Best Wishes
I couldn't believe that Westword readers actually chose Taco Bell for Best Taco and smelly old McDonald's for Best French Fries. I'm sure there were similar insults in other categories, but I don't want to know.

That is last-resort food! It's cheap, convenient and disgusting. Maybe I can understand an occasional visit to Taco Hell if you have (a) kids hollering 'Yo quiero Taco Bell!' in the car; (b) only $.79 in your pocket and a drunk-induced urge to get in touch with your inner carnivore; or (c) a special penchant for yappy little Chihuahuas that speak English with a bad fake accent. But, come on, people--Denver has many muy fantastico Mexican restaurants. Did that sugary "hot sauce" from Taco Bell do that much damage to your tastebuds?

Once upon a time I loved Happy Meals (for the toys, honestly), but perhaps my geriatric sensibilities now cause me to get sick to my stomach just smelling the stuff, which seems to be often, since they are automatically shoved into every public-transportation hub except those in India. (Don't worry, they're coming to a Calcutta corner near you.) Thanks to you cheeseballs of the world, I have to smell it everywhere I go and be reminded of how it is--with people acting like what they eat (moooo!) and McCulture taking over the world.

Still, I never thought people who frequent these places thought they were actually "the best." I just hope that these choices are merely indicative of the people who have the time and inclination to sit around and fill out the Best Of questionnaire in the first place.

Thank goodness Westword's editorial staff had the good sense to override these cheesy choices.

Ande Wanderer
via the Internet

Hey, you're entitled to your opinion! But Wayne Hagin and Jeff Kingery as the Best Sports Announcing Team?!? Do you ever get out of Denver and listen to real sports announcers? Hagin has a "Dr. Sing-a-Song" delivery that makes it appear he is speaking to a class of slow kindergartners. He also belabors the obvious. Listen to the cliche garbage that passes for his commentary. Kingery is a little more palatable, but the pitch of his voice makes me wonder if they'll be bringing back those "breaking glass" Memorex commercials anytime soon.

If his voice were any higher, dogs would be the only creatures capable of hearing Rockies' radio broadcasts. Rating these bozos as the best cheapens the ratings and reinforces the belief that Denver is a benighted backwater.

I'd kill for Steve Stone with anyone! Let's bring back Dave Campbell.
Martin Berliner
via the Internet

Best use for this issue: to wipe your ass!!!
Howard Cox
via the Internet

What a Waaah to Go!
Interesting theme running through the June 17 issue...
Waaah! I bought a car, and the dealer made a mistake that I failed to correct (Jonathan Shikes's "It's About the Law"). Then they admitted their error and offered to make things right, but they talked mean to me and hurt my little feelings, so now somebody must pay!!

Waaah! My crazy sister called the cops on me, and I willingly let them take me away (T.R. Witcher's "This Is Crazy"). Then they locked me up and caused me to lose an entire 48 hours of my life, leaving me unable to function, so now somebody must pay!!

Waaah! My sons forced me to go on a terrifying thrill ride at the amusement park (Stuart Steers's "Twists and Shouts"). Then I hurt my little back, and despite seeing 800 doctors in two years, I still feel bad, so somebody must pay!!

Question: Have the Salleys (Julie Jargon's "Too Much Church") called the ACLU yet, or is it too difficult to sue God?

Jill Housh

Running Hot and Cult
Thanks for the great information on the International Churches of Christ in Julie Jargon's June 17 "Too Much Church." My alma mater in Massachusetts has banned the International Churches of Christ from its campus--and none too soon.

I did want to make a couple of points, though, based on my experiences as a volunteer with a campus ministry and my knowledge of the ICOC. ICOC youth groups and college groups, as you noted, rarely mention what denomination they are affiliated with, and the groups often go by different names. If your child, friend or significant other is involved in a school or campus youth group, always ask for brochures and more information about the church. There are a few very good Christian youth groups and campus groups that, because of a lack of knowledge on the public's part and good-intentioned wariness, are often associated with the ICOC in people's minds, even when they are not. Any reputable campus ministry or youth group will be more than happy to give you more information about the group, and most are tied in with either a church denomination or a para-church ministry (such as InterVarsity Christian Fellowship or Young Life Christian Fellowship).

I was the president of one of the Christian fellowships on my college campus when an ICOC group was kicked off campus. There was a huge backlash against those students, staff workers, faculty and volunteers involved in any kind of Christian religious group that advocated orthodox Christian tenets that the ICOC had twisted and manipulated (such as Bible study). Those of us in orthodox and established groups had to fight the administration and student body tooth and nail in order to remain solvent, and suspicion still lingers.

Please remember that there are those of us out there who advocate orthodox Christian principles such as Bible study, prayer and being accountable to those around you (both Christian and not) who are not involved in a wild cult like the ICOC.

Kory Stamper
via the Internet

I find it interesting that in this day and age a group can be so heavily criticized for nothing more than strong commitment. People who go to the bar in large groups three to five times a week and then drunkenly drive on our roads are okay--but do some good as a group and come under attack?! I have been a member of ICOC for six years, and the best times of my life are as a result of being in this church. No mind control. No all-exalted, arms-hoarding leader. Just biblical principal. Period. Find another group to attack, one that's actually causing detriment. Last I checked, this church was doing some good in this world. Maybe you should do further homework.

In addition, I find it funny yet predictable that you would attack in writing an organization whose sole endeavor is to follow Christ, yet "Jesus of the Week" is okay in the organization you probably spend the bulk of your time with. At least Westword is consistent with its anti-Christian stances.

Noel Hayes
via the Internet

Jargon's was a well-done story. As a former ICOC member for fourteen years, I can attest that Donald's experience was not an aberration. The goal of all ICOC members is to "convert" new members, and the ends justify all means.

I also want to take exception with Mr. Chisholm's statements that the ICOC never teaches that Christians outside the ICOC go to hell. Strictly speaking, he's right. The catch is that they believe that there are no true Christians (or very, very, very few) outside their church. This kind of false representation of their beliefs is all the more proof that this group is to be avoided at all costs.

Kenneth Hayes
Tulsa, OK

I just wanted to put in my two cents. I was converted into the Los Angeles Church of Christ, which is a member church of the International Churches of Christ. "Donald" was lucky. Too many people that I have known who have joined and left as teenagers have gotten pregnant, used drugs and completely messed up their lives. I left when I was nineteen, and some of the things that I had had to give up were my senior prom, several extracurricular activities and my old friends. I'm free now and successful in college, but the effects still linger. Thanks for writing this article.

Daniel de Sailles
via the Internet

I have been a member of the Denver Church of Christ since its inception in 1986. I found your article about my church disturbing. Our objective is simply imitating the church in the time of the apostles, bringing our faith today back to the simplicity of following Jesus in a personal way and structuring the church to facilitate meeting the needs of its members and those in our community. I have been involved in several different families of churches (denominations) but found what I thought Christianity should be in the church family of which I am now a part. To be sure, we aren't perfect, but to mark us as a group to be anathematized is a huge mistake.

I don't know the young man or family in question, but there are significant inaccuracies in the article that I do have personal knowledge about (in fairness, these could be the responsibility of the witnesses and not Westword). There is little to be gained by itemizing them here, except the obvious "don't believe everything you read."

When I hear people accuse my congregation of "milieu control," "information control," manipulations, "thought-reform techniques" and the like, I find these ridiculous. If one takes the time to investigate the basis of these allegations, the absurdity of the comparison is evident. Get serious: No one is subjected to "milieu control" in my church. People spend more time at work, sleeping, watching TV and with their families than they do involved in anything church-related. The exaggerated accusations of "thought reform" and cultism are an attempt on the part of critics to draw a connection where none exists. To be sure, many of those who criticize the ICC have had bad experiences; in cases I know of personally, my heart truly goes out to them. Churches are made up of humans, and we all mess up pretty badly at times, especially the more we try to accomplish. But to write the problem off as a symptom of a controlling "cult" is way off.

I myself have had my ups and downs in the church. Sometimes downs happen because God allows them, for my growth. Job received hardships precisely because he was faithful. Other times, my own personal downs were the result of somebody in leadership sinning against me. These have been resolved by speaking with the individuals involved and working out the problem, not by allowing myself to be made a victim. I think this biblical approach would have served the family in question quite well.

I would like to conclude by saying that if you want to know what's what with the Denver Church of Christ, check it out yourself. One visit certainly won't kill you, and it's liable to be the best thing you've ever done.

John Engler
via the Internet

I was a member of the International Churches of Christ (in Florida), and it was everything you described. It is amazing how their tactics are the same all over the world.

Patrick McMahon
via the Internet

I have a couple of comments in response to your article slamming the Denver Church of Christ. Having been away from the church for two years, I think I have a fairly objective viewpoint. First of all, if Julie Jargon never attended any church function, I don't think she can accurately write any article about the church. Of course, there is going to be an enormous amount of criticism when you're trying to stand for something that is true and pure in today's messed-up world. I can tell you that you won't find more committed Christians anywhere. Certainly, there is an enormous amount of pressure when striving to live a Christ-like existence--but no one expects it to be as hard as it is. God will triumph, despite this article. The Bible will have an answer to any question you could ever think up.

Name withheld

Editor's note: Julie Jargon did attend services at the Denver Church of Christ; she was not allowed into any of the activities involving teens, who meet apart from the adults.

Taken for a Ride
I never knew how accident-prone I would be on a Vekoma SLC until I read Stuart Steers's June 17 "Twist and Shouts." If there are so many accidents, I cannot understand why parks would rather put people in danger than spend a few extra dollars to build a B-and-M inverted coaster, which is much smoother and has fewer accidents than the SLCs. I don't necessarily think the woman in the article should win the lawsuit. But I do wish that more public criticism would be taken to heart by park employees--however far-fetched that may be.

Nicole Henault
St. Johnsbury, VT

Crazed and Confused
Regarding T.R. Witcher's "This Is Crazy," in the June 17 issue:
Of course Stan Israel didn't know what he was getting into; our society puts these professions on such a high pedestal. Imagine what it's like for people who have been mistreated by shrinks at least once already.

Psychotherapists nearly destroyed my life back in the Sixties trying to turn me into a stay-at-home wife. Something broke inside of me, and I never fully recovered. Seventeen years of trying to get help getting put back together left me so traumatized and re-traumatized by these people that the mere thought of having anything to do with them can induce severe panic. In 1987 my family pulled something similar on me. A social worker came to my apartment. I started shaking so badly I let go of the intercom button, effectively hanging up on him. By the grace of God, he took that as a refusal. Anyway, he left.

Nobody ever told me I could say no.
A phone call to legal aid went like this:
Me: I'm afraid my folks are trying to lock me up.
Volunteer (interrupting): Do you want to know what your rights are?

What I had in mind was my rights at that moment, while I was still on the outside. But she proceeded to tell me about the 48- and 72-hour holds. In other words, without knowing anything about me, a representative of patient rights treated my incarceration as inevitable.

If my situation had progressed as far as Israel's, I believe I would be either dead or on a violent ward today. Intervention "just in case" is like shooting first and asking questions later. There are serious dangers both ways. But, of course, the other side does not fit the mental/behavioral profession's egotistical or financial interests, so it is seldom heard.

As for people who do "the right thing" at the wrong time, read M. Scott Peck's People of the Lie.

Name withheld on request

A Devil's Advocate
Regarding Steve Jackson's "Dealing with the Devil" series, which concluded in the June 3 issue:

Congratulations and kudos to both Steve Jackson and Westword for having the will, commitment and talent to present such a series of articles. My respect and admiration for your publication have increased a hundred-fold; this is journalism at its best, and I hope you receive national recognition for your determination and efforts.

Having lived in other places (including New York, San Diego and Houston), I often think I have become immune to the terror and horror that can be part of our daily lives in modern U.S. cities. Despite the sordid and depressing subject matter, however, your series touched me (much as the Columbine murders and suicides did) and forced me to think about and reconsider my personal beliefs, commitments and attitudes toward a variety of subjects (e.g., the death penalty, parenting, child and family intervention programs, our legal [justice?] system and so forth).

This is what journalism is supposed to do--make us think, teach us, and stimulate public debate and change.

Andrea Westcott

I have just finished reading your six-part series on the tragic rape and murder of Brandy DuVall. I was very deeply moved by this story and by the way you gave the reader a chance to see all aspects of the characters' lives. What happened to Brandy is tragic; there are no words for the brutality of the crime. Sometimes we forget that life hands us situations that we have no control over, which lead us down the path that has been chosen for us. It's the choices we make every day, whether they are right or wrong, that we have to face and live with. It's sad and disturbing that some people make the choice to hurt themselves and everyone around them because they choose to make the wrong choices. I was truly touched by your retelling of these events.

Jamie Sandoval
via the Internet

For now, I will go by the name Jane Doe. I am really glad this is over. I am sad to say that I know all the devils who raped and tortured that little girl. It didn't shock me to read about them years down the road. I used to hang with them in the early Nineties until they started getting aggressive toward females (especially Francisco Martinez). Brandy is in a better place right now, and I thank God they all got caught, and I hope they all get what they deserve.

Name withheld

Coming Clean
At a time when "ethnic cleansing" is so prominent in the news, it was of particular interest to see Harrison Fletcher's June 10 "Shifting Sands," concerning our own ethnic atrocity known in Colorado history as the Sand Creek massacre.

As the search continues for the actual site where this sad event took place, the attendant reflection regarding the villains and heroes at Sand Creek is instructive. The massacre of the Hungate family, whose mutilated bodies were dramatically brought into Denver for display, was a classic example of how readily a thirst for revenge can be inflamed, with Cheyennes and Arapahos camped under a flag of truce at Sand Creek becoming the innocent victims in this case. Yet the blind hatred and rage that drove Colonel Chivington's troops to commit such hideous atrocities did not infect all of his troops. Even in the climate of those frontier times, history records that Captain Silas Soule risked the future of his military career by refusing orders to commit the troops under his command to attack the encampment at Sand Creek. His testimony at the military inquiry afterward was primarily responsible for Chivington's censure, but it also resulted in Captain Soule's murder on the streets of Denver.

Sand Creek is more than the site of atrocities committed against a peaceful encampment of Cheyenne and Arapaho. It is a site that demonstrates both the best and worst of humankind. It is a site to promote the understanding of justice over revenge and responsible individual action over mass hysteria. It is a place that deserves the current focus of identification, preservation and interpretation, both to honor the memory of the innocents who died there and, hopefully, for the betterment of generations to come.

G.L. Rathbun
via the Internet

The Straight and Marrow
Regarding Juliet Wittman's "Terra Infirma," in the May 27 issue:
"I'm gonna get medieval on yo ass" is a not just a threat; it's a promise we came to the Bone Marrow Clinic at University Hospital to have fulfilled with its high-dose therapy protocol. We needed and demanded an exorcism for breast cancer. Dr. Jones was our Max von Sydow. My dear partner was Linda Blair, replete with green vomit (we learned to call "emesis"), and her head spun around for days until the chemo was through. The doctors, PAs, nurses and all the people at the Bone Marrow Clinic put on a bravura performance. Truly, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they never let up. The treatment is complex and demanding of caregivers and patients alike, with its moments from Pulp Fiction and The Exorcist. Yet the warmhearted, caring and professional acumen never flagged. The Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic at University Hospital is superb, a rare jewel of which Denver and the medical profession can be proud. They provide the best medical care I have ever seen or heard of.

This spring we had just decided on high-dose therapy when the early release of studies that appeared to cast doubt on its efficacy hit the media. Nobody takes on high-dose lightheartedly. We wrestled with the decision. In "Terra Infirma," Juliet Wittman nailed the impossible situation better than anyone--and we have been looking everywhere we could think of to get the last word on the controversy surrounding this treatment, including the Wall Street Journal, the ASCO Web site and the New York Times.

Everyone knows that one thinks better when eating well. I suppose I should not have been surprised to find Juliet Wittman's excellent article while looking for a restaurant in Westword. Thoughtful writing on a scientific question and good food go hand in hand.

We use the article to show friends and family what an exorcism of breast cancer through high-dose chemotherapy is all about. Thank you.

Philip Bareiss
via the Internet

A Bone to Pick
The June 17 Mouthing Off commentary on the Blues and Bones Festival was right on! When we realized that the "buck-a-bone" advertised was nonexistent, we waited for 45 minutes at Daddio's barbecue (which appeared to be the only real barbecue stand among the vendors). When we finally came within sniffing distance of the meat, we were told that Daddio had "run out." Ribs would take another 45 minutes and chicken another hour and a quarter. The blues were great; if it had just been advertised as such, everything would have been fine.

Robert Lind
via the Internet

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:

Westword Letters
P.O. Box 5970
Denver, CO 80217
or e-mail to: editorial@westword.com.

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


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