Letters to the Editor
Follow the money: I appreciate David Holthouse's writing both for its style and content. However, his July 22 "Where the Wilding Things Are" on LoDo's Let Out was disappointing. He didn't give a definitive reason for the violent LoDo mentality, but implied that "aggressive" hip-hop is to blame. That may be the root of the problem according to the authority figures (cops, Hickenlooper, club owners) he interviewed, but I see it differently. I believe that the problem is the affluence LoDo now represents and attracts. LoDo is full of the people who played football in high school, wear name brands and enjoy fighting. Once the bullies move out of the affluent suburbs, they come to LoDo looking for the same sort of "fun" they used to have in their rich high school and the college Daddy paid for. They are out to prove just how "manly" they are because they have never done a hard day's work. The LoDo types work white-collar sissy jobs and resort to hurting people to feel masculine, all the while prostrating themselves at the altar of image-conscious consumption, showing off their flashy cars and clothing. That, not shitty hip-hop, is why I avoid LoDo like the plague.
Idiots' delight: Loved the article on the idiots in LoDo. I am by no means a fan of the DPD; however, there is simply no reasoning with the drunk suburbanites down there. I walk my dog from Race Street to Union Station every night via the 16th Street Mall and see the daily dose of drunken stupidity. There are only three things that keep me safe on my walk: my 225 pound Alaskan malamute; the fact that I am 6 feet, 235 pounds; and the fact that I have a concealed-weapons license and my Desert Eagle 50-caliber hand gun on me at all times.
It's time to tell the suburbanites to go home to Highlands Ranch and Lakewood. We do not need their revenue bad enough for all of the grief that it takes to keep them under control.
Georgia on my mind: Having moved here from Atlanta, I just had to laugh when I read your article about all the "problems" that LoDo has when all the bars let out. I'm sure that most of your readers have heard of Buckhead. (You know, the club/bar district where Ray Lewis supposedly killed a guy after the Super Bowl a few years back?) At last count, Buckhead had over a hundred clubs/bars in a ten-square-block area, making it way bigger than LoDo. Unfortunately, no one goes to Buckhead anymore (unless you're a young, armed African-American gangbanger). Can LoDo boast of over thirty shootings in the last year? I don't think so. If you're a white male, it is an unspoken rule that you aren't welcome there.
As someone who bartended in Buckhead for over five years, I have to agree that, like it or not, hip-hop nights are the worst things that clubs can do to attract business. Back in the late '90s, Buckhead was the place to go, easily one of the top party areas in the country, but when hip-hop nights started, it went downhill fast. A couple of years ago, on a Saturday night, in gridlocked traffic (another by-product: cruising), a group of young African-American males got into an argument and started shooting. Two of the guys actually chased another one into a gas-station parking lot and shot him dead in front of hundreds of witnesses. Completely brazen, and stuff like this happens almost every weekend (none of your tame "wilding" stuff). The city of Denver and LoDo bar/club owners should use Atlanta as an example of how to turn one of your top attractions into a wasteland, now shunned by the people who used to be its biggest supporters.
Blood simple: All hail Der Führer! Yeah, David Holthouse, black men are the problem, and excessive force is the solution. But why stop with blatant harassment and legally dutiable detention? As you so astutely point out, that can't last forever. So let's roll out the Final Solution before we get overrun by a violent and inherently evil army of MC Eiht fans.
Gimme a break. Everyone knows that the problems in LoDo stem from Let Out itself. To force thousands of young, imbibed and sexually frustrated people into an artificially restricted area at an arbitrarily predetermined curfew, with trigger-happy cops indiscriminately hosing anyone in the vicinity with pepper spray, is to guarantee disaster. The sane thing to do would be to get rid of these ridiculous and self-defeating "blue laws" altogether. A free society would let people decide for themselves when to call it a night. That would require, however, that overt racism and senseless violence give way to tolerance and respect, which could jeopardize SWAT-team funding. Besides, who wants to buy ad space in a newspaper without a helpless, blood-drenched sap on the front page?
Ed alert: My roommate cooks at the Sports Column and has seen a pronounced increase in the number of violent incidents in LoDo recently, so I applaud the police for addressing the problems created by this minority (not necessarily minorities) of rabble-rousing drunks. However, as club owners and countless patrons have noted, their methodology leaves much to be desired.
The Saturday following the June 14 wilin' (note to media, the "D" and "G" are silent), some friends visiting from L.A. and I left Market 41 at Let Out, where we were welcomed by eight to ten officers in full riot gear. After purchasing the requisite "sober-me-up" burrito, we saw two of the policemen struggling to get a drunk into cuffs. A guy standing next to me told the cops to take it easy, and before you could say "Paul Childs," dude got shot by another officer. Mostly as a knee-jerk observation, I cried out, "What did that guy do!?" and, poof, I got shot at. You can only imagine how the story got embellished to my buddy's co-workers back in L.A. After speaking with Internal Affairs, I learned that the police had discharged mace guns.
Like many bar-crawlers, I feel no need to return to LoDo now; it's either get tangled in some mess started by those with macho authority issues or get caught up in the wildings. So while I sip my brew on the northwest side, here are a few thoughts for those working the beat. First, cops in riot gear don't like to get dressed up and not go to the ball. Second, fewer uniformed officers, more plainclothes. Third, bring back the horses. Lots of them. After all, no one likes to wild out in front of Mr. Ed.
A bad rap: In time of crisis, people look for a group to isolate and point fingers at in a desperate attempt to rationalize it. The "wildings" are a perfect example. Throughout David Holthouse's article, a multitude of claims were made stating that hip-hop is to blame as one of the factors for increased violence in LoDo. Hip-hop is a multi-dimensional expression of urban music. If the majority of Denver's aging population is afraid that hip-hop is turning LoDo into a violent ghetto with an increased presence of minorities, I am ashamed and appalled to live in this city. One may say it's not all hip-hop, it's just the gangsta rap that caused the rise in violence. What ethnicity listens to gangsta rap in droves? What ethnic group is the majority in Colorado? Both questions have the same answer, and it's not the minority groups being targeted by cops, club owners and Westword for the "wildings." The increased popularity in hip-hop is due to a musical evolution in taste. Instead of resorting to blaming the music, let's take a closer look at alcohol, the drug lubricating this chaos.
Carrie Yasemin Paykoc
The light stuff: While Westword attempts to figuratively shed light on the issues facing LoDo's Let Out, the Denver Police Department's plan to literally shed light on LoDo's streets only hides the real problem in plain sight. The true problem with LoDo's Let Out is that such a "let out" occurs at all. Repeal the law that states all bars must close at one time and Let Out, and many of its associated problems, will disappear -- without airport runway lights.
David J. DeVito
A black eye for Denver: I really enjoyed "Where the Wilding Things Are." It was a great story and a very deep read. In the article, David Holthouse noted that more than two-thirds of those arrested at Let Out have been black or Hispanic males. As a black man over forty who used to live in Denver, I must say that Colorado is a very unique state when it comes to black people. I'm from New York; I come from another kind of culture and a different kind of freedom. And I'm going to get right to the point: The white club owners of LoDo, and other owners of other colors, really don't want blacks in their clubs because of the tragic ghetto hip-hop mindset that resides in Denver! No matter how many white kids get dumb or drunk, "Negro madness" is another ballgame, another energy, another vibe! Black youth should realize that LoDo is really for the hip, chic yuppie white person who wants to get his groove on and doesn't want no negative negro interference.
Black youth really need to watch themselves in Denver, 'cause the city is not made for their madness! Denver is a white state, made by white people for white people. They don't mind a couple of cool African-Americans who have some class about themselves, but that hip-hop wannabe-thug madness has got to go! Most of these new hip-hop blacks today are brought up by videos on cable. They no longer have humans raising them; they are raised by the record industry. They're walking illusions, you might say. I have seen many white kids do stupid stuff in LoDo, but black hip-hop madness is a different ballgame that the black elite and white folks of Colorado ain't ready to talk about.
Rexx A. Garvin
via the Internet
Fight club:The right-wing/fascist dictatorship that has seized control of our nation dislikes all things social, public and collective. These are the spaces where democracy, compassion and tolerance are found. We expect these LoDo young people who are poor and exploited to be patient in their misery. They compensate for the poverty of their private lives (privatized capitalist culture) by videotaped male bonding and fighting -- following the example of a U.S. foreign policy that seems to be at war with the world.
A day at the racists: "Where the Wilding Things Are" it is not only one of the worst articles I have ever read, but completely without merit or credibility. I frequent the downtown area on a minimal basis but have plenty of friends and associates who work in the area or have weekly events there. This means that their livelihood is solely dependent upon downtown foot traffic. I admit that our downtown area is in dire need of a few changes, but this biased article basically paints a picture of the downtown area as something right out of The Warriors, which is far from the truth. Sure, there are confrontations, fights and other skirmishes. Yet does this kind of activity not happen in other areas of the city as well? What is even more repulsive is the plug you graciously gave Lotus, complete with the suave Vogue-pose photo of Kostas Kouremenos. I would like to know where, exactly, he gathered facts to base his opinion that hip-hop clubs are 95 percent to blame for the violence in the downtown area. Oh, I forgot -- he did not want to come off like the racist that he is. Or was it merely a ploy to lure "the victims of hip-hop abuse" to his venue, which seems to be the safest place on earth?
I also appreciated the plug given the police officers in this city who continuously take advantage of their power by using whatever force necessary to bring down these feared criminals and assailants, such as the intimidating female con in your story who is grappling with various police officers while handcuffed. But, hey, as long as hip-hop is there for you to put the blame on, there is no responsibility on anyone else's behalf, is there?
Congratulations, Westword...you have helped spread the reality of fear even further while taking food right out of the mouths of business owners and merchants in LoDo. Feel free to give yourselves a pat on the back.
Rush hour: I appreciate David Holthouse's article on the disaster area around 1:45 a.m. in LoDo. He has touched on some real topics surrounding the issue. I have been deejaying in this area for almost a decade and am privy to a front-row seat every weekend.
That being said, I think there was a very important fact left out of the article: Our city government/police force is continuously reactive instead of proactive. A problem occurs, they throw some money (more police) at it and hope it goes away. We could resolve this issue very simply with a later club-closing time: Clubs close at 4 a.m., drinking stops at 2 a.m. This eliminates the "last call" rush to the bar where everyone gets that "one final shot" in their belly. There is no "rush" to clear everyone out of the club from the bouncers, either; people will leave as they see fit (or when they walk up to the bar and the bartender says, "Sorry, we're done serving.").
This has been an option in our city for a long time and was presented to Denver City Council in different formats over my career. Most major cities have some policy like this in place.
On top of dissipating the unruly crowd at Let Out time, it would decrease drunk-driving accidents. Many people who "had a few" drinks would realize their intoxication and stay in the club an extra hour to sober up before they got behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Here's what I see:
1) No one goes to a club till 11:30 (that's just the way it is, especially in summer).
2) They get to the venue and they can only drink for a short time (11:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.), so they pound alcohol at a ridiculous level.
3) Our city is a mile high, and it takes less alcohol for our patrons to get drunk (and our clubs make less money in turn).
4) End of the night, every club announces "last call," and patrons rush to the bar to make sure they are good and tanked.
5) Okay, they are good and drunk, and club closes. Bouncers and bar staff are very forceful about getting people out the door by a certain time (or they could receive a fine from the city), so they are screaming and yelling at customers to get out of the club.
6) All the drunk idiots are forced out of the club at the exact same time, into a street with police officers yelling at them to "get in their cars" to avoid a possible fight breaking out.... So the drunk idiots are on the road.
Umm...this is our best solution?
This is not rocket science. Our city needs to create real solutions and prevent violence/ drunk driving -- not just throw more cops at the situation. The bottleneck is in the time frame. Relieve that, and I believe many of the issues will be resolved.
After-hours clubs are packed around the city, but you have to drive to them from LoDo! Our city has a policy that an owner can have an "after-hours license" for his club or a "liquor license" -- but not both. Without a liquor license, most after-hours clubs struggle to stay in business based on door cover alone. Let the drinking establishments have the after-hours license but serve no liquor after 2 a.m.
Wyatt Jenkins (aka DJ Wyatt Earp)
Kitchen confidential: First and foremost, I'm a fan of Jason Sheehan's writing: style, content, fearlessness, humor. And I know from reading him regularly that he's committed to nurturing our state's fledgling good-food community, always championing places like the Truffle, Mondo Vino, Marczyk's and the great, small chef-owned places.
As a serious food person myself (and someone who's made a living for 24 years as a professional taster), I usually find myself largely in agreement with his assessments of local restaurants. For what it's worth, my three or four visits to the Kitchen since its opening have been much better experiences than his, but I could easily imagine having the same meal he did had I been less lucky with the dishes ordered ("Boulder Blahs," July 15). Still, in the sorry-ass culinary world of Boulder, the Kitchen and Mateo are about as good as European dining gets -- unfortunately. Neither place would last a week in a real city, but the same is true of even his and my favorite places in Denver.
I did find it ironic that Sheehan's negative review of the Kitchen was followed by his Bite Me on Clair de Lune ("Kelly's Lune Eclipse," July 22). Of course, Sheehan is right to champion Sean Kelly, but his place and the Kitchen are total slow-food devotee kindred spirits. Certainly the Kitchen needs to concentrate more on cooking and less on PC signage, but it seems to me the number of places that give a shit about featuring artisan foods that are local and seasonal is so small they all deserve encouragement. This is still, culinarily and culturally, a very Midwestern place, and we need all the real food we can get.
Sheehan should keep up the great writing, keep pissing people off and keep making us think.
Man overboard: Hey, guys, could someone adjust Jason Sheehan's medication? Failing that, could you get someone to, you know, edit him? There's criticism, and then there's vitriol, and you just don't need to print some of this crap. Sheehan's badass, Anthony Bourdain wannabe act? Tired and boring, but I can deal. The ignorant, uninformed diatribes, "Boulder Blahs" being the most recent? Fine -- no one takes the dude one-tenth as seriously as he takes himself. The tedious, self-absorbed noodlings sprinkled with shallow snippets about the subject at hand? Whatever -- you're paying him. But the hostility and self-righteousness are downright embarrassing.
I'll be as bummed as he is when Clair de Lune closes, and for the same reasons; that restaurant has been a beacon in the darkness in this town. But Sheehan manages to make even this sad event all about him, too, as if he were Denver's avenging angel of the one true way of food (or maybe some bratty little kid whose favorite toy has been taken away). Please, when he goes off the deep end like that, can't your editors pull him back to shore?
Personal best: As a newly displaced Denverite (I was recently subjected to an ill-advised move to the 'burbs), I was sorry to read Jason Sheehan's story regarding Clair de Lune, an example of a great, personal dining experience that cannot be duplicated in many other restaurants in Denver -- or any other metro area, in fact. It has been a privilege to dine at Sean Kelly's gift to the Denver scene. I can only hope to get in there again before he shuts his doors!
Tough luck: Jason Sheehan, what the fuck is up your ass? Why does a restaurant that cares about where its energy comes from and where its cooking oil goes bother you so much? Were you forced to stand in the front door and read the papers taped to the window? Did they shove their Internet site in your face and make you read every detail? Didn't they let you smoke outside? What's up with the bile about knowing where your produce comes from? Your pal Sean Kelly lets his customers know on the menu where his spotty organic arugula comes from, and he has his servers tell you about it, too. What makes the Kitchen's unspoken efforts so off-putting to you? And why, if the atmosphere and decor made you so freaked out, did you continue to sit in the uncomfortable chair?
Oh, right -- I forgot. You're tough. You've worked in New York. You smoke and drink black coffee late at night at Tom's Diner. This is your job and you'll tough it out. But aren't good food critics supposed to be able to put aside their insecurities, biases, hangovers and bad moods, and approach each restaurant and each dish on its own merits? And I guess that cardinal rule of never judging anything on first taste -- especially after finishing off a pack of smokes and a fifth of J.D. -- isn't really so important to you. It's too bad: Not only are you missing out, but the only thing your readers get is a bitter taste of your attitude instead of the food.
By the way, dude, you're so on when you write, "These days, guys barely out of their rookie whites get their shot too early, get arrogant, get stupid and burn out." Only you forgot: "and become food critics."
Tara Q. Thomas (another ex-cook from New York)
Shot class: I'd like to toast Nancy Levine, your new Drink of the Week writer. And I'd like to make a request, too: Send her to the next bar that Drunk of the Week Patrick Osborn is visiting and have her kick his ass.
From what I've read, she's just the person to do it.
Mood over Miami: I would have to agree with Dr. Etiquette that there is no room for Miami within the city limits of Denver (Drunk of the Week, July 15). I would go a step further to say that all mega clubs are a threat to the Institute of Drinking Studies' research. The progress in the Institute's research has been astonishing. These types of clubs are and will continue to be a roadblock in the way of an exciting future that depends upon the research of the Institute. I plan to show my support tonight in the form of silent protest. I will drink three pitchers of good beer, then stumble home past the city of Miami!
Stewed and stupid: Who the fuck is Patrick Osborn and what fucking asshole of life did he crawl from? I know Drunk of the Week is a minor feature, but Jesus fucking Christ wrapped in bacon on a stick, I've never seen so much stupidity in such a few column inches.
I won't go into every instance of extreme stupidity, because almost every sentence of every column is replete with some kind of incorrect and/or moronic statement. The only thing I'll note, just because it proves this stupid fuck has never been to a real pub, is that a black and tan is not Guinness and Bass. That may be the way it's done here (and it's a perfectly tasty drink), but depending on which kind of pub you're in, it's probably Guinness and Harp (in a Bass pub or, actually, a Coors U.K. pub), or any kind of stout and a light ale or lager. It's a black and tan, not a black and red. There is no difference between a "black and tan" and a "half & half."
If you see Patrick Osborn, would you please hit him in the head with a two-by-four with a nail in it?
Asp you like it: Thank you for Juliet Wittman's insightful review of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's Antony and Cleopatra ("A Pain in the Asp," July 22). I had the misfortune of seeing this disappointing performance on opening night.
Speaking of the third act in his Guide to Shakespeare, Isaac Asimov wrote, "Those who can sit through the rest of the play dry-eyed are either seeing an incredibly poor performance or are afflicted with an incredibly impoverished heart." I was relieved to learn from Juliet's review that I was not the only one looking at my watch during this part of the play.
Dark victory: Regarding Juliet Wittman's "Dark, Yet Moving," in the July 15 issue, her review of Boulder Dinner Theatre's Cabaret:
With "...the conflation of homosexuality with fascism implied by the emcee's centrality to the action...," Juliet Wittman has written a line that, in time, will surely stand with "Call me Ishmael" and "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...." Talk about putting a fancy, high-priced education to good use !
If this woman has even a clue what she's talking about, I'll marry her.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Westword's biggest stories.