A sporting chance: Props to Luke Turf for the excellent articles on mixed martial arts in the May 11 issue. It's about time the sport received some publicity, especially when you consider that mixed martial arts and, more specifically, the Ultimate Fighting Championship began in Denver and that Colorado is home to several elite martial-arts training facilities.
I really enjoyed "No Pain, No Gain," the profile on fighter Mike Nickels, who is currently on the UFC reality show The Ultimate Fighter. The article gave us a good background on Nickels and detailed his reasons for getting into the sport of mixed martial arts. These are pieces of information you're not going to get from watching a reality show, and I appreciate the level of detail that went into the writing of both stories.
A job well done!
Spokes man: As a cycling enthusiast, Critical Mass participant and bike messenger, I wanted to respond to the detractors of Critical Mass (and cycling in general) who wrote in last week about Patricia Calhoun's May 4 column, "Critical Mess." Critical Mass is a voluntary bike ride for cycling enthusiasts. The only meaning the bike ride implies is the meaning gleaned from the participants. For me, it is fun to ride my bike, and also to illustrate that bicycles are a viable form of traffic. If you are "stuck" in your car behind me, perhaps the meaning of Critical Mass is that you shouldn't be driving your car downtown when so many other methods of transportation are available. Or not.
Despite the bike lanes and bike paths in the city, cyclists are definitely treated like second-class citizens on the road. The law says I have to ride on the street. Yet on the street, countless cars honk and yell insults as they pass by. Bikes "whiz" past you, scaring you? Cars "whiz" past me all day, often trying to force me off the road. You were hit by a cyclist? I got drilled by a pickup-truck driver chatting on his cell phone. Bikes are zero-emission, ecologically friendly vehicles that have as much right to the road as cars.
Oh, and as far as bikes flouting the law, tell me you've never jaywalked on a red light when there were no cars coming. Police officers are selectively enforcing the law during Critical Mass, trying to make a point.
Enjoy your $50 fill-ups. I'm going for a bike ride.
Bike to the future: I ride a bike daily. It is my only form of transportation (I am not a weekly-ride Spandex wonder), and I break traffic laws. I am not an anarchist, and I do not participate in Critical Mass, and I don't know much about either of them. What I do know is that the average Denver driver has no idea how to deal with a bicyclist. The last thing I want is someone riding my ass because I'm slower. I would rather have you pass me than worry about having an SUV up my rear. I have been incredibly rude to multiple people, mostly because they have cut me off, hit me, honked, etc. Some people ride on the sidewalks out of fear of these drivers; many people would rather dodge pedestrians than be run over by some jackass in a Suburban who refuses to yield, refuses to check lanes before changing them, or thinks you'll just get out of the way. When I ride through a red light, I take my life into my own hands, but I am not likely to kill someone else with my bike. If I am now a "law breaker" in need of punishment, so be it.
I don't think that the suburban readership of Westword understands any of this. Nor do they seem to care, judging by their letters.
Sick transit gloria: Adam Cayton-Holland's What's So Funny in the May 4 issue is the sickest anti-American bullshit I have ever seen. Adam, if you love the goddamn illegals so much, then get your ass out of my country and go to that shithole all those illegals have left behind. And remember, you are in America -- where even assholes like you can publish shit like this article you wrote. But keep it up and you will lose your First Amendment rights.
Spit and Polish: My nationality is Polish. After I read Adam Cayton-Holland's scum about immigrants in your country, I see even clearer now why around the world nobody likes Americans and calls them "stupid American." In this poor article, he intended to make fun of immigrants and Polish people. I lived in the U.S. for three years; most of my Polish friends over there have graduated from universities, not sissy American colleges, but you never will see that, because they do the jobs that Americans won't.
I saw a lot of stupidity in the USA, and I can say the average Polish person is much smarter than the average American. Immigrants in most cases come even without English language, and they're doing much better than narrow-minded morons with brains grown on McDonald's dog food like Adam Cayton-Holland. So before he writes something, he should think twice.
How low can you go? After reading Adam Cayton-Holland's What's So Funny, I can only say that your paper has sunk to a new, all-time low. Cayton-Holland's ranting about Polish people, white people and American veterans just goes to show what a bigoted, racist, anti-American he is. I can only hope that your advertisers have the good sense to withdraw their ads.
Spin cushion: The article that referenced a "Polack" gives rise to the notion that your standards are not worthy of Peter Boyles's positive spin. It is difficult to give your paper any journalistic rating. What are you trying to accomplish?
Barf bag: Adam, you should be banned from what you perceive as writing. Barffff!
Charlie von Schlesien
via the Internet
Bands on the run: I just read Michael Roberts's "Radio Age," his May 4 Message, and it was good, but it offered no solution for Denver's crappy radio targeting the core demographic he was talking about. Radio, and Clear Channel specifically, will tell you that the music they play is tested, and this is how they choose it. The problem is, that stagnates variety -- and with all of the choices these days through technology, that's why the younger generation chooses these alternatives. Radio stations in this market need to be honest with themselves and say, "Are we really playing what people want?" The key is to cater to the passions and culture of, say, alternative-music listeners by playing new music first, and not just the "hits" that were pre-tested to the core listeners. This market refuses to play bands because they didn't test well.
Look at bands that are the "cool kids" bands right now. The Arctic Monkeys, She Wants Revenge, Interpol, the Strokes -- hell, let's even put in Depeche Mode for its new record. Ask yourself, "Are these bands even heard on radio here?" No. I asked a 93.3 DJ why the hell they aren't playing bands like the Mars Volta, the White Stripes, the Strokes (not "Last Night"), Bright Eyes and such, and he told me that nobody listens to the radio for these bands, but for bands they recognize. And I told him, "You're right -- nobody listens to these bands, but did you happen to see that their shows sold out with no radio play?" Hell, even Sigur Rós was pretty close to selling out and with no radio mention, for Christ's sake!
The answer to crappy radio? Get radio people who are ultra-passionate about music and have personalities that reflect the culture and attitude of young people (I'm 29). Tell people that when a song or artist sucks, honesty must rule the day. Mix in classic alternative hits by bands like the Smiths, Joy Division, old Depeche Mode, Nirvana (not "Smells Like Teen Spirit") and the Stone Roses, and you not only gain a core of passionate listeners, but active buyers in the market for products such as furniture, cars and whatnot. This is the only reason broadcast even exists, anyway!
Insolent pup: Jason Sheehan, I was Googling myself just last night when I found my name in a database for obscure, poorly written food columns ("Man Bites Dog," the May 4 Bite Me).
Slighted? No, just mildly annoyed that a delicate, pedantic little genius such as yourself is still free to go around inventing "words" like "Blinky-centric." "In short, FU?" Why don't you just put us out of your misery and stop there, Shorty? Instead, you fly into a thirty-page polemic on the cosmology of hot dogs. God help us. That's followed by a screed on advertising. I don't suppose that basic economics was ever required at your particular junior college, but surely even you can see the sheer folly in unleashing a broadside at a regular advertiser. Even at self-righteous, proletarian Westword, that is how the game is played, especially when Best of Denver season rolls around. And that's fine with me, but apparently it is not okay with you. Meet Jason Sheehan, this generation's Upton Sinclair of food journalism. Oh, the humanity. Oh, the hilarity. Oh, the stupidity.
As an aside, do you really hold such disdain for the people you work with every day (that is, if you do work every day), those provincials in advertising, the ones who see to it that you can make rent on your little studio apartment? That's probably why you dine alone in the Westword lunchroom so much, staking out your little table by the soda machine, with your little hipster shirt on and your little sack lunch. Man, that's sad. But I don't feel your pain.
Anyway, I propose a duel. Rotten hot dogs at twenty paces on the East High esplanade at high noon. Short of that, I'm going to put a bounty on your head. That's right, a bounty. In the immortal words of that true orator Reg Dunlop, captain/coach of the mighty Charlestown Chiefs, "a hundred bucks to the first guy who really lays into that creep." Verbally, of course.
Fletcher Patrick Neeley
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Jason's the best: Jason Sheehan, I have loved your stuff from day one and read it semi-religiously. You have tremendous insight and a killer writing style, really. I have for a long time told my friends that someday you'd write for the New York Times. But you're way too good for that, so stay here.
Jason's a beast: When you review your myriad restaurants that serve meat, fish, fowl, eggs, etc., Jason, bear in mind that animals have a right to their lives.