Things to do in Denver before you're dead: I just wanted to send my compliments about "A Federal Case," in the September 7 issue. I loved your cover story about Broadway, was looking forward to another street -- and here it is. I grew up in Denver, and the places are so familiar, but your articles tell details I never knew, and at the same time reveal charms I always felt. Denver will forever be my city, and even as I explore other parts of the world, I will always be able to come back and find new places to learn about and old spots to comfort.
Thank you for doing my Denver justice!
Lauren Kay Lansing
Native sun: Kenny Be is brilliant. His cartoons are my favorite part of Westword, and with his "Better Fed Than Dead" piece in the Federal story, he shows that he is as good a writer as he is a cartoonist. He is a real bright spot on the Denver scene, and I'm glad he's stuck around his home town.
Crash course: I enjoyed your feature on Federal Boulevard, but you didn't say enough about the traffic. It sucks.
The misfits: Your article on Federal Boulevard brought up a few memories, and a question.
I remember going to Taylor's Drugs at Mississippi and Federal and buying candy with my friends. We would go across the street to the All V's sub shop and buy sandwiches to take home. We would go across the street to Pablo's and have the best chile rellenos around, before the Vietnamese took over that spot.
I would like some help defining a certain group of people, and maybe readers can help. Growing up in southwest Denver, my sisters and I did not speak Spanish. None of my friends from our block spoke Spanish, and my husband does not speak Spanish. Most went to Abraham Lincoln High School between 1977 and 1988. Our parents would say stuff in Spanish (actually Spanglish) that they didn't want us to know, kind of like when you spell in front of a little kid.
I'm not sure what you would call us, as we don't speak Spanish and we don't have relatives in Mexico or Latin America. We can trace our lineage -- at least on my dad's side -- six generations back through Colorado and California. Because our last names are "Romero," "Trujillo," "Cortez" and "Vallejos," should we be lumped in with the Latino and Hispanic categories? My dad has some American Indian in him (Apache, I've been told). I do not feel like I fit in with the "Hispanics" or "Latinas," because I do not have any relatives in those countries and do not speak the language. I know of a lot of people I went to high school with who are in the same boat. So where do we fit in?
The other day, I had the blondest moment of my life (I have the blackest hair ever) with my blond assistant. She said the last place she worked had no minorities, and I actually told her I didn't think I had ever worked in a place that was totally white, thinking of African-Americans or other minorities, not even thinking I am considered Hispanic. How "white-washed" is that?!
My youngest daughter came home from third grade and said she didn't know how to answer when asked what nationality/race she was. I really didn't know what to tell her! We ended up saying she was American/Hispanic mix, not really Mexican, because we didn't have any relatives in Mexico. We went to Puerto Vallarta a couple of years ago, and everyone there talked to us in Spanish until we said, "No habla español," and they were like, "que," why? Boy, did we feel dumb!
So thinking back on myself and friends/ classmates who graduated and moved on from Federal, we are the unnamed (classified as Hispanic), the misfits of the race wars.
The answer man: "Ask a Mexican" is a great, needed and fun column for all us güeros! Of course, Gustavo Arellano is undoubtedly pissing off all the xenophobes out there. Perhaps they'll eventually see that it's really a path to a new and shared culture for all of us.
¡Muchísimas gracias! (Now if someone could just tell me how to access the accent/punctuation marks on a Dell keyboard...)
Linda Biska Drake
Editor's note: Gustavo Arellano's award-winning Ask a Mexican, which Westword has been publishing on the web, joins the print lineup this week. Turn the page to read the current installment.
The last laugh: The August 24 What's So Funny that Adam Cayton-Holland wrote on Josh Blue was funny. Blue is great. Working with folks who have disabilities, he is a great role model and example for us all not to take ourselves too seriously. Go, Josh! I'm newly imported from Seattle, and his victory and that of the Denver Slam Team (Jared Jacang Maher's "Slam Bam") make me proud to be in Denver.
Funnier, though, was Adam's article on Rory Vaden, "The Lord of Discipline." I can only imagine that this was a satirical piece. I was almost simultaneously rolling with laughter and writhing in disgust. Rapping with Rory??? I pictured the folks in the office dying as they posted the modeling shot in with his rap on "The Discipline of Rap."
If Rory is Adam's brother, cousin or some sort of young spiritual guru, I take back liking the article. If he repulsed Adam as he repulses me, then I applaud the effort, and find letting him do all the damage to himself with his own words to be remarkably effective. Nothing against public speakers, models or salesmen, but his door-to-door sales/self-righteous mama's boy/Christian-right mentality is hilarious.
In standup comedy, there's nothing funnier than a Bible-thumpin' male model virgin who makes it cool to be disciplined.
Gnarls in charge: Regarding Dave Herrera's Beatdown, in the August 17 issue:
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Dave, you're losing it, man! Talking about Gnarls Barkley being played out and then going on to mention that KOSI hasn't even added the Fray to its rotation is just plain nonsense! Gnarls Barkley can sing. Maybe KOSI doesn't feel the need to put the Fray into its rotation because the Fray is mediocre, at best, and Isaac Slade can't sing, hmmm? When I hear the term "tone deaf," the first thing that comes to mind is the Fray. You must not have seen their live performance video on VH1. It's godawful!
Anyway, keep up the cheerleader antics. I'm sure your boys in the Fray appreciate it.