Letters to the Editor

From the week of July 15, 2004

Ticket to Ride

This land is your land:I can't tell you how touched I was by Laura Bond's "Death and Taxis," in the July 8 issue. Whenever I feel depressed about the state of this country, I will remember what Alemshet Workie said about this still being a land of such opportunity. I hope I'm lucky enough to ride in his cab one day!

Mary Aragon
Denver

Drive, he said:Pleeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaase!!!! Why do you print these sympathetic articles about cab drivers? I own a car service here in Denver and it is total BS that there are too many cabbies in this town. We do 3000 to 4000 of their calls every month, and we have only been around for two years in June! Why? Because these so-called "drivers" treat their customers more poorly than any business I have ever seen. We have been swamped. (We operate similar to a taxi, but are registered as a limousine due to the taxicab lobbyists in this town.) The demand is there, but people do not want to take a ride from a guy with food stains on his shirt, or crud on the floor or seats of his taxi. Or from a guy who can't even understand plain English (or pretends to not understand) to take you less than a mile from downtown to Cherry Creek via I-70!

I have heard more horror stories in this business than I can even recount. These guys need to stop complaining about too many cabbies and start working on service. In Laura Bond's article, this guy Alemshet Workie talks about shining spotlights in their faces, telling people he is from a fictitious country, blah blah blah. Who wants to be treated that way when you're out on the town having fun? Yes, they can get pretty drunk; yes, they can be a pain on occasion. But they are paying customers, and they remember what they experienced that night (some of them!) -- even the cab ride home.

I want to thank you for the article, in the sense that some of us pay attention to what's going on. It can be dangerous and tiring. These guys feel that everyone is ungrateful. Our customers don't think so.

Jason
Denver

Danger is their business:Laura Bond's articles on the taxi industry in Denver were timely, factual and helped to humanize a business that has been stereotyped for years as being the place of people between jobs, unfamiliar with English and careless in their driving habits. Alemshet Workie's words helped reinforce that taxi drivers are caring professionals with families, bills and the same worries everyone else has -- and oh, by the way, cheerfully working the most dangerous job in America.

My only correction concerns the taxi-operating permits issued by the Public Utilities Commission. These are not "owned" by the taxi-leasing companies (Freedom, Metro and Yellow in Denver). They are held in trust for the citizens and businesses of Colorado. When those trustees are dissatisfied with the status quo, they must address the system and demand that the leasing companies provide better quality service to the consumer and to its professional drivers.

This is part of the course drivers have taken by forming ProTAXI. We are carrying the complaints, concerns and comments of our drivers and customers to government officials and the taxi-leasing companies. However, the system is more mindful when the trustees of these certificates get involved. Please consider calling your city council representative, your mayor or the PUC to let them know what you expect and demand when you get into a taxi.

Adam T. Bartolik, president
ProTAXI


To Tell the Truth

It happened to me, too:David Holthouse, I've admired your writing and stories in Westword for quite a long time, but I've never admired you more than now. I debated writing when " Stalking the Bogeyman" was printed in the May 13 edition, but figured you'd be inundated with letters from other abuse survivors. I wanted to write a letter of support after your arrest, but again.... However, having read your "Arrested Development" update in the July 8 edition, I am finally moved to write, regardless of how much e-mail you may have received.

"But, yes, it happened to me, too."

I was five the first time my brother molested me, and it continued until I was twelve. There were other abusers, but my brother was primary, and spilling details after all this time (35 years) and four years of therapy is immaterial. What I want to say to you is this: I applaud your courage, because as survivors we're shamed into silence. The more of us who speak out, the more courage we give those who are still silent and trying to live with the pain. Some of us don't survive because we feel we're completely alone and the only one this has ever happened to. Your most recent article carries the most important message of all: It happened to me, too. When we hear those words and know we aren't alone, we aren't the only ones, and we see that others have survived and even gone on to have productive, peace-filled lives (such as Marilyn Van Derbur), we know then that we cansurvive and that we aren't alone. You said you didn't know how to help these people. David, you already did. You spoke out. You told them "It happened to me," and they know they aren't alone. You've probably given many of these 2,000 people the courage to speak out for the first time and the courage to seek counseling to heal their emotional wounds. You don't know how to help these people? David, just keep speaking out and being the courageous and admirable man you are. That is more help than you can ever imagine. I speak from experience. Stay strong and please believe that your best and most encompassing revenge is that you didsurvive in spite of it all.

Name witheld on request

The 50 percent solution:I have never written in response to any news article of any kind. I want to add one more voice of thanks and one more to extoll the virtue of having this subject rise to prominence in our society, preferably without inappropriate sensationalism.

I have never been molested. My mother was raped and otherwise molested from a very young age by her father, and I was told the story of it at a very young age. I was personally exposed to molestation at that same age, when being baby-sat by some relatives, listening to my cousin being raped in the next room while I sat and watched the television. So the subject sits very deeply in me.

Whenever I have related these stories to other people, I have never once heard a person say "no way!"or voice any disbelief. Everyone knows. Of the people I talk to about it, approximately 50 percent tell me they have been molested or raped as a child. Never by some random person. Not always by men.

The rights and well-being of many groups of people have been fought over and are being fought over, and if there is one group that has a problem that should be intelligently and compassionately and loudly addressed, it is the millions of molested children. I would greatly appreciate it if you were to use whatever public visibility you possess to help bring this topic to the fore of discussion.

Dan Anderson
via the Internet

Sob story:I want to thank you for your courage in sharing this story with your readers. When I saw the picture of you when you were seven, I began to cry, right here at my desk at work.

I am not really sure why I am writing, as I would think you have gotten a plethora of e-mails of support and admiration. Nevertheless, I want to be added to the list of readers who think you would be a fantastic father. The way you chose to protect your parents demonstrates the love you have inside. A love that no bogeyman can tarnish. God bless.

John K. Briscoe
Alameda, California

Slow justice:It broke my heart to read your story. I'm sure your experience will help those who have had to deal with similar trauma from their childhoods. Hopefully they, too, will take the steps you took and realize they don't have to become molesters, either. I admire you for taking charge and writing this story. A pig like that deserved what he was about to get, but rest assured, he's dying a slow death now.

Darlene
Centennial

Feeling your pain:Previously, it was unfathomable for me to imagine what a person feels or thinks after having been molested as a child. I have been the ear and shoulder for a few friends, girlfriends and a sole family member who told me what happened to them as a children; I could only offer my support and my unwavering attention when they felt the need to tell someone.

I am writing this simply to thank David for having the courage to speak for himself and other victims, and also for providing insight about what a molestation victim feels for those who've never experienced such horror. It helps those of us who want to help in what ways we can to have a better understanding and, if possible, share a small part of the pain.

Bill Petersen
Nanjemoy, Maryland

God's pen:Thank you. I feel so much less alone having read "Stalking the Bogeyman." I admire David Holthouse's courage and strength.

My Bogeyman left me with a Bogeyman Jr. to raise, and there are times when I don't think I can live another minute on this earth. Thanks also for the Bible verse. I am not religious at all, but sometimes it seems that certain words strike me as though written by the very pen of God. I have never understood why I have had to live as the "punished" while the Bogeyman lives "free," and I always wished for retribution to be delivered by my own hands.

Jennifer
Las Vegas

The heal thing:David Holthouse, your story is amazing -- it's horrifying and heartbreaking to hear what happened to you. I hope that your healing continues. I hope this guy isn't lying and isn't still doing this. God bless you and others who have had this happen to them. I have a young son and the more I read about these things happening, it is my greatest fear that something like this might happen to him. My mind boggles that anyone can be such a monster.

Kurt Jones
via the Internet

The boy next door:I was molested by a neighbor boy from the age of five until I was nine. I lived next to his grandparents and every summer he came down for visits with them. I can vividly remember every detail of each incident; it happened about five times in the span of four years. Every day I think about him, wondering if I will ever see him again and what would I say. He did it to his own daughter a few years ago, and he is remarried now with a little boy, and his wife does not know about his history. I have never told anyone, especially my parents, for the same reason as David Holthouse -- they were great friends with his grandparents. I have not seen him since I was nine. A month ago, his grandparents contacted us to attend a "reunion" and said that Scott (the perp) would be there and would love to see everyone. I have never felt so sick to my stomach. I felt like killing someone.

I have a five-year-old daughter, and all I could think about was this guy did these things to me under the watch of his grandparents and my parents, so there is no way in hell I will be around him. I ended up telling my parents, which horrified them because they wondered if they could have prevented/done something, etc. My mom called his grandmother, told her everything, and said if he ever contacted us or came around she would kill him.

David Holthouse's article gave me strength to write Scott a letter and let him know how he has affected my life, my personality, everything about me. It has affected relationships in so many ways. I am a counselor at a mental-health center and after reading the DSM for diagnosis, I see how much this person has affected my life and why I have done the things I have done.

Name withheld on request

The damage done:Thank you so much for having the guts and the courage to share your story in Westword and then go through all the media attention. I am a year younger than you, and unfortunately I'm also a rape survivor. I wasn't a child like you, but I was a nineteen-year-old sophomore in college. My virginity was taken by a man I was dating.

I felt totally alone and I didn't tell anyone for quite a while. I felt like it was my fault, and I was embarrassed that I had dated someone who turned out to be so terrible. I went to a couple of counseling sessions (it helped me put a name to what had happened), but the healing process has largely been on my own.

Although my circumstances were far different from your experience, I can completely empathize with your thoughts, feelings and pain. I have felt "damaged" for all these years and it has affected me in many ways, probably in ways of which I'm not aware. Like you, I'm afraid to have children, partially because if I had a daughter I'd want to kill any guy who came near her. It's a dangerous and unpredictable world.

I've often wondered how I would react if I ever saw the man who raped me. I know which state he lives in (Florida) and that he's married with kids. I don't know if it would be better to kick him in the nuts, punch him or totally humiliate him in front of his family.

Thanks again for sharing your story. Remember, there are more survivors here in Denver who support you.

Hilarie
Denver

Profiles in courage:What courage David Holthouse has to actually bring forth that story. I myself was molested as a child by a male cousin. Unlike David, I have been through counseling and hypnotic therapy and I believe, as with death, it's something you really never get over until you learn to deal with it. Today I have two children of my own, a boy who is four and a girl who is two. I have found a certain type of paranoia with regard to the same thing happening to my children. I have never really considered the thought of being a perpetrator; however, I find myself sheltering my children and not wanting to get in relationships with anyone for fear of what they might do to my children.

I wish David well in life and believe that he will do fine when he does decide to have kids. Thank you for the article. God bless you!

Name withheld on request

The agony and the injury:David Holthouse, thank you for having the courage to publish your story. Your talent with words so clearly verbalized the agony of sexual assault and its devastating ramifications. As a survivor, I found healing and strength through reading and re-reading your story (several times). You are very brave.

Joy Hewitt
Nome, Alaska


A Real Masterpiece

Model behavior: Regarding Michael Paglia's "Rigsby in the Rearview," in the July 8 issue:

What a terrific article on David Rigsby! In his day and at his best, David created forums and opportunities for other artists, gave timely and thoughtful advice, and made the art community more vital with his participation. After getting kicked out of a show for being "politically incorrect," my work found a new home at Rigsby's Progresso Gallery in less than two hours, sight unseen. David never forgot his lean times, frequently showing a slide of a sculpture made out of chicken bones from his meal when he had no money for art supplies.

Thank you, Michael Paglia. Thank you, Cydney Payton. A blessing on both your households.

Paul Schroder
Denver


Spread the Word

Good taste, good time:Every time the new Westword comes out, I always go straight to Jason Sheehan's restaurant reviews. I really love his writing. It's descriptive, honest, and his personality shines through. I just graduated high school and was the restaurant critic for my school's newspaper for three years. I really enjoyed reviewing different places and especially enjoyed reading Sheehan's reviews to better my own creativity. I'm heading off to college in the fall, and instead of taking the journalism path, I am going to culinary school.

I just wanted to let you know I appreciate Sheehan's writing and good taste.

Araminta David
Denver

Free dumb's just another word:Having patronized L.D. Buffet at least ten times, I feel a responsibility to respond to Jason Sheehan's "Adventures in Eating," in the July 8 issue. I am dismayed with what I believe is an inaccurate portrayal of what is offered there.

No mention of the Mongolian barbeque -- fresh vegetables and meats, fresh mushrooms (both button and fresh shiitake), shrimp and little sirloin steaks cooked to order. You can choose exactly what you want yourself, as much as you want. The crab might have some yellow parts, but I have had quite a bit of crab there, and it is not as bad as Jason portrayed. L.D.'s has two types of crab, one steamed and one cold. The vegetables, Chinese green beans and Brussels sprouts are cooked just right, not overdone. The peel-and-eat shrimp is as fresh as I have had anywhere. The sushi is not the best quality, but it is fresh. You usually have to stand there and wait for them to make it, as it seems to be popular enough that they can't keep it on the serving trays.

I recommended L.D. to visiting gem dealers from China last September. They thanked me for the suggestion, said the food was good and the restaurant was clean, and recommended it to their friends. I can be very snobby about food. My wife's birthday was at Mizuna, New Year's Eve at Kevin Taylor's Jou Jou.

I think Jason was as unfair as he could be about L.D. for no good reason. Mean-spirited, because I think he could have been positive about what I know is okay there. As for him being in a coma after eating there, I think he went in there in a coma. I feel bad for how hard people work and, in the case of a restaurant, then they can be reviewed and have damage done to their business and they have no recourse through freedom (free dumb) of the press. Jason, have fun, but not at others' expense.

Richard Hart
Denver

Rock and dinner rolls:Jason Sheehan, you rock! You rock! You rock! You rock! I love all of your reviews, but the June 24 "Bland of Enchantment" was definitely my favorite so far. Thanks for the great work.

Jenny Honeycutt
Denver

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