Up in flames
I have just finished reading the article "Artless" in the May 25 edition, about censorship in the local Young People's Art Exhibit. It brought to mind the pictures of Gestapo troopers throwing books on the bonfires in the 1930s Germany and the movie Fahrenheit 451.
It seems that 1984 took 22 years to get to Colorado Springs, but for District 11, it finally made it. Have they no shame?
The blatant censorship of art because of perceived innuendo is solely in the eye of the interpreter. That's why we have separation of church and state, and constitutional laws regarding freedom of expression.
When you let the religious radical theologs control you, it's a long, slippery slope into suppression of minorities, science and every freedom we hold. They abhor freedom, they are after total religious control, and the more people pander and acquiesce to them, the more control they grab.
We must vehemently demand that everyone stand up to these people, because democracy and freedom are at stake. They are just beginning, and it is a fearful time for education, science, history, medicine, enlightenment, acceptance, understanding and all other things.
Dr. Bob Brogna
Merritt Island, Fla.
As a Libertarian, I agree with everyone who has voiced opposition to censoring art in District 11 over the past three weeks.
I find it highly hypocritical of those same people, though, to say that the religious right is forcing conservative views (of art) on students and the community while simultaneously supporting a K-12 educational system that promotes progressive views.
Expect more such confrontations, since most conservative parents cannot afford to pay the educational tax and private/religious school tuition but demand to be involved in their child's education. If progressives can't tolerate total diversity within their educational midst, then support a voucher system and "let those people go" (pun intended)!
Personally, I agree with most progressive views, at least conceptually. More importantly, though, I believe that if someone pays into the educational budget, then they should be allowed to spend their share wherever they like. That's only fair. Saying that tax dollars spent at private schools will create a brain drain from "public" schools, even if true, is irrelevant. Saying that tax dollars spent at religious schools violates the separation of church and state is rubbish. Codifying such bans into the state constitution was an act of civil marginalization.
The primary issue is academics. As long as students at any school can pass the required state-sanctioned exams, then that school is performing its job (by state standards). If there is extra time for indoctrination (of any type), then that's an issue between parents and the school.
So, do I believe in vouchers? Hell, no! But a free market in education doesn't look too promising in the near term. At least vouchers return a fair degree of control over a child's education to its rightful owner: that child's parents.
The poison pill
I have come to realize that some of the members of District 11's school board need to go to summer school for a remedial mathematics course.
This month they decided to terminate early the superintendent's contract, although there was a $450,000 poison-pill buyout clause in the event of a premature termination. It was without question a politically driven (and motivated) decision.
Last November, the same District 11 school board settled a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of Palmer High School students that reportedly cost a minimum of $340,000.
Last month, the administration instituted a draconian measure to force its employees and dependents to use an ineffective and unresponsive mail-order pharmacy, stating that it will save the district an estimated $350,000 even though they admitted only 25 percent of the covered members use the supposedly cheaper service. Essentially the projected, and probably exaggerated, savings will be more than offset by these unanticipated direct costs.
This is probably just the tip of the iceberg. Not just the usual human errors or the normal wastes that occur because District 11 is a large organization those are easy targets.
But what is the unaccountable opportunity costs by this school board, with its months of partisan bickering, personal insults and childish behavior.
Ironically, this kind of bickering would not be accepted in any classroom (public or private), nor would the cavalier use of our public monies simply because of partisan, prejudicial belief systems. It's almost as if some members of the board are actively gutting the system and every opportunity.
Board members Eric Christen and Craig Cox like to constantly point their righteous fingers about how the administration needs to be run more efficiently. But if this was a publicly held corporation I would bringing forward a shareholder suit for the fiscal malfeasance, specifically regarding the lawsuit and early termination of a superintendent without cause.
Dog and pony show
Concerning your "local music issue" that ran last week featuring my comments about the prevalence of cover bands in Colorado Springs, I was rather disappointed to discover that the entire issue would consist of two out-of-town acts, myself and two venues.
I was expecting a larger and more thorough examination of all the factors that seem to converge in a town with a struggling arts and original music scene. You could have talked to a club owner, Jag Panzer, KRCC, John Alex Mason, Andy Clifton, Joe Uveges, Head Full of Zombies, and the list goes on and on.
Instead, I get "dug up" to rehash the gory glory days of my old band, The Autono, and my perennial and (accurate) dim view of the local music scene, filtered in such a way to make me appear that I dislike playing covers with The Broadcasters and the audiences who come to see us.
I have made peace with playing in a cover band, and the state of original music in Colorado Springs. I don't swing my guitar at anyone's head anymore for screaming "Freebird," nor do I tell people to "stick a quarter up my ass" on a regular basis. I leave my amp at the usual blistering volume it's always set at.
I certainly did those things in my days in The Autono out of anger and frustration, but that was long ago, so I would appreciate that distinction being made and passed along to readers who might fear for their lives if they want to make a song request out in a club some night.
I am thankful to have had such a long adventure in music and grateful to the people who made it possible, especially my long-suffering wife. The article certainly has drawn the ire of some local cover bands toward me who insist that I am "out of touch," grumpy and overly negative towards what they feel is a decent enough musical environment. Perhaps you should have interviewed them as well to provide an alternative view, since I do not speak for them.
Checking the pulse
I was really excited when I saw the Indy was featuring local music in its latest issue, as I have been an avid supporter of the scene for over 15 years. When I started reading, disappointment took over.
For as long as I can remember, people have complained about how there is no Colorado Springs music scene.I readily admit that there is a lack of venues.
But for a town with only one real club that supports live, original music (The Black Sheep), we are producing something creatively unlike anything else I have seen in Colorado Springs.There is an invasion of experimental and interesting bands Abracastabya, The Great Redneck Hope, Harrison Bergeron, Eyes Caught Fire, Malakai and Chebedda, just to name a few.Each of these groups steps outside the conventional boundaries to create something challenging and entertaining for the listener. Isn't that what music is supposed to be about?
The best music has always been underground. That's what makes it so special it wasn't just presented to you on some Top 40 radio station designed for mass appeal. You have to seek it out, and when you find it, it is something remarkable, memorable and surprising.
The problem is not with the scene. It is that people would rather pay $9 for a drink to be groped and degraded at some club downtown, and have the exact same experience weekend after weekend.
The problem is that "supporting the scene" means going to see your friend's band once every six months. Why not take a chance on a band you've never seen? What's wrong with just going to check out some live music that you know nothing about? You might just discover your new favorite local band, and at the very least, you'll experience something besides the bump-and-grind meat market.
Creativity abounds, and it needs your support!If you think the scene is dead, it's because you're not on it.
Hard to be hip
Once again, the Independent reveals its phantasmagorically myopic view of musical life in Colorado Springs, marginalizing both the Independent and all local musicians whodo anything other than"bang and strum."
While I agree that a more vibrant scene for rock, hip-hop, and folk music would be good for our little city, I see no reason to completely ignore our admirable classical music scene.
Colorado Springs has one of the finest professional orchestras in the country. In the aftermath of 9/11, when the sudden economic downturn caught many American orchestras by surprise and a shocking number of them went bankrupt, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic rose from the ashes and established a full concert season faster than any other orchestra in the country, due to the emphatic support of local classical music lovers.
Meanwhile, the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs continues to expand its season and audience, while Colorado College presents one of the finest music festivals every summer and well-attended chamber music concerts throughout the year.
The Colorado Springs Chorale, Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble, and Soli Deo Gloria present excellent choral performances, and Opera Theatre of the Rockies works magic with a tiny budget to please opera fans. House concerts of folk music get ample coverage in the Indy, while the Hausmusik ensemble scarcely gets a mention.
Even our youth ensembles, like the Young Concert Artists of Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs Youth Symphony, Colorado Springs Children's Chorale, and the students of the Colorado Springs Conservatory, all present movingconcerts to large, enthusiastic audiences.
In short, the people of Colorado Springs, in sheer number, have made classical music a strong economic presence.
There is so much to appreciate about the Independent.It's unfortunate the Indy struggles so hard to be hip that it sometimes fails to be relevant.
Whatever America does about the Mexican border, we need to confess that we helped create the misery that drives immigrants to cross a vast desert carrying only twojugs of water.
No political party wants to tell the truth, which is that free trade is a metaphor for slavery. Read page 185 in Charles Fishman's The Wal-Mart Effect. America is living well, for the time being, precisely because bosses in foreign factories slap and beat their workers who, drained by their 98-hour work week, fall behind production.
Meantime, we continue to enjoy the present security of knowing we can find The Low Price, Always.