Letters to the Editor

Call Waiting

At your service: The skepticism expressed by Stuart Steers regarding Qwest's promises to treat Colorado customers more professionally is justified. US Worst's long history of treating its "home state" customers as servants is well-documented, and most of us have a horror story. Even as a resident of Denver, I was told by US West that I could not subscribe to DSL service because my home is too far from a switching station. When I asked how this could be fixed, I was mockingly told that I could build them a new station, closer to my home. I would not care to imagine what rural customers are told. Good luck, Qwest. The hole you are starting from is deep and wide.
Adam Bartolik

Heavy Petting

Junior birdman: Bravo to Michael Roberts for his wry July 6 piece on the rebarbative Chuck Green! A quick message to said Chuck: You get offended by people laughing at you as a "pet worshiper" and defend yourself as just being an animal lover, not a member of PETA or a vegetarian. Dude, many of us find you ridiculous because you get all saccharine about the sorts of animals that get dressed up in Santa suits while chowing down on the less cuddly -- and considerably more dignified -- ones. C'mon, Chuck. Join PETA. And get a sense of humor.

Incidentally, you shouldn't kiss birds, since human saliva can transmit microorganisms causing serious illnesses in birds. (I'm not making this up -- scout's honor.)
Barbara Goodrich

Every dog has his day: When Jerry Garcia died, Chuck Green wrote an article that seemed to be designed to raise the ire of Deadheads. He attacked Garcia and those who respected him. I e-mailed Mr. Green, asking whether he had actually done any research into the life of Garcia, or if he was just an opportunist willing to throw salt into the wounds of many saddened people in order to sell a paper. I expected his response would sound something like, "As a journalist, it is my job to provoke thought, and if my article made you question your path in life, I feel I did my job well." Instead, he told me I had "obviously wasted my brain through a lifetime of drugs and lousy music," even though I had never had any contact with him before and had sent him just the single e-mail. I have not read a single column he has written since, but I was not surprised to read that he works with people who generally don't like him and that his closest connections seem to be with animals.
James Scott
via the Internet

Murder, She Wrote

Supermarket sweep: Regarding Juliet Wittman's "A Question of Intent," in the July 6 issue:

A man walks into a Safeway, robs it, and is foiled exiting the store by four men. One of the men dies from the exertion of stopping the robber. A Colorado law states that the robber can be charged with first-degree murder. A judge decides to throw out the felony-murder charge. So far, I can follow.

In the case of Lisl Auman, who one day found herself a passenger in a car driven by someone she knew only vaguely and was growing increasingly mistrustful of, and subsequently watched in horror as he went on to murder a police officer and then commit suicide while she is handcuffed in the back of a police car -- for her to be held accountable for the officer's death is beyond ludicrous, beyond words. It is insane. As an outraged community, we had a need for a scapegoat, and the murderer had taken that from us when he took his own life. Lisl just happened to be convenient -- and legally possible, based on this law.

I, for one, would like to know who is benefiting from this young woman spending the rest of her life in prison? I personally don't feel a need to be protected from a girl who was handcuffed in the back of a police car while a murder was being committed. More likely, this falls into the category of retribution -- revenge. As if somehow, one can find peace knowing that someone else is suffering. How does that work?

Our thinking is insane. But can't we at least be consistent in our insanity? If the Safeway robber is not accountable for felony murder, should we not hasten to do the same for Lisl?
Patrick Murphy
via the Internet

Western spirit: Wow...seems they don't make 'em like Milda Scalise much anymore.

In "Question of Intent," we read of Milda Scalise delegating justice in her husband Frank's murder to, of all things, the judicial system.

In her devastation after losing Frank, an involved bystander in a robbery gone bad, Milda still musters belief that it's none of her business if the perpetrator lives or dies. That's for the courts to decide; it's not for her to judge.

A woman of integrity of the American frontier would have said that -- not in any way thirsting for blood and revenge, but honoring her husband's memory by dealing with life as it comes and moving on with the strength their union brought. Sure, it hurts, but Milda feels herself lucky to have had a life with Frank. Milda has the wisdom to move on with serenity and dignity, not harping on "the system" by naively feeling it should be perfect.

In our mania these days for closure and second-guessing after disaster, Milda Scalise shows us what real honor is. She's what can be the best in all of us.

I've never been so deeply affected by a newspaper story. Milda Scalise is an incredible inspiration, someone special, a heroine.
Marco D'Ugo

Pulp Fiction

Dead wood: I recently picked up a copy of the June 15 Westword and read Stuart Steers's "Timber!" his smear job against Colorado's finest congressman, Scott McInnis, and his common-sense plan for the White River National Forest. Suddenly it dawned on me why your little tabloid is free: No one in his right mind would ever pay to read this garbage. While I try not to make a habit of responding to trashy reporting, your story was so inaccurate that I decided to make an exception.

First, Stu's little piece says that McInnis's plan would quadruple timbering and leave the forest wide open to ski-area expansion. You can pick any of the following descriptions for this foundationless editorializing: deceitful, misleading, inaccurate, wrong, lies. But don't take my word for it. Read what the Rocky Mountain News had to say when it endorsed his plan: The McInnis plan has "more wildlife habitat, fewer off-road trails for motorized use, fewer grazing allotments, less room for allowable ski expansion and less timber harvesting than the current plan, which was adopted in 1984." Hardly the plan that Stuey described. A real journalist and a credible newspaper might feel inclined to correct the record; I won't hold my breath.

Next, in his rush to judgment, Stuart conveniently neglects to mention that 750,000 acres of the forest are already protected as wilderness. Even though the White River has more wilderness than any other in Colorado and most in the United States, McInnis's plan calls for substantially more. Oh, and by the way, McInnis is the only member of the Colorado delegation to the House of Representatives to pass wilderness bills in the last seven years.

Finally, the story quotes Susan Jones and Sloan Shoemaker -- full-time spin doctors for a consortium of extreme environmental organizations in western Colorado -- as saying that Alternative D is a compromise position. What a joke! If Alternative D is a compromise, these two buffoons have real jobs.

These are the facts, like 'em or not. And some people say that Westword is a real newspaper.
Nick Chermela

There auto be a law: Thank you, Westword, for paying close attention to what is going on with plans for the White River Forest. If Scott McInnis and the rest of the Republicans have their way, we can assume that this beautiful part of our birthright will be paved over for demolition derbies.
Jan Boyd
via the Internet

Dumb and Dumber

The write stuff: Thanks for doing your part to demote literacy: Your Best of Denver 2000 contained not a jot regarding authors, writing, literary events or the local poetry scene (which is in a particularly active state right now). There were but two entries for bookstores -- one of which, Best Used Bookstore to the DUWLA, was a quirky and egalitarian choice, but for anyone looking for certain qualities in a used bookstore, such as selection and quality, it was a laughable throwoff.

True, you've always (inexplicably) given short shrift to the written (and spoken) word -- no book or literary editor for an arts weekly. Considering that the quality of your paper's writing is generally quite high, I think it sad that your popular annual issue devoted 312 pages to crass commercialism, trivial trendy pursuits and the ongoing dumbing-down of Denver.
Jim Bernath

Great expectations: I have been in Denver four years now, and I always look forward to your Best of Denver issue. I was sorely disappointed this year, as you failed to mention many of the "Best of Gay" things that Denver has to offer to its gay and lesbian readership. In the past you mentioned the best gay clubs, best gay entertainment, best places to meet "bears," and things like that. This year you mentioned the best gay realtor and the best place to wipe your butt with Jesse Helms toilet paper: That hardly covered the interests of the gay community. Maybe you should give more consideration next year, since we (the gay community) have the largest disposable income of any minority group in the state.
Len Ricci

Something's fishy: For your information, your Best Vegetarian Burrito is NOT vegetarian. The rice, per your description, is made with Ahi -- isn't that fish? Perhaps it could be ordered without the rice. Good try.
Bernadette Sonefeld

Glass dismissed: The Great Northern Tavern can't be Denver's Best Brewpub because they do no brewing there. All their brews are shipped down from Great Northern's brewery in Keystone. So your readers were right: The Wynkoop is Denver's best brewpub.
Lew Cady

Kyle Wagner responds: The Ahi rice is Wahoo's Fish Taco's trademark name for the way it's prepared. There's no flesh in there whatsoever. For still more Best of Denver news, see The Bite.

Morning Becomes Electric

The Bret pack: I enjoyed Michael Roberts's June 22 Message, "Sage Advice," about Bret Saunders, and I think it's about time somebody actually pointed out just how horrible Kerry and Ashton were. Since they left, Bret has created an excellent space on Denver morning radio for people who would rather listen to adults than to adults acting like preteens. I take issue with only one section of Roberts's column. I'm no fan of Jacor or Clear Channel, having been a college DJ before the age of CDs and Big Corporate Radio really took hold, so I agree that some of the music that KBCO plays is repetitious and skewed to the artists who are golden children of the big labels. However, Roberts mentions that KBCO plays Robben Ford often and lists him as an example of a "white-dude" blues artist. First, I have rarely heard Ford on KBCO; I'm one of the listeners who has pushed the station to play any Robben Ford, actually. Second, Ford has played with real "black-dude" blues and jazz artists like Miles Davis, and I think Miles would be the first to say that, in this case, race has nothing do to with being able to play the blues. In addition, Ford is one of the only musicians who was able to keep up with Joni Mitchell in the studio, which shows that he is much more versatile than just being a "white-dude" blues player. I would agree that he seems to fit best in the blues genre, but he is not limited to it.

Otherwise, thanks for the article -- and keep up the good work!
Stace Johnson
via the Internet

Nice guys finish first: Thank you for mentioning my name in your newspaper. I had completely forgotten about me. But since you brought me up, my opinion is that KBCO's Bret Saunders is the single nicest guy I've ever met. Few people know that Bret won the international "nice guy" competition three years in a row -- and each year he said, "Naw, give it to the guy who came in second."

It's true, the morning show of Kerry and Ashton did help provide the cowpie for Bret's magic mushroom. Ask anyone (except the readers of the Boulder Camera, who named us Best DJ-1997): We sucked far worse than our increasing Arbitron ratings and trends indicated. But Roberts's article failed to applaud former KBCO program director Dave Benson, who possessed the inspired vision to fire me. By the time my contract at KBCO was up, I had pissed off so many co-workers (and listeners) that I was beginning to feel like John Rocker in an East Village leather bar. Kudos, Saunders. I hope you sidestep the kiss of death that Westword's praise afforded Rockfish and Caroline.

I was KBCO.
Rick Ashton

Hunt and Peck

View to a kill: I read with interest Eric Dexheimer's "The Herd Mentality," in the June 22 issue. Based on a one-year decrease in elk hunter success, the article is rife with theory, opinion, generalizations and stereotypes. The only problem with Dexheimer's presumption that the hunter ranks are filled with ineptitude is that there is little objective data to support that claim. Elk hunter success was down in 1999, but jumping to the conclusion that hunters must have "done it wrong" is plausible only when left to personal opinion. (When's the last time you heard someone raving about the good driver that let them into the traffic lane?) Better perspectives on the issue would have produced entirely different findings. The historical, regional, meteorological and field perspectives all have something to offer. So here's hoping Westword has the abdominal workings to print a few facts (gathered independently by state, federal and private organizations) that are counter to Dexheimer's column.

1. Hunter safety and proficiency handling firearms have improved dramatically over the last thirty years, as shown in hunting-accident data. Hunting is an incredibly safe activity in which to participate. The average total number of hunting incidents throughout the last decade has dropped to about ten, down from about 35 during the 1960s. Statistics compiled by the National Safety Council show hunting is safer than most outdoor activities.

2. Records dating back to 1949 show that in the last fifty years, elk hunter numbers have increased nearly tenfold, yet hunter success has not changed much. In the 1950s, the Division of Wildlife sold about 26,000 elk licenses each year, and around 28 percent of those hunters were successful. In the 1990s, over 200,000 elk licenses sold each year, with a 21 percent hunter success rate.

3. The data cited above may demonstrate a "rule of diminishing returns." Comparing the individual game-management units to the statewide hunter harvest data shows that in units where hunter numbers were low, hunter success was as high as 67 percent in 1999! Are hunters in those units super-competent?

4. Snowboarding, skiing and hunting are all dependent on the weather. Last fall was one of the mildest on record. I wore short-sleeved shirts through most of the hunting season and never wore a coat! Snow and cold not only bring about physiological and behavioral changes in animals, they also make tracking and stealthily moving about easier.

5. Hunting allows those of us who choose to hunt the opportunity to participate in the most primordial of natural processes. I am not sure why others choose to hunt, but I imagine that their reasons are as complex and personal as my own. Hunting enriches each of our lives differently, and those who do not hunt do not understand. Hunting is not about killing. So, do I take umbrage with the presumption that if I choose not to kill, I am incompetent? You bet I do!
Patt Dorsey

Music to Our Ears

Vocal local: Westword is unfortunately the only "paper" in town that provides a wide variety of local music reviews. Why is it that the local press always makes weird comments about local bands? I never include a Westword review in my press kit. For one thing, whenever I release a new CD, Westword finally reviews the one I released the year before -- it's happened twice! And in Westword, I have been compared to artists I sound nothing like.

My CDs are played and sold around the world: To everyone else, I am just a musician, not branded a "local" musician. For one thing, I've only lived here for three years, but my songs have been on the radio for fifteen years. If some chart-topper like Springsteen or some other popular musician moved here, would they be treated as "a local"?
Name withheld on request

Sophomore slump: To Laura Bond and the other reviewers: Why is an artist never allowed to record or release a second album? It's always a "sophomore" album. Since the late '60s, at least, record reviewers have been using this term to sound sophisticated. Well, it's hackneyed. Let some bands put out a second album for a change. They seldom refer to a first album as a "freshman" album and never refer to a third of fourth album as "junior" or "senior."

And why does everyone say "The Westword"? On the front of the paper, it just says Westword. "The" Westword bugs me. It's just Westword.
Name withheld on request

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