Signs of the Times

Letters to the Editor

License to chill: I just wanted to applaud Patricia Calhoun's sign-ordinance column, "Dollars and Nonsense," in the June 5 Westword, and recount a similar experience I had last year while working for the City.

I had parked downtown for an interview. My car's front plate holder was damaged, and I had ordered the part for the frame; I received a ticket because my plate was on my dashboard. I immediately went to the "traffic court," showed the "judge" my receipt for the ordered license-plate holder, explaining why the plate was on the dashboard. She was combative but canceled the ticket.

Lo and behold, I go outside, and while I was in the "court," I'd gotten another ticket. So I rushed back to the judge and showed her the new ticket and she said, sorry, I will only cancel one ticket. It was a $30 citation. Talk about mean-spirited and antiquated ordinances. With John Hickenlooper coming on board, I hope the city will scrap these stupid-ass laws and get down to business in encouraging downtown visitors.

Dreux DeMack
via the Internet

Yeah, that's the ticket: Good for Larry Barnhart! I just hope that John Hickenlooper lives up to his campaign promises and handles all these concerns about parking. Talk about nonsense! Why should people have to park their cars downtown, risking another ticket, so that they can go up to the seventh floor of some building to fight a ticket they should never have gotten in the first place?

There has to be a better way.

Joan Stiles

Political party: I just read your article about Larry Barnhart, a longtime friend. Larry had already warned me via e-mail about what was amiss with the Denver parking police issuing him a ticket for having his "For Sale" sign taped on his van while temporarily parked at a meter on public property while he went about his errands. Frankly, I'm sorry that Larry paid the fine instead of choosing to make an issue of it, as it's one of many examples of ludicrous policing and a definite waste of taxpayer money.

For both Larry's and Westword's sake, I hope this "Not for Sale" sign party is happening. I believe, though, that all your vehicles should have "For Sale" signs with small letters at the bottom: "This is really not for sale." That way, you can tell the powers that be -- after they haul you all away in Thoreau-like style -- that they should know to read the fine print!

Sherry M. Gallagher
The Netherlands

The Bus Stops Here

In broad daylight: As a regular RTD rider the past eighteen years, I enjoyed "Route of Ill Repute," the June 5 story by David Holthouse about the 15 bus. Although Holthouse focused on the freak show during the late-night shift, there are juicy tales to tell about the 15 at other times of the day as well.

One night a BBW (big beautiful woman) climbed aboard a crowded 15 and couldn't find a seat. I offered her my seat, but it wasn't big enough, and the guy sitting next to me was too drunk to stand up so she could have both of our seats. An elderly unshaven man offered to let her sit on his lap, and she took him up on it. Within minutes, the man's hands reached around and began fondling the woman's breasts, and she leaned her head back and smiled. Just when I thought I'd seen it all on the 15, I glanced over across the aisle and saw an effeminate skinhead stroking his wienie while watching the BBW and the guy. Goddess only knows if the skinhead was choking the chicken for the BBW or the guy.

My most scary time on the 15 happened several years ago, when an uptight man boarded the 15 at Colfax and Glencoe, refused to pay, and demanded that the bus go to 28th and Race. When the driver calmly informed the man that the 15 goes on East Colfax only, the passenger was adamant about the 28th and Race destination. As the bus headed down Colfax and the man pressed his loud demands, there was an eerie silence on the bus (unusual for the 15), as all of us thought a hostage situation was unfolding. When we finally got to Colfax and York, the man suddenly jumped off, and the trembling driver radioed for help.

My most touching experience on the 15 was the night a guy staggered onto the bus at Colfax and Quebec. Thinking he was just another drunk, nobody paid attention. Once seated, the man's head and upper body kept heaving around. Not smelling any alcohol, an observant passenger told the driver she thought the man was epileptic. The concerned driver stopped the bus, found the guy's diabetic bracelet, radioed for help, and ran into the nearby Good Times to get something sweet to give to the diabetic until the paramedics arrived.

The next time people watch the 15 bus going down East Colfax, think about Holthouse's well-described freak show. However, also think that the 15 often serves as a child-care service for single mothers, shelter for the homeless, and headquarters for some thick-skinned and compassionate drivers.

Donaciano Martínez

Hold the pickles: Great coverage of the 15. I don't ride it at night, so I miss a lot of the action. Still, daytime can be quite a trip, too. Much of the action in David Holthouse's story took place up front. I find that it's in the back where things get weirdest, especially in the articulated buses that run at busy times. Behind the bend, the driver is out of sight and out of mind. On other RTD routes, people generally follow the rules; I rarely even see people litter or drink soda. On the 15, I've seen a guy sitting on the pivot discover pickles in his burger and spit them onto the floor. That's enough entertainment for me and, I'd guess, for most novices to the 15 scene.

Roger Marks

The ride of his life: "Route of Ill Repute" was the most intensely kickin' story I've read in a long time, and I read a lot of them. I've never ridden the 15 and don't know where Colfax is except "Denver," but this story hooked me out of cyberspace and left me feeling better for having read it. I laughed out loud three or four times, it was just so dead-on good, and I sincerely mean that. Westword is kicking ass and taking names every week.

Brent Andrews
Franklin, Tennessee

Route 666: Kudos to David Holthouse for fine journalism and what is the most accurate of stories ever. The 15 is a ride to experience; every day is interesting. Myself, I have never been disappointed by the entertainment and the diversity of the 15. Also, some of the drivers of the 15 are the greatest. You have to have a sense of humor and the patience of Job to do that route. I look forward to hopping the bus this evening.

Robert Baca-Bower

The street where he lived: Well done! Thanks for taking me there. As a past resident off the Colfax corridor, "Route of Ill Repute" was a trip down memory lane. Should anyone ever question the wisdom in David Holthouse's choice of vocation, direct them to the fifth paragraph. Succinct, colorful and less than 25 words. This is how good writing is taught and how it should be done.

Tim Karstens
Lincoln, Nebraska

Is this seat taken? I just picked up Westword and read David Holthouse's "Route of Ill Repute." I absolutely fell in love with the work. I went online to find more of David Holthouse's articles. Woo. I got completely absorbed in them. I imagine this last article is an account of observations while riding Route 15? I felt as if I were also sitting there watching the drunks and curiosities get on and off. I applaud Holthouse for his unique and invigorating writing style, and can only zealously wait for his next publication.

Cassi Sattazahn

Situation normal: I was very impressed by David Holthouse's article. As I am moving to Denver in a few weeks, I find reading Westword a way to see what Denver is really like compared to D.C. Your story about the 15 bus makes me feel like I will fit right in and feel right at home. No, I am not a crackhead or a Bible-thumping maniac, but after twelve years in this city, my new home wouldn't seem complete without them. I have ridden a lot of buses here and have seen my fair share of the "local color" of Washington.

Thanks for letting me know that Denver isn't the bastion of normalcy I have seen from my friend's house in Park Hill. I think part of my summer (besides finding a teaching job) will be spent on the 15.

Anita Murano
Washington, D.C.

Father Knows Best

Daddy dearest: Regarding Harrison Fletcher's "Day of the Dad," in the May 29 issue:

While I do not believe the fatherhood programs described by Fletcher should be discontinued, I also believe that American fathers do not need a government that tells us how to be fathers as much as we need a government that enforces our rights to be fathers. If we can't see our kids and be an integral part of their lives, we can't be dads.

The government has its priorities backward. It believes kids need money more than love, failing to recognize that love finds a way where money does not. And in finding that way, boys become men and girls become women.

Politicians have long believed that fathers are the problem. Truth is -- and Harrison Fletcher deserves credit for pointing this out -- we're the solution.

Paul Robbins

Man, oh man: Thank you for Harrison Fletcher's "Day of the Dad." Indeed, Daddy is destiny. A young woman is three times less likely to get pregnant if a father is positively involved in her life. A responsible fatherhood program is closely akin to being a family unit anti-trouble serum. What disappointed me was the only cursory mention and explanation of the Los Padres program. Los Padres is the result of a decade-old vision held by Richard Garcia and the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition. Garcia serves as the 23-year-old organization's executive director. CSPC is heavily involved in many parent/school involvement issues. The group works with schools and parents throughout Colorado.

Eight years ago Mr. Garcia and I were asked to sit on the Governor's Task Force on Responsible Fatherhood. We issued a report. Then most of us went away. Garcia, though, actually took the bull by the horns. The rigorous "fourteen-week training program" is his creation.

As Jaime diPaulo can attest, it is far more than men gathering to learn how to become touchy-feely. For him and other men striving to become better fathers, it has been a life raft, paddle, sail, nourishment and compass. Regardless of language skills or education, men learn about child development, communication, healthy leadership and how to become truly immersed in the lives of their children. Los Padres has programs in Denver, Greeley, Trinidad, Longmont, Pueblo, Colorado Springs and even in the Boulder County Jail.

My excellent friend, Jaime diPaulo, is but one of hundreds of English- and Spanish-speaking men who have benefited from Los Padres. Step by step, men who would scare the heck out of Mike Tyson are guided through the solid, research-based program curriculum worthy of Ph.D. coursework. I kid you not.

Tomas Romero

Disorder in the Court

Tell it to the judge: Regarding Julie Jargon's "The Waiting Game," in the May 29 issue:

I just wanted to say I feel little sympathy for any court that is overwhelmed with work due to budget cuts and hiring freezes. If they can afford to pay family members to do work, then surely they can take on volunteers who actually went to law school and passed the bar (like me), and who cannot find jobs elsewhere.

Until I read your article, I didn't even know such a crisis existed. It might be more productive to advertise their staffing needs with the law schools rather than high schools.

Jeremiah Hayes
via the Internet

Post, Toasted

Mr. Roberts: Lost amid all the fuss over whether Michael Roberts has it in for the Denver Post and its staff (The Message, May 29 and Letters, June 5) is this question: Who cares?

I'll wager that the typical Westword reader no more wants to read tales from the Denver Post (where I work) than it wants to learn about gossip whispered around Qwest, Coors or the kitchen of a LoDo eatery.

Roberts's tardy rehashes of stale tidbits phoned in from a couple of newsroom malcontents validates only those who call in, needlessly embarrasses -- or worse, harms -- a few, and is unlikely to entertain anyone outside of the two newsrooms (people who probably already had heard the gossip days -- if not weeks -- before it appeared in The Message). When Roberts stoops to this level, he dishes up thin gruel for readers seeking serious reportage and criticism of Denver's newspaper scene.

Roberts can write whatever he wants, and his editors can clear for publication anything they please, but columns such as his May 29 effort are a sorry excuse for reporting. Westword ought to re-evaluate its purpose and future.

Keith Morse

Let's Do the Time Warp Again

The long and Rocky road: Thank you, Bill Gallo, for your tribute to the Rocky Horror Picture Show phenomenon in the May 15 issue. If the weekly midnight gathering at the Starz FilmCenter is a "family ritual," then I (as a 56-year-old regular celebrant) am the designated mom.

I also want to thank the CEI (Colorado's Elusive Ingredient) cast and crew for making Denver's Rocky such a wonderful celebration. As we say at the show, "Yay that type!"

Cheryl Kasson


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