Swallow hell: Harrison Fletcher's "Meanwhile, Back at the Ranchera," in the October 24 issue, was an interesting look at the Mexican music scene. But the Galindos shouldn't get too comfortable: I'm sure that their concert business will soon be gobbled up by the same corporate giants that have swallowed up the rest of the concert scene.
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The bright stuff: I enjoyed the article on the regional Mexican music scene, although I think the picture might have been painted with colors that were a bit too bright.
I am a security supervisor at the Denver Coliseum and have worked nearly every event there since the beginning of last year. (Please withhold my name, as is my company's policy.) While it is true that most patrons are relaxed and laid-back, there is a healthy percentage of 'bangers who attend, and their agenda is not filled with having a good time and listening to the music.
At the concert that was described in this story, I personally suffered a mild concussion after being pelted in the head with an open yet full can of beer, as well as a number of bruises from breaking up four or five large fights on the floor. Other staff have suffered cuts from small hidden knives, bruises and concussions from being targets of cans and fists, and numerous other injuries.
Again, I enjoyed the article. It was very well-written and entertaining to read. But it's not all flowers and love once the lights go down.
Name withheld on request
Angst furthermore: I saw your announcement asking twenty-somethings to send you stories of their crises.
I am going to be 31 next month. I am part of Generation X, the big sister of these people you are polling for angst. My micro-generation had angst, too. Many trees died for my generation's angst. I could loan some of those books to you. We finally figured out that analyzing navel lint is boring, and now you never hear about us anymore. I work. I volunteer for the Dumb Friends League. I have a social life. My friends do pretty much the same. I suspect most of us are content with having passed our collective, prolonged adolescence. Content, and relieved.
This new crop of early-twenties people are no different. Their navel lint looks like mine used to. How can Westword be thinking there's not enough news in the world right now to waste pages on this?
Just. Grow. Up.
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Mess appeal: Alan Prendergast's "Deeper Into Columbine," in the October 31 issue, was written in such an immature, mean-spirited way, I wonder where the anti-Michael Moore bias comes from. Whatever point the author was trying to make was hidden behind silly insults and sarcasm. Calling Moore a "huge, unsightly mess" who "jerks people around" was nasty. Moore is an insightful man who successfully brought about meaningful dialogue on an important issue with this film. The fact that he does not claim to have the answers does not make his work "gibberish." Prendergast needs to grow up a bit.
Pro Bowling: Most of the reviews I have read on Bowling for Columbine have been much more positive than your October 24 "Columbine Primer," but then, the other reviews I have read have been in California newspapers. The people in California have a much more liberal and modern way of viewing the world.
Michael Moore probably had a hard time finding Republicans to interview or debate who could "think for themselves." Republicans are closed-minded conservatives who don't care about the mass majority of the people. I think that the majority of the people who vote Republican are rednecks in the Midwest and the South; the "real" cities that run this country (New York) are mainly Democratic.
If it wasn't for the skiing and the mountains, no one would even want to live in Colorado, because of all of the gun-loving hunters who live here.
The life of O'Reilly: Quoting from Luke Thompson's Bowling for Columbine review, "Which isn't to say that Moore's wrong and O'Reilly's right (the converse is far more likely!)..."
Really? Until that comment, the review was pretty fair and balanced. But then, I've never written a published commentary, so I don't know how difficult it would be to keep my personal bent out of it. Being objective is no longer considered a journalistic mandate, anyway. You just keep on doing the best you can, okay?
A tangled Webb: Regarding Stuart Steers's "Lights On," in the October 31 issue: Once again, our bull-market-trained mayor rushes in where financially prudent private interests fear to tread. The analysis behind this hotel scheme is flawed. And the mayor's office is misrepresenting the level of public risk in order to build yet another monument to the Webb administration.
The hotel industry in general has been showing signs of being overbuilt for years. Occupancy rates, room prices and hotel-company stock prices are falling. Only governments are foolish enough to create more supply in the face of stagnant demand. Cities all over the country are scrambling to build more convention capacity and hotel space. What happens when supply increases faster than demand? Prices fall and will make it impossible for Denver to collect the exorbitant $162-a-night room rate needed to make a $350 million hotel boondoggle pay off. Then, when the hotel fails to meet financial expectations, taxpayers will be left holding the bag. The mayor's office claims bondholders will assume all the risk. This is simply inaccurate. Bond investors buy city debt at a reduced interest rate precisely because there is less risk than in a private deal. If the hotel fails, the city could be forced to choose between paying off wealthy investment interests and (for example) fixing streets in poor neighborhoods. I have some swamp land to sell anyone who believes the city will choose in favor of taxpaying citizens.
The mayor's office needs to learn that the '90s are over. Are there not already enough monuments to this administration? If the economy turns around and the convention-center expansion is a success, private companies will be eager to build a hotel. There is absolutely no reason to rush this project just so it can be done before Webb leaves office.
Here's the pitch: Thanks, Bill Gallo, for your classy and classic baseball story (" Baseball's Treasured Orb," October 31). It was a fascinating and unpredictable World Series, though you couldn't have gathered that from the sports columnists in the daily I read. Postmodern cynics who shouldn't be allowed to cover any sport that's not timed, their playoff reports said little about the game and volumes about their disinclination to cover it -- especially with Broncos and Avalanches to rhapsodize about.
I was recently meditating on my childhood heroes after the passing of one of them, Johnny U. The other biggies being Snider and Killebrew (and Billy Vukovich -- I was born in Indy). I find that even with the greed and drugs and glory-hogging, there are still plenty of ballplayers who are worthy of praise and, hopefully, wonderful memories for today's kids...
Fanning the flames: I picked up the October 31 Westword at school. Reading the letters, I came across the responses to Jason Sheehan's "Burning Passion," his review of Vesta Dipping Grill in the October 24 issue. I had to chuckle over each response, as Jason obviously struck a raw nerve with these people, who were being just a tad high-strung. But I thought that I should be fair, and so I read his review. Having done so, I can say for a fact that the poor people who responded so negatively have zero sense of humor. Not only that, they have a disturbing lack of appreciation for literary skills.
Jason's review was so well-written that I must give Westword a standing ovation for hiring him. Not only is he a talented and fair-minded food critic, but he writes with a finely honed literary skill that is quite refreshing. Putting both of those strengths together makes for an excellent piece. If Julia Child, Bill St. John, David Sedaris and Dan Savage had a child (hey -- it's the 21st century), Jason Sheehan would be it. Thank you, Jason, for writing not only an educated and well-informed review, but for making it solidly entertaining as well.
And for everyone who had a problem with it: Lighten up and get a "friggin" grip! It's just food.
Fishing for compliments: Kudos to Jason Sheehan for exemplifying the unique aura that one discovers at Vesta Dipping Grill. Unlike the letter writers in your October 31 issue, I was as captivated by the article as if I had been engrossed in a great mystery novel. Four of us had recently gone to Vesta for the first time, and I could relate to his culinary and sensory descriptions of the restaurant, its staff and the menu items. So he criticized a fish dish (but he couldn't put his fork down!). I certainly didn't interpret that or the entire review as a put-down of Vesta. On the contrary, if I hadn't had the pleasure of dining there already, I would have wanted to hotfoot it down there. Anyone can write a boring, innocuous restaurant review, and they do...in other publications.
"Read 'em and weep." Go, Jason!
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That's entertainment! Sheehan's a godsend. With 2002 being the thirtieth anniversary of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, it astounds me that people are so up in arms about colorfully personal imagery and the occasional swear word in journalism. Readers offended by Mr. Sheehan should turn the page. There is a lot of raucous shit between the theater listings and the real estate ads, folks.
Although I have often been informed by Westword restaurant critics over the years, it is rare that I am informed and entertained. I read Mr. Sheehan's column out of love for food and writing. His admittedly sometimes lurid descriptions make me interested in actually trying, or avoiding, the restaurants reviewed. That's the point. Isn't it?
Peter M.R. Bergman
Food for thought: As Popeye once said, "That's all I can standz, and I can't standz no more!" I have been an interested and active reader of Westword for over twelve years now. The Cafe column endeared itself to me, mainly because my father lived and died in the restaurant business, both as an owner and as a world-class chef for over forty years of his life. I grew up in the business, and while I never followed in my father's footsteps, I did resolve to be my own personal critic. Knowing all aspects of food preparation and presentation and having traveled the world, I really enjoyed the reputation Kyle Wagner built for your magazine, but as we all know, "in time all things must change."
I was looking forward to a new and exciting direction for Cafe, my favorite (but not only) column. And so begat Jason Sheehan.
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What I did not expect were all the crybabies and self-proclaimed supporters of your paper who claim to have been both morally and intellectually wronged by your hiring of Jason. Give me a break! What is with your readers? Can they not understand that everyone has an opinion, and it is both respected and understood that your readers' opinions are welcome -- but so are Jason's? The recurring threats that your readers will no longer read your free publication are ridiculous and childish. Stop your readers' rampage by letting the readers know the long and arduous process of hiring someone; let your readers know that your choice of Jason Sheehan was not a "lottery," and that your paper had procedures and requirements. Maybe when your readers see what it took to be a critic for your paper, they will have a little more understanding of why Jason was your choice. I am not asking for Jason's reasons for why he was hired or a repeat of his resumé; what I am requesting is that you stem the flow of threats of banishment by educating and informing your readers as to the reasons why Jason has the right to print his opinions. If you don't, I will never read your magazine again!
Just kidding -- I love your paper!
Editor's note: By now, Jason Sheehan's Cafe columns should speak for themselves. But for the record, his restaurant experience (fifteen years, most of them in the kitchen) and reviewing background (two years with the Albuquerque Alibi), coupled with his ability to articulate his opinions in an educated, entertaining way, made for a tasty combination that won out over hundreds of other applicants.