Turds and whey: Thank you for Patricia Calhoun's November 8 "Cheese Wiz," on the Denver Public Library. Back in February, my manager at work had me read Who Moved My Cheese? I was similarly underwhelmed and horrified by the sappy pop psychology presented in the book that is basically an apology for "workforce reductions" -- i.e., layoffs.
However, I found that if the word "shit" is substituted for the word "change" in the text, the book takes on a whole new bent, one that is a more perfect reflection of reality. For example, here is the list of precepts promulgated toward the end with the word "shit" replacing "change":
A. Shit happens.
B. Anticipate shit.
C. Monitor shit.
D. Adapt to shit quickly.
F. Enjoy shit!
G. Be ready to shit quickly and enjoy it again and again.
Book marks: As a former Denver resident, I enjoy keeping up with the local news by logging onto westword.com. As a former Denver Public Library employee, however, I was dismayed to read your criticism of the DPL's change initiative. The truth is that the DPL is doing what they've been doing for the past sixteen years: constantly changing for the better.
Since Rick Ashton became Denver's city librarian in 1985, his willingness to introduce big changes into the library system has made the DPL number one among the nation's largest metropolitan libraries. When I moved from Colorado a year ago and left my job at the DPL, Ashton's Next Big Thing was under way. The recommendations for change came from intelligent, unafraid library employees, based upon the feedback they get from customers every day. All staff were consulted for their thoughts and opinions. Most said that it was time for change. Some had radical notions, such as increasing hours of service at branches, or figuring out how to have 24-hour telephone/e-mail reference, because customers have expressed interest in these services. Some were concerned that Ashton would be unwilling to make changes that would challenge comfort levels; others were concerned that he would be more than happy to do so. More than a few in the latter category decided to retire or switch careers, and others are evidently still complaining.
What you can count upon is that most DPL employees will be busy setting new benchmarks of excellence for U.S. libraries, and we will all benefit from their willingness to reinvent library services for changing communities.
Virginia Klein Nichols
He moved the cheese: After reading both P. Calhoun's informative airing of the cheesy situation at our beloved Denver Public Library and J. Jargon's "Growing Pains," a peek at the murky situation at the Denver Botanic Gardens, in the November 8 issue, it would seem a simple solution to move Mr. Ashton and his cheese out of the DPL stacks and into the bright, airy botanical gardens come next February.
Statuesque: In your November 8 edition, in an otherwise relatively intelligent commentary on the city's uneven treatment of public memorials and plaques, Patricia Calhoun wrote the following: "A few days earlier, the city had removed 'King and Companion,' a perfectly good statue of Martin Luther King Jr., from its longtime home in City Park, in preparation for replacing the sculpture with...another Martin Luther King Jr. monument, this one a million-dollar project by local artist Ed Dwight."
Perfectly good statue! Lordy, Ms. Calhoun, what have you been smoking? The now thankfully extinct statue of King was perfectly godawful. From the day it was unveiled to an audience hard-pressed to suppress their amusement/horror, the oddly distorted King statue, only roughly resembling a human being, was the source of numerous jokes among northeast Denverites and an insult to the memory of the great civil rights leader. Respectable pigeons avoided it. Removal of it came way too late, and replacing it is a community service for which we should all be grateful.
True to life: I am a chief deputy district attorney in Denver, and for seven years, I prosecuted gang members in the DA's Office Gang Unit. I know well what David Holthouse wrote about in "This Thug's Life," in the November 8 issue.
Thank you. Thank you for taking the time to show what gang-banging is really all about. Thank you for not glamorizing or patronizing, but instead telling it like it is. I fear that we may lose a generation to this nonsense. Hopefully your article will make a difference, if for just one person.
Feeling punk: Huh? Talk about irresponsible reporting! Mr. Holthouse makes this gang-banging little punk out to be the victim in this case, not the lowlife perpetrator that he really is. Everyone makes their own choices in life. Unfortunately for Molla Ayenalem and his wife (two of the nicer people I've had the pleasure of meeting), Lontine made the choice that he did. I hope he squeals loud when some real convict makes him his girlfriend.
Name withheld on request
Mean streets: I really liked "This Thug's Life." Deep down, I feel bad for Frank, but then again, I don't. It's just funny that in the article he was quoted saying, "I think a lot about suicide...I'm afraid I'm not going to do too good in prison." But in the streets, that wasn't a big concern to him.
I thank the Lord for giving me a family and my parents, who kept me on track. Unfortunately, Frank didn't have that in his life. I hope many young kids read this article and wake up, because there are still many kids who don't care about anything today.
via the Internet
No excuses: My letter is being sent in response to Augusta Vigil's blatant ignorance regarding Frank Lontine's lifestyle. First of all, you can't blame his family life for his actions. That does not cancel out the fact that on any given night, he would try and convince Andrew Toledo to go and "kill somebody" with him.
How can you say that Frank is not ready for what lies ahead? He shot a man in the chest while robbing him. But he didn't stop there: He tried to make sure this innocent man was dead by shooting him in the face. Think about that man's family. You knew Frank was into gangs. Gang members occupy life's lowest rung. Don't you know what gangs are capable of? Ever hear Brandy DuVall's story? A gang is an atrocity waiting to happen. Frank deserves life for what he did.
If you really want to help Frank out, I suggest you go put some money on his books. It seems his "crew" has ditched him.
Shame on you for minimizing this tragedy.
Out of sight, out of mind: Since I graduated from East High in 1993, it was easy for me to think gangs in Denver had all but disappeared. I got on with my life as an adult, and without that portal into urban Denver, I just figured the cops' crackdown after the Summer of Violence cleaned everything up. Sad to see that's not the case.
This kind of story reminds those of us who left that environment that just because we're not there doesn't mean it isn't. A very well-crafted story.
P.S.: Loved Calhoun's column on United Airlines, "Cash Landing," in the November 1 issue.
via the Internet
Chairman of the bored: Methinks me a better writer/journalist than Patricia Calhoun is an economist/CEO. After the November 1 "Cash Landing," perhaps her next insightful column could address the disparity of salaries amongst the staff at Westword and what makes her more valuable than those who answer the phones and deliver the paper.
It's what's up front that counts: Congratulations are in order for Patricia Calhoun's continuing coverage of the airport, most recently regarding United's former CEO. While other reporters were still quoting the company line, Calhoun bared her breast (so to speak) about Argenbright Security's incompetence. She's taken a lot of heat from letter writers in the last few issues, but I appreciate her honest, "up-front" commentary.
via the Internet
Defense! Defense: After watching all this security flap at DIA, my wife and I would like to ask this question: When the Donkeys go out of state to play, like to Oakland, California, how much of a security check do these guys go through? I'll bet Patricia Calhoun that they go on a chartered plane and therefore bypass all security.
Rave new world: I am writing to thank P.J. Methgarb for his November 1 letter, responding to mine of October 25. I enjoyed laughing at it very much!
I wrote in response to unnecessary "bitching and complaining" about airport security measures. I offered, in a facetious manner, solutions for women who did not feel comfortable being patted down because the metal-lined undergarments they chose to wear set off metal detectors. In Mr. Methgarb's rebuttal, I was informed that I (a 24-year-old professional opera singer whom he has never met) "need to get a life."
My letter (affectionately called "ravings") was not intended to be taken word-for-word, but rather in its entire form (sorta like that thing called the Bible) to remind people of the pettiness of complaining about something that is there to protect them. I understand the fact that some of these security workers are felons and that they get paid minimum wage. It's been all over the news! How could I not know? The most sensible solution (which I pointed out) is that women not give these workers any reason to touch them (i.e., no metal equals no pat-down).
Before Mr. Methgarb embarrasses himself with another letter, I would like to make a few suggestions. First, get a life of your own! Second, learn how to form a proper sentence. Third, get your facts straight! I am not from Colorado, but am glad to call it my new home. And the last time I checked, airport security does not require you to hand over your undergarments or any other piece of clothing at their checkpoints. Therefore, you can keep your out-of-date "leopard-skin Speedo"!
I hope this clears up your misconception of what I thought was a very straightforward letter. I enjoy reading Westword every week. It's a snappy paper with a sense of humor. I'm sorry that some people just don't get that humor thing! Needless to say, I thank Westword for printing my "ravings."
In short, I hope everyone learns to think about situations a little more before they go mouthing off about them. That is why we have brains, you know: to think up informed solutions!
via the Internet
Oil and watered-down patriotism: I want to praise Derf's "The City" comic for pointing out in the November 1 and November 8 issues the USA's own contribution to terrorism via over-consumption of gasoline. Finally, a media source is exposing this irony! Don't expect to see these views being expressed in the Denver Post or Rocky Mountain News.
As someone who bicycles for transportation, I am constantly being subjected to this patriotic contradiction, as huge SUVs with American flags run me off the road. Wake up, America: Putting a flag on your car is not taking action. Until the USA breaks its dependency on oil (and other fossil fuels), we will always be held prisoner...by terrorism and by pollution.
X marks the spot: In his November 1 "Meet the Slide Rulers," Bill Gallo should have mentioned the Colorado School of Mines fight song, which goes as follows:
E to the x, dy, dx,
E to the x, dx.
Secant, tangent, cosine, sine,
Three point one four, one five nine.
Fight 'em, fight 'em, fight 'em, Mines.
("Dy, dx" means the first derivative of y and x, respectively, and is pronounced "dee y, dee x." 3.14159 is pi to five decimal places.)
Jack Heggie, Physics '67
via the Internet
Blowing his top: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Top Ten," in the November 1 issue:
What a shame Denver has to put up with Dean Singleton journalism. Having worked at one of his esteemed papers in the Bay Area, I know firsthand what he does to a newspaper's quality. If I lived near Denver, I would go online and read real newspapers.
Live and let live: I did not appreciate Kyle Wagner's bad attitude toward vegetarians displayed in her review of White Fence Farm ("Ranch Dressing," November 8). Just because we believe that animals have feelings and should not have to suffer for humans, we also believe that we should have respect for all life forms. That includes both cabbage and, yes, restaurant critics.
Moby dick: I was appalled to learn from Kyle Wagner's November 1 Bite that the Buckhorn Exchange has among its trophies "a recently added whale's penis." The whale is a highly evolved and beautiful being, according to some who have extensively studied whales; they may be a lot wiser than humans. (Let's face it -- that wouldn't take much.) If Kyle Wagner and the people at the Buckhorn think this display is clever, they are showing the kind of gross insensitivity for which white Americans have so often and so rightly been criticized.
I have never eaten at the Buckhorn, as the idea of having my dinner staring back at me doesn't appeal to me at all, so I can't very well boycott it. However, I would ask those people who do patronize this place to reconsider what they are doing and what kind of attitudes they are supporting. If nothing else, they are certainly pushing the limits of good taste.
Art by the yard: In the October 25 Off Limits, there was a little blurb about the destruction of Currigan Hall. Do you know what will be the fate of the weird/cool mirrored sculpture on the corner of 14th and Stout streets? I love that thing, and if it's due for destruction also, I'd be proud to put it in my yard. That'd freak out the damned squirrels!
Warming trends: Regarding T.R. Witcher's "Gas Pains," in the October 4 issue, I agree with Steve Soychek that the oil and gas industries are doing a good deed. How else are all the tree-huggers and the rest of the liberal world going to stay warm in the winter and drive their SUVs? I think it is time to stop complaining about the drilling because it shows no signs of stopping -- and why should it? For those who do complain, go ahead and freeze in the winter, and walk everywhere!
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No names, please: Is my face red! Because of the frequently adolescent style and all too often abusively nasty quality of so many of the "Name withheld" letters, I never for a moment suspected they were written by journalists! Now that "my pal" has cleared this matter up with her letter published in the October 25 issue, I'm sure Westword's readers will join me in tolerantly chuckling, "Ah, those journalists!" whenever a particularly redolent specimen of anonymous letter appears.