Regarding Robin Chotzinoff's "Our Town," in the August 16 issue:
The story of John and Ida May Noe was interesting. Today the Greenland Ranch is owned by the Oklahoma Publishing Company of Oklahoma City. This is the picture of many small farms across America. Farm policies, run by our government, have helped wealthy individuals and corporations eliminate small operators. Big farms are considered more efficient.
Farm owners today include such individuals as Sam Donaldson and Ted Turner, along with countless others, collecting millions in farm subsidies. How much is the Oklahoma Publishing Company collecting in farm subsidies?
If all the farmers of the Fifties were still in operation, we would see less unemployment and homelessness.
When government policies are ineffective, they should be changed. I don't see this happening, but when the taxpayers continue to fund them, we certainly need to be heard.
Join the Club
I really enjoyed Steve Jackson's "The Other Side of the Tracks," in the August 2 issue. It may be inevitable that Denver loses the Fraternal Club, but it would be a real shame if we were also to lose the history of these men and their contributions.
What a fine article--"The Other Side of the Tracks," by Steve Jackson, with photos by Q. Crutchfield. I was touched by this piece of history and real people. And no villains! How wonderful to read a long photo essay about Denver people and find no one to dislike! Thanks.
Better Dead Than Read
I've got to thank Michael Roberts for the great Jerry Garcia redux (Feedback, August 16). Michael's willingness to actually acknowledge historical context, to understand that the Grateful Dead phenomenon is as much cultural as musical, propels him to a previously unrealized intellectual stratum.
But I want to make a personal request, Michael. You made reference to your not-much-used copy of the Dead's Anthem of the Sun album. Please send it to me and I'll gladly forward you a swell recording of Little Feat's Greatest Hits. In addition, I'll throw in all the Kurt Cobain records I can find and, for that matter, any and all releases by other Generation X footnoters who had the good sense to blow their brains out. I'd get the better part of the deal.
Michael Roberts's "eulogy" to Jerry Garcia is precisely what we have come to expect of Westword: another smug, insular and smarmy attack masquerading as a musical critique. What makes this piece particularly reprehensible is the fact that the sad passing of Mr. Garcia--a significant musician held in considerable esteem by millions for three decades--has been reduced to yet another vehicle for Roberts's glib mean-spiritedness. Why Westword would print this tripe is a mystery.
Roberts's hatred of music speaks for itself. Week by week he keeps us informed about the music and the musicians, old and new, he dislikes. Aside from the occasional "rap" banality, this includes virtually all music. Why Roberts is retained at Westword despite continual pleas by readers that he be returned to the typing pool and replaced by someone who actually enjoys music is the greater mystery.
Might Westword be equating the ongoing public outcry with the notion that Roberts is therefore controversial? While many adjectives come to mind in describing Roberts, "controversial" is not one of them.
Like Roberts, I, too, was compelled to listen to the albums of the Grateful Dead by friends espousing the band's virtues, and I, too, found them only passably enjoyable. I went so far as to attend a couple of shows to find out what all the fuss was about and, again, was unimpressed. The third time out, however, was a different story. What I saw on July 7, 1978, I had never witnessed in all my days of concert-going and have yet to see outside the Dead arena since.
Frankly, the Dead are usually only marginal in concert (I've seen fifty). But every once in a while, there was a jewel that (for me) surpassed everything else. The difficulty in having anyone who hasn't experienced this understand the power and the fantasy of a great show is the inherent inability to translate an epiphany into something resembling the moment itself. The fact that the band is the highest-grossing tour band of all time and that the Dead toured for years without releasing an album are testaments that the band was driven by what they did best--perform live. If you weren't there, you didn't get it. You won't get it now, so don't even try.
That some would slur Garcia's name or question his impact because they did not understand him or his music is somewhat akin to my blasting a baseball great for his habits because I do not understand the allure of hitting a ball with a stick and running around in circles. That some would belittle the Dead's followers because of the style of clothes they wear, the vehicles they drive or their grooming habits is nothing short of a discrimination based on appearance rather than a judgment based on character. No mention has been made of the Dead's Rex Foundation, which donates to worthy causes worldwide. Perhaps that's because nobody asked.