Letters to the Editor
The displeasure of her company: After reading Patricia Calhoun's "Carry On!" in the June 12 issue, I think Westword should sponsor a contest for the worst story about flying in the next few months. The winner gets to spend his or her entire summer vacation at DIA. Ms. Calhoun's company is optional, with or without her flip flops and underwire.
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Abreast of the news: I can't get Patricia Calhoun's underwire bra off my mind. I checked eBay, and it's making me crazy, and I can't find it. How much money does Westword want for that underwire bra she wore on her trip to St. Louis?
Westword is "sold" like the rest of the papers. Jesus! They call this a city?
Hospital zone: Bravo and kudos on Stuart Steers's remarkable "Critical Condition," in the June 12 issue. As an employee (CNA) of another hospital, I recognized a similar management train of thought to try to make our hospital "Best in the Nation" by increasing customer-satisfaction scores.
While I may not agree that unionizing would be the best cure for what ails our health-care system, there might be some other alternatives. To wit: If all of our lawmakers had to suffer through a serious illness while being covered by Medicaid (if they have any coverage at all), perhaps the insurance industry would not have such a stranglehold on everything, and care could be delivered quicker. However, I think a better and more plausible approach is to listen to Admiral Hyman Rickover: Have the top brass be willing to push brooms (or push gurneys or wipe asses) in order to save money and demonstrate to the rank and file how committed they are to health care and the patients. Then they might get the customer-survey numbers they want.
Anyway, keep up the good work!
A heavy load: I just wanted to thank you for your story on nurses in Colorado trying to unionize. My mother worked in the same hospital as Bernie for over twenty years. St. Anthony Hospital may have ended up killing the union by invoking fear in the nurses, but many still respect and even admire Bernie for her efforts to bring the nurses the working conditions they deserve. Working sixty to eighty hours per week may have provided my own mother with a suitable income, but I, too, am glad that she was loving, caring and smart enough to not let this constant workload affect her own patients. I only worry about what she lost in her own life -- time taken away from her own children and, eventually, her marriage.
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Health and welfare: I wish to thank Westword and Stuart Steers for the recent article on Denver Health nurses seeking to unionize. I am a registered nurse who had left the field and returned after a break of several years. The issues nurses face today are not new; they are the same ones I saw in 1990 when I first entered the field. The only difference is that now it is worse. Management still looks to feather its own nest first, the investors' nest second, and somewhere around the bottom of the list is the welfare of the patient. The only thing I can think of that has a lower priority is the welfare of the staff.
Name withheld on request
Taking care: I just read Stuart Steers's article about nurses, and I can't believe the way they are treated. The reason for this letter is to tell you that I feel doctors don't do shit. It's the nurses who do everything. They do the IVs, give you meds, give you a bath if you need it.
When I had my surgery, I was in the hospital for fourteen days. I will never forget the nurses I had; they took great care of me. Even today, when I have an emergency, I still feel the nurses are doing all the work. I hope for my sake and the sake of every other person who needs medical care that the nurses stay -- because they are the only people who care about the patients.
I'd also like to say a great big thank you to all the nurses out there.
Name withheld on request
Editor's note: In a photograph accompanying Stuart Steers's story, Paula Stearns, executive director of the Colorado Nurses Association, was incorrectly identified as Pat Uris, director of the Colorado Board of Nursing. Our apologies.
Day for night: I dashed off the 15 bus one day thinking, "Man, you never know what to expect on this bus." Then I picked up the June 5 Westword and read David Holthouse's "Route of Ill Repute," about the patrons of the Colfax bus in the wee hours of the night. He captured with perfect description the essence of the late-night/early-morning riders, but I have to tell you how different, yet similar, the oddball riders are who start at 4 p.m., ready for the lure of the nightlife. After riding for five years, I have become an official observer by default.
They do not read on the bus, so therefore they talk! They speak of betrayal, fights, jail, prison, parole, drugs, cheap liquor stores and bars, eviction, homeless shelters, no jobs, no money, day labor offices, DUIs, Jesus, Jehovah, God and sex! And can you believe somebody was so profane and disgusting that even the Colfax riders were shocked to silence? It was crude, offensive-to-women profanity that described women's anatomy. The ranting continued from Colorado Boulevard to Broadway. No one said a word, not even the bus driver. They just listened. The person got off at Broadway; surprisingly, it was a woman who was that vile and disgusting.
Never underestimate what they lug onto the bus: TVs, heavy microwaves, stereo components, boomboxes, toys, grocery bags filled with food or laundry, baskets and duffel bags, tattered sleeping bags, suitcases held together by duct tape, wire carts, buckets and brushes, brooms, paint, traffic-sign poles, bags of birds, cats, open plates of burritos or pizza. I even saw a lady load a large armchair.
Who are they? The sick, lame, lazy, blind, crippled and crazy -- and add to that the obese! If gargantuan gaboonzas are your thing, look here. Body parts are highly visible, nasty sweatpants are either "stuck" or drooping off, and massive stomachs are about to explode under tight T-shirts. Often you are subjected to people's infections that need treatment.
They are mean, nice, pathetic, amusing and in their own world.
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Keep talking: Thanks for the May 15 "Judge Not," another fine piece of journalism in which Julie Jargon reported Randall Zimmerman's perspective of his criminal trial. I hope there is never cause for him to face a deadlocked jury again.
I don't know Zimmerman or "Mary," but I'm not ready to jump on the "witch hunt" bandwagon described in Dr. Dech's May 29 letter. I've also witnessed the "witch hunt" when victims continue to receive abuse for having the gall to talk about the trauma they suffered. To me, a survivor of chronic incest, Dr. Dech's words sound similar to a perpetrator's threats of what will happen to the victims if they tell, and I just hate it when someone discourages disclosure. I'm sure it's very difficult for most people to understand victims; our basic assumptions about life are starkly different, and we often have anger problems resulting from the abuse. And most people won't talk about it.
Studies of incarcerated sex offenders in Colorado have shown that, by the time they first reach the court's attention, they have already molested 184 people -- on average. Telling the truth can save hundreds of others this trauma. Dr. Stephen Brake, who evaluates sex offenders and sits on the state Sex Offender Management Board, has publicly stated that at least 40 percent of sex offenders in treatment continue to reoffend, and he thinks the real number is closer to 60 percent.
Meanwhile, Marilyn Van Derbur's book Miss America by Day has hit the top of the bestseller list.
There is hope that our society will continue to talk about this heartbreaking crime. Please keep writing about it. And forgive me if I'm not ready to enroll my child in Mr. Zimmerman's class yet. I still want to hear what "Mary" said that deadlocked the jury.
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Sow and sows: Michael Paglia's critique of 2003 Colorado Biennial: 10 + 10 ("Risk Management," June 12) seemed informed, but I do have some questions. Paglia seemed highly conservative in his rendering of the show, leaving me wondering if modernistic critics ever learn to let art out of its modern little box. Labeling the primary artists by those curators who selected them seems to hint that he's playing favorites, or is a bathtub filled with baubles so much more than painted hanging elements and a pineapple?
On a meta level, the selection process of choosing relatively unknown artists and allowing them, in turn, to select more artists need not be portrayed in such a bad light. In fact, it's a great idea. What better way is there to characterize Colorado? Colorado has very little in the way of an established real-time fine-arts history (with the exception of a few shining stars), and by selecting lesser-known artists, Cydney Payton has captured the Colorado fine-arts experience.
I say enough of the widely accessible, modernistic, historical analysis and applaud the meta-directed exhibition of lesser-known artists in such a publicly visible venue. The critique of this show offered by Paglia is in fact the inverse of what makes this show great. What makes this show great is not the pompous accessibility and surface, but the humble and expansive way in which the featured artists were chosen and allowed to sow the fields of this show.
World Without End
Mass appeal: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Brave New World," in the June 12 issue:
New Federal Communications Commission rules absolutely support the conclusion that the mass media in the United States is one of the most awesome and effective propaganda systems that has ever existed in world history. The primary purpose of the mass media is to cultivate public stupidity and conformity in order to protect the capitalist upper class from interference by the masses.
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