This letter is to express my outrage at the poor taste that Westword used in placing a picture of our First Lady, Wilma Webb, over the picture of Mr. T in the August 8 Off Limits. Peter Boyles's comments on KTLK were crude and disrespectful; the characterizations, even on the radio, are totally unacceptable to me and black women in this community. The paper made the horrible visual presentation.
My concern is the decision of your paper to add insult to injury by stooping to the lower depths of racial and ethnic insult by picturing our First Lady as a man; you become more than just a messenger reporting the news of some talk show. But it is a contradiction of reality. We know that this is not a true picture of Mrs. Wilma Webb, with her commitment and dedication to the many causes for good in this community. I blame Westword and feel the paper should take full responsibility for the false characterization/character assassination that you created to present to the Denver community. I am outraged because of the insensitivity that this picture gives to our First Lady and to black women.
How long do we have to live with this type of sexism and racism?
Dr. Faye Rison
After listening to Peter Boyles's radio show and reading your story, I have come to the conclusion that Mr. T is the most reasonable person to play the part of Wilma! I just feel sorry for Mr. T.
via the Internet
Pros and Cons
Building the San Carlos prison for the "mentally ill" was insane. Even more insane are the plans to double its size. As Karen Bowers reported in her July 25 story, "I'm a Con, You're a Con," there is no data to suggest this triple-the-cost prison will reduce criminal recidivism. In fact, numerous studies report the opposite is true.
For example, a thirty-year follow-up study of 500 individuals found that those who received psychiatric counseling were worse off in regard to criminal and antisocial behavior than the participants who received no "treatment." This study also reported that of those who did commit a crime, those who had been in the psychological program were more likely to reoffend.
Psychologists claim "medications" given San Carlos inmates will curb their criminal impulses. Again, the reverse is true. A controlled prison study discovered that physically aggressive acts increased by 360 percent when inmates were placed on psychotropic drugs. Studies reporting that psychiatric treatments and drugs can increase criminal and violent behavior are routinely published in psychiatric journals.
San Carlos psychiatrists have protected themselves from the violent reactions their drugs can cause with locked cells and leather restraint beds. Unfortunately, when these inmates are released with their thirty-day supply of drugs, Coloradans have no such protection!
The skeletons unearthed on the state mental hospital grounds during construction of San Carlos are not the only ones in psychiatry's closet. Psychiatrists knew their "treatments" would not reduce criminal recidivism when they demanded funding for their new experiment.
Psychiatry has the responsibility to inform our lawmakers of the facts. Had this happened, San Carlos would not have been built. The taxpayers must not be forced to fund the expansion of this travesty!
The recent articles by Karen Bowers about infirm and aged prisoners in the Department of Corrections ("I'm a Con, You're a Con" and "Bad Ol' Boys," August 1) were right on! I am almost fifty, and I have recently been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. I have been in prison since 1978. Is there a realistic shot at a special clemency or conditional pardon or commute for me so I can spend my final days with my wife, who has stood by me all these years? I am getting the best care I can get medically, but in the worst facility in the system for any kind of dignified treatment or administrative assistance.
I wasn't sentenced to death! Time is running out in the ten months to two years the doctors have given me. I would really like a chance not to go out like just a piece of meat in a locker. I would like a bit of dignity on the way out.
Deep in the Heart of Texas
Regarding Alan Prendergast's "Lone Stir State," in the August 8 issue:
There appears to be an unwritten rule that corrections officials never endorse what an inmate says but instead make it appear that he and his family lie about all things regarding prison conditions--whether it be Colorado or Texas contract facilities. This response only reinforces the public's attitude that all inmates are snivelers and whiners.
Prison officials act much like the man who beats his wife, then gives her jewels, furs and unlimited credit cards and tells her to stop sniveling because she's got it so good. Whatever a prisoner complains about, the DOC takes the opposite stance, often contributing to life-threatening situations.
Each taxpayer must remember that his life can change in a split second and that he, too, could be dealing with the "system" and a prison sentence. One drink too many, causing a vehicular homicide; someone's child with the wrong people--in the wrong place--and a drug bust takes place. Only then will people understand what prisoners are subjected to by their "keepers." Prisons are not cushy places or country clubs.
Very few prisoners remain in prison forever. They will be your neighbors some day. Deal with it now or deal with it later; it's your choice. There will be more prisons than colleges, more people inside than out.
The names and faces of corrections officials are different all over, but the mentality remains the same; they hold prisoners accountable for their behavior, as they should. Is the public entitled to any less accountability from corrections officials?
I've thanked the DOC for bringing my husband home from Texas. Some day I'd like to be able to thank them for telling the truth.
I find Michael Roberts's articles regarding the local radio market to be uninformed and unrealistic. As a broadcast professional who has been in the industry for nearly twenty years, I personally feel Roberts's opinions are juvenile and insulting.
If Roberts traveled the U.S., he would find that the quality of Denver radio is similar to that of many major cities and better than some. Since my business interests are of a national scope, I have no allegiance to any particular local radio station.
Radio broadcasting is a business that depends on audience share to generate advertising revenue for profit. Like cable, network television and numerous other consumer products, radio uses research to appeal to a target audience.
I wonder: If Roberts owned a radio station and had to pay the bills based on advertising revenues generated by audience share, how long would he find it practical to play everything from polkas to whale sound effects? My suggestion would be for Roberts to buy his favorite CDs (no matter how varied and eclectic) and get a life!
Since he explicitly asked for Westword readers' opinions, I must tell you that I was appalled by Paul Caouette's August 1 letter and its unfair criticism of the programming on Colorado Public Radio. My greatest delight upon moving to Denver was discovering that there were two radio stations, KCFR and KVOD, both playing a wonderful choice of classical-music. I too have listened to music throughout the U.S. and found much of value, but Denver is more than holding its own. In California, where I lived many years, the classical music presence in the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles regions has degenerated into unimaginative and boring repertoire. Just as bad, the four classical stations that were in San Francisco are now reduced to one, itself recently sold, with an even grimmer future possible.
Classical music has been a constant companion in my life, yet on both Denver stations, I frequently hear excellent pieces I've never heard before. They span all schools and genres, from chamber music to opera, including plenty of fine stuff from the twentieth century. For Mr. Caouette to characterize any of this as "elevator" music must mean that he considers the date of a composition more important than its quality. Certainly a classical station must play more old than "new" music; after all, it's called "classical" because it possesses the elegance, delicacy, passion and beauty to have withstood the test of time.
Personally, I think a better metaphor than Mr. Caouette's "elevator" would be to compare the music on both splendid Denver classical stations to the beautiful gymnastics of the recent Olympics, with much other music heard on the radio unfortunately being more analogous to professional wrestling.
To sum up, I have been thrilled many times by the music I've heard on KCFR (as well as on KVOD), and I encourage its listeners to support the station strongly so its excellence isn't lost through the kind of neglect that has occurred in California. The subtle details and the grand joys are all there now for us to hear; we are very lucky and should show our gratitude.
via the Internet
In response to recent letters to Westword concerning Colorado Public Radio's programming:
Colorado Public Radio plays an extraordinarily broad range of classical music fifteen hours a day, from sixth-century polyphony to new works by composers John Adams and Michael Torke, and everything in between.
In fact, the majority who respond to surveys we regularly send to our 25,000 subscribers tell us that they value Colorado Public Radio both for the in-depth NPR news we broadcast nine hours every day and for the classical music we present.
Everything you hear on Colorado Public Radio is a result of considerable listener input and feedback. Our board of directors' meetings are open to the public and announced well in advance on the air, and we welcome comments and suggestions from all of our listeners.
Max Wycisk, president
Colorado Public Radio
A Site for Sore Eyes
Regarding Michael Paglia's "Death of a Salesroom," in the August 8 issue:
Thanks for a well-written, most insightful article. As a suburban dweller, meaningful architecture is important to me. Many of us who live in the suburbs enjoy living near the significant structural pieces that support our cultural significance. What we lost at Zeckendorf was a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing complex that was one of the only divergent silhouettes in our downtown world of mono-scrapers.
Thanks also to Michael Paglia for pointing out the "bad guys" in this struggle for architectural preservation in Denver. Few modern issues have so few gray areas. Somehow, the voices of those who would preserve what is significant must overcome the voices that support the "architectural cleansing" raging all around us. I do not concur that, architecturally, downtown Denver is a "pig pile," as Frank Lloyd Wright may have contended. What I do believe is that there are those among us whose agenda is aimed at pushing us further in that direction.
I agree with Michael Paglia that the destruction of Zeckendorf Plaza was barbaric. On the other hand, I cannot agree that the rest of greater Denver is architecturally bleak. In fact, at least three components of downtown Denver have immense architectural merit.
The Civic Center is a showcase of superbly appropriate structures. These include one of the finest city halls in America, a wonderfully original art museum and the magnificent new central library.
The 16th Street Mall is an inspired design, giving beauty and vivacity to the very heart of the city, set off by the (preserved) D&F tower.
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts complex is thrilling to walk in when crowds gather for plays and concerts. And its crown jewel, Boettcher Hall, makes Avery Fisher Hall in New York look dowdy by comparison.
Compared to the Denver of 1958, when I moved here, the present city is an architectural joy to behold.
Robert B. Spindle
Regarding Michael Roberts's piece on the Phish concert at Red Rocks ("Something's Fishy," August 8), I'd like to congratulate you on an excellent review. I'm always especially happy when a new phan is created. Phish phans unite! My leg of the tour starts in Deer Creek, Indiana, and I am almost projectile vomiting in anticipation.
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