Dumb and dumber: While I don't condone violence against cute animals, I also do not condone the predictable letters to the editor written by dumb animals. I thought your December 25 Year in Review cover was shocking in a completely innocent manner. My young daughter enjoyed the shot (no pun) and has the common sense to distinguish a picture from reality. If these weekend crusaders -- think about the children! -- took the time to open your paper up to page 3, they would have gotten the shtick, which I believe was intended for those same folks.
Next time you put a gun to an animal's head on your cover, make sure it's a delicious animal, not a cute one.
Kitty porn: Wow, déjà vu all over again. Westword is taking the same sniffy crap that the National Lampoon took thirty years ago over its "Buy This Magazine Or We'll Shoot This Dog" cover. The three copycats who feel your cover showed it's "okay" to shoot cats must react with even greater fury to Military History Quarterly; by their standards, its covers routinely show it's "okay" to bomb Pearl Harbor or invade Poland with Panzer tanks. And then there are the cowboy novels...
via the Internet
Puss 'n shoots: A single glance at the Perils of Puddy Tat cover of Westword's Year in Review and I just had to strap on my .44 Magnum -- the most powerful handgun in the world, punk -- and start bustin' caps on neighborhood housecats. Just to be safe, I wasted a couple or three prairie dogs in a Boulder County hayfield and some little rat that was jumping around in a meadow, too.
Welcome to the Nanny State. The hysterics who found the Puss 'n Shoots cover so terribly offensive (Letters, January 1) and are certain it sends marching orders to hunting packs of teenage pet-killers who lay in wait by red newsboxes every Thursday to see whether this week's issue of Mein Vestvord has -- finally! -- given them the subliminal command they've been hoping for, are the same birdbrains whose "experts" fell out of the litter box during the Cat Redrum Scare last year to screech that Fluffy and Fi Fi were being snatched and sacrificed to the Lord of Darkness. Um, Satan, not George W. Bush. Mothers, keep your babies close! If they've been declawed, anyway.
Ever since we learned to pronounce "Nader," the shadow of the wagging finger of the new Brahmins, Puritan liberals who know what's best, has grown ever longer, broader and darker. Now even a left-liberal newspaper like Westword can be brushed by that chilling shade for some cheesy Photoshop pasteup. You Libs let this exotic pet out to roam the stage. Do the few of you remaining who can still think for yourselves really believe you can just swat it on the nose and it won't spin around and rip out your own throats? Liberal sheep being herded ever further leftward by the snarling hounds of their own lunatic fringe have fearfully shed the materials for the rope the Nanny movement will use to hang us all. Right after the environmental impact statement, OSHA report and a dozen different public-interest groups release a joint white paper identifying the rope as "safe for most neck-stretchin' uses."
Saving grace: I hope all of the people who were so offended by the kitty-in-danger cover still picked up the January 1 issue -- to see their predictably stupid letters, if nothing else. Because Alan Prendergast's "Raiding the Roan" was a classic example of the kind of journalism that makes Westword "required reading" every week. Excellent reporting, beautiful writing.
I hope everyone caught in the I-70 traffic this past weekend took a long, hard look through their car windows and realized how much of this beautiful state is in danger, from the Kansas to Utah borders. Don't stop with the Roan Plateau. Can Colorado itself be saved?
The big drill: Thanks for Alan Prendergast's outstanding article on the threats from gas drilling to Colorado's spectacular Roan Plateau. Like a lot of us on the Front Range, I've passed it by on I-70 many times. It wasn't until fall 2003 that I finally made it onto the top for a visit.
Hands down, the Roan Plateau is one of the most incredible landscapes in Colorado. Highlights of my trip included the best aspen-watching I've had in more than three decades of living in Colorado, encountering a flock of wild turkeys, and a three-mile round trip on foot to 200-foot East Fork Falls without another soul in sight.
Local governments across Garfield County have told the Bureau of Land Management that they want to protect the top of the plateau from unnecessary damage because of its importance to the local economy. Industrial drilling will extract short-term profits and then move on, leaving behind a mess that will forever impact the plateau's value as a tourist draw.
The Roan Plateau is a test case to see whether the conservative mantra of local control means anything when giant energy companies want to maximize profits. Directional drilling and "no surface occupancy" could extract much of the gas while preserving the natural qualities so crucial to local businesses, but, of course, that wouldn't be quite as lucrative.
As described in the article, the surrounding area already has extensive damage from drilling. If the top of the Roan Plateau is to avoid that kind of fate, it's essential that Colorado residents weigh in on the area's Draft Environmental Impact Statement during the public-comment period later this winter. For the latest news, I encourage citizens to sign up for e-mail updates at www.saveroanplateau.org. Together, we can make sure the Roan Plateau's natural values will continue to benefit the local economy and amaze future generations of Coloradans.
Green acres: Many thanks for your Roan Plateau story. It is very well done, and I very much appreciate your emphasis on the many non-environmentalists who support protecting the Plateau. I suspect that this dynamic -- locals and greens and others all wanting similar things -- happens far more often then we experience or see reported. Folks so often get caught up in the conventional story of greens versus industry long before anyone can figure out that many of the values at stake are shared much more widely. Our Roan Plateau campaign has been very gratifying because we built the relationships before everyone adopted the customary hostile positions. The result is self-evident: a broad coalition spanning ranchers and environmentalists, rural Western Colorado folk and Front Range inhabitants, conservatives and progressives, hunters and hikers, and local governments, all of whom strongly support protecting the natural values of this remarkable place.
Jacob Smith, executive director
Center for Native Ecosystems, Paonia
Hamburger helper: Regarding Jason Sheehan's "The Kid's Not All Right," in the January 1 issue:
First, the disclosure: My connections to Max Burgerworks consist of one meal there several months ago and frequently riding my bike past the restaurant from work to my home in the Central Platte Valley. Second, the question: What is this piece? I read it straight through, continually waiting for Jason to drop the hammer on Max in the next paragraph, waiting to learn that Max served bad food, that the service was bad, or that it was dirty. Instead, buried deep in the jumble of plays on words, cheesy synonyms and criticism were actually the most important compliments for an upscale burger joint: good food, great service, clean facility.
Jason's beef is that Max doesn't have enough pizzazz, so he shoots down a local restaurant with a unique menu and theme, likely sending diners elsewhere. Families might get a burger at ESPN Zone or the Cheesecake Factory for a couple bucks less, but what does that prove? Jason's review discourages local businesses from chancing it downtown; it leads Denver entrepreneurs to believe that unless their business has more flair than T.G.I.Friday's, it won't be successful.
I don't think the kid that needs to grow up is Max.
Deli dally: I get so nauseated reading Jason Sheehan's prose that I don't want to read his reviews. However, since the lead-in of smut and attempted kewl didn't take up the first half of the Cafe page in the January 1 issue, I read it. Sheehan's right on! I am a loyal regular at Zaidy's, but I have to admit that Gerard Rudofsky was a day late and a dollar short with the Max menu and concept. I like the decor, but not as an updated '50s thing. It could be chic if it weren't trying to be what they've made it into. I've suggested to Gerard that he change the menu and rename the place Maxime's on Cherry Creek. Wonder what the plate du jour selections might be?
By the way, the insider's comments on what goes on in the kitchen are enough to make me want to cook all my meals at home. Please spare us the gory details.
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To Av and Av not: A big "oops!" on your Year in Review Pop Quiz. While it's true that Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya joined the Avs because they wanted to play together, only Selanne can be characterized as a "Finnicky Finn." Kariya is a citizen of our own continent, a Canadian of Japanese descent.
Null and void: In your Year in Review Hall of Shame profile of Jefferson County Treasurer Mark Paschall, you ridicule the "theory" of jury nullification.
The rights of jurors are the most forgotten rights of all. Indeed, from before the Revolution up through the Civil War, jurors had the power to judge not only the facts of a case, but also the law pertaining to that particular case. If a juror thought the law under which the defendant was being tried was unjust or just plain stupid, that juror could vote to acquit, and the defendant would walk.
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Consider the stupid laws on the books today and how we could combat them if jurors only knew their rights. Imagine someone on trial for violating a federal tax law that not even a Harvard-educated tax attorney could understand; imagine a doctor on trial for prescribing marijuana to cancer and AIDS patients who had exhausted all conventional medical avenues; imagine a woman who uses a gun to ward off a rapist and then faces charges when it is discovered that said gun is unregistered.
Today, almost no one even knows about jury nullification. When I present the subject, people are almost always skeptical: If a juror can acquit just because he does not like a particular law, this can only result in anarchy! Or, We cannot have people making up laws as they go along! I respond that jurors exercising their rights are not making up new laws, but acting as a line of defense against bad laws. An unrestrained government -- i.e., one that makes whatever laws it willy-nilly wants whenever it willy-nilly wants to -- is far more dangerous than an educated populace that uses every available tool to restrain that government.
Far from being a crackpot "theory," jury nullification is a cornerstone of constitutional government and a truly free society.
Douglas F. Newman