A true gift: What a gutsy call to make Harrison Fletcher's "Touched by an Angel" your cover story for the September 6 issue. Few people know anything about gifted kids or care, something you no doubt know, yet there are Linda Silverman and the remarkable Justin Chapman, grinning happily in place of some more sensational story geared toward circulation.
Hopefully, many thousands will read this well-researched, well-crafted article and learn that doors don't automatically clang open for children with magnificent brains. All of their lives they have to fight the preconceived notions, prejudices and envies of a public that equates them with beautiful women (she's gorgeous, so her life will be easy) -- i.e., "The kid has an IQ higher than Einstein. He'll be awash in scholarships and money. He needs nothing from society or government." Harrison Fletcher figured it out and told us the truth, that these kids need exhaustive nurturing and understanding from all of society, especially teachers and school administrators.
Featuring this fine article on the cover supplies the extra status and credibility to make people read it and maybe learn something. Nice call.
Life in the slow lane: I enjoyed Bill Gallo's "Tour de Lance" sports column, in the September 6 issue. But he may have missed one salient feature: The cycling team that has so demoralized the French is sponsored by -- of all things -- the United States Postal Service! This butt of all jokes about things slow, this inspiration for the term Snail Mail, this bureau-corporate jugger-naught, is now the emblem of French subjugation. I expect any day to hear allegations by the French that the USPS cycling team is actually a creature of the CIA, designed to thwart France's ambitions of regaining its rightful place in the community of nations -- abetted by the British, I'm sure they'll say, it being well-known that Americans aren't smart enough to do something so subtle on our own.
Mob mentality: I was actually in near disbelief while reading Bill Gallo's ridiculous "Tour de Lance." Is it just me, or is the guy a contradicting, self-obsessed clown? I'm not sure if he's ever traveled to France, but the stereotype that he is trying to confirm does not really exist. Sure, if you travel to any large city anywhere in the world you will run into rude people. Maybe Bill went to Paris and expected everyone to greet him with a "Hi" instead of "Bonjour." Or maybe he's never been to Paris but jumped on the ol' stereotyping bandwagon with the rest of America.
The French are great people as long as you don't have Gallo's attitude. Hey, Bill, I guess every Italian-Americans is a mafioso, right?
Name withheld on request
Leaf us alone: I remember when Lone Tree didn't exist.
But now, according to Stuart Steers's "Branching Out," in the September 6 issue, we soon will have not just the Town of Lone Tree, but an Entire Kingdom of Lone Tree -- a land that would like to pretend it is a solution to runaway growth, but is just another sprawl of mini-malls and ugly subdivisions.
What a joke!
via the Internet
Sprawl for one: I was in Denver for the first time last week on vacation; I read your paper with interest, especially Stuart Steers's article about Lone Tree. I found Denver a generally friendlier place than the metro Washington, D.C., area, where I live. But there are some obvious problems with the sprawl I saw in Denver. I am dismayed by the extent of it all. And how is it going to be kept watered? All those non-indigenous plants and grasses take huge amounts of water to sustain.
The Washington Post recently published an article about planned communities in my area, including Reston, Virginia, which was mentioned in your article; the Post gave the history and also the shortcomings of these places. I think that Lone Tree's plan is only wishful thinking, because it will be surrounded with the typical suburban sprawl and it will not make much of a difference.
I'm rather cynical and I think that the Front Range will become an axis of sprawl, from Fort Collins down to Pueblo.
via the Internet
Live and let live: I confess I didn't read Alan Prendergast's August 9 "Scenes From a Sprawl" or even Michael S. Jones's original letter to the editor that caused such a brouhaha. However, I did read his letter in the August 30 issue.
It's interesting to note that in his last paragraph, Jones exhorts us to read Ehrlich and Malthus, two economists whose theories have been widely discredited. Ehrlich was once challenged by Julian Simon, a respected economist, to pick several economic goods that, according to Ehrlich, the world would have less of in ten years -- the reasoning being that with the population "explosion," there would be more demand for these goods, therefore increasing the price. Instead, after the ten years were up, the prices dropped for all of the items Mr. Ehrlich chose. (I would suggest reading The Ultimate Resource 2, by Julian Simon, since we're on the subject of reading lists.)
What disturbs me, though, is the implication inherent in the idea of a population "crisis." Just what does Mr. Jones suggest? Forced abortion, as in China? Or perhaps a eugenics program like Sweden's? And just who decides who is to live and who is to die? Mr. Jones and Mr. Ehrlich? The U.N.? Mass sterilization, forced abortion, cold-blooded murder (of the elderly, the sickly, anyone else deemed unworthy to live): These are the options that the "population experts" would have the rest us live by. No thank you.
A developing situation: Seldom do I write letters to the editor; I could not resist in this case. In the process of rebutting David Holthouse's August 16 "Property Values," in his letter published last week, Ronnie Morgan has offered a solution that both the Congress Park neighborhood and apparently the Morgan Group can live with. He states that the controversial "Fleetwood" in Houston was developed, after many meetings with the planning commission and neighbors, into a 104-unit luxury apartment on a four-acre site. Hey, we'll take it!
The hospital-block site in Congress Park is just under three acres, and neighbors have repeatedly expressed a willingness to have a hundred units built there, as opposed to the 193 that Morgan now proposes. Limiting the development to a hundred units would allow reduced building heights on Harrison Street and mitigate the traffic concerns, thus resolving the key issues that have been voiced by neighbors for over a year at every public meeting.
Thank you, Ronnie, for being the cool head and offering a solution that is workable. We will await your revised development application.
John Van Sciver
Congress Park Neighbors Zoning Committee
Sweat and sour: The constant of theYMCA is that it is a mission organization, committed to healthy mind, body and spirit. To implement that mission, the Y has changed many times over the years, which is how it was recently able to celebrate 125 years of service to Colorado. All of us find change difficult; some people, such as Mr. Wren, find change unacceptable (James Hibberd's "Sweat Equity," August 30).
The point that Mr. Wren does not grasp, with his complaining about the "feminization" of the YMCA and his (unpublished) suggestion that he be allowed to play handball by day and let the homeless sleep on the floor of the courts at night, is that the YMCA is about fitness as a means to an end for the health of the whole person, especially spiritually.
The Y values its members, the swimmers, handball players, runners, single moms, families, seniors -- but there are limits to what it can do. The YMCA is a nonprofit organization. It is always struggling financially, because there is always more that needs doing than there are resources to do it with.
The Y depends every year on thousands of hours of volunteer work and hundreds of thousands of dollars of voluntary contributions. Mr. Wren has contributed not one hour of work and not one dollar of charity to the Y. He should be thanking the YMCA and its contributors for making his favorite sport available to him all these years.
Richard Linquanti, Board of Trustees
YMCA of Metropolitan Denver
The wages of sin: I think it's terrible that the legal immigrants referred to in Stuart Steers's August 23 "High and Dry" didn't get paid in a timely fashion. I'm sure that they have enough troubles just trying to make a life for themselves in a new environment.
But as for the illegal immigrants, what makes them think that they can be here at all, let alone work here? Their presence just encourages the exploitation of legal immigrants by keeping labor wages down.
Is everybody happy? Although I enjoyed Andy Klein's review of All Over the Guy ("Happy and Gay," September 6), I can't help but think he missed the point of the movie! I am Eli, and I thoroughly enjoyed this happy, romantic story!
Finally, a movie that is groundbreaking in that it doesn't seem to be breaking ground! It's not a tragic AIDS story, or full of drag queens, or about sick murders! It's about the everyday gay guys who my friends and I really are! And that is the point of the story. We, as gay men, have real lives, with odd backgrounds and parents that drive us crazy -- just like everybody else! It's nice that a love story between two men isn't shocking or twisted and actually has a happy ending! Maybe there's hope for us Elis yet!
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A failure to communicate: Regarding John La Briola's August 30 "Mystic Muses," about Bachir Attar and the village of Jajouka, I would like to say that although I did not live in Jajouka or Northern Morocco during my two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in that country, I seriously doubt that the language of the Berbers (the word prefered by these people is Amazigh, as Berber is a pejorative word meaning "barbarian") is unintelligible. The Peace Corps has taught all three dialects (Tamazight, Tashelheet and Tarifeet) to its volunteers since it first sent volunteers to Morocco during JFK's presidency. These dialects would be unintelligible only to those who make no effort to learn them. The same could be said, in this case, of a language like French, which is much closer to our own. Furthermore, if you have ever listened to the BBC (on every evening on KCFR at 10 p.m.), you might know that Berber/Amazigh activists in Morocco and Algeria have demanded the right to have their language (which existed as a written language before the Arabs came) taught in schools. Certainly, it adds to the mystique to say that the language is some strange unwritten one that no one outside of the village or the region can comprehend, but it is far from the truth.
As for Attar's statement that the music of his village goes well with rock and roll, that is his opinion. Music cannot and does not live in a vacuum, and I would not hesitate to admit that I've enjoyed the collaboration between Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and a group of Gnawa musicians (their ancestors were slaves taken to Morocco from Guinea) from Morocco. At the same time, I was not impressed by Brian Jones's collaboration with musicians from Jajouka when I heard it some years back. I much prefered a recording done by Bill Laswell, which added nothing to the music.
Sometimes music doesn't need improving or enhancing.