Class DismissedRegarding Patricia Calhoun's "Life's Little Lessons," in the January 27 issue:
After seeing Calhoun and Tom Tancredo on Channel 12 for lo, those many years, I am absolutely dumbfounded that he could grow and become a human! It has encouraged me to be less judgmental and kinder. Columbine was a litmus test for many of us: What are we made of? Will we stay in denial or do something?
Keep up the great work. I enjoy your efforts, whether in print or on TV.
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For the semantically challenged, here's a little tip. If you live in a city claiming to be "world-class," chances are it isn't. World-class cities are "world-class"; they never claim to be "world-class." There's a difference between being something and claiming to be something.
Side note: Granted, it's more fashionable to claim to be "world-class" than to claim to be a "real" city. But Denver hasn't become a "real" city, either. What else is new? Moo.
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Editor's note: On Monday, Mayor Wellington Webb announced ten priority projects for his remaining time in office -- including a December 31, 2000, New Year's Eve/New Millennium Celebration in downtown Denver. "The plans for the celebration are currently being developed," says spokesman Andrew Hudson, "but Mayor Webb has directed the Mayor's Office of Art, Culture and Film to hold the event in Civic Center Park, in front of Denver City Hall, and that fireworks are to be part of the celebration."
Teaching Mrs. TraceyI just finished reading Alan Prendergast's "Lessons From the Third Grade," in the January 27 issue, over a cup of soup at the nearby Alfalfa's, and I wanted to write and compliment you on it before I forgot about it in the rush of everyday life. I really enjoyed this article. It gave a very realistic picture of a teacher's life, especially a teacher in a school that faces many challenges, like Ashley Elementary. I am always amazed when I hear about teachers being blamed for the ills of schools, because I have known so many teachers like Mrs. Tracey, who are dedicated, hardworking and talented -- and who transmit a love of learning to their young charges. I was sad to read of her decision to leave, but not very surprised.
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Walking the DogRegarding Harrison Fletcher's "Going to the Dogs," in the January 27 issue:
It may be an arcane idea, but I was under the impression that we pay the city attorney to uphold the law and prosecute those who break it. The law says that dogs must be on a leash, and Sean McGuire's dog was not on a leash. Seems cut-and-dried to me. He claims that the dog is tame and trained but then admits that even Roscoe has a mind of his own. And exactly what did he expect his dog to testify about? Talk about a waste of the court's time. Is he suggesting that the law applies only to people with mean dogs? Perhaps we could hold dog auditions so that no nice dog will be forced to wear a leash.
I agree that this case is a waste of time, but Mr. Woods has no choice but to follow through with every stupid appeal -- that's his job. Apparently Mr. McGuire feels that as an ex-cop and an ex-lawyer, he deserves special treatment or a way around the law. Just because you don't like a law doesn't mean you can break it, however. Mr. McGuire, you're wasting our money. Just pay your ticket and get over it.
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Sean McGuire is performing a community service by challenging the leash law in Denver. I have watched overzealous animal-control officers drive their truck across the park, ruining the grass to get to an unsuspecting owner and dog without a leash. The real purpose of the leash law is to produce revenue for the city. It's great to read about someone fighting City Hall. Good luck, Sean!
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It's been a while since I've heard of such a colossal waste of the city's time and resources. The problem is not personal: I'm sure Sean McGuire's dog is very well-trained. The issue is that every time you allow a gray area, such as letting only "trained dogs" go leashless, you open the door for a slew of interpretive disputes and who knows how many hours and dollars wasted. Meanwhile, this poor dog continues to be exploited.
Fletcher's article didn't really bother to get a well-rounded point of view. Just because neither Mr. Woods nor Judge Crew can comment on the specifics of the case does not mean that the story should be so lopsided merely out of inertia. McGuire has gone beyond making a point, and you make it sound as if the city's side is represented by a hardass chuckling in his ivory tower about the troubles that befall the average citizen. I doubt this is the case. Mr. Woods is only doing his job. But if I were faced with such a silly little man as McGuire, I couldn't guarantee he wouldn't be the butt of my jokes. Humor him if you must, but don't bitch when the city's resources come up short precisely because of superfluous "points" McGuire feels he must make.
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I see dog after dog without leashes every day (I bike through Washington Park and City Park daily), and not all dogs are as obedient as Roscoe. These fuckers chase me on my bike all the time. In a recent episode at City Park, some freak-ass lady was just like, "Watch out! He's gonna chase you!" I'm like, "What? Why isn't he on a leash, then?" She could only reply, "That's a good question." Well, I told her that was a stupid fucking answer. If you know your dog likes to do stupid shit like chasing people on bikes, why on earth would you take that leash off?
I don't have a problem with dogs like Roscoe walking freely, but you obviously can't have a law that allows only well-behaved dogs to be unleashed. So fuck Sean McGuire, fuck all the dog owners who don't keep a leash on their mutts. I now carry "canine mace" with me -- so to all you assholes who have crackhead dogs running around, if I'm ever chased by your dog, you're gonna find it laying in the grass whimpering like a bitch. Cheers.
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Sleazy Kids' StuffRegarding Justin Berton's "I'm Too Sexy for My Lunchbox," in the January 20 issue:
You gotta be kidding! Six- to nine-year-old little girls in silver platform shoes and spaghetti-strap tops, with belly-buttons exposed? Posing in shop windows while onlookers snap pictures? What are their parents thinking? Shades of JonBenét.
Kids need to be kids. Not miniature adults, not on show for those whose interests may not be the most healthy. The use of little girls as models for this company's highly inappropriate and suggestive clothing is not only reprehensible; it's dangerous. It is cynical for company spokespeople to claim that since these little girls "enjoy" this modeling, it must be just fine. Come on! Why design such sleazy attire for children in the first place? Why sell it? Why place children in a position that is a pedophile's dream? Where is the moral responsibility of the adults involved in this reprehensible business?
Name withheld on request
Good God, when and where will this sexualization of girls end? It only gets worse and worse! Not to mention turning this obsession for appearance and materialism into some kind of religion. Nine- and ten-year-old girls modeling adult-type clothes in a window so passersby (pedophiles?) may gawk as they walk by? What's next?
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Just a note to the fact-checker: There is no such thing as a Nintendo PlayStation. The PlayStation is manufactured by Sony.
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Home Is Where the Help IsRegarding Stuart Steers's "Ready, Willing and Disabled," in the January 20 issue:
My husband and I have an adult child in a state-operated group home under Wheat Ridge Regional Center. She has been in the Ridge system for 28 years. There were no options at the time she was placed; Jefferson County Community Center would not take her. Years later we tried placing her at Margaret Walters only to have our hopes shattered once again, as they could not meet her demanding needs. She has thrived in her state-operated group home in Lakewood for the past five years and has formed a bond with her caregivers and other roommates.
I applaud Stuart Steers's article on the state's treatment of the developmentally disabled. As parents and guardians for our adult children, we should have input into their placement and treatment at all times. We are pleased with the current services our daughter is receiving and the care she receives for all of her daily needs. Thanks again for a great article.
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Sex and PoliticsIn the January 20 issue, I couldn't miss your team coverage of Shotgun Willie's: Michael Roberts's The Message and Justin Berton's "The Glendale T&A Party"! Can I join the team? Here's my contribution, which I call "The View From Denver."
A tip o' the hat to Denver Parks and Rec for the pointed reference to our neighboring village; it's far more tasteful than the "titty city" moniker on your cover.
Before we, the readership, criticize your writers about exposing the seamy side of various political entities such as what has taken place in Glendale, we should appreciate that such exposure takes place. Granted, the formatting of "The Glendale T&A Party" was laced with barnacles, but it exposed the raw, naked truth.
It is important to point out that whenever anything that is connected to the underworld is exposed to the light of day, that entity will wither on the vine and be forced to crawl back into its coffin.
Thank you for writing such an expansive story on the Glendale political scene. I have been working in Glendale since 1996 and have watched this Tea Party force its way into this city and manipulate the voters through calculated deceit. Thank you for exposing the underlying motivation of the Tea Party and its pursuit of self-interest. Hopefully, your article will encourage Glendale residents to dig below the surface of the Tea Party's claims and stand up and prevent it from taking over this vulnerable city.
Name withheld on requestBlood SimpleI cannot believe the backward logic of the Lopez family, shown in their January 27 letters about Steve Jackson's January 13 "Blood In, Blood Out."
Comments from the Tobin family that "D-Ray is a legend" -- oh, my lord, this family is insane! He shot a police officer, he deserved what he got -- and that little Dustin is getting what he deserves: lots of loving from Bubba. D-Ray, as they call him, was a horrible excuse for a human being. Society will only benefit from his death. No more babies for welfare to support, no more babies taught that to be a legend you must shoot a cop. I do feel for the parents; they must be going through hell. But to build these two piles of shit up to legend status will only prolong their pain. My hope is that society can rid itself of cancers like the Lopez brothers and their inbred families for good.
Perhaps some urban romantics might argue that since Danny Ray Lopez only shot policemen in the legs, he did not pose a serious threat to the general public. (It is a shame that such persons cannot receive equal and immediate gunshot wounds.) But, really, the ongoing sanctification of Danny Ray Lopez and the accompanying vilification of the officers involved pisses me off. I confess that I have never lost a family member to violence, so I have no measure of the loss the Lopez family might feel. Still, no matter how much sympathy I try to whip up for them, I can't help but feel that the police are the greater victims here. They were put in the unenviable position of facing down an armed man who had already shot two of their fellow officers. They were facing into headlights behind which lurked a confirmed cop-shooter. Of course they were frightened. Of course they fired until they were certain he wasn't firing back. How can we condemn them? Have our ideals of justice become so compromised that we demand our law enforcement be maimed before they defend themselves?
Sure, Danny Ray Lopez was a product of hardship and harsh environment, but his experience should only have confirmed the rules of engagement. Shooting at policemen -- or anyone -- is beyond stupidity. We are all made up of bone, blood and soft tissue. People die when guns are discharged, and only the worst sort of fool would suggest that cops "accept" the risk of gunfire without defending themselves. I don't think that the officers involved in Lopez's death should be congratulated for their actions, because I don't think they want to be. How can we think that they enthusiastically took another's life? Why is it that we label men "murderers" who were themselves in danger of being killed? They survived an ugly situation; we should be glad.
Danny Ray Lopez might have been a nice kid once, but he was also a self-styled, self-deluded outlaw, a criminal with a history of consorting with convicted rapists and murderers. He wasn't a misguided "boy," but a 28-year-old man who put himself -- and the police -- in mortal, idiotic danger. He lost, he died, and whereas I'm sure there are those who mourn his passing, I am writing to wish the officers involved quick healing and, if possible, eventual peace of mind.
Lest I be branded a cop-lover, a fascist or worse, I readily admit that I am not a model citizen. I don't know any policemen personally. I don't own a gun yet, nor have I reached the point where I see all violence as evil. Danny Ray Lopez's death is just that -- a death, no more a tragedy than any run-of-the-mill heart attack, car accident or stroke.
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Subliminal AdvertisingI am writing in response to Michael Paglia's "Two Sublime," in the January 20 issue. At the conclusion of his review of Mary Obering and Dale Chisman's work, he editorializes that there is seemingly a problem with the process by which artists are juried into local exhibitions. He proposes that as an alternative to outside jurors, Colorado galleries and museums rely upon the expertise of local art critics. I find this commentary to be quite upsetting. At the very least, it is unprofessional. Unfortunately, it also reveals a larger problem, which is at the heart of Denver's visual arts coverage.
As a professional artist for more than twenty years, I have been selected by many outside jurors for exhibitions and grants. I am confident that my work can be fairly assessed by those outside Colorado. I'm not sure I can say the same when it comes to Denver's so-called experts. In the ten years I have lived here, I have found that the relationship between the local critics (describers?) and a handful of artists is incestuous.
The validation of outside experts is exhilarating and confirming. It gives an artist the affirmation that their work is respected beyond the narrow and prejudiced coverage that exists in Denver. Competition, for better or worse, is part of the career of any artist. Although Mr. Paglia is a fan of Dale Chisman, other experts apparently do not share the same enthusiasm. That's just the way it is. If we eliminate the outside juror, don't we also exclude true quality? What is to fear? Isn't our pond already just a bit too small? Provincial tastes and preferences continue to maintain Denver's reputation as a cowtown when it comes to the coverage of the visual arts. Perhaps we could have outside critics review our shows.
Man in the MiddleRegarding Jim Lillie's "Life in the Middle," in the January 13 issue:
I would like to thank Mr. Lillie for researching and writing an article on the climate and ambitions of the local theater community. Short of profiles of teenagers and features concerning an abstracted New York, coverage and support for the local community is slim. I encourage anyone employed to cover theater in Denver to take up this cue and explore, rather than dismiss (as is often the case), the difficulties and triumphs that occur inside our long-suffering theater scene. To critics, reviewers and commentators of any kind, I say your support and interest is vital to this community and its often predicted, always waylaid growth. And to the community itself, I would like to say: "Get it together!" For a community this small, there is far too much political bullshit and far too little mutual support. The producers' guild is a fine beginning, but it hasn't closed the tremendous gaps that exist in this community, and it shouldn't fall on the shoulders of one organization to inspire camaraderie in such a volatile group. We're going to have to work together not just to survive, but to create a theater-arts community worthy of recognition.
There are talented people aplenty, but lack of compensation, professional pettiness and isolationism steer them toward greener fields in other cities. I don't think we'll have a real community until we decide to have one, and unlike some producers, I don't think the answer lies in lowering our expectations. I doubt anyone has the time to pull off professional-quality productions when forced to dedicate forty-plus hours every week to outside interests. Would you ask a ballet dancer or opera singer to start his or her career in accounting? There are a thousand reasons the community at large suffers: lack of time, funding and commitment; a thin and fickle theater-going audience; football. The current population explosion and the number of truly talented theater artists in this city could foster a focused and professional theater community and help it thrive. It starts with the community itself: the producers, directors, administrators, designers, technicians, actors and critics. Equity didn't create Steppenwolf. Funding alone won't magically fashion a strong, focused voice for our theater community. The art and respect for the art begins with its practitioners.
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