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Old at Heart

Mainstream news offers little to the under-thirty crowd.

Redmond wasn't overtly hysterical when discussing this alleged sin. He said Gwen Stefani and company shouldn't be censored, and he encouraged parents to talk with their kids about the appropriateness of casual obscenity usage. But having attended this concert with my nine-year-old daughters, I can testify that language was hardly an issue. Comparatively few tots were in attendance, and the bare handful of F-bombs dropped were almost completely concealed by the music. Moreover, Redmond's lecture seemed primarily calculated to rev up the aging bluenoses in his listenership, which it did. One caller registered his discontent with young people today by noting that he used to attend live performances by bandleader Glenn Miller, who never had to resort to dirty talk to score with fans.

Apparently, this gentleman isn't familiar with big band's short-lived "gangsta" period, remembered primarily for Miller's slammin' "Moonlight Motherfuckin' Serenade."

Journalists at the Denver dailies aren't quite so out of touch, but they, too, have struggled to write about popular culture without giving off the scent of paternalism. The most egregious example of late appeared in the November 9 Rocky Mountain News, which devoted the lion's share of its "Spotlight" section to "Dumb and Dumber," a collection of articles by Mark Brown, Mark Wolf and Dusty Saunders that decried the empty-headedness of current pop music, television and so on. In most of the pieces, the writers acknowledged that crappy hit songs or movies aren't new phenomena, and South Park was even praised for being somewhat less dumb that it seems on the surface. But that didn't prevent the package as a whole from coming across as alternately alarmist and snobbish -- qualities guaranteed to turn off young people quicker than saltpeter.

The Denver Post has done better in this arena than has the News, thanks largely to new hire Ricardo Baca, who's single-handedly brought the paper's music coverage into the 21st century. But on occasion, the paper continues to address youthful subjects from an outsider's, rather than an insider's, perspective. Take Elana Ashanti Jefferson's November 6 profile of Dent, a Denver rap scenester. The mere presence of such an article was a step in the right direction. But after an opening passage about Dent, the narrative stopped to make room for a brief history of the hip-hop genre, complete with references to Kool Herc and the Sugarhill Gang.

The problem with that is obvious: Hip-hop is in its fourth decade, making it long past the time for introductions. (The equivalent would be a 1980s-vintage article about a rock singer in which the writer felt compelled to include a timeline featuring Bill Haley, Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry.) The approach treats hip-hop like something bizarre and alien and makes the Post seem thoroughly corny for explaining its origins.

Then again, at least the Post is trying to establish a connection with young people, which is more than most other old-school Denver media enterprises are doing. But it remains to be seen if its new flava will attract many homeys and honeys.

Peace out.

A trial with teeth: Most reporters like to portray themselves as rough-and-tumble sorts who are more than capable of drawing blood against the most fearsome adversaries. But late last month, Rocky Mountain News reporter Owen Good had to admit in a Boulder courtroom that he wound up on the losing end of a confrontation with a somewhat less intimidating antagonist -- a Jack Russell terrier named Stanley.

For Good, the incident capped a series of weird events revolving around a basement apartment in Boulder County where he lived beginning in January 2001. About a year later, just after Good renewed his lease, landlord Scott Stoltz and his brother, Rick Stoltz, took off in a Volkswagen Vanagon for what they said was a cross-country vacation. Then, in March, Good happened to eyeball a letter directed to his upstairs neighbors (Stanley's owners), whose return address was a rubber stamp for a federal correction facility. Worse, it was supplemented by Scott's name and inmate number. As it turns out, the Stoltzes had been busted for growing marijuana in Gilpin County and currently reside in a Florence, Colorado, prison.

Good called the U.S. Attorney's Office and was reassured that the house wasn't the subject of an attachment proceeding. "He said, 'Not unless someone's in the basement cooking crank,'" Good recalls. "I told him, 'I live in the basement, so I don't think so.' But I didn't have the stones to ask him if I'd been under surveillance."

As the months wore on, tensions between Good and his neighbors escalated in direct proportion to his deteriorating relationship with Stanley. Finally, on September 7, the terrier demonstrated his contempt for Good by chomping on his ankle while he was taking old newspapers to the recycling bin. After efforts to work things out with the neighbors failed, Good filed a vicious-dog complaint with local animal-control representatives. During the October 28 hearing, city prosecutor Erin O'Brien says, the neighbors accused Good of trumping things up to get out of his lease, but Good denies it. "That gives me too much credit," he insists. "If all it took to get out of my lease was a dog bite, I would have worn hamburger shoes all summer."

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