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Body-art advice

I talked to Matthew Schniper at great length for his article ("Flesh tones," cover story, July 5). I hoped to persuade him to make it center around my personal crusade, the new regulations passed by the El Paso County Board of Health. I personally proposed many of the new changes.

The most disheartening part of this process was how few members of the local industry were actually present at the meetings to provide input and support. However, as I have been in this industry for almost 15 years, I was not surprised.

It seems that over the years, whenever there are talks of regulations or actually Board of Health meetings, I see the same people.

I am thankful for them and their input. I am also so very thankful for the hard work of our inspectors and Board of Health members. Our regulations have come a long way.

I just want to say that I don't think any of us are vying for Uncle Bud's position [as local industry leader]. I think we are all trying to work together to continue in the professional direction he was leading us.

Uncle Bud's shoes were too big for any of us to fill.

There are lots of shops out there that are just there to make a quick buck. Make sure everything is in sterile packages and opened in front of you! Also, according to the new regulations, all jewelry used to pierce must be in a sterile package, not just sitting in a display case.

All in all, I think Matthew did a pretty good job. And quite frankly, I think Jack D'Amore's quote pretty much sums it up: "A good tattoo ain't cheap, and a cheap tattoo ain't good." That goes for piercings, too!

Marcea Flowers

Holey Rollers LLC

Colorado Springs

Big blue apology

I am hoping we can add a little clarity to the position of the Pikes Peak Blues Community and its involvement with the person cleverly referred as "Faux Hawk" ("Fish story," cover story, June 28). Our apology was not seen by the broader community:

Pikes Peak Blues Community apologizes to David "Hawk" Wolinski and attendees of the Business of Music Seminar on April 29.

We have learned that the person who presented himself as Hawk, multi-Grammy Award winner, was in fact NOT a Grammy Award winner. This person represented himself as having been the producer of Grammy winner Chaka Khan, and Grammy winner for the soundtrack of Beverly Hills Cop. This was a misrepresentation.

Prior to our April 29 event, we attempted to verify the authenticity of this person's claims by searching the Web. (This is why the name David "Hawk" Wolinski appeared on our program; this was the name cited on the Grammy Web page with these credits.) There is an investigation currently underway concerning this misrepresentation.

A group of extremely talented musicians was brought together by this person during the weeks prior to his involvement in the April 29 program to form a new powerhouse blues band, Storm Warning. This band performed a great showcase in spite of the fact that it had only recently learned of this person's misrepresentation. This person does have a great ear for talent, and our fervent hope is that the Storm Warning project will continue to take this town by storm.

In the future, Pikes Peak Blues Community will insist on verifiable identification for anyone we present at our events.

We have communicated with David "Hawk" Wolinski concerning this matter, and he has graciously offered to participate in future programs of the PPBC. Nothing is scheduled yet, but we will keep you informed.

Carrie Goodman, president

Pikes Peak Blues Community

Colorado Springs

SiCKO shock

I was sickened by SiCKO, but it was the best documentary I've ever seen. I already knew firsthand about insurance and pharmaceutical fraud, since I have to pay out of pocket for most of my medical care even though I have Medicare. I'm also aware of how low the U.S. is on the totem pole globally regarding health care, but I was shocked to learn about the high rate of infant birth fatalities, surpassing that of Third World countries.

I was quite shocked by a few of the stories, especially that of the black woman who was turned away from two hospitals that could have saved her dying little girl. Another fact I found interesting is that people in countries with free universal health care are healthier and live longer than we do.

When are we going to stop being apathetic wimps and demand health care for all of us? I hope that Michael Moore's movie will get this country motivated. I've never been to a movie that moved people to cry, cheer, clap and discuss in groups afterward. It's time for a revolution, folks!

Sharlene White

Santa Fe, N.M.

No conspiracy

I guess one can find another "vast, right-wing conspiracy" anywhere if he tries hard enough, even in our local theaters.

I hope Jeff Maly ("Why no SiCKO?" Letters, July 5) has recovered from his silly and paranoid speculations about whether SiCKO had been banned from our fair city, since the film is currently playing at Tinseltown.

If it stands to make money, it will play. In any case, Kimball's always picks up the slack for independent films. Hopefully, Mr. Maly can calm down now until he perceives the next threat to our liberty and pursuit of whatever.

Geraldine Russell

Colorado Springs

Put away the M-80s

I would like to put a new perspective on setting off illegal fireworks. I am a combat veteran, and I know many combat veterans who feel the same way. We don't like fireworks because they remind us of firefights that we would rather forget. The "snap" or "pop" sound of fireworks is remarkably similar to the sound a bullet makes when it misses you.

When someone shoots at you, you hear two sounds. The first is the bullet passing by you, which breaks the sound barrier and makes that snapping sound. The second sound you hear is the report from the weapon that fired the bullet.

Why? The bullet is traveling at nearly twice the speed of sound, while the report is traveling at the speed of sound.

So when many combat vets hear those obnoxious little firecrackers go off, it elicits a startle response far more acute than that experienced by the average person. That response creates fear in the mind and adrenaline in the blood. The fear is almost immediately converted into anger, and the adrenaline has already prepared the body for "fight or flight."

The vet is left in a very uncomfortable state, mentally and physically. No one to shoot, no one to beat up usually. In rare cases, vets have actually gone looking for the perps and beaten the hell out of them, or even shot them. This is not an appropriate response. But we are not talking about a rational mind that acts appropriately. We are talking about a tortured mind that has snapped.

Please don't shoot off illegal fireworks. Respect the vets who have gone to fight in one of these idiotic wars this country has started over the past 40 years and find some quiet way to express your inadequacies. Thank you.

David Loucks

Manitou Springs

'Homeless bashing'

In regard to your paid advertisement from the respectable Citizens Project, outlining HR Bill 1592, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act:

Let's put aside for just a moment that religious conservatives feel that their right to hate and propagate misinformation will be hindered by the passage of this bill. They can spew and profit from any and all kinds of discrimination or prejudice.

What I find interesting is the limited scope of this bill. I would like to see those currently without homes equally protected on the federal level. "Homeless bashing" has become a new, sick trend and is just as prevalent. I see no mention of offering protection to what is truly one of the most vulnerable segments of our society.

Why must we stop offering protection at sexual identity? Surely no respectable Christian would oppose keeping the downtrodden safe from the malice of those who seek to do them harm.

Yet, some religious conservatives find a bully pulpit the best place to hide. Let's get back to the fact that proselytizing could be behind a portion of the 14.2 percent of the 7,163 documented hate crimes in the U.S. in 2005. HR 1592 specifically allows kindly spoken hypocrisy and hatred to remain. In fact, it becomes a matter of semantics when speech that "is virulent hate messages crafted solely to incite violence against the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community" can also fall under the First Amendment, due to one's deeply held religious beliefs. Huh?

I would, of course, like to see this bill passed. I have lived too long in a world where people who are good and truly righteous are denied basic protections. I would also like to see the homeless protected. PerhapsI am unaware that somewhere in Washington, the same people who just gave themselves another pay increase give two shits about the homeless.

Jessica Lindberg

Colorado Springs

Neutral stand

From its beginnings, the Internet has leveled the playing field for all comers. Everyday people can have their voices heard by millions of people.

Net neutrality is a technical concept that protects this essential online freedom. It's basically the First Amendment for the Internet allowing Web users to go where they want and do what they please online. Net neutrality is why the Internet has become a revolutionary force for democracy, economic innovation and new ideas.

Large cable and telephone are spending tens of millions to pressure Congress to pass a bill sponsored by Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, which kills net neutrality and allows companies to control which Web sites get priority and which ones are left behind.

In the last six months, a grassroots army of Americans of every political stripe has banded together to stop these massive phone and cable companies from ramming through Stevens' predatory legislation. More than 1 million Americans have joined the coalition and written their representatives.

It's incumbent upon Congress to heed the will of the public. Congress cannot pass telecommunications legislation without enforceable net neutrality protections.

The Internet is about to be bought and sold on the open market by large corporations who think because they can hand money over to politicians and the FCC, they can extort people's freedoms of speech and expression.

Congress must preserve a free and open Internet. Please vote for enforceable network neutrality and keep tollbooths, gatekeepers and discrimination off my Internet.

By allowing ISPs and corporations to charge for what sites you can go to, and decide what sites you can go to, you allow them to decide what people see, hear, read and more. And they will. It's already in the drafts of their plans they've announced. Not hidden at all.

Keith Drone

Colorado Springs

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