Scott Yates's story about the Vietnamese boy victimized by his teacher ("Little Boy Lust," July 3) was the most frightening thing I have ever read. It almost broke my heart to see how the Tran family still honored Ava Owens, even after all the horrible things she had done to her son. I hope this family finds the help they need.
As for Ava Owens, she's beyond help. I hope she stays in jail for good.
Once again, it's the classic tale of an immigrant arriving in the U.S. in the Nineties looking for a quick lottery win. Duc Tran arrived here in 1995, claiming not to speak any English. Yet, only two years later, he states in reference to his son's allegations against the DPS: "I want to make him whole again." Just where is Mr. Tran taking English lessons at? The University of Denver School of Law?
Well, Mr. Tran, here's a new word you can add to your newfound legalese vocabulary: It's "governmental immunity." It's what we here in America apply as a valid defense to stop frivolous and absurd lawsuits.
Behind the Eight Ball
Before the politicians and their hired hands do themselves serious harm with self-congratulatory back-slapping on the outstanding work they did in putting on the Denver Summit of the Eight (Off Limits, July 3), I would like to register a contrary opinion with regard to the organization and the utilization of the volunteers.
Rather than be proud of what they did, the responsible individuals should be embarrassed that they wasted the time, skills and efforts of many of the several thousand volunteers.
There was no coherent organization. There was no attempt to hold individuals responsible for their assigned functions. Unqualified persons were assigned functions and then were not supervised. No timetable was established to ensure that required tasks were accomplished when necessary. The bottom line is that the person selected to direct the volunteer effort was totally unsuited to the task, and many volunteers wondered on what basis the individual had been chosen.
There never was a comprehensive, accurate data bank listing the pertinent personal data on the volunteers. Yet a great deal of time was devoted to constructing one. The original data input was lost because an inexperienced data-entry person wiped out the system memory and no back-up procedures had been established. A helter-skelter effort was made to retrieve the volunteer applications and to input them again, but because of a lack of supervision, the use of unqualified data-entry persons and the use of different programs (Lotus, Excel, etc.), no complete and accurate data bank was ever achieved.
Hundreds of volunteers were called multiple times to ask if they would do certain tasks, even though they had already agreed to do other things. Yet hundreds of volunteers were never called, either to ask them to do something or to thank them for applying, even though they were not needed. All this because of a lack of organization and of a proper data bank.
Several hundred volunteers who had agreed to work at the National Western Center Saturday evening were called to come there in the afternoon to be briefed on their duties. After they had stood around outside for some time, a person came out and started to read a list of "pre-selected" names. When he had finished his list, he told the others to go home, that they would not be needed. This created a vociferous, angry outcry from the "unneeded" volunteers. And even when one of them remarked that not all the persons whose names were called had responded and suggested that others present be taken in their stead (it seems reasonable to me), the "staffer" said no.
I realize that my letter will serve no useful purpose. First, no local newspaper, after participating in the self-congratulatory orgy, wants to publicize the fact that the City of Denver botched the volunteer program. Second, it is not likely that the City of Denver will be hosting any other high-level international meetings in the lifetime of the youngest Denverite. My only hope is that in the future, when City Hall and the local newspapers start hyping the excellence of Denver's municipal performance, they take a more skeptical look at what is being hyped.
Benjamin L. Landis
Once again I must applaud Westword's tenacity at bringing to light the sicknesses that have spread across this great land. The June 19 issue was no exception.
The issue started off with Patricia Calhoun's "Putting the Boulder Police on Report," reminding us that nothing has been accomplished as far as progress goes in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case. Yet Calhoun did show kindness to the BPD (Botched Policing Directive?) by not mentioning the fact that seemingly anyone can get access to and tamper with the computer the BPD uses to store evidence of the case. I can't help but feel the BPD wishes that everyone who remembers that JonBenet died would just do the same.
Then, as I read Eric Dexheimer's excellent article on hunting fossils in Wyoming ("Skeletons in Their Closet"), the sickness surfaced again. I can't believe that Brian Wade was sentenced to fourteen months' imprisonment and a $2,000 fine for "theft over $100" for digging in the dirt looking for neat stuff about our planet's past. He didn't hurt anyone. Child molesters, rapists, stalkers, murderers, you name it, often get off easier than that.
This is getting really scary, as we see this garbage in practically every locale across America. People are constantly being reminded that law enforcement is out to ruin someone's life even if he poses no threat to anyone else (like Kenny Be and the railroad crossing) and is the public's worst enemy when it comes to justice.
I also wanted to comment on Stuart Steers's "Black-Top Jungle." I am a Colorado native, but as I read on, I couldn't help but make analogies to the L.A. highway system--a system of big ideas, with the county running out of funds and opposition making it impossible to build whatever was originally intended. The final paragraph was like the icing on the cake; Stuart must have ESP. Colorado does need to take into consideration the temperature inversions that back up against the Front Range. We are never going to beat Mother Nature. Jamming new highways and industry against it is only going to make matters worse, while those who rake in the big bucks leave to find another area to rape at the public's expense.
Gonna have to take issue with your selection of Jay Marvin as "Best Radio Talk-Show Host" in the June 26 Best of Denver issue. You say, "He may irritate you, but he won't bore you--and in this town, that's saying something." Although I strongly disagree with the first part--before the dash--I had to chuckle my agreement with the latter half. Even Denver's Chinese population has lost the art of preparing exciting fried rice (it's supposed to be brown, stupid!). But let's stop a second on the issue of "boring." Marvin bores me silly (and I don't have far to go), simply because he seldom has anything worthwhile to say--other than his own self-indulgent blather. Ted Bundy was not boring, but do I think that qualifies his ilk to represent Denver to visitors coming in every afternoon from DIA? I don't want them to get back on the plane thinking they may have erroneously gotten off at Chicago or New York or something.
Ladies and gentlemen, Jay Marvin does not even deserve to be on the same page as Peter Boyles. I've tried on several occasions to listen to the man, but I lost what little respect I had on the particular afternoon when he was engaged in the juvenile activity of encouraging callers to report the locations of "oinkers" staked out to catch speeders or otherwise erratic drivers. Anybody who drives back and forth to work on our area freeways well knows that we have more than our share of downright idiots out there--selfish bastards who think nothing of endangering anyone else's life in order to save a few minutes' drive time. These are the real "oinkers." I consider any individual who would thwart the police's efforts to catch these jerks and haul their asses in as nothing short of a public nuisance.
As for Best Investigative Radio Talk-Show Host, to subcategorize Peter Boyles as such I take as a supreme insult. Your readers correctly selected Mr. Boyles as their choice to occupy the broader category, bogusly given by Westword to Marvin. Peter Boyles is not just another radio host...He is Denver's talk radio.
I am responding to the Best of Denver category "Best Place to Pretend You Are in Africa," awarded to Primate Panorama at the Denver Zoo. I feel constrained to point out that you are repeating the kind of mechanical thoughtlessness that has been pervasive for centuries in America's picture of Africa. This is rather unfortunate, as the medium in which you disseminate your "Tarzan mentality" is read by a large section of people in Denver and beyond.
First of all, you have this picture of Africa as a gigantic village inhabited predominantly by animals and fossils. This is a stereotypical picture that is prevalent in the West, and it is an unfortunate one, because it breeds and perpetuates ignorance and misinformation. Second, the so-called re-creation of an African tribal village that you alluded to confirms my earlier assertion about images of Africa portrayed for the public. One wonders whether the purveyors of these views know anything else about Africa or African villages apart from intellectual and informational absurdities they see on television or hear from deluded foreigners who parade themselves as "experts" after a fortnight visit to one part of the continent.
The larger blame in this vein rests on the Denver Zoo, which, in an attempt to get more patrons for the summer, would resort to any tactics to broaden the dollar intake. As an African and a graduate student at the University of Denver, I have witnessed firsthand purely inexplicable ignorance about other parts of the world, Africa in particular. This is more galling and appalling when this kind of stereotype and ignorance is being carried through a medium that gives little room for people to reflect. Please try to be sensitive in the future in regard to what you publish, invent or re-create, especially about places few people know anything about. I submit that some of the views about Africa have been by and large an "invention" of the imagination of the West eager to signify the distant "other" in less-than-human terms.
Abolade Ezekiel Olagoke
I am very offended by your Best of Denver category "Best Place to Find CEOs and Gang Members Playing Basketball" (at the Central Y). I think that you got the impression that because it's black and white people, the black people are gang members. Well, my husband and three of his co-workers play down there, and they are professional men. They're not teenagers. They're there every day. There are no gang members there, and it's very offensive for you to assume that because they're black, they're gang members. I used to read Westword all the time; I will never ever pick up another.
Name withheld on request
In "Best Way to Go Out With an Even Bigger Bang," on the demolition of the DU Ice Arena, there is a glaring mistake to a Navy man. The item stated that the ice arena was an old Army barracks donated to the university and shipped to Denver from Idaho in 1947. It did come to Denver from Idaho in 1947, but it came from the U.S. Naval Training Station at Farragut. It was not a barracks--it was the field house from Camp Scott, where I took my boot training. It was a multi-purpose building that housed classrooms and a gymnasium and had other uses. I know this may be picky, but the Army had nothing to do with anything up there.
There were three things in the Best of Denver issue that made me laugh.
First of all, why the sucking up to King Soopers? Not everyone is thrilled by the SooperCard. Who needs another card to carry? Who wants to be in yet another company's database? And second, surely you were joking when you mentioned that King Soopers in Castle Rock with the self-service checkout. Sure, I'm gonna scan and bag my own groceries--and pay the same price as if they had done it. Right!
Finally, I saw several mentions of "Park Meadows." Actually, despite their attempts to make folks think otherwise, it is a mall. Yup, it is the Park Meadows mall.
Here's a radical idea. How about if we call things what they actually are, rather than buy into what some marketing types want us to call them?
XTC Marks the Spot
I've just read Michael Roberts's article/interview with Andy Partridge of XTC ("Another Dose of XTC," July 3). I thought it was great.
I didn't agree with his comment on the Big Express album, though. I think it's one of the band's best recordings, and I know for a fact that Partridge would agree. Okay, it's not the most accessible of their albums, and many people write it off because it's dark and not full of easily swallowed/easily forgotten melodies. But it was written during the darkest part of the band's history and in my very humble opinion contains songs that are more intelligent and emotion-provoking than any other writer (other than Partridge himself) has been able to come up with before or since. Calling it the band's worst album might put people off what is definitely a collection of some of the band's best songs, and that would indeed be a shame.
Nice article on XTC. We diehard fans need any news we can swallow to span this unbelievably cruel hunger strike. Unfortunately, the new "Upsy Daisy Assortment" lacks anything previously undigested.
via the Internet
Lest you think I'm some small minded Gen-X whiner, I'd like to say that I consider Michael Roberts the finest music reviewer in Denver. I think he should have received a Pulitzer for his Backbeat story when Jerry Garcia finally croaked.
With that said, though, I've got a bone to pick with you. Westword seems to more or less ignore my favorite types of music. For instance, Helmet and Faith No More came out with awe-inspiring new albums, and I haven't seen any reviews of them. (My apologies if I just missed that issue.)
I appreciate the fact that Roberts picked Slayer as one of the best releases of '96, but I think that their biggest claim to fame is the fact that they're too dumb to realize that thrash/ speed metal is dead.
What about Sepultura's Roots? My God, Slayer doing Minor Threat covers can't even touch this kind of heaviness. Witness the mixing of Brazilian tribal chants and jungle rhythms pushing speed metal into whole new realms (something no one would accuse Slayer of doing lately).
I guess my point is that there's a lot more interesting things going on than Sheryl Crow and XTC, and I'd love to see my favorite local rag covering more of them.
via the Internet
Ears to You
I read with interest Michael Roberts's June 5 article, "The Closing of the American Ear." I thought he made some excellent points in the sections where he discussed current radio formatting, but I was rather disappointed that he did not elucidate on that subject more, in keeping with the title.
I disagree with his assessment that the average listener has become a one-note, and bigoted, music fan. People are far more complex than that. I remember interviewing members of a thrash band on their bus--while they were listening to European dance and country music! The one-note theme really comes from labels and radio stations trying to reduce music fans to manipulative numbers. Marketing sold them on the idea of surveys to refine their formatting and target sales markets, and, of course, they figured if a little of this was good, more was better.
I speak for the listener who refuses to be reduced to a formula. Most listeners are as frustrated and turned off by current radio and major labels as I am. Your average listeners/buyers in this follow-the-leader, one-note environment have a need for musical variety (and emotional variety) that is not being catered to. They are frustrated and bored with the entire business. So sales are down and attendance at concerts is down. I'm tired of hearing the music industry whining. They opted for this current no-risk policy of which boredom is the result, and it serves them right.
I hope people continue to signal just how fed up they are in the only way these businesses will recognize--on the bottom line. As publisher of a local music 'zine, I know an awful lot of people who feel like I do. Guess we'll just have to keep hammering away.
Editor, Euphony Music News
I've just read Michael Roberts's June 12 Feedback about Colorado Public Radio. Perhaps CPR's Max Wycisk is trying to emulate Bill Gates? Both have an inferior product, but their competition is not well-known. Both work hard to eliminate competition. Both seem to have unlimited resources to accomplish their objectives.
Except that Max Wycisk is using resources from unsuspecting donors to his public radio station. During fundraisers, staffers urge prospective members to contribute toward establishing Colorado Public Radio in new areas in Colorado. And would-be members would never suspect how unwanted CPR is when the new area already has a community radio station.
Describing the polite but angry mob in Glenwood Springs, Roberts mentioned Wycisk's claim that his opposition comes from people involved at other existing stations. I was one of the people commenting. (I was met with strong applause when I urged them not to allow a takeover such as the one in Grand Junction.) I certainly am not involved in any other station. I still am amazed at how Max brushed off Glen-wood, Aspen and Carbondale citizens during the February 20 meeting.
What is at stake if CPR takes the bulk of public-radio contributions from Durango/Cortez? From the Roaring Fork? From Colorado Springs/ Pueblo? Many small communities have little or no local radio programming, which means there is little opportunity to run public service announcements. Does this mean that the local Kiwanis group running a pancake breakfast should pay for publicity, cutting into their contributions to charity? Or that free educational events for families cannot be promoted without a publicity budget? Self-help groups and public service organizations contribute to the quality of life in small communities. But must they raise funds to notify citizens of their services? If CPR is public radio in these communities, there will be no free public service announcements. Since the CPR takeover in 1991, KPRN has provided no free public service announcements in Grand Junction.
"You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time," according to the old sage whose name I've forgotten. Just as a few people are waking up about Bill Gates, a few people are waking up to the deception from Max Wycisk.
Good article by Kelly Lemieux, "Whipping It Good," in the June 19 issue. One detail, however: Bettie (her preferred spelling) Page is still alive. Her "disappearance" isn't a mystery; she simply didn't want to be in the public eye anymore. She is in her seventies now and doesn't do any public appearances. Check out www. mrshowbiz.com/ chat/celeblounge/bettie.html
via the Internet
Regarding John Jesitus's "Cool 'Cats" in the May 22 issue:
I have recently shuffled off my residential coil of Boulder to Vancouver, British Columbia. During my time in Boulder, I became an accomplice of Adam Beckley and, subsequently, a fan of the Gashcats. I recently obtained a copy of The Stars Rush Out, and I find it to be an astounding album for a band so relatively young to the music world. Perhaps it is due to the maudlin nature of my listening, but every time I listen to it I find myself "baffled," so to speak. Other than all the distracting "likes" in the article, I was disappointed not to find any mention of the song "Darling." That song is so tragically beautiful. When I hear it, it's as though all the oxygen in the room has been consumed by a flame. Even so, it was blissful to read an article from a widely distributed publication about a band that I am so moved by.
via the Internet
It is a bittersweet pill to choke down--Chris Culhane featured in Backbeat (Amy Kiser's "The Lords' Prayers," June 12 issue). Thanks, Amy. Interesting to note that even "Dumpster Diving" Culhane "can be purchased." The "Lords" are stomping on thin crust here. Culhane is a treasure that unmentioned collaborators have left to bloom without the fetters of "rehearsing" and "exposure." We here on the fringe will hold the "Lords" responsible for the outcome. What next, "Lords"? Bottled New Mexican Sunshine? And David, what is this double-talk trash about cynics? Get a grip!
via the Internet
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