Fossil fuel: Congratulations, Westword! With your new Best of Denver 2001 edition, you've confirmed, once again, what a tacky rag you've become. Like that '70s dinosaur, Patricia Calhoun, Westword is one more reason to think Denver is still a backwater cowtown. Best of Denver 2001 was 320 pages of fish wrapping.
Lewis T. Ford
Best yearbook: Thanks for the Best of Denver 2001. As always -- and it's wonderful to say that annually -- I've come to anticipate the Best of Denver's publication.
Routine business: The Best of Denver wasn't -- and hasn't been for many years. Isn't it about time to cancel the tired old vaudeville piece? I doubt if anybody pays any attention to it anymore -- not even Milton Berle.
A dirty trick: Hey, what gives with your Best of Denver Readers' Poll? You ask us who we like and then you substitute your own answers. Why do we waste our time? Clean it up...get a bath!
Poll faulting: I guess Denver still is a cowtown. Why does Westword even bother with readers' choices anymore? I remember in years past, I could predict nearly every choice. Best Pizza...Pizza Hut, Best Sub Sandwich...Subway, Best Taco...Taco Bell.
Taco Bell!? That even made it this year. I guess there isn't a Burrito Barn in Denver, or it would have grabbed a Best of Denver award.
California dreamin': I've been extremely busy, so I am late with my Best of Denver entries. But a more appropriate name for the Convergence Corridor is "Inferiority Complex." As for the Best Next Job for Wellington Webb: Roy Romer went to California -- maybe WW could be the chairman of the L.A. water board or join the California PUC. He's out of touch with the common people of Colorado; he'd fit right in out in California.
The heir apparent: That readers selected Adele Arakawa as having the best hair and Channel 9 as having the best newscast speaks volumes about the unsophisticated tastes of Denverites. I've lived here for almost two years, and as a Chicago native, I really thought that Denver would be similar. Ha! Channel 9's newscasts -- where they spend fifteen minutes oohing and aahing over the pregnant status of one of their "anchors" and then another five showing pictures of local babies -- is hysterical. I tell my friends at home and they don't even believe me! This isn't a city -- this is Hicksville with professional sports.
On another matter, the reason I'm not using my name is because I actually work for one of the local dailies currently embroiled in the much-hated JOA. Having previously worked at a daily in Chicago, I will come to the defense of the Denver Post. (By the way, can't you better conceal your blanket hatred of this publication? Westword is no less corporate or hypocritical -- "alternative," indeed! How about the fact that you are bought and paid for by New Times?) The Denver Post, whether the JOA is right or wrong, treats people humanely. Although there could be, there is no pretense at the manager-employee level. Maybe I just have a decent person for a boss, but I've found that across the board, Post editorial cares about content, cares about being unbiased, and has generally talented reporters (Chuck Green notwithstanding!).
Westword is well written, and I read it for the articles, but you should really drop this underdog pose. You're snobs, and yet you act as though you care about Joe Denver. It's a laugh. Get over yourselves.
Name withheld on request
The write stuff: Thank you very much for recognizing the efforts of Patti Thorn with the Best Literary Service Threatened by the JOA award. As one of her reviewers, I've had the opportunity to see how hard she's worked to create a first-rate weekly feature. Thousands of books cross her desk every year, and she manages to present a great cross-section of what's out there. Her "new authors" section is a particular favorite of mine, as it helps to make readers aware of high-quality first novels by writers whose books may not be aggressively promoted by their publishers.
I regret that her work won't appear in the Sunday P*** (I can't even bring myself to type the name), because its book section is probably what Lynn Bartels had in mind when she spoke of our dearly beloved JOA partner's "technical and boring" side.
Stormy weather: Too often, positive things about public schools go unnoticed and unprinted by the media. And far too often, the teachers responsible for making the programs work also go unnoticed and unmentioned. While Skinner Middle School is the Best Place to Be a Junior Meteorologist, it couldn't happen without a caring and professional teacher bringing the program into the school in the first place. In this case, that caring and professional teacher is Cheryl Kirksey. It is as much because of her as Reese Halter that Skinner even has a weather station. Through her diligence and hard work, students at Skinner are able to participate in this global project.
With a little in-depth snooping, I'm sure you'll find that Skinner Middle School, along with just about all the Denver Public Schools, is the Best Place to Be Just About Anything You Want to Be.
Ain't life Grande: Just read "Neighborhood Watch," the column Jonathan Shikes wrote in the Best of Denver 2001. It really blew me out of my composure. I actually shed a few tears for the fond memories it brought back. About the good times that I had over the 21 years I was the proud owner of Grande Giovanni's. So many great people, whom I almost forgot, until Shikes's article. Mention of Nancy Dick sure brought back a floodgate of memories. Wow!
To me, the restaurant was a labor of love, and it sure was returned by all the wonderful customers through the years.
via the Internet
It's all relative: Our mother, Mrs. R.H. "Betsy" Gottschalk, was the stitchery artist for Women's Gold, the tapestry hanging in the rotunda of the Capitol Building. During the course of its making, she traveled with it thoughout the state, encouraging Colorado citizens from all walks of life to join in with stitches. She is in no way related to Randy Wren, as described in Patricia Calhoun's "Adventures in Paradise." Further, neither of our parents was ever designated as a godparent to anyone. If Mr. Wren believes our mother is his godmother, such relationship exists only in his fantasy.
Libbie Gottschalk and Julie Gottschalk Scott
Editor's note: You can't teach an old dinosaur new tricks. Except once a year, that is, when the outpouring of responses regarding the Best of Denver provides overwhelming evidence that Westword readers are one of the very best things about Denver. The letters reprinted above are just a sampling of those we received; we've omitted the standard thank-you notes in favor of more creative criticisms. In case you missed the issue, it's available online at westword.com.
Building for the future: Reading Patricia Calhoun's "Is Everybody Happy?" in the March 22 issue, I had to laugh. Will Denver never get over its inferiority complex? How many billions of dollars will we have to pay for new airports, new convention centers and new hotels to convince ourselves that people will come here?
I have news for all those city officials. People will keep coming to Colorado even if we don't build those facilities, because we have the country's biggest draw: the Rocky Mountains. And they're not even man-made, much less paid for by a subsidy to developers!
Not funny: I sure hope Calhoun's column was completely submersed in sarcasm. If the Denver Welcome Program is actually serious and is training people to answer this way, I think I'll move with the tourists. They sound smarter and are probably a lot happier not to be called "cut-ups." Third try is a charm? I see no charm in it. Try thinking up something attractive and fun rather then making excuses for the lack thereof.
Name withheld on request
He's not in agreement: Calhoun's article included this quote from Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau head Eugene Dilbeck: "The more welcome a visitor feels, the more likely they are to return." A visitor? They? Yikes!
On with the show! Better late than never! I wanted to congratulate Megan Hall for her March 1 story on the Barnum neighborhood, "What a Circus!" I rely on Westword for stories such as this, that tell me unexpected things about the city. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction!
In the center ring: As a former tenant of the Barnum guest house, I found "What a Circus!" somewhat disrespectful. Most important, the actual addresses were printed! I hate to think of the heightened security issues that occupants in both homes have had to consider.
My second major concern was that the value of items in Bart Barnum's was disclosed -- e.g., Tiffany window and miscellaneous antiques. Did you consider that this could make them easy targets for theft? Also, I don't know what Bart would have to gain by lying about his history; it's obviously not financially relevant. And furthermore, Bart has always had time to sit and talk to anyone, which leads me to question Ida Uchill's remarks that he hung up on her and chased her out of his yard. Many families have relatives with whom they're not familiar, and who's to say that Pat Gregory and her family heirlooms are a hoax, just as Bart has been deemed?
I've seen plenty of paintings and heirlooms that lead me to the conclusion that Bart has not one good reason for fabricating such a story. I don't feel as though I've been humbugged. I'm just feeling sorry for the unrelated tenants of Bart's rental property.
High school confidential: Julie Jargon's March 22 "Civics Disobedience," about Thornton High School teacher Andrew Hartman not being asked to come back next year, makes me absolutely furious. Evidently, my high school experience wasn't unique in being marred by pettiness and intellectual mediocrity on the part of the teachers and administrators.
This is wrong on so many levels, so let me touch on just one: Kids are exposed to all sorts of "ideological indoctrination" on a daily basis. In school, I recall being forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as learning such "facts" as how Christopher Columbus and the Indians were friends. Most schoolteachers seem to think that Channel One, which promotes a dumbed-down corporate view of the news while promoting even more consumerism, is a great idea (can't beat those free TVs!). But once someone comes along who goes slightly against this status quo, he's accused of somehow brainwashing kids -- even though the American public school system exists largely to enforce corporate values of conformity and punctuality. And to the Vietnam veterans who complained about student protests against military recruitment: Weren't you supposed to be fighting for "freedom" for the people of Vietnam? The hypocrisy is mind-boggling, but unfortunately, quite banal in the American public school system.
via the Internet
Practice what you teach: I doubt that you will run this in the paper since I'm not a local. A pity -- I was looking forward to the controversy. I got to "Civics Disobedience" from the Wall Street Journal's Web site, OpinionJournal.com. Thornton High School is correct in dismissing this alleged teacher.
1. I hope this alleged teacher isn't showing up in class looking like a drugged-out criminal; as a parent, I expect a teacher to look presentable. Yes, Virginia, you are judged by your appearance. I would fire him on the spot if he actually showed up for work looking like that.
2. He was hired as a history teacher -- not as a left-wing extremist agitator. I send my kids to school to be taught, not to be indoctrinated in this alleged teacher's social views.
3. It is obvious that this alleged teacher doesn't know anything about the military. I cringe when I contemplate that I spent six years of my life defending this excrement's "right" to bash those who defend his freedom to bash.
In conclusion: If Hartman is so convinced that America is soooo bad, I invite him to emigrate to the socialist utopia of his choice. It is alleged teachers such as Hartman that are the problem in our public schools. Tell him I said so.
I actually had an alleged teacher like this in high school. She came from the conservative side (she was a reserve captain in the Air Force). I went through that grade fearful that the world would end tomorrow because of President Carter's foreign/economic policy. Mind you, as a student, I would have signed a petition to reinstate her, too. She was likable -- charismatic, even. No teacher should be allowed to promote his/her own political/social beliefs on students. Hartman is as guilty as my high school English teacher. I didn't learn much English, and I doubt that Hartman's students learned any history.
Way cool: In response to JM Schell's comments in the April 4 issue about Andrew Hartman, who cares if Mr. Hartman's ethics may lean to the left (opposite of yours, of course, Schell)? He has still sparked an interest in learning more than the normal day-to-day, see-Dick-run routine. He has given my daughter a newfound interest in school and in taking an active part in class functions. And after all, isn't that what teaching is about?
My daughter was quoted in the article and attends the Students for Justice Club. I'd rather see my daughter influenced by Mr. Hartman than be part of the majority that just doesn't care if they succeed in school or not. It's too bad no other teacher has stepped up to the plate to do the same. I'm proud of my daughter and her acomplishments, and I attribute a lot of that to Mr. Hartman. I am thankful that she doesn't have someone like Schell to dictate what he thinks is moral or American. At least we know that Schell will never be "way cool" with the kids the way Mr. Hartman is. Mr. Hartman has sparked my child's interest, and that's good enough for me. My only regret is that I have three more daughters who will have to deal with crap like Schell's letter, and the people who support his way of thinking, rather than have the freedom to petition and stand up for what they believe in. Looks like Schell could use some "re-education in educational methodology."
Lies my colleague told me: Andrew Hartman wants people to think he is a martyr for free speech and social justice when he is not. He wants the fast fame that comes when lies become the stuff that myths are made of. He is perpetuating the very thing he claims to hate the most about history -- the making of myths. I do not want the lies that he is trying to perpetuate through Westword's "Civics Disobedience" to go unchallenged. Like others, I just want the other side of the story to be heard and squelch Mr. Hartman's attempt to be viewed as some kind of martyr at the unfair expense of public education. It appears that in Westword, his various lies are in greater demand than the truth. Hopefully, someone from Westword will interview any one of Mr. Hartman's colleagues in the social science department to report another side of the story. It seems that Mr. Hartman has not rallied students around any cause, but he has been highly successful in alienating his colleagues. I love working at Thornton High School, and I am deeply saddened by his portrayal of Thornton to the public. What a terrible disservice to students, the community and every teacher he has worked with.
Name withheld on request
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Raising a think: How can I possibly work within the confines of a public school system that would take a born teacher such as Mr. Hartman out of the classroom because he was teaching children to think, to make critical informed decisions and, most important, to like the academic experience? "Civics Disobedience" has made me rethink my intention to join any faculty anywhere, I am so ashamed of the treatment Mr. Hartman received.
Please let me offer my apologies to him via your publication. Please let me encourage him to try, try, try again. He'll need to, since I'm not sure I have it in me now to try at all.