I didn't follow the Paul Kelly case very carefully when it happened. But I read some of the Boulder Daily Camera articles, and if someone had asked me what the case was all about, I probably would have said something like, "Yeah, a bunch of high school morons jumped this guy and kicked the crap out of him." I suspected that Paul Kelly had probably provoked his attackers in some way (although I do not recall the Camera articles ever suggesting this), but I'd nevertheless formulated an image of a pack of teenagers with chromosome imbalances pummeling someone who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Steve Jackson's May 24 article, "The Fight of Their Lives," which was as much about the media's selective treatment of the event as it was about the fight itself, was an excellent reminder of how the complexities and contradictions of real life have such a hard time finding their way onto newsprint (and television, film and talk radio). It is far too easy to forget that profits--and the simplified, sensational stories that yield them--are far too important to corporate newspapers like the Daily Camera to allow them to indulge some lofty standard of thorough, balanced reporting.
Every newspaper article should begin with a disclaimer: "What you are about to read is not the whole story, but enjoy it anyway." Until such a disclaimer is implemented, I ask only that somebody stop me before I believe again.
I now have another great Kenny Be chef d'oeuvre to add to my burgeoning file. "Valley of the Cars," in the May 24 issue, is a cartoon I have wanted to see for years, since I was very little and saw orange groves replaced with parking lots in Los Angeles in 1959.
Be's cartoon articulates what I feel as I wait for buses around Denver, submerged in a seething, smog-drenched parking lot. And true to form, he accurately details the single-occupant-vehicle status quo that characterizes our times, each cavernous Chevy Suburban or Range Rover occupied by a lone driver, mesmerized by the car ahead. I close my eyes, listen to the traffic and reflect on the painful irony that only 120 years ago these plains thundered with as many buffalo.
Now the descendants of the cowboys that slaughtered the buffalo and their native human friends ride in motorized horses, each one proudly straddling his own exhaust-belching mount, carefully avoiding eye contact with any peon miserable enough to be on foot. We build our world around our cars, to a scale that is dehumanizing to the pedestrian and useful only to people who buy into automobile culture. Drivers protest: "I could never ride the bus--or a bike--are you crazy?"
As I read my history books on my way to work in the mornings on the bus and see all of the millions of cars with one person in each one around me, I shudder with relief that I'm not trapped in one, too, paying the bills, slamming on the brakes.
Kenny Be's depiction of the Platte Valley is worth at least a thousand words--and 100,000 cars.
The Mural Majority
Regarding Patricia Calhoun's column "Indecent Exposure," in the May 10 issue:
I wish to rush blindly (in the Denver spirit) to the defense of Mike Stemple's proposed mural. In a town hard-pressed for heroes of any ilk, it is most fitting that we should memorialize the antics of three buffoons whose only claim to heroism comes by the same definition of "hero" made popular by O.J. Simpson.
Elway has had four legitimate shots at the "big one" and failed at each. But his efforts at cornering Denver's automobile market could earn him an antitrust suit along with the award for Business Suit of the Year. Mutombo made it to the All Star team after whining, crying and threatening a lawsuit. And his legal moves are legendary! Of course, Galarraga's National League batting championship was controversial, too: Ask Tony Gwynn.
This is a town that prides itself on its policy of grandiose self-accreditation in the absence of any at the national level. Consider it appropriate that if failure, blackmail and controversy tarnish Denver's efforts at athletic greatness, at least we have greed in the true tradition of historic Denver to honor. So honor it we shall, by creating icons of men who are legends in their own minds.
An added bonus: The whole mural project is being engineered by a man with no resume of substance to recommend him who confesses to having lost a significant part of his mind... How Denver!
Casey at the Bat
Regarding "D.C. Power," by Michelle Dally Johnston in the May 24 issue:
All concerned deserve better than your article on the city council runoff race between Susan Casey and Tom Tayon. The article was built of insinuation and inaccuracy regarding Susan Casey's candidacy. The irony is that the underlying information made a strong argument in favor of Casey for city council. To wit:
1. The article stated that Casey has received campaign contributions from people who live outside Colorado, in places as shocking as New York and Boston. Readers were told that her contributors include William Shore, founder of an international hunger-relief organization.
If people Casey has met--people of high achievement in their respective fields--are willing to contribute to her campaign, I think it speaks extremely well of her qualifications and competence. Would such people make campaign contributions to someone if they did not have great confidence in that person's ability to do a good job?
2. The article described Casey as "not a political neophyte by any stretch." Another good reason to support her. She has experience, knowledge and practical know-how to get things done.
3. Most disturbing was the quote in boldface print at the top of the page. It read that Casey could "no more improve Denver schools than she could balance the federal budget from city council" (attributed to Dale Bugby, a losing candidate in the May 2 election). It is regrettable to see such a glib, unsubstantial statement given top billing in your article. In the first place, Casey has made no grandiose promises to "rid our schools of all problems," and the equation with a "balanced budget" was absurd. More important, the quote was part of an assertion on the part of Tayon's campaign that councilmembers have no authority whatsoever to even turn any of their attention to our schools. Even our bitterly divided mayoral candidates agreed on one issue: Denver's schools.
Michelle Dally Johnston's "Muscle Bitch Party," in the May 10 issue, is a nice story about waste in government, but why don't you do a real story about waste in government?
In October 1994 President Bill Clinton and our Democrat-controlled Congress reapproved the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965. This bill forces homosexual education on schoolchildren in the United States, and any school district that does not force homosexual education on its schoolchildren will have its educational funds cut. The cost of this bill to the American taxpayers is $30 billion! The budget for the United States Army for fiscal year 1995 is only $59 billion.
Michael Stipe is indeed an insightful artist to immediately recognize a geeky Michael Roberts, circa 1984, as a negative force to what is good and tasteful in this world.
Stipe is still relevant, and Roberts has simply become the worst rock critic of all time, which he demonstrates masterfully in his May 31 Feedback column with absurd analyses of past and present Michael Stipe psyches and R.E.M. strategies--such as the revelation that R.E.M. and even Neil Young both made decisions to tour with Sonic Youth because "of the instant alternative credibility they granted to anyone associated with them."
Roberts rambles through his entire R.E.M. concert review as a pathetic self-therapeutic exercise of his love-hate fixation with the unsuspecting lead singer of R.E.M. While Roberts stresses "how much just about every important alternative band from the Replacements to Nirvana owed these four brainiacs [this is not a word] from Athens, Georgia," he has to remind himself that "Stipe remains a narcissistic little prick." The only comment Roberts had time for on the performance of Peter Buck, one of rock's most effective and prolific guitarists, was "somewhat lumpy."
Enough is enough. Cut this dickhead loose and hire a real music writer, please.
In his otherwise top-notch "Andre the Giant," in the April 19 issue, Bill Gallo made some errors of fact and judgment.
Gallo's assertion that Gilbert was a "journeyman pro" is clearly untenable. Gilbert ranked as high as No. 4 in the world; he finished two years ranked in the Top 10, six years ranked among the Top 20, and nine years among the Top 30. Gilbert has beaten Agassi four times, Boris Becker four times, Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Michael Chang, Stefan Edberg and Jim Courier. He produced a 10-5 career Davis Cup record and earned a bronze medal at the 1988 Olympics.
Gilbert wasn't a star, but he far surpassed "journeyman" status.
Paul S. Fein
Denver or Best
I was pretty discouraged to see the question in your Best of Denver readers' poll on "the best way to discourage Californians from coming to Colorado." I read a lot of stupid things in your hokey paper, but this was very offensive. Unbelievable.
Name withheld on request