Parks and Wreck
I read with interest Michelle Dally Johnston's October 18 article "A River of Asphalt Runs Through It," concerning Mayor Webb, the "parks mayor," trying to permit a road through one of Denver's largest parks, the Chatfield Arboretum. Obviously, the Sierra Club made a mistake in endorsing him over Mary DeGroot last spring, and now the environmental community and residents of Denver are being made to pay for that mistake.
Let's hope the Littleton City Council acts with more responsibility when considering the next step in the process.
It's ironic that the residents of Denver, whose mayor professes to be a defender of Denver parks, must now look to the Littleton City Council to defend one of their largest parks, Chatfield Arboretum. It's clear that Webb was only waiting for the election to be over before forgetting his election promises on the environment.
Those of us who live in Littleton will do what we can to influence our own mayor and city council to protect this park when the final platting comes before the council this November or December. Although your city council was locked out of the decision-making process at the whim of the mayor and one of his appointees, we can assure you that our city council will not be.
Baby, oh, baby! Kenny Be's Worst-Case Scenario, "Million-Baby Crawl," in the October 18 issue, is a must for every Washington Park refrigerator. I'm putting mine right next to the Halloween magnets holding soccer schedules and orthodonist appointment reminders (that we've already missed). Would Kenny be willing to come autograph copies for our babysitting co-op?
It was not enough that Kenny Be derided the outcome of the O.J. Simpson trial in his October 15 Worst-Case Scenario, "The Race Cards." Then he aimed his racist pen at the Million Man March, making fun of it in the "Million Baby Crawl." The March was an important event, and not something to be mocked.
Obviously, some people see things only in black and white--and Kenny Be is one of them. There is nothing "funny" about these cartoons.
Asleepy at the Wheel
In one sentence in the October 18 Playlist, John Jesitus managed to insult five of my favorite bands. He then proceeded to trash Buffalo Tom's latest release, Sleepy Eyed. Ease up, pal--who are you? Mr. Negative? Buffalo Tom, the Replacements, Soul Asylum, the Goo Goo Dolls and Dinosaur Jr. have always rocked and always will. John should keep his criticism of fast-movin' American rock and roll to himself.
I want Westword readers to know that Buffalo Tom's Sleepy Eyed rules. I hope you buy it and enjoy it as much as I do. All music is good, and some of it rules. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Erik W. Bauer
Michael Paglia: I was greatly shocked and saddened by the negative and misinformed remarks you made concerning Wes Kennedy's death ("Photography Today," September 20). I think you used poor judgment in adding your own thoughts to Eric Havelock-Bailie's statements: "Havelock-Bailie says his anger extends to those who have told him `to get over' Kennedy's death. `I will never get over it,' he says. Perhaps those who have used Kennedy's death as an opportunity to knock off the late artist's distinctive style are the ones who need to get over his death."
Michael, my main point is that your sour remarks attempt to kill Wes's great influential spirit and wrongly place bad energy around the sensitive area of emerging style. I can name several photographers your one stupid statement affected, including your beloved and previously gushed-upon David Zimmer. I feel you are being hypocritical, at one moment priding Denver on its strong presence of fine art photography and then shooting yourself in the foot by making insulting stabs at the very core of Denver's finest.
You have made odd comments before about Wes, the last one your strange statement about Wes being the Robert Mapplethorpe of Denver. Other than photography, sexual orientation and cause of death, Wes and Robert had very, very little in common. Comparative analytical criticism can be very informative if done properly. I believe weak, shallow criticism grasps at the constant need for comparisons to support a premise; some of yours make little or no sense and are insulting.
A comment about Eric getting over Wes's death: Though I am not one of the people referred to in your article, I am a close and very supportive friend of Eric's who greatly believes in his work. My problem, which has been voiced by others as well, is the redundancy with which he uses the images of Wes in a very sick state in the last weeks of his life. These are not pretty, and they are frankly very upsetting to those who were close to Wes; they have been shown again and again and again--maybe half a dozen times. Personally, I like to remember Wes as his full, handsome self when the sparkle was in his eyes...not death.
I generally enjoy your informative, intelligent reviews, and I feel you canvass the local art scene well. But I felt I had to make a statement in regard to your weak insight and stabs that have been hurtful to emerging talent. I wish you would sometimes take a closer look before you compare and criticize so seemingly flippantly.
Poster No Notices
The October 11 "Focus on the Fracas" about the gay-poster mess at DPS made a preposterous attempt to twist reality with the blatant falsehood that the poster DPS wants displayed in Denver high schools and concerned parents want stopped is an AIDS poster "that warns gay youth about the disease." In fact, the poster never mentions AIDS, HIV or gay health in any manner whatsoever, as Westword, which has a copy of it, well knows.
As the one member of the Health Education Advisory Committee who voted against the poster, I saw the original version with same-sex couples hugging, the headline "LOVE YOURSELF" and the subhead "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth 25 and Under" followed by the words "SAFE AND CONFIDENTIAL" and the phone number of the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Community Center. The current version is more sanitized: The center has dropped the couples and the "LOVE YOURSELF" in hopes of winning mainstream acceptance of the addled idea that the halls of DPS are the place to promote a gay advocacy group as a legitimate counseling resource for our youth.
Any shrink will tell you that a great number of teens, especially boys, go through a period of gender confusion or an experience of same-sex romance. Any responsible professional will tell you that referring these vulnerable, emotionally needy kids to a gay group is a big mistake; indeed, a professional counselor working with kids at a DPS middle school told the Health Advisory Group exactly that. When gender-confused DPS teens see the poster at school and go to the center, they will be enrolled in "support groups" led by "positive adult role models from the lesbian, gay and bisexual community," according to the center's brochure. Where is neutrality here? Where is the heterosexual point of view? What are the credentials of these people?
The Denver Public Schools has no business lending its authority to any group promoting any sexual behavior or lifestyle. This is another sad DPS abdication of responsibility to our kids. And Westword, in its irresponsible falsehood about the poster's true substance, is complicit in it.
Editor's note: The "Focus on the Fracas" article concerned a recent letter from Focus on the Family to its followers, urging them to protest the distribution in Denver Public Schools of a poster developed by the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Community Services Center of Colorado. In the editing process, the poster was mistakenly described as an "AIDS poster." Westword apologizes for the error.
Regarding Robin Chotzinoff's "We're Loaded for Bear," in the September 13 issue:
A couple of weeks ago, I went with another member of the Save Our Bears group to Children's Hospital. We went around to several wards in our polar bear suits. As we entered each room, there was instant recognition: "Klondike and Snow are here!" and young faces broke into smiles, forgetting for a few minutes about their pain.
What is the purpose of a zoo? Is it to exhibit "wild" animals in their "natural" habitat to appeal to our intellectual curiosity, thereby imparting respect for other species? Is it to take paying customers on a "virtual" tour of a faraway place, where they see "exotic" animals as part of the trip? Is it to breed captive animals whose wild cousins are disappearing in the face of the ever-expanding domain of Homo sapiens?
We won't argue these aims here. But a zoo can, and rarely does, manifest a higher purpose. It can show us that other species are God's children, too. This, we think, is at the root of the Klondike and Snow phenomenon. These bears, with all their charisma, knock down our hubris just a little. Their celebrity and popularity are a rare gift. The common folk realize this in their hearts and know what a precious thing is thrown away the day the bears are shipped off. On that day, an empty humanism reigns: Animals are mere chattel, not worthy of an emotional bond; such a thing is reserved only for humans to give and to receive. We have been called selfish. We're not the selfish ones.
Nancy and James Harris
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