Gas Pains

Letters to the Editor

We want to pump you up! I know vertical integration is different from monopoly. Or is it? Still, since the feds have had our eyes directed at Microsoft, maybe we've not noticed the oil-company convenience stores that have sprung up on every street corner over the past ten years. I've wondered how this can be, since the good ol' boys in the oil patch have been singing the blues about oil prices and bein' broke. Bob Burtman's "Paying the Price," in the November 9 issue, gives us an idea of what has been happening.

Harry Spetnagel
via the Internet

Taking stock: Almost all of the oil companies mentioned are now owned offshore. Back when some were American owned and operated, they still engaged in gouge-the-dealer games as far back as the '50s, so my father tells me. "They want your wallet" (?) Of course they do! Cutting the dealer out of the picture is nothing new -- check out the travel industry and the airlines emasculating travel agencies. This happens in many industries. I'm not saying this is right, but as they squeeze them out, airline profits go higher: less overhead, less expense, less commission. I wish the current knife fight between dealers and oil companies showed up in stock values, but it doesn't. Somebody is making a pile of money, and it ain't me. (I'm a BP shareholder.) You have to be as aggressive as an alligator in business anymore.

Roger Fulton

Declaration of Independents

For crying out loud: While there are bound to be conflicts as the LoDo or St. Charles (which is much more original) area transforms itself from an abandoned-warehouse district into a real neighborhood (T.R. Witcher's "The F-Stops Here," November 9), I hope the new residents will keep in mind that diversity is what makes a neighborhood and, ultimately, a city great.

The area is what it is today because independent businesses, such as F-Stop, and independent-minded people make it interesting. Back in the '80s, one of the first businesses to open there was a nightclub, Rock Island. The tradition that began there has continued with the rebirth of old businesses and the arrival of new ones. One need travel no further than the 16th Street Mall to see what the city center will look like if left to Starbucks, Nike, Barnes & Noble and others who wish to impose the mind-numbing sameness of the suburbs on the city's center -- empty storefronts and empty streets.

In dismissing F-Stop and its habitués, the residents of LoDo have made their neighborhood a poorer place. Let's hope that the business that replaces it isn't another Gap or Chipotle Grill and that the people who frequent it are as diverse as those who enjoyed F-Stop. Finally, we should hope for all of our sakes that the residents of LoDo who complained the loudest complained because F-Stop was too loud -- and not because some of the patrons happened to be black.

Jonathan Staufer

Growing Resentment

Native intelligence: After reading the letters in your November 16 issue, I believe I have a simple, three-part solution to all of the metro area's problems:

1) No one moving into a neighborhood should be allowed to complain about any activities of any business already established in the neighborhood (meaning anything from music to airplanes).

2) An arbitrary date should be set and then, if you, or at least one of your parents, didn't live here on that date, you must leave the state immediately. Personally, I favor 1950, but I suppose 1960 would be a workable compromise.

3) There should be immediate military support and arms for prairie dogs.

Let's do this and, you know, see what happens!

Ron Wells

A capital idea: In answer to your letter in the November 16 Westword, Mr. Cassella, have you been asleep for the past twenty years, or what?

Communism failed. It failed! The stupid, childish, paranoiac "worker" vs. "capitalist" non-argument has been exposed for just what it is: a straw man. Hatred of the "evil upper classes" is, and always has been, simply a device to get peoples' minds off the despotic intent of those who would seize power for their own ends. The truth is that Communism/Socialism (your attempts to dignify the philosophy you espouse by calling it "democracy" are very transparent) will not work, because the philosophy is based on a set of completely false assumptions -- not to mention a naive denial of basic human nature. And for every excess that capitalism produces, Communism/Socialism produces at least two. True, both systems inevitably result in some people becoming obscenely wealthy. The difference, however, is that under Communism and Socialism, your precious "worker" is always poor, and the ones who get filthy rich are the inevitable party elite -- a situation that will exist under any Marxist system as long as human nature remains unchanged. At least under capitalism (which, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, might be called the worst economic system possible -- except for all the others), the worker who is industrious and willing to work has a chance of bettering himself and gaining access to the "upper classes" that you so despise.

As to the more immediate issue of growth control (which you used as a flimsy excuse to spout your Marxist nonsense), the Communist system worked wonderfully,didn't it? It was such a wonderful economic system that your precious "workers" couldn't afford a real home at all -- whole families wound up living stacked on top of each other in flimsy, two-room, poorly heated, uninsulated concrete dormitories. Yes, sir! Now, that was a great improvement over capitalism, wasn't it? Of course, one has to admit that it was spectacularly successful in controlling growth -- especially the growth of human well-being! Your pitiful whimpering about the "wealth and power of the upper classes" is typical of those who would rather destroy the wealth of others than spend their time working to gain some wealth of their own (and perhaps better the condition of mankind in the process) -- the "dog in the manger" syndrome at its very best.

Mr. Cassella, no one is oppressing you, or holding you down, or subjecting you to some great, dimly imagined injustice -- except, possibly, the fellow you see when you look in your mirror. In short, my opinion of the dogma you espoused in your letter can expressed in one perfectly appropriate word: bullshit.

John E. Ottem

Making the Zine

Slam dance: Hmmmmmm. Michael Roberts's "Zine But Not Heard," in the November 9 issue, was an interesting piece of slam on other papers. The Denver Post blows Westword away in the news department, so what is Roberts really trying to say? That Westword is better than the Post? Certainly not, and especially recently! And in the section on Go-Go, it's no wonder Roberts failed to mention the food critic and sex-advice column, both of which are a million times more interesting and clever than the generic shit your paper has.

Floyd Miller
via the Internet

What a way to go: If Chris Magyar really wants to prevent his magazine Go-Go from being a no-go, he might try putting out a better-quality product.

As a nightclub manager, I am relentlessly solicited by his magazine to advertise, but by the time I get through red-lining the errors in each issue, it looks like it was taken from the Columbine library circa April 1999.

While I'm sure that News of the Weird's Chuck Shepherd is thrilled to finally have his name spelled right (the first several issues had it spelled both Shepherd and Shephard, sometimes in the same column), the rest of the magazine is in desperate need of a good spell-check or a read-through by someone who's either a journalism major or has at least read The Elements of Style.

Substance over style is nice, but neither will substitute for careless writing and editing.

David Maddux

The church of Roberts: As I read Michael Roberts's "Zine But Not Heard," I envisioned him offering up his editorial in a golden cup dripping with local press blood to the almighty media gods. What's the deal, Mike, is your contract up for negotiation?

The point Roberts clearly missed (perhaps intentionally) is that many, if not all, of the local rags are profitless -- and most have a gypsy staff of unpaid writers, photographers and editors. The fact that they are able to get any advertising bucks is a remarkable accomplishment, not to mention that they are all up against the mighty Westword corporate dollar and campaign.

As an advertiser who appreciates the blood, sweat, tears and, most important, effort to cover local business and music, I choose to pay my bucks to the little guys. I can virtually mark the day when Westword was bought out by "the man" -- and lost its connection with smaller local enterprise. The tone of Roberts's article was less about the lack of quality alternative zines and more of a puff piece about Westword and its all-knowing wisdom. I do agree with Roberts's assessment of a lack of teeth in most of the publications, but I also recognize the financial conflict that these publications wrestle with.

So, Mike, if you're willing to give up that mighty corporate-backed paycheck and beat the street with a new publication -- of which you claim to be so supportive -- then, my friend, I will follow. But until your sacrifice is of your own blood, go back to doing what you do best as Westy's hatchet man. And quit picking on the little guys: Their stones can't even reach your golden pedestal.

Stephanie Shearer

Covering Our Treks

Con job: Megan Hall's "Spaced Out," her article in the November 9 issue on House Veska, was well written, but it makes it seem as if Veska is the only Klingon house in the Denver area. I am writing to tell you that is wrong. I am a member of another Klingon House called House K'ralvaj, which is also based here in the Denver area. We are an independent Klingon house (in other words, we have no ties to the Klingon Assault Group or any other Klingon organizations, domestic or international); however, we do get together for parties with other independent Klingon/Trek groups throughout the Denver metro area and also attend Starfest, Starcon and Mile Hi Con each year, working these cons either as volunteer staff or manning our own table in the activities room.

Stephanie Smith
Wheat Ridge


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