A most valuable player: In the June 29 Off Limits, Jill Russell is pictured as another Colfax landmark. Her alleged crime is prostitution -- providing a blow job to then-Rockies pitcher Denny Neagle for $40. Rather than being subject to a warrant for her arrest and public damnation, her public service ought to be more properly recognized. If, in fact, she did Denny for $40, then the act elevates the phrase "taking one for the team" to another level altogether. The consequences make Neagle's sacrifice the most expensive he laid down in his career.
On the other hand, the $40 "contribution" of volunteer labor to the financial benefit of the Rockies' balance sheet renders the whole sordid matter an outstanding "windfall" to the ball club. The actual terms of the cash settlement to Neagle in the buyout of his contract may not be known, exactly. However, the owners of the Rockies could dignify their loyal patrons at Coors Field by bestowing a "lifetime pass" to Ms. Russell, this in recognition of her "service to the team." Or, at least, one free beer to wash down Denny, for all.
L. Dean Clark
Blowing hot and cold: Regarding Alan Prendergast's "The Skeptic," in the June 29 issue:
With their publicity-generating claim that warnings against global warming are a giant hoax, Colorado State University's William Gray and the University of Colorado's Roger Pielke Jr. make their fellow academic, Ward Churchill, look good by comparison. Professor Churchill merely annoyed people like Governor Bill Owens; were we to take Pielke and Gray seriously, the danger to us and our fragile planet could be enormous.
Let the two hoax-sayers 1) continue to echo George W. Bush in his mindless rejection of all science, 2) keep getting their news from the Fox network, and 3) join the Flat Earth Society if they're not already members.
Just be careful not to get too near the edge.
Chill out: Loved the article on Bill Gray. I am neither a student nor a graduate of CSU, so I have no bias. I do appreciate Westword publishing this piece, and only wish your circulation was as big as that of the New York Times.
However, in your review of An Inconvenient Truth, it would have been nice if Westword had named Al Gore's expert adviser. Wasn't he the same person who in about 1975 warned of "global cooling," with a timeline of less than twenty years for reduced food production?
Warming trends: Alan Prendergast's "The Skeptic" makes reference to Time's "overheated" article on global warming as exemplary of the popular media's inclination toward "doomsday stories" on the subject. In actuality, Time's article is one of the only ones from a corporate media outlet that treats the issue with any discernable amount of the urgency it calls for.
The truth is that the media's typical "on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand" approach has led most Americans to believe that there is a great deal of disagreement among the scientific community as to the existence of global warming. There's not. The over-amplification of the voices of a tiny minority of "dissenting" scientists (many of whom aren't even climate experts) has clouded the reality of the situation and cooled public support for immediate action on what even the most modest forecasts predict will be the most far-reaching and cataclysmic disaster in the history of human civilization.
Way to make your contribution, Westword.
Hot topic: "The Skeptic" was a great article. I have been in the midst of heated discussions with some of my colleagues (climate scientists at the University of California-Santa Cruz) and family members (one of whom is a tropical-cyclone forecaster for the U.S. Navy) about this very subject and these very people, so I was well-prepared to appreciate how well-done the piece was. Great job!
Santa Cruz, California
Fate in the balance: I picked up your issue with Colorado hurricane expert Bill Gray on the cover: a good article, and writer Alan Prendergast allows Gray to hang himself. Gray comes across like transistor co-inventor William Shockley, who became very disagreeable in pushing his non-expert views on race and genetics. Gray shows himself an idiot on global warming when he puts forth Michael Crichton as one of his "all-time heroes." It doesn't take a scientist to know that the plot of State of Fear is totally illogical: enviro-fanatics creating climate disasters when a basic premise of the global-warming naysayers is that humans can't influence the climate.
Yet Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News articles on global warming go to Gray to provide "balance" to the real climate scientists. And in the last five weeks, numerous columns have appeared saying that global warming is not that much of a problem, or is a hoax.
But there are numerous reasons for the U.S. to develop risk-assessment policies regarding the use of fossil fuels. The U.S. trade deficit is over $725 billion per year, or more than seven times the deficit of a decade ago, primarily due to oil imports. When China and the rest of the world stop feeding U.S. profligacy, watch the financial meltdown. Or watch China move into the Middle East as oil peaks and declines and war clouds proliferate (Syriana mirroring reality).
We need to change the public discussion for the 2008 election. Nothing does this better than well-written initiatives -- for example, putting the sales and annual vehicle-license taxes for new, non-commercial vehicles on sliding scales based on fuel efficiency or alternative fuel use, and charging a significant tax on electricity above a baseline amount during the solar window, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The cold, hard facts: Your cover story on climatologist William Gray merits kudos for so adroitly summarizing a very complicated scientific story. As a graduate student in environmental science at the University of London who nevertheless hails from Colorado, I've paid close attention to these debates given our area's prominent place amid them.
An otherwise fine piece of journalism is marred only by the conclusion, which draws upon mis-reported news stories on the National Research Council's study released in late June, summarizing it with the line: "The evidence of man's impact on the climate continues to mount." This is definitely not what this quickly composed spring report concluded.
Instead, the NRC committee weighed in on the famous "Hockey Stick" in paleoclimatology, and concluded that the argument flaunted in the IPPC report of 2001 was wrong -- namely, that the argument that 1998 was the warmest year in 1,000 years, and even extended to 2,000 years back, is false. It is merely one "plausible" interpretation, they politely chided scientists -- but reporters stupidly converted this subtlety into "probable" fact.
In truth, that plausibility is now shortened to the time since the bottom temperatures of the Little Ice Age -- for example, when the River Thames routinely froze over in winter 400 years ago. In other words, the climatological science that prevailed before the "Hockey Stick" hysteria mushroomed after 1998 reaffirmed the Medieval Optimum when palm trees were well known in England. This is quite contrary to any "mounting" evidence of man-made climate change.
As Professor Gray himself says, the planet has recovered from a natural oscillating cycle during the last century's late return to warmth. Human influence on world climate -- if any -- is very, very recent, and most likely overwhelmed by larger natural forces.
T. J. Olson
Study as you go: Alan Prendergast, congratulations on a nicely balanced article on Bill Gray, and on actually successfully summarizing the conclusions of the NAS study. You might be alone in getting that part right.
All gawk, no action: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Gimme Ten," in the July 6 issue:
Any time there's a critique of the "media" (which most people love to describe as some sort of singular entity), it's generally referring to the news media, and the most common critique is this concept of exploitation or insensitivity.
Now, this has been around for ages. I think it generally comes from people not liking to have their worst moments recorded for history. Let's face it: People love to have the "media" around as long as they're the winning team, the prom queen, employee of the month, new baby, whatever. But for some reason, those other moments, those "not so good" moments, are not worthy of being recorded, and the media is being insensitive for doing so.
As to exploitation, why is it that even hundreds of people can stand around gawking at a "news event" and nobody sees a problem with this? But you throw a camera or a reporter in with it, and suddenly it's exploitation. The "bleeds it leads" rule will always apply as long as there are people rubbernecking at the latest accident on the highway, standing behind the police tape at a crime scene, or otherwise gossiping to try to find out exactly what happened. But the next time you're at or around an "event" and desperately craving more information about who shot first and how much money they got away with, ask yourself just how exploitive you're being and then shut the fuck up.
The fine art of criticism: Michael Paglia has hit one out of the park with his "Extra Innings" piece in the July 6 issue. Not that I agree with all of his choices (well...maybe I do), but this one ought to keep them on their toes. And that's what I call art criticism.
Bravo to Michael!
John B. Woodward III
Critical mass: What a treat to read more than three articles on the important Decades of Influence: Colorado 1985 - Present show. Since this exhibit has put Colorado art in an entirely new light, a quintessential review was necessary to cover all the ground.
I enjoyed reading Michael Paglia's revisions, as it were, of the Payton exhibit. I, of course, have my own list, and some disagreements with Michael's, but he came up with a few artists I had forgotten about. However, when all is said and done, curator Cydney Payton's bravura selections stand strong, and she must be especially lauded for doing what no other curator in Colorado has ever done for its son-and-daughter artists.
As Denver matures with new museums and galleries, growing more culturally astute, Michael's articles point to a dire need for more and better art writing and criticism. This, along with a few more "barbaric yawp(s)" from artists, will do more than anything else to enhance the Denver art world.
A separate piece: I just wanted to tell you how good I thought Michael Paglia's articles were. He has historically recognized the need for a venue and appreciation for local artists, and I think that his reviews expressed this in a positive way.
One of the best things he did in "Extra Innings" was talk about John Haeseler and Paul Gillis. John's paintings of himself dressed in women's clothing are so poetic and beautiful. They ultimately make one think and feel things about identity and beauty that I believe no other artist, here or nationally, has done. Paul Gillis's paintings are some of the most interesting and beautiful works being done anywhere. I have never understood why he doesn't get more recognition; he paints about mysterious and profound personal and sometimes moral issues, and needs to be noticed.
Anyway, just thought I'd say my piece.
Fed up: I rarely read Jason Sheehan. He's so full of himself -- how does he find room to eat? I mean, who cares about his vapid discourses on his life that always take up 60 percent of his reviews? But I read his review of Snooze ("Pancake Apocalypse," July 6) because the restaurant is across from my office and I've become familiar with it.
What is up with Sheehan's lengthy personal put-down of Jon Schlegel, the owner? This is a young man who has really tried to create a fresh idea with a really unique menu; it really is different from anything else around. I mean, I have my issues with little things here and there, but I have taken a lot of people to Snooze, from kids to clients, and everyone has loved the whole experience.
So why the vitriol? What's the point? It doesn't help your readership find good food; it just is an indulgence of Sheehan's snarky ego. Isn't it about time you replaced him with someone who is concerned about his readers more than himself?
Revenge of the zombies: Once again, Jason Sheehan proves that he would be a much better 1970s sci-fi movie critic than a food critic. As his "review" meandered from odd to downright contemptuous, I was left wondering what personal vendetta Sheehan has against Jon Schlegel and his restaurant. I have eaten at Snooze on numerous occasions, and have even wandered in late at night without any zombies hot on my tail, and couldn't disagree more with Sheehan's review -- of the restaurant's food, the Ballpark neighborhood or Schlegel's demeanor.
For only being open three months, Snooze has repeatedly impressed me with its food, service and ingenuity. It's unlike anything in Denver, and I'm sure the regulars (young, old, well-dressed and not) who dine on a weekly basis at the restaurant would agree.
You Snooze, you lose: I completely agree with "Pancake Apocalypse." My first and last time at Snooze was a Sunday brunch where the guy seating conveniently forgot us and sat his friends and people who got there after us! We finally told him something and got sat! Then I ordered a breakfast burrito to take back to my mom, and they shouldn't even say it has green chile -- they should just say it has a splash of tomato sauce. Anyway, my mom was halfway through her burrito when to all our horror, she found a hair! I was so disgusted and pissed that I had spent my hard-earned money to wait an hour and a half for bad service and bad food. I didn't call or complain, but I will never go back there -- so this article did my venting for me.
Apocalyse now: I'm a longtime reader, first-time writer, blah blah and everloving blah. From time to time, Jason Sheehan's words have literally changed the course of my life. As a twenty-year-plus war veteran of the ever-schizophrenic Denver dining scene, I look forward to reading his work as I would a greasy Wishbone chicken dinner on a hangover day. I frequent the shittiest liquor store in town on a Wednesday afternoon because I know that it will have Westword for me when I get there, a day early. I read Jason's pages before I leave the fucking parking lot. I drive to some hole-in-the-wall immigrant restaurant in a strip mall twenty miles away because Jason tells me to.
Jason reignited a passion in me for good food and drink that I had not had in a decade. His article referring to Big Night made me decide that food and beverage was my life, and to not embrace it was death (or construction work, same difference). I came back to the scene, and when people ask me why, I say Jason Sheehan made me do it.
All that being said, I didn't get his review of Snooze ("Pancake Apocalypse," July 6). I have been there with my kids on a Saturday morning (and they are culinary snobs -- their dad is a good cook), and taken drunk dates there late at night who are in the business and know what they like, drunk or not. I have easily had the most memorable grilled cheese and tomato soup of my life there on a cold, wet, shitty day (I drooled uncontrollably in front of the hot, hot, hot barista, and that's a great indicator of good food, in my humble opinion). I have never left Snooze less than thrilled.
We can agree to disagree, but I see Jon Schlegel as a visionary. I actually laughed when my (much smarter) peers predicted a rebirth of the upscale a.m. cafe, but those breakfast tacos wiped that smirk right the fuck off of my face. I thought they rocked. Authentic Mexican hot chocolate. Did Jason try it? Boring is not the word. You could spread that cinnamon-sugar compound butter on my uncle's ass and I'd have to think it over. I think, given the (current) neighborhood, that Snooze promises little but delivers a lot. All I wanted was an alternative to Denny's, and I got some of the most memorable meals of my life.
Jam bandwagon: So Michael Roberts is not a Pearl Jam fan -- okay (Now Hear This, June 29). But why is it so difficult to see that Ed Vedder has simply evolved -- grown as a human being and as an artist? Ed never left the music industry, as Roberts suggested; rather, it is Roberts who has not been paying attention.
Lisa de Graaf
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Superman overboard: I strongly disagree with almost everything Robert Wilonsky wrote in his review of Superman Returns ("Recycled Steel," June 29). Brandon Routh blows Christopher Reeve away, not only in physical presence, but as Clark and Superman. Did you not get the spiritual analogies?
Wilonsky sounds like a typical indie-rock cynic.