There goes the neighborhood: I just read the October 18 "Home Sweet Clone" piece by James Hibberd. I don't live directly in Highlands Ranch, but am close enough to it that I might as well. I can only surmise by the tone of the story, and the tone of other outsiders of the community, that Highlands Ranch is viewed with a significant amount of disdain on the mild side and outright disgust on the harsher side.
I heard these comments by people outside the community repeatedly as my family and I were looking for a home in the Denver area four years ago. Truth is, I liked it then and I like it even more now. The story couldn't be more correct in that it is a perfect community for families. It's clean, safe and upscale. It has a lot going for it.
So all you degraders of Highlands Ranch, take note: Keep your run-down, RV-parked-in-the-driveway, crime-ridden, gas-station-next-door neighborhoods. They have character.
via the Internet
The lowdown on Highlands Ranch: Congratulations on James Hibberd's excellent article on Highlands Ranch. I love the way he just let the residents speak for themselves, which added up to a scathing picture of the place. I wonder, did he encounter any underground movements -- say, book clubs or small cells of individuals who occasionally tried to flee the area and attend a symphony or play downtown?
I used to live in the Pinery, but I often had to drive past Highlands Ranch. I'd consider moving back to the Denver area someday (I now live in Great Britain), but it would be hard to find a safe neighborhood that is not an aesthetic eyesore.
Mary Helen Spooner
via the Internet
A cure for the common code: I think James Hibberd's article about Highlands Ranch should have been on the editorial page. It was clearly written from a point of view: Suburbs, particularly Highlands Ranch, suck, and Denver, particularly Washington Park, nurtures individual self-expression.
I don't find it that clear. People in Highlands Ranch could come to Larimer Square and sometimes do. People in Washington Park shop at Park Meadows.
But why do they live there? For one thing, suburbs will continue to be necessary as long as the population continues to grow. I'm finally leaving Denver for a covenanted community. In Denver, ordinances are not enforced. In addition to speed limits and red lights, barking dogs are fine, and neighbors can be as noisy as they wish. If I complain (or "narc," as your article so charmingly puts it), I'm told, "There's nothing that can be done about it." In other words, we have ordinances but don't expect enforcement. In order to get enforcement, I apparently also need covenants and covenant enforcement.
I don't mind people becoming self-actualized as long as they don't do it in my face or in my house. That wish is not supported in Denver. And as far as aesthetics go, I'd rather live next to an appropriately painted house than a Washington Park pop top anyday.
Humor in uniformity: Homogeneity. Homogeneity has come to the Denver area's radio stations. It has come to the public's opinion regarding the war against Afghanistan, or so says the mainstream media. It has come to fast food and coffee shops. And it has devoured suburbia. America today has become all about complete and total uniformity (for our "own good").
If Highlands Ranch houses were required to be more attractive colors, then I would still be saddened by their similarity. But the vast majority of these cookie-cutter houses are either gray or beige, the two most hideous and boring "colors" in existence. And I challenge anyone who is visiting friends or family down there for the second time to try to find the house you are searching for without looking at the addresses. Each house resembles its neighbor resembles its neighbor resembles...
Finally, if Highlands Ranch is so concerned about property values, then there is something that would increase those values more than anything: the imposing of controls on its cancerous sprawl.
High on Highlands Ranch: It's easy for a white, elitist, limousine liberal like Susan Barnes-Gelt to talk about diversity in her neighborhood while living in her 3,500-square-foot condo overlooking Cheesman Park. According to county records, she paid $364,000 for it in 1998, and the county has it assessed at $515,700, which means it is worth $600,000 to $900,000. I wonder how many minorities live in that building?
I paid $180,000 for my house in Highlands Ranch because I couldn't afford anything in Denver, Arapahoe or Jeffco. But now that I'm here, I love Highlands Ranch. As for diversity, on our block alone we have a Cuban family (mine), a black family and a Korean family. My next-door neighbors are Mexicans, and on the other side are people from England. Across the street is a family from Pakistan. My oldest son's best friend speaks only Russian at home, and my other son's best friend speaks only Chinese at home.
How many working-class minorities live in Susan's building, with units selling at more than half a million dollars?
Frank (Francisco) Alberti
Send in the clones: James Hibberd's "Home Sweet Clone" was sad but true. As a refugee of a covenanted neighborhood (an oxymoron), I have vowed never again to live in this state of oppression. These people are not only living too close to the forest to see the trees, they actually live in the forest of sameness. Diane Santangelo sums it all up with her statement: "You have every diversity. You have everything from $100,000 homes to the $1 million homes."
I guess that means financial diversity versus good old cultural diversity. What is frightening is that so many people are attracted to this robotic lifestyle. It is no wonder that American Beauty was such a huge success: Over half of America is living this life. The sermon by David Meserve was the biggest joke of all: Genesis 11, where all cultures came together and built a city? The problem with applying this to Highlands Ranch is that there is only one culture there -- white middle-class suburbia culture -- and I doubt if the Tower of Babel would pass the architectural committee's idea of acceptability. I truly feel sorry for the kids raised in this kind of atmosphere; it is not surprising that there is a higher incidence of psychological disorders among these children, since freedom of expression outside of their dwelling is prohibited.
I live in West Washington Park, where I can walk down the street to Wild Oats or over to the wonderful restaurants on South Gaylord Street or to South Pearl Street to visit a true neighborhood pub. I have a bus stop across the street from my house that will take me right to the light rail into downtown. I live three miles from my job and never sit in rush-hour traffic. I don't have to ask my neighbor or anyone else if it's okay to plant an oak tree in my yard. When I give someone directions to my house, I can describe it and not worry about them walking up to my neighbor's house. I can walk to Washington Park on actual sidewalks and let my daughter feed the ducks and squirrels. When I go grocery shopping on South Broadway, I get to listen to another language spoken. And when I want to experience the suburban lifestyle, I take a drive to Park Meadows and eat at the food court after seeing a movie at the megaplex, and then I drive back home and thank God that I am able to live and raise my daughter in a wonderfully chaotic neighborhood.
Wiretapping: This is in regard to Patricia Calhoun's October 11 "Busted!," about women complaining of intrusive airport searches, and her followup in the October 18 issue, "Screen and Screen Again." If you believe you have been sexually assaulted, call the cops and press charges. If not, remember we now live in a different era. A person hiding something in her underwear is a distinct and disturbing possibility. My advice is to suck it up, deal with it, ditch the underwire or stay away from the airport.
Women in Afghanistan would love to deal with what some folks consider to be a problem. They would trade places in a heartbeat.
On guard: I'm a sexual-assault survivor. I'm planning to fly out of DIA in December to visit family. I was stunned to read about DIA security fondling women. I understand the need for heightened security. But that does not mean that my basic human rights will be trampled upon.
Let me give DIA a heads-up. When I go through security, if no alarm of any kind goes off (wand or magnetometer), I will not let some security guard get his/her kicks by fondling me. If they try to keep me from getting to the gate, I will insist that the supervisor come down to security. If I am forcibly fondled, I'm calling the police.
In Colorado, touching someone's sexual body parts (even over clothes) for sexual gratification is third-degree sexual assault. I will not hesitate to call the police and have a complaint filed. I will then contact my attorney and have United Airlines and Argenbright Security dragged into court.
I was a victim once. I will not be a victim again.
How admirable it is that some people want to be groped and fondled while male guards laugh and snicker. You may be willing to demean yourself for a sense of security, but your fear is overriding common sense. If no alarms go off, there is no need to grope and fondle a woman. DIA, consider yourself warned.
Name withheld on request
Male call: DIA is an equal-opportunity groper. Two weeks ago, I (a male frequent flyer) took my first flight since September 11. Just like Patricia Calhoun's friend, I walked through the magnetometer without setting it off. They moved me to a secondary line. A man wanded me very carefully, repeatedly touching my crotch. Only my billfold and the top button of my button-fly jeans set off the wand. The man looked in my billfold (it holds a spare key), then asked to pat me down. I asked why, and he said it was illegal for him to give a reason.
With two National Guardsmen holding M-16s staring at me from only five feet away, I relented. He patted me down thoroughly and groped me. The guardsmen watched the grope. The female guard smiled but did not raise her eyes above my waist.
via the Internet
Social insecurity: I have never written a letter to the editor before, because I feel that I have no need to complain. However, after reading the offensive belly-aching, bitching and whining that seemed to pour out so readily in the last issue, I felt it necessary. The whiny Americans have reached an all-time low! We haven't even buried our dead yet, and they are complaining about having to go through a pat-down at the airport because they chose to wear undergarments with metal in them! I'm ashamed that these people have the right to call themselves American!
There are a few things that I have learned in my short life of 24 years: 1) Put all jewelry and metal in the little basket, or they will set the metal detector off; 2) Don't wear my favorite belt on the plane, because it sets the metal detector off; and 3) There are entire nations starving to death around the world, but hey, they don't complain -- they try to fix the problem! I guess what I am trying to say is this: If you do not like being patted, prodded, felt up and poked at, then you should not wear undergarments with wires and other metal in them! If you want to wear them, then face the consequences!
I, for one, am glad that DIA's security is taking this risk so seriously! Where is the rule that states that the woman standing in line next to me is not allowed to be a terrorist? She could easily be hiding a knife or gun in her bra, which just happens to have a wire in it, which just happens to be good for strangling people! At least DIA's planes will not be hijacked! Can you say that about other airports that happen to have the usual nonchalant security?
In closing, if you really have nothing to complain about...don't! And realize that America's airports have changed drastically. When will the pompous, belly-aching Americans change? I'm proud to be an American who does not bitch and complain.
via the Internet
Blond ambition: On October 11, I read Patricia Calhoun's column about women being singled out and subjected to security checks at DIA. These security checks involved electronic scans by a male security guard with a handheld scanning device. During the scanning process, the device touched the woman's private parts. The guard then had a female security guard with surgical gloves conduct a pat-down search of her entire body while a male military guardsman stood by, smirking.
My wife flew out of DIA that same Thursday. After waiting several hours, she finally made it through the security stations and boarded her Frontier flight. My wife happens to be a very beautiful woman. Just as she got comfortable in her seat, a security official came on board and informed her that the computer had randomly selected her to undergo a private security investigation, similar to the scans described in Westword. A few weeks ago the president of my firm flew out of DIA and went through exactly the same process (electronically scanned and patted down). She's a very attractive female citizen, just like the others.
Three beautiful women and three "random" security checks.
How many blond, blue-eyed women have terrorized the airlines in recent memory? Or ever, for that matter? When your girlfriend, wife, sister, mother, daughter or female friend travels through DIA, will she have a similar experience?
Other Americans and the citizens of Colorado may be proud of our new "Homeland Security," but I am not!
Libertarian for U.S. Senate
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Noe such luck: Hey, Earl Noe! Speaking of "fire-breathing letters, overflowing with outrage, towering with superiority..." -- yours in the October 18 issue pretty much fits the bill. Before you cast any more such aspersions, you should know that I am one of those who claims the "anonymous" moniker. Before you stop reading, you might want to start thinking, because there is nothing I like better than seeing my name in print. So much so that I became a journalist. And therein lies the rub. When you work for the competition or a big news organization, it becomes kind of a sticky business to spout off in other papers that don't pay your paycheck. I'm sorry if this doesn't measure up to your high Boulder standards of ethics, but that's the way it is for some of us working-class types. (Yeah, like that's your real name, anyway!) Your ol' pal,
Name withheld on request