Just when I thought everyone had forgotten all about the scandals at Denver International Airport, Patricia Calhoun comes along with her February 6 column, "Soar Loser." I don't know if Richard Boulware would have done a better job of telling us the truth about all the delays at DIA, but I know he could not have done a worse one than Webb, DeLong and company.
Keep the stories coming in '97, Patricia!
What is Mark Wilburn (Letters, February 6) talking about? Kenny Be is not only the best thing in Westword, he's the best thing in Denver, and maybe the world.
If his humor is just too hard for you to understand (last week's "The Webb to Watch" had me on the floor), then maybe you should just leave the planet.
Or go back to "Peanuts."
In regard to Michael Sragow's "review" of Star Wars ("The Force Is Almost With You," January 30), I am left wondering only one thing: Were you beaten as a child? Is that why you must pick at one of the most enjoyable, visceral movie experiences ever? Did your parents not take you to see it even though "all your friends were going"? Or were you too young, or too old? Your pseudo-review of the twenty-year-old movie only reinforces my opinion, and that of others, that for a great many of the "intellectual elite" in this pretentious community, a movie has to be playing at the Mayan or another faux art house to get respect. I'm glad that your personal opinion of yourself is so high that you can ridicule at best, and downright insult at worst, the millions of fans of the Star Wars trilogy around the world, as well as the thousands here in Denver.
Yes, Star Wars can be cheesy. The dialogue is dense at times, and the whole thing is superficial at first look. However, there is a reason it has endured, and that is because the heroes, the villains and the places are infinitely more real than those in the movies being made these days. And the movie is fun. All three movies are fun. (By the way, your listing of Empire as the best one gives further support that you are a pretentious twit.)
In the future, please spare us your regurgitated "views" on a movie that has been torn apart and examined since its first release. Quite honestly, Mr. Sragow, no one cares.
Well, first of all, I don't want to start out sounding like some lame-ass Star Wars/Star Trek freak, but rather as a fan of the most unforgettable movies I ever saw, at least in my childhood. I mean, Star Wars had lasers, spaceships, light sabers and wookies--all these cool things nobody had ever seen before. It also pioneered a brand-new kind of technology and really advanced moviemaking as far as special effects go. Do you really think that movies like Jurassic Park and Terminator 2 would have been possible without the genius that went into making the Star Wars movies? I know that some of the script was corny and some of the effects could be seen through easier than the California air, but give them a break. They made up all of those tricks as they were going along, and that THX noise is (pardon the French) fucking cool, especially if you have Surround Sound. All I'm asking is that you give the guy some credit. Yeah, there's a lot of marketing to this, but it's also to help get everyone ready for the new Star Wars movies that will be coming out in 1998. Besides, now all the kids can watch it on the big screen again. Now, that's fun to me.
P.S. Your newspaper has a bad attitude.
Jeffrey J. Prince
via the Internet
Dear Michael Sragow,
Regarding your Star Wars review:
Contempt of His Court
Karen Bowers's January 23 story, "Beyond Contempt," just serves to remind us that there is nothing lower than a lawyer. Except a lawyer who becomes a judge.
Your story on "Judge" Barnhill, "Beyond Contempt," reminded me of my own close encounter with this person and the "justice" system he represents. I was the plaintiff in 1989 in a civil lawsuit against my doctor; after Barnhill threw out most of the initial charges, those that remained were negligence and breach of fiduciary responsibility.
Barnhill would not allow the jury to hear and consider this evidence at trial. The way he disposed of the facts was to state that breach of fiduciary responsibility was a part of negligence, so that even though the evidence on breach of fiduciary was not allowed to be presented in court, it didn't matter, since evidence concerning the charge of negligence was presented. Both the Colorado Court of Appeals and the Colorado Supreme Court upheld "Judge" Barnhill in denying the jury the opportunity to hear all the evidence in the case.
Yes, we are trying to check a corrupt law and a megalomaniac lawyer/judge in a black bathrobe. But a much more critical issue is screaming for our attention. We are trying to check an absolutely corrupt monopoly over the entire administration of justice and our very lives. This critical, top-down issue has not been the focus of all the journalistic accounts of courageous Laura Kriho's demonstration of citizenship and participatory democracy.
I repeat: top down. Every actor in this glaring exercise of elitist and paternalistic power, including lawyer/judges Barnhill and Nieto, lawyers Stanley and Grant, and lawyer/governor Roy Romer, is a member of the legal priesthood known as the Colorado Bar Association.
What happened to the sacred separation of powers principle? Isn't Romer clearly a member of two branches of government at the same time? Look at your Colorado senators and Colorado representatives. Count the Bar-member lawyers. Now, ask yourself why lawyers have so much power and suck not only your money but your Enlightenment heritage and your very blood.
San Luis Obispo, CA
So, Gilpin County District Judge Henry Nieto has finally issued a ruling in the Laura Kriho contempt of court case Karen Bowers wrote about in "Beyond Contempt." It's too bad that after four months, he still hasn't had enough time to get it right.
Laura Kriho is guilty of nothing more than being a conscientious citizen willing to do her duty by serving on a jury. For this she is now facing six months in jail and thousands of dollars in fines.
If Nieto and his cronies think this action will accomplish their obvious goal of making jurors into unthinking robots who will meekly rubber-stamp unjust convictions, they are very much mistaken. Patriotic citizens like Laura Kriho will continue to bring their consciences and their brains into court and into the jury room, but they will do so more carefully.
And this ruling will be challenged. Those of us who have contributed to Ms. Kriho's defense fund in the past will dig into our pockets and contribute again. Others will surely join us. Our nation is far too precious to be flushed down the toilet by judges and prosecutors who are determined to ride roughshod over the right of people to obtain justice.
John A. deLaubenfels
Who's really guilty of contempt here? The juror who didn't have the heart to send a nineteen-year-old girl to prison for five years for having drugs, or the judge and Gilpin County prosecutor who want to set a legal precedent that would make Thomas Jefferson roll one in his grave?
Maybe Kriho's conscience told her to take the law into her own hands, just as the voters of California did with Proposition 215. That's zero tolerance for unjust laws.
New Paltz, NY
The trial of Laura Kriho for contempt of court in Gilpin County ended on October 2, and she was told to wait for a verdict. According to Colorado state statute 13-5-135, former prosecutor and now Chief Judge Henry Nieto of the First Judicial District, who heard the case, had ninety days to render a judgment. By my calculations, Judge Nieto was late. According to Colorado state statute 13-5-136, if a judge doesn't render a decision within ninety days, he forfeits his salary for that quarter. In this case, that is approximately $20,000.
Who will dare enforce these statutes?
U.S. Representative Newt Gingrich was not charged with lying, even though it is clear that he conspired to hide the truth about illegal campaign contributions until after his reappointment to a leadership position. Contrast this special treatment with the Laura Kriho incident.
Could it be that the noble title of U.S. representative provides immunity from laws that prohibit making false statements? Newt's peers--his fellow congressmen--decided that he must pay back the expense of the investigation that proved him a liar but gave him no jail time. Laura wasn't so lucky. She wasn't allowed a jury of her peers to decide if she should be punished for untruthfulness.
Chief Judge Henry Nieto decided he is better qualified to judge Laura's character than twelve of her peers. What's best for all resident subjects (including Laura) is clear to Judge Nieto. Gilpin County subjects of the realm must comply with laws made by the likes of Newt's peers, a noble assembly of legislators.
The message is clear! Be a compliant juror! Don't question authority or stray from a judge's instructions if you are called to judge your peers! Voting your conscience may be construed as showing contempt of court. Recalcitrant jurors must be punished!
How long, oh Lord, before the loyal subjects of Gilpin County realize that this democratic society allows them to recall tyrannical scoundrels such as the Honorable Chief Judge Henry Nieto? When all the druggies and their sympathizers are eliminated, will Gilpin County subjects then be concerned with jurors' rights? I'm afraid they'll need a replica of the Tower of London before that happens.
West Allis, Wisconsin
Editor's note: On February 10, Judge Henry Nieto found Laura Kriho in contempt of court. In his ruling, Nieto said Kriho had obstructed justice by not revealing during jury selection her own conviction on drug charges and her active opposition to drug laws. Meanwhile, Titus Peterson's case is proceeding, with a hearing set for February 21 in Gilpin County on a motion requesting a special prosecutor. A photograph of Peterson's former boss, who was quoted in Bowers's story as supporting Peterson, ran on the contents page of that issue; however, Summit County District Attorney Pete Michaelson was definitely not the prosecutor referred to in the "Beyond Contempt" headline. Our apologies for any confusion.
Oh, What a Release It Is
I want to commend Westword on its continued coverage of the prison system, most recently with Alan Prendergast's "Caught Off Guard," in the February 6 issue, and "Please Release Me," in the January 9 issue:
The pantyhose antics of the Department of Corrections officials depicted in "Caught Off Guard" humorously illustrate a very serious problem: This department is incapable of handling the severity of Colorado's prison problems.
Do you really know what the Colorado Parole Board is doing? I honestly think you don't--but I do, as I've dealt with them up-close and personal.
I have been incarcerated since September 1994. I am doing a six-year sentence for second-degree assault (a fight, mind you). I have never been a "problem" in the system, with no writeups and no reprimands.
In October 1996 I submitted a parole plan. I was told on January 27, 1997, that my parole plan has been denied. So I pursued another plan, only to be told the next day that the parole officer felt it better if I paroled out of state--which will take almost four months to be approved or denied. I have nothing to gain or lose by waiting the extra four months. On the other hand, the State of Colorado gets the taxpayers' dollars to hold me longer.
I understand that the State of Colorado doesn't care about my welfare or your money; you wouldn't believe how they waste it!
They would have you believe that I am writing this to "get back at them." They may make me leave the state, but they can't stop progress.
I have nothing to hide. I have the truth.
Editor's note: If you missed Westword's prison series, "The Insiders," you can still read it on line at westword.com/extra/insiders.html
Michael Roberts's January 23 Feedback column on the state of Denver radio gives a lot of credit to stations that really don't deserve it. Granted, the emphasis on local artists by some is a positive development, but overall, the state of the area's corporate/commercial radio is pretty bleak indeed.
For example, compare KTCL and KBCO today to what they were playing eight or ten years ago, and it becomes clear how bad things have become. Back then, artists like Cabaret Voltaire, Bauhaus, Frank Zappa, Tom Waits and Leo Kottke (and other, more obscure artists) could be heard regularly on these two stations. Back then, both of these stations had a real air of eclecticism to them, but today they are both computer-programmed by ding-dong consultants like the Gavin organization and Dennis Constantine. They've both been sucked dry of all their creativity and originality.
Of course, it's not totally their fault. Ever since the huge entertainment conglomerates decided that there was big money to be made on "alternative" music, things have been going steadily downhill. What do you expect from corporate America? Eclecticism has been replaced by standardization, and independent artists and labels are ignored in favor of major-label copycats. These stations used to be about music, but today the music is far subordinate to the almighty buck.
Consider three of the big trends today in music: the emergence of ambient/rave/electronic music, the new popularity of lounge/ cocktail music, and the explosion of international music and its hybridization with other musical forms. All three of these genres are virtually ignored by corporate/commercial radio in favor of creative geniuses like the Goo Goo Dolls and Stone Temple Pilots (like wow!). And the record industry wonders why sales are flat? Hellooo!
Well, anyway, the good news is that there is a tremendous amount of exciting and original music being produced nowadays (and some of it is actually on major labels). The bad news is that you don't hear it on corporate/commercial radio. You've got to go out and look for it (or rely on small, noncommercial stations like KGNU). I sense that a great many people out there are starving for something new in their musical lives. It would be nice if the powers that be in commercial radio would start listening--but, of course, we won't hold our breath.
I am quite pleased that Mr. Roberts praised the latest Future Sound of London album Dead Cities in his top CD picks for 1996 ("The Prize Patrol," December 26). It's about time that Colorado catches up with the rest of the world and gives credit where credit is due. It is a magnificent album. The only gripe I have is the persistent comment about FSOL's work being merely an "alternative" soundtrack to the 1981 film Blade Runner. The press had previously said this with FSOL's album from 1994, Lifeforms (Virgin/Astralwerks Records). Yes, it does drift in places, but an alternative soundtrack to Blade Runner it is not. If anything, Dead Cities would be ideal to listen to while looking at spaghetti Westerns on the weekends!
via the Internet
Better Read Than Fed
I think Kyle Wagner and I have similar taste in foods. Little Nell ("To Nell and Back," January 9) only impresses me because I think it's a relatively inexpensive place to eat in Aspen. Plus, the bar scene is not bad, either. But I agree--the food is standard at best.
Keep up the good reviews.
My wife and I recently returned from the Bay area, where we were fortunate enough to dine at Firenze by Night Ristorante in North Beach. Then we returned home to find a brief mention of them in your Little Nell review.
Suffice it to say that Firenze's food and service are still superb. We both remember the evening as nothing short of magical (though that may have more to do with the bottle of wine and the Sambucas for dessert). Glad to see that someone else agreed with us. Thanks for the great work.
via the Internet
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Rules of the Trade
Regarding Tony Perez-Giese's article, "The Word Is Out," in the December 5 issue:
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Who could blame Oklahoma City bombing trial court reporter Paul Zuckerman for marketing his most valuable trade? I might just add that the hours he will have to put in to deliver that transcript reach far beyond the hours sitting in court. I'm sure the rest of Mr. Zuckerman's life is on hold right now. He will live and breathe that case until it is over, and he deserves to be well paid for it.
via the Internet
Least of Java
Regarding Kyle Wagner's "Pour Me," in the January 16 issue:
I think Java Creek not only has the best coffee, but also the best atmosphere. I just thought it was funny that after two years of frequenting "the Creek," I happened to mention to the owners the specialness of their atmosphere--and then I read that their atmosphere leaves much to be desired!
Oh, well, to each his own. But if not Java Creek, then where?
via the Internet