Saving Private Calhoun
Regarding Patricia Calhoun's "Private Lives," in the August 27 issue:
What happened--did Ms. Calhoun take a nice pill last week? It's difficult to believe she actually has a family, much less can write movingly about one of her ancestors. But once I got over my shock, and trying to ignore the name at the end of the column, I enjoyed her "Private Lives" column. More accurately, I enjoyed her grandfather's writings.
I'd like to see more sentiment and less bile from Ms. Calhoun in the future.
via the Internet
Sex and the Single Girls
Fine job on the feature on sex-change artist Dr. Stanley Biber (Harrison Fletcher's "Sex Machine," August 27). One statement struck me as a bit incongruous, though: "True transsexuals, Biber says, are not attracted to members of the same sex." So...lesbians are not women? Seems homophobia really is pervasive--even in the world of sex-changing!
I just finished reading your article on Stanley Biber and wanted to thank you for the way in which the subject was treated. I was not a "Biber Girl" but rather one of the first ones ever done in the now-discontinued program in Texas (in 1974, no less!). I have met Dr. Biber and many of his girls, and I know that he is well-loved and respected in the community.
It seems that all of the right-wing cheap-shot artists come out of the woodwork whenever this subject is broached, but until you've walked a mile in my pumps, no one knows the heartbreak of waking up every morning with the dysphoria of having the mind and body not in agreement. Physicians like Dr. Biber allow the mind/body to finally be in agreement.
I transitioned nearly 25 years ago, at the age of 29, and my only regret is that circumstances prevented it from happening earlier. I have had the pleasure of meeting the occasional parent(s) savvy enough to recognize the problem in their teenage children and support them in their decision rather than assume that it was a passing phase that they would grow out of. This is not to say that there aren't some kids who go through a passing phase who shouldn't do it, but there is a big difference between being supportive after the psychologists and physicians have made an exhaustive diagnosis and being righteous and dictatorial in the face of overwhelming evidence.
Thanks for a story well done. Due to the fact that I am in a rather high position within my company and prefer to keep my chromosome count to myself, I ask that my name be withheld. Hopefully you understand.
Name withheld on request
via the Internet
In "Genital Hospital," we are asked to take a trip down memory lane and reflect upon the remarkable career of Dr. Stanley Biber as he approaches retirement. There's only one problem: Never in Harrison Fletcher's article are we given photographic examples that document the legacy of Biber's body of work. Many Westword readers have probably never actually met a transsexual. I think that if Westword readers could see a collection of, say, before and after pictures of Biber's work, then they might have a better idea of just what transsexual surgery can, and cannot, accomplish.
Proponents of the surgery are asking us to believe that the transsexual is a tortured soul trapped in a body with the wrong sex organs. With a snip, snip (just like writers cut and paste when they write letters to Westword on their word processors), presto-chango and abracadabra, the tortured soul is given a body with the correct genitals.
I have had the opportunity to bump into a couple of Dr. Biber's "monsters" over the last twenty years in the Denver area, and I would like to share with you my impression of the effectiveness of Biber's surgical talents. My experience has always been with men changing into women. I can find no delicate way to say this, but from outward appearances, these women still basically look like men. While I have never seen them with their clothes off, I can assure you that these people still have a man's buttocks, stomach and legs.
But don't believe me. Many hobby stores in the Denver area carry model kits of both the male and female anatomy. When put together, the invisible skin can be taken off the model and one can play with the internal organs. Even a cursory examination of these kits will provide clues as to the similarities and differences between the male and female bodies. What becomes obvious is that males and females have vastly different skeletal structures. Remember what the Kinks sang so many years ago? "Talks like a woman but walks like a man."
Maybe the only way to have a truly perfect transsexual would be to change brains from one body to another. Could this be a legitimate medical argument for human cloning?
In the article, Dr. Biber says that he created a woman so beautiful that not even her gynecologist husband could tell that she was once a man. I've heard this little piece of mythology floating around Denver for years. I recommend that Westword readers remain skeptical until they are presented with pictorial evidence of these claims. Don't just tell us about Biber's legacy; show us Biber's legacy!
Where's the beef?
Regarding Eric Dexheimer's "Turning Water Into Whine," in the August 20 issue:
Seems the mighty Karma bus has found its way into Mr. Antonoff's greedy little world, meeting him head-on without skid marks. Excellent. Wonderful article; thanks for the straight dope.
via the Internet
Editor's note: The Beebe Draw Water and Sanitation District board recall vote scheduled for August 25 never happened. The previous day, after fifteen years of legal disputes (and four days after Westword's story hit the streets), Gary Antonoff, the town of Lochbuie, Bromley Park developers and the City of Brighton settled their differences. Agreeing to part with his wells and water rights in exchange for cash settlements, Antonoff released all of the parties from his district's control.
Punishment to the Max
Regarding Alan Prendergast's "Hard Cell," in the August 20 issue:
Perhaps the treatment of the prisoners at Colorado's supermax seems to be a bit rough, but not when you stop to consider why these inmates are locked up there in the first place. I don't think any of the inmates were concerned with the pain that they inflicted on their victims. Supermax doesn't house people who commit victimless, nonviolent crimes. These people are the worst of the worst, and they deserve to be treated that way.
I want to thank Alan Prendergast: It's a cheer for the convict corner, being able to shed some light where there generally is none. I want to apologize for any backlash Westword may receive from the long arm of DOC. I reckon they can't bring the gooners for you, but just the same, I know you're subject to get a few phone calls that will not be so kind.
I pretty near did a back flip with a twist off my commode when I saw that article--Alan sure put some fire on some backsides, and rightfully so! My hat's off to you.
Ray T. "Sluggo" Slagle
Isolation, Colorado State Penitentiary
I loved reading Robin Chotzinoff's "You Go, Girls," in the August 20 issue. My weirdo husband, Brent, and I are pageant freaks, too! Friends just look at us like we're nuts if we ever slip up and mention this fetish in public. It's nice to see that there are other groupies out there.
Brent is so good at picking winners it's uncanny--he can pull the winner out of a field of fifty with just a two-second look. Amazing guy, I tell ya. I always tend to root for the one person with short hair, hoping that someday a woman with a buzz cut will be Miss America. One of the wildest pageants I've seen was a Ms. Latin America on some strange cable channel. Wow! Talk about big hair and some sultry babes. Anyway, good luck to Nancy in becoming Mrs. Whatever-it-is.
Again, I really enjoy seeing some lighthearted, goofy articles in the midst of your sometimes heavy content.
via the Internet
Give Robin Chotzinoff a computer and she could win any pageant talent contest hands down! Her piece on the pageant-watchers was another winner; I'll never look at Miss America the same way.
via the Internet
I Think I Smell a Rat
Regarding Tony Perez-Giese's "Odor in the Court," in the August 27 issue:
The actions of the police and the DA in this case are clearly unconstitutional (i.e., illegal). I found it quite amusing that the police and the DA are committing grand larceny in their efforts to prosecute a possible petty theft.
According to the U.S. Constitution, Amendment 5: "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."
Come to Papa
I was moved by Marty Jones's article on Papa Colfax ("Homeless No More," August 20). I live in Munster, Indiana, in a community of well-to-do people. We all have areas in our larger cities that have a homeless population--and I can only hope that the people and business owners in those areas are as kind to our homeless as the people you wrote about in your story were. To see people reach out and touch each other, no matter what their circumstances in life--rich, poor, middle-class--made me feel that there is hope for humanity.
May Papa Colfax keep on singing and dancing in the presence of the Lord...and may the Lord send Papa Colfax's rays of sunshine down to warm our souls.
The Objective of the Mission
Thanks for Stuart Steers's article concerning the Rocky Mountain News wanting to be a sponsor for Jefferson County Public Schools ("Jeffco Picks Rocky Road," August 27). Not only did the hair stand up on the back of my head, but my stomach turned and my eyes rolled at the same time. In the real world, business partners are not going to be publicly critical of each other. With all that is going wrong right now with the Jefferson County Public Schools, I think this is a bad idea.
via the Internet
I have to agree with James Brodell. With that much money involved, I doubt very seriously if anyone can maintain his or her objectivity. The News has long been very biased on what it reports. I have a perfect example. I was at the Super Bowl celebration in downtown Denver after the game. I am an older man of small stature, hardly a physical threat to anyone. I saw the Denver police storm troopers running by me and I said, "You people are really screwing up big-time." For that, I was Maced right in the face. The News helped the police justify their totally out-of-line behavior by incorrectly reporting that the police had to move in because of the fire and the overturned car on Larimer Street. I was there, but the News would not publish a letter with my account.
The News--objective? I think not. I can't believe we are selling our souls to the highest bidder. I may take my son out of school here in Jefferson County if this deal happens. There is a lot more involved in this deal than just First Amendment rights--and they are very important, too. I hope the people of Jefferson County will stand up and be counted. This is not only unethical but immoral, and I am somewhat shocked that this has become standard practice in today's world.
via the Internet
As an architect, I have, over the years, had contact with any number of very wealthy people. Since I find the accumulation of money a mysterious undertaking, I once asked one of my clients how to make money. "Think of nothing but money sixteen hours a day," was his advice. I tried and found that, indeed, it works. Within two weeks I had made $2,000 I would have never made had I not become single-minded.
It turned out that the extra money was spent repairing relations with my family and friends whom I had ignored for two weeks. I guess if I hadn't valued the relationships, I might have actually cleared two grand. But that's me.
Which brings me to the brave new world of lower taxes and less government.
It used to be that we, the poor, misbegotten people, would educate our children by paying taxes to our local schools. This produced a rather bland education system in which our children were educated by public employees who had to answer to us. The public employees were in a constant dither trying to appease us. They got so confused, they stopped educating and started laying on the administrators to cover their asses.
Now that we have decided to educate our children by paying a little more to the grocery store so it can advertise in the newspaper so they'll have enough extra money to educate our children while selling subscriptions and making sure that high-school journalists learn how to be entrepreneurs in the conservative mode, we are horrified to discover that there is a twisted knot of highly placed self-interests running our lives.
It has come to the point that we have to think up ways that things we want to do might benefit guys who think about money sixteen hours a day. We ask them for money to do what we used to do with taxes. Letting the Rocky Mountain News or Pepsi or US West tax us to educate our children is the kind of thinking that gets us off the hook and into the frying pan.
Scam I Am
Regarding the August 20 Off Limits:
I see the big push for a new stadium as a sham--or could it be a scam? The stadium supporters have tightened their muscle on the city to help them even further. So the city goes all out and rolls out the red carpet. What the supporters are conveying by their actions is that the taxpayer should be satisfied with one choice. But we also have a choice to say no. Those of us who oppose the tax, I believe, are opposed to welfare for the owner, who has millions of dollars. My gosh! Are there not people who need more help than he? I would be in favor of a sales tax for increasing our children's education level. Or I would be in favor of a sales tax to help homeless families and single mothers. I would be in favor of other similar needs that would be more important to this Broncos fan than making a multi-millionaire more rich. Now, since the city has given him savings of millions of dollars on other related matters, the Broncos' owner should finance the whole enchilada himself. Or repair the existing one, as Stuart Ohlson suggests.
Sorry, Wrong Numbers
Regarding Brandon Zupancic's August 13 letter about Megan Hall's "Crossed Wires," in the August 6 issue:
I think it requires a phenomenal leap backward in reasoning to think that my mother could mistakenly write the words "eleven-thousand six-hundred thirty" instead of the "one-hundred sixteen" that she did write (duplicate checks are wonderful things!). If it was her fault, why would US West accept responsibility by giving her an $11,000 credit? Obviously, the company is capable of making mistakes, such as trying to electronically transfer the funds instead of presenting the check that they still have not returned to her.
We aren't saying that the phone company was trying to intentionally defraud my mother, just that there is a dire need for improvement in the way things are handled. The US West employees running the ads on KHOW seem to agree.
As for the attacks on Megan Hall's journalistic ability and integrity, she spoke with all the parties involved: my mother, DMFCU, the Public Utilities Commission and US West. I think she did a fine job.
Yes, Westword often prints stories about wrongdoing in government and big business because, unlike the two "official news" dailies, they have the guts to do it. This is a country of people who often root for the underdog. It's when people defend Goliath that we question their (often financial) motivation. What's yours?
I think the average, reasonable person would conclude that you're an idiot.
Roberts's Rules of Order
I went to Lilith Fair, and it was a blast! The only negative aspect of the show was that it was oversold; there were way too many people there. Michael Roberts was very negative about Lilith Fair ("My Seven Hours With Lilith," August 27); Westword should have gotten a writer with a better attitude about it. If he didn't want to go, then he should not have gone. It's obvious Roberts doesn't have any musical background or taste at all. These women have worked hard to get where they are and where they are going.
You pissed me off with this article. I had a blast at the concert, and it was the best Lilith so far. Roberts and his lazy wife did not have fun, so they should have stayed home and watched PBS, because those shows are like his writing in this article: no personality!
via the Internet
Just had to say yes to Michael Roberts's review of the Lilith Fair. Shocking, perhaps, coming from a girl, but I just wanted it out there that even some of the chicks found the Girlie Tour, complete with its unnecessary half-hour breaks between each half-hour set, a bit of a yawn. My friends who were there would probably not admit to boredom, but they did in fact talk through two-thirds of the show. While I am a fan of Sarah McLachlan, the "oooh" queen, Natalie Merchant ("Kind and Generous" excepted), Joan Osborne and, especially, the Cowboy Junkies (for whom the sound was half off), I, too, cringed at the sight of the Starbucks wagon--a good reminder that, no, this is not, as the ever-annoying (and equally cringe-inducing) Paula Cole said, "a beautiful love thing," but rather another corporate thing.
Where, indeed, have all the cowboys gone? We could have used a few of them, or cowgirls, or something, at the Lilywhite Fair, whose Denver lineup truly was Easy Listening, or Songs About Questioning and Doubting and Hope and Adolescence and...oh, the hell with it.
Overheard at the Lilith Fair during Sarah McLachlan's "Ice Cream":
Girl: "Oh, it's 'Ice Cream!'"
Girl: "Remember, the song I played you?"
Boyfriend: (Pause) "Oh. Yeah."
Well, yet another issue, yet another desire to maim Michael Roberts's typing hands. The Denver King of the Witty (or so he would think) Put-Down has managed to slag not one but two concerts in the August 27 issue. Now, while Lilith Fair is not my taste, I get the impression that Michael rewrote his "witty" Spice Girls review ("The Spice of Life," August 13) and served it up rewarmed for us readers this week as "My Seven Hours..." But what really got to me was his cynical review of this week's Bauhaus concert in Feedback.
Despite the moron behind me singing "Dark Entrails," the concert was the most enjoyable show I have seen in a long time. The Mammoth was restaged and the sound was better than in the past (the Verve, anyone?). The song selection was great, and the bandmembers seemed to be enjoying themselves quite a bit. Hell, it was even nice to see a lead singer move occasionally (the Verve, anyone?). The drummer hidden? When was the last time you wanted to see a drummer? Jay (one would assume David J) was his usual somber self (Mr. Roberts, ever seen Love and Rockets?). Finally, Daniel Ash threw up a nice wall of sound that made the live sounds shine over the CDs.
It would be nice for once to see something positive come out of the Westword music section other than praise for struggling local artists, lists of people who Mr. Roberts thinks are sellouts (is there anyone left?) and pathetic cynical jokes from Mr. Roberts.
via the Internet
I was disappointed (but not surprised) by Michael Roberts's snide review of the Bauhaus concert. I don't think Roberts has ever written a positive review--but it was slightly disturbing that his review of the Spice Girls concert was more complimentary than his Bauhaus review!
Let me just say in retort to Roberts that as a fan of Bauhaus, I couldn't have been more thrilled with their August 24 concert. Peter Murphy's vampy, Bowie-like stage mannerisms are meant to be campy fun (as any fan will tell you). We as fans are thrilled that they've reunited and are thanking their fans with touring--it's the best gift imaginable. I guess that Michael Roberts doesn't understand how precious the Bauhaus concert was to fans who've worshiped this band for more than a decade and never in their wildest imaginations ever thought they would see them together again. It was by far the best concert I have ever seen.
Too bad Michael Roberts didn't enjoy the show as much as the rest of us did. Oh well, his loss. Thanks, Bauhaus!
via the Internet
Well-written article on Bauhaus, although it all but says that Roberts's prejudices against bands reuniting predetermined his perceptions. Unlike the sorry sods of the Pistols, these guys still had careers prior to this "resurrection," which it sounds like Roberts purposefully neglected to mention for the sake of inadvertently bolstering his point of argument. By the way, Bauhaus's members haven't gone fat---a noteworthy exception to all previous reunions!
Perhaps you owe it to readers to pass an assignment for a gig on to someone else if Roberts already has the idea he's going to write an article about "selling out" before he even gets in the door. Thank you for your attention in these none-too-delicate matters.
via the Internet
We were absolutely appalled at Michael Roberts's article regarding the recent Bauhaus concert. Every single sentence he had to say was condescending to Bauhaus and its fans. So maybe Roberts isn't a fan--he has every right to not be a fan--but does it really make him feel good to put down the band and its fans to such an extreme? If he did happen to like the music, or even if he had an open mind about it, he would realize that for many people,Bauhaus played an absolutely wonderful show.
I do respect Roberts's right to free speech, and maybe he just dislikes them or this kind of music that intensely. But I would think that if you are a respected enough writer to write for Westword, that you would give a more open-minded review. This may sound trite, but different people like different music. Just because Roberts doesn't happen to be into this scene (anymore?) does not make it outdated or totally commercial and sold-out. I do happen to be an older fan (thirty), but I also do know that there are many younger fans of Bauhaus. The Bauhaus sound today for many people seems actually more fresh (different) than a lot of the overdone onslaught of the "alternative" bands on the scene today. And although I'm sure everyone wishes that ticket prices would drop a bit, Bauhaus tickets are no more expensive than those for many other very well-liked bands.
Furthermore, I definitely was not cheering for my "lost youth," because my youth is not lost. I don't know where Roberts's bitterness comes from, but it is possible to be mature and still love music that you loved a decade or more ago without denouncing or rationalizing it. (Obviously, Roberts must agree with that if he still likes Bonnie Raitt and Willie Nelson--and I definitely agree on that.) Growing older does not have to mean growing cynical, close-minded and/or washed up. Bauhaus obviously believes this, and as long as there are people out there who enjoy the band's music, what's the problem?
Jack Boulware's story "The Kerouac Obsession," published in the August 13 Westword, incorrectly claimed that Gerald Nicosia spoke so long at an award ceremony that a reception had to be canceled; actually, the reception was held. The story also contended that Mr. Nicosia once wore a T-shirt with the words "Kerouac vs. Sampas" on it; Mr. Nicosia says no such shirt existed, and we believe him. In addition, the story incompletely described Mr. Nicosia's relationship to the estate of Jan Kerouac. In his role as literary executor, Mr. Nicosia is to receive 10 percent of any income generated from Jan Kerouac's literary estate as a result of publications, sales or licensing arrangements negotiated by Mr. Nicosia. Westword regrets the errors.
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:
P.O. Box 5970
Denver, CO 80217
or e-mail (include your full name and hometown) to: email@example.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.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Westword's biggest stories.