From the week of November 12, 2009

"Denver's Top Ten Dives," Drew Bixby, November 5

Dive, He Said

Thank you for not outing Denver's real dive bars and instead listing the already hipster-infested pseudo-dives that such people are comfortable in. Drew Bixby's compilation will surely increase the crowds of self-conscious, PBR-swilling look-alikes in girl pants, assuring that the real dive bars remain as they should: places the look-at-me disaffected youth are afraid to hang out in.

Dawn Patrece

Denver

"Raising the Bar," November 5

Hob-Nobbing at the Nob Hill

I would like for you to envision my disgust upon completing this week's cover story on the Nob Hill. I was born and raised in Capitol Hill and have remained in the neighborhood for my entire life. In so saying, I have watched this neighborhood turn from a diverse place containing people from many socio-economic backgrounds into a trendy "in" place to live for — you guessed it — yuppies and hipsters. Over the years of reading your paper, I have begun to attribute some of this to your own publication.

In my early twenties, I remember the Squire Lounge as what you tout it to be today, "a diverse cross-section of Colfax." However, when I was a patron, there were no college kids or scenesters to be found. It is this very influx that is destroying the charm that is Colfax. It is a sad day when kids from the surrounding 'burbs are planning their great weekend slumming adventures based off of what you write.

As an off-and-on patron of the Nob Hill over the years, I have always enjoyed this place the most of any and all dives. This is due to the fact that the people here are real.  Most of them wear their hearts on their sleeves. By deciding to write this, you are once again inviting suburbanites and their kin who have already relocated here to take over yet another bar. This leaves a rather foul taste in my mouth. Who ultimately benefits from this? The owner, your egos and no one else.

Are you guys running out of ideas over there? I have noticed with your glossy new covers you have also made a recent change in reporting style as well. This collaborative attempt at bit stories in which you all spend a couple of hours pretending to be Jack Kerouac sipping drinks and writing in your leather-bound notebooks is sophomoric at best. Do none of you have it in your power any more to write a full feature article on your own? This style reminds me of a sandpaper circle jerk. It might make all of you feel good, but someone has to clean up the blood.

Dick Doyle

Denver

"Toot Frites," Jason Sheehan, November 5

in praise of sheehan

I just got done reading Jason Sheehan's review of the Cheeky Monk, and just wanted to say what another fantastic piece! Unfortunately, I read the letters to the editor immediately after — to find another completely ridiculous, negative attack concerning his October 29 review of Mark & Isabella. I've been reading Sheehan's reviews for years now; Cafe is always the first section I turn to when I look at a new issue. The fact that he's intertwined so much of his life in with his reviews gives each review a more credible and sincere feel, and I'm positive more readers than not appreciate that. Additionally, as with this most recent review, hearing backgrounds on the restaurant, owners, etc., make for good reads.

I know those negative letters are posted just because they're so lame they make everyone chuckle, but I'm bored at work and thought I'd share my thoughts about the good work that Sheehan does. My girlfriend and I seriously plan nights out around his reviews, and we haven't been let down yet. I'm sure Sheehan doesn't need the extra kudos, but thanks to him for keeping Westword a must-read magazine each week. And my condolences for his loss.

Eric Smith

Greenwood Village

"Got Your Goat," J. Hoberman, November 5

Bah, Humbug

I've enjoyed Westword's movie reviews for years, as I find them generally honest and informative. However, J. Hoberman's review of The Men Who Stare at Goats was extremely confusing. I have no idea who Mr./Mrs. Hoberman thinks is the target audience for these reviews, but he/she needs to make up his/her mind about it. Starting an article off with an aside so obliquely worded that I wondered for half the article if it was some kind of metaphor or just elitist showboating really doesn't seem like it's very friendly to the general audience. If they're your goal, then knock off the pointlessly high-brow literary acrobatics; your "look at me" motives are very transparent in this regard. On the other hand, if these reviews are for film-savvy academic types, then for the love of God, learn a little jargon. I'm a card-carrying film-buff douchebag myself, and a grad student in the subject, to boot, yet I have no idea what you mean when you say a film can't find its "tone." Are you talking thematically? Aesthetically? Is it a pacing issue, or one of ambience, or moral? What does that criticism mean? I know that writing about story arcs and mise en scène makes for limited accessibility, but that's better than the non-existent accessibility you're accomplishing now.

You can write your reviews to be accessible to the general public, or write them to be meaningful to the academic reader. If a writer is really talented, then they can get both — but as it stands, Hoberman's choice of language in this article accomplishes neither.

On the other hand, I greatly enjoyed Ella Taylor's review of the new CGI A Christmas Carol in the same issue. However, I disagree with the author on one point: She states that director Robert Zemeckis "hasn't told a decent story since 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit." Ms. Taylor, do you include Zemeckis's 2000 Cast Away with Tom Hanks in that statement? I'd say it's a film with a wonderfully subtle yet powerful story, one that's rich in nuance and skillfully immersive. Even if you don't love the film like I do, you have to at least admit that the story is "decent" or better, right?

Ian Helm

Denver

"The Quality of Mercy," Alan Prendergast, October 22

Remorse and Responsibility

The article about clemency that referenced me made good points, but I doubt people will listen until taxes are raised or bridges fall on their loved ones because repair money had to go to keeping people in cages.

I would like to point out one thing that has changed in the eleven years since Alan Prendergast interviewed me: I am not without remorse. Really, I never was considering my complete emotional breakdown when I first saw my brother later in the day that I so foolishly and selfishly hurt so many people. He interviewed a very damaged and insecure 21-year-old who was not strong enough to face the realization that he so needlessly hurt many people. The pain of that reality was too much to deal with, especially since I was still trying to fit into a dangerous world of miscreants where any sign of vulnerability signals predators to attack.

I have grown much over the years, and in the course of my journey to manhood, I found the strength to face my actions and their consequences without rationalizing away my responsibility. It is not easy to own up to being the one responsible for such horrendous pain; it is much easier to blame everyone else. But personal responsibility is important to me, and with that goes sorrow for the effect my actions had on others.

Jacob Ind

Cañon City

"Higher Law," Patricia Calhoun, October 29

Higher and Higher

Good article. Here is my deal: I am a chiropractor in Wheat Ridge, where my partner, Dr. Ron Malpiede, and I have been in the building for fifteen-plus years. A marijuana dispensary moved next to our office earlier this year, and it has been a nightmare. We have allopathic medical offices in the building as well as holistic, and we have had massive patient complaints of the very pungent marijuana scent. The entire building is infested with the smell, and most of the time it smells like skunk. We have complained to every possible person we can, including the state, city, police, etc.; nobody has been able to help us. The building management put in air sanitizers and said they had installed air filters; however, the scent has actually gotten worse.

We don't know where to go, what to do. There are shady, drug dealer-looking people at our building every day. Our building was broken into recently, which had never before happened. I have lost at least nine patients (that I know of) due to the smell and unprofessional environment we are in now. Do you have any advice or good news about our future with regard to this matter? We have a striving practice in a poor economic situation. We are not opposed to the legalization of marijuana, just this location for distribution.

Dr. Erica L. Cwalina

Wheat Ridge

"Calhoun Columns Take First," October 22

Who's on First?

I want to congratulate Patricia Calhoun on winning first place in the prestigious Clarion Awards for her phenomenal columns. A journalist of her caliber truly deserves this recognition. Not only is her writing unique in style, but in content as well. I love it!

She has really put herself and Westword on the map.

Rosemary McManis

Denver

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