Letters to the Editor
Playing fast and loose: Luke Turf's too fast, too furious article ("Rocket Men," July 13) was as bad as anything I have read this summer -- exempting that piece of shit The Kite Runner, as it stands in a league of its own. Feel free at any point in the future to explain to your readers how this article gets the week's top billing. Is a law-abiding club with very expensive toys news? No.
Not to be a total asshole, but this article was irrelevant.
Circle jerk: Please refrain from publishing anything else by Luke Turf. While his "Rocket Men" story was amusing for the first few paragraphs, his facts were about as straight as your average spiral -- which, by the way, is what you call a circle that wraps around itself. This "lifestyle" story tends to portray all "crotch rocketeers" as idiot lawbreakers who have no respect for the police or, indeed, themselves.
Please, I implore you, round-file the rest of his work, or send him to a writer's clinic, or something. I don't think many of the folks I know could willingly withstand another onslaught of his brand of journalism.
Rocket boys: As a year-round motorcyclist in my fourth summer of riding, I'm constantly amazed and disgusted to see how ignorant most people are about motorcycles. The idea that it's perfectly safe to throw a leg over a 1000cc or larger sportbike without years of experience is ludicrous, and just because someone pimps out his Hayabusa doesn't mean it's any less stupid to do so.
Within the first few paragraphs of the "Rocket Men" article, it became apparent that these riders are all SQUIDs: Stupid, Quick and Inevitably Dead. The kid did not look ahead, was not aware of what was around him and did not read traffic. He also had no idea how to ride a motorcycle, as evidenced by his "locking up" both wheels and his lack of protective gear. And on a Hayabusa that he bought six hours earlier? A bike that can accelerate nearly as fast as a Formula 1 race car? SQUID.
A 600cc sportbike can do zero to sixty in less than four seconds, and these pussy-hunting children who think they're "cool" for turning a throttle are the same ones who think a helmet will do them any good when worn with a T-shirt and shorts.
As for the general public, please understand that there is a difference between a true motorcyclist and just some yahoo with a bike, and know that the real bikers loathe SQUIDs weaving through traffic playing Zip 'N' Splat as much as everyone else.
Cornering the market: While attending Young AmeriTowne for at least two summers, I was "forced" to wait for my mom to get off of work to pick me up at -- you guessed it -- Round the Corner. I loved that place. Sitting alone in the booth, waiting for that beautiful phone to buzz. Just wanted to share that story because Adam Cayton-Holland's July 20 What's So Funny brought back many memories.
I, too, am "round the corner" from the Tattered Cover now. They should tear down the drive-thru Starbucks, replace it with a Round the Corner, and we'd be set.
Meanwhile, back in Denver: Just wanted to thank Adam Cayton-Holland for consistently bringing me great memories of my Denver past. From his column about peeing boas at zoo camp and being a DJ at Young AmeriTowne camp, to his request for Chipotle deliveries to East Coast colleges devoid of good burritos, and now Round the Corner...all he has to do is throw in something about Saturday-morning skating lessons at DU and we'll officially have had the same exact upbringing.
Although I'm now living in SF, it is great to read his column once in a while to get back to my Denver roots. Keep up the good work.
San Francisco, California
Riding in circles: From reading Jared Jacang Maher's "Cycle Killer," in the July 20 issue, the Derailer Bike Collective sounds like a godsend to the neighborhood. Where do things go from here?
Here are some questions I have: Why, if there is no charge, is it considered a business? Why is it considered a non-profit boarding house? What is the reason behind Derailer being ordered to cease-and-desist, really? Are there issues of safety? I would really like to know more about this group and perhaps the other side of the story.
Ticket to ride: I don't see how the Derailer Bike Collective poses any sort of threat or negative action to the community to warrant these investigations or cease-and-desist orders. I also don't understand why such a progressive community resource is shunned by authorities rather than embraced.
I have found the Derailer collective to be an excellent Denver resource. Sarah Graves helped me put together my single-speed bicycle that I custom-built for myself, and I couldn't have done it without the free education and use of tools.
Thanks, Derailer. Best of luck with your future endeavors.
Matthew W. Hamm
Going forward: All of us at BikeDenver, the city's leading bicycle advocacy organization, support Derailer in their efforts. We don't wish to see their passion extinguished by city zoning laws; they make an immeasurable contribution to the Lincoln Park neighborhood, the city of Denver and bicycle rights at large.
At BikeDenver, we work to provide Denver with better bicycle facilities. At Derailer, they provide people with the bikes to enjoy those facilities. Both of us have a place in bike advocacy. Today, Derailer's place is under fire.
Denver is at an important crossroads. As we launch the mayor's new initiative, Greenprint Denver, our focus should be on measures that promote and protect alternative transportation. We believe it is our city's responsibility, as a bicycle-friendly community, to support the efforts of this group of dedicated individuals.
BikeDenver stands in support of providing the Derailer Bike Collective with a space to operate. They should be able to function with the help of the city, without getting bogged down in a fight against bureaucracy.
Let's work together to find the right space for this valuable organization.
You say you want a revolution: Wow! I helped start Derailer almost four years ago, right before I moved away to San Francisco, never to visit dear Denver again. But what an amazing, gratifying surprise to learn that not only is it still going strong, but that it is truly accomplishing the mission we set out with: to provide the community -- not just a small, insular group of a certain type of people, but many kinds of people -- with a truly affordable, sustainable, empowering means of meeting its needs by cooperating, not competing.
If everyone in America started working on their own projects like this in their own neighborhoods, I absolutely guarantee that the state of this country -- and by extension, the world -- would absolutely change for the better. Which is why it is so incredibly sad, typical and expected that the authorities would be harassing these folks. Sad to say that the government fears nothing more than communities doing things for themselves and not needing someone telling us what to do anymore.
Viva la (pedal)revolution!
San Francisco, California
A bump in the road: After reading your article on the non-profit Derailer gang, I felt that something needed to be said.
Here's a group of people who are trying to do some good in our community. Why is it that we are throwing up roadblocks rather than helping these people be successful, in service to our community? They are doing good work. I am going to find out how I can help them.
Throwing a wrench in the works: Very nice story on "the monkey wrench gang." It would be nice to know the outcome of the hearing on July 25. It is really unfortunate that city officials are hassling these wonderful people. I used to work in that area. It was somewhat rundown, but I think things have improved in recent years. The energy these ladies bring will touch and inspire the lives of the people they help. They are a bright light in their community.
Jared Jacang Maher replies: On July 25, over fifty supporters of the Derailer Bike Collective packed into the Board of Adjustment hearing room, where Derailer members Mackenzie Liman, Sarah Graves and Sarah Bardwell explained why Derailer should be granted a six-month delay of enforcement of the April 5 cease-and-desist order. In that order, the Denver zoning department had cited the group for operating a "non-profit bicycle shop" and a "non-profit boarding house" at 1065 Lipan Street. The board agreed to grant the collective an extension until January 1, 2007, which should give its members time to gain non-profit status, raise funds and find another location for the bike shop, preferably in their beloved La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood.
Red-light district: I certainly appreciate Jared Jacang Maher's article on the Critical Mass rides ("Wheeling and Dealing," July 20). Although I do not participate in these events, I do believe they serve a worthy purpose. The Denver police have a difficult job, but it seems a bit like overkill to go after these riders with such enthusiasm. I only wish they would crack down on the systemic red-light violators in cars throughout the city rather than focus on this small group. Thank you for investing a little of your time to raise awareness of the issue.
That's the ticket: It's curious that the Denver police are so intent on issuing every possible ticket they can to bicyclists during Critical Mass rides, but every day and night, all year long, for many years now, the failure to obey traffic rules and laws by motorists has gotten worse and worse, and very few receive tickets. It's near-anarchy out there on the streets most of the time. Everybody's driving anywhere from 5 to 35 mph over the speed limit -- all the time. If the freeways and major arteries -- any street, for that matter -- had cameras every half mile or so that recorded any and all speeders doing more than 5 mph over the limit, and if all those tickets were actually issued, the resulting revenues could just about pay off the national debt! Motorists behind you get annoyed and honk if you come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Nobody stops behind the crosswalk. Blatant running of red lights has become rampant here in Denver.
Guests from out of state have remarked on the "F.U." attitude towards other motorists and bicyclists here. It really is worse than in many other parts of the country. Is it the maverick, competitive sports-oriented, car-culture, wild West mindset that makes this place so anti-bicycle, or what? Following and ticketing a mass bicycle ride is harassment on the part of the cops -- when every day, all day long, the average motorist is constantly speeding and committing several other violations every few blocks! Granted, bicyclists are infamous for running red lights and stop signs, but the danger to human life is vastly lower than that of the carnage wreaked out on the streets by automobiles, and it's motorists who deserve way more tickets than the average bicycle rider.
A true friend: I walked into Russell Enloe's memorial with a pack of tissues to share, thinking that I had already mourned my friend a great deal and would not be too very teary at the service. One step in, and I found things to be otherwise. I honestly don't think I have cried so much in public, including at my father's funeral the month prior.
My only guess regarding the letter in the July 20 issue from Kevin Anderson is that he didn't really know Russell. He doesn't understand that above anything else, Russell was real. The Coopers were some of his best friends ever, and he would have appreciated what they said. I read Russell's obituary that talked about his "beloved fiancée" and a July 4 wedding that was supposedly going to take place. Russell's best friends, mother, sister and brother had never heard one word about such plans! On top of that, we all endured stories from this so-called "great" girl while she cleaned his house out of most of his perfect stock of vintage clothing. Mind you, she left his very loved cat behind with a bowl of dry food -- but starved for attention! It was because of this stuff going on (under the surface to most) that we asked Westword to write a real story on Russell.
Jessica Centers contacted people who were truly Russell's friends. People who knew him longer than six months, who weren't out to take him for all he was worth the second he died. Jessica contacted his mother, talked to her and received her blessing on the story -- because the story was true. "American Ace," the July 13 Westword article, is the only story in print that isn't chock-full of lies from the girl he was dating when he died.
A load of crap: My crap detector started beeping wildly by the second paragraph of the letter from "Kevin Anderson," even before he said, "Russell and I had been good friends for twenty years...even though I hadn't bumped into him for a year..." At that sentence, I wondered why any true friend would not have been in touch with Russell frequently following his devastating skateboard accident two years ago.
Russell's real friends are not offended by Jessica Centers's article, which accurately portrayed his personality and sympathetically explained the difficulties in his life. We know that Russell's close friends, the Coopers, and his loyal employees did everything humanly possible to help him through his rough times. We are not swayed by "Kevin's" accusations.
Clothes call: My husband and I met Russell about eight years ago when he was in New York on a buying trip. When he walked into the Louisiana Bar and Grill, all heads turned: "Who is that guy in the great clothing?" He and our friend Brian were without a doubt the best-dressed fellows in the room.
In 2001, my husband and I relocated to Denver. Upon arriving in the Mile High City, we quickly found a family in fellow vintage enthusiasts. Of course, Russell was part of that family. With each passing year, the more I came to know Russell, the more I adored him. But that was Russell. You could not help but adore him. He was a man who was loved by nearly all who met him. As his mother said, he had a way to make everyone he was with feel special.
Despite the many troubles he faced, Russell was a blessed man. Not only did he have a family who loved him, but he also had a circle of close, loving friends who would do anything for him -- friends whom he valued beyond compare. Les and Joan Cooper, Brian Blakeney, Phil Snyder and Kim Danner are such friends. These friends -- lambasted in Kevin Anderson's letter -- are the people who cared for him at his lowest points. They are the people who intervened and took him to rehab so that he could turn his life around. They are the people who moved heaven and earth to support him when he broke his leg. They are the people who hosted benefits to help him pay his bills. They are the friends we should all be so fortunate to have.
For my part, I am grateful for the few years that I could count Russell among my friends, but I grieve for the times we will not have -- times blessed with his kindness, humor and love.
Cleaning up: We feel it is important that we clarify the information about Russell Enloe's drug use in "American Ace." If we were to assign a percentage grade to the amount of time Russell was clean in the fifteen years we knew him, it would be about 95-97 percent. The article made it sound as if his drug use was constant. Russell worked extremely hard to stay clean even when he was on prescription pain medication. He even tried to wean himself off of these doctor-prescribed meds. Despite his drug use being overstated, we feel "American Ace" pretty accurately described Russell and his situation.
Everyone fails at times in life. Russell had a big heart that was good. We knew he would never allow one of his failures to hurt anyone. If Russell had loved himself as much as his family and friends, he would still be with us. Russell was a very caring and close friend. We even entrusted him to watch our children. There will always be an empty space in our lives the size of Russell -- and as we've always said, he was larger than life.
Les and Joan Cooper
Hot under the collar: Regarding "The Skeptic," in the June 29 issue:
Westword is my favorite mag and Alan Prendergast my favorite writer there. But I must admit I tore out the Bill Gray article on global warming to savor it, then just couldn't read it. It was just too colossally off the mark!
On the face of it, the Earth goes through its natural cycles, and the hand of man has but a negligible -- if any -- mark in what is writ. But let's look at the other side of the matter. According to Edgar Cayce and many others of metaphysical persuasion, the Earth is alive. It is a bundle of consciousness. And what we do, as mankind, affects it as well as our sun -- just as certainly as if it had two legs. We're doing just about everything wrong, and I think the Earth reacts. I think it shakes off from time to time like a dog would shed a disturbing flea: earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, hurricanes -- and can you spell tsunami?
Our entire solar system, ruled by its sun, consists of a very delicate balance or equation that doesn't suffer fools lightly. And I believe Dr. Gray is being foolish in the limited scope of his geophysical assessment. The worst is yet to come.
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