Bonds on the run: Regarding Bill Gallo's "A Swing and a Myth," in the October 18 issue -- I have a short list of grievances.
"Barry bin Ladin" is right. Shame on you for trying to defend a human being as detestable as Barry Bonds. It has nothing to do with being a baseball fundamentalist that we detest such players, but everything to do with the fact that Bonds, and those who act the way he does, are ugly people. Decent human beings inspire us whether they are professional athletes or not.
Are you kidding me, saying Bonds plays hard? He is a selfish player who could not care less for anyone, including his teammates. Bonds has no respect for fans, either. He doesn't give back to the game; he doesn't even give back to his first family. I remember the eighty-year-old man who waited in line for an hour in the summer heat of Atlanta for an autograph, and Bonds signed his name "John Doe." Bonds will blame, and Bonds will make excuses, but you will not hear him apologize, even when he drops a one-handed catch. That's the type of human being that Bonds is.
Bringing out the indiscretions of past ballplayers is no way to win an argument when it comes to Bonds. Babe Ruth, the greatest baseball player ever, may have liked to drink whiskey and spend his time flitting about with women, but that didn't keep him from being great for kids -- no matter where he went around the world -- and great for the game of baseball. Perhaps Bonds can be compared to Pete Rose insofar as his teammates hate him and would never come to his defense. Rose nearly single-handedly destroyed the game of baseball, and Bonds, the cancer that he is, has been enough to keep me and a lot of others away from the ballpark when he comes to town, unless, of course, the game is played after the All-Star break, when I can assume that Bonds will be taking the day off (to recuperate from the strenuous activities of the Mid-Summer Classic), as he has done in years past.
Bonds may be the best left-fielder in the history of the game, but let us not forget Ted Williams's six years in the military. Don't even get me started on Rickey Henderson, who can often be found in the clubhouse playing cards during games. I hope you enjoy watching Bonds next season when he plays for your precious New York Yankees. I'm sure they'll regard him as the greatest left-fielder of all time, and not the selfish, loathsome person that he is.
He screams, we all scream: I think I have the answer for the Rockies ball team. Instead of having Buddy Bell jump and scream in the faces of umpires on close plays, just have him jump up and down and scream in the face of O'Dowd every time he makes a bad decision.
What an example Bell makes for young sports fans, getting kicked out of seven games in one month. The young kids playing ball think it is cool to jump up and down and scream in the umpire's face. The answer: Get rid of Bell!!
Give me liberty: Patricia Calhoun's recent columns on the airport, most recently "Life in the Slow Lane," in the October 25 issue, prompt these comments: First, women who claim they would not mind being frisked do not address the issue that some women object to such treatment regardless of the claim of the additional security afforded. No proof for such actions preventing any crime has ever been offered, so any suggestions that this is the case are groundless. Should we also allow testicular searches when "the wand" detects something in the groin area?
Few can doubt that many of our supposed rights are being compromised, if not completely removed. The irony is that we allowed it to be done so easily without the supposed whimper that should accommodate so great a passing.
The second issue regards our "patriots" who buy the American flag and other paraphernalia to demonstrate their "support" of those who died in the September 11 attacks. Such support is cheap: $15 for some plastic flags that attach to your SUV? This proves what?
I was in college during the Vietnam War and had a friend, a hippie, beaten by some construction workers who were working on the very school we were attending. In a sense, they were attacking the same people who paid their wages. During the Vietnam War (an undeclared war often referred to as a police action), there were many clashes like this. The construction workers were spouting such slogans as "America, love it or leave it." I'm serious.
Is anyone fooled by such simplistic behavior? If I tell a friend who is grieving for a lost relative, "My heart goes out to you," what have I really done except pay lip service? Should real patriotism be so cheap? Do we really look at the flag-wavers and swell with pride or, like me, do you wonder about the intentions of those selling such cheap trinkets and those who believe they actually mean something? If this is still not clear, see if these are the same people who, in the spirit of patriotism, are buying gas masks and anthrax medicine so they can survive while their American neighbors die because the patriots are hoarding these for their own selfish survival.
One last chilling question: Do you want to live among these "patriots" if they are the only ones to survive?
Robert C. Train
Unsafe at any Speedo: Once again, Denver (Colorado) has risen to the occasion of its namesake, the "Hate State." Not that we learn (again) that DIA is the third-worst airport in the country during this time of crisis (didn't we kind of know that all along?), or that the security company is hiring felons, using as a perk the opportunity for them to get a little on the side while performing their minimum-wage duties, but the October 25 ravings of Bryce Smith, "a proud American who doesn't bitch and complain."
It never dawned on me that women could be holding guns or knives in their bras, or that the hardware in their Wonderbras could be used as a garrote. For Mr. Smith's information, I could probably use my leopard-skin Speedo to strangle the life out of him (but I probably won't). Even so, I damn sure am not going to turn that over at the security checkpoint. Mr. Bryce Smith needs to get himself a life.
Check, please: It will be interesting to see if any of the people who rightfully complained about their mistreatment at the DIA security checks remember that they voted for the people who authorized this treatment and decide to vote for someone else the next time they have the opportunity.
Vicious cycle: Thank you very much for James Hibberd's "Home Sweet Clone," in the October 18 issue. Highlands Ranch is a perfect example of the suffocating conformity imposed by (sub)urban sprawl. The attitude that Highlands Ranchers take to their neighborhood is the same conformist attitude they pass down to their kids. I have an open message, not only to all HR residents, but to suburbia dwellers everywhere: While you sit around and enjoy the safety and security of your crime-free cookie-cutter neighborhood, a new generation of social oppression is being incubated. Abercrombie-wearing, bleached-blond boys and girls roam your neighborhood, and you breathe a sigh of relief. You've given your children a perfect environment -- so long as they all fit in -- but do you really know what this "paradise" is? Your perfect daughters have to starve themselves to stay accepted, to be recognized by your perfect athlete sons who view them as no more than another lay on prom night. It's a good thing they're getting a perfect education, too, an education in schools that help crush dissenting, independent thinking. An education in a system where you can get an A by simply doing the work, regardless of whether or not you actually learn. You'll buy them a nice, new car and send them off to college, all expenses paid -- by you. There they can reinforce the exact same homogeneous utopia, just without you around. After college, they'll find some cubicle in the Denver Tech Center in which they can earn money to support their families and pay the court for their divorces, perpetually returning to the same daily grind because it's the American dream, it was your dream, your setup.
At the end of the day, if this twisted world starts to get to you, you can put a "We are all Columbine" sticker on your car and forget about it, because you've done your part...right?
Sub-lifestyle: When a co-worker first told me about Westword's "Home Sweet Clone" story, I thought: "Here we go again. Yet another mindless 'Let's bash suburbia' story written by a U.S. author who probably is a product of American suburbia."
Thankfully, this story presented various viewpoints and touched on issues that bother me as a bona fide Highlands Ranch resident: bad planning and conspicuous consumption. I'm not sure what kind of mentality went into the creation of the American suburb. I only know that my family moved here from northwest Denver to offer our son a safer lifestyle than he might have had in other parts of the city. The homes are affordable. The community is kid-friendly. Yes, there are some trade-offs. This is the first suburb I've ever lived in. To offset any shortcomings, we spend many of our weekends exploring the entire Denver-metro region. We are always grateful to return to our beautiful Highlands Ranch home.
As an American who lived outside the United States for a decade, I can tell you that life in almost any U.S. city or town seems pretty similar, seasoned, perhaps a tad, with some regional flavor. Where you live is what you make of it. Some people's idea of living on the edge is to put a piranha sculpture in their backyard, ride a Harley to Larimer Square or snowboard at Vail.
I guess we all have to feel superior about something. If some people have such a hard time wrapping their minds around the imaginary line between Denver and Highlands Ranch, I can only wonder how they would react to other cultures, other languages and other people around the world.
Something's fishy: Tony Pillow's red piranha in Vikki Stevens's yard is a replica of the sculptural sign in front of the Red Fish Restaurant in Boulder. Rather cute, I would say. Ms. Stevens could claim it is no more or less than the stone placards that serve as reminders to the residents of Highlands Ranch of where they live...given the similarity of the houses in the area. If she loses a legal battle, she might even be able to have ordinances created that would prohibit such development placards.
Suburbanites: 1; radical sculpturalists: 0.
Cross his heart: I was reading a letter in last week's issue from a gentleman in the Highlands Ranch area, vilifying those who do not like that area and singing the praises of those who support it. (The article was right on, by the way.) I lived in Highlands Ranch until a year ago myself. I moved back to Denver proper to be in a real neighborhood, and not some bland waste of real estate with no soul. Highlands Ranch is a place much like Los Angeles, where everything is about appearances.
Well, I'll tell you what, folks: You can keep Highlands Ranch, your Range Rover and the sea of houses like something out of 1984, George Orwell's nightmare, and live happily ever after. The rest of the real people will gladly stay where we are and cross everything we have that you do the same.
The song remains the same: "Home Sweet Clone" brought back memories of Melvina Reynolds singing "Little boxes on the hillside/ There is a green one, a blue one, a blue one, they are all made out of ticky ticky tacky.../And they all look just the same/A doctor lives here, a lawyer lives there and they all go to the club and drink their martini dry/Their children all go to the same school/Then to a college and become a lawyer or doctor/And move into a little house of ticky tacky/That looks the same."
In Highlands Ranch, as in many citadels of conformity in American neighborhoods, man is on parade from his mother's womb to the grave...searching, running and grabbing for the book that holds the pages of illusion. Yet when he goes home to his earth-toned cottage or a library (more often called a club), or numerous middle-class pastimes, all he finds is the agony of comprehension.
We see the animals at the zoo and men in jail...yet we all live in the mortal cage of suburbia, for the animals are you and me. The "I" seeks to be different, yet he conforms and watches all, for in reality we are all secret lovers of one another. Our truth is metal, plaster, chipboard houses and shiny cars; these are the gods for which we live, work and die -- the gods of papier mâché.
For we are all strangers who want to touch and feel and never be hurt, yet even our dogs receive more human love. The seventh day is here, and we can worship the true god under the sunrise of the seventh day, while garbage, bums, aspirin bottles and empty containers of sedation are collected...
And god created man in his own image.
D. Walton Hester
Painting the town: I lived in a "covenanted community" when I moved here eleven years ago. The sales pitch is exactly as James Hibberd described: Covenants will ensure you don't have the flamingo-pink or neon-green home in your neighborhood and will protect the value of your home. Of course, if I had thought back, I never had one of those in any neighborhood I'd lived in previously, but I got caught in the "spirit of the sale." For me, the controlled environment started when they wanted to take over my garbage. Now, I have my "blonde" moments, but I can at least manage my own garbage. And when I calculated the trips of three companies versus one company, I could not see the savings on the road (most of us used one of the three, but "they" didn't want to do the research homework). So we joined the Association (even that sounds ominous). There we learned of the vehement desire and power of the members (few in number) to maintain control. We watched folks come in to plead their case for their house color, basketball hoops and whatever personal item they thought would make their house their home. There were the homeowners who painted their home a bright pink, were reported by their neighbors (not that we couldn't see it) and felt the wrath of the Association: Repaint or be repainted. They asked for a delay, since they'd used their savings for this paint job, didn't realize how bright the color would be and would repaint next year. But patience and forgiveness are not characteristics of the Covenant Committee. So after the neighbors of the "Pink House" pelted the house with mud and tar, the Association contracted the repaint and billed the homeowner.
Finally, there was the homeowner who was pulled in to defend her desire to xeriscape, but the neighbors looking into her fenced backyard (we can only assume from their second-story window) didn't like what they saw. It wasn't "green." I will always remember her words after two visits to the board: "I left Warsaw to come to a free country to grow flowers and plants. In Warsaw, there was not room in the city to grow flowers except for a plant in the window. I come to America to find the freedoms to just grow things doesn't exist. America is not a free country? In Warsaw, I could grow what I wanted."
Needless to say, I was ashamed at even being a part of such a group. So I moved to the mountains.
On another note, I love the "diversity" described in the article -- based on how much a home costs? So I should feel more empathy to the homeowner with only a $150,000 home because they can't have a $1M home? Right! Ms. Santangelo needs to get out into the rest of the world. A diverse community has a mix of peoples based on ethnicity, race, lifestyles, etc., not the almighty dollar. Susan Barnes-Gelt's statement that "real communities have streets that are a public realm where dialogue and democracy and human life take place" is so true, and so missing in these convenanted communities. In the covenanted community, the neighbors (so close they could fill your coffee cup from their kitchen window) never talk to their neighbors. Now we live in a community where we know all of our neighbors, talk through issues and rely on each other.
For the children of the folks in these covenanted communities, I thought my hometown of 98 folks was small. But my heart goes out to the narrow, restricted and boring life your folks have forced upon you. Who would ever want to go to a pool with such restrictions? You are forced into creative disobedience. To your parents, shame on you for sending your kids to the sewers to just be kids. Of course, you are probably not around to even know.
Thank you, Westword, for the great writeup. Maybe one HR family will see the cloning for what it is and seek to look for a human community.
Sally M. Higgins
That's the way the cookie crumbles: Being a resident of "The Ranch," one might expect that I would have found fault with your article. On the contrary, it was right on the money. The bits about the covenants and the church rang especially true. There is no individuality here. In reality, it isn't desired. Try wearing a Metallica shirt to King Soopers; the looks are great entertainment. What is most disturbing, however, is watching a self-important soccer mom who drives a $40,000 SUV look down her nose at the crew of Hispanic workers buying lunch at Albertson's. Don't they realize that while their sweat and blood go into building these cookie-cutter houses, strip malls and restaurants, they are not welcome here? Terrible, but true. After all, their presence may knock a few thousand off your resale value.
Color bind: I read with interest your article on Highlands Ranch. Having done some work down there, I saw firsthand the fear the covenant brownshirts instill in the populace. One woman begged me to paint the garage-door section I'd replaced so she wouldn't get the dreaded nasty-gram. I could only recommend someone and hope it got done before her neighbors ratted her off to the covenant cops. Being an automotive hobbyist, I could never live there. My old car is their eyesore, even if it is all together and running (it isn't all one color).
Prisoners of pain: I read with great interest Alan Prendergast's article on Dr. Rick Schmidt, formerly at the University of Colorado hospital in Denver ("The Strange Case of Dr. Schmidt," September 20). There is no doubt in my mind that Dr. Schmidt saved my life from ruin. I was headed toward disability, suicide or insanity.
Unlike every other doctor who immediately recommended I have a hysterectomy, Dr. Schmidt addressed my pain, as opposed to pushing surgery. I had to wait three hours to see him. Every examining room was full; the waiting room was stuffed with patients. The wait was worthwhile. Dr. Schmidt took time to listen to me and to ask many questions. I left his office with a pain "cocktail" of various medications. For the first time in months, I experienced no pain.
I went to see Dr. Schmidt regularly. He discouraged a hysterectomy, explaining how surgery could make my pain worse. I never saw a doctor work as long and as exhaustively as Dr. Schmidt. He was besieged by patients. All of us had the same experience: Dr. Schmidt was making us better.
I cannot find any credibility in the story of the woman who says that Dr. Schmidt refused to take out her wires because she did not have insurance. Dr. Schmidt practiced in the shabbiest of offices. This was no glitzy private practice. While I had private insurance, my guess is that very few of Dr. Schmidt's patients were so fortunate. Not only did no one seem to care whether I could pay at CU, but Dr. Schmidt went out of his way to do things for which he clearly wasn't compensated.
One day I appeared for my scheduled appointment, and the offices of Dr. Schmidt were bare -- literally gone. I was disoriented, shocked, confused.
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It is incredible that an entire patient population would be left -- without notice -- without a successor physician and, most important, without treatment. Lawyers cannot walk away from their cases. They must either see them through to resolution or turn the client over to a list of three referrals.
Not until I read the Westword article did I understand that the university terminated Dr. Schmidt, and in doing so terminated his patients as well -- with no direction, no guidance, no consolation, no offers of help. When Dr. Schmidt ceased to exist, the university must have thought that all those poor people stuffed in the waiting room disappeared as well. My heart goes out to all of them who suffered so much.
I speak English. I have private insurance. I have money and a law degree. What happened to all those patients who were terribly ill but had no such resources? The conclusion is inescapable that some of them died.
Susan G. Haines