To Surge and Protect
Thank you, thank you for Patricia Calhoun's "Autumn of Angst," in the December 11 issue. Assholes are everywhere; Denver just happened to have a surge. Stupidity breeds stupidity, but we are still a great town with great people.

Jill Strunk
via the Internet

Big Brother Is Listening
After reading Patricia Calhoun's "I Am Curious, Yellow Journalism," in the December 4 issue, I thought of sending this e-mail to the Rocky Mountain News:

Dear editors: The News would be better off if you spent more time reading your own paper and less time reading your employees' personal files. And so would we.

Instead, I decided to send this e-mail to Westword:
Keep it up, Calhoun!
Terry Fine
via the Internet

Patty (or is that Catty?) Calhoun is obviously jealous that she does not work for a real newspaper, which publishes real columnists. Meow.

Ellen McDowell
via the Internet

Correct me if I am wrong, but it is my understanding that any and all e-mail sent at work (seeing as you are using the company's equipment and time) is fair game for snooping. Usually we are just lucky that they look the other way as we forward "Even More Dumb Blonde Jokes" around to every co-worker known to man.

Aimee Giese
via the Internet

Regarding Calhoun's chronicling of my travails at the Rocky Mountain News: Most of the facts were essentially correct, but I did not "lose my post as music writer" because of plagiarism. In binding arbitration I was found not to have plagiarized, and the News was ordered to reinstate me. When I was reinstated, it was essentially my decision to go to the copy desk. 'Nuff said. (Not written on company equipment...)

Justin Mitchell
via the Internet

California Schemin'
Looks like we should get some billboards ready for the next election campaign that say "For Higher Electric Rates, Vote for Schaefer and Schauer." Stuart Steers's "Socket to Me," in the December 11 issue, is just one more example of politicians being bought by big money and the sucker public never being the wiser. Who says we don't need major campaign finance reform?

Frederick Sage

It's important to note the tone of legislation being promoted. If Colorado utilities are allowed to sell energy in other jurisdictions, then the legislation should bear reciprocity. I live in the Southwest, and yes, we're buried in expensive nuclear plants and certainly are looking forward to competition.

People are afraid of the unknown. Politicians and managers are protecting their turf with scare tactics. They paint scenarios that are speculative at best. In the real world, no one really knows how competition will shake out. California has an agenda, but who's to say how it will evolve? They're playing it by ear. There is no Great Energy Guru in California. Competition will force efficient management of resources--a value hidden from consumers in regulated markets. There will still be watchdog groups that will address customer red-lining, and there will be rate increases. The only real guarantee is that consumers will pay their equitable share of investment.

Sure, the big dog gets to eat first because he's the only dog in the room. That will change as well. Belly up to the bar, Coloradans: Go to Park Meadows and see if you can get Energy Gift Certificates. Mail 'em to me for Christmas. 'Cause this stuff out here is high, and the first chance I get, I will be bargain-basement power shopping.

Herb Greasham
via the Internet

Stuart Steers's article on Californians' quest to steal energy sources from Colorado--or anywhere they can get it--pissed me off so bad, I couldn't even finish reading the whole piece! For God's sake! California--or more specifically, Southern California--has the most despicable system of getting what it wants at any cost to those who have legal claim or ethical ties to the source. Look at what they've done to their own state, for example: Mona Lake, in the far northeastern corner of the state, is almost dried up and its ecosystem destroyed, simply to pump all that water to Los Angeles through the aquaduct! It really is a "black hole," sucking water, energy sources and everything else it can steal and giving nothing back.

Fuck them! Emergency legislation should be our highest priority to put a stop to this! They send their people here to despoil our land, and now they want to take away our power sources to feed their nefarious mob in the south! I lived there, in the north, for fifteen years and witnessed firsthand how those in the south can and will use any means they can get away with to get whatever they want!

Give them not one single lump of our coal nor one drop of our water! They sit right next to the Pacific Ocean, for God's sake. Desalinization of water works well in the Middle East; it can work for them, too, if only the politicians and California's PG&E can see past the ends of their noses to even study it! But of course, PG&E has a large vested interest in the control of energy sources and the politicians in their pocket! Fuck California! The best thing that could happen to the state would be that it would dry up into a dustball and blow away!  

Gary Olszewski

I gleaned a few key items from Steers's "Socket to Me" that lead me to believe that deregulation is going to hurt, not help, Coloradans. First, as noted, "coal" is probably the primary fuel used to generate the power needs of Colorado today. When we consider that the word "abundant" is used to describe its availability, we might surmise that in the name of profit, it will likely be used as the fuel source of choice for expanding energy production to fill the demands of other states looking to acquire cheaper electricity. We all know that big business will put profit first and foremost on its agenda. This is exactly why I think it's ludicrous that environmentalists support deregulation. Alternate ways to produce electricity have been around for years, but has anyone really noticed the power suppliers changing to or investing in cleaner methods? The big players indicate that they do not have the capital to undertake these endeavors, so why would anyone think that the new and smaller competitors on the energy market are going to have that kind of capital to invest?

Another big factor is that environmentally friendly power-generation technology generally takes many years to pay for itself (unless, of course, rates are raised dramatically). Deregulation could also hinder many of those interested, as they may hold back to see how the market is going to change before making any large financial commitments.

Here's the scenario I see for deregulation. The power giants will get there first. They've been hauling tons of coal hundreds of miles through the mountains on trains every day to feed the metro area. The next logical step is to build a gigawatt power plant right at the source. They'll be able to sell as many watts as they can produce to anyone they want, anywhere they want, while reaping the savings of not having to transport the coal over any distance by any railroad. We'll get to be downwind of the sulfur cloud. Grand Junction could be the power capital of the U.S. (until the coal runs out).

Cal Anton

Brain Drain
Regarding Michael Robert's "Obscene and Heard," in the December 4 issue:
Perhaps the EPA should investigate what environmental hazard caused so many sophomoric DJs and their audiences to suffer from arrested development.

What do they do with their brains the rest of the day? With all that garbage going in and out, there must be very little room for contemplating anything above the waist.

C.V. Hunt

Michael Roberts's article about commercial-radio obscenity raises an important question about where mass media is headed. The irony rests with anyone upset with this trash who is also gung ho about broadcast deregulation and cuts in the FCC budget. In the brave new world of telecommunications, with far more complicated technical issues to address, the slashing of FCC staff has already caused an overload of responsibilities for the workers who remain. With so many other duties (licensing, patrolling for pirate radio, etc.), content and decency standards will likely remain on the back burner. Downsizing cuts both ways, folks!

Larger questions about deregulation linger, such as the dramatic increase in the number of stations one person or a corporation can own in the same market. What impact is that having on programming variety for listeners? You decide.

Deregulation also means the FCC gives stations more leeway when it comes to evaluating their performance for license renewal. Stations now have much more freedom when it comes to fulfilling public-service obligations. Traditionally, one way to prove this was by documenting how many public-service announcements (PSAs) the station aired free of charge to publicize community events, meetings or general information. Today, an irony surfaces when comparing commercial and some non-commercial stations: As crazy as it might sound to someone who has listened to, enjoyed and even supported public radio, the public-service component on Front Range radio is best served by commercial radio (even with deregulation). Along with commercials, they announce PSAs for nonprofit groups for free, sometimes to promote a community event that the station will support with public appearances, music giveaways, etc. Compare that to Colorado Public Radio, where the only time you'll hear a nonprofit event mentioned is when the nonprofit group has paid "underwriting rates" (a public-radio term for commercial rates).  

While commercial shock jocks do their thing, there's at least the appearance from time to time during their shows that they care about and are a part of the community.

Welcome to the new century!
Name withheld on request

I would like to commend Michael Roberts on his commentary about obscenity in the local radio market. Just the mere mention of this issue and its effect on the consuming public is thought-provoking and raises cause for concern. It seems that talk jocks all want to be comedians, but only a chosen few are clever and/or genuinely funny.

Regarding Christopher Lindley's December 11 letter about the story, which ended, "We need some fine, independent (if not pirate) broadcasting...": What does it take to have such stations? Well, I can say it takes a lot less interference from independent promo men (you know--the guys who receive huge money up front from major record labels) who act as go-betweens for the network and station.

Also, it takes more interest (and money) from fat-cat sponsors to provide high-frequency power boosts (which have always been a shortcoming for independent stations) and a hell of a lot of petitions from the listening public. What it doesn't take is a bunch of yak yak from opinionated armchair quarterbacks like yourself. It ain't gonna fall from the sky, Christopher.

The general radio-listening public in Denver is too aloof, too conservative, too cheap and not daring enough to band together to create radio stations like this. I am so bored.

Steven Saulsbury

Mondo Condo
Thank you for Marty Jones's article on Ray Condo and the Ricochets, "From Canada With Love," in the December 4 issue. The recent surge of support for Ray and similar groups (roots, retro, pick your favorite buzz word) indicates a renewed interest in this country in music that doesn't suck, which is always a welcome trend. However, I take exception (why else would I write?) to some of the views set forth. Whether these are Mr. Condo's actual feelings or words taken out of context for journalistic purposes, I think a response is called for. Ray takes offense at being "dismissed" as a cover band, and justifiably so: Playing covers is no indication by itself of good or bad quality; you have to get it right regardless of where the material comes from. But then Ray proceeds to dismiss the vast majority of current songwriters as publishing-driven hacks who create for all the wrong reasons, "forced by the industry to write their own material."

Excuse me? What is the point being made here? That you shouldn't dare to put pen to paper unless you have reason to believe you can hold your own against Hank Sr., Irving Berlin, Cole Porter (insert your favorite icon), etc.? That reasoning could be applied to a lot of things besides songwriting, but then we wouldn't even have a culture. Speaking strictly from my own experience, there is nothing "quick" about publishing or royalties. If I had been writing music all these years for those reasons, I would be on heavy medication by now. I happen to believe in what I do, like most creative souls. Nobody is forcing me. I would venture to say that most writers (painters, composers, ditch-diggers) with any kind of real commitment to their craft feel the same way. That is, at least, my hope. You quote Ray as saying, "Most people think we're fools for what we do." Hon, somebody is going to think you're a fool no matter what you do, so you'd better be doing what you like. How's that for a hardcore American attitude?

Victoria Frerichs
via the Internet

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