Scratched and sniff: Just scanned over "Funky Town," your January 10 article about the Big Stink in parts of Denver.
I'm alarmed, as I'd concluded last night -- through much research on the Net -- that I might move to Denver. How prevalent is this problem to those living in Capitol Hill/LoDo, or to those attending Coors Field/Pepsi Center/ Red Rocks? Is the stink from the industrial areas something most downtown residents are even aware of? Or is it only during a particularly bad day or bad timespan? Do most people sit in the cafes and just joke about it, since there's not much that can be done about it quickly? It seems relegated to the poorer neighborhoods, and therefore wouldn't impact the yuppie neighborhoods as badly.
I have a poor sense of smell, and I'm not aware of such a concentration of stink anywhere here in the Boston area, where I've lived for eighteen-plus years -- but I'm sure it could rival Denver's. Perhaps every metro area has a severe problem, but nobody else would investigate and report it.
I realize that Denver is like Seattle in that each city is tired of newcomers moving there. Perhaps this story should be used as ammunition to scare people like me away.
Dollars and scents: No matter how you cut it, capitalism stinks!
Is the purpose of capitalism to protect the environment? No! Capitalists will treat the environment like a septic tank in order to cut production costs and maximize profits.
Is the purpose of capitalism to create jobs? No! Capitalists are constantly thinking of ways to eliminate jobs in order to cut labor costs.
Is the purpose of capitalism to build communities? No! Capitalists will build or destroy communities as investment opportunities dictate.
Does capitalism have any purpose? Yes! It preserves the wealth and power of the richest 5 percent of the population -- those who control industry, the government, the mass media, the military and the courts. Capitalism is very useful in keeping working people in their place -- as passive and powerless puppets.
The nose knows: Around 1996, I had done much to try and track down the source and solution to the Big Stink that often descends over Capitol Hill and northeast Denver. It is my opinion that these violators were deliberately timing their stench for off-business hours in order to minimize potential for official visits.
I called many officials about the problem; all seemed impotent or unconcerned. One told me they have a (primitive) stench test where the official goes out to complaint locations and uses an odor meter that is nothing but a nose filter with varied indexed degrees of blockage. I place little faith in such a test.
One day I was so offended by the stench, I decided to go find it. I drove northward from the 1400 block of High Street, where I lived at the time. My nose led me around all the boondocks until I arrived at National By-Products.
Strike up the banner: I just got around to reading Michael Roberts's "Pledges of Allegiance," in the January 3 issue. On the subject of patriotic music, the old patriotic song "There's a Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere" was adapted, with new lyrics, during the U-2 crisis, to heroize Francis Gary Powers, the downed pilot. The song was a big hit on country-music stations everywhere until it turned out that Powers was going to trial in Russia and was actually going to tell the truth! Then the song faded into oblivion.
Another comment for your music historians is about the most wonderful patriotic music ever composed: "The Ballad for Americans," music by Earl Robinson and lyrics by John Latouche (circa 1939). Communists all! The most modern rendition that I have heard is by Odetta (Vanguard VRS#9066).
An international incident: First, I want to say that I think Michael Paglia is a first-rate art critic, although I have criticized him in the past regarding a Tina Modotti and Edward Weston exhibition at the Center for the Visual Arts, a part of Metropolitan State College of Denver. Ironically, Paglia's January 3 "Going Down" once again addresses issues taking place at the CVA, but this time he focuses not on an art show, but the disgraceful firing of CVA director Sally Perisho.
In his column, Paglia covers it all, and I agree with his sentiment that one page would be insufficient to state all of Perisho's accomplishments. The fact that she worked ten years to produce a first-rate gallery, then was locked out of her office, leads to all the speculation as to why Perisho was dismissed: "Metro's ultimate goal was to get rid of the CVA." Hence the need to get rid of Perisho.
Perisho's exhibitions have been a delight. I have written essays on many shows at the CVA for the Urban Spectrum, which includes these words in its masthead: "Spreading the news about people of color." Perisho presented first-class exhibitions, both regional, national and international, of artists from a range of cultures and countries, including Cuba, the Caribbean and Mexico. No other gallery has had such an international flavor.
Perisho's firing is a loss for the cultural community at large.
Perisho the thought: I am saddened to hear that Sally Perisho has been fired from Metropolitan State College's Center for the Visual Arts. As an alumnus of Metro, I can speak of the impact Sally had on students. She was generous with her time and her knowledge, allowing students to learn about the complexities of managing a top-rate art museum/gallery. Sally inspired many of us to continue our educations and secure jobs in the museum field.
As for the CVA, it has served a much-needed niche in the Denver art community. Metro administrators should be proud of the impact their college museum has had. As a student, I never got the sense that the administrators understood the importance of the CVA in the community and as an asset to Metro. This may explain the abrupt dismissal of the director. The center was so successful because Sally took risks and understood the relevance of art in communities. Without her, Metro will quickly realize that running a museum is very different from running a college. I hope this is not the end of the CVA, but it is hard to imagine that its success will continue without Sally Perisho's leadership.