No holds barred: Jessica Centers, I just wanted to let you know that I'm glad you wrote your story on the Eric Reynolds situation ("Colorado Prison Blues," August 10). Life is hard enough, and given all the obstacles Eric has had in his short life, my heart breaks for him. I hope things work out for him with getting out.
I've never done anything like responding to something like this, even with a simple letter, but I wanted to share my empathy for him. Keep up the great work.
Loud and proud: Regarding Adam Cayton-Holland's What's So Funny? in the August 3 issue:
I used to listen to the young couple stumble in late, kick off their boots, screw like virgins (loud, fast, short, on a comically squeaky bed), and then the guy would stumble a few steps and pee ferociously into the toilet. No flush. Maybe they were water-conscious. I couldn't sleep with the porn reel in my head; they were very cute. That's making the best of apartment disturbances.
Congratulations to Adam on his new house. Apartment living does suck, and some of us will be renting unless we win Lotto.
I'm in my mid-forties and fighting off being the crusty old complainer. If my upstairs neighbor comes in late and turns on his stereo, fine. If he comes in late on Tuesday with four drunk friends and blasts the stereo and doesn't invite me, he'll hear about it. The problem is that in most apartments, people don't know their neighbors, especially upstairs or downstairs, and subsequently there's no patience or kindness. We're all in our own little world, and everyone else is in our way.
If Adam had been masturbating extra loud upstairs from me, I would have knocked on the door and asked if he needed help. (Are you going to finish that, or may I?)
Pun on the run: The only thing dumber than Dick Lamm thinking he could speak the truth about cultural differences is Adam Cayton-Holland comparing civilized debate to KKK cross-burnings (What's So Funny, August 10). Adam, you're a failure as a comedian. You're funnier as a political commentator. Please get the hell out of Westword and go to work for some Republican's re-election campaign. The damage you'd do to the GOP would be a far, far better thing than what you are doing to Westword.
Quit monkeying around: Adam, you are fucking hilarious. Bill Owens is just the perfect governor we need for a state with one of its airports and areas named after a KKK member. Owens is a champ, really. The champ of chumps acting like a chimp, stumped when the general consensus is he stanks!
Scratch and sniff: Adam Cayton-Holland's July 20 What's So Funny? was another great blast from the past. The Boulder Round the Corner, conveniently located next to Crossroads Mall, had a sign on the door forbidding entry to anyone under sixteen not accompanied by an adult. A friend of my parents took me there once, and I about swooned. It was the swankest place I'd ever been, and it gave me a lifelong predilection for dark indoor places with interesting smells.
Talk about your single-trial learning!
Blocked and loaded: "It's the Real Thing," in the July 27 Off Limits, was a great story. I stopped watching The Real World after the fourth season, but still love it for the decadence. The pains the producers take to sugarcoat "reality TV" are astounding, and I applaud Matt Lawrence's simple gesture. And besides, who doesn't want to walk through LoDo loaded some nights?
I neither skate nor play air guitar.
Editor's note: For a report on Matt Lawrence's court date, see this issue's Off Limits.
Snatch judgment: At one time I would have taken issue with Becky Due regarding the use of derogatory words against women ("Bitch, Bitch, Bitch," July 27). She indicated that many dictionaries have derogatory words against women but no derogatory words against men; I would have countered by listing the numerous slang terms for male genitalia and referred her to the hit movie Austin Powers in Goldmember, which made frequent use of them. However, I now realize that the issue has nothing to do with the relative number of slang terms for male and female genitalia (as there are many, many more crude terms for male than female genitalia), and everything to do with the power of language to control behavior.
The women's movement has been very successful; however, it has never been able to change the idea that women are supposed to be passive, soft-spoken and nice. It is still not acceptable for women to be assertive, opinionated or angry, because that would not be "ladylike." Therefore, to keep women who are assertive, opinionated or angry in line, society attempts to intimidate them with terms like "bitch" in hopes of stopping their unacceptable behavior. Slang terms for female genitalia, which Becky Due deplores, are also used to control behavior.
The depiction of female genitalia in the visual arts is still strictly forbidden, even in the most liberal societies, while the depiction of male genitalia is fairly common. Case in point was a picture that was featured in the July 13 Artbeat, in which Michael Paglia summarized Jimmy Sellars's artwork by writing that the "main attraction is a penis, which is placed in the center of the composition." A similar explicit painting of a woman with her vulva as the main attraction would never have been shown, even in the progressive and forward-thinking Westword (unless Michael Paglia wanted to be fired). Since men cannot be shamed by the depiction of their genitals or by being at the receiving end of slang terms involving their genitals, society uses another set of words. Society wants macho, assertive and aggressive men, and does not tolerate passive, soft-spoken or gentle men, so it tries to curb this "bad" behavior by referring to these men as "wimps," "wussies," "chickens," "cowards" or "gay" -- "gay" being the most effective of the terms to stop men's unacceptable behavior. In this way, language reinforces old stereotypes of women and men and confines them to the rigid behaviors of the past.
Full-frontal assault: As I was looking through the July 6 issue, I passed several drawings of semi-dressed women. Then I saw a nude picture of a man with his penis showing in Artbeat and did a double take. I was disgusted and horrified. I had to write you and tell you what I thought.
I think you need to warn parents that young teens shouldn't be allowed to look at your paper. Maybe it needs to have an "X" rating to warn people. I don't remember seeing so much of this before; I'm disappointed.
Name withheld on request
Join the club: So Michael Roberts thinks the James Gang is just an oldies act with only two "hits" to its credit (Now Hear This, August 10). These three guys make up one of the most accomplished trios in the history of rock, which is why you still hear their stuff today. As a musician, I have to say I get the same thrill today as I did the first time I heard them, back around 1968-69. The jazzy playing on top of the hard rock mixing some folk and blues into the fabric of the same song was awesome and made me proud to be a musician, part of the same club as the James Gang.
Funny thing, though: I notice that most groups that feature musicians with really solid playing and writing chops are the ones Westword doesn't like. The bands that pretty much sound interchangeable with one another (since they aren't especially good players or composers) are the ones that Westword really digs as being "relevant." Go figure!
The gods must be crazy: There is nothing worse from a so-called "music critic" than ignorance of the subject on which he is attempting to offer criticism. Did Michael Roberts run a quick Google search of the band name and decide that he could actually offer something valid to say? Why doesn't he try listening to a CD, maybe? Even a halfhearted listen through one of the greatest-hits compilations might inspire some kind of substance to his insipid and irrelevant scribblings about a band that launched the career of two major guitar talents and left behind some of the most solid Midwest rock-and-roll albums ever made. Music that still holds up well today.
What's worse is completely writing off the albums released with the legendary Tommy Bolin, a phenomenon of the Denver/Boulder rock scene of his era. Sad how little loyalty Roberts expresses for one of Colorado's very own guitar gods, especially considering how few and far between they have been.
Wanks for the memories: What a shamefully snarky write-up on the James Gang reunion! The writer's presumption is that the only good songs the Gang had are the two that get modern FM radio play. That is putting a lot of faith in modern FM radio, the same medium that feeds us Creed and Nickelback ad nauseam. More disturbing to me were Michael Roberts's general ideas that:
1) Old rock bands must be bad because they are old.
2) Mass popularity means quality.
3) Long-broken-up bands must never reform.
4) Cult status is meaningless.
All of which is sheer bullshit, typical wank from the kind of music journalists who spew contradictions and misperceptions in lieu of quality. This guy should write for Spin.
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On a side note, regarding Roberts's comment about how "subsequent configurations (one featuring ex-Denverite Tommy Bolin) didn't leave many distinguishing marks," I'll take the latter-day James Gang albums Bang and Miami over The Long Run in a New York minute.
Sandy Hook, Connecticut
Whipped Cream: The James Gang still has their songs played every day all around the country. They sold out two big venues for a Rock Hall benefit in 2001 and sold out two Beachland shows and the House of Blues last year. They have a worldwide following and have two gold albums. How many has Michael Roberts got? I wonder what he thought of those "geezers" in Cream when they reunited last year. Is Eric Clapton a has-been, also?
Maple Heights, Ohio