Hacks and flacks: Regarding Patricia Calhoun's "Take a Memo," in the August 15 issue:
Wow! How refreshing it is to read a real piece of journalism that is based on the truth. It is so frustrating and discouraging to see the public-relations machines of these huge companies (State Harm, Enron, Worldcom, etc.) try to convince people that corporate thievery and intimidation is okay. And it is scary to see the watchdogs of liberty (the press) too often controlled by the corporate bullies and being nothing more than an extension of a corporate PR department.
Congratulations on your independent thinking, and my respect for your journalistic determination to find out the truth and report it. You give hope for true freedom and power and rights for the individuals in our country.
Parkersburg, West Virginia
Bad medicine: As a chiropractor, I am involved with a lot of car-accident victims, and I see crap that State Farm pulls on a daily basis. I testified earlier this year regarding insurance in Colorado and watched State Farm bring in its best talkers to lie through their teeth to state legislators (who are very ignorant about insurance and crash victims in Colorado). The room erupted in boos and hisses from the hundred or so people in there to testify. State Farm still cites the "no car damage/no people damage" lie (it works for juries). The truth is that vehicle damage is irrelevant. (Does a person in a Lexus get hurt worse than a person in a 1968 VW van?)
Over the next two years, insurance companies stand to make it big in Colorado, because the statute is up for revision. They are working hard to make sure that they have control of doctors, juries and settlements. They will push for either tighter PPO restrictions (where the patient thinks he has full coverage but unknowingly signed up for a care-limitation rider) or to go back to tort reform. Either way, they will win. Their doctors. Their rules.
One more thing: It's no coincidence that the Discovery Channel, Law & Order and the Learning Channel all have programs on those "crooked auto-victims/lawyers/doctors" within a few hours of each other several times per year. Look at who really funded the programs. What do you suppose those effects are nationwide?
Anyway, thanks for continuing to show how State Farm cheats and lies over and over and over. Yes, they continue to look bad...but to whom? They're still Number One for their billion(s) in profits.
Deform movement: I just wanted to thank you for sticking to your guns. State Farm and its followers are guilty of this conduct regularly. While the "Good Neighbor" claims to be there for its insured, it seems to forget that sentiment when it comes to paying the claims. Thank you also for making the point that jury verdicts are not on the rise. This is not the case in West Virginia, either, but if you listen to the tort reformers, it is a crisis.
Although I would love to rumble on about the ills of the "Tort Deform" movement, I am a trial lawyer, and while I believe in my heart that what you say is the truth and statistics support that position, anything I say could be touted as simply self-serving.
Thanks for sticking up for the Seventh Amendment.
Christopher W. Cooper
Parsons, West Virginia
Language barriers: I really enjoyed Robin Chotzinoff's "Kitchen Magician," in the August 8 issue. However, can you ask Jason Holben to pick up where he left off? I work in a manufacturing warehouse and hit language barriers every day, and it just doesn't stop at Spanish! Try asking someone whose first language is Thai if he knows where a skid of boxes should be placed! Trust me on this one: Just make eye contact, point to the skid, then point to the place you want it to be stored. Yes, a book of translations for the warehouse/production industry is sure to be another bestseller!
Choice words: I am a chef of many years, a gardener of some repute, and an owner of a signed first edition of Chotzinoff's People With Dirty Hands. Now she's gone and reviewed the book I just chased down at Savu. Please let Jason Holben know how much I love it; I've been doing something similar with index cards for years. And I feel the same way he does about unfortunate employment choices. Yes, I'm burnt, I'm cut, I'm greasy. But what is there to life but mudpies and tea parties?
Radio daze: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Dialing for Differences," in the July 25 issue:
All I have to say is thank God for Radio 1190 and 102.1. It is unfortunate that we can get neither of these stations inside our office building; sadly, we only get to listen to whatever comes in, usually the we-love-our-awfully-boring, play-the-same-set-of-songs-every-two-hours-and-you're-gonna-like-it KBCO. I hate that station. But since I get to listen to it eight hours a day, I've learned to tune it out.
There's nothing more blissful than retreating to my car and sliding in a CD, playing bands I never hear on the radio, praying I don't hear that Jimmy Eat World song or that Sheryl Crow song or that John Mayer song, all of which I liked at one time or another. But now I cringe every time I hear the intros. Give us a break, guys. You're killing us with your corporate playlists! Do you even listen to what you're playing? The saddest thing in the world is when your mom is humming that Staind song or a Puddle of Mudd song because they played it on Mix 100 and Alice 106.... I miss the Peak, KAZY, 92X and the old KTCL circa the early '90s.
Click. I've just turned on a CD.
Band on the run: Your writer, Melanie Haupt, in her July 25 "Exquisite Corps," about the Denver show Drums Along the Rockies, displayed a profound lack of understanding regarding drum corps. To those involved, it is like hearing the old fingernails on the chalkboard to be called a "band." A drum-and-bugle corps is a very different and distinct entity, truly a family for the short term of its summer existence. Melanie also referred several times to "trumpets" being played. Again, hear the chalkboard.
A little research, like letting any person familiar with the activity review her article, would have saved everyone involved with or even remotely familiar with the activity a lot of the pain derived from reading it. That said, the detail about how tough it is was right on.
Deep resentment: Hey, you: Wake up and smell the bitter scum in your coffee, cream and sugar, because your ever-present stimulant's getting colder and nastier -- but make sure you chug it down anyway, if you can stomach it. Get used to it and like it -- just the way you like getting used to David Holthouse and his valiant attempt at a painstaking "undercover story" in the July 25 "Skin Deep." Speaking of indignation, I'm pretty well numb from being slapped in the face with my tax dollars and rampant racism -- just like any other blue-collar scapegoat. I mean, come on: How can you not be in a sugarcoated city like Denver?
Is it any wonder that the worst high school massacre in the history of the world happened right here in little ol' Denver? You know what all you neo-Nazis and gangs -- flaunting your mental capacity of a melting ice cube -- can do? Red, white, black, brown or yellow, you can kiss my ass. If you are a racist consciously making an effort to spread your sickening plague in any way, shape or form, here's a news flash: Fuck you! I'd rather see you just evaporate. I'd rather see you do the right thing for once and take it upon yourselves to realize that your only purpose in this life is to rent a real big venue (like a coliseum) and blow each other to bits and pieces -- each and every one of you pawns. Do us a favor and put yourselves out of your own motherfuckin' misery.
A rally big show: I am an ARA supporter who attended the protest, and I just gotta say that Holthouse's article was a good one, but it seemed a little off. First, he describes us as being "blissfully unaware" of the problems that were facing us. We were not blissfully unaware; most of us went there fully thinking that we were gonna end up being attacked by a huge bunch of gigantic skinheads, but we (at least I) were willing to take that chance, as long as we could get our point across. Why didn't he interview us as well, instead of taking everything at face value? Not all of us played soccer at the park; in fact, many of us (that includes me) thought it was a bad idea, considering the situation. Some further interviews would have made that apparent. Another point that was missed was that we, not just the skinheads, also have a Constitutional right to assemble. But Holthouse, of all people, must know that the minute we would have assembled, the Midwest Hammerskins would have slammed on us -- or, as an employee of the Aztlan described to us, "It would've been a bloodbath."
I'm not totally approving of all ARA tactics that day, but I think that we did the best we could to avoid a violent confrontation while still getting our message across. Maybe next time they'll think twice about having the hate-filled concert in Denver. And that'd be great with me. Not all of us are radical leftists. (I lean right on many issues.) But the issue of "white supremacy" and my extreme disapproval and disgust at their so-called cause led me to feel that I had to send a message to them in any way possible.
Also, I gotta say that it took a lot of guts to pose as a skinhead for that story. The MHS are brutal, and I can't even imagine how stressful it must have been for Holthouse. That showed a good knack for journalism and for getting the story at whatever cost. I just wish he had shown more of it from our perspective as well.
Name withheld on request
Practice what you teach: I would like to clear up a few of Christa Roach's misconceptions in her August 8 letter. In ten years as a teacher of immigrant children both in Denver and in California, I have not met even one immigrant from any country who came here to exploit the welfare system. I have found that, contrary to Roach's assertions, the immigrants and their children are extremely hardworking, often willing to do jobs that Americans refuse. They contribute a great deal to our communities and society, and, yes, they do pay taxes. I defy you to show me even one immigrant who is here just to exploit the welfare system.
I have also found that, contrary to popular opinion, most immigrants learn English pretty quickly. In fact, most immigrants I have known can write a grammatically correct letter in English, something Ms. Roach evidently cannot do.
While she rails against the "bottom-feeders," I would submit that only the most ignorant, undereducated, lazy and just plain stupid among any racial group ever feel the need to proclaim their superiority over another group. (David Holthouse, by the way, neglected to point this out adequately in his overly sympathetic story.)
Ms. Roach, stop looking for someone to blame for your personal shortcomings, go back and earn your GED, learn to write a complete sentence in at least one language, and quit your pathetic whining!
Bradley R. Cook
State of the union address: David Holthouse's article mentioned that the audience consisted of a smattering of people who had on International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers apparel. I am a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and this union does not support nor condone the views, beliefs and opinions of the groups that Holthouse wrote about in "Skin Deep." The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is a culturally diverse union. It is a union based on inclusiveness rather than exclusivity. It is offensive for our union to even be mentioned in the same article as a white-power group.
State of the union rebuttal: I would like to reply to the letter by Ross Aaron in the August 8 Westword: I don't know what union you are a member of, brother, but my experience with the IBEW has been that most of you guys are a bunch of hate-spewing racists. What the hell makes you and all your union brethren and sisters think you are the only people with a right to work? In America, we have this thing called the Constitution. It guarantees the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. That means my right to work and support my family is more sacred than your pack-mentality, socialist, propaganda-puking union rhetoric.
The economy is in the tank. Companies all around the city are being forced to get lean and mean in order to remain competitive. Companies that can't compete will be forced out of business. That would probably mean union shops go first, because you guys pay the same inflated wage to all journeymen regardless of whether they pull their own weight. Instead of whining about your paltry wage, why don't you jump into the real world with the rest of us and stand or fall based on your own abilities, not the negotiating skills of union bureaucrats?
P.S.: Westword is absolutely the best publication I have ever read. Your lack of fear in a world of diluted PC garbage is inspiring.
Name withheld on request
Shine on: An open letter to skinheads, racists everywhere:
There is only one race -- the human race. We are all created equally. No one is "better" than anyone else. We all are spiritual beings embodied in human form. Color, ethnicity, does not matter. Each and every one of us has a light that shines. It is our responsibility here on earth to be keepers of our light and to let it shine. A heart full of love and acceptance shines. How bright is your light shining?
Name withheld on request