A Killer Story
After reading Alan Prendergast's "The Killer Inside Him," in the October 16 issue, I realized that killing him was too good for Gary Davis. First he should have suffered the way his victim suffered--and then we should have put fourteen bullets in him. Thanks for showing us that this was not a man worth mourning.

Cecily Frank

Regarding your excellent article about Gary Davis: How tragic for all concerned that this man with a long history of substance abuse, mental illness and violent crime (both as victim and perpetrator) did not get the help he so desperately needed until he landed on death row.

Margaret R. Puls

The Artist Formerly Known as Deutschendorf
Your tasteless remarks and unfunny cartoon in the October 16 issue following the death of John Denver (a cartoon, no less?) were pitiful. Denver's "sins," apparently, were that he was no longer deemed hip by whoever dictates such things and that he had not had a hit record in some time--which actually says more about the recording industry than it does about the virtue of an artist's musical worth. He was also lampooned for his wholesome image, his penchant for supporting causes he believed in...and, of course, let us not forget that he had two DUIs.

You were more sympathetic and balanced in your extensive treatment of convicted murderer Gary Davis. How we love to kick someone when they're down, eh? Better yet, when they're not just down, but actually dead and can no longer answer their critics. History will treat Denver better than your professionally cynical writers did; his music will be remembered, whether you ever liked it or not. His love of the earth and support of causes in its defense will likely not be sneered upon by later generations.

The fact is, John Denver was a talented man who saw enormous success in his lifetime. He brought pleasure to millions, and his influence will be felt for a very long time to come. I doubt if any of those things will ever be said about your staff writers, whose names are even now not worth remembering and whose words would not have come to anyone's attention in the first place if you didn't give your newspaper away for free.

Have a nice day.
Carey Winters
via the Internet

To Kenny Be: I'm sure there is an even less talented and humorous cartoonist working in America today, but offhand, I can't think of one.

To Michael Roberts: I wouldn't worry if I were you about people remembering your screwups. You are so inconsequential, you'll be lucky if people remember you at all.

Westword long ago lost any editorial relevance and established itself as a pinup magazine for yellow journalism, but at least it was useful to find out what musical acts were coming to town. But after the tasteless cartoon and comments in this issue, I doubt I will even pick it up as infrequently as I once did. It's not that I'm such a fan of John Denver--if you didn't like the guy's music, fine--but these two articles are tasteless beyond belief.

And by the way, it was well-established back when the controversy was fresh that Denver was not installing gas tanks on his "estate" but on the ranch that he bought as a nature preserve in the Snowmass area. Thousands of Colorado ranches have gas tanks on them, so this was a non-issue to anyone with a brain.

But of course, getting your facts straight would violate a long-standing Westword editorial policy, wouldn't it?

Martin Ward
via the Internet

I was never a big fan of John Denver's music. But I'm enough of a fan of humanity to have some respect for people and their loved ones in a time of tragedy. John Denver had a bigger career and did a hell of a lot more for the disenfranchised than twerps like Kenny Be ever will.

Go fuck yourself, Kenny.
Patrick Cullie
via the Internet

I was interested to see that brother Kenny Be felt comfortable and qualified to cast the first stone at the late John Denver. The singer gained wealth with songs about Colorado at a time when the state's population began to grow. He recorded and released some beautiful ballads--who wouldn't have released them? Anyone living in Denver in the early Seventies could see the inevitable growth of this state, songs or no songs.

There is no reason to judge his character on this basis. Was he guilty of inconsistent behavior? While actively working for environmental causes, he had a 400-gallon gas tank buried on his property. So what? This was one thing he did among many things in his life. It was clear, even to one who didn't know him, that he was a decent man who led a good life. These judgments hardly justified the cruel cartoon on the week of his death about a man well-loved and respected by the people who knew him well and the millions who were uplifted by his music.

At times Kenny Be is a first-rate satirist, and God knows there is plenty of hypocrisy in this town to satirize. Whatever his personal opinions on another man's character may be, this was an ugly, inappropriate and uncalled-for attack at a time when any person should feel compassion. You're wrong on this, Kenny--you owe some people an apology.

My deepest sympathy and respect for the Deutschendorf family for their great loss. Many people will miss John Denver.

Robert Rotolo

Mean people suck. This includes Kenny Be.
Beverly Justice

Kenny Be's ill-timed attempt at "satire" was disgusting. I admit that I haven't listened to John Denver's music for years; however, when I was younger, it sure did (and still does) move me and evoke fond memories.

It's John Denver's sensitivity (which Kenny Be obviously lacks), spirit and zest for life that should be remembered, not his mistakes! His family, friends and fans don't idolize him, they love him and how his life and music somehow touched their lives.

Please give Kenny a message for me: Bite me, you insensitive, jealous and inappropriate puke! You owe several thousand people in Colorado a public apology.

P.S.: Get some therapy.
H.R. Lindstrom

Once again, your trashbucket paper has taken a cheap shot at a celebrity who just passed away. Whether you were a John Denver fan or not, what appeared in the Kenny Be cartoon (?) was not only in very poor taste, it was downright disgusting. It's easy to poke fun at people who are no longer around to defend themselves, but I like to think there are still responsible publications that have respect enough for the deceased not to do so. Whatever merit you give or don't give John Denver's work, he should be respected as an artist and human being who wrote beautiful lyrics about love and nature--which, incidentally, was what our world used to focus on in music: lyrical content and aesthetic melodies, not the trash that's on the radio today.

Try having some respect and integrity as a publication instead of trying to push the envelope all the time for reader reaction, because I assure you--you will get it!

Bob Jopson

I believe in the old adage "If you can't say something nice about a person, say nothing at all." Michael Roberts's comment regarding his hatred for John Denver's music (undiluted purity, no less!) leads me to comment: Mr. Roberts, who cares what you think!

Lucille Worobel
via the Internet

Michael Roberts's diatribe last week on John Denver was not only distasteful and out of line, but as I see it, it was dredged up from the spirit of someone who is still struggling with his adolescence. There is a time and a place for each of us to voice our opinions, but there is also something called discernment that should be inbred and intertwined in a journalist/critic's artillery. He should know when his opinion is going to enlighten others and when it is venomous and needlessly hurtful. Obviously, Michael has severe deficiencies in this area. Everything reeked of a child's immaturity with a man's vocabulary!

I was enamored with John Denver when I was eleven years old, and then when I was fourteen, he was no longer "cool" in my peers' eyes. I also went on that trip of being scared people would know I liked his music and also listened to the Carpenters and sometimes even Barry Manilow! Twenty-some years later, I see how immature that stance was. John Denver wasn't in a league with Yes or Genesis in the Seventies, but that was because he had his own niche that was just as valid and just as worthy to be noticed and appreciated. I don't compare listening to a Gustav Mahler symphony with listening to a song by The Pretenders, yet they both have their place as being quite talented and justified as music to be reckoned with.

Mr. Roberts, I have agreed with you many times in the past, but last week you really should have put away your teenage insecurities and taken an oath of silence--if for nothing else, just to show a degree of restraint and class.

Dorothy Moran

Michael Roberts does not like John Denver. I can accept that. But to publish a diatribe that was an insult--not only to John Denver, but to his family and his fans--is about as tasteless as I have seen your magazine go. Without knowing Michael Roberts personally (for which I am extremely grateful), I am willing to bet he is a tactless, snot-nosed, no-talent hack whose love of music came and went with Whitesnake, Ratt and Motley Crue. His attack only pointed out that there are still mean-spirited, petty people who can only confirm their existence at the expense of others.

John Denver stopped being cool right around the same time I started listening to Blue Oyster Cult. That does not mean that suddenly his music had no place. He is as much of an icon to the Seventies as Fleetwood Mac or the Eagles. To vilify the man for a couple of bad judgment calls (DUI, etc.) is to overlook the fact that for a while, he was one of the biggest-selling singers in the country. A lot of people were touched by his music. It was simple, but it had a way of reaching people emotionally. You watched him perform, and you knew he was doing something he loved--you could feel it. For the few moments that one of his songs were playing, you could sense what it was that was important about life. Earth, humanity, nature, finding peace within yourself. These are what John Denver's songs mean. To be able to put such feeling into simple songs is a talent not very many possess. Until John Denver died, I had not listened to his music in years. The day after his death, I dug through my records and played "I Want to Live." John Denver was no longer cool (if he ever was), but his music still crept up on me and found a place within my heart--a place that cares about nature, humanity and inner peace.

Sean Elliott
via the Internet

Set Your Alarm
I just read Steve Jackson's October 9 article "Global Warning," on the global-warming debate. It reminds me of the asteroid impact/dinosaur extinction debate. In both cases, there is a split in the scientific community, with the media reporting predominantly one side of the issue--the one that will alarm more people and sell more papers and advertising.

The way politics has crept into both of these debates is disturbing, but it's also very instructive. Scientists are mere people, and politics is the way groups of people interact. We should not expect scientists to be above political considerations that other people must deal with. If anything, this shows us that we must all be educated enough to understand the basic practices of science so that we can make valid judgments when confronted with debates among the experts.

Right now most people are at the mercy of a press that knows little or nothing about science and that will print almost any story that will bring in advertising revenues. The solution to this problem is not to become cynical about the press or scientists, but to become better educated so that we can cut through the politics and the rhetoric.

Kevin M. McLin
Center for Astrophysics & Space Astronomy
University of Colorado, Boulder

A friend once quipped that after nuclear war we would still be here, just very rearranged. Unless Mother Gaia belches in more than a mythical way, mankind isn't going to suddenly implode or explode out of existence. Assuming the worst in terms of global warming, it will produce what every global shift creates: economic winners and losers.

The current world complex involves immediate, intractable problems: overpopulation everywhere; waste of resources (cheap goods, land included, do not reflect their real environmental costs. It is great while it lasts, unless decadence and waste leaves you depressed); stratified, reactionary cultures everywhere. The well-being of the future billions of young people does matter.

The future world de facto governments--privately owned corporate global giants a la Microsoft ($=power=government)--will do what they are do now, only better: cater to consumer wealth. These "private" corporations (if they represent the interests of billions, people or dollars, are they private?) will want people economically healthy enough to buy their product. If global warming makes things a lot harder for the average Joe (compared to now, there will be even more "losers" than "winners"), the military/ industrial complex will earn billions protecting the losers from the winners (I said share, dammit) and vice versa (I want it, it must be mine). I wouldn't want to be a fat person in a room full of starving people.

The world can be a lot better place. We don't need the threat of global warming to understand the necessity of treating Gaia (land, ocean, atmosphere, creatures) and all humans better--now.

Good article. Thumbs up for science.
J. McCabe

Letters policy: Westword wants to hear from you, whether you have a complaint or compliment about what we write from week to week. Letters should be no more than 200 words; we reserve the right to edit for libel, length and clarity. Although we'll occasionally withhold an author's name on request, all letters must include your name, address and telephone number. Write to:

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Missed a story? The entire editorial contents of Westword, dating back to July 1, 1996, are available online at www.westword.com/archive/index.html


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