Letters to the Editor

Butt Seriously, Folks

Gasping at straws: I want to thank Laura Bond for "Smoke Detector," in the September 16 issue, and especially thank Anne Landman for dedicating her life to stamping out smoking. As someone who finally stopped -- after thirty years! -- I know what a hard habit it is to break.

I found some consolation in knowing that tobacco companies were working to make it even harder on me.

Harry Rudolph
via the Internet

Don't be an ash: I never thought Westword would stoop to kicking society's last sinners, the smokers, when they're down and heading out. Laura Bond may want to quit smoking, but as even she confesses in her story, it's not that easy -- and making cigarettes cost more isn't going to help. In fact, as we've seen with other sin taxes, it will just lead to more desperate measures from more desperate smokers.

Think about that during your next Westword smoke break.

Mimi Garcia

Hamm It Up

Gym dandy: Jason Heller's "Rock and Gold," his September 23 article about the Rock and Roll Gymnastics Championships Tour, was unresearched and unfounded. In the future, please try not to waste my time with silly, junior-high reports. Thank you.

Kathy Hawke
via the Internet

Rock and rolled: Although I respect Jason Heller's right to voice his personal opinion on the men's gymnastics all-around controversy, I do wish that in doing so he would not ignore the facts pertinent to it.

Heller writes that American gymnast Paul Hamm, the all-around champion, won the gold medal "only because the judges erred in rating the performance of South Korea's Yang Tae-Young." What Heller fails to realize is that the judges made the mistake in the fifth rotation and that awarding Yang the correct start value for his routine would probably have changed the way in which the sixth and final rotation played out. Both Yang and Hamm would have approached their high-bar routines with different mentalities and might have performed better or worse than they actually did. Thus, it is impossible to make any definitive statements about who would have won the all-around had the judges awarded Yang the correct score.

Gymnastics judges make mistakes in almost every single meet; anyone who follows the sport (and not just when the Olympic Games roll around) can testify to this. Sometimes they hurt athletes, and sometimes they benefit them. It all evens out in the end.

In his now infamous letter, FIG president Bruno Grandi effectively asked Hamm to sort out the mess created by the judges and FIG so that Grandi himself could avoid taking any action. Contrary to what Heller would like his readers to believe, Hamm never "huffily refused" the request. He did not have the chance to, as the U.S. Olympic Committee was so outraged by Grandi's remarks that it refused to deliver the letter to Hamm. The International Olympic Committee joined the USOC in publicly condemning FIG for asking Hamm to give up his gold medal. IOC president Jacques Rogge added that the all-around results were legitimate and would not be changed.

Next time your publication covers a gymnastics meet or event, please have your writer present both sides of the issue before coming to his/her own conclusion about the matter. Better yet, please assign the story to a writer who actually knows something about the sport. Articles like Jason Heller's do both your publication and your readers a great disservice.

Sophie Budai
Washington, D.C.

Better Dread Than Dead

Tour de farce: I just saw Jason Heller's September 23 Critic's Choice on the Black Smiths, and wanted to inform you that Dread Zeppelin are indeed still around, albeit not the touring monsters of days past. In fact, I hired them to play at my tenth wedding anniversary party two years ago, recorded it professionally, and they released it as an "official bootleg" on their website. They have an EP on the way and still gig, mostly on the West Coast (check out for details). Nice mention in the article, though. Black Smiths sounds interesting, even though I'm not a Morrissey fan.

Tony Holt
Fresno, California

Still kicking: Dread Zeppelin reunion? Man, you have no idea. They're alive and kicking hard. Do a little research, bro.

Dan Winsor
Wakefield, Massachusetts

The Doctors Are Out

Sick at heart: I'm writing as a patient of Connie Benson's. I am simply devastated at learning that she and her husband, Chip Schooley, will be leaving for San Diego in November.

I moved to Colorado Springs in 1998, and Connie was highly recommended to me by my prior doctor in Dallas. "She's a smart woman. You'll really like her," my doctor said. He couldn't have been more right.

I have seen Connie for nearly seven years. She has been the best health advocate that I've had in my fourteen years of being HIV+. Her expertise and the quality of care at the Infectious Disease Group Practice at University Hospital have been the primary reasons that I've stayed in Colorado.

There is something seriously wrong with a culture that allows the equivalent of rock stars to leave CU's HSC because of extreme dissatisfaction with the administration, especially when that dissatisfaction is grounded in fact and not unfounded conjecture -- but unfortunately, this is the culture of HSC. Now I have to lose seven years of medical history stored in the brain of my doctor and start anew. It's truly devastating.

Alan Prendergast, thank you so much for your story, "Throwing Fitz," in the September 2 issue. Unfortunately, I fear that nobody besides the lowly, unpowerful citizenry such as myself will care much, but maybe somebody with some power will care.

Name withheld on request

Editor's note: Robert Schooley, head of the infectious diseases division at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, recently announced that he and his wife, Connie Benson, have accepted positions at the University of California at San Diego. At the time that Westword published Alan Prendergast's "Throwing Fitz," which detailed the controversy over the UCHSC move to a new campus at Fitzsimons, the internationally renowned AIDS researchers had not yet decided to leave Denver.

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