The Hair Apparent

Letters to the Editor

Crossing the line: Regarding Laura Bond's story "Raw Power" in the September 18 issue, I was wondering about her statement that "Matthew has to register with law-enforcement agencies in some states before he can legally enter them." Are these "states" in this country? How does this work, exactly? Does Matthew Helm have to stop at the state line to "register"? What if there's no one there who he can "register" with? I received a lot of firearms training in the Army -- does this mean I have to do the same, or are the grenade-launchers and automatic weapons I used considered less of a threat to public safety than a "spear-like staff" or "nunchakus"?

The problem with an obviously idiotic statement like this is that it calls into question the accuracy of everything else in the article -- and for all I know, some of what Bond wrote was actually true.

Dick Fisk

Catch a rising star: I saw Laura Bond's story on Matthew Helms and really, really liked it. I've had the pleasure of somewhat knowing Matt for a few years now, and really think he's a big star waiting to break. He just knows how to hold his own. We have even featured him on the cover of our band's CD 12 Days After Youth. I see him as a friend and a little brother. I also maintain his official Web site.

When I first saw Matt, I knew he was something special. His parents sent me a videotape of him, and I was blown away. For me, the cherry on the top is how nice he is. For someone who has done as much as he has at his age, he could easily be a huge jerk about it, but he isn't. He stays down to earth, and to me, that shows how great he is. I hope you run more stories on Matt.

Kevin Batres
via the Internet

Think positive: First, I'd like to say that I think it is wonderful to read about children/ teens who can show positives in the community. Things like respect for parents and adults, avoidance of following crowds for acceptance, avoiding drugs and alcohol and yet still being able to "find yourself" are not really rare qualities; they're just not mentioned in the press often enough. I was pleased to read the article.

I did have one question, though. I may not be a thirteen-year-old superactor, but I do have a fourth-degree black belt. I've been in the arts for over twenty years, won championships and have mastered many weapons, including those mentioned, and adding canes, broomsticks, bricks, car antennas, keys, any joint in my body, and any object that can be placed in my hand or found nearby. So I need to ask: In which states in the U.S.A. would I need to "register with law-enforcement agencies" before I could "legally enter them"? Being an American citizen born and raised here, it would be of great interest to know where I would be an illegal just because of my knowledge and abilities.

This information would not only be beneficial to people like myself, but also to the ex- military. After all, they, too, not only learned how to make weapons of themselves, but are proficient in firearms. Are you telling me that it is "illegal" for them to "enter states" in our union without first "registering with law enforcement"?

Phranque Wright
Wheat Ridge

Nice guys finish first: I enjoyed reading your story on Matthew Helms. I think he is a wonderful up-and-coming star, and I wish him all the best. I got the pleasure of meeting him. I was a cashier at Goodwill in Golden, and Matthew and his parents came into my store. He's a very nice person, plus his parents are great. I would like to also say he is a very good-looking young man. Well, I hope all of his dreams come true.

And just a small note to Matthew: Way to go, little man.

Amy Pontious
Wheat Ridge

Tae kwon d'oh! I just got done reading the story about Matthew Helms. Being a martial artist myself, I am highly skeptical about some of the things printed. How does a nine-year-old win nine consecutive world titles? Was his first competition at the age of one? Perhaps he and his entourage could come to our open Saturday sparring class at Martinez Brothers Tae Kwon Do and share his vast worldly experience; most of the other fighters are only state and national champs. Perhaps after he gives them a lesson, he could sign some autographs?

See you there.

Drew Harrison
via the Internet

Laura Bond replies: When Matthew Helms was his student, Andy Watford of the Andy Watford Tai Karate School in Aiken, South Carolina, would encourage him to check in with local law enforcement whenever he traveled for tournaments. "It's a courtesy, because technically, when you're a black belt, you are a loaded weapon," Watford says. But he also says that absolutely no state laws require martial arts or weapons experts to register their hands or their weapons. Apparently he didn't inform Matthew's mother, Becky Helms, of that (or if he did, she's not talking right now); in more than one interview, she told me that her son had registered his hands in several states while working the sport-karate circuit. I should have checked that out; my apologies.

Stand and Deliver

Male call: Regarding Kity Ironton's "Below the Belt," in the September 25 issue:

Puppetry of the Penis? No offense, but bull. This show played in Seattle for a month and a half. It is nothing more than a peep show for groups of women. The crowds were 98 percent women every night. Call it what it is: sexual. It is a nude display for women; do not pretend that it is some great comedy.

Lee Case

The naked truth: The advertisement for Puppetry of the Penis that appeared in Westword is just another example of society's endorsement of male degradation. The advertisement includes recommendations from such well-known magazines and newspapers as Vanity Fair, Newsday, the New York Times and the Toronto Star. I am absolutely certain that a similar performance by two women that involved the explicit contortion of their genitals to satisfy the prurient interests of their audience would never receive an endorsement from Vanity Fair, Newsday, the New York Times, the Toronto Star or any other respected information source.

F. Barrett

Straighten Up and Fly Right

Location, location, location: Regarding David Holthouse's "Red, White, Orange and Blue," in the September 25 issue:

Nice anti-military article by David Holthouse! What a surprise to learn that Buckley Air Force Base is in Colorado Springs!

Jordan Graham
via the Internet

Aurora, we have a problem: I have never written to a newspaper when I run across an error, but this time I could not resist. David Holthouse wrote about the cost of a fighter-jet flyover at the Broncos-Raiders football game on September 22. He reported the cost of the performance at $20,000 and stated that the jets came from the 120th Fighter Squadron at Buckley Air Force Base -- in Colorado Springs.

I have lived in the Denver area since 1977, and Buckley Air Force Base, as well as the Buckley Air National Guard Base before it, has always been in Aurora, not Colorado Springs. This error leads me to believe that Mr. Holthouse could also have been in error when he calculated the $20,000 cost of the display. He talked about cost per hour and hours of flying time. Did he actually figure flying time from Colorado Springs?

Hopefully, not all of Westword's writers are as loose with the facts or just plain too lazy to check the accuracy of the facts.

John Warren

Editor's note: The $20,000 figure was correct, but the Buckley location was wrong, wrong, wrong. Our apologies.

Mopping Up

State of the union: I just wanted to say thank you for Stuart Steers's superb article "Talking Dirty," in the September 11 issue. I cut it out and sent it to my carpenter father, as he has always stressed the importance of labor unions. I just finished reading the story for the third time. I look forward to reading more from Stuart.

Christine Garcia

Very Important Policy

Dazzling behavior: Regarding Laura Bond's "Jazzercise," in the September 4 issue:

I've never met Donald Rossa or been to Dazzle. However, when I read in Bond's excellent article that he treats his guests with mental illnesses "like VIPs when they show up each month" at his restaurant, my jaw dropped. I keep re-reading that line. I hope there is a special place in heaven for this man...and for Scott Utash, also.

B.L. Shafner

A Different Drummer

Wanks for the memories: Regarding Dave Herrera's "Time's Rupp" in the September 18 issue:

I don't know where to start. My band Wanker graced the cover of Westword during the winter of 1987. Our very first gig as a band was opening for the Blue Jets at Cricket on the Hill. Enter Bob Rupp, who was their drummer. Over the past sixteen years, Bob has been a brother, consultant and musical soulmate to me. Bob took over as our drummer during the '90s, and we made two swings to the West Coast. Trust me, you learn about the "real person" traveling four guys to a van with your equipment across the Rockies!

The Denver music scene was kept alive with Bob's energy and initiative. Many benefit concerts for Children's Hospital, sending music to our troops during Desert Storm, etc., have flown under the radar of the general population. Our city will miss the goodwill and musical friendship of Bob.

Maine has inherited a good man! I miss him already!

Nick Trombetta

House party: Great story on Bob Rupp, and he deserves every bit of good sentiment thrown at him. I'm the guy who asked Bob in 1982 if he needed a place to stay on Dahlia, so he moved in and we lived together for two and a half years during his "formative" period. Okay, I'm writing to relate just one story -- the first night Bob moved in with me...

It's a Thursday night, and I have to be at work at 8:30 a.m. for a staff meeting. Bob's just getting started refurbishing drums on our back patio. He leaves for Mr. Lucky's at 8 p.m., saying he'll be home early. At 1 a.m. (!), I hear a knock on my bedroom door, and he peeks in, saying, "I invited a few people over; we'll be quiet." Next thing I hear is fifteen cars pulling up, girls giggling, guys slurring, and the music starts creeping up. Thirty minutes later Bob, says, "Hey, man, wake up and join us." Next thing I know, he opens the door, pushes a young, very attractive brunette in my bedroom, says, "Her name is Nancy," and shuts the door. Okay, now I'm up.

This went on pretty much the whole time we lived together. Just one of a hundred nights I remember (sort of). Thought I'd share -- I still love the guy like a brother, and we stay in touch.

Bruce Murrell
Springfield, Missouri

Talking shop: Thanks so much for the article on my friend Bob Rupp. He is one of the nicest, most caring, nuttiest people I have ever known. I first met Bob just after he moved here; in fact, I think I was his first drum customer at the Dahlia house. At the time, he was sporting a bleached-blond ultra-mod super-mullet! Kind of that skunk-caught-in-the-headlights look! That house was full of drums, rehearsal gear and a ton of rock-star wannabes. All were carefully screened by Rupp's beer-drinking canine, Senator Dog.

I had the pleasure of being employed by Rupp's Drums several times -- whenever I needed some extra pocket change or a good excuse to get away from the house for a couple of hours. I was always amazed at his customers. They were from all walks of life. From policemen to teachers, from janitors to clergymen, they all came to Bob's for drums, advice and, more important, a cool place to hang out with other musicians. All felt that they were part of a large musical family. It always used to amaze me how often people would come in with a hard-luck story about having gear stolen or not getting paid until next month. Bob's policy would always be "Pick out the gear that you need now, and pay me when you get your check." Try that at one of the major music chain stores! Both of my children always called him "Uncle Bob" and were shocked to find out that he wasn't even related to us! He always made sure they had drum presents for their birthdays and Christmas.

The entire Denver music scene will miss this musician and his unique store, but most of all, we will miss the man. Good luck, Uncle Bob!

Mike "Gomer" Eaton

Maine man: Alas, the almighty Bob Rupp is leaving our sunny cowtown. My wife and I are heartbroken. Sure, he's been an amazing friend, a Denver icon and one of the most generous people I'll ever know (he was definitely the enabler of that little Terry Bozzio stalking habit of mine). But I'll also miss our conspiracy-theory discussions and my complimentary membership with Ruppster video, for rentals from Bob's vast library of UFO and "Face on Mars" tapes. Oh, well. Perhaps one day we can arrange an Area 51 summit; Bob could meet us in the quiet Nevada desert for a burger and a beer at the Little A'Le'Inn.

Bob, you'll always have a place to stay with us, as long as you show up with a few of those Maine lobsters.

Madison and Robin Lucas

The beat goes on: Like countless other Denver drummers, I, too, have a story about an experience in Bob's shop that I will never forget. It was at the old location, on the south side of Evans. I brought in an old set of Gretch drums with crappy hardware. Having never met me before, Bob asked if I was willing to do "some drilling." Not sure what he had in mind yet somehow trusting his judgment, I said, "Sure."

And sure enough, Bob retrieves a router and starts to work on my bass drum, installing a new "memory-lock" system for the tom-toms. One hour later, after also taking several phone calls, issuing directives to his employees and deftly answering concerned questions from mothers dropping their kids off for lessons, he had finished his work, and I had a much-improved drum set that I still use to this day. His bill? $20. For parts. Parts he had taken off another drum set in his store, which he would have to later replace.

Dave Herrera's article should be required reading for every musician, not just Denver drummers, as a primer on how to start up a business, on how to approach a live performance and on how to live a life. Thank you, Bob. Thanks for the donated drum sets that either you or someone from your store shlepped to all the benefits, festivals, new-music nights and the Westword Music Awards over the years for me and so many other drummers to play on. Trying to find a new place to go for drum stuff is going to be like trying to date again after being married for twenty years. Best of luck to you, Bob.

Brian McClure
Castle Rock

Duty Is Skin Deep

Critical mass: Kudos to Michael Roberts for getting an explanation for the sudden -- and welcome, many might say -- departure of Joe Bullard and Diane Eicher from the Rocky Mountain News's media feedback page (The Message, September 18). Bullard reports that his twelve months on the gig taught him that journalists have the thinnest skin in America. Right and wrong, Joe.

Our skin (I work at the Denver Post) is quite thin when it comes to inaccuracies, misinformation and inherent bias. We strive daily to keep these out of our reports. Thus, it bothers us when it permeates the work of others, namely the Rocky's duo of anti-Post crusaders. Repeatedly, Bullard and Eicher demonstrated in their columns a steady bias against the Post, where both once worked. Even in cases where they pointed out deficiencies of both the Post and the Rocky, they wrote more extensively about the Post, positioned that information closer to the top of the column than that about the Rocky and used more damning language in relation to the Post.

More telling, Bullard and Eicher failed to get their facts straight on several occasions. They lambasted the Post for misguided "parachute journalism" in regard to a story about Mississippi's reaction to Senator Trent Lott's foolish comments -- a story written by a native Southerner who had previously covered politics and civil rights in Mississippi. The duo questioned the Post's choices for staff-written obituaries without bothering to investigate whether those choices were truly as myopic as they alleged. They were not.

I, too, had dealings with Bullard. He e-mailed me in December regarding a three-day series that Miles Moffeit and I wrote about Qwest. I suspect he did so because months earlier, I had left him a message offering to answer any questions he had about my Qwest coverage, past and future. After Miles and I meticulously answered Bullard's many queries, disproving his assumptions, it became apparent that he was determined to find something, no matter how small, to criticize as inadequate in this series. He seized upon a single quote we had confirmed with numerous unnamed sources -- a single quote in a 300-inch series.

Funny that, if we journalists have such thin skin, we don't complain much, if at all, about the Rocky's other current and former media critics, Dave Kopel and Greg Dobbs. Could it be that they get their facts right and make an effort at balance?

Good luck in your day jobs, Joe and Diane. We'll miss your diatribes about the shocking placement of lingerie ads in the stock tables.

Kris Hudson

All the World's a Stage

Cheese whiz: Even though I agreed with Juliet Wittman about the Miners Alley one-acts being overly predictable melodrama with cheesy accents and lullaby-like songs ("Mixed Bag," September 4), I think there was an audience for it. Many people I talked to said they enjoyed the evening. I think that were it not for the acting, the play could have been much worse off. I think the duke, the sheriff, "Pyrite Pete" and the schoolteacher all did a very good job (as good as the script allowed) and certainly did not deserve the bad rap Wittman gave them. I just think those comments were misguided and vicious.

R.D. Zielinski

Conflict of interests: After reading the review of Suddenly Hope at the New Denver Civic Theatre ("Kvetch-22," September 11), I agree with reviewer Juliet Wittman that the play is an "oversimplification of both the Jewish and Palestinian realities." It is in the second half of the review that Ms. Wittman reveals her lack of knowledge (and possibly her personal prejudice) regarding the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

Her very casual references to 1) "the early Zionists ignoring the Arab presence altogether," 2) "thousands of displaced Palestinians" and 3) "uprooted olive trees" are dangerous assertions that have been irresponsibly taken out of context. With an understanding of neither the facts on the ground in the current conflict nor the history of the Israeli-Palestinian situation, Ms. Wittman's unfounded and incomplete insinuations will only serve to misguide your readers. (For an excellent account, may I recommend From Time Immemorial, by Joan Peters.)

In her careless reference to "Israeli rockets fired into densely populated areas," Ms. Wittman clearly demonstrates the extent of her confusion as to who is on the offensive and who the defensive in this conflict. It is the Palestinian terrorists who are deliberately seeking out "densely populated areas" and deliberately targeting Israeli civilians in detonating their "human bombs," not the other way around.

In concluding her review, Ms. Wittman has the audacity to describe what "shapes Israeli politics today" as "bullying self-righteous rage." Rage? Maybe...after all, more than 800 young Israeli soldiers and innocent civilians have tragically and senselessly lost their lives to the current terrorist war, while the injuries, leaving many innocent civilians crippled and maimed, now number over 5,000. As for "self-righteous bullying," although it is known that Israel has great military capacity, she has shown tremendous restraint in light of the dangerous, horrific situation that has been imposed upon her.

Addressing the topic of the Middle East is a challenge even for those who are most informed. I commend Ms. Wittman for making the attempt in her review of Suddenly Hope, but I do wish that she had taken the time to educate herself before voicing her ideas in such a public way.

Judy S. Kava

Juliet Wittman replies: Interesting that Judy S. Kava should talk about taking facts out of context, because that's precisely what she does in her letter. My review actually says: "The early Zionists either ignored the Arab presence altogether, terming the territory Œa land without people for the people without a land,' or, like Vladimir Jabotinsky, advocated an Iron Wall of repression. The noblest of the Zionists believed that Palestinians would welcome the civilizing Jewish presence." Every word of this -- in particular the quotation -- can be confirmed through historical record. During the years leading up to the creation of Israel, the Zionists at no time negotiated directly with the Arabs, but with the Ottoman Empire, the English, the French and the United Nations. Such negotiations may well have been futile, but they were not undertaken.

The murder of Israeli civilians by Palestinian suicide bombers is an abomination. So is the murder of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli army. At this moment, 27 Israeli pilots have joined hundreds of reservists in refusing to carry out what they term "illegal and immoral attack orders" in the West Bank and Gaza. Ms. Kava speaks of Israel's restraint in the face of the situation "imposed upon her." Israel is currently defying several U.N. resolutions, notably 242, in occupying Palestinian territory and continuing to establish settlements on these lands.

I agree with Ms. Kava that it is important to educate oneself before speaking out. I'd also suggest that partial truths do nothing to elucidate a tense and tragic situation.

You Say You Want an Evolution?

Pulling strings: I was very pleased to see John McLaughlin get some coverage in Michael Roberts's "The Evolutionary," in the September 11 issue. He is one of the best guitarists I have ever heard, having had the privilege of seeing the Mahavishnu Orchestra's first performance at the Gaslight A Go-Go in New York years ago. I also witnessed dozens of shows that Shakti did in 1976, when it opened for Weather Report across the country. (I was working the tour for Weather Report; it was Jaco Pastorius's first tour with Joe and Wayne.) I have seen John play with Carlos Santana and with Mahavishnu II.

Having worked for Miles Davis as a roadie and eventually as road manager, I had many opportunities to talk to Miles about guitar players. He was interested in my opinion because he knew I was a guitar player myself. In fact, I gave him a few lessons in playing the guitar, but he had no patience for it. Miles loved the guitar, whether it was Rodrigo's "Concerto de Aranuez," which was originally written for flamenco guitar and orchestra, or Jimi's immortal "Voodoo Chile" (Slight Return). Miles's favorite guitarists were Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin and Peter Townshend.

There are some points in Roberts's otherwise excellent article that may need clarification or commentary:

The album A Tribute to Jack Johnson, which was written to accompany the documentary film of the same name, came about because of Miles's friendship with Jim Jacobs, who had the biggest collection of fight films in the world. Jacobs would later co-manage Mike Tyson with Bill Cayton, with whom he co-produced the film.

The connection that caused Miles to name the song "Willie Nelson" was the fact that Willie Nelson was managed by Neal Reshen, who also managed Miles.

If any Miles fans want to hear more of these types of anecdotes, they can pick up my book called Miles to Go, which was published last year by Thunder's Mouth Press. I think you can still get it on

Chris Murphy


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