Mourning becomes electric: Dave Herrera, your January 12 Beatdown was a beautiful article. I was sitting in a library to access my e-mail and got all choked up and teary-eyed in public. I am so sorry about the loss of your father. I lost my own dad (and best friend) in November 2000, and the weight of the loss is with me still. Hang in there; the fog surrounding this loss will break and eventually rise. The view from that point has its own rewards.
Thanks for sharing an intimate story of music and its place in life's losses and healing.
Cutie and the beast: Regarding Jesse Hughey's "Death Pool for Cutie," in the January 12 issue:
Do you think predicting someone's death is funny? I found it very sick and tasteless. These lives may not mean anything to you, but this is someone's father, son, brother, mother or loved one. I do believe a little respect is deserved.
Westword, perhaps you should revamp your twisted thoughts on this and do a little soul-searching yourself!
No action on Jackson: Who the hell do you think you are to determine that Michael Jackson will die this year? Are you God? Since when, motherfucker? Tell me. You white brothers are the ones trying to destroy him. By the way, every time I hear about a child molester on TV, he is white. Maybe this is why they count Michael Jackson as one of them, because of the dysfunction of his skin.
Shut the fuck up and take the chill pill and then relax.
Name withheld on request
Short shrift: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Storytime," in the January 12 issue:
There's a lot of chatter about narrative, but little commitment. Part of the problem is that editors, who have an aversion to long-form anything these days, assume narrative means 6,000-word epics. Any competent writer can do a nifty narrative in fourteen inches. I do think storytelling is the key to winning the hearts and minds of readers. But the culture of journalism is not the same as the culture of storytelling. Ask your colleagues: How many of them regularly read fiction?
Bill Marvel, senior features writer
Dallas Morning News
A long way down: Let me add my voice to all of the people who wrote letters in last week's paper praising Alan Prendergast's "Throw It All Down," in the January 5 issue. It was a remarkable piece of storytelling, and I didn't miss a word.
Crime and punishment: As a longtime enthusiast and student of Dostoyevsky (I must have read The Brothers Karamazov eleven times, and my degree depended upon a paper about the author), I found myself sputtering with incredulity at Dustin Foster's misrepresentation in his letter last week about "Throw It All Down": "Victims deserve sympathy, criminals deserve punishment. Dostoyevsky knew this. One hundred and forty years later, maybe you could get a clue." Somewhere in St. Petersburg, the old man's bones are spinning in his grave.
Before issuing such pronouncements dripping with condescension, maybe Mr. Foster should himself "get a clue." I readily admit, I did not read the Lanahan article. Mr. Foster should admit he has not read Dostoyevsky. If he had, he might have been confronted with the extremely uncomfortable possibility that everyone suffers, and that everyone (even supercilious intellectual poseurs like Pyotr Miusov and Kolya Krassotkin) deserves our sympathy.
Respect yourself: This is in response to JM Schell's letter about "Throw It All Down." It comes not from a far-left feminist, as a knee-jerk reaction might label me, but as a woman who respects herself. "What do women think men are thinking?" Perhaps Jane Doe thought she was lying next to a man she could trust. One she had an established history with. And that she had already given him enough of her body that surely by now his appetite would be satiated. What would you think, waking up with someone's dick up your ass? Maybe that it hurts and it's embarrassing and demeaning and dirty and so painful and that you never asked for this. But wait, this is someone who cares about you, so maybe that makes it okay? And when you cry out because you can't help it, maybe he'll stop? But he doesn't; he doesn't care because it feels good to him. JM, I hope you never have to know the shame in that. If you're a man, chances are you can fall asleep naked next to a woman and never have to worry about her shoving something up your ass.
When will certain men realize that just because women have the physical capacity doesn't mean you have permission? Our bodies are ours, not yours. Respect us not just because we are women, but because we are human. If you're hurting someone, stop. If she never gave you permission, don't start.
To women, I say respect yourselves. Your bodies are not commodities to be sold to the highest bidder. Establish your boundaries early. Respect yourself, and hopefully this will cause someone to respect you more than he might have originally. But still, if he chooses to demean you, respectfully decline this treatment. You don't deserve it. You will never deserve it. Respect yourself always.
I am sorry for Mike Lanahan's death. I agree that his punishments were very severe. And I do not think most men are potential rapists. I have many wonderful male friends who have integrity and respect. But let's please stop using the excuse that "boys will be boys." Because when boys hurt girls (people), it is never okay.
Schell game: As I get older, it's harder and harder to find something to agree with in your paper, but I keep on trying anyway. So what a pleasant surprise to start reading the letter about this Lanahan fellow by one JM Schell. Well, he seems like a reasonable fellow in his comments concerning the subject matter, but wait! All of a sudden he reveals he has heretofore unavailable information concerning the death of JonBenét Ramsey! Apparently, new evidence indicates that John Ramsey was sexually abusing his little girl and then had to kill her! Is this Schell character a private detective? Do the Boulder authorities have his phone number? Are indictments forthcoming? I've been out of town for a few years, but this case has been in the national news, so I don't know how I missed these new developments.
But seriously, folks, what a low-down, scurrilous thing to say absent any proof whatsoever to back up these charges, and I'm amazed, although not surprised, that you would print them. By the way, your little disclaimer says you reserve the right to edit for, among other things, libel.
Home, sweet home: I don't usually e-mail Westword writers, but I just had to tell you how much I loved Jason Sheehan's piece on Mama's restaurant ("Mama's House," January 5). It makes me feel good to know that something like that exists (existed) in Denver, and I felt like I was right there with Jason. He's right that an experience like that is better than any four-star meal. I also enjoyed learning more about Ghana. Awesome!
via the Internet
More, please: "Mama's House" was Jason Sheehan's best piece yet. I have enjoyed the Cafe page since Kyle Wagner was writing it; now I have become truly addicted. Jason's writing draws me in and keeps me coming back for more. This article sums up why he does what he does and why I love to read him. Thanks.
The gift that keeps on giving: In "Mama's House," Jason Sheehan writes: "How can I explain to him that this is what I wanted...exactly this, with all the confusion and the waiting, the anticipation and the disappointment."
I haven't read a journalist write out of the heart of Dickens as Sheehan did for us in the January 5 edition -- on the twelfth and last night. Gifts are for giving, and the twelve nights of Christmas are a special time to give from the warmed heart in those dark nights. Some of us celebrate each of the nights -- times when you can feel a sprinkling from a magical staff ever ready, as "ghosts" led Scrooge about that Second Night. I read Sheehan's review of Mama T's home dinner and wanted to return his gift, as the giving begets a like giving.
What he wrote was a gift of the best kind, for he felt with bright ardor what dear Mama endeavors always to do. And as can pleasantly happen in these nights, the peaceful heart dances in thanks and you don't mind how it appears to others, knowing that its pure goodness blesses the other, too. You say thank you with such fullness that another is moved to tones of the same strength, and a nearby friend feels inclined to send onward the softly ringing bell of warmest gratitude. The growing, bright circle has strength to extend to the last day of the year. In an end-of-year of deepest cold and weary walks, another small light gets kindled...
And we are kept going by thoughts such as Sheehan's -- the true food, as he says.
Great expectations: With chef Ian Kleinman finally leaving town, maybe Jason Sheehan will notice that there are more than ten chefs in this city. The "Thanks, bro" comment at the end of the January 12 Bite Me answered any questions I had as to why he makes the column every week. It's ironic that you have to be an insider in a totally different area to get your name out as a chef; I thought it was supposed to be about consistently making great food.
Name withheld on request
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Heavy rotation: Reading Dave Herrera's January 5 Beatdown, I was glad to see that someone else loved the Mars Volta disc. When I got it, I couldn't stop playing it. I must have listened to it every day for three weeks straight!