Letters to the Editor
Sole on ice: Regarding Joel Warner's "Sole Survivor," in the September 28 issue:
It's amazing that in this day and age, there are folks who will spend a week's salary or more for some foreign-made goods (sneakers) to collect and catalogue. All to subsidize the obscene endorsement money paid to athletes such as Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, etc. I could see if you had unlimited money like Paris Hilton and had a shoe fetish, but seriously.
As a pharmacist, let me tell you that we have medication for this.
Sneaker attack: I highly appreciate the article on sneakerheads. I, too, was involved in that DMP issue. I had to buy a pair at a store in the Westminster Mall that was selling them for $650. I guess I wanted to thank Joel Warner for showing the world what some people do for shoes (and also showing them that I'm not the only crazy dude who camps out for some sneaks). Joel spelled it out for people who couldn't understand.
I will now keep this article and shove it toward anybody else who asks me, "Why?" Thanks again.
Culture vultures: A satirist inclined to take on the rampant consumerism that defines contemporary America could do little better than to invent something like sneaker culture, which takes the consumerist ethos to its logical conclusion: Consumption becomes not merely the means with which to participate in a culture, but the culture itself.
However, sneaker culture already does a fine job of parodying itself; I laughed out loud at Bryan LaRoche's earnest declarations of love and passion for buying Nike shoes. I know of few other subcultures in which one's purchasing habits can confer celebrity status. As with many things, sneaker culture would be even funnier if it weren't so sad. Sneaker culture is the perfect example of top-down culture, a culture created by a corporation for the express purpose of increasing sales and which cannot exist anywhere beyond the boundaries of one company's products. A culture built upon addiction, ridiculous profits and sweatshop labor, all of which essentially get a pass here. A culture that is basically undead, in that there is activity but no actual life. Congratulations to Nike for creating this culture, to sneakerheads for buying into it, and to Westword for devoting a laughably uncritical cover story to it.
There's no business like shoe business: I think it was a good idea to do a story about shoes, but in my opinion, it would have been a lot more interesting if you had done more research on sneaker freaks instead of pinpointing stores that just do it for the $$ and TV shows and people who buy retro or remake over-the-counter shoes who have jumped on the "shoe collection" bandwagon because it's the in thing to do.
If a shoe is original and has the true sole and cannot be remade in its original format, I would say that's impressive, but as a shoe collector myself, I see that over-the-counter shoe collectors who collect retros and remakes aren't that impressive. But it was a good push. Maybe if there is a next time, this message will inspire printing more facts about shoe collectors.
A doubting soul: "Soul Survivor" seems marginally believable at best -- 1,600 pairs is a lot of shoes. Did you personally see them, Joel? Or at least pictures of them? Because surely someone with that many shoes, who loves them as much as Bryan does, would have documentation of every one of his sneakers.
The next part I find suspiciously interesting is the fact that Bryan's entire family seems to be into shoes. Uncles seem far-fetched enough, but grandfather? This part is surely fictional. My grandfathers couldn't tell you the first thing about sneakers. Especially considering the fact that the modern sneaker dates back maybe forty years. It's not totally inconceivable, but I simply cannot see a man born sometime between 1910 and 1930 being that into shoes. This current generation is so focused on consumerism, whereas past generations, for the most part, went through financial struggles and weren't concerned with excess, or purchasing multiples of any items. Now, there were rich families, but considering that LaRoche's father worked at a factory, it's unlikely they were part of the rich elite.
I will admit the man has a passion for sneakers, just from looking at the items he's purchased on eBay in the last three months, even spending $800 on the shoes for the cover of the paper. The guy clearly loves his shoes, but it seems as though the story is loose and full of seeming half-truths and hard-to-swallow stories.
Joel Warner responds: While much of Bryan LaRoche's incredible sneaker collection is stored with friends and family members across the country, I thoroughly researched the extent of the collection, speaking with many of those friends and relatives (including his father), personally viewing several hundred pairs of his shoes, and reading through the journals and records detailing LaRoche's shoe purchases, beginning when he was a young boy. As for how he can afford his habit, LaRoche budgets $300 each month to get his kicks -- though he admits he often goes over that. To find out more about the strange world of sneaker culture, check out the Shoe Shine sneaker exhibition and contest at Andenken Gallery, 2110 Market Street, starting at 5 p.m. Saturday, October 21. Proceeds from the event benefit local nonprofit PULSE Arts, and LaRoche and DQ the Line Pimp may even be there, strutting their stuff.
Let the sunshine in: I couldn't agree more with the letter in the September 28 issue about Patricia Calhoun's September 21 "Speak Your Peace," and about how people in Denver treat each other poorly. I moved here six months ago, met my current boyfriend, who had also recently moved here, and we're constantly amazed at how rude people are to each other in this city. For example: I was at the post office during my lunch break, and a really nice older lady ahead of me asked me to hold her place in line so she could grab something she had forgotten. No problem, but when she came back into the line, people behind us actually made nasty comments about it. I recall thinking to myself that it was a "typical uptight Denver attitude." My boyfriend and I are both well-traveled, and we've never seen anything like it. People don't thank you for holding a door for them; if they don't run you over, they don't smile or say "hello."
It's so bizarre. I would think there would be so many things for people to be happy about here: It's beautiful, sunny, the economy is great, there is a ton to do and see -- yet it isn't reflected in the attitudes of the people who live here. My suggestion: Give the snotty attitude a rest, learn some manners and let the sunshine in. Life is too short.
No go logo: As a journalist and Hispanic, I find the logo for your Ask a Mexican column incredibly offensive. I can't believe you would publish such an ugly stereotype. I realize the Ku Klux Klan once controlled Colorado, but that type of thinking should have receded a long time ago.
How would Patricia Calhoun feel if a column called Ask a Woman had a logo that portrayed the woman as a grotesque slut?
Slop talk: I had just sat down from making green chile and opened up the October 5 Westword when I read the letter from Ms. Greene-Smith calling the food I had cooking on the stove "the nasty slop they call Mexican food here." I was completely offended. I learned how to make green chile from my grandmother, and she learned from hers -- like most Colorado Mexicans. Obviously, Ms. Greene-Smith has not had a drunken night and gone to Chubby's at 2 a.m. That is the most delicious and sobering food you can eat then!
I feel sorry for all the white people she has to work with who are "learning" from such an ignorant person. Who comes to Colorado and calls our food "nasty slop"? Maybe Ms. Greene-Smith should just move back to California.
C. E. Nuanes
Food for thought: I've got a fine old Anglo-Saxon word of the week for Yvette Sierra Blah Blah Blah Greene-Smith: Asshole. Let me use it in a sentence: "Gee, that Yvette Sierra Blah Blah Blah sure is an ignorant, bigoted, racist asshole."
If I, with my Irish-German heritage, were to complain about going to L.A. and running into more "brown people" than I'd ever seen before, or that I'd taken it upon myself while there to introduce my "little brown brothers" to common American customs and practices, I'd be rightly identified as a racist moron. I guess if you don't have a buncha Spanish surnames in between your Anglo ones, it's perfectly all right to be a racist asshole. Hey! There's our word of the week again, Yvette!
Oh, and another thing, Yvette: People of Spanish descent have been living in Colorado for around 500 years now. We don't need some carpetbagger from La La Land to tell us how to cook Mexican food. I've had Mexican food here and I've had it in L.A., Ms. Blah Blah Blah. The expression that most commonly applies when assaulted by "Mexican" food in L.A. is, "What in hell? Did the busboy shit on my plate?"
Cut on the bias: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Slants," in the September 28 issue:
Jon Caldara, please spare us your hypocritical whining about how the Denver newspapers are secretly biased. Our daily newspapers are private businesses that pay their taxes. They seem to be reasonably fair so as not to tick off too many of their readers, but they can print pretty much whatever their owners want -- thanks to something called the First Amendment.
Meanwhile, Caldara's Independence Institute hides behind a paper-thin veneer of being an "educational" organization to avoid paying taxes and disclosing its donors. The Independence Institute is a glass house in complaining about others' secret agendas. Put down the rock, Jon.
The right stuff: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Disconnect," in the September 21 issue:
How could the spokesman for Clear Channel compare a progressive show to a KKK show? How about all the right-wing blowhards on talk radio? I see none of their shows being taken off due to politics. Maybe we don't have freedom of speech after all here in the U.S. of A.
Bronx, New York
Buenos días: It is so nice to see Jason Sheehan using a pronoun other than "me"; it has been a long time coming. I notice less profound use of profanity as well. Could it be that "our" Jason is becoming a better writer?
Good writing in "Grill of My Dreams," his September 21 review of Buenos Aires Grill.
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.