Tag Archives: Denver Post

This is just so wrong.

In a Denver Post article entitled “Book lovers rejoice! How to coexist peacefully with your collection,” — by a woman who claims to be a “book lover” in search of “suggestions of how best to display [her] book collection” — we find the following appalling advice, passed along uncritically:

Amy Trager, a certified professional organizer based in Chicago, suggested flipping the books around so the pages are facing out, instead of the spine, to cut down on the visual clutter of the books’ different colors and sizes.

This caused in me a reaction of disgust and aversion not unlike my reaction to [the prospect of ever being exposed to] the brain-eating scene in a zombie movie.  The article goes on to explain, helpfully:

That only works, of course, if you don’t need to quickly access specific books, but it’s a great way to add texture and a neutral, toned-down feeling to your space, Trager said.

Like using your oven to store your shoes only works if you don’t need to bake.*  WTF?

Trager had another client who needed to keep her books in the living room but hated the way they looked. She created covers for each of her recessed shelves out of thin paperboard. When she wanted a particular book, she could pull the covers down, but when they were up, it looked like a solid colored wall, fading into the background.

The only answer here is to arrest this woman and force her to donate her books to the local public library.

I realize that, as a dog lover who bought a light-colored, linen-upholstered sofa and as the proud owner of a gray formica kitchen counter, I should not be giving design advice, but I feel very strongly that there is only one good way to display books: out and proud.

Image:  white bookshelves, filled with largely paperback books, in front of which are photos and mementos such as a pair of baseballs, a large piece of driftwood, an inlaid metal box, and an American flag.)


*This, on the other hand, is not totally out of the question as a design solution in our house.

You look great! …

… I recently told a friend who had lost weight.

“Not to be sizist about it, but you do, you look terrific.” She thanked me and talked about the time she had put in at the gym. And she did look great. But then, she looked great before she lost weight, too. And as you can tell from my smartass qualification, the exchange had me thinking — mid-exchange — about fat shaming and how to respect one person’s goal for her body while equally respecting other bodies of different shapes.  I’ve been thinking a lot about it since I stumbled on the a blog called Dances with Fat.  (Motto:  “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not size dependent.”)

It’s easy: just respect every body.  Everybody and every BODY.

This concept is at the core of the disability rights movement. That bodies of all shapes and functionalities — and the people inside them* — are equally deserving of respect. Hell, it’s at the core of the civil rights movement: that people, regardless of the color of their skin or shape of their privates, are equally deserving of respect.

But it seems like the last group of people it is respectable to out and out ridicule — besides lawyers — are fat people.  From Conan’s mocking of Kirstie Alley and a female Olympic weightlifter (who pwnd his sorry behind), to Jiminy Glick a/k/a Martin Short in a fat suit, we hear and apparently tolerate jokes about weight that we would never, in a million years, tolerate about, say, race or religion.**

And we’re supposed to “fight obesity.”  In one of many examples, the Denver Post reported in July

A 2011 state law requiring 30 minutes of physical activity a day for elementary students was supposed to mark a new tool in the fight against childhood obesity . . .

OK, that’s not a report, it’s a sentence fragment, but in that one fragment, you see the problem:  can we encourage physical exercise without “fighting obesity” — which is really asking us to fight against someone else’s body?  Why on earth is the shape of your body any of my business much less something I should fight against?

Health risks?  Everyone gets to take their own risks.  Health care costs?  If that’s the real worry — and not our judgmentalism —  then encourage healthy eating, not fat shaming.

Here I have to take issue with the First Lady — on whom I otherwise have a totally embarrassing girlcrush.  I’m very sorry she decided to label her cause “the epidemic of childhood obesity” rather than keeping the focus on kids eating a lot of stuff that’s really bad for them. You can be a healthy fat kid and you can also be a scrawny kid who eats only poptarts, peanut butter, and microwave pizzas. Though I doubt that either Lady Bird Johnson or Pat Nixon could have gotten me to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Moral:  Be happy with your body; don’t judge other people’s bodies; eat more fruits and vegetables!

For example, from a website about my favorite fruit, I <Heart> Coffee

Graphic featuring 3 red coffee beans that reads:  "Coffee is technically made out of FRUIT!  HECK YES!  That takes care of that food group."



*Assumes a duality that we could argue over — from a philosophical, religious, and/or identity perspective — for days, possibly millennia.

** Outside the fringes of the Republican party.



What’s the wheelchair equivalent of black face? (Guest post!)

[I’m very excited to present a guest post by Frances Lively.  She is responding to Joanne Ostrow’s August 9, 2012 column in the Denver Post.]

Dear Ms. Ostrow:

I have been a subscriber to The Denver Post for a very long time and always enjoy reading your column.  You are a good writer with an enjoyable style and an intelligent approach to television matters.

I wondered, however, about one segment of your “Good News, Bad News,” column in the August 9, 2013, issue, concerning diversity.  You are correct in noting that there are far too many white males and too few Hispanics featured in TV shows.  But how can you say it represents a positive step forward for diversity to have Blair Underwood — an able-bodied person, albeit a member of a minority group — portraying a person with a disability?  This casting makes the same mistake that “Glee” made in one of its teenaged characters and does not really advance inclusion of people with disabilities in our society.

I understand that the networks worry about ratings and would prefer to take their chances on a bankable star in the main role in a new show, but I would hope that you could at least point out this irony in your column rather than lauding the networks for this short-sighted casting.  The irony of your comments only increases with your follow-up regarding Michael J. Fox, who does, indeed, have the illness that is to be portrayed in his new show, but who is himself a very well-known, long-time white male star.  Perhaps your “good news” instead should have been that there are good actors available who happen to have disabilities and who would love the chance to be featured in a network television show.

Please do not file my message under the heading of “Can’t please all the people all of the time.”  Instead, give me credit for not lighting into you regarding your description of Underwood’s character as “a highly capable, sexually active paraplegic.”  Time does not permit a discussion of all of the problems with that statement.

I hope you will put my letter in the file for “How can we keep networks from being ignorant.”  I’m sure many of your readers would appreciate your using your position in our community as a critic to nudge the networks in a better direction.  Thanks very much for your time.


Frances Lively

Ms. Ostrow responded:

Thanks for writing.

Agreed, it would be better to have a disabled actor playing a disabled character. but at least the character exists.

I’ll return to this topic in the future and keep your comments in mind.

Meanwhile I hope if you watch “Ironside” you’ll see what I mean about his action-hero antics…



Another slam-dunk case for the Anti-Butthead Act

A bakery near Denver is refusing to make a cake for a same-sex couple.  While this is covered by the state’s anti-discrimination laws, it would also be an excellent case for my proposed Anti-Butthead Act.  According to the Denver Post,

The shop’s owner, . . .  [stated] that he has a strong stance toward the biblical view of marriage between one man and one woman.

I’m wondering if Mr. Phillips checks the Biblical-compliance status of his other customers.  Does he ask his one-man/one-woman couples if they’ve had sex before the marriage.  Awkward!   Adultery and coveting of neighborhood wives?  Also awkward!  Theft?  Does he do a criminal background check?  How about honoring mom and dad?  He needs to check on that, too, right?

This falls solidly within the black letter of the Anti-Butthead Act’s mandate: “Don’t be a Butthead.”  Or, in the words of the colleague from whose Facebook post I blatantly stole this idea, “Just make the fucking cake, you dope!”

Denver Post or The Onion: it’s hard to tell

One of my favorite Onion headlines is

Stereotypes Are a Real Time-Saver

I’m a busy guy. And, while I’d love to, I don’t have the time to get to know every person I encounter in the course of my daily life. So thank goodness I have a handy little device at my disposal that helps me know how to deal with just about anyone I come across: stereotypes. Yes, stereotypes are a real time-saver!

The Denver Post appears to have borrowed this crucial piece of wisdom to guide its journalistic standards.  In reporting the tragic death of Tom Clements, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, the Post added the following pieces of gratuitous, unsupported, speculation to its initial reports:

Clements’ death occurred a week after he denied a request by a Saudi national, Homaidan al-Turki, to serve out the remainder of a Colorado prison sentence in Saudi Arabia.

The article goes on for three paragraphs to describe the al-Turki case — citing no evidence outside the chronology to connect it to Clements’s murder — but does not offer any further gratuitous, unsupported, speculation concerning other individuals of, say, other races or affiliations.
Colorado corrections officials are investigating whether a paroled white-supremacist prison-gang member at the center of the investigation into the execution-style slaying of state prison chief Tom Clements was ordered by the gang to do a “hit,” a source told The Denver Post on Thursday.
No time, funding, or balls for real reporting?  Stereotypes are a real time-saver!
[Updated to note dates of DP articles.]

Headline: White Conservative Gadfly Goes to Jail; Dislikes Gravy

That’s how the headline should have read in the center, front, above-the-fold article in today’s Denver Post.  I wish I were kidding.

Douglas Bruce went to jail for 104 days and faced cruel and unusual punishment:  the rolls were cold and the gravy tasted funny.  And he’s gonna sue.

I don’t know who to be more furious with:  Bruce for being a selfish jerk, or the Denver Post for devoting so much space on its front page to a middle class white guy who goes to jail for just over three months and fails to receive gourmet-level cooking.

Denver Post, Mr. Bruce, I’d like you to meet Troy Anderson.  Mr. Anderson has been in solitary confinement at the Colorado State Penitentiary for 12 years.  In those 12 years, he has not been allowed to exercise outdoors.

I’d have loved to introduce you to Shawn Vigil but, sorry to say, he’s dead.  He committed suicide at the Denver County Jail in 2005 — after being locked up for a month in solitary without a sign language interpreter.  You see, Mr. Vigil was deaf.  He was in solitary with no way to communicate with his jailers.  Wonder what he thought of the gravy?  Perhaps the Denver Post will write a front page story about that.

Actually, the Denver Post did write about Mr. Vigil’s case when we filed.  This many words.   Though I don’t have the print edition, I’m confident it wasn’t on page one.  Former Post columnist Susan Greene* also wrote about it in more detail, but of course she’s not there any more.  Can’t have someone providing nuanced coverage of marginalized people.

Back in the day, Spy Magazine had an equation for how many column inches a story would get in the New York Times based primarily on the number of people killed and the distance of the event from Times Square.**  Although I’m not a math major, there has to be some sort of equation at work here:  R x C x L x G where R = race, C = class, L = length of sentence, and G = quality of gravy.  In the newspaper world, being white (r = 100) and middle class (c=100) will completely outweigh the length of your sentence and other conditions.


* Full disclosure:  Susie is a friend.  And also a kick-ass journalist.  The lack of her voice (and other recent departures) in the Post makes it not much more than People Magazine:  Denver Edition.

** Yes, of course it’s on the internet:  the November 1989 issue of Spy Magazine.    The equation is on page 56.  Check out page 55 for proof that Donald Trump has been annoying us for a long, long time.  And generally peruse the issue to take yourself back to a time when being a smart-ass, sarcastic, irony-appreciating young law grad felt fresh and new.  Or maybe that was just me.

[June 2:  Edited for accuracy.]