Letters to the Editor
Boxed set: Regarding Harrison Fletcher's "Cruz Control," in the August 1 issue:
I've lived in Denver for over 22 years and I've read Westword regularly since the mid-1980s. I am continually amazed at the quality of writing and the compelling subject matter that Fletcher and his fellow writers ceaselessly mine from our city, state and region. I'm starting to believe Westword is not just a regional gem, but a national treasure.
Will we ever see a "Best of Westword" anthology? I'd like to place an advance order.
Two live Cruz: I just wanted to compliment the article about Terri and Arturo Cruz. I have sparred and worked out with Arturo on a few occasions and he really is a great, kindhearted person. I had no idea that he had so much . . . background.
The bottom line: I guess I am at a loss here. Are we supposed to feel sorry for Jonna Cohen and Michael Sobol for breaking the law? (Alan Prendergast's "Crossing the Line," August 8). I was fine with them demonstrating. It is the right (and/or duty, depending on your view) of every American to speak out against what they believe to be wrong. However, breaking the law in the process oftentimes makes you just as bad as the persons whom you are protesting. Laws are in place for a reason, even trespassing laws. They ensure that a level of civilized interaction can occur in society without its complete breakdown. If lawlessness were allowed to go unpunished, imagine the lack of safety we would have, and the ensuing chaos that would take place in our society.
If Cohen and Sobol wanted to be truly informed on the issues they were protesting, they should have taken the opportunity to go through the classes, even the ones in Spanish, and then fought the system with at least some knowledge of what goes on in those classrooms. That would have provided them a moderate level of credibility. As it now stands, they will be fighting the system as convicted miscreants -- still possessing only secondhand knowledge of their cause.
Forgive us our trespassers: Thank you so much for the article on Jonna and Michael's struggle. So many people in the Denver area have joined this movement, both attending the protest as well as serving jail time, and very little press has responded. I think it is crucial to know how our own country funds terrorism, no matter what side of the line you are on. The actions of our government before September 11 should not be ignored now that we have experienced the effects of terrorism ourselves. We need to take reponsibility for our own compliance in paying taxes to support dictators and torture techniques that have threatened the people of Latin America for fifty years.
Temple services: So, Michael Roberts waits two years for an interview with Rocky Mountain News editor, publisher and president John Temple ("In the Temple," August 1), and when he gets the chance, serves up batting-practice pitches such as "I feel the Rocky's photography is superior to the Post's, and I'm guessing you agree" and "Do you feel your broadsheet is better-looking than the Post's?" that Temple can easily hit over the fence with replies we can all find in his weekly, self-congratulatory column in the Rocky. The first example isn't even a question.
While I'm sure Temple is pleased with the results, Westword readers would have been no worse off had Temple kept ignoring Roberts's entreaties.
Stick with what works best for you, Michael: spreading gossip passed along by newsroom wags.
Paper tigers: Thanks for "In the Temple," an excellent piece of journalism. I've felt for many years that the Rocky is the best paper in the country. Conversely, the Denver Post . . .sucks! Oh, by the way, I'm very fond of Westword as well.
Job security: Michael Roberts has apparently lost his edge. His usually healthy cynicism and skepticism about the Rocky's fearless leader, John Temple, were MIA. Temple's ego and vindictiveness drove off the paper's best reporters and editors -- some of whom went on to achieve national recognition once they left his vise. And why did they need to go? Temple can't stand to have anyone around him who is as smart, strong, capable or ambitious as he thinks he is. He is not the Joe Goodfellow portrayed by Michael Roberts. This is one hell of a fraud. Is Roberts vying for a job at the Rocky or something?
Take a letter, Mr. Roberts: After some years of reading Michael Roberts's hype and outrage over how Rocky Mountain News poobah John Temple regularly ignored his requests for comments, I was primed for a real interview. Unfortunately, what transpired read like an ambitious exercise in hagiography and dogged stenography on the part of Mr. Roberts.
That said, I found a couple of details of interest. One was the mention of a photograph of the late, great Rocky columnist Greg Lopez's "children" that Mr. Roberts notes in his worshipful opener describing his admittance to Mr. Temple's Secret Bat Cave. As far as I know, Greg and his wife Kathleen had two children. The first, Mary, was stillborn in 1994. The other daughter, Calla, was born after Greg's death in 1996.
So if the publisher of the Rocky Mountain News has one picture of both these children in his office, I'd call it "news" or just, well . . ."strange" kinda sums it up.
On a lighter note, I got a real charge out of Mr. Temple's description of his former boss Jay Ambrose as "very bright, driven guy who had a lot of ideas."
Let me put it this way: Jay Ambrose is also the same "very bright, driven guy who had a lot of ideas" who once told a longtime copy desk staffer that he wished he could just eliminate the copy desk. He also is the same intellectual beacon who, as the pope was gracing Denver with his presence for World Youth Day, asked (apparently rhetorically): "What other institution in the history of the world has survived for 2,000 years?" before taking a final, satisfying suck on his pipe and leaving the late, great Rocky smoking room in satisfaction. Those of us who were there kept silent until the door closed and a newsroom wag quipped: "Maybe the religion Jesus came from? Or perhaps prostitution?"
Scripps Howard clearly picks the best minds to oversee the downfall of its papers, and Mr. Temple is no exception.
Letter writer's note: Mr. Mitchell retains the dubious distiction of being fired twice from the Rocky Mountain News. In the interest of fairness, he asks you to consider his comments in this context.
Straight to the heart: David Ehrenstein's August 8 "Free Willies" was a wonderful review of The Cockettes, and very touching. I lived in San Francisco in the early '70s and the Cockettes were a total gas. Whether they wanted to do it or not, they helped place "otherness" in a context that straights could accept. And they were so perfectly irreverent! SF Muni Transit buses advertising that, "The Cockettes are brought to you by Uranus Productions," used to bring unexpected mirth to city-dwellers leading otherwise -- how did Thoreau put it -- lives of quiet desperation. Really nice piece of writing!
Never buy bilingual: I knew Julie Dunn's piece regarding the English immersion petition ("What's in a Name?" August 1) was getting off on the wrong foot when the first sentence spoke of Colorado children's right to bilingual learning. While the article mostly dealt with the unlikely charge (made by one person with an apparent ax to grind) that a petitioner effectively offered a bribe to sign the English immersion petition, I think the more relevant issue is the larger philosophical one regarding the initiative itself.
Effectively, bilingual education programs function as a parallel school system, with all the attendant spending and staff. Unions love the extra jobs, while the Democratic Party enjoys the political funding that flows almost unanimously to them via union dues. This creates a disincentive to move bilingual children into English-only classes. These students will subsequently spend years in bilingual programs, struggling with translation problems stemming from various levels of English proficiency while never gaining the strong English language skills that lead to better grades, higher standardized test scores, and the ability to go on to college. The net result is that opportunities to advance into white-collar suburbia are cut off (most notably for Hispanic kids).
To your Hispanic readership I say, if you really love your children and want them to be successful in America, keep them as far away from bilingual programs as possible. Insist that they be transferred as quickly as they can into the English-only track and bristle at any administration objections that your child isn't ready yet.
Yuck! Your new restaurant reviewer seems totally inappropriate for Westword: arrogant, nasty language, generally unpleasant. He may be a good cook, but he doesn't seem like a very nice person. Please keep looking for a new reviewer!
via the Internet
Yeah! For those of you who choose to criticize Jason Sheehan's restaurant reviews, let me make an educated guess regarding your lives: You wake up at the same time each day, dress in the same clothes, drive your SUVs on the same roads to the same boring, cubicle-jailed job the same days of the week, eat at whichever trendy restaurants your boring friends will be sure to see you at, and then go home and watch the same boring television shows that you can discuss at your boring job with your boring friends.
I have never made it a point to read restaurant reviews; frankly, the majority of them are chronically boring. However, Jason Sheehan has altered my perception of said reviews. He interjects a human element to eating out, straying from the oft-used redundant manner of bland writing most food reviewers are guilty of. Jason certainly does not need to hear this from me, but he should not change his writing style to appease the cattle element of the population.
Jason, your writing is fresh, funny and refreshingly stylish!
The road less traveled: For the past few years, I have made sure to make a trip to the grocery store or somewhere I could pick up my copy of Westword on Thursday, turning first to Kyle Wagner's restaurant reviews. They always inspired me to try a new restaurant, or be cautious about some.
Jason Sheehan, your new restaurant critic, spends more time talking about himself and his "travel oddysey" ("On the Road," July 25) than about the food at the restaurants he has reviewed. There is no sense of the menu offerings, and I could care less about green chili in New Mexico and the car he drove.
I guess I don't have to get to the grocery store to pick up Westword on Thursdays. I can just wait till Friday and read what Kyle has to say in the Post!
via the Internet
Little favors: I so thought I would miss Kyle Wagner; what a pleasant surprise to get Jason Sheehan. I applaud his efforts to let us in on the special little eateries. I would never venture into an Olive Garden! I may even break my vow and venture to Aurora for Narayan's ("Paint the Town," August 8).
My life circumstances require kid-friendly places now. I would really appreciate a comment about that occasionally, as well. God, please tell me I'm not relegated to Happy Meals and other gimmicky glop! Thanks, Jason, and welcome to Denver.
Snob snub: Allow me to add to the chorus of complaints regarding Jason Sheehan's intolerably pretentious and self-important food writing. I must say I am impressed that he was able to even write the review for Maruti Narayan's what with all the distraction from the food "whispering," "hissing" and "sighing" (yet not "raising its voice"). Also, it is quite admirable that he takes the time to explain the dynamic of foreign cuisine consumption to all of the "pasty suburbanites" here in Denver ("...sometimes you taste something you've never experienced before, something for which you have no frame of reference"). Interesting that he later admits to sampling "dishes whose names I couldn't tell you even if my job depended on it." Surely his job should depend on such details, especially since he reminds us that "food is (his) life."
Restaurant snobbery comes easy to me, having lived in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Dallas; however, Mr. Sheehan's role as self-appointed culinary instructor to all of the hapless souls in Denver (I'm sure that, with a little coaxing, he will single-handedly convert Olive Garden-goers to paneer-eating risk-takers) is beyond condescension (and, more important, not fun to read). We all uttered a collective "whew" when Mr. Sheehan humbly admitted that he will "never, ever (his italics!) know everything there is to know."
via the Internet
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