Fire When Ready!

Letters to the Editor

Taking aim at ammo: In his July 12 "Attention, Kmart Shoppers," Alan Prendergast did an amazing job of ignoring the real issue surrounding guns: people who abuse their usage and why they do it. Congrats.

Angel Shamaya, executive director

Freak show: I have to wonder whether the same frothing freaks who have "questioned the appropriateness of a family store dealing in firepower" are concerned by the fact that the Kmart Super Center family stores also sell alcohol, tobacco and drugs? Or are they just frothing freaks? Will the surviving victims feel happy the next time, knowing the ammunition came from Wal-Mart instead? Please, paranoid gun-hating freaks, grow up. Address the issue, not the symptoms.

Mike Williamson
Indianapolis, IN

What's in store: I want to express my support for anything that can be done to stop the sale of gun ammo within the Kmart stores.

I was very close to this incident at Columbine. My son attended that school. I knew the teacher. I knew some of the students. I am still struggling with the effects, as is everyone else concerned. I know Brooks Brown, and I support his every effort to make a difference. I will not shop at Kmart stores until this is accomplished.

March on.

Sherrie Neri
via the Internet

Out of here, with a bullet: In your shameful story about Kmart being blackmailed to remove "handgun ammo" from its sales, Alan Prendergast says that "many kinds of handgun ammo can be used in rifles." That is an astounding statement. Having used handguns and rifles for many years, I am at a loss as to what these "many kinds" might be. To my knowledge, there are three: .22 caliber, 9 mm and .45 caliber, and the only one of those that really fires in rifles is the .22 caliber; the others are in rather specialized carbines. I assume from the use of the words "many kinds" that Prendergast is referring to a dozen or more that can be used in this manner. I would certainly be interested in knowing about these new types of handguns that fire rifle ammunition, or vice versa.

Using these people from Columbine to prevent legal sales is blatantly wrongheaded. The types and origin of ammunition or types and origin of guns used by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are immaterial: The problem was caused by the perpetrators, not their choice of implement. You have not cried out against portable propane tanks, and yet these same people had rigged several in that school as bombs. Why are you not out campaigning to get stores (Kmart among them) to stop selling these? They are certainly much more potentially dangerous than a box of ammunition.

Gordon Martin
via the Internet

Sign Language

Chump change: David Holthouse's "Signs of the Times," in the July 5 issue, was a very good piece of reporting. I've been curious whether those people standing on the street corners with their signs could possibly be legit. I doubted it, but I still was curious.

Now I now better. They may work hard for their money, but so do I. I've handed over my last dollar.

Judy Lombardi
via the Internet

Money for nothing: I always wondered where "sign flyers" came from, and after reading "Signs of the Times," now I know. They come from neighborhoods not so different from anyone else's. That, I suppose, is what makes abusive behavior toward them so curious. I hope that the driver of the convertible BMW, who so flippantly littered downtown with generosity, gets what he deserves.

When I was in college, a group of us were approached by a "bum" at a free outdoor concert who asked us for spare change. The typical pangs of discomfort arose as everyone patted his own pocket as an indication that there was nothing to donate. Well, in the spirit of the moment, and under the influence of certain mood-altering substances, I reached in my pocket and pulled out a $20 bill I had earned by acting as "middleman" before the concert. The homeless man took it without much commotion until he looked closer and realized what it was he had been given. He hugged me and jumped around like a child on Christmas morning. With my egotistical sense of altruism fully inflated, I did not care how he spent it. Eventually we left the concert and headed off into the night. At about 3 a.m., in a campus greasy spoon, this same homeless man was making his way up and down the aisle asking for handouts. When he reached our table, it was very apparent that he was drunk. Leaning over me, he asked for anything we could spare.

"Don't you remember me?" I asked. "I gave you $20 about ten hours ago!" Unfazed, he turned his attention to another table and then stumbled his way out at the prompting of the restaurant owner.

I cannot tell you how callous toward the "homeless plight" this event caused me to become. I never again gave even a nickel to one of the many and familiar beggars that lined the campus.

Well, after reading "Signs of the Times," I have a renewed sense that there are people put into situations and predicaments not always under their own control and of their own volition. Granted, there are those sign flyers who are victims of addiction and substance abuse, but there are also those who are simply unlucky. There was one such man alongside an I-25 exit ramp with a sign reading "Smile. There's no excuse not to." Well, I did and waved. He waved back. You don't have to roll down the window of your Excursion and give the guy a twenty, but you don't have to go out of your way to insult a person's dignity, either. God forbid the shoe were on the other foot.

Name withheld on request

Seeing Reds

This means whore! In his July 12 "Twilight of the Baseball Gods," Bill Gallo lamely whines, "I don't know about you, but I'm glad that baseball whores like the [last place] Cincinnati Reds' Ken Griffey Jr. weren't worthy of playing in the All-Star Game this year."

Gallo exposes himself as a complete idiot. Ken Griffey Jr. took less money than the Mariners offered to leave and sign a ten-year deal to go back and play for his hometown Reds. The guy grew up in Cincy and signed a contract that will be greatly outdated and devalued (due to the inflation of baseball salaries) long before it's up. Not only did Griffey go home to play for the same team as his father and in the city where he went to high school, but he did it without even offering his services on the open market, which surely would have netted him a more lucrative deal. Funny, but I always thought that "whores" offered up their services to the highest bidder, regardless of the degree of degradation. It appears to me that Junior has done just the opposite, bypassing more lucre for the comfort of himself and his family.

That sounds, oddly enough, like Gwynn and Ripken, huh? Ken Griffey Jr. a "whore?" Hardly. Bill Gallo, a blithering ignoramus? No doubt.

Dave Emerson

Roll Out the Barrel

Seeing is believing: Michael Paglia's July 5 "Metamorphic," his column about Susan Krane, director of the CU Art Galleries, was tacky, vindictive and misguided. Paglia acknowledges that arts people he respects lobbied him to review CU Art Galleries shows. (Could they have thought the shows worth seeing?) Despite no evidence that he ever attended a show at the CU Art Galleries during Susan Krane's tenure, despite incorrect information about Krane's hiring and erroneous information regarding development plans for the gallery, Paglia casually trashed Krane's motives and accomplishments. It appears as if truth, objectivity and knowledge are not required of those who buy ink by the barrel.

R. Alan Rudy

Unprofessional conduct: I write this letter as chairperson of the CU Art Galleries Advisory Board. Having read Michael Paglia's effusive reviews of Denver artists for many years, I was profoundly shocked by the vicious, unprovoked personal attack on Susan Krane in the July 5 issue. I have worked closely with Susan for three years and, based on my experience, I find Paglia's personal comments highly unprofessional and unacceptable.

Susan Krane has revitalized the CU Art Galleries with her intrepid leadership and penetrating grasp of contemporary art. Paglia's comments on the Wegman exhibition should be taken in context. For example, our current exhibition, Designs in the Front Range, is in Paglia's geographic fiefdom, but his lack of coverage is probably related to the fact that there are no commercial gallery opportunities. Krane has completed an extraordinary exhibition program given severe budgetary limitations and the absence of climate control. Her thematic exhibitions compare favorably with much larger university museum activities. The thematic exhibitions incorporated regional and local artists.

Paglia has chosen not to visit the CU Art Galleries in the past three years. What is his basis for informed comments? To compound that lapse with a visceral attack on Krane's character and motivations, which have no basis in fact, is an unacceptable character assassination. Never in my 37 years of committed work with visual-art institutions, with performing-arts companies and with artists themselves have I experienced such a distressing event.

We shall hear from Susan Krane long after we hear from Michael Paglia.

N. Richard Miller, chairperson
CU Art Galleries Advisory Board

Michael Paglia responds: I did not attack Susan Krane personally; as an art critic, I took issue with the choices she made professionally. I visited the CU Art Galleries a number of times during director Krane's tenure, and although I did not review every show I saw, there's hard evidence that I was there. See "Art of the State," published in the March 6, 1997, issue of Westword; "Fit for Prints," February 25, 1999; "Coming of Age," July 22, 1999; and "A Little of Everything," February 24, 2000.


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