Letters to the Editor

Colorado's Bad Trip

To be or not to be: Regarding Patricia Calhoun's "Reality Bites," in the September 11 issue:

Another ironic touch to the promo film Colorado Courage (made by out-of-staters) is that the fake vacationing family is supposedly from North Carolina, whose state motto is Esse Quam Videri -- "to be rather than to seem." This PR venture is purely to seem.

The old bumper sticker now seems prophetically made for the oil-lobbyist-turned-"family values"-governor who would be president: "Focus on your own damn family."

Evan Ravitz

The plains truth: Patricia Calhoun's September 18 "Lights, Camera, Action" was a nice column, but don't forget that out here on the plains we have had some action as well, with the filming of Centennial and parts of Dumb and Dumber. Denver, Boulder and Aspen are not the only towns in Colorado. There are other native residents around who read your fine paper as well!

Shawn Dunn

Dead Reckoning

Last writes: Thank you for the September 11 Off Limits item on the passing of Warren Zevon and the lyrics from "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead." Great song and one of my favorite movies of all time.

My favorite memory of Zevon was seeing him open for the Grateful Dead in Boulder in 1980. He was almost better than Jerry and the boys, who weren't at their best that weekend. Both days were great. We sang "Werewolves of Denver." (Why not?)

I may disagree with his politics (as with his friend, Hunter Thompson), but I still love Zevon's music. Anyone who loved Colorado as he did must be all right.

Pat Desrosiers

Sweeping Changes

Clean machine: I enjoyed Stuart Steers's piece on the SEIU's success in organizing local janitors ("Talking Dirty," September 11). I believe that the right of workers to freely organize is the most basic human right there is, much more important than voting, for example.

However, I must take issue with what I felt was a somewhat inappropriate tone, one that was almost triumphant. First, in a metro area where a wage of $15 an hour is required to rent an average two-bedroom apartment, the wages Steers mentioned were at best two-thirds of that. Second, if I understood the article correctly, only about a fourth of the local janitors were classified as full-time and therefore eligible for benefits.

I have two concerns. First, I imagined myself a white-collar suburbanite reading the article. Depending on my political perspective, I might either have my preconceived notions about powerful unions confirmed, or I might be more sympathetic but think the problem of organizing low-wage workers was well on the road to being solved. Obviously, neither of those perspectives would be correct. Second, I am suspicious of big labor's commitment to organizing low-wage workers. I hear lots of talk but see not much action -- local cases excepted. Once they have gotten some dues collected, once the relatively easy battles and victories have been won, I wonder if the SEIU won't just declare victory and move on. Union officials, like politicians and generals, love to declare victory and go home. I speak from personal experience as a former member of the executive board at my AFT local in San Francisco and as someone who was totally ignored when I asked the local AFL-CIO for help in organizing substitute teachers.

That said, I don't know how I would have written the article differently. I want to congratulate Steers for covering the story and encourage him to stay with it and not get bogged down in the kind of "true crime" story that seems to take up so much space in Westword.

Tim Babbidge
via the Internet

Bean down so long...: In Stuart Steers's article, Angela was talking about health coverage and how she sacrifices other things to go to the doctor. She says, "I'd rather make sure my child is healthy. Sometimes we just eat beans and rice, the most cheap things we can get. We won't have meat." Well, unbeknownst to Angela, she and the children are much better off eating beans and rice, because eating meat causes health problems down the road. If you look at the statistics, you will discover that people who live in countries like Thailand, where very small amounts of meat and dairy products are consumed, don't have the cancer, heart disease, strokes, osteoporosis and other diseases that people have in countries like the United States and the Netherlands, where mass quantities of meat and dairy products are consumed.

Darlene Bee
via the Internet

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