It's the Bomb!
Patricia Calhoun's "Civics Lessons," in the April 30 issue, made me nostalgic and sad. Twenty years ago people in Boulder cared about something other than themselves and wearing the right clothes and driving the right cars. Twenty years ago we worried about the world and the global threat of a nearby bomb factory--but today we're all NIMBYs, thinking about no greater concerns than people parking in front of our houses. We owe a debt of gratitude to the protesters, and also to Westword, for reminding us that the job is not done yet. Rocky Flats may not be making bombs, but the plant's contamination could be an environmental time bomb.

Zoey Foster

Yawn. Rocky Flats is closed. The protesters and the grand jurors need to get a life. And Westword needs to get on with some other story. No one cares about this anymore.

Rick Torres

Editor's note: Apparently the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals does. Last Thursday the appeals court overturned U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch's decision that would have allowed the release of testimony made before the Rocky Flats grand jurors.

Paint the Town Read
Regarding Harrison Fletcher's "Painting the Town," in the April 30 issue:
I am so glad someone finally did this piece. I couldn't agree more. I used to teach computers at the Spot (a nighttime hangout for urban youth at 20th and Stout streets), and those kids taught me a lot. If only other adults would stop, put aside their preconceived notions and listen. They might find out that there's a lot more to graffiti than just tagging. They might also find a real solution instead of the rantings of politicos trying to get re-elected.

Amy Haimerl
Colorado Springs

Way to go, Westword. Now you're endorsing graffiti. What's next, supporting drive-by shootings by "misunderstood" youth?

Joe Vigil

I myself was, and still feel I am, a "writer." I am from both the Bronx and Los Angeles. I started as a tagger in the streets of New York, then my family moved to L.A., and I brought with me the art from the streets. While I lived in L.A., I perfected my styles and became a writer. I went by the name "Krayola" because of the choices and blending of colors I used.

Graffiti as an art form has helped me in becoming an artist and designer. I used what I learned on the streets and moved it to the classroom during junior and senior high to help me be creative in my art classes. I went on to college to study designing in more of a traditional way. Nevertheless, I credit graffiti for some of my success as a designer and would never change my way of thinking about it or my passion for it.

I am glad to see that there are artists out there keeping this sacred art form alive. I take my hat off to them and hope they don't fall prey to this state's conservative state of mind. To quote an unknown writer (from a mural in the movie Beat Street), "If graffiti is a crime, then may God forgive me."

Keep the art alive.
Al Buffone
via the Internet

I want to thank you for doing the article on Jher. I don't know him, but I was moved by his story. I drive past the Penn Garage all the time and always wondered who did the graffiti. I think it is beautiful and definitely an addition to the neighborhood. I would like to give props to Jher for having a vision and a message, because not many people do, and I would also like to give props to Dave Demmer for having faith.

via the Internet

Bowling for Dollars
Regarding Nancy Watzman's "Plugging in to D.C.," in the April 30 issue:
As the only active participant in the auction of Kennedy memorabilia, I really do resent Westword's smarmy implication that my husband's work for Aurora had anything to do with my acquisition of the bowl--even a Kennedy bowl.

While the episode can be twisted to conform to Westword's tired stereotype of Washington lobbyists, it has one glaring fault: It's inaccurate.

I have a career. I work. I paid for the bowl. No one in Aurora subsidized its purchase. It's no doubt less titillating to write a story about a working mother spending what she earns; it does, however, have the virtue of being true.

The next time Westword wants to slam someone for allegedly violating its list of editorial pieties, it should at least get the facts straight. Perhaps inquiring of either my husband or me may have at least given you a more accurate slant on your biased piece.

Roselee N. Roberts, Director Legislative Affairs
The Boeing Company

Less Than Zero
Regarding Alan Prendergast's "Zero for Conduct," in the April 23 issue:
Sorry, Westword, but you missed the big scoop. If Alan Prendergast wants a real blockbuster, he'd find a Denver public school that refused due process to any student.

Denver would explode, but he's out of luck.
Having taught for ten years at Rishel Middle School and now West High School, I work with professionals (both teachers and administrators) who always give students the initial benefit of the doubt. As educators, our first responsibility is to foster our students. We must be their advocates; that's our job. If a student exhibits consistently disruptive or dangerous behavior, we are also charged with his/her removal. However, without due process, we commit ourselves to a police-state agenda. Due process is frustrating and time-consuming. It begs the impatient to seek a simpler, more dangerous solution.

Hence, Prendergast's article.
Frank Fyock

All of our children are the future of this country. Joseph C'de Baca says that "Denver's public schools are failing Hispanic students." What about all the school systems in Colorado that are failing the students in our public schools? Hispanic students are not the only children deprived of a quality education: There are Asians, Caucasians, Afro-Americans, American Indians and a hundred other nationalities in this country that have the right to a quality American education. Their heritage and language is important to them, too.

The electorate is failing the children of Colorado. They believe it is more important that an idiot who can throw a football or basketball at a target twenty yards away is worth millions of dollars a year in salary and sign-up bonuses, while a teacher with a master's degree in a special teaching discipline is worth a salary only slightly above the poverty level.

Fredrick G. Clutsom

A final word on Alan Prendergast's "Zero for Conduct": Bravo! Bravo for giving a fair hearing to an obviously very dedicated teacher. And bravo to North principal Joe Sandoval for saying the truth: "The reason most kids fail is because they don't attend." Most--that's 51 percent or more! Non-attendance, if unexcused, is truancy, or violation of compulsory school-attendance law. How do they get away so easily with violating the law? Well, let's review some history:

Between 1967 and 1987 Colorado had a law (called CHINS) that, among other things, held adolescents responsible for school attendance and often gave detention to the then-relatively small number of truants. There were drug problems then, but nothing like what we have now. In 1987 the Colorado Legislature repealed that law in order to save the "very valuable federal funding" Colorado had started receiving for not detaining truants. The legislature traded federal funds for our kids' educations and futures! The law went from one extreme (detention) to the other (no accountability), the middle ground being totally ignored. The legislators, ignoring their own responsibility in this, now scapegoat parents, while some parents' groups scapegoat the schools. O, brave new world, this is not progress.

It will be a great day for Colorado when a journalist rips the lid off this dirty little secret and details the big bucks flowing into Colorado in the spirit of "economic development"--at the expense of our kids and our future. Class dismissed.

Phylis Gail
Colorado Association of Parents

The Big Break
Thanks to Mike Roberts for a great story, "Breaking Up Is Easy to Do," in the April 30 issue. Everything that he wrote about has, in one form or another, been part of the Chris Daniels & the Kings story. Bad gigs in Seattle where the booking agent forgot to tell the club owner we were coming, stages in Denmark that were too small to set the drum kit on, playing to sold-out crowds on the road (450,000 in Holland) and losing money on the tour, having the number-one record in the Midwest for five weeks in a row and no CDs in the store...AAAUGH.

But we have also been lucky: national record deals that got us to No. 39 on the Gavin A3 charts, seven European tours, six CDs out and two of them nominated for national awards.

For me, the glass is half-full and Barry Fey is full of shit. All the bands Mike wrote about had talent. All of them believed. The Subdudes had a remarkable sound--nothing like them before or after. Did they matter? That's for them to decide.

As for the Kings, we will celebrate our fourteenth year in this wacky business on May 9 at Herman's. Our seventh CD comes out this summer and will be distributed here and in Europe. Thanks to Mike and Westword for a good story about the life of a musician in Denver. Big, big thanks to Alan Roth for believing in us all!

Chris Daniels

Where have all the good bands gone? Well, I'm still around. But Denver is pretty infertile, stony ground to try to grow something good in.

Keep the good writing coming!
Jarl Anderson

I read the article on "what's killing the great bands of Denver," and I had to put in my two cents.

First of all, in any city in the U.S. other than New York or Los Angeles, a band cannot "succeed" simply by playing shows. Writers must "publish or perish," and musicians need to record. A band does not have to play shows in order to reach people if it keeps the CDs and tapes flowing.

There are so many bands in Colorado, yet there are hardly any recordings. The absence of quality studios and qualified engineers may have something to do with this, but if a musician spends more money on recording equipment and less on PA, he can produce his own work (believe me, it's better that way). This formula works on two levels: First, you can reach more people on the planet by distributing your stuff through the Net and mail-order; and second, when you do play shows and the club doesn't pay you, you can keep your cool knowing you made a grip of cash selling your discs or tapes.

I love to play live; I really get into it. But a band with recordings out can feed itself, and a band that can feed itself is going to survive.

Thanks for a great article. I will keep this issue of Westword forever; it will always be pertinent.

Brendan K. Russell
via the Internet

Thanks for your great piece on the wasteland that is the Denver music scene. I moved to Texas in '87, after playing a bunch of shows with the Denver band Fun at the Zoo. In the last eleven years I've crossed paths with many musicians who have left Denver for greener musical pastures, and I've always wanted to do the research to write a piece like yours.

Every time I come back to Denver, I wish that I could open a Westword and see some great new scene developing, splashed all over the newsprint in club ads, CD reviews and letters, but that day still hasn't come. Every trip to Denver is the same: Some touring act from Texas or the East Coast is at the Fox or the Bluebird or whatever, and no other music seems to be happening.

Maybe I'll move back and start a band. Screw that--maybe I'll start a club and run it the way we do here in Dallas.

Doug McGrath

As a member and manager of three local bands and having been in the Denver music scene since 1989, I think I have a perspective that Roberts's article did not convey. I'm a five-year member of the band Jux County, which Andy Monley formed in 1986 (same time as Big Head Todd and The Monsters). Since that time, we have opened up for a plethora of national acts, including Nirvana, Primus, Living Colour, Alanis Morissette, matchbox 20, the Heads, All, the Juliana Hatfield 3, the Meat Puppets and the Dandy Warhols, and we recently won Westword's Best Alternative Band. Andy and I are also in the local esoteric combos The Czars and The Velveteen Monster, as you know.

My problem is how Roberts and others in the article define "signed" or "made it" in this industry. Barry Fey, in particular, is the last person you should be interviewing about either local or pop music, since it is likely that he hasn't seen a local band since 1971 and has little or no concept of what pop music is and what drives record companies today. His derogatory comment that local bands "have no talent" is ridiculous, because he couldn't judge talent if it bit him in the face.

What drives record companies (major and independent) is not talent, live music draws, radio play or even credibility. It is album sales. Without them, they die. The reason Spell was dropped from Island Records was because there were not enough sales of Mississippi to pay back production, marketing or manufacturing costs. But this should not be a surprise, because 85 percent of all albums, not just acts, never recoup their production costs. I would argue that Island Records shot themselves and the band in the foot by not properly marketing the album in the first place.

The fact that so many local bands are calling it quits recently is dismaying but not a surprise. Compared to cities of equal size, Denver has not had a scene of significance. Seattle, Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta and Minneapolis all have had music scenes of note in the last few years; Seattle, in particular, has at least 25 bands on major labels and another fifty-plus on reputable independent labels with nationwide distribution. Denver has only four bands on majors and maybe another five on indie labels (not counting labels like Celsius and Alley Records).

Chris Pearson

Bands on the Fun
I am curious as to why Michael Roberts even went to the Aerosmith concert ("Rock of Ages," April 23). I understand that Westword is supposed to be an alternative newspaper in which people who have been wronged in their lives have a forum to bitch about everything without offering any solutions. (But I still read it because of your concert listings.) In this case, Roberts takes it out on one of the few bands that just plays music and has a good time.

In his article, Roberts complains about the state of Denver radio and the predictability of all the formats; I could not agree with him more. But I believe there is more to it. Popular music has reached a stage of boredom. The youth of today, along with the not-so-young, are tired of boring music. Why pay $30 to see some power-chord-happy band that just stands there? Or listen to songs that have been stolen from other artists and remade for a quick buck? I believe people long for music to be fun again. I mean, if you're going to pay between $20 and $50 for a ticket, then shouldn't you get your money's worth?

Now, I could not close this without practicing what I preach, so here are my suggestions for answers to these problems. As for the sorry state of radio in Colorado, how about marketing bumperstickers and T-shirts that simply state: "Denver Radio Sucks." Maybe Jacor will get the hint. Or do what I did and buy a CD player for your car and use the radio for Avalanche games. And as for Michael: The next time he sees a show, he should leave the pen and paper at home and go for no other reason than to have a good time. He might actually have fun again.

Life is too short to always be cynical.
Scott Guilbeaux
via the Internet

Michael Roberts: Are you really that uptight working your salary-based job for the biggest rag in Denver? I guess you should be a little pissed and jealous of Steven Tyler, since he performs around the world to millions, and you're at the pinnacle of your career writing for thousands stuck in Denver. What kind of music have you made lately? Sure would like to hear it there, brain-stem boy! Looks like you made another paycheck this week, though, by doing what you critics do best: leeching off of creative individuals who have the balls to put out a product.

I wonder what you'll be doing when you're Tyler's age? You probably won't be lucky enough to be running around "shrieking like a chimpanzee" in front of thousands every night. I also wasn't aware that you were a hip fashion consultant, writing about "unfashionably long hair and Harley T-shirts." I'll bet your little pinkie finger was sticking out at the show. Why not one more article on another hip band that wouldn't have the balls to be different in the homogenized Nineties?

Well, I'm gonna go write some songs now, and who knows? Maybe a few parasites like yourself can suck my work dry and make a few bucks someday! Nice article on Jay Marvin, though ("Double Trouble," March 26); you must have a little taste. But isn't he kind of unfashionable with his long hair? And I'll bet he's worn a Harley T-shirt at some time.

Roberts, you're such a loser!
Ty Longley
via the Internet

Strut His Stuff
Regarding Jim Lillie's caustic review of The All Night Strut! ("Ballast From the Past," April 23):

What is his problem? Was he turned down for his lack of talent as a song-and-dance man? Lillie's lack of class makes me curious as to which middle school he is attending; he failed to mention the name.

What a shame the Arvada Center does not have a trap door that returns presumed critics back to the street.

June Berndt

Awe, Shucks
Regarding Bill Gallo's "Awed Couple," in the April 23 issue:
Usually, Gallo is an excellent movie critic. But when it comes to leftist propaganda, his Maoist "little red book" shines brightly. The Object of My Affection was a repulsive, racist and sexist movie. Only liberals such as Gallo can like the Asian girl being super-smart and the black girl hopping into bed. What sick stereotypes. Here is a hard-left communist propaganda film that even has the guts to parody itself, as when John Pankow starts singing "Look for the Union Label" after holding his bastard child. I laughed at that point, realizing that at last Hollywood has stooped to a new low. Unlike Chasing Amy, an intelligent, witty film, Object is just worthless.

John Bobela
via the Internet

The Cold Facts on Colfax
Are you aware that one swoop of your degrading pen can make all our efforts seem in vain?

Some of your Cafe capsules are unacceptable to the many good working and retired citizens who live in our community. They were also loyal readers and supporters of your paper. You may want to consider this before slamming the "good guys" and their East Colfax neighborhood.

Charlene Ciacio
East Montclair Neighborhood Association

I would like to get an apology from your paper about what is said about East Colfax Avenue. Your listings mention Yoisho, a "hole-in-the-wall" Japanese eatery on Colfax and Quebec Street. Did you ever think maybe the owners would rather serve good food and have a smaller place? You could have put it has "just takeout," or "two booths," or whatever.

I have lived a half-block from East Colfax for 52 years; for 25 we worked on making it better, with no help from the city. We got the area turned around two years ago with the help of the police, and I am proud to say I would walk anyplace now. I could shout it from the rooftops that we are looking for new businesses to come in and we are proud to live here.

Years of work were put in between Quebec and Yosemite streets from the people who live here, and we don't need bad-mouthing now.

Barbara Taylor

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:

Letters Editor
PO Box 5970
Denver, CO 80217
or e-mail (include your full name and hometown) to: editorial@westword.com

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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