The greening of Denver: Justin Berton's "Card Sharps," his story in the December 7 issue on fake green cards, is another in a long history of Westword's honest-to-God reporting that will eventually wake up the hacks over at the Denver dailies.
After all, it's easier to make a living as a reporter by rehashing the tripe that comes over the news-service wires than it is to actually go out and dig up a story, research it and champion it through the editorial process.
Congratulations, Westword. Again.
Lights, camera, action: When perusing Westword each week, I always flip to the Backbeat section first to get my bearings on upcoming gigs, album releases, etc. The November 30 issue was extra cool; as soon as I saw the photo of Phil Hamon in Laura Bond's "Shine On," I was transported back to 1982, and the memories came racing back. We were just a bunch of misdirected youth: Liberty spikes, Mohawks, fishing tackle hanging out of our earlobes, raging at anything that didn't fit our subterranean ideal of total anarchy. We'd gather at places like the Packing House and Kennedy's Warehouse and Christian and Omar LePanto's concert hall/squat/hellhole to see hardcore and punk bands put on by Headbanger or whoever had enough money to get fliers made at the print shop and pay the bands. We had a good scene in Denver then, one that represented the quick flame that was the American Hardcore movement, and many good bands that evolved into even better, though mainstream, national acts. We were social outcasts and misfits then, the type of kids whose lifestyle, look and attitude was talk-show fodder for a couple of years.
In retrospect, there was one guy who was more punk than all of us: Phil Hamon. That guy used to ride his bike all the way out to the Packing House, around Washington Street and I-70, from Capitol Hill in 30-degree weather to see bands. He'd stand at the edge of the pit in a pair of striped pants, suspenders, a T-shirt and a corduroy mac and those same glasses he still wears -- a misfit among misfits -- absolutely rocking along with the 300-beats-per-minute fury of whatever punk band was playing, a huge grin pasted across his face, blissfully free of any concern other than the music.
We didn't understand then, but now we know, thanks to "Shine On." Too many publications spend their space kissing the ass of the current flavor of the week in heavy rotation, but Laura Bond took the time and space to celebrate the fan. Hats off to her. Zappa said, "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture," but I'm gonna have to disagree this time. Thanks for the excellent article.
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Three's a charm: Laura Bond, this time you've done it! Three nice pieces in the November 30 issue, and all by you.
First, Rocket Ajax: Aside from being good friends of mine, they're a great band, definitely deserving of a Hit Pick.
Second, the last sentence in Backwash on Westword's compilation CD was pure poetry. It says it all!
Finally, and best of all, your piece on Phil Hamon. Wow, what justice! I've been wanting to acknowledge his presence in Denver's music scene for a long time. He's everywhere. There isn't one benefit show I was a part of (Rock Out AIDS, People's Fair auditions and countless others) where I didn't see him. He's a true supporter. Thank you for sharing his story.
Rock on, Laura!
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Not just lip service: A big hug and kiss to Westword for "Shine On." Back in the '80s, the punk-music scene was not the hippie lovefest that punk shows are today. Punks didn't abide by society's higher moral values or have any kind of compassion for "handicapped" citizens. Phil made friends because of his sharp wit, his musical knowledge and his unmistakable personality. Phil never forgets anybody.
I hope that readers do not feel like local bands are kind to Phil because of his handicap. Phil has made friends in the past -- and continues to make friends -- out of respect. It was one of the members of the now-defunct (but always legendary) Warlock Pinchers who excitedly pointed out your feature story to me. He was elated that someone had finally given Phil a little respect as a permanent icon in the local music scene. Even musicians whose groups disbanded nearly a decade ago still respect and admire him. The fact is, once you've met Phil, you never forget him.