Outrageous impression: Ed Thomas's statements in David Holthouse's story about the new skate park ("Big Air," July 19) are truly outrageous. He is totally out of touch with reality. Skateboarding is a mainstream sport (whether you like it or not) with hardcore roots. Thomas's impressions of thuggish skateboarders are offensive and bigoted. As for his comparison of skateboarding to "knife throwing" and "drive-by shootings," give me a break. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commision ranks the danger level of skateboarding below bicycling and swimming. Maybe Mr. Thomas would be happy if we got rid of these recreational hazards from our schools and parks in the name of public safety.
It will be interesting to see how many users the skatepark has, compared to your average football field.
Mean streets: I could not believe the letters in the last issue criticizing Ed Thomas for speaking his mind about the new skate park. What gives these kids the idea that it is up to the city to provide a place for them to skateboard? It is up to the city to give them schools and to keep the streets safe -- not to build a place where budding juvenile delinquents can show off the "skills" they learned on the streets.
via the Internet
Unfair fair: I read with interest Jonathan Shikes's piece on the stilt-walker getting booted from the Denver Post Career Fair ("Walking Tall," July 19). I was surprised to learn that they booted him because he was attracting the only thing the fair organizers wanted -- people (as opposed to employees). I made the mistake of attending the heavily advertised and much ballyhooed Post-News Career Fair, and my reaction is similar to others I heard at the fair: There are no jobs there. Well, some temp agencies list a few $12-per-hour assistant jobs, and then there are $50K-a-year jobs for very experienced career professionals, but hardly a volume worthy of a fair.
Do people really think they will find a job waiting in a thirty-minute line to talk to a ruby-faced 22-year-old human-resources assistant? But they throw a fair anyway. Why? To charge $5 parking, to market a variety of temp services, to market technical colleges and for corporate prestige. In the end, it's a marketing-and-sales event for employment consultants, career management firms, local colleges and, most of all, the newspapers themselves. It's a scam.
It would be difficult to find out how many people actually obtained positions versus how many people attended, but I assure you the latter number is all they are interested in. At least I got my time's worth by sneaking into the exhibitor lounge and getting some free lunch.
The cause that refreshes: Word travels extremely fast through the "rabid following" of the "cultlike" World Family of John Denver, so I suspect Westword is about to be inundated with e-mails from all over the globe in response to the July 19 Off Limits. I certainly appreciate the exposure that you have given Jim McCrain and his expedition in their attempt to honor the memory of John Denver, one of this world's greatest humanitarians and environmentalists. However, I take offense at your referral to myself and the friends and acquaintances with whom I share the common thread of admiration for Mr. Denver's achievements as being "rabid" and "cultlike."
The cultlike part I can tolerate, because one of the definitions my Webster's dictionary gives for "cult" is "a group devoted to a person, fad, etc." Since most of us are devoted to continuing the work that John Denver did for the environment and people who are less fortunate than ourselves and to the cause of peace, then I guess we are a cult.
The same dictionary defines "rabid" as "1. irrationally extreme, 2. furious or raging; violent, or 3. affected with rabies." Now, I just can't see how this fits!
If you would like to see for yourself some examples of the good work that is done by this group of wonderful, caring people, I suggest you have a look at the growing list of events for the annual Aspen in October gathering (you will find it at www.john-denver.org/ events/aspen2001/index2.html). Please note how many of these events are fundraisers for humanitarian or environmental causes; this is only a small sampling of the causes that are helped by these wonderful people.
So I ask you this: When a group of nice people organize themselves to do good work for the world, why would you feel the need to speak of them in a derogatory manner? I do not see any harm being done here -- only good.
We have a motto that originated as a quote from Mr. Denver. It goes like this: "You do what you can do, and I'll do what I can do, and together we can make a difference." And that is what we are trying to do.
Peace, my friend!
Sherwood Park, AB, Canada
Blind ambition: Does no athletic endeavor impress Eric Dexheimer? ("Highest Stakes Adventure," July 19) Climber Erik Weihenmayer executed an amazing feat when he became the first blind man to reach the top of Mount Everest.
Yes, he could have died -- leaving his wife and child to fend for themselves. But almost every climber -- male or female, blind or seeing -- leaves loved ones on the ground when they make the climb. The risks are something every family must weigh for itself.
Making the call is not the job of the sportswriter.
via the Internet
Editor¹s note: Safely back on the ground, Erik Weihenmayer last week met with President Bush. He's also written a book on his climb, Touch the Top of the World, published by Dutton and now available in local bookstores.
Strike zone: Thanks to Harrison Fletcher for "Unlucky Strike," his great article in the June 28 issue. I've lived in Colorado for 25 years and have done numerous high-altitude hikes with more near misses than I wish to remember. I have the utmost respect for this natural force, yet even with sound decision making one can be confronted with an extremely dangerous situation.
This past weekend, I was hiking on Mount Bierstadt, and I believe that I was hit -- not directly, yet closer than ever before. The air went dead silent, which was not a good sign considering that the sky had turned black. The very next moment a film of light was traversing the outer part of my body, from my head and traveling toward my toes, and my body felt this tingling sensation. The light hit the ground, and that was followed immediately by the most deafening clap of thunder. At this point I realized that I was still alive and able to run -- which I did. I was engulfed by the raging storm for the complete 2,300-foot vertical drop back to the parking lot.
Life is good, and I lived to see another day.
via the Internet
Last writes: Steve Jackson's "Penalty Zone," his series on the death penalty, was an outstanding piece of journalism in my view. I was horrified, moved to tears and filled with disgust by the drama that unfolded in "Dead Reckoning," the final installment in the June 28 issue. Without posing the questions directly, the piece brought to my mind many of the unanswerable and unfathomable consequences of the shattering of so many lives.
Thank you for the sensitive and objective series. I shall not soon forget it.
Phillip D. Barber
Dumb and dumber: Westword needs male and female critics!
I couldn't resist commenting on Andy Klein's negative review of the movie Legally Blonde ("Legally Bland," July 12). I'm a 53-year-old woman who couldn't imagine myself going to a girly-girl movie, but I recently was coerced to go on my birthday with friends who said this movie was a must. They were definitely right. It was so entertaining, funny and, frankly, profound that I would like to recommend that this movie be seen by all women. I now have a different opinion of dumb-blonde stories! Could it be I've trusted the male reviewers?
Andy's sad assessment is an example of how some men just don't get it; he certainly didn't. He saw only the surface issues -- the blondes, Reese Witherspoon and how important style is. What town did he grow up in? He never mentions the important issues like a woman's drive, endurance, stamina, creativity and bottom-line common sense.
As I was leaving Legally Blonde, a woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said she really appreciated my comments and excitement thoughout this movie. She said that we need more movies like this, about women and women's issues. Perhaps the Westword editor should consider having a male vs. female perspective to evaluate future movies. That's what this movie deserves. Above all, a thank you should go out to the women who wrote this movie; they should definitely do more!
Historical illusion? In response to Michael Paglia's June 28 "Melbourne Calling," on the contrary -- the pairing of a Picasso and an old-master portrait is a splendid and orthodox provocation. Whoever does not get the message is a Boethian.
Art history is relative and unexpected. There is no progress in art history, as the notion of progress in history is a Marxist illusion (after all, the Holocaust came after the invention of electricity). The prehistoric cave painting is as much advanced as a Modigliani -- and Modigliani came after impressionism.
John D. Sliwka
Up to the challenge: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Bleep That," his July 26 Message about the FCC fine against KKMG:
What makes America great are not f*****s in the FCC and politicians who think we have no right to listen to such "offensive" songs such as a bleeped "The Real Slim Shady." What does make America great are, in part, musicians and artists who constantly challenge us.
But the American "Tali-ban" has threatened to make this country into something that our Founding Fathers and freedom-loving people here would be disappointed in, if not frightened by. And to read that radio stations around this country have drastically self-censored themselves based on this draconian and what would seem to be unconstitutional action by the FCC justifies my worst fears on this matter.
Liz Pipes claims that one person can make a difference. Well, I hope she is right about that, anyway; for that is why I have written this letter.
While I'm sure that this letter will be one among thousands (hopefully), I really can't help being concerned over the Eminem/KKMG/FCC debacle ("Bleep That," July 26). The rallying cry of the "Save the Children" doctrine will be the death of the First Amendment. The late, great Frank Zappa was of the same mind while doing battle with the likes of Tipper Gore years ago over the "Parental Warning" stickers on CDs. Unfortunately, I can't recall the exact quote, but it was something to the effect of "We have to be extremely wary of crusading, do-good housewives intent on pacifying the world for their children." With all due respect to Ms. Pipes, I highly doubt that her delicate son's virgin ears have never felt the vicious sting of an obscenity. Maybe even from (gasp) her. Heaven forbid. I guess stating the irony of Eminem's song attracting this particular brand of attention is a moot point.
When did this country lose its sense of humor, reality and all things that our revered Bill of Rights seeks to protect? I'm sure Ms. Pipes was deeply offended by the South Park movie, if she has seen it (I bet her son has). Again, the irony would be lost. Well, upon pondering this dilemma, I have decided to change sides. The hell with freedom of speech or any of that bullsh*t (oops, too close. I hope someone gets a fine). I want to hear nothing but John Denver and Yanni music with DJs that share Mr. Rogers's gentle, soothing voice. No, wait. Just on the off chance that I might hear a dirty word in public, I will now permanently reside in a cardboard box in my closet. Goodbye, filthy deplorable world, hello sweet palatable nothingness. Thank you Ms. Pipes, you have saved me. Ever in your gratitude:
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What a study of the perils of journalistic blueprint for a fascist press. Sorry, well-meaning Stuart Steers, but you forgot to do your research ("Old-Age Wisdom," July 19). Reading your "vital part of the equation" on the Great American Tragedy -- nursing home aka concentration camps for the poor who can't afford private pay -- was like watching the Ju Ju priests on the electric church preach about the alpha and omega, the faithful and true. But what more can we expect from individual consciences that have forgotten those who saved their world from evil and who now die neglected in the Medicaid system? Oh, yes, Stuart, do another study by interviewing the religious leaders. What are they doing with their billions of dollars in this time of our elderly veterans' needs?
Chaplain Mary Murphy, N.H.A.