Commentary

Letters to the Editor

The Myths of Meth

Unsafe at any speed: I wanted to express my appreciation for David Holthouse's and Alan Prendergast's pieces on the two sides of the meth world in the September 4 Westword.

I'd only take exception with the subhead of Holthouse's "72-Hour Party People" "Meth: It's not just for the white-trash crowd." We shouldn't be distracted by the designer labels and tony addresses of those depicted in his piece; by their actions, they really are "white trash."

One only needs to read Prendergast's "Toxic Shock," chronicling the horrific outcomes of this "leisure pastime" on our law-enforcement community and society, to arrive at that conclusion.

Keep up the good work.

Tom Rothrock
Centennial

People who needle people: I suppose I just want to express my thanks and admiration. I just finished reading "72-Hour Party People" and -- damn! -- it was great! Beautiful fucking work.

It's very rare that I'll actually read an entire article in any magazine, not to mention a weekly rag like, say, Westword, but "72-Hour Party People" was truly -- and I mean this -- truly first-rate. A great piece of writing.

Jeff Chester

via the Internet

The party's over: Hello, my name is ___, and I'm a speed freak.

I just finished reading "72-Hour Party People" while downing a quick sushi lunch with my husband, and boy, do I feel sick. Not sure if it was David Holthouse's article or the fish.

As a former full-fledged tweaker, I was left feeling a tad bit wired as I read this romp down memory lane, minus all the high-dollar entertainment. We weren't white-trash tweakers -- at least we didn't think we were -- but we didn't have the means to fly off to Vegas at the drop of a hat.

I lived full-blast on meth for nearly five years straight back in the early '90s. I'm lucky I made it out with my life and a clean record.

Staying up for days is not glamorous, as David Holthouse has portrayed it. It leaves your body in a constant state of decay, your mind in flux and your bank account empty. Holthouse writes: "he seven eager speed smokers who converge on Nick's pad during the two hours before sunset defy the myth that crystal meth is a white-trash drug. They have cool hair and stylish attire. They have college degrees. They have all their teeth."

Yeah, I did, too, when I started snorting this wonder drug, but after a while, my hair got stringy and began to fall out. I could not have cared less how I dressed. The visits to the dentist increased. Fortunately, all the damage is in the back. My skin went from porcelain to resembling a porcupine, and the college degree, well, someone or something was watching over me on that one, 'cause I did it with honors -- but many of my, ummm, associates did not.

I'd be interested to see a follow-up story on this party gang in one or two years. Let's see if they still defy the stereotype of the meth freak.

Name withheld on request

Trash landing: I think that all the people involved in this 72-hour party are nothing but white trash. White trash throw their lives away as does any living trash, whatever its color, that's involved with meth, whatever its form.

Both David Holthouse and Alan Prendergast are to be congratulated on fine reporting.

Doloris Dunn
Aurora

Party on! David Holthouse's "72-Hour Party People" was incredible. I am in awe over this story and can only compare it to those of Hunter S. Thompson. It sent me back to a time when I was wild and crazy, and it stirred up memories that I haven't had in years. While I was wild, these people are party demons! Holthouse's writing is absolutely incredible, and this was by far the best article I have ever read in Westword. I look forward to any story with his name on it.

Dave Vititoe
Denver

Better than sex: David Holthouse's article on the crackheads and their zany adventures was enrapturing. I read it straight to finish instead of skipping to the phone sex ads, as I usually do. A few of my friends, most of whom rarely read, even called me up to ask me if I had read the article. The journal of this madness literally started its own buzz with effects similar to speed. However, after being drawn into an alternate reality by the story, the end left me clamoring for another hit. After a trip like that, how do they come down? If they are all professionals, how can they possibly stay awake for 72 hours eating Otter Pops and then go to work the next day? And if they do, what sort of fugue might they be in? A description of the harrowing aftermath would have completed a brilliant story.

Of course, one last question everyone was asking: Do you think he partook? Well, did you, Holthouse? Or did you just call Westword's Vegas correspondent and then stay awake by eating Otter Pops? Whenever I see those bulk containers of sugar water in someone's freezer, I will know that a glass pipe probably lurks somewhere nearby.

Isaac Mion
via the Internet

A meth lab in every kitchen: After reading Alan Prendergast's "Toxic Shock," I think I have come up with a solution to the whole meth-lab problem. It's really quite simple. First, you contract out pharmaceutical companies to manufacture crystal meth in environmentally safe labs (hell, they could even cook that Shabu stuff). Next, you take the millions of dollars used for enforcement, cleanup and other expenses, purchase this meth and give it away to any tweaker who wants it. Nobody will cook meth if it is available for free at a much higher quality.

For those who think this idea is as insane as cooking meth itself, ask yourself one question: Has all this fuss made it any harder to get meth? If you answered this question truthfully, then you can finally choose between people either getting their meth from clandestine labs that leave behind hazardous waste or from a pharmaceutical company trained in the manufacturing of such things and the disposal of the associated waste products.

And if you can't answer the above question truthfully, just keep going with the same old "drug war" policies and see what you end up with. In five years, I promise it will be a meth lab in every kitchen.

Regarding Julie Jargon's "See Jane Read," in the August 28 issue, I'm going to teach you something that will make absolutely no sense. First, the letters ph will make the f sound. Next, I will place a silent e at the end of a word, and it will make the vowel in the middle of the word have a long sound, at least most of the time. There are times when the letters ough will make a strange sound and be used in words like ought, bought and cough.

This is what I faced when I learned to read with dyslexia, and even the spelling of this so-called ailment belies a major flaw in the English language (as does the word English). In our language, rules are made up to excuse flaws that should have been done away with years ago. In fact, if you take one look at the phonetic spelling used in the dictionary, you will see a perfectly logical spelling of every word in the English language (ing'lish).

David Noland
Denver


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Nothing special: Regarding Julie Jargon's "See Jane Read," in the August 28 issue:

I was horrified but not surprised by the treatment of Jane Komperda by the St. Vrain school district. The parents trusted the system, and the school system took advantage. As frequently implemented, there is little that is special about special education. Only an educrat would consider dyslexia only a medical diagnosis, and that a smart girl reading three years behind grade level is a non-problem.

I have heard the criticism on how special education strains education dollars. But where is the value for the dollars spent; where is the accounting? Too frequently, all that special-needs children receive is low expectations, undertrained and overwhelmed staff, and methods that don't work but are blindly followed. Why was the program not implemented properly? Why the insistence on using a program that was proven not to work? Why the resistance to using other proven programs? Could the school have contracted to obtain possibly cheaper and proven remediation outside the school system?

Mary Sires, find a new career.

Carla Hagood
via the Internet

Learn, baby, learn: I appreciate the excellent article about Jane Komperda's continued struggles that she faces as a result of dyslexia, and about people who do not understand the unique challenges faced by students with learning disabilities. As someone with learning disabilities, I understand and can relate to the obstacles she faces. While I am now thirty years old and have graduated from college, I still remember every obstacle I faced and every teacher and student who criticized me from first grade on.

I would like to recommend a book to help students with learning disabilities learn and take control of their education. This book, unlike many others, was co-written by someone with dyslexia and another person with ADHD: Jonathan Mooney and David Cole. The two of them graduated from Brown University with honors.

Mark Lane
Denver

The bright stuff: I just got through reading "See Jane Read," and it was like déjà vu for my husband and me. We went through the wringer trying to get services in the Cherry Creek school district for my bright, articulate daughter who also has a disability. (We finally gave up and do what we can ourselves.) We have been called bad parents, been blamed for her problems, been told her problems don't exist... It was a real nightmare!

So much of that story rang true to me, and I've seen it again and again through friends and other parents. I am a part-time educator, and I still wonder when the powers-that-be are going to wake up and just start meeting kids' needs. Thanks for shedding some light on this very pervasive problem!

Name withheld on request

Money to burn -- and learn: I was struck by how much effort the Komperda family has put into compelling the St. Vrain school district to provide every possible effective educational strategy for their daughter. I have to wonder what might otherwise have been accomplished with the time and money, and how many hours of tutoring could have been arranged for the price of Ms. Komperda's representatives and lawyers. According to Julie Jargon's article and at the exorbitant rate of $60/hour for a tutor, quite a bit. The Komperdas seem more interested in criticizing the actions taken by the school district to assist Ms. Komperda than in actually doing something.

Based upon my own personal experience, better solutions exist than those being pursued by the Komperdas. Jane Komperda does not need her mother or a tutor to read all of her textbooks to her. My sister cannot read at all because she is blind, and yet she still utilized tools such as teachers, audio books and computer-based programs to scan in her textbooks to overcome this disability. Not only does she attend college, but she was awarded a full-ride scholarship to Colorado College by excelling in difficult courses like advanced-placement physics, advanced-placement calculus and advanced-placement language throughout high school.

Finally, I would suggest the possibility that the rise in Ms. Komperda's test scores is due more to her involvement in challenging texts through a normal English literature/language class than the involvement of a $60-an-hour tutor.

Elliot Dickerson
Greenwood Village

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