Letters to the Editor
Big talk: Kenny Be's Worst-Case Scenario last week was the meanest -- and funniest -- thing I've ever seen. But I think he drew those talk-show hosts' "mikes" too big.
Sex ed: The real problem with the comic books is simple: Some people just can't stand the idea that Spanish-speaking comic-book characters have a better sex life than they do.
Cover boy: Congratulations to Peter Boyles, who has been successful in banning Spanish-language popular novels from the Denver Public Library. In doing this, he has shown himself to be a nattering nabob of negativism. He has cast the "P" word and succeeded in ridding the DPL bookshelves of these popular novels. For someone who claims to be a "reader," he has accomplished this all without reading a single one of these books. He doesn't read Spanish, so how can he possibly know what they are about? He looked at the pictures! These novellas are not pornographic. They are not graphic; there is no depiction of genitalia, nor is there penetration. Yes, they are racy, but they are not pornographic.
These are certainly interesting times that we live in, when a DJ can influence decisions in municipal government. Do we citizens of Colorado need to be told how to think by the likes of Mr. Boyles, who is running a virtual on-air campaign for Tom Tancredo? Mr. Boyles decides that whatever doesn't go with his decor must go. This includes Ward Churchill, John Hickenlooper, Rick Ashton, people who want to help the homeless and -- oh, yes -- his standby whipping boy: Mexicans. The only callers who can get through to this on-air poobah are the ones who fawn over him. If callers don't agree with the Boyles line, they are quickly dispatched with his bullying tactics.
What is the saying? "You can't judge a book by its cover." Mr. Boyles can.
French farce: I would simply like to clear up some "facts" and falsehoods that have been presented by Peter Boyles and the Caplis and Silverman show in the recent Denver library porno non-debate. Comparing the Spanish comics to kiddie porn is simply laughable and a conversation-stopper, much like how Boyles complains "racist" is a conversation-stopper in the illegal-immigrant debate.
Silverman states Bruce Willis is raped in Pulp Fiction. No, Ving Rhames was raped. Only one brief shot conveyed the violation. A better example would be Ned Beatty getting raped in Deliverance. Silverman goes on to say that French films aren't subject to American ratings, so they can do anything and have it in the DPL. Wow, does this guy know anything about films and distribution? French DVDs won't play in U.S. DVD players due to format incompatibility!
These radio guys seem to think that the world of cinema consists of only the suburban multiplex or the Colfax porn shop. There's a whole world and a hundred years of cinema out there.
Me? I'm a man: In last week's "Comic Relief: Are you a man or a mouse?" Patricia Calhoun, with her usual wit, has a great many things right. Protesters reviling the Denver Public Library for its inclusion of racy materials in Spanish, in some attempt to protect women and the American Way, are doing neither. Their hypocrisy speaks for itself. And she is also right to portray the library as an embattled institution, reeling from many controversies, most of which stem from the library's attempt to reorient and redefine itself as it entered the 21st century. My complaint, then, is not with Ms. Calhoun, but with the atmosphere surrounding the library, of which her article is only a small part.
The Denver Public Library has undertaken the steps included in "Your Library in a Changing World" (many of which I disagree with as a librarian myself, as a patron of the system and resident of Denver, and as a former employee of the DPL) because it is a good institution. The administration, particularly City Librarian Rick Ashton, did not make these changes for fame or glory, profit or greed. They did it in an attempt to better serve the people of Denver, to make their institution that much more relevant in the lives of their constituency. The staff and volunteers who bemoaned the changes when they suggested they were an attempt to fix what was not broken were right in that regard: It was not broken. But it was not broken specifically because it has always tried to redefine itself, to change with the times, to be on the forefront of the public-library services in America.
The DPL's mission is to "help the people of Denver to reach their full potential." Why bombast an institution with a mission statement like that? There are plenty of organizations in the Denver area more worthy of negative press. Instead of criticizing the library for its shortcomings, we should seek to restore its appropriate level of funding by petitioning the mayor, or our fellow citizens, to include a referendum on the soonest possible ballot to create a mill levy for the library's funding. I am of the mind of Carl Sagan: "I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries." This makes me very concerned for Denver's well-being.
Instead of story after story about protests, stabbings, mismanagement and failed projects, the people of Denver should be reading about what really goes on in the Denver Public Library, every day since its inception in the nineteenth century: A child sounds out her first word in a board book; a teenager discovers part of his identity in a compact disc; a grieving widow finds solace in a novel; a writer discovers the out-of-print treatise of water rights he cannot find anywhere else; and a homeless man, God help him, finds a sink with cold water. Yes, these stories are mousy indeed, but this man would like to read them, if only now and then.
Stacking the deck: Of course a true-blue (didn't you guys used to be red?) left-liberal like Patricia Calhoun finds it oh-so ironic that some ig'nant, gap-toothed, backwoods John Deere-cap-wearin' rednecks -- whom, she assures us, wouldn't know Melville from Melvin's -- are all a-dither over smutty, misogynistic Spanish language comic books taking up space in the stacks (ahem) at the Denver Public Library.
The Denver Public Library, regardless of how its Lord and Master views it, is not, in fact, the private playground of Rick Ashton. It is, as its official handle would appear to indicate, "public." I don't know how this works south of the Rio Grande, but back in the States, "public" means that funding comes largely from, well, the public. Yes, just imagine the gall of fellers with those nekkid-lady mudflaps on their '75 Jimmys making all this fuss about the wisdom of spending taxpayer funds on Mexican pornography. But then again, it's hard to be an ig'nant, gap-toothed, backwoods John Deere-cap-wearin' redneck unless you are also an American, and while it's true that some citizens of this country do read Spanish, let's not kid ourselves about who it is the "public" library has these trashy things on hand for.
The library shill explains that these are popular and "accessible" reading for Spanish-language readers. Ah. I wonder if the library keeps a supply of equally popular and "accessible" titty mags like Hustler, Penthouse, Juggs and other demographically redneck fare on hand for our less-educated backwoodsmen? Probably not. You can imagine the shitstorm good liberal feminists such as Ms. Calhoun would unleash on Ashton and his librarians if they did. I guess when it's "literature" that debases mostly white women, it's a no-no. But it's okay to use taxpayer funds to purchase dirty comics that depict the rape and murder of Messican gals?
The joy of text: Please define "pornographic." Please define "obscene." Please define "censorship." There are bookstores in Denver with huge "newsstand magazine" sales that won't sell Hustler, Club International or any explicit sex magazines. Sometimes art books by photographers are considered offensive.
The Denver Public Library should be consistent with its policy on what's popular and in demand, in Spanish or English. If Debbie Does Dallas is a bestseller, it simply reflects a culture that made Hee-Haw and The Dukes of Hazzard popular TV shows. Give the people what they want.
Elevate this Tancredo: Regarding the August 4 Off Limits interview with Jackie Tancredo:
The wrong Tancredo is the officeholder! She seems to be the very levelheaded, practical, thoughtful, concerned and considerate Tancredo. I knew that she was a great Jeffco teacher. And now -- Jackie for Congress!
Execute this Tancredo: Tom Tancredo's recent verbal threat to "take out" Muslim holy sites (Mecca, Medina and presumably Jerusalem) in lieu of a nuclear strike on American soil shows clearly what he and his nuclear "warhead" generals at NORAD, the U.S. Space Command and the Pentagon really are: supreme terrorists themselves.
These ultra-right-wing, conservative Republican "Christian" warmongers are actually fueling levels of hatred and vengeance in the world that will inevitably result in the nuclear detonation of an American city, killing millions of innocent civilians.
I agree with President Bush that we show "no mercy" to terrorists. Today there is no greater threat to U.S. national security than the U.S. military itself. The burden now falls on the American people and the international community to find a way to round up these American terrorists, bring them to justice and have them summarily and swiftly executed.
Jonas the Prophet
Kitchen magician: Last November, I moved back to Michigan after seven years in Denver. I now read Westword every week online, and the primary draw is the excellent and entertaining writing of Jason Sheehan. Jason is certainly the finest food writer since Tony Bourdain. Here's looking to many more of his reviews!
We'll drink to that: Patrick Osborn's Drunk of the Week is a great column. Every week should be required reading for all but the young kids.
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