"Main Features," Michael Roberts, June 7
I am appalled that our local film critics have been replaced by a bunch of mercenaries from Corporate. Normally, I wouldn't care — but you've replaced writers who could write with people who write (to quote Chuck Jones) "like a dog trying to eat taffy."
J. Hoberman's review of Ocean's Thirteen ("The House Always Wins," June 7) is filled with five-dollar words that are used to establish his or her authority over the reader. On top of that, the opening paragraphs are reminiscent of "a twelve-year-old schoolgirl with an overdeveloped vocabulary and no self-control," to quote Jason Sheehan.
With this poorly thought-out move, you have reduced the amount of Westword that is readable to Cafe and the Letters page.
A. M. Jordan
"TB or Not TB," Adam Cayton-Holland, June 7
I read Adam Cayton-Holland's What's So Funny about Andrew Speaker's around-the-world-in-eighty-coughs journey that ended up in Denver. I realize the intent of the column was not to give the scientific details of the event; however, approximately thirty seconds of research or a high school knowledge of biology would have been enough to clear up the fact that tuberculosis is caused by bacteria, not a virus. Yes, they are quite different organisms. In fact, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis is called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. You'll notice that bacteria is part of its name, further obviating the need for research. And a "bacterial virus"? This is a fun new invention by the author, unless, of course, he is referring to viruses of bacteria, which I'm fairly certain he wasn't. It would be nice if even a polemic tirade were reasonably accurate, and not propagating false notions to a public already marginally informed about science.
In defense of Mr. Speaker and his (and his father's) tirades of offense, he's a white attorney. He isn't a black schoolteacher, he isn't a Mexican mechanic, and he isn't an Asian clerk. He's a white attorney, and therefore entitled to fly anywhere he wants, any time he wants. If you were his bride, wouldn't you be angry that he exposed you and your friends/family? Too bad his strain of tuberculosis doesn't require a gag.
"Head of the Class," Joel Warner, May 31
Just read your article about North High School. Nice work — as usual, an in-depth examination of an issue that we've all come to expect from Westword. I wish Aron Palma and his classmates (and all the kids who never made it through to graduation) the very best of success. My Highlands area business even received one of Aron's "pity letters" asking for donations for the senior class. Reading about Aron was so very familiar to me: I, too, was student body president at NHS back in 1987, struggling with many of the same issues highlighted in this piece. I remember penning a pity letter for my senior class, too. Back then I thought it was clever; today I think it's pathetic.
This summer, I'm organizing my classmates for our twenty-year reunion with a sense of sadness that North is still a monumental failure two decades later. We residents of the old north Denver have witnessed a rebirth of the neighborhood behind the name "Highlands," chock-full of restaurants, shopping and excitement. Still, we've seen no such rebirth at North High. The notorious reputation and revolving-door reforms there have pushed many of our best neighborhood kids into charters, magnets and private schools. Many of the new generation of Highlanders wouldn't dare send their kids to North, and after reading the Westword piece, it's no wonder. I'm one of many who has resolved that there is only one answer for North: Close it down.
Recently, Lakewood was named Colorado's top high school. The building will be razed this summer, and in the fall, LHS will cut the ribbon on a new, state-of-the-art, $32 million campus. Soon Alameda, Chatfield and Bear Creek will follow. It's time for the Denver Public Schools and the city's taxpayers to follow Jeffco's example of placing education ahead of preservation and fulfill the promise of the Highland neighborhood's turnaround. DPS: Build "Highlands High School" and give our community a chance to graduate a thousand Aron Palmas every year instead of just one.
Lousy writing — or copy-editing — aside (when did Ms. Calhoun throw out her dog-eared copy of the Chicago Manual?), why is it seemingly impossible for everyone from the governor's and certainly Denver's "sanctuary" mayor's offices to the Colorado Department of Education, down the line to every public school district's administrators, and finally to hard-hitting investigative journalists to figure out why schools such as Denver's North High suck? Or is it just that none of the above have the huevos to notice the thundering herd de elefantes en la sala?
Personally, I cling to the hope that organizations such as Padres Unidos and Jovenes Unidos will crack this nut, or that perhaps a bright, shining star of a student coming out of Academia Ana Marie Sandoval will eventually be able to figure out what's the matter with North — and virtually every other public school in Denver and Adams counties, many in Jefferson and Arapahoe counties, as well as those in Weld, Pueblo, El Paso, Grand, et al.
One of those hard-hitting investigative journalists down to the Westword might also look into the persistent rumor that teachers hired to replace those at North who've been fired or who have "resigned" (grown weary of the spectacle of a bunch of monkeys trying to fuck a football) — or, for that matter, at any school in Denver, most schools in Adams, and many in Jefferson and Arapahoe counties — must be fluent in a language other than English in order to be employed with them. Oddly, fluency in English is not required of the students. I'm taking a refresher course in German as we speak. German's not English. I figure I'll be a shoo-in!
I thoroughly enjoyed Joel Warner's profile of Aron Palma, and I want to applaud Aron for the impressive work that he has done at North High School. I am always happy to hear about the success of Denver Public Schools students. I graduated in 2005 from George Washington High School (albeit the International Baccalaureate magnet program), and I'm proud of my DPS education at schools like Harrington Elementary and GWHS; the education I received has served me very well.
Aron's passion for helping others in his community stood out and inspired me to write. At Princeton, I've been heavily involved in our University chapter of Engineers Without Borders, part of the national (Colorado-based) NGO that promotes sustainable engineering projects around the globe. University chapters develop relationships with a particular village in the developing world, and over a five-year period, the students design and execute projects with the help of their community partners. Although based in engineering, the projects also include education and community activism, and participants are not limited to engineering students. When I read that Aron is planning to study engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, I immediately checked to see if they have a chapter (which they do). For me, EWB has expanded my community (and indeed my family) to include 135 Peruvian villagers in the Andean foothills, a formative experience that has shaped what I want to do with my life to serve others. My DPS education played a role in developing my passion for justice and preparing me for work with diverse groups facing challenging situations. I hope that Aron finds equally enriching opportunities in college, be it through EWB or another organization.
Shannon M. Brink
Drunk of the Week, Patrick Osborn, May 31
My girlfriend and I, who are frequent patrons of Pint's Pub, had the misfortune to be sitting at the table next to Patrick Osborn's party. He wasn't an easy person to forget, as he appeared to be extremely agitated and was exceptionally rude to the waitstaff and manager, something he neglected to point out in his column. The waitstaff and manager calmly explained to him that it was Pub policy that children weren't allowed in the bar area, something that isn't unreasonable. They also informed him that since they were extremely busy, they didn't have any room in the downstairs restaurant section but could accommodate his party upstairs. With each attempt to please Mr. Osborn and party, he became increasingly angry and belligerent toward the staff, who were merely doing their jobs.
Quite frankly, whether he agrees or disagrees with an establishment's policy, Mr. Osborn should learn to treat people who are merely doing their jobs with more dignity and respect. I, for one, will not miss his presence in either Westword or my local hangouts. I wonder if he'll write an article for Stars and Stripes berating the Armed Forces for not allowing him to bring his infant into a war zone.
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Now Hear This, Michael Roberts, May 31
Since when do looks have anything to do with musical ability? I have been to two of Elliott Yamin's concerts, and they were magnificent! I thought you wrote reviews so people would attend a concert. Jeez, if I worked at your establishment, I would have to let Michael Roberts go.