Funny Business

Letters to the Editor

Take cover: Ah, Denver. You've got to love this town, where a guy who's only kinda funny, judging from Adam Cayton-Holland's "Get Up, Stand Up," in the July 15 issue, can not only climb to the top of the comic heap (by his report, at least), but also get Westword to put his story on the cover!

Lou Farrar
via the Internet

Let there be light: I sat next to Adam Cayton-Holland last Tuesday at the Squire. I'd seen him there before. During my chain-smoking, I asked him for a light. I made a little joke about needing a little lung cancer with my liver disease and anxiety attacks. "Yeah, I'm performing, too," he replied. Ben Roy went over to him and whispered something in his ear. I couldn't hear, but I knew what was said: "You're up after this next guy [pointing to a comic in front of us]. You've got five minutes." Adam was impressively calm, although I knew he was paraphrasing his opener in his head before distracting himself with the comic on stage.

He had a good set, despite two-thirds of the bar tuning him out. His set was certainly better than mine. I rushed through my material, turning six minutes into three. Thank God for Jake Sharon, who will pay close attention and laugh at every punch line with a genuine chuckle. He supports every comic who lays out their passion on the stage. I am happy to perform, bomb, sweat and triumph with Adam and every other comic in the Denver open-mike scene. See you at the Squire, Adam.

Peter Cohen

Butt out: I saw a movie once called Butt Seriously, Folks. My question is: Is it okay to plagiarize such a fine film for the headline of a simple article about five douchebag Denver comics?

Richard Saulker

Stand up and be counted: Congratulations on a great article. Adam Cayton-Holland's story took me back to my first few months of stand-up, back in Boston, and really captured the essence of open-mike comedy.

Chuck Roy

Nice try: Thank you for going out on a limb with Adam Cayton-Holland's story on the triumphs and trepidations of amateur comics in Denver. It proved a pleasant break from Westword's usual attempts to capture the feeling of any local scene or personality, attempts that all too often smack of a writer starting with an adjective and working backwards: Cool I and my with-it sense of culture went down to the happening LoDo boîte to listen to the hip new band and revel in the vogue vibes emanating from the stylish crowd who will surely enjoy sipping next week's fad coffee drink while swallowing my stylish interpretation of Denver's fashionable nightlife.

It sure must be nice to feel so very plugged in to the scene, and to feel comfortable presenting yourselves as such in print; it must be even nicer to publicly feel this way and yet realize that honest and serious writers like Cayton-Holland will still work with the rest of you.

That being said, it must be nicer still -- nay, it must be supremely self-validating -- for Westword management to reap the benefits of not one but two true stories on rape (and unnecessary self-incrimination and, to some extent, as even David Holthouse made note in his July 8 "Arrested Development" piece, on publicity and self-promotion via print and televised primetime news) and then, within a week, while the letters of commiseration and thanks are pouring in, print a joke in Cayton-Holland's cover story about how rape is only the start to a party at the University of Colorado's althletic recruiting events.

I, myself, am not easily offended by such jokes, as I believe that there is no real malice behind them, and I find it much easier to be offended by the fact that real instances of rape and malice do exist, irrespective of stand-ups' jokes and writers' scribblings. But I am quite easily offended by a newspaper that cannot take as strong a moral stand on the issue as two of its writers have (in two wholly different stances, no less), a paper that will evince real and heartfelt sympathy for the intent of Holthouse's piece for as long as such feelings are still literarily relevant, then will affect real and heartfelt humor for the intent of Cayton-Holland's piece as long as readers find rape funny in the right context, and then will surely again posture itself as sensitive and understanding after Holthouse's next appearance on FirstNews swings the pendulum back.

So, cheers to Westword for having the marbles to take a chance on a writer or two who haven't yet met the quota of pretension, to overspice many of its bland stories with attention-grabbing expletives, and to be perfectly comfortable in its presentation of real moral issues through the two-sided refractory lens of public entertainment. I thank you on behalf of my cage full of overfed birds and my puppies currently being house-broken.

Benny Jacobstein

Social Insecurity

Testing his medal: Regarding Michael Roberts's "I Fathered a Terror Suspect," in the July 15 issue:

Michael Roberts's experience wasn't so bad. You have to remember that David Nelson, son of Ozzie and Harriet, brother of Rick, is constantly stopped and no one will tell him why. More idiocy: John McCain was made to go through a full search the other day at an airport. But my fave is a few years ago, when Joe Foss, Medal of Honor recipient and former governor of South Dakota, was stopped while carrying his Medal of Honor onto a flight going to a meeting. The idiots at the X-ray thought it was a kung fu throwing star.

Gary Jaffe

What's in a name? Michael Roberts's story hit home with me. My middle and last name are the same as those of a past al-Qaeda newspaper editor. Needless to say, every airline in the country has me flagged. I am 5'6", petite and feminine, which starkly contrasts with the Rastafarians, the grisly bearded Muslims and shady characters with odd-shaped packages who I stand among while being "randomly selected" for pre-boarding screening. Sometimes it works to my advantage, and I get bumped up to first class, but most of the time it is inconvenient, a little embarrassing and very disruptive to my travel itinerary, especially at 6 a.m. So while I appreciate the efforts of our national security force, I feel the frustration of Michael's son.

My advice is to arrive early, pack a lunch and steer clear of packing anything white and powdery. Oh, and enjoy the friendly skies.

Name withheld on request

Son set: A famous astronomer is said to have once overheard a student marveling at the ignorance of ages past. How, wondered the student, could astronomers of old have been so stupid as to actually believe the sun orbited the earth? After sharing a knowing chuckle with the lad, the astronomer posed this question: "But what do you suppose it would have looked like if it did?"

Like all good liberals post-9/11, Michael Roberts has now faithfully executed his duty and trotted out his "How Homeland Security Wrecked My Summer Vacation" story (remember Patricia Calhoun's Wonderbra?). Roberts was scandalized when security measures at two -- count 'em, two! -- airlines delayed his family's travel by an agonizing twenty or even thirty minutes, simply because his teenaged son has the misfortune of sharing names with a dangerous kook. One can only shudder at the abject misery and unthinkable woe that befell the Roberts clan, standing for endless minutes in an air-conditioned concourse while overly solicitous airline employees straightened things out. Bataan? The Soviet gulag? Treblinka? Pshaw! Michael Roberts faced jackbooted Delta Airlines ticket agents and lived to tell the tale!

Like that astronomer of old, I have a question: Had the Robertses been traveling sans Papa, and had those goofballs in the Bush administration just laughed off 9/11, leaving airport security the joke it demonstrably was, and had a terrorist boarded along with the missus and the Roberts rugrats and then used said airliner to torpedo the Mall in D.C., would Mike have a different summer vacation horror story to tell?

JM Schell

If You Can't Stand the Heat...

Get out of the Kitchen: Just when you thought it had become passé to dump on Boulder, Jason Sheehan empties out his paper shredder on one of the most original new eateries in town, the Kitchen, in his July 15 "Boulder Blahs." What a disappointing and angry screed. First, he slams Boulder for being just a tad to close to the Flatirons, and then when the pretty girls refuse to acknowledge his existence, he takes aim at the Kitchen. Go figure!

Okay, from one "perpetual ex-New Yorker" to another, trashing the joint is not exactly the same as reviewing it. Obviously he liked nothing about the place -- the food, the decor, the service, the politically correct produce; you name it, he hated it. Mr. Sheehan's review was infused with invective so acidic and undisgestible it makes one wonder if he was capable of tasting the food he reviewed.

Your readers owe themselves the treat of sampling some delicious food without attitude, in Boulder or elsewhere.

Fernando Menendez

Doing flips: Just wanted to mention how much I love, love, love Jason Sheehan's reviews, most recently "Boulder Blahs." They're the first thing I flip to when Westword hits the sidewalk on Wednesdays. And while I don't always agree with every single review every single week, I without fail look forward to his entertaining writing style and sense of humor.

Oh, yeah, and I'm from Rochester originally, too. If Jason can get me some Ferrara's pizza air-lifted out here, well, I would be forever indebted.

Khara McNeil

Location, location, location: I have just finished reading Jason Sheehan's positively hateful "review" of the Kitchen. From the opening paragraph, it was clear that this reviewer was predisposed to hate the restaurant, simply because of its location. Combine that with a restaurant that is trying to be a bit more ecologically friendly, a chef with the "dubious honor" of having worked under a now "celebrity" chef, and Mr. Sheehan was well poised with poison pen. Even the aspects that Mr. Sheehan did not directly slam were laced with pejoratives. Sheehan gleefully slorked out eight paragraphs of malice before even once addressing the food.

I can tell you quite plainly that my experience at the Kitchen has been much like Mr. Sheehan's -- I, too, notice that the restaurant proudly indicates the local purveyors, that the space is lovely and the food beautiful. Silly me, I thought that these were good things, not qualities to be disdained. However, that is where the similarities end between my experience and Mr. Sheehan's. I have found the food to be in excellent condition, succulent and fresh, well-seasoned and mouth-watering.

My recommendation to Westword: When choosing a reviewer, try not to find one with such an obvious bias against location, environment, personalities and charm. Westword has failed in this case to do so. Shame on you.

Saxon Brown

Kitchen magician: If the Kitchen is "just another bistro," then bistros are looking up...way up. What Mr. Smart Aleck Jason Sheehan thought had "the stupid-pet-trick guy beat hands down in terms of gimmicks" to me looks like the antidote to fast, unhealthy and chain food. So that's good, not bad. That's not a gimmick, it's a big step in the right direction. Healthy food, prepared simply, tasty and attractively served by a great staff. That's what I'm looking for.

Leon Evans

'House Arrest

A matter of trust: I just read "Arrested Development," in the July 8 issue, and the original "Stalking the Bogeyman" from May 13. They touched me. Thank you, David Holthouse, for having the courage to tell your story.

I have a beautiful six-month-old baby boy, and after reading your story, I will never trust any person completely with him -- especially future coaches and other males. It is very sad that it has to be that way, and I am so sorry you lost your childhood in such a brutal way.

Your story and experience has already helped me realize that you just can't be too careful. I think a lot of people worry about daughters and girls being molested but don't worry about the predators after boys, too. I know when my son was born I thought it would be easier than having to worry about a daughter. Your story has warned me that this isn't the case.

I wish you the best, and thanks again for sharing your story. You have already helped one parent become more aware, and hopefully my husband and I will make sure that what happened to you will never happen to our son.

Heather Garvert

Breaking the code: Thank you, David Holthouse, for writing about your terrible, painful childhood rape and the range of emotions you dealt with as a teen and as an adult. Your honesty is amazing and such a good thing for others grappling with similar stories and experiences.

An uncle molested my sister and several cousins, male and female. The result years later is a family so broken, so fraught with pain and discomfort between those who know and can't tell and those in absolute denial. First it was don't tell, because it will kill Grandma. Well, she's dead now. Then it was don't tell, because we've had to deal with this all our lives and won't have you outing us to the rest of our unbelieving family. Then there are those who know and have always known -- those who have witnessed the incredible decay the molestations have caused. Those who have watched others die of anorexia and alcoholism and drug abuse in their attempts to deal with their own horrific experiences and knowledge. It is these family members who have imposed a twisted "don't tell anyone, ever" code on the victims and on themselves. They are the ones who have hurt our family the most -- even more, perhaps, than the perpetrator.

Everyone should read "Stalking the Bogeyman." And read this letter. Then talk, weep, get help and, perhaps most important to the victims, get an apology. It could save the rest of your lives. Thank you, Westword, for printing David's story.

Name withheld on request

Moving on: Bravo! David Holthouse, you are a brave man to confront your fears after all these years. I was never molested as a child, but reading your story made the tears run from my eyes. We all need to confront our past, as well as current fears. Now that you have confronted your fears, move on. Don't hate this man. He was a very sick teen. I know he is going through hell -- just like you did. Hopefully, you both can heal and move on from this horrible event.

Michael B. Smith
Arlington, Virginia

Protect the children: David Holthouse: I am so amazed that you had the courage to write these words. I have the utmost respect for you.

I am the mother of a four-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl and I cannot imagine this happening to either one of them. I want to thank you for your unselfish act of writing about your experience. I hope people will use these words to learn to protect their children anyway they can. I know I will.

I am sorry this happened to you, and to the thousands of children it happens to every day.

I hope your bogeyman is gone, or at least not as scary as he used to be.

Thank you for your courage.

Lisa Warshafsky

Writing wrongs: I apologize for clogging your mailbox with another letter from someone you don't even know, but after reading your stories I just wanted to say thanks for such great writing. I'm a mom of two sons living in a small Illinois town and editing my small-town newspaper. Your story hit me on two levels: first as a mom, and second as a writer. As a mom, reading the original story and "Arrested Development" was painful and gripping. While, thank God, I have no similar story to share, you articulated my worst nightmares. What happened to you both originally and now is truly horrifying.

As a writer, I was amazed at how elegantly you told the story. It's so complex, but so simply told that it takes my breath away. Not being familiar with you, I then read other things in Westword's archives by you -- you write about other things with the same elegance and clarity.

I can't imagine anything that I, as a total stranger, could say to make you feel better about your topic. But as a writer, I'm very proud of the work you've done. You're setting an example for the rest of us.

Sharon Mosley, editor
Shelbvyille Daily Union


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