World-class or world clash? As a fan of hip-hop and someone who works with youth in Denver, I thank Todd Witcher for "After the Fall," his excellent story in the May 31 issue on Mix Master Mike and discrimination against the city's hip-hop community by the police, politicians and the public.
For a city that touts its supposed "world-class status" and "quality of life," perhaps it's time that we ask what those terms really mean. Do they mean that drunk football and hockey fans can riot while hip-hop fans, mostly young African-Americans and Latinos, can't even find a club to go to on a weekend night?
The recent spotlight on racial profiling by Denver police (which Witcher wrote about earlier this year), isn't so far removed from the struggles of hip-hop performers, DJs and fans to simply have a good time. That a letter of protest against a hip-hop venue comes from an out-of-touch politician who is African-American makes no difference here. Selective targeting of venues that play hip-hop and attract youth of color is a form of racial profiling and youth profiling as well. It seems that, for many, the only acceptable place for youth of color to be is locked up in their homes or locked down in jail.
With all of the racial profiling, missing evidence, "accidental" murders of immigrants and easy treatment of white state representatives breaking into ex-girlfriends' homes, is it any real surprise that the Denver police would be keeping a secret list of venues singled out for additional harassment? The police should apply the rules evenly and stop discriminatory policing, or else the DPD can expect more community distrust and costly legal settlements.
As for the rest of us, let's stop the paranoia that seems to hit too many white and older minority folks whenever a group of young people of color congregates. There's nothing "world-class" about that.
Missing in action: Props to Westword and T.R. for trying to cover the hip-hop club scene in Denver, but a couple of things are a bit misleading. First off, from reading the article, it looks like there was no hip-hop in Denver before Mix Master Mike (R.I.P.) stepped on the scene. DJs like K-Nee, Style N. Fashion and Jam X are the pioneers of the hip-hop club scene, and if it weren't for them, the Fab Five wouldn't have anything to work with. These cats set the stage for the scene here, and it was wrong to not even mention them in the article. I mean, Al Your Pal never even used to play hip-hop back then.
In addition, DJs who came up through the ranks in the mid-'90s, such as DJ Chonz, Javio and Dijon, have put in a lot more work and paid more dues than the DJ who claims to be "the best in Denver." For example, Chonz has been a competitor in two DMC World Mixing Championships, finishing third and second, respectively, behind DJs who didn't even live in Denver. During Mix Master Mike's hiatus, these DJs were the ones keeping the scene alive and possibly giving Mike the hunger to return to the game. And while all their clubs were being shut down every weekend, these DJs kept the ball rolling at spots like Soapy Smith's, the 15th Street Tavern and the club now called Lucky Star. Of course, they fell victim to some of the same things (fights, not enough patrons, etc.).
You have to give credit where it's due. The Denver hip-hop club scene does not and will never revolve around the Fab Five. There are other DJs, promoters and clubs. Peace.
Quibian 'Q' Salazar-Moreno
Thanks a plot: I was mesmerized by Alan Prendergast's "The Hit Man Nobody Knows," in the May 17 issue. I don't read Westword all the time, but I am going to have to start checking it out more often. Prendergast's story was fascinating and very well written. He makes a great investigative reporter!
I hope to start seeing a lot more stories like this one, interviewing notorious criminals and uncovering government plots. Thank you for giving me a bit of a history lesson.
Karen L. Kelly
via the Internet
Death with dignity: Julie Jargon's May 31 "Dying Wish" was enlightening about the comparative business practices of two hospices in Denver. However, I have nothing but praise for the work both of these women do. In particular, Jan Bezuidenhout and Namaste helped a friend in the final month of his life last year.
The conventional medical system failed to support my friend when his physical and mental powers were at their weakest. There were three doctors involved, none of whom would take primary responsibility in tying things together. And the insurance company, though it paid most of the bills, fought every increment of medical service. Namaste stepped in to smooth things out and allow a dignified death. And Jan herself spent hours with the patient and battling the medical bureaucracy during some very rough periods. I strongly recommend hospice, and Namaste in particular, for this service.
Shelter from the storm: It saddens me no end to hear what is happening to the Anam Chara homes. Peggy Quinn never lost sight of her dreams. For years she talked about it and envisioned the kind of life she would create for the residents of these homes.
Would you feel better entrusting the care of your parents to a business-savvy individual or to someone such as Peggy, with a loving and caring heart? She is not stubborn, but is someone fighting to save her vision, knowing it enriches the lives of those in her care. No one, no one, can or will ever find better care than that provided for the residents of the Anam Chara home. Peggy is truly an angel in disguise. Finally, someone creates the kind of environment one could only dream of for the care of our elderly, and someone else comes along to help, and what do they do? They destroy it! It is despicable and inconceivable that the boardmembers could be so callous and insensitive to the wonderful work of love that surrounded the Anam Chara homes. I have been in both homes and have observed the great reverence, love and tenderness that goes along each and every day and night.
I will be contacting Peggy to offer my assistance to help revive her dream, and I feel certain I am not alone. Tonight my heart is heavy with great sadness, and only hope lightens its burden.
via the Internet
Down and dirty: I have firsthand know-ledge of what Anam Chara was like, because I worked there as a "caregiver" in the mid-'90s. I feel that you were mildly sympathetic toward Peggy Quinn but did not get sucked into her victim-fighting-the-powers-that-be stance. I appreciate that.
The level of filth, confusion and incompetence operating at the original Anam Chara was briefly and, I felt, neatly, touched on in the article. Many of the clients were inappropriate in that they were not hospice-qualified (they were not actually dying), or had an intensive level of care that could not be met by the staff, or had horrible psychiatric and behavioral issues. Peggy took whomever, because she wanted to fill the house and keep the money coming in. They were crowded together and generally hated each other; they complained about each other, the staff, the food and anything else they could think of. Now add to this Quinn occasionally sashaying in, lavishing warmth and concentrated inidividual affection for a few minutes on the residents, ignoring their bitter complaints or even legitimate concerns as "negative" and "critical," then leaving, with orders to the already overworked staff to look toward the special needs and preferences of the clients to make them feel that they were in a loving home environment. Get the picture?
Don't get me wrong: I believe in places that provide what Anam Chara said it would provide. The problem is that it didn't. The families, riddled with guilt, want to believe that they are providing top-notch, humane treatment for their (often-hard-to-care-for) loved one; however, they did not know what really went on there, and if they came close, Peggy tried to snow them. When I heard that Peggy got a grant for tens of thousands of dollars from the Boulder City Council, I knew there was no reality to our society.
Jargon's Anam Chara story raises the same old question: Does being a "visionary" (and you can subsitute "genius" or "great artist" here) entitle one to every excess, dishonesty, cruelty, delusion and misuse of others? Anyone can be a "visionary." I myself would like to see a better world, where people treat each other decently, where education and refined values are exalted and where people can draw meaning out of the freedom to create beautiful environments and atmospheres. However, it is the day-to-day blood, sweat and tears of people who actually do the work to create that type of milieu that envisions it. Thanks -- this has been a long time on my chest. And all I really can say in response to this situation is, "Finally."
Name withheld on request
A nasty business: Regarding Sam Lancaster's letter in the May 24 issue:
Well, well! Lancaster is not happy with Airbus coming here and proceeds to insult the people who are running it and call them "snotty little frogs." Why doesn't he let his uncle from Denver speak for himself? He lives in Texas, doesn't he? His boorish, rude remarks should obviously be explained by the fact that he is from Texas.
As for Westword, however, you state that you reserve the right to edit libel, etc. The nasty terms Lancaster uses are defamatory and malicious, and printing his letter makes you as guilty as he is.
Return to sender: Alan Prendergast is doing an excellent job of showing us how little we know about Columbine, despite all the coverage it's gotten locally and nationally. His "Unhappy Returns," in the May 24 issue, was another excellent article. Which worries Congressman Tom Tancredo more: the Marilyn Manson CD or the St. John's Wort found in the Klebold home?
Or is it the fact that high schools continue to be places where bullies rule and outcasts grow angrier every day?
Hide in plain hindsight: With the recent release of the Columbine task force report, it is important to remember the difference between what law-enforcement officials should have done and what they could have done. They were dealing with a unique situation for which hindsight is now perfect and perhaps clearing daily. At the time, however, they had no idea of the numbers of those involved or their firepower.
We cannot pretend to understand what the victims' families are going through. They certainly cannot be expected to "just get over it." They can, however, be expected to get on with their lives. All of my Jefferson County tax dollars that now go to the sheriff or the school district will not bring Mr. Rohrbaugh's son back. The time has more than come for him to get on with life.
Finally, let's quit covering Judy Brown's every word, thought or idea. She is hardly the poster child for good parenting. Right now, she has never met a camera she didn't like.
Name withheld on request
The Brown cloud: My wife and I have attended almost every commission meeting. We have read the more than 12,000 pages. We have listened to the 911 tapes. We have seen the basement videos. We have lived this tragedy. We are informed. Even though I respect Justice Erickson a great deal, I am very upset and troubled by the final report. A few of my criticisms:
1) Governor Owens stated in his press conference that this was not an investigation. However, his executive order stated that the commission will: "review, analyze, evaluate, identify and examine" -- all reasonable synonyms for investigate. Sheriff Stone stopped this investigation. The governor should have used all available powers to force Stone to testify, including subpoena power or a grand jury.
2) Do you know that one of the major causes of Columbine was the lack of communication between the sheriff's department and the diversion program run by the DA? Do you know that this fatal flaw has still not been corrected two years after Columbine? A report that fails to mention such a flaw lacks credibility.
3) Experts who testified before the commission were uninformed or misinformed.
4) It has been stated over and over again that the police are trained to establish a perimeter in an active shooter situation. This statement was never challenged or questioned, and the Jeffco policies on an active shooter situation were never revealed. Should the commission allow such an important statement to go unquestioned?
5) The report mentions but does not criticize the fact that police fired automatic weapons into the doors of the school at no identified targets.
6) The principal of the school testified that no bullying took place. At the last commission meeting, Jeffco school superintendent Jane Hammond did a complete about-face and admitted that "of course" bullying existed at Columbine.
7) The threat-assessment team proposed by the commission is made up of school administrators and police and specifically excludes parental involvement. This is absurd. Columbine proved to us that the other two groups are incapable of protecting our children.
My thanks to Justice Erickson and the members of the commission for doing the best job they could under difficult circumstances.
Bovine comedy: Kenny Be is always rude and tasteless, but his May 31 Hip Tip on S.A.D. Cow Disease is totally offensive. As a person who lives with acute anxiety and panic attacks when in public (social anxiety/phobia), I'm not laughing. There is already a stigma on people with mental illness in this society. We really don't need to be held up to public ridicule.
Who's next, Kenny? Cognitively or physically challenged? Blacks? Jews? Gays?
Give respect to get respect.
The wall must fall! Kenny Be has never been better! His May 31 Worst-Case Scenario, "Separation Anxiety," highlights a Denver divided against its own kids. This recalls Rousseau's dictum of over 200 years ago: "Keeping citizens apart has become the first maxim of modern politics."
The "Boulder Model" (touted on MTV!) of zero-tolerance under-age-drinking law enforcement has led to seven riots since 1997. There had been no riots since 1972 until then.
Prohibition laws are fascist failures -- except for the parasitic vermin who make their living promoting them and the prisons they fill.
via the Internet
Parks and wreck: I read Stuart Steers's May 31 "Garage Banned," about Cherry Creek wanting to ban driveways from new development for the sake of preserving the "street feel of the neighborhood." I have several comments:
1) Since when does Cherry Creek have even a remotely "street feel" to it? How can you feel like part of a neighborhood when all you walk by in that neighborhood are houses with eight- and ten-foot-high cement walls that isolate homeowners from the outside world? These houses do not have driveways; nevertheless, they are still uninviting and cold. Cherry Creek is beginning to look like a fiefdom with rich feudal lords trying to pay off the zoning commissions.
2) I lived in Cherry Creek for a year, and there is little or no street activity unless you count the covenant cops. Compare that to Washington Park and University Hills, where I have also lived. There is literally no comparison.
3) What on earth do driveways have to do with neighborhood feel? A neighborhood is about the people who live and interact there, not where they decide to park their cars.
4) Let us not forget that it is the wealthy homeowners building mansions next to charming bungalows who are changing the neighborhood feel.
via the Internet
Morning becomes eclectic: I don't understand the parental concern about children listening to the Jamie and Danny show (Michael Roberts's The Message, May 24). It's a morning show that airs when kids are either sleeping or in school. I don't necessarily love the show myself, but I don't think that it's any more objectionable than Greg and Bo, and it's certainly not any more obnoxious than Dom and Jane.
via the Internet
Frankly, we'd rather be in Philadelphia: University of Redundancy College, Copy Editing 101. The first two pieces I looked at in the May 31 issue were these:
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1. Backbeat caption to a picture of the band Mogwai: "Children of the Corn: Mogwai, Philadelphia's noisiest band, comes to the Bluebird on June 3."
2. Backbeat review of the latest Bardo Pond album: "The band's reputation as Philly's noisiest act is well earned..."
My question: Exactly who is Philadelphia's noisiest band?