I recently wrote to thank Westword for Patricia Calhoun's July 13 column "Feel the Burn," which alerted us that the city was going to use the Washington Park Recreation Center for the curfew program. Now I must thank you again, this time for the August 24 Off Limits item about another curfew-program fiasco: raiding Muddy's coffeehouse.
What a tremendous waste of time and money this program has turned out to be! Is the city so desperate to make it seem a success that it must resort to taking kids out of a safe environment in order to fill its Safe-Nite sites? At Washington Park, there are often more guards (paid with our money!) than kids.
I'm a 21-year-old waitress/bartender/manager at Muddy's and have been there for two and a half years. Before I became a waitress, I was an employee's daughter. My stepfather, Joe Abramo, was a waiter and ran his theatre company out of Muddy's basement. I've been either hanging out or working there since I was fifteen.
I'd like to say a few words on Muddy's behalf.
First of all, if kids aren't going to go home, they might as well go there. We offer a safe environment for people of all ages. Girls dye their hair in the bathroom and then come get an espresso. The kids play pool, listen to the jukebox, play cards and chess. They do homework, read poetry and write in their journals. They protect their environment by tagging only on the special board provided for that purpose. Some of them come by during the day to help clean or paint.
They bus our tables for a free Coke. These are not bad kids contributing to the "Summer of Violence." These are young people who might have purple hair and black lipstick, and they might not tip. Maybe they have read too much Anne Rice and not enough Burroughs, but they try to take care of themselves as best they can. They look out for each other. Some of them don't go home by 11 p.m. because their parents are drunk or because they are physically abused. Maybe at the rec center those parents should be greeted with counseling pamphlets as well as a ticket.
I personally had to fight tooth and nail with about five cops so they wouldn't take thirteen-year-old Rosa DeRose off to the rec center. Her parents were out of town and her sister was at work, and if she'd rather stay at Muddy's, where she's watched and protected by many instead of home alone on the north side until 3 a.m. when her sister gets off work, why the hell shouldn't she? When I explained to the police that her parents wouldn't be able to pick her up as they were out of state, the cop said too bad. If they couldn't come get her from the rec center, she'd go to juvenile hall. What!?! I have never been so scared in my life. She's only thirteen! And she's at her father's business!
Busting Muddy's was stupid. I'd like to know what other crime was going on in Denver on a Thursday night, when a bunch of young poets, actors, musicians, writers, waitresses and green-haired kids were getting arrested for playing rummy, drinking a cappuccino or sinking the eightball.
Put to the Test
Regarding Steve Jackson's "Book 'Em," in the August 31 issue:
The majority of the students and faculty at Graland Country Day School should be ashamed. J.B. Trost is/was one of the finest music teachers in the state. Having studied under him from ninth through twelfth grade at Air Academy Junior and Senior High School in Colorado Springs, I can personally vouch not only for his character, but his skill and commitment as well.
I pray that my children will be fortunate enough to learn from someone as talented and compassionate as John Trost. I can only guarantee that they will not be enrolled at Graland.
Annette Hartung Conlon
I am an eighth-grader at Graland, but when Mr. Trost was there, I was in seventh grade.
I am not going to form any opinions of Mr. Trost or of his teaching style. I am also not going to talk about if the two boys who accused Mr. Trost were lying as to whether Mr. Trost was abusive. I was not there, so I don't know what happened. What I am going to talk about is the way the article was written. Now, I may be just a "spoiled Graland brat," but while harassing my teachers with my money, I picked up a couple of things about journalism. I don't know what you were taught, but I learned that a good journalist always shows both sides of a story and is supposed to be impartial in all situations. It seemed to me that your story was quite one-sided. The truth is, you only showed the side of the story that showed how Mr. Trost suffered because of Graland faculty and students. The side you failed to show was that the school had to do its job, and that is exactly what it did. You made it sound like Graland was unfair to look into and investigate all the accusations made against Mr. Trost, when in fact that is exactly what it should have done. The school has an obligation to the parents, the students and the faculty to check into any and all accusations made against anyone, no matter what. If they don't, then they would be a worse school than you made them out to be. Maybe that hurt Mr. Trost, and for that I am sorry, but I know that if I or any other student were sexually assaulted, we would have the courage to come forward only because we know Graland would take us seriously.