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Letters to the Editor

GOP of the Heap

Petty is as petty does: What a pathetic potshot! Trashing our elected officials seems to be the prevalent summer sport, but Kenny Be's July 1 "Single and the City" portrayal of our governor as a leering, pipe-smoking, cravat-wearing, Hugh Hefneresque letch -- when Owens is dealing with a very personal, painful and public separation -- was petty, preposterous and just plain poppycock.

Eliza Castaneda
Greenwood Village

Power to the people: As a 29-year, hard-core Republican resident of Colorado, I am continually impressed with the quality, depth and reach of the articles in your rag. I often learn more by reading Westword than I do by reading the Rocky or the Post. Keep it comin'!

Adam Kuenne
Aurora


Missed America

Radio daze: "Crowning Achievement," in the June 24 issue, was an excellent article about Marilyn Van Derbur. Thanks to David Holthouse for writing it. I remember when Marilyn began to speak about her childhood: I dismissed her as another rich nutbag airing her stuff because her therapist told her to. My compassionate take on it came largely from the fact that her experiences resonated loudly with my own. Lifetimes later, that crushing silence has cost me health, relationships and sometimes the simple ability to be on my own side. In the facing of these secrets, one's life gets reduced to a series of constant repairs. It is a profoundly difficult road that truthfully does not end, but instead becomes more manageable with work. Marilyn's relentless courage is a gift to the rest of us.

I was infuriated by Gene Amole's words. Ironically, his morning show on KVOD in the '60s was often the soundtrack to my own abuse. My parents' clock radio would go off every morning at 6 a.m., and the first sound would be Gene's modulated tones. Then I would hear my father's furtive footsteps outside my bedroom door as he arrived for a visit. I was eight.

Apparently I was operating under (yet another) misconception: that the guy on the radio, at least, was wiser and gentler.

Name withheld on request

There she is: I am deeply disappointed and, frankly, disturbed by David Holthouse's article about Marilyn Van Derbur Atler. I kept thinking, "What is the point?" This story lacked continuity and was a haphazard portrayal of Marilyn and her genuine motivation to educate others about the long-term effects of sexual abuse. I have known Marilyn for nine years and I have read countless articles about her, and never have I read an article written so poorly.

Holthouse continued to perseverate on trivial things such as The Smile instead of focusing on who Marilyn really is and what she has accomplished. Marilyn is an award-winning author and accomplished public speaker who has been in contact with more survivors of sexual abuse than anyone else in America. Her dedication to educating others about the devastation of sexual abuse is unsurpassed. Personally, Marilyn worked endlessly to overcome the shame and pain of her past. Through her hard work, Marilyn has become an empowered, confident and emotionally healthy person. She has found her inner peace. These important aspects about Marilyn were left out. Rather than wasting paper and space by inserting an extremely rude and malicious column by the late Gene Amole, Holthouse could have used this opportunity to inspire others to face their past and triumph over the shame. He squandered this opportunity.

Mr. Holthouse, you were in the presence of an inspirational and courageous woman, and obviously you missed the point! Please be more conscientious and responsible in the future.

Annie Johnson Hughes
Denver

Last rites: Where is Francis Van Derbur buried? I'd like to piss on his grave.

Nick Werle
Colorado Springs

Arrested development: Hey, David Holthouse, good article on Marilyn Van Derbur. A lot of people owe her a big thanks. And I'm glad to see you are still going. Hope your legal troubles are disappearing. I think your arrest was bogus crap, but maybe it gives you a special platform: to get the interview with Marilyn, to write more stories about this subject, to gather an audience of people who have sexual abuse in common with you, and to help deliver a more rational consideration of this subject than has been afforded via the perps, who always seem to get everything they think into print. Nice to see such a change. Nice to read you. You will be getting my eyes again...and again...and again. And a lot of other people's eyes, too. Thanks for your courage. Please know a lot of people want to see you succeed and continue speaking openly about this curse.

Paula Hook
Denver

The perils of speaking up: Thank you, David Holthouse, for once again writing about sexual abuse and rape. Your public disclosure about being raped as a boy was so moving to me, as was your courage in confronting your rapist. Thank you for also mentioning how uncomfortable you were with two different coaches when you were eleven and thirteen. Sports Illustrated reports that "sexual abuse by coaches is pervasive." In Miss America By Day, I devote an entire chapter to "Beware of 'Friendly' Places." Being knowledgeable and aware of danger in your child's sports world is important.

We have both learned that speaking publicly about sexual abuse/rape can have disquieting consequences. My nemesis was Gene Amole. He attacked me viciously in his columns. Each time, with a light touch and humor, I responded in kind. What I have learned about people who attack us with so much venom is that their rage has more to do with them than it does with us. My story became public because a newspaper reporter learned I was an incest survivor, and the next day it was on the front page of the Denver Post. My worst nightmare had come true. Now people knew. Every reporter, columnist and editor (except Gene Amole) treated me with respect. The word "alleged" was never used. In editorials, I was honored. It is because of the way the media reported "my story" that, in less than three months, over 3,000 men and women in the greater Denver area felt safe enough to come forward for help and support. Under DD Harvey's leadership and Sharon Lion's skill and knowledge, our organization saw up to 500 survivors each week -- at no charge. Although it is always difficult to read the venom Gene wrote about me, it lets sexual-abuse survivors know that all of us are attacked at one time or another, especially if we speak publicly. And people wonder why children don't tell.

Marilyn Van Derbur
Denver

The following is a note from Marilyn Van Derbur and her original response to columnist Gene Amole:

When a newspaper reporter learned that I was an incest survivor, it was on the front page of the Denver Post the following morning. Within three months, over 3,000 men and women in the greater Denver area came forward for help and support. The main reason this happened is because the media treated me with respect and support. Only one columnist/reporter vilified me: Gene Amole. After reading his vicious column, the Rocky Mountain News allowed me to respond. Since David Holthouse reprinted Amole's column in "Crowning Achievement," I have asked to have my response printed again. Here it is:

Thanks, Gene, for reminding us of work to be done.

Thanks, Gene, for mobilizing our survivor community again. No one does it better than you do!

Please dont fret about my not having anything to do. I have managed to find things to keep me busy during my later years.

During the past three years, at the requests of judges, doctors, nurses, attorneys, clergy, therapists, child advocates and others dedicated to find ways to stop children from being violated and raped, I have spoken in 143 cities. In many cities, such as Milwaukee, 1,200 survivors came together for the first time to begin speaking the words.

I have personally answered more than 7,000 letters from men and women whose lives have been traumatized by sexual violations.

After addressing the National Conference of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, I was asked to produce a video to help stem the tide of teen-agers violating younger children by educating them to the fact that even once can hurt for a lifetime.  John Proffitt of Colorados Channel 7 donated the production costs. My time was donated. It is being shown nationwide.

After addressing 28 medical conferences, I was asked by the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center to produce videos to educate medical students and all health-care professionals about the connection between childhood trauma and adult physical pain. The Health Sciences Center underwrote the production costs. The Rose Foundation also has been most generous in its support. My time was donated.

I have raised tens of thousands of dollars to fund two non-profit national organizations I helped found in 1993 in Washington, D.C., dedicated to strengthening the laws protecting adult survivors and child victims, and to stopping the sexual violations of children through education. I have only two specific comments on your column:

Yes, I do remember the column you said was sympathetic to me. It started with the word assassination and ended with this sentence: What this really boils down to is one persons word against anothers, or as in Marilyns case, her word against her father who is dead and cannot respond. You wrote that in spite of the fact that my sister, Gwen Mitchell (who never repressed her memories), had come forward as an incest survivor and my mother had come forward to acknowledge the incest.

The middle of the column was devoted to asking Coloradans to remember the good things my father had done -- like giving money to the Boy Scouts. Honoring a perpetrator who raped his daughters for 18 years and vilifying the victim is something I cannot fathom.

Regarding the talk you heard me give on cable television: Channel 90 asked if it could telecast my original talk to more than 1,000 men and women who had come together in Denver within two weeks of my story being made public. (The Kempe Center had videotaped it.) Mocking and ridiculing my agonizing journey of recovery is something I will never be able to comprehend. It was cruel.

Have you ever noticed how much we learn about people by what causes they champion and what causes they ridicule and attack?

Well, Gene, thank you for reminding us how much work there is to be done. Just when we think people are really understanding the issues, someone like you lets us know how much ignorance there still is.

Oh -- one last thing -- regarding wanting to snuggle up to you. Dream on!

Editor's note: For the next installment in David Holthouse's story, see Arrested Development.


Cafe Society

Share the love: Thanks very much to Jason Sheehan for giving Dario's some ink ("Send in the Crowds," July 1). It's a great little restaurant and definitely deserves more attention. My wife and I used to live within walking distance of Dario's and Cafe Berlin, and we enjoyed splitting our dining dollars between them. We've since moved away from that neighborhood, and we usually stop in at Cafe Berlin when we're in the area (it's simply a preference for Deutschlander food when given the choice); reading this review made me realize that we still should make an effort to share the love.

On a related note, this is the first time I've written about Jason Sheehan, but I've read his stuff ever since he started writing for Westword. In a paper with more than its share of excellent writers, his is the first column I read each week. If Westword weren't free, I'd still buy a subscription -- just to read Sheehan, more than anything else.

Ken Goering
Denver

From blabby to blah: I frequently agree with Jason Sheehan's assessments of restaurants, even if I often find his reviews incredibly self-indulgent and verbose (more review and less Jason, please). But never have I agreed with Sheehan more than with his review of Julia Blackbird's ("Bland of Enchantment," June 24). It's blah to the max, with an obnoxious Sedona, new-age attitude, to boot -- not to mention ridiculous prices. As a New Mexican transplant, I fear that former favorite Jack-n-Grill is headed in the same direction since it expanded and jacked up the prices. I guess it's Little Anita's or a trip down I-25.

Give me Pasqual's, Tia Sophia's, Tomasita's, even the Shed or Los Cuates in Albuquerque. Come on, Denver -- it's not that hard.

Dave Tyner
Denver

Chicanery row: What a joy it is to read Jason's restaurant reviews. His writing style closely parallels Steinbeck's. If Shakespeare were alive today and writing food reviews, I don't think he could do any better.

Jon Smith
Denver


Pop Psychology

Swimming up mainstream: Westword is too one-dimensional. Although I pick up a copy every week, I may stop due to the narrow-minded music selections I have seen lately. The only articles are on mainstream music, punk and indie rock, which doesn't make much sense for a metro paper. I'm disappointed in Westword for only giving publicity to acts that are either already known or to musicians who only appeal to the music editor's taste. The editors should consider the fact that Colorado is currently a mecca for touring and improvisational artists, and help new bands get an advantage by giving them the publicity they deserve. I hope that Westword editors can open their eyes and minds and realize that there are way more music genres out there that need to be recognized and appreciated.

Laura Lieff
via the Internet


That Tears It!

I would like to correct some information in Michael Paglia's "In Stitches," in the July 1 issue. The show at Core, New Directions in Fiber, while it does include work by local artists, is in fact a national open show. We are exhibiting work by artists representing thirteen states. And the artists mentioned as showing at Core -- Theresa Ducayet Clowes, Kim Knauer, Jennifer Pettus and Gail Wagner -- are currently showing at Edge Gallery.

Jim Caldwell, coordinator
Core New Art Space

Michael Paglia responds: Oops! With 28 shows, I had a lot on my plate. My apologies that some of the fibers got tangled.