The clause that refreshes: Regarding Kenny Be's "Jesus Clause," on the cover of the December 1 issue:
It was wonderful to see Kenny Be's Worst-Case scenario back in Westword. I applaud his poking fun at the Parade of Lights organizers. The Downtown Denver Partnership caved in on its principles. The Parade of Lights was never about Jesus or Christianity; it always had a primary purpose of attracting metro residents to downtown Denver so they could be encouraged to go shopping. The DDP never hid that fact.
Those Christian organizations that clamored in 2004 for a more religiously themed parade -- with a huge assist from an editorial-page editor who sees conspiracies everywhere against poor, defenseless, powerless, marginalized American Christians -- always had an option: They could have started their own parade rather than hijacking someone else's. But that would have required hard work.
It is sanctimonious hypocrisy for certain Christian groups to argue that they have a First Amendment right to exclude anyone they please who does not fit the theme of their parades (such as the Boston and New York St. Patrick's Day parades) while denying organizers of other parades the same First Amendment right by threatening lawsuits and bullying their way into parades whose organizers don't want them.
Something funny's going on here: Say it ain't so. Damn you, Patricia Calhoun, and your Western urban smugness. What have you done with What's So Funny? Please tell me that Dirt isn't the only rag in town interested in the twenty- and thirty-something demographic.
Editor's note: Don't get your Pull-Ups in a twist, Master Saulker. After a one-week break, What's So Funny? is back.
Ch-ch-changes: Regarding Adam Cayton-Holland's "Mom's Away," in the November 17 issue:
Why did no one think this woman might be starting the "change of life"? Ask people who've started the change: They feel they are no longer women (able to reproduce). Surely someone in your organization would/could choose to verify rather than judge.
That's entertainment: After reading Dave Herrera's reviews of DJs' performances and their parties so many times, it was pleasing to follow his experiences as he crossed over to the role of "entertainer" (Beatdown, December 1). Although I would tend to agree with him that the "masses" seem to want familiarity when they hit the dance floor, I still believe it has a lot more to do with programming and mixing.
During my fourteen years of deejaying in Denver, I certainly have never played it safe when it comes to track selection. In fact, I think how you play and what you play is very much a signature. I've been told numerous times over the years that people can always tell when I'm deejaying versus my colleagues, because the music is always so different. That said, I rarely have a hard time rocking the dance floor. And I play many tracks by local bands that Herrera mentioned in his column, including the Swayback and the Photo Atlas, and regularly receive kudos as well as enthusiasm from hipsters who recognize our homegrown talent.
I applaud Herrera's adventurous spirit in wanting to push what he recognizes as good music in his DJ set. I also feel that pandering to a crowd instead of leading it can only go so far if we hope to keep bringing Denver fresh experiences and also lead the way for upcoming DJs. It is indeed a great role to be a "rock star" DJ, but it's an even greater role to inform and stimulate.
Hip tip: Has Dave Herrera considered the distinct possibility that the bottom's falling out of wack-ass hipsterism? "Are You With Me" is straight-up sexy, and anyone's refusal to get into it says a lot more about them than it does about Herrera or Vaux. I'd think the fact that he felt he had to bail with "Cherry Pie" and that "Melt With You" moved a crowd says volumes: The haircuts like to big-up sincerity but trade in irony.
The next time the hipsters don't move, just throw on a stoner-metal megamix, crank the volume to something ear-splitting and let them deal with it.
Lip service: I did not attend Lipgloss last week, but I heard that local bands were played. I was disappointed I missed it, and now I'm even more disappointed that there was little crowd reaction to Dave Herrera's set. Up until a month ago, I was a regular at Lipgloss and also attended shows (especially local ones) at least twice a week. While Lipgloss can be a lot of fun at times, it does tend to get stuck in a routine that can be recognized every week. Denver has some great local bands and too many DJs overlook the talent our city has to offer.
I just wanted to let Dave know that had I been there, I would have been on the floor dancing, and overjoyed to hear some of my favorite music -- especially the Photo Atlas, the Swayback and Hot IQs. I must say, though, had Dave deejayed at the hi-dive, Sputnik or even Bender's, I think the crowd reception would have been quite different. But then again, that's where all the locals hang out on a regular basis.
Critic as vidiot: Reading Michael Paglia's critical assessment of Truss Thrust at the Museum of Contemporary Art ("What's On?" in the December 1 issue), you quickly learn two things: One, Denver is, in fact, just beginning to escape a vacuum of artistic regression, and two, Mr. Paglia has a very limited scope of what contemporary art is. As our critic begins addressing the show while comparing the medium to I Love Lucy, you really begin to grasp how limited his vocabulary is.
First of all, the medium itself really isn't even that contemporary. Artists such as Nam June Paik and Bill Viola have been experimenting with video for more than thirty years. It takes certain research and an ear very close to the pavement to embrace any type of art that is considered avant-garde, and for many art critics, reviewing video art is just as common as reviewing figurative abstract expressionism. This is not to say that Truss Thrust should be free of negative critical assessment, just that there is a way to approach the medium where you will sound intellectually justified in your criticism. Using words like "obscurantist" just makes you sound, well, like the revisionist critics who struggled to interpret Jackson Pollock's work in the '50s.
Artists have always embraced available technologies, and of course they should. Art is very much about reflecting our current time. Should we continue to react against the influx of potentially harmful technologies and our intrusive media with oil paints and stone carvings? I don't think so. We as artists use the tools that reflect our time, so history is preserved in our work. Walking in the footsteps of the past abstract expressionists leaves an indiscernible print on the ground.
Thank you, MCA, for finally giving us a wonderful show of trans-global video-installation artists, and please, Westword, either send Mr. Paglia a subscription to Artforum for Christmas, or hire someone with some qualification to appropriately criticize "emerging" art forms such as video and photography.
Roman holiday: Regarding Jean Oppenheimer's "Simply Galling," her review of The Dying Gaul in the December 1 issue:
I could be wrong on this, but I was taught that "The Dying Gaul" was sculpted by Praxiteles, who was a Greek, not a Roman. The Romans certainly copied the Grecian style in sculpture, but this work was definitely Greek. The Greeks (and Macedonians) used Gauls as mercenaries long before the Romans fought and then co-opted the Gauls. The reason most frequently cited for the use of Gauls as hired warriors was that they supposedly had no fear of death. I'd take that with a large grain of salt, but the sculpture certainly portrays stoicism in the face of certain, impending death, and portrays it so effectively that the statue to this day evokes a deep and universal human emotion.
Praxiteles may be long gone, but his work is as fresh as today. He deserves his props.
via the Internet
The price you pay: Regarding Michael Roberts's Now Hear This on the Rolling Stones, in the November 24 issue:
I concur: Roberts was direct and to the point. I, as well as the majority of the general populace, have enjoyed the Stones for decades. However, what was this $400 asking price for the sixteenth row? How were the poor scalpers to make any money? I'll say that the Rolling Stones are good. But in the immortal words of Karen from Will & Grace, "You're not that good, honey!"
Phishing for compliments: First, I don't know Phish; I don't know Trey Anastasio, nor do I want to. But after reading Nick Hutchinson's Now Hear This in the November 24 issue, I just thought, "Wow, that man is a good writer!" I thoroughly enjoyed his images and words. He painted a picture, and after reading so many illiterate reviews, his was a breath of fresh air.
Grover Beach, California
We'll drink to that: I loved Patricia Calhoun's "Going to Pot," in the November 24 issue. Frank Rich is not just one of Denver's "liquid" assets, he's a national treasure.
I'll take drunkards over potheads any day.
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A smokin' deal: To Bruce Mirken's thoughtful letter in the December 1 issue, I'd like to add that no matter what you think about marijuana, why should it remain completely unregulated, untaxed and controlled by criminals? Only legal products of any kind can be regulated, taxed and controlled by any government.