"Curtain Call," Adam Cayton-Holland, June 19
Thanks for the well-written article/sendoff and wild cover for Don Becker and for the community of which he was a treasure. That goes for the comic/poet/playwright communities, too. Don was unique, passionate and hilarious.
One of my best memories of Don was running into him at the block-party wake for the late, great Tom Auer. Don and I strolled around together off and on, making each other laugh (in Don's case, that goes without saying), and he knew just about everybody, it seemed. Laughter at a wake was one of the definitions of Don Becker, and he sent his good friend Tom off just so.
There was much laughter and love and righteous anger, amazing wordplay and pus and phlegm, too, at Don's memorial at the Merc last Sunday. So thanks, Don, for sending us off with a little of you inside, to carry on...
Personally, I did think Don would live to be 101. I believed that Don would behave any way he pleased and die of old age. Taking dope was like many things in Don's life. At first glance, it would seem to be a bit OCD. But actually, it was science. I asked Don about his addiction to cigarettes. He quickly produced the photo you printed on the top of the mountain — the photo where he has a cigarette sticking out of his mouth. Get this: Don said that he climbed a Fourteener every year. If he could make it to the top, he could continue to smoke. That attitude carried over to less printable pursuits that Don and I pursued. My guess is he might have gotten the chemistry confused in May.
Here is Don's piece on death, "Slow Dance": www.spokenwar.com/becker1.html.
I want to thank Adam Cayton-Holland for his well-written, well-investigated piece on Don Becker. There were some small articles in both the Post and the News covering his passing — but considering all that he had done for this city's comedy, poetry and theater scenes, somehow it didn't seem just to have that be the extent to which he was acknowledged.
I'd known Don since the late '70s and followed his career from his early stand-up attempts through all his plays, and often spent time at the Merc catching his poetry slams. I will always cherish my copy of the script to Lucifer Tonight. I watched him go through his ups and downs and blast through friends. Don introduced me to the man who would be my husband when he was building a prop for one of Don's plays. He was always proud of that, and would talk about his accomplishments as a matchmaker for more than one couple. It seems a bit out of character, but he had such an eclectic group of friends that it makes sense that people who didn't hook up through the usual means might find a friend through Don. Paul Weiss, my husband, is naming one of the stages at his City Park Festival of the Arts on July 20 the Don Becker Memorial Stage because he was often an MC or organized the poets for our spoken-word stage.
It has been strange walking though Capitol Hill or going to the Merc and checking phone messages and knowing Don wouldn't be there. He deserved a cover story and more. Thanks, Westword, for giving Don Becker his due.
Denver City Councilwoman District 8
"Show Time," Dave Herrera, June 12
I agree that the music scene here in Denver is growing and evolving. I see this more than ever now that I am a student at the University of Colorado Denver with a dual emphasis in music business and recording technologies. There are so many different types of musicians making different styles of music in this town, and now with the expansion of small, intimate venues, these musicians have numerous options that fit their sound and can possibly connect them with crowds and other local bands' fans. I really think Denver is headed in the right direction. We have artists such as the Fray, Meese, DeVotchKa and Ian Cooke, as well as others who have been noticed by majors or are at least well known enough to help the rest of the country acknowledge there is a music scene here in Denver.
Westword has introduced me to several different local bands that I would never have known about without the Backbeat writeups. I respect what you're doing here in Denver to help expand the local scene.
I've been an avid follower and devout supporter of the Denver music scene for quite some time now, and I've attended the Westword Music Showcase for about the past eight years. In a scene that is unfortunately becoming more homogenous and bland every year, it is refreshing to still see a few good acts at the Showcase. By far the coolest thing this year was that band that played out of a truck! This was definitely the highlight of the evening, and it wasn't even on the official schedule or a part of the Showcase!
I think some innovative bands were left out, but the handful of bands that did get selected was great as always. Here's to the vitality of the Denver music scene and to those bands that didn't get picked. Keep playing. Keep making good music. We need you more than ever!
"Skin Deep," Michael Roberts, June 12
So it seems that Dan Caplis thinks some of Obama's ideas are spooky. Isn't that sort of like the pot calling the kettle bla...oops, sorry. Not sure why Michael Roberts feels it's necessary to worry about talk-show guys getting their feelings hurt — that's what they do for a living. Dan has been running his George Bush apology tour for so long you would think he's going to run for Congress himself. And let's not forget about his citizenship at conception — now, that's really offensive. Peter Boyles loves to say what an independent voter he is, then spends hours trashing every Democrat who comes down the pike. And Mike Rosen should just retire, period.
All I can say is, thank God that I and millions of other freedom-loving American gave Dan Caplis's political savior, George Bush, a "good, old-fashioned political thumping" (Bush's words, not mine) in the November 2006 election, saved the republic from Republicans and, in the process, stopped America's dangerous "drift" toward the extreme fascist far right. In this column, even Peter Boyles, the tough but fair-minded talk-show host of the KHOW morning show, is quoted as acknowledging, "George Bush is as close to a good fascist as we've had in a while."
Because of Bush's error-begets-error, petty-ego-and-smirk-driven, arrogant, prideful and therefore very foolish Iraq "Vanity War," he's unwittingly handed the White House on a silver platter to the Democratic Party. I'm sure even Caplis would wholeheartedly agree with me that at the end of the day, in voting booths all across America, John McCain will be paying for all the hideous and horrific political sins of the Bush years, with the biggest Republican loss the Republican Party has ever known. It's the "End of an Error," and that's a good thing.
Almost as good as impeachment.
Letters about Jason Sheehan, June 12
It is in continued defense of sushi that I do not apologize for my tone, diction, dope-ass use of metaphor or raw humor in properly ridiculing Jason Sheehan's pseudo-review of Sushi Katsuya. I just wanted Sheehan to fight back or own up. In retrospect, I don't know why I expected Sheehan to respond to such a blatant attack. I reckon that if I was nominated for the James Beard award for whatever, I would never have time for some kid's sushi-angst all the way back in "our little square state."
So, with regional cafe-section czar Jason Sheehan so easily removed from this never-existent dialogue, I declare this very letter to the editor a Glock shot at you, the Westword-reading public. As a writer of food and a sometimes critic, Sheehan has also accepted the job as renovator of public (that's your) perception. Consider me, then, the OSHA of his rickety column. If you, John Q. Public, allow society's critics to be as misinformed as Sheehan is in regards to sushi, I fucking quit. And you can all sit in your oily pools of escolar-induced panic, with not so much as a "wet floor" sign from me.
Justin M. Warner
"Twice Burned," Jason Sheehan, May 29
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I take strong exception to Jason Sheehan's review of Bono's Pit Bar-B-Q. I've been a regular customer of the Bono's in Centennial almost since it opened, and I'm happy to include it among the four or five area BBQ restaurants I regularly visit. I would like to remind Sheehan that personal taste for BBQ varies from diner to diner, much as does one's taste for green chile. What one person might not like could be very enjoyable to another.
As Sheehan should remember from his days in the business, a restaurant, or a particular dish, can vary from day to day. It seems unfair to judge any restaurant on only one or even two visits. And if he gets an item he doesn't like — i.e., the chopped pork — he should point out the deficiency to a waiter or manager and ask for a replacement.
Perhaps Sheehan is taking his job too seriously. It reminds me of the movie critics who lambaste a film, only to see it become a box-office hit. The continuing crowds I see at Bono's make this point.
J. P. Smith