"Holy Shat!" Tuyet Nguyen, February 22
Jeez, I was positively inspired by Tuyet Nguyen's article on the band Shat and their tune "I Threw Up on Her Cunt." I mean, I've been playing guitar for many moons now, have six CDs out, was just featured in Guitar Player mag's February issue as one of its "101 Forgotten Greats and Unsung Heroes," taught a seminar at Berklee College of Music in 2004, and much, much more...but I've never been able to get Westword to write a feature about me. So I've realized that I am obviously not quite hip enough, and in reaction to that sobering insight, I'm writing a piece called "Porking It to a Small Asian Girl While Eating Weasel Entrails, and Fantasizing the Ghost of Mao Tse-Tung Butt-Fucking the Rotting Corpse of Anna Nicole Smith Onstage at Boettcher Concert Hall During the 2008 Democratic Convention." I think that should do it.
Tuyet, hope to hear from you soon.
"Period Piece," Dave Herrera, February 15
I just read the column in which Dave Herrera reviewed the Born in the Flood/Photo Atlas/Nathan & Stephen/Meese show, and I must say that I'm impressed. Never before have I seen someone stretch the words "I told you so" into that long of an article.
Now, I've come to expect some snobbery from Westword over the years -- it's your shtick and you play it well -- but Dave has really stepped up his game here. I mean, he managed to downplay the opener, throw some friendly jibes at the up-and-coming band, applaud the minor success of the two headliners and forecast the doom of the scene -- all without any visible stitchwork. Hell, he even managed to pat himself on the back for knowing the "label head" of Morning After and for coming up with all of Nathan & Stephen's good ideas. And in less than 750 words! That boy has skill.
I think my favorite line was probably this: "I'd watch the then-unknown act try to cram its arena-rock ambitions into a dank LoDo basement to the bemusement of a few dozen people." Let's run through the list: In it from the beginning? Check. Knew they'd be huge even then? Check. Melancholy amusement about the whole thing? Three for three! Damn. Ship this guy off to NYC; he can compete in the big leagues. No, seriously, ship him off to New York.
I've gotta say, I doubt even the bandmembers know as much themselves as Dave Herrera does. I've been following Nathan & Stephen's progress for well over a year, and now I feel like the incipient shmuck that Dave will no doubt think I am should he ever read this letter...and that has me worried, because if Dave thinks I'm a shmuck, then I probably am a shmuck. Dave knows all.
"The Magic Number," Jared Jacang Maher, February 15
Thank you for "Identity Crisis." I thought Jared Jacang Maher highlighted a real problem, and personalized it, without resorting to hysterical immigrant-bashing. He added information and understanding to the problems that are driving this kind of identity theft. Thanks to Maria, as well, for opening her life to this kind of scrutiny.
I was enjoying the article on the two Marias and the identity theft that takes place in our country until I read these words: "because anything can happen when a system creates a subclass of people who must assume the lives of others in order to survive." These people have stolen from others in order that they may work, and thou shalt not steal.
Don't come here illegally. Go through proper channels and attain citizenship legally. I ask you, is it so wrong to want everyone to follow the rules?
I've been meaning to tell Jared Jacang Maher how much I enjoy his writing. The piece he did on identity theft was enlightening and really hit home. Seven of my employees are illegal and use false Social Security numbers. I know that sounds like an awful thing to admit, but many of these people have been with me for years -- not to mention the fact that they're great employees and have families to support. They desperately want to become legal; I think I want it almost as much as they do. I'm just waiting to be raided or fined. My only hope is that I'm too small to be of any real interest.
Unfortunately, it's a colossally fucked-up system. After much cajoling from me, one elderly man who'd worked for me for six years went back to Mexico in an effort to become legal. He was assured by immigration authorities that it was a sure thing -- but after four months of utter bureaucratic bullshit, he was informed he didn't have a chance in hell. This man owns a home in Denver, and all seven of his children are here; staying in Mexico wasn't an option. So he forked out thousands more dollars to cross back over the border.
I was shocked to learn Swift was using Basic Pilot and still got raided! We get letters every year telling us that our employees' Social Security numbers don't match up. When we call the Social Security Administration, they tell us, "Don't fire anyone -- just let them know their number isn't valid." Real helpful, huh? This story scared the shit out of me. I thought that moron Bush was actually going to accomplish something good last year with immigration reform. Something needs to change.
Name withheld on request
The blatantly transparent corruption and hypocrisy of corporate America and the mass majority of the people's government are mind-numbing. They want this cheap and plentiful labor, and everybody has figured it out, including the illegal aliens. Is stealing, cheating, lying and fraud the main principle of America's capitalism? Is this the message you really want to send to my generation? How are America's young supposed to find trust, leadership, morals, ethics and honesty in government, the justice system, religious leaders and the news media when money and power usually take precedence over real decency and humanity? I can only assume the majority of the American people find this capitalism acceptable, because there is no real outrage, outcry or a demand for new direction, only pathetic excuses, double-speak, politically correct spin and apathy.
Food for thought: We must have a system based on trust or we will have a system run on anarchy.
I enjoyed "The Magic Number" because it took readers through the intricacies of people's lives that are affected by the use of identification documents by undocumented immigrants, showing aspects of this the media overlooks or does not understand. (By the way, people are not having their identities "stolen"; they are having their identification documents misused.) The "crisis" involving immigration is also overblown, and became a national issue because it was a wedge issue that the GOP could use to rally its base, since it was losing on all other fronts.
Seeing the bigger picture is always the problem, however, because the U.S. is ahistorical while also being hysterical on this -- and other -- topics, so forgive me for nitpicking, but it is important. Jared wrongly writes about "a twelve-month blanket amnesty granted by Congress...to some 2.7 million illegal aliens." There was no such "blanket amnesty" in the Immigration Reform and Control Act, and opposition to IRCA resulted in two decades of struggle before Congress passed it in 1986. It was this law that made it mandatory for employers to check for proof of identification and authority to work, making the business sector do the enforcement work for the INS (now called ICE). Before that time, there were no such requirements, and the imposition of these requirements has proven completely ineffective to stop "illegal" immigration due to the underlying economic pull-and-pull factors that cause migration. The immigration "problem" is actually created by many of the laws meant to solve it, and the ignorance of the public is fertile ground for the demonization of immigrants we now see under way.
I am of Mexican heritage, of course, but my family has roots in this region (Colorado and New Mexico) that go back to 1695, and my Indian ancestry goes back much further, so when the pale faces think brown-skinned people are "foreigners," it proves my point about Americans' failure to understand their own history -- much less mine -- and the ignorance about how U.S. immigration laws evolved is equally appalling.
My compliments on a very well-written article. As an American with a Spanish surname, I am curious if it's possible to find out if someone is using my name or Social Security number for illicit purposes. Does any kind of national or regional database exist for this problem? Is the only way to find out if the IRS sends me a letter for taxes owed?
I would like to commend Jared Jacang Maher. "The Magic Number" is a thoughtful look at what is obviously an important issue. My only concern is that the description of Colorado's recently enacted laws is somewhat misleading. As an immigration attorney licensed in Colorado, I have spent a lot of time dealing with these laws, and I am not aware of a law that orders "employers to undergo periodic audits of their workforces." Is this a reference to HB 1017? That law merely gives the Department of Labor the authority to conduct audits in some instances. Also, the DOL spokesman's statement that employers are expected to sign up for Basic Pilot is inaccurate.
Otherwise, a really excellent article.
Jared Jacang Maher responds: Sorry, Mark, but there aren't many ways for victims of employment-related identity theft to learn that their information has been stolen, except for that bill from the IRS demanding back taxes. But you can also go to an IRS office and ask to see all the W-2 forms filed for your name and Social Security number the previous year; if a form lists a job you didn't do, your identity may be working overtime.
Ernesto Vigil asserts that there was no "blanket amnesty" in IRCA. But along with launching the I-9 form and creating other restrictions, that 1986 law granted citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants then living in the U.S. I do appreciate nitpicking, though, which is why I thank Paul Buono for catching a clumsily worded sentence. I should have said that HB 1017 -- passed last year by the Colorado Legislature -- gave the state Department of Labor and Employment the authority to conduct audits of businesses suspected to be in violation of IRCA. But the DLE does expect all Colorado employers to demonstrate due diligence in hiring practices by voluntarily using the Basic Pilot program or the Social Security Administration's online Employee Verification Service to check a worker's eligibility.
None of this would have helped Maria, of course, since neither system can flag cases of ID theft. But the 27-year-old single mother is finally getting assistance from Wendy's: The corporation has agreed to send her a letter stating that she never worked for the restaurant chain, which will allow her to finally get on Medicaid.
"Hit Singles," Michael Paglia, February 15
I'm a big fan of Michael Paglia's column, but I'd like to disagree with two criticisms in his otherwise very positive review of Liam Gillick's Weekend in So Show, at the Lab at Belmar. Paglia laments the absence of a "real connection" between the Lab and Denver's "exhibition-goers," but every Lab event I've gone to in the past two years has had a full house. Somehow they are able to bring in Denver and Lakewood crowds who are interested in contemporary art! Paglia also complains that the Lab hasn't had shows by local artists. Maybe local artists like the opportunity to see work by Gillick and other internationally recognized artists whom Paglia himself seems to like so much.
Exposure to this kind of art is a great form of support for our local arts scene. We've all seen exhibits by the area artists Paglia mentions, but never work by Gillick.
"Ladies' Plight," Patricia Calhoun, February 15
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It's too bad that the issue of discrimination toward males is being championed (in this column) by the likes of Steve Horner. All too often, the Defenders of Male-dom everywhere are portrayed as egotistical and jaded misogynists whose real issue is that they just aren't getting enough... respect. Sadly, that's a pretty accurate picture of these guys -- but the glaring spin used by Patricia Calhoun does little to address whether or not there really is an issue of discrimination at stake.
Not that it really matters -- there's only discrimination if enough people think so. As a bartender, I've seen ladies' night from both sides of the bar, and it's really just about giving people what they want, right? I'm okay with that. That said, can they make the fat chicks pay a cover, too? Not like anyone's going to buy them a drink, anyway...
Or would that be discriminating?