Uncle scam: Although I am very disappointed that Westword has not devoted coverage to the fiasco that is the war in Iraq, I enjoyed the one-two punch of Michael Roberts's "Wanted" and J. David McSwane's "An Army of Anyone," in the September 29 issue. Now why don't you tell us about the 1,900 people who were recruited, and died in this pointless war?
Future shock: I am a local Colorado National Guard Recruiter. It is unfortunate that there are recruiters out there who violate the rules and regulations we have in place, which are there for a variety of reasons. We don't accept people with mental issues or past cases of depression for the very reason that the military can be extremely stressful and we would not want that person with a loaded weapon in their hand. The same goes for those who have had a history of excessive drug use; "experimental" use is fine. Standards of education do also apply. These few recruiters who lied cared only for their quota, not for the individual person applying. That is an absolute shame.
I am a little disheartened that there were no positive recruiting examples in your articles. I read Westword weekly and understand its political viewpoint, but I wish there had been a story about a soldier such as one I recently enlisted. He had just graduated from high school when his girlfriend became pregnant with twins. He had no job, no prospects and lived in a small town out east where drugs were prevalent. Both of his brothers had ended up in jail for drugs and violence. He didn't want to go down that path, especially now that he would have a family to care for. He contacted me one day, and now he is a soldier with the Colorado National Guard. He is learning to become a mechanic, he was given a $10,000 bonus, health care and the opportunity to go to a four-year college on Uncle Sam's dime. The day he enlisted and I was driving him back home, he almost broke into tears. He realized he now had a future. Although many of your readers do not agree with the military and all we do, it gave this young man a chance at supporting his family.
Colorado also sent almost 1,000 National Guard soldiers down to the hurricane-stricken regions of Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. These are the reasons why I joined the National Guard, and why I chose to work as a recruiter. I recently volunteered to go to Iraq; in March, I will go as a helicopter mechanic. I'm going because they need my job there. I'm not doing it for any political reasons, I'm doing it to support every other man and woman who decided to sacrifice to serve their state and country.
I don't care if others don't support those in power, or even the government. But please support the troops.
Sergeant Edwin Wiley
At your service: Kudos to David McSwane! I think he has a great future ahead of him. Westword, keep up the great work.
Sob sister: Although I appreciated Patricia Calhoun advocating to bring back the perfectly fine word "bums" to describe the "unworthy poor" ("We're Not Worthy," September 29), I still fail to see why the "worthy poor" are more deserving of a handout from this city than the "really worthy lower-middle class."
Shelter from the storm: I enjoyed Patricia Calhoun's story about charity and the homeless people. I moved here last October after Hurricane Ivan. I had been a resident manager for a small condo complex in Orange Beach, Alabama, for three years when the storm hit and the property was condemned. I took the whopping $900 FEMA gave me to rebuild my life and moved to Denver. I searched for a job for weeks with no luck. When I finally found one, the second week I was there, my truck was repossessed. Luckily, I lived close by, so I could walk.
I have tried so hard to get back on my feet, however, I'm still in a hotel room, and that's about all I can afford. I do have family in Tennessee, but they are not able to help. I also have a dear friend there who has graciously offered to let me stay with her until things get better. My question to Westword is, would you happen to know of any service or organization that would help me get a plane ticket to get there? I know Red Cross and the Salvation Army are focused on the more recent hurricane victims. I feel so sorry for them; they are in for a lot more heartache.
Donation nation: Regarding Patricia Calhoun's "We're Not Worthy," in the September 29 issue:
I can't help but wonder if we need charity. As a concept, charity promotes a sense of top dog/underdog in a country of equals. Calhoun's article states that charity began many moons ago, and I challenge that it's an antiquated concept. (How's that for being provocative?!)
The antidote I'd suggest: Begin to use more modern terms fitting our time, like "human rights" and "social justice." Let's tie these words to the homeless and other poverty-burdened citizens of the planet. It's a bigger pill to swallow, for sure, to immunize what's ailing our world. Let this be the intelligent design for our future.
What Katrina highlighted for me is how we allow our citizens to live (and continue to blame them for their conditions), when without the "working poor," who would pour our coffee? I wonder how a country of "Christians" could ever get the notion that any individual has the "right of judgment" on another? I must be misguided, as I believe that judgment is the right of the divine (God?). Hence, the hell we call home. A country of deities sitting in judgment on the worthiness of its impoverished and exploited citizens. So that charity can exist.
Can we give up charity and claim human rights and social justice?
Homeless is where the heart is: I make it a point to not read the news on a regular basis. Crime, death, rising gas prices, poverty, sluggish economy, lack of jobs, natural disasters -- it's easy to feel hopeless with one glance at the front page of the newspaper. But you cannot run away forever. The news is a virus that spreads: into your home, into your workplace, into your life, no matter how much you would rather shut it out. And so, bit by bit, I became aware of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation it caused in New Orleans. Bad news travels fast, and I had heard it from the mouths of my fellow employees, which in turn caused me to read the paper, and hear it on the radio, and see images fly across my eyes on the Internet. Thousands of people displaced, inconceivable damage to a once-charming city.
My fellow employees talked about donations; friends and family wanted to take in the now-homeless families, radio stations and networks set up benefits and charities. A domino effect of giving was in effect. But then I drove past a homeless man on Santa Fe. And another on Colfax, and another on Broadway. These men were not in the eye of the hurricane, but they need help just the same. Many people drove past them or walked over them to give their donations to the New Orleans refugees. Does losing everything due to natural disaster somehow make a person's plight worth more than someone who was laid off from his job?
To me, natural disasters are like fashion trends, signified by a cheap plastic bracelet people buy to feel like they are making a difference. I am not philanthropic; I don't profess to be. I have not bought a single bracelet and rarely give to charity; shame on me. But I know that every state, every major city, has homeless of its own, problems of its own, that could use a helping hand from its local citizens who are willing to give of themselves.
All I'm saying is, before you drop off that donation or FedEx that blanket to New Orleans, save yourself a trip by just looking around you and knowing that your help is needed at home.
Bible thumper: This is in response to the "Something Wicked This Way Comes" letter by name withheld in the September 29 issue.
The writer brought me to open the Bible, and I was horrified when I looked through it! I threw it out of my house for fear my children would see or read the filth in it. The author(s) should be ashamed!
I fear the people who worship it and quote it constantly, trying to get it in our schools; they truly must be warped, twisted, confused, and a threat to society and all that is good. If what's in there is true, then the universe is run by a bi-polar, self-centered, greedy, vengeful entity who can't keep anything straight, and we're all fucked, anyway.
Thank the universe for Westword, for it brings joy, laughter and life to our town. It also tells us what is going on now and lets us speak back without "fear of damnation" for having contrary facts, knowledge or opinions.
Wall in the family: Regarding Michael Paglia's "Modern Master," in the September 29 issue:
As a first-year student at the University of Colorado at Denver, commuting via light rail, I enjoy the opportunity to view the "articulated wall." I had seen the sculpture several times before while traveling along Broadway, but I never really had the chance to marvel at it close up. Thanks for the article about Herbert Bayer and his extensive art career. Now whenever I gaze at the towering structure, I'll have a better concept of the piece and its creator.
Bar none: You should change the name of Off Limits to "Off the Wagon." Lately, all you write about there is fights in bars, like last week, or charitable drinkathons in bars, like the week before, or uncharitable drinkathons in bars, like you did the week before that. There is more to life than getting overserved.
It's time for everyone at Westword to grow up.
via the Internet
Hangover helper: What? No Everclear in the margaritas at Rio Grande? I don't believe it -- and I have the headache to disprove what I read in the September 15 Off Limits. No mix of tequilas could create this hammer in my brain.
Editor's note: According to the Rio's Christine Sullo, Jose Cuervo is the only tequila included in the three shots of liquor in the house margs -- and she stands by her no Everclear statement. Let your hangover be your guide.
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All that jazz: Regarding Shawn Bauer's piece on Buckner Funken Jazz in the September 29 issue:
That's nice work, captain.