Letters to the Editor

Poetry in Notions

Yeah, that's the ticket: We were attending Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's 1985 Vajradhatu Seminary at the Rocky Mountain Shambhala Center west of Fort Collins, and before one of Rinpoche's most important talks, I was selected to make sure all those attending had tickets. Before allowing people to enter, a few students were organizing the shrine hall; my first job was to make sure all of those folks had tickets. One of the helpers was Allen Ginsberg. I stopped him as he placed a meditation cushion in its proper place.

"Allen," I said, "do you have a ticket?"

For a moment, he looked quite bewildered. Then he checked his shirt pocket and smiled. He had it!

One other time, I slept with Ginsberg's boyfriend, Peter Orlovsky. Well, not exactly. At the Karme-Choling meditation retreat center in Vermont, I was in the upper bunk at the dormitory and Orlovsky was in the lower bunk. So, I guess you could say we slept together, kind of. Sad to say, Ginsberg's longtime lover snores. Heavily. Or maybe it was just part of the Orlovsky act? Who knows.

Those are the extent of my "Beat" experiences. Not quite as strange and exotic as Peter Hale's bit of excess, detailed in Steve Jackson's "The Beats Go On," in the November 30 issue. But real and true nonetheless.

John Navin

The beat of a different drummer: I just read Steve Jackson's profile of Allen Ginsberg and crew and wasn't too impressed. Yeah, I know artists are often a bit whacked, but the pedophile thing is a bit much. In fact, I think of it as an abomination, and the people who participate or justify it are some real sick motherfuckers. If Ginsberg, or anyone else, can possibly defend an organization such as NAMBLA, then I think they've crossed a line that should never be crossed.

Sorry, pedophiles are not to be tolerated, in any society, at any time...it's one of the most destructive, perverted behaviors on earth. We seem, in our current age and time, to be a bit forgiving of such folks. Just read the paper and see how many peds get probation or very light sentences. Perhaps Ginsberg was a talented person, but I will forever see him as pedophile first, anything else second.

Neil Haverstick

The straight story: I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciated "The Beats Go On." I am a personal friend of Peter Hale's from the Boulder days and always thought he was an amazing person. A few of these stories had been told to me over the years, but Steve Jackson's writing brought all of them back in even more vivid detail.

I was around Peter during his "transformation" and coming clean in 1990-'91. My best friend, Wes, was the one with whom Peter "fell in love." Just think how surprised Wes was while having coffee in Capitol Hill to pick up Westword and see Peter's story! Crazy, crazy times, that's for sure.

Coffee and dinners with Allen Ginsberg were always an experience, especially for a straight young woman (who at the time didn't really get the whole "Beat Generation" thing). I was only eighteen, and not well read. Allen was always interesting, though. I cherish the pictures and the memories I have.

Karmen Hansen

Verse comes to worse: Deadbeat Poets Society is more like it. Besides, these people are dangerous to me -- thus my request for anonymity. Okay, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs were somebodies on the American literary scene, albeit they were a coupla old fags who hit on anything Boy. Their reputations as pedophiles are legend in Boulder. Yet Naropa named a library after Ginsberg. And what of Peter Hale and Chris Ide...?

How about drug-addicted dirtball hookers who spread hep C and heroin throughout our community? Those left alive are the dying, throwaway boytoys. There is no glamour in being a fatherfucker. Police, take notice: This crowd destroyed enough of my friends in Boulder and New York.

Name withheld on request

Sit Down and Shut Up

The truth hurts: Regarding Justin Berton's "Conduct Unbecoming," in the November 23 issue:

You people amaze me. You seem in some way surprised to find that Sergeant (now Lieutenant) Gavito is being investigated for speaking straight to you. I have worked for the Department of Safety (Fire) for 29 years, and since Webb and his cronies have taken over the city, there exists a plainly discernible double standard that applies in this case: Promise to tell it straight and truthfully so as to look good in the papers, but if you do, plan on being investigated, hounded and forced off the job or reassigned where you can't tell anything -- especially if what you have to say in any way reflects badly on the city or your department. So if the truth is not flattering to the city or the department heads, shoot the messenger.

How do you think Gerry Whitman, Rich Gonzales or Ari Zavaras get and keep their jobs? They do what the mayor tells them, they stifle any dissent, and they make sure people who speak out are made to regret having done so.

Name withheld on request

By Any Other Name

Sticks and stones: Ordinarily, I celebrate the role of alternative newspapers and am grateful for their contributions to American journalism. However, Michael Roberts's November 23 Message, about Adele Arakawa, is a poorly researched diatribe that makes me reconsider my longtime support for Westword. "The Story of Adele H" is the very type of one-source story that makes people distrust the press and avoid basing judgments on information found in newspapers.

Adele Arakawa's decision to use her mother's maiden name is a deeply personal one, and anyone who has read anything about Arakawa knows that she and her mother are extremely close; in fact, in other interviews, she calls her mother her hero. Her decision to go into the news business -- at a time when women were just beginning to make their presence known in broadcasting -- instead of completing her college education is also personal. Again, anyone who has read anything about Arakawa knows that she recommends that students complete their undergraduate degrees and that she respects the role that journalism education plays in teaching students a reverence for language and a respect for balanced, informed reporting.

Adele Arakawa is a consummate professional, respected by viewers, print and broadcast journalists, colleagues, and even her competitors. Colorado is fortunate to have such a savvy, caring, community-oriented news anchor. Arakawa's on-the-scene reporting after both the Oklahoma City bombing and the tragedy at Columbine High School has been praised by media critics locally and nationally.

Reporter Michael Roberts owes Awakawa an apology, and he might consider learning about balanced, fair and informed reporting from the very person whose reputation he attacks.

Jan Whitt

The rest of the story: So Adele Arakawa isn't quite what she seems.

So? Yes? And? Is there a point to this observation, this so-called objective journalistic revelation? Show me a member of the news media who is what he or she seems, who is not, as Westword would say, a fake. Incidentally, Westword is not above this deception.

Superficially, Westword comes across as a weekly independent/local publication. Look again and see the truth: It is just one of many publications owned by a group called New Times. Look again and see that much of the editorial content of Westword is not the local/alternative stuff it initially appears to be. Much of it is, in fact, cookie-cutter journalism: The same articles, reviews, etc. appear not only in Westword, but in other New Times publications.

Careful where you throw stones of accusation. You might just hurt yourself.

James C. Hess
via the Internet

Patricia Calhoun replies: Two friends and I founded Westword back in 1977, six years before I sold it to New Times, which at the time owned a total of one paper: Phoenix New Times. Today the company publishes a dozen weeklies across the country, all of which are intensely local in their coverage -- if you don't think Michael Roberts's piece had any business appearing here, how do you think it would play in Phoenix? -- and share only movie reviews and occasional music pieces on national acts. In the past several years, the only front-of-the-book piece we've published that originated at another New Times paper was the November 9 "Paying the Price," an investigation of gas prices written by award-winning reporter Bob Burtman, who's based at the Houston Press but conducted several local interviews for Westword's version. His piece was a hell of a cookie.

Unnatural Causes

The dead school: Having lived and practiced in Gilpin County in the mid-'80s, I can attest to the "tempestuous" nature of things back then, as recounted in Megan Hall's November 23 Dead-End Job," and how good people like Dick Allen and Don Treese could get a skewed profile despite admirable intentions. Regardless that the skills needed to "determine the cause of death" were beyond their skills and training -- they were likely qualified by state/county law and may have been the best choices at the time they were elected. It takes the training of an experienced and well-trained medical provider (with additional training in forensics) to arrive at a reasonable determination of death so as to provide essential data to those privy to the information -- i.e., family, law enforcement, social services, state/county health departments, insurance companies, etc.

One of the problems is getting providers to these areas of Colorado on a regular basis, for numerous reasons; however, with the oversupply of physicians in this state and the relatively few deaths that occur in these remote counties, a system could be developed or changed to pay for quality services and not rely on Gilpin's antiquated, grossly inadequate and unfair system.

J. Matthew Dietz

A Grave Matter

So sorry: An apology is in order regarding an item in the November 30 Off Limits.

I was informed of Kay Schomp's death when Pat Hodapp of the Denver Public Library called to make sure Mayor Webb knew of it. Like so many others, we were all saddened at the news of the death of this Denver maverick.

I told Pat I would inform the mayor and asked her to leave me with details of the memorial service. I also asked her to please let me know if there was a request from the family for the mayor to speak at the service. Unfortunately, the mayor was unable to attend the memorial service, and I was unable to communicate this to Pat until the Friday after Thanksgiving. I feel terrible for this miscommunication and apologize to Kay's family and friends for any unintended hurt feelings caused by the confusion.

Kay Schomp was a legendary Denver figure whose contributions to the city will be noted for generations to come. The citizens of Denver will miss her dearly.

Andrew Hudson
Spokesman for Mayor Wellington Webb

A Real Faust Ball

The devil is in the details: While reading Bill Gallo's humorous and excellent commentary on the emotions and feelings generated by the contentious issue of the new Broncos stadium's name ("The Name Game," November 23), I was pleasantly surprised by his reference to my "Dr. Faust" letter that appeared in the Denver Post. Although written before Gallo's article, my entire letter, before editing by the Post and reproduced below, offers a rebuttal to Gallo's conclusion that the Broncos fans' passionate efforts toward retaining the Mile High name are much ado about something not very important and constitute misplaced energy. The unedited letter follows:

"The Broncos are Metro Denver's civic religion, fulfilling the valuable social function of binding the community together. Integrally woven into this social function is Mile High Stadium and its heartwarming history.

"Has the spirit of Dr. Faust -- the historical legendary figure who sold his soul to the Devil for the pleasures of this earthly life -- infiltrated the Metropolitan Football Stadium District Board? Can the board really have been intending to sell Metro Denver's soul for cold corporate cash? Doesn't the legal requirement of the board to consider the `public sentiment' -- a substantial majority of the community favored `Mile High' -- necessitate that without modification, the name `Mile High Stadium' be retained?

"Thank you, Mayor Webb, for holding the stadium board's feet to the fire. Without your intervention, it appears that our community's civic religion would have been irreparably tarnished. Materialism triumphs too often in American culture. By continuing the `Mile High' name for the new stadium, a powerful statement will be made that in our community, cultural and traditional values, and not commercialism, have the highest priority."

Seymour Weinberg

A Sturdy Fence

Duel meanings: Wow! Eric Dexheimer wrote a great article about the sport of fencing with his November 16 "Touché!" Just add one more thing: Northern Colorado Fencers is the top club for kids in the USA.

Among all the other kids at NCF who improve their intellect, strategy skills and physical and mental reaction time is my seventeen-year-old son, Michael Banks. Michael has been a student of Gary Copeland and Andrea Lagan at Northern Colorado Fencers for seven years. Michael earned his place on two USA World Championship Teams (1999 and 2000) and became the first fencer in the history of the Pan Am Games to win two gold medals at the fencing championships in Puebla, Mexico.

Fencing helps develop critical thinking skills, creative problem-solving and finely tuned self-control. Fencing works for kids. Fencing even helps parents learn self-control; we have to refrain from whooping and hollering during competitions!

Thank you, coaches Lagan and Copeland!

Rise Smythe-Freed


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