Letters to the Editor

From the week of October 23, 2003

Making Their Mark

Signs of the times:Regarding David Holthouse's "Canned Heat," in the October 16 issue:

I'd like to thank David Holthouse for being a "willing accomplice" and sharing his findings about stencil graffiti with us. I've seen graffiti tagging throughout the Denver area and have actually tried to decipher meaning out of some of these scribbles and mumbo-jumbo; I just figured that most of it was gang lingo that didn't mean jack shit to me.

I appreciated the insight given about this stencil graffiti -- and especially appreciate the people coming up with fresh ideas for getting around the "corporate media." Keep the lines of communication open and unregulated! I'm so sick of corporations and their good ol' boy mentality. Beat the system!

Jennifer Stephenson
Denver

Post no bills:Ah, freedom of the press...to commission crimes and misdemeanors, to be sure, but what the hey. Now that I know the five W's behind political graffiti vandalism as aided and abetted by David Holthouse and Westword, I should thank you on behalf of an informed citizenry? Besides, what's the harm of a little damage and desecration of public and private property? Anything for a story, right, guys?

P.S.: I thought about billing Westword for the time and expense of removing this graffiti from my property, but maybe instead I'll commission someone to stencil you a message or two from time to time. Oh, my bad: That would be breaking the law, wouldn't it?

Dave Walstrom
Denver

Poster child:Nice stencil graffiti article by David Holthouse, but a few things to note:

1. There are more than just a few groups of artists. There are more people out there doing this than you think -- many with no group affiliation, or ones you don't know about.

2. Stencil graffiti groups/cliques/artists oftentimes use more than just paint. Posters and stickers play a large part, as well. Think wheat paste.

3. You took a picture of my friend's work, the greedy little AOL guy. Not that it matters; just letting you know.

Maybe I'll see Holthouse out some night.

Doff Bevy
Denver

On the frontlines:In "Canned Heat," David Holthouse's mention of not stenciling on storefronts as part of the anarchists' code of honor caught our attention. Mostly because the photo of the little AOL guy holding the dollar sign was a photo of our storefront. We only point this out because we get tagged on a daily basis and have to invest time and money cleaning it up. We can dig the message, but not cleaning up after it.

Stick it to The Man, not the independent businessman.

Wax Trax Records
Denver

Tag, he's it:I want to say that my disgust at the ignorance of David Holthouse's "Canned Heat" should in no way be interpreted as a slight to the rebellion of political stencil art. The stance Holthouse chose to take in separating political stencil (good) versus tagging (bad) was horribly ethnocentric and typical of the institutionalized classism and racism that is the true fabric of empirical societies. What it comes down to is that it's all art. Political art and art for arts' sake. All tagging is not gang-related, and all "indecipherable" monikers were not created for the eyes of a bigot -- thus the reason Holthouse and his ilk can't readily decipher that form of art.

I don't mean to be cynical, but just what kind of revolutionaries' code of honor consists of not hitting capitalist "storefronts, vehicles (SUVs) and other valuable private property"? Holthouse should come clean: He put that in his article so his subjects could show their parents that spending their twenties with the anarchists has been morally productive, securing their rights to that trust fund, of course. The article read as very staged. I think putting up stencil in affluent Capitol Hill locales is very pussy. Why not put it up by Park Hill recreation centers, where some of the disenfranchised youth (taggers) will see your work and be inspired into political thought? I guess that would be too revolutionary and might take time from hanging out at radical bookstores and coffeehouses.

Respect to all concerned citizens and all forms of solidarity with the overthrowing of this thief's administration. To all political art lovers and admirers of graf who want to witness real revolution, go down to Smith Road at Quebec and view pieces of artistic expression that cross the country by freight train, some never again to be seen by their artists.

Torrin N. Roberts
Denver

Violence tempered:Just a quick note regarding anarchism. Although many people who consider themselves anarchists fit into the classification described in "Canned Heat," it's worth noting that there are many forms of anarchist thought, practiced by a diverse range of people. Because of media and educational misconceptions and distortions, anarchism is often linked with violence. Non-violent anarchism (anarcho-pacifism) has a long and celebrated history of thinkers, activists and movements. Perhaps an article discussing the creative resistance of non-violent anarchists, or writers like Bookchin and Tolstoy, would help non-anarchists and violence-advocating anarchists see that violentsocial change, however grand, merely creates a new system based on authoritarian violence.

That being said, those of us concerned with social change must continually figure out how best to go about making it happen, while simultaneously pointing out violence and misdeeds of those in power. Side fights on how to get to where we want to go may prove to be roadblocks to sustainable change; however, the issue of violence/non-violence is central to the present, as well as our hopeful future.

Evan Weissman
Denver

It's official: What, exactly, was the point of "Canned Heat"? To ridicule our plans to overturn global capitalism in favor of a more sane and livable world? Did Holthouse want to flaunt his bourgeois bohemian attempt at journalism to the rest of us by living vicariously through a poor representative of the global anarchist movement? And who was this alleged representative who none of us here at the Denver-based organization "End Times Anarchists, Inc." have even heard of? As high-ranking officials of the End Times Anarchists, Inc., we find it puzzling that this individual does not resemble the demographic description of anyone in our membership database. This alone makes the very existence of said person less credible. If you choose to write about anarchists, please inquire to our headquarters next time so that we can give our authoritative decision regarding whether or not it would be appropriate. Thank you.

Names withheld on request

David Holthouse replies: Racist? Classist? Ethnocentric? Get the fuck out of here. Most of the taggers I've run across are poseur white boys whose concept of oppression is not having digital cable. And I'm sorry, but tagging, as opposed to full-piece graffiti, is simply not art. As far as my bourgeois bohemian attempt at journalism goes, I wasn't trying to author the definitive study of Denver's anarchist movement. My subject was stencil graffiti. I didn't mean to imply that all stencil graffiti artists are anarchists or vice-versa, because that's clearly not the case. Now, I have a question: Does anyone but me find it funny that anarchists have high-ranking officials who want to hand down authoritative decisions?


Lost in Space

Boob job:In the October 16 issue, Julie Jargon's "Back to Nature" was excellent, albeit depressing. Raylene Decatur has put all her eggs in one basket, and it has a hole in it. She has overemphasized Space Odyssey at the expense of the entire Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The dorky, spaced-out, "odd-to-see" TV ads must cost a mint. What vast talent and areas of the museum are lost forever now that Space Odyssey is directly tied to the museum's annual operating budget.

For this, the boobs who hired Ms. Decatur will most likely give her a raise.

Frank Galmish
Denver


The Artful Dodger

Cornering the market:Regarding Kenny Be's "Four Corners Face-Lift Forewarning," the Worst-Case Scenario in the October 9 issue:

Next time Kenny is in Cortez (on his way to visit the Four Corners Monument, no doubt), please have him give me a call. I would enjoy having lunch with him and sharing a little insight into southwestern Colorado. While we are easy to make fun of, we are all that remains of what Colorado was and should stay.

Cheryl Baker, Mayor
Cortez

Be is the best:Kenny Be, you be the best! Always! You have the highest level of brilliance and talent and depth. And your October 2 "Conservative Arts Major" Worst-Case Scenario was beyond brilliant. Beyond. I can't express my admiration -- and appreciation -- in a worthy manner.

Thank you! You operate at the highest level of genius. And humor. And talent.

Susan Schwartz
Aurora


Ah, There's the Rub

Yanks for the memories:Regarding your October 9 coverage of Puppetry of the Penis:

So Westwordgets taken in by yet another low-brow-humor-for-the-masses-road-show-live-from-somewhere-important-so-it-must-be-art scam. Puppetry of the Penis, eh? Cute. Kinda like those porcelain figurines we see in the Sunday newspaper supplements. Spare me. I love it when the "masses" get to view pseudo-porn in a setting that sez, "Oh, it is all on the up-and-up; so this is art, or comedy," or some such tripe. When Denver or any other city that pathetically aspires to be hip or modern showcases a vaudeville act called Clowning With the Clitoris, you call me and I will be there -- in fairness only, mind you.

P.S.: This is not about liberalism versus conservatism; I am as liberal as the day is long. This isabout art and comedy, and that show is neither. And as long as I have words to spare here, can we finally put a fork in I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change? Pleeze? Just like Penis: same suburban angst/titillation, same hype, same ho-hum.

J.J. Miller
via the Internet


Purple People Eater

Shaken and stirred:I just wanted to tell you that Patrick Osborn's October 2 Drunk of the Week was absolutely hilarious and completely true! I do like the Purple Martini, but what he said is right on. Keep up the great writing!

Andrea Hawkins
Denver


Painting by Numbers

Notes from the underground:Michael Paglia's "Everybody Loves Painting," in the October 9 issue, was a thoughtful, provocative review.

But tell me: What if I want to see the show, but I likethe art-history part? Is there a sorta underground, subversive part of the Denver Art Museum presentation where I can get that?

Donald Frazier
via the Internet

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