Letters to the Editor

Taking Aim

Target practice: Regarding Laura Bond's "At Close Range," in the October 23 issue:

First, I would like to thank you for an unbiased (for the most part) article on shooting ranges, gun control and safety and such. Most articles I read on the subject are either too pro-gun or too anti-gun to get any real information out of them. I am sort of new here in Denver and was wondering where I might find a shooting range in town; this article answered a lot of questions for me. There are a few comments I would like to make, though.

First, Laura Bond kind of made the shooting range sound like a dark, mysterious place where crazy, gun-toting weirdos go for fun -- but I will be the first to admit that some of the sounds and things in a gun range can be a tad scary at first. Second, as she pointed out, a gun is first and foremost a mechanical machine, just like, say, a car -- and when put into the wrong hands, it can be deadly, just like a car. And yet everybody owns a car. The point I'm trying to make is that the gun was invented for good in the beginning, and, as history shows us, many things that were meant for good have been used in bad ways. Cars, dynamite, computers and the Internet, certain medications and nuclear power, just to name a few.

Through this article, I did learn about the new concealed-weapons bill that passed, and I don't like that at all. I am pro-gun all the way. I am twenty years old and have shot a gun for fifteen years of my life. But I think to allow pretty much anybody with a clean record to carry a concealed weapon is going to get a lot of people hurt. For whatever reason, people are jumpier than ever -- and now you don't know if a person has a gun or not. I don't like that at all, but it's not my call to make, so I will just have to live with it. Anyhow, thank you for listening.

Eric Bukovsky

via the Internet

Game Over

Go Fast company: Regarding Eric Dexheimer's "Hard to Swallow," in the October 30 issue:

While Dwain Weston's family and friends are still overwhelmed by shock and sadness at his death, Westword decided to add to the distress this tragedy has caused by using it as a source for what I assume was supposed to be humor. I am unable to understand what there is about this heartbreaking event to inspire ridicule. The people at the Royal Gorge Go Fast Games have shown extraordinary kindness and respect to my brother's memory and to me during this difficult time. It is regrettable that Westword did not choose to do the same.

Shannon Weston


Mean Streets

LoDo lowdown: Regarding Patricia Calhoun's "Mall in the Family," in the October 23 issue:

I have lived in the Denver area for nine years. I work in LoDo, and I do not feel as lighthearted about the different faces on the mall. I believe those same faces that Patricia Calhoun finds so innocuous detract from the comfort level of the mall, cause shopkeepers to lose money, keep new businesses away and eventually will attract enough of the more colorful elements that people with money to spend who only want to get a decent meal and be entertained will stay away. It is only a matter of time before the bullets are flying. I walk up and down the mall many days a week and see open-air drug commerce and use going unchecked by police. (Why does the horse patrol travel in packs of four?) We need to make loiterers of any type move on. I am sick of dodging their dangling cigarettes, listening to their loud vulgar talk and even louder music, and being forced to walk on the street dodging the shuttles to make it past the crowds of kids and vagrants who choose to do nothing all day.

You have only to look at the empty storefronts to know that it is not colorful. It is a crumbling economy brought on by a mold that is allowed to grow unchecked.

Name withheld on request

Colorful Colorado: What another stupendous Calhoun column! "Mall in the Family" made me laugh when she described those "sightings" of various characters who hang out on the 16th Street Mall.

It brought to mind some infamous "street people" (a name perhaps not in existence then) in the late '60s and early '70s. I first discovered these abominable beings while attending Metro State College, when it was known as the "invisible college" and its "campus" amounted to scattered buildings throughout the Capitol Hill area, which required a lot of walking. They were strictly non-violent, not like today's panhandlers, who can be very dangerous at times and constantly pestering people, much worse than in the days when Denver was a "cowtown" (which I wish it were still known as). It was safer back then, as there wasn't much pressure and violence in the "begging" industry, and there was a much lower crime rate.

The colorful people I encountered (they were more or less impersonators) included the following "cast":

The first was a man dressed like a priest who at first was believable, and I even gave him some money, being the gullible college student that I was! He always had that cup out flashing in front of our faces, with that sly grin. Thirty years later, I saw him again, and he was still wanting money, but this time the cup was gone and replaced with an old hat. He was trying to flag down motorists at Quebec and Colfax Avenue. I was never so shocked in my life to see him again! He must be ancient, and had he ever had a "real" job? Could a person really live on this money for all of those years?

Then there was the "Princess of Capitol Hill," as she was known, prancing around with a long, blond ringlet wig with rosy-painted cheeks, a parasol, frilly party dress and ballet slippers. The last I heard, she had been taken to the emergency room and later ended up in a nursing home, where she died.

The next person was a man pretending to be a fairy, wearing a tutu and waving his magic wand while balancing himself on roller skates. He would come up to everyone and have a chat with them. Where is he now? It's a mystery -- does anyone know?

Rosemary McManis


Clean sweep: As one of the police officers doing surveillance on the dreaded 16th Street Mall of terror, I want to thank Patricia Calhoun for her straightforward article. I am frustrated reading how the mall is out of control and crime-ridden. I am there daily, and as she wrote, for the most part people are well-behaved.

I wish I had an answer for where the kids and homeless could go; I know the boosters really don't care, as long as they are not on the mall. The kids are always saying they can't get a job because they have no place to clean up, keep clean clothes. I have posed this question to several do-gooders: If you want to help, why not take a kid home to give him a chance to get a leg up? Always, the answer is I don't have room, or not me.

I'm tired of being accused of not cleaning up a place that does not need to be cleaned constantly. Thanks for a great article.

Name withheld on request

The Heat Is On

Stencil sharpeners: I enjoyed David Holthouse's piece on stencil graffiti ("Canned Heat," October 16) and the fact that Westword continuously attempts to make a difference in the public perception of graffiti.

However, it seems to me your vision of graffiti is a biased one. Yes, graffiti is destruction of public property, a hole in the pocket of the city and an eyesore for all those who do not understand it. Handstyles and toss-ups are about style, and if someone doesn't see that as art, that's their opinion. But those who dedicate their time and lawful well-being to "getting up" are the same artists who never cease to amaze with freight burners and crew productions. There are some writers who bomb the city to vandalize and boost their own egos, but the majority of them have a larger and much more important goal. A writer who will remain anonymous once told me that we live on stolen land, that the Americas do not belong to anyone and that graffiti is merely a method to display this. Writers all around the city have strong political affiliations and a strong cultural awareness that leads them to act on their convictions. Protest is not as valid if there are no consequences. Writers have ethics, as well: For instance, most do not write on houses, independent businesses or cars. But just like anywhere else, not all follow the code of honor; these are the people who sometimes give writers a bad name.

Graffiti was never about destroying the city; it's about writers giving other writers their work, and about embracing a culture that many do not understand. And if that message must be conveyed through compromising the integrity of a lamppost, so be it. Graffiti will never stop; it will evolve, it will adapt to whatever judicial attempts to confine it are put in order, and it will be a part of every writer who ever put his name on a dumpster -- not because it's the latest fad on MTV, but because they believe in it.

And for all of you who don't see graffiti like I do but bitch about the nuisance it is, you all sure love to steal it for mainstream magazines, T-shirts and corporate commercial advertisements.

Brian Rad


Ordering Off the Venue

Smear tactics: I think the decision of the Aspen Daily News not to carry any stories about the Kobe Bryant case (The Message, October 23) may prove useful in fighting any defense motion for a change of venue on the theory that Bryant can't get a fair trial in Eagle County because of pre-trial publicity.

Subscribers to the Aspen Daily News may actually be the most unbiased potential jurors in the country after Pamela Mackey's grandstanding attempt to smear Jane Doe and taint the pool of jurors -- what irony!

S. Williams

via the Internet

Insurance Claims

Pinned by Pinnacol: Regarding Stuart Steers's "Adding Insult to Injury," in the October 16 issue:

Many people would say there are two sides to every story. Apparently Westword would disagree.

In his article, Stuart Steers profiled the injuries and workers' compensation complaints of three individuals, two of which were claims filed at Pinnacol Assurance. We need to clarify a few inaccuracies, as well as offer facts Westword chose not to mention that are pertinent to the situations of these individuals.

Since 1987, when the legislature transformed Pinnacol Assurance from a state agency to a quasi-public entity, the employees of Pinnacol have made a commitment to serve all Colorado employers by working in accordance with the highest ethical and legal standards. These employees have transformed the fledging state workers' compensation fund (with poorly trained employees, an asbestos-laden work environment, horrible customer satisfaction and a half-billion-dollar deficit) into a company that provides exceptional customer service and claims management at a competitive price and has sufficient financial surplus to cover future claims, for which the state government has no support or liability.

It is unfortunate that the two individuals, Benson Von Feldt and Jack Stroh, made comments that were exaggerated with regard to treatment received from Pinnacol Assurance. And shame on Westword for listening to only one side of the story.

Pinnacol Assurance strives to get injured workers healthy and back to work. Over 80 percent of our policyholders are businesses that have chosen Pinnacol for their workers' compensation insurance, with less than 20 percent of businesses using us because they are unable to get insurance from another carrier. In our 2002 customer- satisfaction survey, policyholders scored Pinnacol at 8.35 on a 10-point scale. Based on this feedback of excellent service, we know that Pinnacol is not "adding insult to injury," but simply that we are and will continue to be good for Colorado.

Gary Pon, CEO

Pinnacol Assurance

Editor's note: When Stuart Steers interviewed Gary Pon, he was told that it was against Pinnacol's policy to comment on individual cases, a statement echoed by Pinnacol's public-relations office.

A Word to the Wives

A womb of one's own: Having just seen the movie Veronica Guerin, I went back and read Gregory Weinkauf's quite interesting review ("Saint Veronica," October 16), in which he described said Veronica as a "feisty suburban wife and mother of one."

Gag. Let me point out -- again, since you knuckleheads don't seem to get it -- that none of the male characters had their place of residence and/or number of offspring so described. Please evolve. End of feminist rant.

Marie Meyer

via the Internet

Ted alert: Gregory Weinkauf states that Sylvia isn't flawless, and that's one of the few accurate statements in his review ("Love Among the Ruins," October 23). The film was a piece of claptrap with the writer's and director's over-the-top portrayal of Sylvia Plath as demented. Gwyneth Paltrow spouted Plath in a stilted, overly dramatic way that caused laughter from the audience at the preview I attended. The soundtrack swelled to such a peak at times that one thought at least three philharmonic orchestras had to have been playing at once. Was this a dramatic, insightful film? One would hardly think so, with the insertion of gratuitous comic relief near the end. Although Ted Hughes did not come off unscathed, it is interesting to note that in the final screen statements, no mention was made of Hughes's second wife, Assia, committing suicide by gas with their young child, Shura. Who was the demon here, really?

Patricia Hodapp


Foos for Love

Having a ball, wish you were here: Eric Dexheimer's "Fools for Foos," in the October 16 issue, was a great article! It was a history lesson on the Denver foos scene, which is arguably the best in the country. Denver should be proud -- and would be proud, if more people knew about the scene. Articles like this help. Thanks for the read.

Mike DeMarco

via the Internet

Vocal Local

Chain letter: I always enjoy reading Jason Sheehan's reviews and visit many restaurants vicariously through him. He does seem to cause some controversy, but a critic's review is supposed to do exactly that: look within and determine if there's room for change, rather than becoming complacent.

Jason's review of Brewery Bar III in Lone Tree ("The Sporting Life," October 30) was accurate; however, the fact that the restaurant is locally owned and operated is what will keep me continuing to patronize it. Even though Brewery Bar III is in suburbanville -- and I avoid Park Meadows and the surrounding area whenever possible -- at least I feel good about supporting a locally owned business rather than a corporate chain.

An interesting piece would be how many restaurants in that locale are locally owned versus chain status. I'm still going to support the local restaurant.

Pam Welker


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