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?
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
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.