Letters to the Editor
To be or not to be: Regarding Patricia Calhoun's "Reality Bites," in the September 11 issue:
Another ironic touch to the promo film Colorado Courage (made by out-of-staters) is that the fake vacationing family is supposedly from North Carolina, whose state motto is Esse Quam Videri -- "to be rather than to seem." This PR venture is purely to seem.
The old bumper sticker now seems prophetically made for the oil-lobbyist-turned-"family values"-governor who would be president: "Focus on your own damn family."
The plains truth: Patricia Calhoun's September 18 "Lights, Camera, Action" was a nice column, but don't forget that out here on the plains we have had some action as well, with the filming of Centennial and parts of Dumb and Dumber. Denver, Boulder and Aspen are not the only towns in Colorado. There are other native residents around who read your fine paper as well!
Last writes: Thank you for the September 11 Off Limits item on the passing of Warren Zevon and the lyrics from "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead." Great song and one of my favorite movies of all time.
My favorite memory of Zevon was seeing him open for the Grateful Dead in Boulder in 1980. He was almost better than Jerry and the boys, who weren't at their best that weekend. Both days were great. We sang "Werewolves of Denver." (Why not?)
I may disagree with his politics (as with his friend, Hunter Thompson), but I still love Zevon's music. Anyone who loved Colorado as he did must be all right.
Clean machine: I enjoyed Stuart Steers's piece on the SEIU's success in organizing local janitors ("Talking Dirty," September 11). I believe that the right of workers to freely organize is the most basic human right there is, much more important than voting, for example.
However, I must take issue with what I felt was a somewhat inappropriate tone, one that was almost triumphant. First, in a metro area where a wage of $15 an hour is required to rent an average two-bedroom apartment, the wages Steers mentioned were at best two-thirds of that. Second, if I understood the article correctly, only about a fourth of the local janitors were classified as full-time and therefore eligible for benefits.
I have two concerns. First, I imagined myself a white-collar suburbanite reading the article. Depending on my political perspective, I might either have my preconceived notions about powerful unions confirmed, or I might be more sympathetic but think the problem of organizing low-wage workers was well on the road to being solved. Obviously, neither of those perspectives would be correct. Second, I am suspicious of big labor's commitment to organizing low-wage workers. I hear lots of talk but see not much action -- local cases excepted. Once they have gotten some dues collected, once the relatively easy battles and victories have been won, I wonder if the SEIU won't just declare victory and move on. Union officials, like politicians and generals, love to declare victory and go home. I speak from personal experience as a former member of the executive board at my AFT local in San Francisco and as someone who was totally ignored when I asked the local AFL-CIO for help in organizing substitute teachers.
That said, I don't know how I would have written the article differently. I want to congratulate Steers for covering the story and encourage him to stay with it and not get bogged down in the kind of "true crime" story that seems to take up so much space in Westword.
via the Internet
Bean down so long...: In Stuart Steers's article, Angela was talking about health coverage and how she sacrifices other things to go to the doctor. She says, "I'd rather make sure my child is healthy. Sometimes we just eat beans and rice, the most cheap things we can get. We won't have meat." Well, unbeknownst to Angela, she and the children are much better off eating beans and rice, because eating meat causes health problems down the road. If you look at the statistics, you will discover that people who live in countries like Thailand, where very small amounts of meat and dairy products are consumed, don't have the cancer, heart disease, strokes, osteoporosis and other diseases that people have in countries like the United States and the Netherlands, where mass quantities of meat and dairy products are consumed.
Yeller journalism: Being of Spanish descent, I would like to make reference to Kity Ironton's "Viva la Fiesta" in the September 11 issue. You can look this up, but el grito does not mean "the cry." It should never be translated as "the cry." El grito means the yell, not the cry.
When you think of it, what do you honkies know about Spanish? Nothing.What a laugh. Get your facts straight or don't even print these lies.
Editor's note: Jane Le, Westword's copy editor and a former Spanish/English translator, provides this translation of grito from Cassell's Spanish Dictionary: "cry, scream, howl, shriek, hoot, whoop, shout."
Thanks for the memories: Knock me over with one of those Wile E. Coyote ten-ton weights, but if Michael Roberts isn't marching in jerky-kneed lockstep with the rest of the left-biased media and trying to tar and feather the front-running Republican in the gubernatorial carnival in California for things the man did almost three decades ago ("Scout's Honor," September 11). In Roberts's view, it's criminal that the then-22-year-old Arnold had group sex (apparently made worse by the fact that it was with a "black girl") and now says he can't remember a similarly aged magazine article in which the then-internationally recognized body-builder recounted the experience. This, in the suddenly patrician perspective of hypocritical liberals like Roberts, makes Schwarzenegger a moral suspect, undeserving of the opportunity to roll up his sleeves and rescue California from the Third World toilet into which the Democrats have shat it.
Reasonable people will ask, what about the sexual peccadilloes of married liberal politicians from Gary Hart to Gary Condit? And let's not forget one William Jefferson Clinton, a cigar, a blue dress and what the definition of "is" is. Reasonable people remember when libbies in the press were screaming that what these guys did in their private lives was their business, even when they were doing it -- or having it done to them -- on the public dime. Liberals in the media from the New York Times to Westword are trying to bury Arnold by desperately shoveling up ancient history because, as usual, Democrats simply don't have anything more mod, more today, more what's happenin' to work with. Pity the poor libby who's been shooting blanks for ten or twenty years now, and has to dredge up Democrat conquests from thirty, forty, even sixty years ago to put a little starch in an otherwise limp sail. The guys who gave us "free love," LSD, Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, "tune in, turn on, drop out," and the idea among kids today that a blow job isn't sex now attacking Schwarzenegger for his comparatively tame sexual and drug activities nearly thirty years ago is almost too absurd for words.
And besides, it's not Arnold's fault Roberts couldn't get laid either mano-a-mano or Mikey-a-pluribus.
Rear window: For those who have the eyes to see it, Arnold's campaign may well be a kind of performance art and a symbolic protest against a state that has become dominated by a single party whose only real goal is to perpetuate its own power. By running what some might view as the next best thing to an actual donkey, the lower-left-coast Republicans are undoubtedly trying to underscore the absurdity of state politics in California and the desperate need for an overhaul in the way power is wielded in the state.
A Roman emperor once appointed an actual horse to the Roman Senate. He meant to express his contempt for what he felt was the sham politics of that supposedly respectable assembly by seating a real horse's behind there. By running what many might view as the next best thing to an actual donkey against Grave Avis, the Sunset State Republicans, I believe, are bringing this kind of noble ironic sensibility to bear on the critical decisions facing California.
Well, I guess it's possible that Republicans supporting Arnold aren't thinking of all of that exactly, but I know that deep down, in an unconscious way that reveals their intuitive cleverness, this is probably what's going on in their hearts.
Seize the day: I just read Alan Prendergast's "Toxic Shock," in the September 4 issue. Excellent work! I know many of the professionals he interviewed, and they all do a fine job. Sergeant Jim Gerhardt has been instrumental in bringing many of these issues to the attention of state legislators, which has resulted in helpful new state statutes.
I did have one concern to bring to your attention regarding the article, however. Prendergast indicated that North Metro has been a leader in meth-lab seizures in the state. That is true, but our agency here in Colorado Springs unfortunately has the dubious honor of leading the state in seizures. Not that it is a statistic to be proud of, but our agency covers a two-county area and has consistently seized more meth labs than any other Colorado agency for all of the past five years. We seized 51 in '99, 79 in '00, 87 in '01, 153 in '02, and 132 so far this year. As you can see, our numbers have not "leveled off," as the article indicated. We have seen significant increases each year, not a "recent surge." At any given time, I have 20 to 25 "tips" on possible lab locations that I do not have the time to investigate as thoroughly and quickly as I would like.
I believe this epidemic has not yet reached its climax in Colorado. Many smaller, more rural agencies are only recently receiving the training, certification and equipment needed to address this problem. Colorado became tenth in the nation last year for numbers of meth-lab seizures. I believe we are at the "beginning," not the "end" or "apex" of this problem.
Detective Richard DuVall
Game called on account of pain: Regarding Eric Dexheimer's September 4 "First Down," and the letters about it in the September 18 issue:
I wanted to publicly thank everyone for the support that has been thrown my way lately. I am a relatively private person and am far from perfect. Honestly, I was hoping that this story would not run at all, fearing unnecessary publicity for the league and all of its participants...too late. Thanks, Eric, for telling it like it was. I appreciate it.
It did make me feel better when I received positive feedback from fellow youth coaches that I have never known before or met personally. This surprised me, as they all gave me a resounding thumbs-up. The parent support I have received tells me that I at least made a difference in their sons' lives, even if short-lived. That is why I coach youth sports. It is all about the Jimmies, Joes and Janes, and it has very little to do with the politics that can be so crippling to youth sports.
Whether you agreed with the story or not doesn't really matter. The situation was pretty lame, actually. I still have had no formal explanation from the league as to why it made such a "knee-jerk" decision, not one word...that is just plain wrong. Worse yet, I never got to say goodbye to the fine young men who made up such a unique team, great kids all around and really hardworking football players.
Oh, well. Everything happens for a reason...at least, that is what I keep telling myself and the coaches, parents and players who continue to call me in support.
Mike Mahoney, fired volunteer head coach
MAMFA Seniors Division I
Throw away the key: Regarding Nate Stone's September 11 At the Show:
I am a reader of Westword who happened to be at a small show for the Mermen at the Lion's Lair a couple of weeks ago. I am not a fan of the Mermen; I went with a friend who is. I was flipping through Westword and noticed a cartoon review of the concert by Nate. I agree with most of his complaints, with one very big exception: Out on Bail was the worst band I have ever seen or heard, and that is saying quite a bit. Even taking into consideration that the band was playing its first gig, I still felt that it was pretty bad. I would not even normally complain, except for the fact that I felt so strongly about how bad this band actually was.
I hope that this plea may influence you to be a little more objective in future reviews.
via the Internet
In the Baggs: As a member of the noise band Tigerbeat, I was saddened to read in the September 4 Beatdown of Baggs Patrick's retirement from hosting the Cricket open stage and scandalized at the insinuations regarding Tigerbeat's musical pretentiousness. While it's true that our guitars were never in tune, this was more a product of ineptness than of design. Baggs's assertion that we had talent that we "just refused to use" is giving us a lot more credit than we deserve. In fact, it was this very generosity of spirit that made Baggs such a singular personality at Cricket on the Hill, and we were continually astounded when he would welcome us back for another set of punishing noise and dischord every Sunday night.
Today I'm conducting a small chamber orchestra in Zacatecas, Mexico, and composing a sonata for homemade violins supported by a grant from the Vicente Rodríguez Trust. My instruments these days are played in tune. And I wonder if I wouldn't be a successful musician if it weren't for the early (and unfounded) encouragement of Baggs Patrick all those Sundays ago in the booze-steeped Cricket on the Hill.
Steer clear: I was really pleased to read Jason Sheehan's September 11 Bite Me column in response to PETA's Meet Your Meat. I'm impressed that he took the time to watch the video -- which he was fully prepared to disbelieve -- with an open mind, and that, even if he found its presentation flawed, he took its core message to heart. That shows his integrity.
I grew up in Nebraska and spent a lot of time on my grandfather's farm. He raised beef cattle, but these cattle lived relatively pleasant lives. They spent the warmer months grazing in the pasture, the calves with their mothers, and one cow would even come running when my grandfather called it by name. The cattle were always taken away to be slaughtered, and I was a meat eater with a clear conscience.
As I got older, though, I started to notice the corporate hog-containment units and cattle feedlots we would drive by -- the thousands of cattle standing in manure up to their knees, shoulder to shoulder so they could hardly move, almost as far as the eye could see, with a stench that made your eyes water. (If you think I'm exaggerating, take a ride through western Nebraska on I-80.) And I noticed the massive slaughterhouses, always located in small towns hundreds of miles from any large populations. You could literally smell the decomposing animal by-products from miles away. I began to see with my own eyes that my grandfather's farm was the exception, and that most food animals do live and die in conditions that would give the average person nightmares.
That's when I realized that, though there aren't many absolutes in this world, I couldn't support the meat industry in good conscience. I agree that we all need to become more connected with where our food comes from, but I think all students should take a field trip to a slaughterhouse when they're in elementary school. While PETA's melodrama can make its message easy to dismiss, the unvarnished truth will be enough to make many kids vegetarians for life.
Cattle call: I was disturbed by Jason Sheehan's column about the PETA video he watched. And I was especially disturbed when he followed up by stating, "I think third-graders should be made to watch it before lunch." Third-graders (and people of all ages) have the right to receive an unbiased education about their food origins. This goes much deeper than simply informing kids that pork comes from pigs and beef comes from cows. I wonder how many children realize that 1.5 percent of the population produces our food and that 100 percent of the population eats food. Do they understand that real people -- the American farmers -- are providing for the most basic of our human needs? And because of this, kids and their families can come home at the end of the day and watch TV or play sports instead of having to go out and hunt for their evening meal?
PETA does a serious disservice to the people involved in agriculture and should not have any involvement in the education of America's youth. It's time kids learn the truth about their food origins and develop an appreciation for the people who have taken on such an important job.
Kansas City, Missouri
Rug burn: We are not "all executioners when dinnertime comes," as Jason Sheehan claims. Most of us who have seen PETA's video came to the same conclusion that Sheehan did and acted upon it: We stopped eating meat.
His September 11 Bite Me column makes perfect sense to a logical conclusion -- and then abruptly and mysteriously changes course to "the only thing you can do is think before you eat." What? If you see this footage and you do think, you become vegetarian.
This is very puzzling: After his sophomoric introduction and obligatory attacks on PETA, it was a lovely surprise to realize that he understood the horror of slaughterhouses; he got it! But then he pulled the rug out -- from under himself.
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