There's No Place Like Homeless

Letters to the Editor

There goes the neighborhood: In his excellent June 8 story on Lowry, "How to Build a Ghetto," Justin Berton failed to point out one important fact. No matter what the developers say about new urbanism at Lowry, it is obvious that their goal is to turn the place into another Highlands Ranch. And in suburbia, poor people should be seen -- working as yardmen or cleaning ladies -- rather than heard. As for the homeless? If the suburbs don't see them, they don't exist.
Jane Boyd
via the Internet

Slum fun: Why make such a big deal about placing homeless housing among the more affluent homes? People want to live near their economic peers. I certainly wouldn't want to live among people who can afford $500,000 homes. I would be awfully lonely!
Ed Duncan

Give the Man a Hand

Don't make us beg: I would like to thank Harrison Fletcher personally for the load of crap he tried to peddle to readers as an actual human interest story with his June 15 "Beggar's Banquet." Let's be honest here and admit that most of the story had to either be made up or romanticized to the point of utter absurdity. In his column, "Fletch" would have us believe that there is an upside to being a "hippie bum" and that rather than step over this kid, who, incidentally, is only two years younger than I am, I should drop a quarter in his guitar case and think of him as a misunderstood artist. This is exactly the kind of romantic, granola-fed, left-leaning Boulder hippie tripe that makes me want to wipe my posterior with Westword.

Does Fletch really expect us to believe that this kid just puffs on marijuana "every now and then"? Does he expect us to believe that this kid has a repertoire of 200 songs?! Please -- B.B. King doesn't know 200 songs! Does he also expect us to believe that this kid's biggest worries are having to play "Margaritaville" for a quarter or playing blues riffs for a bum to mumble over? Being homeless is not glamorous or fun. It can be really fucking dangerous. Fletch tells the story as if Mike, our runaway hippie, is some modern-day Jack Kerouac.

I sometimes work up to sixty hours a week to pay off the debt I accumulated getting a photography degree at the University of Northern Colorado. I know a little about artists; I am one. To romanticize this runaway bum as an expert in the panhandling arts is ludicrous. To mention his influences (Whitman and Dr. Seuss, Seger and Skynyrd) verges on stupidity. Fletch, the next time you don't have anything to write about, take out one of those full-page strip-bar ads in place of your column. It would probably be more socially redeeming. Or, better yet, write about something that matters. You had many useful angles in that article. You could have written about the influx of hippies for the Rainbow Family gathering. You could have written about the panhandling law and what it entails. Instead, you did a personality profile on a bum. Nice reporting.

Now, that's goooood journalism.
Michael W. O'Neill
via the Internet

Yours, Mine and Ours

Deep trouble: This letter is in response to Alan Prendergast's "Enemy Mine," in the June 8 issue. As a native Coloradan and a descendent of people who came here over one hundred years ago to make their living from mining, I ask how we went from a state that was founded on mining to a state where opponents of mining are trying to ban mining altogether. Since when is there something wrong with mining?

When people go to places like Breckenridge, Aspen, Telluride, Central City and Cripple Creek, they are traveling on roads built to access the mines in those areas, and they're staying in towns whose infrastructure was built from mining. When people drive along Colorado highways, the presence of mine sites old and new doesn't detract from the scenery -- it adds to it. Do people actually think that mining would be bad for Colorado tourism in some way? What tourist doesn't come to Colorado because there were too many mines here? Mining makes up part of the history, heritage and culture of Colorado, and we should support it rather than try to ban it.

Why do people think that mining can't be done in an environmentally responsible way? Modern mining is a highly technical, global business. Our understanding of mining/environmental problems has come a long way in the past thirty years. In fact, the Colorado School of Mines is where much of this research has been done. Ironically, almost all of its graduates leave to work in other places. The United States Geological Survey is located in Lakewood. This government agency has made Colorado the most well-studied place in the world with respect to mining/environmental problems. The wealth of background information, combined with the excellent geologic potential of the state, could make Colorado the ideal location for modern, state-of-the-art mining.

Mining here is continually stigmatized by the memory of Summitville. The Summitville operators were the mining industry's version of junk-bond salesmen. Real mining companies that are capable of responsible mining shouldn't have to continually pay the price for Summitville's mistake. Give mining in Colorado a chance, and don't let our rich mining history be stopped forever by a shortsighted ban on cyanide.
Stephen Redak

The Birth of the Blues

We'll drink to that: Kyle Wagner's "All Wet," in the June 15 issue, was accurate and apt. I'd like to suggest that you do an article on the corkscrewing our blue liquor laws do to markets. A good California-based chain, Trader Joe's, was going to move into Denver, but nixed the move because our food markets can't sell anything but 3.2 beer, and Trader Joe's specializes in good wine bargains and good beers.
Dave Angelino

Calling Calhoun

Which way'd she go? Your new format looks good, but I am used to deciding whether to grab a copy by going to page three and seeing if Calhoun has a column this week. Now the column isn't even listed in the index, and it was deep in the paper. Patty, your devoted public wants to know if you're in the paper, and where!
Pat Muller

The Best, busted! Your promotion for next week's Best of Denver issue asks, "Cowtown, what cowtown?" But Patricia Calhoun answered that question in her first column of this century, referring to Denver as "loserville." That was only six months ago, but I guess she doesn't think that anyone actually lives here that long or cares if they do.
M.A. Eckels

The air apparent: In reply to Jody Conn's and Meridy Migchelbrink's June 15 letters defending Patricia Calhoun, I have only one thing to say: Thank you for proving my point concerning liberal hot air.
Matt Urschel
via the Internet

Funny Business

To Be or not to Be? I want to congratulate Westword for recognizing that life isn't always serious. Specifically, I want to thank you for emphasizing cartoons, starting with the brilliant Kenny Be. His "Worst-Case Scenario" is my favorite part of the paper, and I have also enjoyed his "Hip Tip" coin series. Now that he's finished up with Hawaii, what is he going to do for an encore?
Terry Fitzpatrick

Who's your Buddy? I sure liked that recent Buddy Hickerson cartoon, the one about genetic engineering. His cartoons are very well-drawn and often have the sharp edge of influence and not just comedy.

Westword, keep up the good work! Frankly, I think you have the best paper in town and the other two are a distant second.
Gene Edwards

Tom-Tom club: Just a short note of thanks for printing Tom Tomorrow. I hope it becames a regular thing.
R. Rothman

Editor's note: It is! For those who've been wondering, Mike Wartella stopped drawing his "Nuts" cartoon in May. Tom Tomorrow's "This Modern World" now occupies the former home of "Nuts" on the opening page of the calendar listings; you can find Buddy Hickerson's "The Quigmans" in the same section. As for Kenny Be's next campaign, check out the back page of this issue.

The Wheel Thing

Pounding the pavement: After reading Michael Roberts's "A Sporting Chance," in the June 1 issue, all I can say is, "What a strange world Westword staffers must live in!" Since Michael Roberts did not specify what he meant by "SUV" and failed to distinguish between types of SUVs, we are to infer that all SUVs are bigger and heavier than cars. Really? You mean I'm in greater danger if I get hit by a Kia Sportage (3,186 lb.) than a Volvo station wagon (3,259 lb.)? That the appearance of a Ford Explorer (3,680 lb.) growing in my rear-view mirror should terrify me, but that I don't have to worry about the Ford Crown Victoria (3,908 lb.) coming at me in an intersection? That a Nissan Maxima (3,294 lb.) is safer to unsuspecting drivers than a Jeep Cherokee (3,154 lb.)?

And, of course, the hackneyed stereotype of the harried yuppie businessman carelessly yakking away on his cell phone as he menaces pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers was repeated -- not only in the article, but in the letters published on June 8 and 15. I guess neither Roberts nor the letter writers have ever seen anyone driving a sedan, sports car, minivan or pickup who was being careless or reckless, right?

By the way, I don't drive an SUV, but I do drive a motorcycle. Does that mean I can insist that other people modify their vehicle of choice so it will suit my notion of safety?
Martin Albright

Steer clear: I read with interest your well-thought-out article on the killer SUVs. The cover missed something by showing a mechanical object menacing citizens without showing what is in control, though. The most dangerous part of an SUV -- indeed, any vehicle -- is the nut behind the wheel. The SUVs I see tend to be driven by type-A yuppies, usually with cell phones, with all the regard for safety and speed limits of any hotshot ten minutes late for a meeting. It is very predictable what will happen with these kinds of idiots on the road.

Hopefully, Amy Johnson will continue to educate folks as to the kinds of penalties that can come from a simple mistake. Hopefully, the family of Janet Majikas will find some closure and realize that a careless driver, and not an SUV, killed their loved one.

In this country, we have moved away from the idea of freedom with responsibility. From our president on down, people point fingers, shift blame and laugh at folks like me who believe that vehicles and other mechanical devices are benign until placed in the hands of idiots. We must swing the other way unless we truly want to be subject to the nanny state.
Patrick J. Desrosious

The numbers game: After reading Michael Roberts's story and the letters that followed, I must respond. Almost three-quarters of all accidents involve automobiles. Five out of seven people drive passenger cars. Eighty-one percent of all fatal accidents involve autos. With numbers like these, which are hard to ignore, it is no wonder that 14 percent of Colorado's driving population chooses to drive SUVs. Including myself. I would rather the odds of surviving a crash be in my favor with all of you mindless, cell-phone-toting, rear-view-mirror-primping Parnelli Jones wannabes driving around in cars. Dangerous people drive all types of vehicles, not just SUVs. Since there are more cars than SUVs on the roads of Colorado, I assume there are more maniacs driving around in cars. The numbers speak for themselves.

Mr. Lieberman, move to Russia. Mr. Bostwick, China is calling. And Mr. Spetnagel, please join the 250,000 Californians who introduced us to road rage and twenty-lane freeways, head west, and keep driving your econo-coffin until the water is over your head.
Mark Mueller

History repeats itself: Michael Roberts covered SUVs about as completely as anyone could. Good job! As I read, I kept thinking how we went through many of the same issues in the late '70s and early '80s as the gasoline crunch and ensuing price increases drove millions into the compact-car market. Suddenly there were dozens of consumer groups releasing reports claiming that the folks still driving Cadillacs, Lincolns and trucks were killing people with their oversized vehicles. Cads and Lincs, it was purported, rode so much more smoothly than the smaller cars that drivers of those vehicles were said to be unaware of how fast they were going or were led into a false sense of security, thus enticing them to drive faster. Those transitioning from larger to smaller cars were purportedly equally unprepared for the differences in handling in adverse conditions. Front-wheel drive vehicles were also appearing in greater numbers, exposing drivers to unexpected handling traits. The naysayers were having their heyday then as they are now, but the real bottom line has not changed: Any lack of respect for the road, the vehicle, mother nature or other drivers while behind the wheel of any vehicle is a recipe for disaster.
Cal Anton
Redondo Beach, CA

Pothole patrol: Do you think the reason there are so many SUVs in the metro area is a response to Denver's lousy winter street maintenance?
Jim Dora

The brown cloud crowd: Each and every time I see an SUV go up and down our roads, I start to chuckle. Why? Simply because it reminds me of the bad old days of the late 1960s and early- to mid-1970s, when the gas-guzzling, ghetto-cruising tuna boats ruled the roads and forced gas prices to skyrocket. If one thinks the air is polluted now, wait until there are two SUVs in each and every household garage in China.
Arthur Kerndt

Vanilli Flavoring

Loose lips: Quite by accident, I stumbled upon James Mayo's March 2 "Risky Business," about the young rapper Dannell McNeil starting his own record label. I was shocked to find my own name connected to it. I assure you that I have neither met, nor ever even heard of, Mr. McNeil. Your article states that I was "the producer who had an important role in the development and production of Milli Vanilli"; I assure you that this is absolutely false. I was Milli Vanilli's manager once they came to the United States from Europe. Upon learning of their lip-synching shenanigans, I was actually instrumental in the real truth coming to public light. I had no involvement whatsoever in the production of Milli Vanilli music, as it was a finished project out of Frankfurt, Germany, via producer Frank Farian, before I even met or signed the duo.

Again, I have never met, or even heard of, Dannell McNeil, and I resent his implying that I had any interest in, or knowledge of, his music. Incidently, I grew up in nearby Colorado Springs, which is why the article happened to pass in front of me in the first place. Just wanted to set the record straight.

I am currently working on an autobiographical screenplay called Blame It on the Rain, which is based on my real-life Milli Vanilli adventure in the pop-music business. It's a terrific story, and if you saw the VH-1 "Behind the Music" special on the duo, you know that it's a heartbreaking one as well. I have no doubt that it will be a terrific movie one day.
Todd Headlee
Venice, CA

Laura Bond responds: It's understandable why Mr. Headlee wouldn't want to be confused with Frank Farian, the German producer who first groomed Milli Vanilli's two braided beauties for pseudo-stardom. According to writer James Mayo, his story's reference to a relationship between Dannell McNeil (aka hip-hop artist Dez) and Headlee was based on interviews with McNeil. But Headlee tells me that he could not have met McNeil in any music-business capacity during the past decade: He dropped out of the industry "pretty much the day the world found out about the lip synching" in 1990. Despite repeated efforts, McNeil could not be reached for comment. Perhaps we should blame it on the rain?


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