Off Limits, September 13
It appears that you neglected to Ask a Mexican about the word güera for your little commentary on the Budweiser billboard. Güero and güera don't necessarily refer to gringos. They actually mean "light-skinned," or having light hair and eyes. For example, there are Mexican güeras.
That doesn't make that billboard any better, since lighter skin is considered more attractive in most of Latin America, but I just thought I'd let you know.
Ask a Mexican
Editor's note: Credit eagle-eyed Adam Cayton-Holland with spotting the billboard, which he found, well, funny. We did ask Gustavo Arellano about the slogan; here's the Mexican's reply: "Adam totally got it right. Güera does specifically refer to a light-skinned person (my sister is güera), but in the context of the billboard ad, it does mean gabacha."
"On the Edge," Sheridan Boulevard, September 6
"On the Edge" was a great and informative read with a good mixture of perspective, but Sean Cronin could have written his piece on the pawn shop from a foreign country. The picture alone conjures up the stereotypical sleaze and depravity usually saved for movies like Trading Places and Pulp Fiction.
I have owned a pawn shop on Larimer Street for the past five years, and I have been in the business for over two decades. People who use our services are neither thieves nor drug dealers. We work closely with the pawn detail of the Denver Police Department to ensure that merchandise is registered with a state and national database to deter such dealings. Most of my customers are working people, from musicians in need of some cash between gigs to laborers who must pawn the very tools they need for their craft so that they can keep the lights on and feed their families. The majority are pawning items that they wish to have back, which accounts for my less-than-10 percent forfeiture rate. We even go so far as to call customers to remind them that their monthly payment is due. If they don't come in, we simply keep the collateral.
A pawnbroker operates as a non-traditional lending institution. Anyone, even those in dire straits, can come in and secure a trustworthy, thirty-day personal loan using any valuable item they own. I only charge 10 percent on that loan monthly, so it is much better than most pawn shops and quite a bit better than some of these high-interest check-cashing operations. Second and third generations of the same family have used my services because they know they can trust me to protect their prized possessions until they have the money to redeem them. Those from all walks of life have had the occasional rough period; believe me, I have seen it firsthand.
God forbid Sean Cronin ever finds himself in a situation where he needs some quick cash, but if he does, I will give him a good, honest loan on his laptop.
As a Colorado native currently living on Sheridan Boulevard, I took great interest in "On the Edge." I also took issue with Adam Cayton-Holland's section on Home Sweet Home. Where did you find this guy, and how did he find his way to our side of town? Home Sweet Home is a great head shop, but by no means any sort of "headquarters" for the Juggalos of Denver. The real reason for all the Juggalos in the area is Primos, at 4948 West Alameda Avenue.
Any Juggalo within 500 miles knows the name. Primos has been the home away from home for Juggalos in the Denver area for several years now. At any given time, you can find Juggalos just hangin' out and swillin' Faygo (the Juggalo drink of choice). It is a place where any Juggalos can find what they need to live "their impossibly trashy lifestyle," as Adam put it, everything from cheap pop to used T-shirts and tires. Primos has been sponsoring Juggalo-related events from Fort Collins to Pueblo since 2004, everything from BBQs to local concerts to autograph signings, and we are now bringing hardcore wrestling (a Juggalo favorite) to the area. All in the name of Wicked Shit and poor scrubby kids who still manage to keep their head up through all kinds of adversity.
Westword is a great local mag, and I assume you take pride in your knowledge of the city. We're a little out of the norm down here, but this was clearly an oversight (or lack of research) by your writer. Try and get it right next time.
Judging by Adam's name and article, he must listen to Sum 41 or Blink 182. Or perhaps he's one of those emo kids. Had he pulled his bangs aside and tucked 'em behind his ears, maybe he would have noticed things other than pipes and Hatchetmen stickers; they hardly sell any ICP merchandise. Last time I checked, no one drove from South Dakota to buy Faygo from Home Sweet Home.
"The Unfunnies," Michael Roberts, September 6
As a cartoonist and an editor assigned to find new cartoonist talent for United Feature Syndicate, one of the nation's biggest syndicates, I read a lot of comics. So I won't take issue with Michael Roberts's thesis that "the funnies aren't anymore": Most comics do suck. As do most movies, and books, and presidents. He got the basic story right.
However, his slag on "Diesel Sweeties," a United Feature Syndicate strip by R. Stevens about the relationship between a girl and a robot, is uncalled for. More than that, it's dead wrong. Not only is it not as bad as you say, it's one of the best comics around, period. The Rocky Mountain News reports that they didn't receive many complaints after they canceled "Diesel Sweeties." What they leave out is that they never gave it a chance to find an audience, having canceled it after a few short months. The number of complaints is directly related to how long a strip has been published in a paper: Old strips, good or bad, generate complaints when they're deep-sixed; new strips, good or bad, do not.
Like "Doonesbury," "The Far Side" and "Dilbert" — all of which were shocking departures from precedent, all of which received countless complaints when they debuted — "Diesel Sweeties" is a revolutionary comic strip with groundbreaking, web comic-inspired artwork and postmodern humor. "Diesel Sweeties" deserves a chance in Denver.
President-Elect, American Association of Editorial Cartoonists
"Hippie McHipster," Jason Sheehan, September 6
I was considering not responding to Jason Sheehan's review of City, O' City for many reasons. First, I enjoy being reviewed by Jason and expect nothing less than the anti-vegetarian cannon from him. Second, I think restaurant, music and movie reviews in print media are a dinosaur, irrelevant to how most people are finding out what's good and what's not. If people want to know if they should dine at WaterCourse Foods or City, O' City, all they have to do is google them and they will find hundreds of reviews by diners who actually enjoy our type of cuisine.
However, I feel compelled to address two issues that Jason has brought up in his reviews of my establishments: my dining habits and what motivated me to open vegetarian restaurants. I began in Denver area dish pits at greasy spoons when I was fifteen, and haven't left the industry since. I have been cooking for Denver's underground since the early '90s, when I was making Reuben sandwiches and cheese plates at Muddy's; I then microwaved brown-rice dishes and lamb sandwiches at the culinarily inept City Spirit. From there I attended the Natural Gourmet Cookery School in New York City, with the desire to return to Denver to open an all-vegetarian restaurant that the city so badly needed. In 1998, I opened WaterCourse Foods.
When Jason asked me if I was a vegetarian, I answered no: I believe that is a yes or no question, but for seven years I could honestly answer that question yes. I am comfortable with the dietary decisions that I now make. In that same interview, he asked me if I brought a pork dish to a pot luck that we both attended. I informed him that I brought the tempeh piroshkis, but he obviously was not impressed with that information or the piroshkis, because in the review of City O' City, Jason said I make a mean rillette du porc. I don't even know what that is, Jason. Sorry to disappoint.
I have worked too hard in a segment of an industry that has few role models and fewer success stories to let my story get watered down. I earned my success by being dedicated to the craft and the cuisine. I wholeheartedly believe in what we do at WaterCourse Foods and City, O' City.
Jason Sheehan responds: Sorry about that pork thing, Dan; it was an excellent dish. Otherwise, I stick by my review: City, O' City is the next step in the evolution of what a modern vegetarian restaurant can be, and I regret only that you and your cooks are not working on my side of the fence. Being a proud carnivore, I'd love to see what you could do with a little bacon. And I mean real bacon, not that tempeh shit.
"Shafted Like Beckham," Adam Cayton-Holland, August 30
I feel the need to express myself as a self-proclaimed knowledgeable soccer fan, since Adam Cayton-Holland seemed to underestimate "our" knowledge of the beautiful game. First of all, Beckham has never been one of the top twenty players in the world. Even in his prime — if he ever had one — he was a soft, glass-ankled pretty boy. His debut for England back in 1996 was no doubt inspirational, and he's since been a leader in many instances — not as a well-rounded soccer player, but rather for his ability to play quality crosses and set pieces. Beckham did, without a doubt, reinvent the striking of a soccer ball and raised the bar for other soccer players. Consequently, many other well-rounded soccer players nowadays are able to strike the ball just as accurately and incorporate this into their arsenal of skills.
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As for the jet-lag excuses, I don't think I could play in a match, either, after flying in my personal jet — especially if I was only getting paid several million dollars.
Beckham is the epitome of hype; it was just a matter of time before he moved in next door to Tom Cruise. He came here in hopes of promoting soccer but will do just the opposite. For true American soccer fans, and all hopeful fans, the Beckham effect has backfired, causing our image as soccer players to sink below the already diminutive status of fragile, wimpy athletes. Beckham only adds to the long list of botches by the MLS, but he could possibly be the final straw for a league that is only major in name.