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Letters to the Editor

From the week of April 18, 2002

The Bust of Denver

Hair today, gone tomorrow: Way to go, Westword! Thanks for including Best Hair on a TV Personality in the Best of Denver 2002, but leaving out all references to Latin music, hip-hop acts, children's theater, and comedy theater and acts! Why not just include "Cutest Couple" next time, so your high school yearbook will be complete?

C.J. Fletcher
via the Internet

Blowing smoke: I enjoyed your Best of Denver 2002 issue, with one exception. I have run for public office twice in opposition to the War on Drugs, but I still feel that for you to publicize the jerk selling nitrous-oxide cannisters over the counter is the height of irresponsibility. Kids can kill themselves with those sorts of things.

Inadvertently, you highlight the essential problem of the War on Drugs: If society reacts irrationally to the search for ecstatic experience, all choices available to young people seem equivalent. All choices are not equivalent, and I'm sure the Westword staff knows that as well as anyone else. Bad show, ladies and gentlemen.

Jack J. Woehr
Golden

High performance: I love the Best of Denver. I can't wait for it each year.

However, I think you guys might be slipping a little. This year, as I was poring over the restaurant/food section, I came upon two glaring "mistakes." The first one was a big haze more than anything: On page 202, there's a big picture of a guy eating a bagel, yet -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- there is no listing for Best Bagel! What's up with that? Being from Philly, I am particular about my bagels. (Moe's has the best around.) In addition, on page 208, there is a huge picture of an onion ring, but no Best Onion Ring. Please, is this is a cruel joke, or just somebody coming to work high again?

The other gaffe is that the Best Sunday Brunch Buffet is in Vail. This is the Best of Denver! I know there are some things that are outside of Denver or in the suburbs, but Vail? Vail is 97 miles away (per www.mapquest.com); Colorado Springs is closer. How could you pick a Sunday brunch place so far away? It should be a place close enough that you can roll out of bed hung over and be feasting your sorry, hurtin' butt in a matter of thirty minutes, tops! Who the hell is gonna go all the way to Vail on a Sunday morning just to get brunch? Maybe if you live on a weekly newspaper editor's salary and can be driven in a limo or just stay for the weekend, I suppose? I want to know what's good in Denver so I can actually try it out someday.

Again, it may be an East Coast thing, but there were Sunday brunch buffets everywhere. I have lived here for five years, and I think I have gone twice. One of those times was after we drove around the greater Denver area for about two hours trying to find a decent buffet that wasn't over $25 per head. (The Westin's looked pretty good, but it was around $40 per head.) Anyhoo, thanks for the good work, but let's not get sloppy. You at least had the sense to vote for Anthony's pizza and the Bull & Bush, so I guess I'll keep reading.

Kevin Emery
Denver

Playing favorites: I moved to Denver from Minnesota in September 2001. I have enjoyed your publication both for its useful information about places and events in town and also for its entertainment value. However, this letter contains no kudos. I have worked at a martini lounge called Blue Ice since January, and I was shocked to find no mention of us anywhere in the Best of Denver. Upon further investigation, this gross oversight warrants public attention because of a few factors:

1. Our Westword advertising rep neglected to provide our establishment with any ballots for the Best of Denver issue. This scenario begs the comparison of ordering drinks, yet not knowing the Happy Hour special is two-for-one. While one continues to pay for each drink, and others get the special, how can one not feel shorted as a patron? A similar feeling overwhelms us at Blue Ice as a weekly, paying advertiser in Westword. We deserve the same notification and invitation to participate in special issues as any other establishment.

2. Have you read all of the categories? Best Faux Honky-Tonk? The Skylark Lounge is without a doubt a fun and unique place, and this writer has no intention of mudslinging the other drinking/eating establishments in Denver (not to mention that the Skylark is located in our friendly neighborhood of South Broadway). However, is this a category with valid competition? How about Best Midsize Venue in Boulder? This well-deserved mention of the Fox Theatre might be better as an article or feature piece in Westword. Both of these categories, as well as others not listed here, are a blatant avenue for the personal opinions of Westword writers. The Best of Denver issue would be more aptly titled "Our Favorite Stuff."

3. Best New Bar (Since March 2001): Citrus. How can you be the best new bar two years in a row? Does the phrase "Rookie of the Year" mean anything to you folks? Enough said.

Am I pouting because Blue Ice did not receive any awards? Maybe. But is the Best of Denver issue really a chance for Westword staff writers to spout off about their personal favorite people, places and things in Denver? Definitely. Consider this an open invitation to the people of Denver to try something new for themselves, and not rely on the "back-scratching politics" of Westword to keep them informed.

Beth Maxim
Morrison

Editor's note: Beth, you're absolutely right about one thing. The Best of Denver is indeed full of "Our FavoriteStuff," hundreds of people/places/ things that Westword editorial staffers have researched (anonymously) and feel they can recommend without hesitation. In dozens of Best of Denver categories, we also ask readers to share their favorites -- and we ask them to do so on a ballot that's published in every copy of the paper for three weeks running (advertising reps have nothing to do with the ballot process), and also posted on our Web site at www.westword.com. That's where you can now find the Best of Denver 2002 online, by the way. And for the record, Our Best New Bar was Lime; our Best New Club was Citrus. (The readers chose Funky Buddha as Best New Club.)


Join the Club

Buckin' Broncos:Regarding David Holthouse's "The Hot Seat," in the April 11 issue:

So now we are supposed to feel sorry for an elite group of idiots stupid enough to pay $5,000 for Club-level seating? Excuse me while I grab a Kleenex and search for my violin. Don Olguin openly admits that seating costs at Invesco are a ripoff, yet he paid for them anyway. Did he actually think that carpeted halls, padded chairs and full bar service was worth that much more? Gee, Don, I really feel for ya.

It is obvious to most of us that sports teams cater to the highest bidder. No longer can the average sports fan purchase a ticket to a sporting event short of taking out a loan. We must settle for our couches and a beer run to the store at halftime while much of the seating at Invesco, the Pepsi Center, etc., remains empty due to corporate sales. I believe the mentality here is that the seats are paid for, so who cares if someone is sitting in them?

And as far as waiting in line for ten minutes to use the bathroom, cross your legs and stand in line, honey. Women have been doing it for years.

Jan Higa
Boulder


Flying High

Ready for takeoff:In "A Wing and a Prayer," in the March 28 issue, Harrison Fletcher quotes Cole Kugel as saying, "Back then, flying was an experience."

It still is. I don't often wax lyrical in public about flying, but...

Light-plane aviation is a unique portal to the world. My wife and I have been flying for more than twenty years, throughout the lower 48 United States, Mexico and Guatemala, all of it in airplanes like Mr. Kugel's Cessna 182. There is simply no other way to duplicate the visual, geographical and cultural perspectives.

And aviation is more accessible than most people realize. Earning a pilot certificate isn't easy, but it's a practical possibility -- in terms of skills and finances -- for almost any American who chooses to pursue it.

Karl Sutterfield
Eastlake

Airline magazine: Just wanted to drop you a line and say thanks for the great story on Cole Kugel. At first glance, it seemed to be just a long article on a fellow pilot, but I couldn't put it down.

Damon Decker
via the Internet


Last But Not Lease

A complex issue: Regarding Laura Bond's "Appointed Hours," in the April 11 issue:

The Columbine Sertoma Club, which I have been a member of for five years, nominated Alice Robinson in 2000 for our Service to Mankind Award. Alice was honored as an active community citizen volunteering for many activities that benefit the community.

I really would like you to do a little more research with the management and the Aurora Police Department and ask them what they think of Montview Heights' operation and how the crime rate has been reduced there. I think that more needs to come to light before judgment is passed.

Consider the past history of the tenants who are bringing this suit against Montview Heights.

Judy Wolcott
Aurora


Out of Exile

The naked truth:I wish to compliment you on "Living in Exile," David Holthouse's excellent article on Project Exile in the March 21 issue. It was well-written and apparently well-researched.

Holthouse wrote that "anti-gun-control advocates like it (Project Exile) because it allows them to come out strongly against gun violence without supporting new gun restrictions." That is a true statement, with one significant modification: Only some anti-gun-control advocates like it.

There are many gun-rights advocates, like myself, who oppose Project Exile. I find the very notion of criminalizing so-called naked possession of a firearm (i.e., possession without intent to commit a violent crime) to be repugnant.

While I can see the reasoning behind prohibiting violent felons from future gun possession, I see absolutely no reason why most non-violent felons should be so prohibited. Moreover, there is even an argument to be made that certain persons convicted of violent felonies, who have fulfilled their sentences and do not pose a future threat to society, should not be prohibited.

Robert P. Firriolo
North Massapequa, New York

Scary tactics: David Holthouse deserves a journalism award for his article exposing the dark underbelly of Project Exile. As the co-founder of the Project Exile Condemnation Coalition, I am well-versed in this dangerous program, and Mr. Holthouse has left few stones unturned.

In the case of the woman convicted of the victimless crime of possessing a substance the government says you cannot put into your own body, anyone who believes she should be sent to prison for four years for merely posing with a gun is not a very balanced person. If a crime has no victim, there should never be an arrest, let alone a conviction followed by a firearms prohibition: Basic constitutional rights are too important to allow them to be stolen in the name of allegedly fighting crime.

One would think the NRA, of all groups, would know this. Instead, dozens of non-NRA gun-rights groups have had to form an alliance to help expose what the NRA will never tell you about this program. We have been collecting data to prove the points Mr. Holthouse made, in hopes of further educating otherwise intelligent gun owners, constitutionalists and other liberty advocates on all sides of the political spectrum, and Mr. Holthouse's studious, eloquent, balanced, fair and hard-hitting article is so effective he's just saved us untold time and energy.

Alcohol prohibition, like drug prohibition, was not only ineffective at ending access to the banned substance, but it increased crime in our society and expanded police powers outside constitutional bright lines. If someone slapped with a felony for alcohol possession during Prohibition had been "caught" with a firearm, would you also think several years in federal prison was a good idea? Of course not. But somehow, because the War on Some Drugs is involved and because governments and media conglomerates have done such a thorough job of demonizing this handful of banned substances, a startling number of people are willing to crucify nonviolent people, using guns as the convenient cross of choice.

It's difficult to find a sane, lawful person among us who opposes stiff prison sentences for truly violent criminals. Someone who harms another in violation of the law should stay in the pokey for quite some time. But someone who never harmed a flea is not the same as someone who stabbed a woman after raping her. Smoking marijuana recreationally just does not equate with assault with a deadly weapon. In a sane America, treating a writer of bad checks as harshly as a three-time armed robber should be struck down as unconstitutional via the Eighth Amendment's "cruel and unusual punishments" clause. Project Gulag is not sane. It's scary.

Thank you, Westword, for publishing this urgent and eye-opening article.

Angel Shamaya
Flagstaff, Arizona

Power rangers: Wasting law enforcement and incarceration resources on the majority of Exile victims takes away from government's ability to protect society from real threats -- especially when untold thousands of known dangerous felons have received early paroles to clear up jail space. It makes absolutely no sense to play "catch and release" with true predators so that room can be made to lock up the people Holthouse describes.

By denying Second Amendment rights to people with "bad judgment," lead Exile prosecutor James Allison sets an impossible and arbitrary standard that no one could hope to live up to -- including his ultimate boss, George W. Bush, who admits to substance (alcohol) abuse well into his adult life. That this abuse was "legal" is more a matter of time and place than a moral distinction, as evidenced by how such conduct was treated during our country's previous disastrous experience with Prohibition. But at least that was enacted under authority of the Constitution, which is supposed to be the "supreme law of the land." A main reason for its drafting was to itemize those specific powers granted to the federal government -- and to put a big "off limits" sign reserving anything not so enumerated to the states and to the people. Nowhere is that government delegated authority to "enforce existing gun laws," and we must not forget that Waco and Ruby Ridge began as exercises in their agents doing just that.

Would you enter into a contract where the other parties could alter terms and conditions whenever it suited their purposes -- and whether or not you agreed to the changes? Of course not. To allow them to usurp unauthorized powers, even when their motives are purportedly for a greater good, sets dangerous and intolerable precedents. Succeeding governments may not be as kindly disposed toward protecting freedom -- and they won't need to be, because they will have inherited a power monopoly allowing them to ignore restraints and invent new authority at will.

Kudos to Holthouse.

David Codrea
Denver


Hold Everything!

Put some restraints on therapy: In Julie Jargon's "Playtime Is Over," in the March 14 issue, we learn that Denver psychologist Dr. John Dicke is under orders not only to refrain from using "therapeutic dildos" when treating children, but also to stop using restraint as therapy. I was disappointed that Westword had so little to say about Dicke's "holding therapy" -- another wholly unethical and shocking practice.

But then, Dicke is one of the many local "holding therapists" who make Colorado the nation's hotbed for this sort of cruel quackery. With the boom in Eastern European adoption and the massacre at Columbine, attachment therapists have had a free hand in scaring the parents of troubled children into opting for extreme, unvalidated therapies that utilize physical restraint and abusive parenting methods. On the other hand, they are also enablers for parental abuse.

Although it goes by many names and involves a variety of restraint methods, holding therapy is intended to inflict sufficient discomfort to make children react with terror and anger. The therapist holds down a child and yells like a drill sergeant inches from the child's face; he may pinch the child, knuckle his rib cage or lick his face to enrage him. Not unlike a child abuser, the therapist gives orders and threatens; the child must comply or face worse. Children are said to struggle and endure this torture for hours, until they are, as one Denver psychologist said after witnessing the practice, "whimpering little puddles."

If Dr. Dicke was a compassionate therapist, he would review the literature and heed studies that give credible evidence that his methods are potentially injurious. Further, Dr. Dicke would know that his use of restraint violates every professional ethical code, federal and JCAHO regulations, the Nuremberg codes for acceptable human experimentation and the UN Treaty on Torture.

Dr. Dicke and every other holding therapist in our state are child abusers of the worst sort -- they're entrusted to the care of children by virtue of their licensed status. Dr. Dicke and fellow attachment therapists should all be sitting in jail now, along with Colorado's most infamous holding therapist, Connell Watkins, who tortured and killed ten-year-old Candace Newmaker.

Linda Rosa, RN
Loveland

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