Reality bites: I was very intrigued by Patricia Calhoun's "A Class Act," in the June 19 issue. Sometimes it seems like the mainstream media can't see the real Denver, which is very obvious if you just look around. Denver is full of people who would want to elect an entrepreneur with ideas -- an entrepreneur of any color. People are tired of the same old politicos who feed at the public trough; they want to see what someone who's lived in the real world can do as mayor.
Taking stock: The comments by Richard Florida are interesting. I try not to put academics such as him in the liberal box. He put himself there, though, and cast doubt on everything he said with his take on the 1990s as compared to the 2000s. Sure, the 1920s are similar to the 1990s -- a booming economy punctuated by extreme corruption (Warren Harding, Bill Clinton). However, he misses on the 1930s in comparison to the 2000s.
In the 1930s we had a stock market crash followed by the Great Depression, during which worldwide economies contracted 26 percent. In the 2000s we had a short-lived recession, whose aftereffects are still felt in Denver today. The economy is growing, albeit slowly. The stock market is up -- way up. Inflation is nonexistent, interest rates are down (so housing starts are up), and jobs are out there for anyone who isn't stuck in the microdot telecom rut.
Richard Florida is either ignorant, stupid or a demagogue. I suspect the first two aren't true, but I'd bet the last one is. Too bad his credibility had to take that shot.
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No barking zone: Unfortunately, in life you cannot pick your family or, in most instances, your neighbors. This reality crossed my mind while I read Amy Haimerl's "When Neighbors Attack," in the June 12 issue.
A couple of years ago, Mike's next-door neighbors began to caretake their grandmother, who has Alzheimer's. For those of you familiar with this disease, a person inflicted with it tends to not know where they are, who they are or their own family. The cute little dachshunds tended to agitate Grandma, whose bedroom is next to Mike's yard. Mike would let the herd out, and their barking would wake up the poor old lady and send her walking around frightened. In order to find a solution to this problem, the neighbors came up with a "Q" sign to notify Mike that Grandma was staying at their home. This seemed like a good compromise, as opposed to calling animal control or the police. Well, Mike respected the "Q" sign and would promptly yell at the dogs by their cute little names at the top of his lungs to "shut up." My point is that the grandma with Alzheimer's is a person who deserves some respect and care; this is what the "Q" sign was about, not the rejection of Mike and his new family.
Mike Newbury claims to be a "good neighbor." But that would come from goodness of the heart, not for some kind of reward.
If Mike took a different approach to his neighbors, contacting the ones the zoning exemption affected the most first, this might have had a different outcome. No one likes to be forced to take sides, be manipulated and ultimately harassed. I don't mean to just pick on Mike, as others have behaved badly. But it was about the zoning exemption, not a personal attack against him.
The reality is that the zoning exemption was not granted. It is time to move on and consider other alternatives.
Heavy petting: What is it about animals that turns people into drooling idiots? After reading Amy Haimerl's "When Neighbors Attack," I know for sure that the last neighborhood I'd want to live in is Cherry Hills Vista. Those pet owners have no sense of perspective.
Like a good neighbor: I always thought the marking of a good journalist was to get both sides of a story before printing it in order to hurt and demean people. If Amy Haimerl took the time to find out, she would find that Sara and John Loss are two of the kindest and most generous people around. They always are first to help when needed; they have and continue to donate to and work for charitable organizations around the state, and they are nothing like the monsters she painted in her article. Nothing!
I love dogs more than anything, but I would have the same complaint about five dogs living in one house -- twelve pounds or sixty. That's a pet store, and there are laws about this for a reason.
I have been a longtime supporter and reader of Westword. After seeing that articles like this have been printed, I question the validity of any of your articles.
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Clean up their act: Regarding Stuart Steers's "Critical Condition," in the June 12 issue:
I am sad to say it, but the situation in Denver is no different from anywhere else. Nurses are being treated like retail workers instead of the professionals we are. One hospital here in Florida considered getting rid of its room-cleaning staff to save money and have the nurses clean each room after a patient was sent home -- that, and continue our regular job of patient care -- until the staff spoke up.
While female nurses are leaving, male nurses quit the profession even faster for many of the same reasons. Hospital administrators and some physicians need to realize just how important our profession is. Unless things change soon, it will only get worse.
This is sick! Stuart Steers is right on target. Nursing is in trouble. As a colleague of mine once told me, "This is a profession occupied by fools and managed by cowards" -- i.e., obsequious hospital administrators whose prime directive is never offend a demanding patient or an arrogant doctor.
At my hospital, we're required to phone patients at home if they perceive they've been offended by their caregiver. How's that for support? In the same vein, why not require our cops to call and apologize to the DUIs they pull over? This is a noble profession, but it's beleaguered by lawyers and feckless human-resource personnel.
To all the new grads, let me give this bit of advice: Watch your back, and remember that whatever bad happens, it's always your fault. Good luck.
A glass act: My baseball cap's off to Patrick Osborn for giving me the best laugh I'll probably have all year. "Summer in the City," in your June 12 summer edition, brought back everything I loved about summer when I was a kid -- and summed up everything I feel about summer now.
In other words, summer is a great excuse for drinking beer.
Slam dance: I liked Melanie Haupt's "Festival Fun" in the summer guide. Lewis and Floorwax were pretty hard on it. (Yeah, I listen to them on the way in and in the office.) They are too "lowbrow" to get the humorous aspects, and she was not really "slamming" them at all. They take themselves too seriously.
We are actually going to day two of Hawgfest because of Ted Nugent and Cheap Trick -- I'll feel like I'm in the ninth grade again!
Keep up the good work.
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Lost and found department: Regarding Eric Peterson's "On the Road Again," in the June 12 Summer!
You know, I may be wrong, but back in the days when I did some nice fishing, there was a favorite lake of mine up near Rollinsville. At least that's where we'd park the car and then head off on foot. Shrimp-fed trout. Pinkest meat I've ever seen. Everyone -- at least everyone I knew -- referred to it as Lost Lake.
Quit horsing around: By and large, you put out a decent summer guide. In particular, Julie Dunn's work was well written...funny, informative and done in the light, breezy manner that should typify the season.
I have a major problem, however, with Luke W. Thompson's movie reviews in "Think Distinct." I took particular umbrage at his referring to Laura Hillenbrand's brilliant book Seabiscuit as a novel. This is the best book I've read in the last five years, it has garnered more awards than any other book in recent memory, and it is a work of non-fiction. Ms. Hillenbrand produced this work at great physical cost, literally suffering for her art, writing a story about a subject she clearly is passionate about. To have a quiffy, smarty-pants reviewer cavalierly and incorrectly label it as fiction is an insult to a great writer.
As a published writer and someone who loves books, I was pissed off by the inaccuracy. Tell him to read the book. It's a wonderful read. If he has read it, please educate him as to the difference between fiction and non-fiction.
Secondhand information: Regarding Jason Sheehan's June 19 Bite Me:
Undeniably, secondhand smoke poses a health risk, but it is a risk that is consciously and voluntarily assumed by the customer when he/she enters a smoking establishment. For that reason, it is akin to the risk assumed by drinking coffee, eating fries and red meat, drinking too much booze or entering an excessively loud club. Why are we permitting the Denver City Council to exercise such broad regulatory power specifically with respect to smoking?
Could the answer to that question have to do with the lawsuits against tobacco companies that many municipalities are filing? About what year did the lawsuits begin? And the smoking bans? Does a city or state that has enacted smoking bans typically have a better chance of winning large cash awards in these cases? If so, one wonders if there is a connection between the feverish increase of late in the nationwide enactment of such bans and the large deficits that states and cities are currently running.
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On the other hand: Why a smoking debate at all? Smoking is an addiction. Smokers are addicts and litterbugs. Smoking is a filthy, disgusting habit that raises medical costs and impacts the non-smoker.
It seems to me that the solution is obvious: The government needs to double the Medicare/Medicaid premiums on smoking recipients, because they are the ones draining the system. Why shouldn't those of us who actually take care of our health have reduced premiums or receive rewards for giving a damn about our health and other people's money? As a disabled, non-smoking person on Medicare who watches her diet (despite having to live on a limited food budget), makes a concerted attempt at exercising and utilizes alternative methods to address minor illnesses, I am sick and tired of being relegated to the same health-care system as those who don't or won't take care of themselves. If smokers don't like it, it's too damn bad! My health takes priority over your addiction.
Perhaps if the government did not have to pay out so much in medical, hospital and rehabilitative care, the money would be better used by increasing the amount for food stamps, so that the low-income/poor actually have a fighting chance at getting and staying healthy. As long as those who smoke do not have to pay for their addiction, the system will continue toward bankruptcy, and the taxpayers will have nothing to show for their investment.
As a VISTA volunteer, I was taught that "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."
Calendar calamity: I am very unhappy that you have recently eliminated the calendar listings in Westword, especially the listings of weekly art show openings, current gallery shows, call for entries and the lectures/workshop listings. I have been picking up Westword on Wednesdays for many years and relying on it to plan my weekend art and cultural activities. With all of the recent funding cuts to the arts, this is yet another act that seriously affects attendance at art shows and galleries, as well as literary, cultural and educational events. I would think Westword would not take such a conservative action to decrease visibility for the arts and culture, and I hope you will reconsider this drastic measure.
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The unkindest cut: Please reinstate the events calendar. It is helpful to know what things are going on around town and keeps the arts in the news -- an important outlet with all the cuts in arts funding lately. Please spend the time and resources to keep the arts at the forefront of our community.
Patricia Calhoun responds: Please turn the paper in your hands to pages 38-39, our Night & Day opener that highlights a dozen worthy upcoming arts and entertainment events; its format remains unchanged. Keep turning the pages: The space that once held event listings in tiny type has been expanded and reconfigured; it now holds stories on twenty more worthy upcoming events -- events that previously would have gone unrecognized. Keep turning to page 56, where we've added capsule reviews of art shows by Michael Paglia to match the capsule reviews of theater productions that we've been running for some time. The fact is, Westword is devoting more time, more space and considerably more resources to upcoming arts and entertainment events -- all in an effort to bring new readers (and thus new patrons) to the section, and not just preach to the converted. Now please go to the Web, where you'll find hundreds of arts and entertainment listings -- far more than used to run in the paper, where they were the first items cut -- in not just the familiar categories, but several new ones, including Charity Events and Community Events. Whether or not you like the changes (and you can tell me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org), Westword's devotion to the arts remains unchanged.