A peace of the action: Regarding Patricia Calhoun's "Speak Your Peace," in the September 21 issue:
It seems fitting to have PeaceJam here in Denver. Colorado has so many great things that attract people from around the world, but Denver has a long way to go in the "peace" department. When you think of mass psychology, you think in general terms about cities. New Yorkers, as a mass, are stereotyped as being pushy and rude. People from L.A. are granola-eating Pilates freaks. And how are Denverites viewed? My experience has been that people in Denver are not very cool to one another. I haven't seen many strangers going out of their way to do something positive for one another.
One example: You're driving on the highway, need to get over to your exit because it's coming up in a half a mile, put on your blinker and look over your shoulder to signal to other drivers that you'd like to get over -- and then people do the "dick" thing and speed up to cock-block so that you can't get over. Seriously, there's no need for that. In another city where I used to live, you could sit on your front porch and have neighbors say "What's up?" as they walked by. Now where I live, in Wash Park, I swear almost everyone looks down at the ground and won't even make eye contact. And if one more uber-chic club opens where everyone is beautiful and pretentious and I have to spend $200 on a bottle of booze that would normally cost $35, I'm going to rip the hair out of my freakin' head. They're all the same, no originality.
Having so many Nobel Peace Prize winners here hopefully planted some good vibes into our culture so that we can start being cool to one another. Things have been crappy enough with Bush in office; we don't need to make it worse for one another.
Super man: The September 21 What's So Funny? is awesome! If Adam Cayton-Holland really has Dealin' Doug at his party, that would be frickin' sweeeet! And it would be really sweet if he would show up as Super Dealin' Doug, cape and all! I want an invite.
Thanks for keeping me laughing.
Booga-booga blues: In the September 21 Ask a Mexican, Gustavo Arellano is only repeating the propaganda he has heard, that we need more immigrants in the U.S. to work and to reproduce in order to meet the obligations of Social Security for the current generation of retirees because Americans' birth rate is flat.
First, Social Security is not supposed to be a pyramid scheme whereby we import 12 million warm bodies every twenty years to shore up the bottom of the system and get our checks cut. We have millions of people, incarcerated on drug crimes or high-school dropouts or homeless, whose lives would be improved simply by holding down the kind of jobs that now go to illegal immigrants. If we stop pouring our revenues into that bloody hole in Iraq, clean up government corruption and properly tax Big Biznez, we'll meet our obligations now and in the future without massive immigration, thank you.
Second, Americans have a flat birth rate not because we hate babies or don't know how to make them, but because we are concerned about the environment and the planet. In the '60s, my generation campaigned for ZPG -- Zero Population Growth -- and we got it! The people's benefits belong to those who curbed their reproduction rates in order to preserve our forests, our air and our open space, and we're not going to watch Corporate America steal that accomplishment by illegally importing cheap labor while screaming "Growth, more growth!" (read: profits). Mexico, among others, needs to curb its birth rate, not export illegal immigrants to ease its misery and then argue that they are simply responding to a demand. There's a demand for meth, too, but for the good of the whole of society, it is prohibited, even against the wishes of a select few.
The issue of illegal immigration is not racial or emotional; it is economic and environmental and rational, and I don't believe Mexicans hate Americans, either. That is a word Arellano is placing in the mouths of millions of people for whom he does not speak. I am tired of propaganda that tries to instill fear in me, whether because of Islamofascists (!) or the collapse of Social Security or the economy. It's hype, it's booga-booga politics.
From a Mexican: As the Mexican-born son of American and Mexican parents, I was appalled when I saw Ask a Mexican in Westword. I was hopeful that the author would clarify cultural issues about Mexicans that people might not understand otherwise; instead, I read two examples of why certain people should never be allowed in mass media.
Mr. Arellano is not funny, educational or conducive to correct the interracial misconceptions between our two countries. His comments on a teenage pregnancy are callous, prejudiced and misleading. If one is to quote birth and fertility rates, it should be from the CDC National Center for Health Statistics instead of "Googling" some random source whose own site states that its information "tailors its programs to meet the information needs of policy makers" and calling it accurate.
Regardless, Mr. Arellano fails to state that this "source" also says that other races (Black teens) and sub groups (Puerto Rican teens) have higher pregnancy and abortion rates than Mexican teens -- hence Mexicans have a higher birth rate. Hispanic teens have a lower rate of unwed mothers (CDC.gov), and according to Mr. Arellano's own source, "foreign-born teen mothers are considerably more likelyto rely on familyresources[which] appears to take the place of welfare for many immigrants."
Mr. Arellano's comments on Mexicans embracing teen pregnancy as a strategy for leeching off society ("Mexicans call it the lottery") and his statement that Mexicans are taking "revenge" on the U.S. (complete with a slew of extreme profanity) are completely insulting and unsubstantiated! I am appalled at the statements of this so-called "Mexican," and I not only expect a retraction, but I recommend that a new Mexican take his place -- along with the place of the editor who approved his column!
Guillermo Escobar, M.D.
The Mexican responds: The good doctor takes issue with two points: my source for arguing that birth rates among Mexican teen girls is astronomical and my "lottery" comment. Dr. Escobar himself uses the same study that I did to admit that Mexican teens have higher birth rates even though other groups may have higher fertility rates, so that point is solved. The "lottery" comment is satire -- as the dicho (saying) goes, one hombre's satire is another's pendejadas .
A bitter pill: In Juliet Wittman's "Hallelujah!," her September 21 review of Germinal's Tartuffe: Born Again, I think her asides regarding Bush and foreign policy are out of place. I do believe she could write a recipe for bread pudding and manage to throw in her vitriol.
Design of the times: In his September 14 "Park and Wreck," Michael Paglia eloquently questions the design plans for Denver's beloved Civic Center Park and makes the point that while there are several Denver citizens who believe we need to bring the 21st century to the Civic Center, the 21st century is already embodied in some of the structures that border the perimeter of this outdoor space. This point captures the essence of that space. I don't believe we need to encumber Civic Center Park with its own "architectural statement." Civic Center Park has, and should retain, the quality of being the showcase promenade in Denver.
I believe civic efforts are better served addressing more simple solutions to some changes. Those changes could include the development of a water feature that embodies the changes in Denver's seasons, much like the rock walls that become huge ice walls during the winter along I-70. This water feature, combined with some botanical enhancements and a possible sculptural addition that captures the essence of the existing structures in the park without diminishing or competing with the architectural endeavors that encircle it, could be all that is needed.
It is losing the minimalist promenade quality of this outdoor space that is most dangerous. Civic Center Park should remain a place where you can walk quietly in a manicured garden and appreciate the many surrounding architectural triumphs that reveal themselves. We do need to calm down, as Michael suggests, take a stroll through the park and understand that retaining the historical and functional aspects of this space may require embracing a more simple approach. For this space, I think we should believe that "less sometimes can be more."
Thank you, Westword and Michael Paglia. In the calm and the quiet, the appropriate answer may reveal itself.
Still in the running: Although I very much agree with Michael Paglia's assessment of the Civic Center plans developed by Daniel Libeskind, I would like to offer some dissent regarding the "unimpressive" short list of architects for the Clyfford Still museum. First, as a recent University of Colorado at Boulder architecture grad and a follower of the contemporary architecture world, I can assure you that all of these architects (with the exception of Ohlhausen Dubois) are very well known and considered daring and important in the international architecture scene. Sejima and Nishizawa of SANAA and Chipperfield, in particular, are well respected as masterful creators of spaces of radical subtlety and calmness. They work in direct opposition to the Libeskinds and Frank Gehrys of the architecture world, who rely on the pure shock of their distorted forms to gain the attention of the mind and senses (not that that's always bad).
A building by either firm would be an excellent complement to the Gio Ponti and Libeskind buildings, and I think the committee has shown intelligent restraint in choosing these architects rather than more flamboyant form-makers. If they don't "dazzle" in drawings and photos quite like Libeskind, they certainly create buildings that are moving inside, in person, and in a way that will resonate for much longer than the complex distortion that is so evocative right now. That said, the short list for both the Still and the DAM is/was less interesting than the list for the MCA competition, and I think it's sad that artistically conservative Denver has made the construction of that museum so difficult.
Michael Paglia responds: My point in the August 10 "Civic Circus" was that none of the semi-finalists for the Still museum project were to architecture what Still was to painting -- and that's obviously true. Too bad SANAA and David Chipperfield Architects, the firms Sykes praises, have been eliminated, leaving as finalists Diller Scofidio+Renfro, Ohlhausen DuBois Architects and Allied Works Architects, with the ultimate winner to be announced in November.
Our Daily dread: Michael Roberts's "Togetherness," in the September 7 issue, was a great story -- informative and funny as hell. My favorite line was the dramatic "Prairie Mountaineers seriously considered making dirt a once-a-week feature in the Daily -- the very paper it was created to destroy..."
Thanks for the read.
X marks the spot: Regarding Tuyet Nguyen's Now Hear This on the Melvins in the September 14 issue:
I am part of Generation X, and among the few Vietnamese who knew about the impact of grunge and Nirvana. Granted, the Melvins' role was very significant, but don't discard Kurt Cobain like he wasn't special, okay? The Melvins never accomplished what Kurt Cobain did in a short period of time. Without Nirvana, there would be no grunge -- no Pearl Jam, no Green Day, no Beck, etc., etc. -- because these guys would never be signed by the major labels.
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Look around you. At the present time, music is just horrible: From Beyoncé to Simpson, from bling bling to bling bling? Think about that. As for rock, these bands are so manufactured it makes me ashamed to even listen.
How many musicians were influenced by Kurt Cobain? Countless, and you can't say that about the Melvins. Kurt Cobain was special because he was the whole package: a powerful songwriter, a poet, a fashion icon, the voice of a generation, an artistic genius, a voice for the ages, God's gift to melodies. You can't say that about the Melvins.