I find your column somewhat informative, amusing, occasionally reverse-racist, but some of the racist people who write in must be "Jerry's kids" (Springer, not Lewis).
As I read "Thou Shalt Not Stereotype," I looked at the Ask a Mexican logo -- the sombrero-clad, jolly Mexican fellow who's either missing teeth or has gold crowns or something. Is that what Gustavo really looks like, or is the logo a stereotypical caricature?
After the last fifteen years working in the kitchens of Colorado, two things are obvious: Jason Sheehan knows what the hell he's talking about, and whatever we name the Mexican won't matter, because everyone will call him Chuy.
"Panhandle With Care," Adam Cayton-Holland, March 1
Adam Cayton-Holland's article on panhandling left me laughing so hard on my lunch break that some of my co-workers now think I am manic. The jabs at the wannabe hip -- with "the same defeated look you'd see on any Denver hipster if his favorite unknown indie band had just landed a song on The Real World" -- were just as funny as the creative signage that Adam came up with for his research. Even though "Panhandle With Care" was highly humorous, the contrasts between what the homeless experience in Castle Rock and Denver really was an eye-opener. Anyone who is willing to deal with crazy Colorado weather, possible assault and personal insults due to the words written on their sign, in my opinion deserves whatever they can scrape together from it.
The only motivation I can think of for Westword to print Adam Cayton-Holland's "Panhandle With Care" was to show that he had the balls to pose as somebody in need (and perhaps to rectify matters with the girl who text-messaged him). Reading about the reactions to his funny-ha-ha signs and "hobo-chic" attire was like watching an episode of MTV's Jackass. And about as insightful. Gosh, I had no idea that there are actually sober panhandlers. And drivers stopped at an intersection can be uncomfortable with a panhandler's presence? Hmmm, I wonder if that's why people give them money.
The reason Denver has panhandlers is because they're making money at it, which isn't new information. As Doug Wayland, director of Education and Advocacy for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, stated, "The community should conscientiously try to have alternatives for (panhandlers)." It looks like our community should come up with a doozy of an alternative, because why would panhandlers opt to do anything else when they can make $16 an hour standing still? Appealing to people's sympathy as a way to earn a buck -- it's the oldest con in the book!
Keep handing that cash out your car windows, Denver. Let's see if we can exceed the $4.5 million from last year! And Westword editors, take the cardboard sign out of your boy Cayton-Holland's hands and keep him on posing as The Real World crew and drunk-rapping at foreign nightclubs. At least then we know he's trying to be funny.
I really "enjoyed" the craft and content of Adam Cayton-Holland's homeless article. He is a superb writer who could pull off an On the Road if he wanted to.
My wife worked for several years as a nursing-pool nurse at Denver CARES, the notorious overnight shelter for anyone who blows drunk enough into its malfunctioning Breathalyzer. While waiting for my wife to get off work, I've watched their dogcatcher wagon pull up and unload their catch by grabbing the backs of their belts and hoisting them out, drunks too inebriated to walk. My wife and I have had many discussions about what makes up a substance abuser or a homeless person; many times it's nothing more than several bad turns of luck. I myself hitchhiked to Buffalo to work one summer and spent my first three days in a homeless shelter, too broke for a hotel, and listened to the obligatory "Jesus Saves" sermon each night from a once-hopelessly-degenerate alkie miraculously transformed into a man of the cloth, one for whom all life and love were now one -- the only truly, totally transformed person I have ever met