
via the Internet


Liquid Assets

Flowing compliments: Last night I read Steve Jackson's August 24 "High and Dry," the second installment in his "The River" series.

I don't normally write like this, but I just had to tell you how impressed I am with the piece. Great job! It is impressively researched and extremely well written, informative and moving. This one could win you a prize; heck, it may even be the basis for a book or movie. If Perfect Storm can do it, why not this series?

If nothing else, Jackson has done a great service in helping local city folks understand some important issues and feel greater empathy and compassion for the local farmers.

To add some weight to my words, although my thirty-year career was pretty far removed from agriculture, my grandparents owned farms in upstate New York, my undergrad degree was in agricultural economics, and I used to write monthly columns for a national magazine. So please feel free to use this message as an opportunity to blush!

Brad Morgan
via the Internet


Let's Play Monopoly

Dem bones:So the author of the letter "Big Brother's Watching," in the August 31 issue, thinks that things will be better when "the Democrats...come into office again and the right wing won't control the entire United States."

Who does he think approved the Qwest-US West merger? It was Clinton-Gore's FTC & FCC! Since Clinton-Gore moved into the White House, media influence and control has devolved from over a hundred companies to about ten!

Jerry Wheeler
Denver


Doubting Thomas

Guilty until proven innocent: Thank you for Karen Bowers's excellent article about Laura Kriho, "Juris Prudence," in the August 17 issue. I think it is high time for citizens to take action and remove judges and DAs like Dave Thomas, who exhibit an almost psychopathic desire to prosecute and convict people who are not criminals. In the case of Thomas, he has no qualms illegally wiretapping people, as in the case of the Jewish couple in Evergreen, or violating the rights of a little Swiss boy.

I just hope that news media like you will continue to expose this corruption so that maybe people will get fed up and start prosecuting the prosecutors.

Garry Evenson
via the Internet

Research for tomorrow: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were two examples of misanthropes, meaning those who hate mankind. How they came to hate so venomously will always be a source of controversy, as seen in Alan Prendergast's July 13 "The Lost Command." We must, however, study their behavior and that of others who commit crimes in order to prevent other atrocities.

The reactions of SWAT teams, FBI and police also will require lengthy studies. We can assume there will be other crimes, and, as unpleasant as it is, researchers should assemble data from all sources in order to prevent other horrendous acts.

Fran Washko
Denver


Toast of the Town

Rock of ages: Regarding Mary Guiden's "Pop Goes Her World," in the August 31 issue:

Yo, Ciria -- man, I felt bad for you when I read that you're toast at 26 in pop music. What a drag. I'm going on 49, and I guess I didn't realize that I should have bagged it 23 years ago. On the other hand, I consider myself a musician, not a pop commodity, so maybe it's all right that I'm still playing at such a decrepit age. In fact, I think I'm playing better than ever, recording my original music, meeting interesting folks all over the world, and doing lots of challenging projects. Ciria, maybe you should consider thinking of yourself as a musician/artist, not a Barbie to be used for financial gain by the corporate music world. You can then relax when you hit 26, and maybe go on to do some meaningful things with your art.

It is possible.

Neil Haverstick
Lakewood


For the Record

Blowing hot and Coleman: I just wanted to express my appreciation for the fine work Michael Roberts did in "Shock of the Old," his July 13 piece about the re-release of Ornette Coleman's Science Fiction and The Skies of America. Both of these recordings have been on my "want list" for about ten years now, and I was deeply gratified to learn of their release (finally) by Columbia/Sony.

I thought that Mr. Roberts did a diligent job in relating the significance of these recordings to the direction of creative music.

Tom Rothrock
Littleton

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