Better Read Than Dead
Regarding Harrison Fletcher's "Seeing Red," in the February 19 issue:
Has Westword ever met a Communist it didn't like? Forgive me if I don't break out the crying towels over Pat Blawis's passing.
In the early part of World War II, the Nazis and the Communists were partners in crime, terrorizing Europe hand in hand until Adolf got Uncle Joe before Uncle Joe got him. Until recently, U.S. policy toward Communist governments correctly treated them as criminal conspiracies, similar to the Mafia, the Crips and Colombian drug cartels that murdered their way into power and stayed there through terror and intimidation.
History has proven that policy right. Remember Joe Stalin and the Gulag? The Khmer Rouge and the killing fields? Korea? Vietnam? Over 100,000 Americans died in the last two conflicts just to keep Pat Blawis and her pals from turning America into another Gulag.
Goodbye and good riddance, Pat. You are now the best kind of Communist--a dead one!
Harrison Fletcher's piece on Pat Blawis made an interesting--if ironic--counterpoint to Ward Harkavy's excellent profile of the Steens, "Fallout in the Family," in the same issue. In addition to Communists, many others were victims of the Cold War--including, it seems, heirs to uranium fortunes.
For forty years, give or take one or three, I've been a fan of southeastern Utah's canyon country, so I immensely enjoyed reading Ward Harkavy's February 19 article about Charlie Steen and his rich uranium strike. Harkavy's writing was accurate and entertaining. Well done, Mr. Harkavy.
Charlie and his wife lived in a station wagon out on the desert. They didn't have the proverbial pot and were grubstaked with gasoline from a local Moab gas station and food from a grocer in town.
But something nice happened. Charlie Steen struck it rich with the greatest uranium find ever, and when he did, he built a mining empire in Moab. The gas station that grubstaked him was rewarded by getting the contract to fill up his ore-carrying trucks, and the grocer who extended credit when Charlie and Minnie Lee didn't have a dime to their names found himself with a continuous stream of business filling grocery orders for the mine and its labor force.
There is another story out there, and that is about the current rebirth of the uranium industry. Send Ward back out there. If he prowls around Moab, Green River and Hanksville, he will uncover some great stories. There are cairns locating uranium claims all over the place, and a mill is about to open to enable itself to be prepared for the processing of uranium. Again!
Of Bombs and Bombshells
It's amazing. While reading Scott Yates's "The Boom Years," in the February 26 issue, I was remembering back to that time. The media broadcasts were very much like they were regarding nerve gas at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, with people saying how safe it was and graphically depicting how it would release the natural gas. All along, though, I had wondered if the gas would be contaminated. Even though I was only twelve, I had already read books on what the bombs left behind in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Of course, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure some things out. Nevertheless, it was advertised by the media as a great new plan with great benefits and few, if any, risks. It didn't make sense to a twelve-year-old at the time, and it still doesn't today.
It sure looked neat, though.
Also, kudos once again to Patricia Calhoun for her "Strange Bedfellows," in the February 19 issue. I had to laugh. After all, we've seen so much sex scandal in the media that half the public is about to puke from either too much or not enough of it (the latter can still read the Enquirer if they haven't had their fix yet). The Bible-thumpers have their heads up their butts, and many of them still believe in Jimmy Swaggart after his admissions. What makes a politician any different? They are people, too.
Sex has been around since the dawn of time. Abstinence has been, too. Leave Roy Romer alone! After admitting to having a close friendship with someone of the opposite sex, he's basically being accused of having sex without having sex. Who dreams up this crap, anyway? Just because a man is seen with or near a woman doesn't mean that they are "doing it." But many would like to think so to satisfy their own perversity.
Westword was finally proven correct in your article of eight years ago on Governor Romer's affair. The French have an expression, folie a deux, for an identical mental disorder or illusion affecting two closely associated people: loosely translated, a shared act of folly between two people.
Researchers say that certain hormones released during the sex act influence the memory, resulting in forgetfulness that possibly explains long marriages.
The Write Stuff
I live in Lamar, way out on the eastern plains. Whenever I get to Denver, I pick up a copy of Westword--second of all to find out what's happening, but first of all to read Bill Gallo's columns. Whether Gallo is writing on movies (about which he knows everything) or sports (about which he knows nothing), nobody writing in America commands a juster mot.
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Bill Gallo is undoubtedly the most talented movie critic in the world. Not since Edgar Allan Poe began this type of journalistic perusal of theater has anyone (and, baby, I mean anyone) come close to his insight and taste. I don't know what you're paying him, but I seriously doubt if it's commensurate with his talents.
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I am not one to complain about people having different opinions, but in the case of Bill Gallo's review of Zero Effect ("Less Than Zero," February 12), I am forced to wonder why it got such a bad review. Personally, I thought it was one of the funnier and more exciting films I have seen in a long time, although, sure, not everyone gets it, as Gallo obviously didn't. To the best of my knowledge, a good reviewer should give reasons why a certain rating is given, but maybe Gallo couldn't articulate the reasons. Maybe his girlfriend had just broken up with him, or did he eat some bad souvlaki right before the showing? Maybe he really did have a good reason for such a completely negative attack on what I consider to be the best film I've seen in a long time--and in such a case, I would have been interested in hearing his opinions. But to write a review that could best be summed up as "I didn't like it because it sucked" only diminishes his own profession.
In my mind, reviews exist to, in the long run, work for bettering the quality of the film industry's output. Otherwise, the film company can just keep putting out the mindless mush they would probably prefer to feed us with, and one wouldn't know until one actually sat in the movie theater.
In conclusion, I would like you to tell Bill to please do his homework and start making sense (if at all possible)!
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I finally got around to seeing Titanic, which confirmed my view that Bill Gallo is one of the most intelligent and perceptive movie critics working today ("That Sinking Feeling," December 12). It was the worst movie I had seen since Speed. In the end, I was hoping that the boat would sink. It seemed a small price to pay to end the excruciatingly bad acting by the young lovers who were saddled with a script by James Cameron that should have gone down with the Titanic, the Lusitania or the Reuben James. Particularly annoying was the cliche-ridden depiction of the upper classes and the stock-character groom who only needed the line "You must pay the rent" to really fill out his role. Pandering to middle-brow artistic name recognition was especially egregious. "Jack could have been another Picasso or Monet, do you get it?" An intelligent exploration of upper-class male values in 1912 was lost in cheap shots and dancing in steerage: They were poor but happy, and they loved their suds. At the end, while the ship was sinking, our heroine blurted out something like, "This is where we met," showing that she really did know the difference between the bow and the stern.
Fifteen hundred dead souls was a small sacrifice to end what passes for romance in American cinema. Our soft-in-the-head Academy voters will vote it best picture of the year. Thank you, Gallo, for your intelligent review. Perhaps we can both agree that it was the best performance by an iceberg.
Arthur N. Gilbert
Don't Make Waves
Regarding Michael Roberts's "Dangerous Waves," in the February 26 issue:
For seven years, Westword has been my bible of where to go and what to do in the big city (we live in Boulder). The coverage given to our local and state policymakers, sports, music, food and the arts is outstanding.
The only complaint, but one severe enough to warrant these few minutes, is your Backbeat editor, Michael Roberts. I cannot take the negativity. Pomp, vile character assassination and a lack of feeling and love for what is music make this man's writings pure bullshit.
Come to your senses, Westword: Denver deserves better.
It seems the Boulder Police Department will never figure out who murdered JonBenet Ramsey, so I'm wondering if they could focus their attention on who killed KBCO. What was once a great radio station has been reduced to drivel. KBCO has a slogan for its music: "World Class Rock." This could very easily be world-class repetition. I get the idea that KBCO radio receives only one song from every compact disc that is released. Does anybody out there know of any other tune by the Finn Brothers or the Ugly Americans? Not if you listen to KBCO. That leads me to another thing: Who do you think informs the program director what world-class rock consists of? Surely the Stray Cats, the Knack, Hootie and the Blowfish, John Mellencamp, Tears for Fears and Robert Plant would be part of any music-lovers' collection. I guess all you have to do is hear them continuously, and if that doesn't impair you in one form or another, well, then you're ready for KBCO radio.
All Jammed Up
A note to all music fans: Michael Roberts's distorted and overwhelmingly negative review of Pearl Jam's Yield (Playlist, February 19) inspired me to respond to his pathetic rant about a wonderful release by a talented and dedicated group of musicians. Mr. Roberts seems to be more interested in spouting catchy put-downs of a band he obviously doesn't like in the first place than he is about being open-minded to the album's music. Hmm, isn't being open-minded a prerequisite to being a critic? In this instance, it appears not.
With that in mind, why should we care what he has to say? All right, everyone together on the count of three: We don't.
My biggest gripe is Mr. Roberts's nasty tone. He is entirely off-base with respect to the songs' quality. There are great grooves and insightful lyrics throughout. I guess he wasn't listening; maybe he needed a video accompaniment.
Mr. Roberts attacks Pearl Jam's stand against Ticketmaster ("have resulted in no videos"), in effect saying the idea of a band trying to control its ticket pricing by a monopolistic entity is somehow compromising its ability to make music. Mr. Roberts, where exactly is the connection? In addition, Pearl Jam has consciously decided to not make videos for its own reasons--none of which have anything to do with taking a stand against Ticketmaster. The bandmembers prefer to let the imagery of their songs be the experience for the listener. Remember when, before videos, you actually had to listen to a song and use your own experience to relate?
If you are a fan or even someone who likes some of Pearl Jam's material, check this one out--it's a keeper. Whatever you do, don't let Mr. Roberts's shortsighted and mean review influence you. See you and PJ at Fiddler's on June 23.
An Oldie but a Goodie
Thanks a great big ol' Texas-sized bunch for Michael Roberts's article on the Old 97's ("Everything Old Is New Again," February 19). Having met the group last year when they were in town for a two-night stop, I can honestly say that you won't find a nicer group of guys that can kick the hell out of a song. What's equally evident is the fun and enthusiasm the 97's have in playing their music and the charisma that Rhett exudes on stage. Don't miss a live show if you can help it.
In today's format-dominated radio world, it really is a shame that more people never will experience the 97's hard-driving, straightforward sound. Let's hope that financial pressures and numerical expectations don't force the band to give up the ghost before they make it big. I can't say enough good things about them. Thanks again for the article, Michael!
Deals on Wheels
In Tony Perez-Giese's "Take It for a Ride," in the February 5 issue, it amazed me to read about all the "shiny deals" that get looked over as "normal business." Interesting, too, how much money those same dealers gave to kill Guide the Ride and public transit. More customers to shyst?
I gave up using my automobile because of car dealers and the cost of keeping a vehicle on the road. I can't start my vehicle for what it costs me to ride public transit. Riding public transit is also my contribution to society, in not adding to the cloud. Interesting, who's manipulating whom!
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