Thursday, December 31, 2009

Nonprofit Day

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 4:50 PM

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Street cars in the works

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 1:06 PM

Like to take a street car from downtown Colorado Springs to UCCS?

The Colorado Springs Streetcar Feasibility Study is exploring the relationship between streetcars and urban development in Colorado Springs by examining the feasibility of implementing a streetcar system for downtown Colorado Springs and surrounding areas along with the associated economic impact.

The feasibility study is being conducted by Mountain Metropolitan Transit. It will recommend alignments and operating and implementation plans, but will be focused on determining if such a system can be funded by the local community.

Two public meetings are planned:
When: Jan. 12, 2010, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Where: City Administration Building, 30 S. Nevada Ave.
Why: To continue the discussion of potential alignments and vehicle technologies.

When: Jan. 12, 2010, 7:30 to 9 p.m.
Where: City Administration Building, 30 S. Nevada Ave.
Why: To gather public input. Displays will be on exhibit from 7:30 to 8 p.m.; a Streetcar 101 presentation takes place from 8 to 9 p.m.

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The year in art, part 2

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Yesterday we talked about installations, today, sculpture, painting and trends. This is the Springs' art year in review, with my picks for some of the best shows of the year:

Best sculpture: Mikel Glass. Glass, a master of illusion, offered up what looked to be scraps of garbage in Mikel Glass: The Discarded, which opened last January at the Fine Arts Center. The groady pizza box and squashed cigarette package are actually painstakingly built sculptures, launching endless arguments of the waste we generate and the value of trash across the strata of society.

The most expensive pack of Marlboros ever
  • Mikel Glass
  • The most expensive pack of Marlboros ever

Well, he didn't have a real show this year, but for a guy who paints with barbeque sauce and marcara and then films it for millions on YouTube, that's new painting if I ever saw it, so kudos to Jason Baalman, my pick for the year's best in painiting. It may be a gimmick, but it's a good one.

Material from top: Cheetos, ketchup (with fries), lipstick
  • Jason Baalman
  • Material from top: Cheetos, ketchup (with fries), lipstick

And lastly, best trend: resin works. This heavy plastic material is difficult to work with but the results are always stunning, ultra-clear planes embedded with wisps of paint or found materials. Leading off was Regan Rosburg's with her April show at the Smokebrush Gallery, Breakaway. This solo exhibit of her resin art mixed painting with butterflies, grasses and ribbons for a decidedly dreamy, feminine effect.

Note the real cottonwood seeds
  • Regan Rosburg
  • Note the real cottonwood seeds

Monica Petty Aiello, whose show Monica Petty Aiello | Frozen Inferno, opened recently at the FAC as part of its NASA | Art: 50 Years of Exploration also utilizes resin in breathtaking ways. To create the cratered, splintered moonscape of Io she embeds paint, ink and yarn in layers of resin for detailed landscapes that give the appearance of distance and depth.

An artistic interpretation of Io, one of Jupiters moons
  • Monica Petty Aiello
  • An artistic interpretation of Io, one of Jupiter's moons

And no list would be complete without a nod to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's crowd-pleasing blockbuster, The Baroque World of Fernando Botero. You can't help but to harp on the excesses with Botero, his work is exquisitely colorful and round with a perfect dose of poignancy and sincerity. A show like this proves to be a celebration, not a mockery, of the lean times.

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Ten from ’09: Songs to remember, the final countdown

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 10:44 AM

By now, you’ve already run out to grab your physical copy of this week’s Indy. But just in case you got an early start on tomorrow’s hangover, here for your convenience is the final installment in our 2009 favorite song countdown.

Or course, you can view the whole list, along with a companion essay, in the full online version of the article itself. But why put yourself one more mouse-click closer to carpal tunnel syndrome?

So here it is, the final countdown…

Day One:
10. “Fantasy Man” by the Swell Season
9. “Sea Within a Sea” by the Horrors
8. “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” by Mayer Hawthorne
7. “When I Grow Up” by Fever Ray

Day Two:
6. “Treat Me Like Your Mother” by the Dead Weather
5. “Alcoholics Unanimous” by Art Brut
4. “Her Eyes are Underneath the Ground” by Antony & the Johnsons

Day Three:
3. “Jetstream” by Doves
2. “Panic Switch” by Silversun Pickups

And last, but least least:

1. “Pursuit of Happiness” by Kid Cudi featuring MGMT & Ratatat (G.O.O.D./Dream On/Universal)

When Kid Cudi showed up at the studio to work on this track, it was MGMT that had to break the news that Michael Jackson had died. Not the makings of a cheery session, one imagines, but definitely a productive one.

This track stands as one of the Midwestern rapper’s most melodic, and is also easily the best thing MGMT has been involved with apart from its own “Kids.” The song stays in your head as much as any track I can think of this year (including several I’d rather not have stuck in my head), and I’m surprised it hasn’t become a huge hit. Although it may yet.

In addition to the above Letterman appearance, there's also an official video for the song. It's actually kind of dull, I think, but definitely captures New Year's Eve as some of us will experience it:

And so, in the spirit of Kid Cudi, happy holidays to you all, and best wishes for the year to come.

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Up in smoke

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 9:36 AM

As Colorado Springs and El Paso County officials wrestle with how to regulate the medical marijuana industry, Breckenridge is welcoming pot smokers — not just those needing medical marijuana, but everyone — with open arms.

On Friday, Jan. 1, the high-profile ski town will enact an ordinance removing all penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia by adults 21 and older. The measure stems from a ballot initiative approved by 71 percent of voters in the November 2009 election.

"There is no sense in criminalizing a substance that is far less toxic, less addictive, and less problematic than alcohol," said Sensible Colorado Executive Director Brian Vicente, who coordinated the Breckenridge campaign. "This is a huge step toward more a more sensible policy, in which adults are no longer punished for making the rational, safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol."

Citizens throughout Colorado are now expressing interest in running similar initiative campaigns, and momentum is building toward a 2012 statewide ballot initiative that would regulate marijuana so that it is treated similarly to alcohol, according to the press release. A similar "tax and regulate" initiative in California qualified for the 2010 ballot earlier this month, and one in Nevada is headed toward the 2012 ballot.

"Colorado has emerged as a worldwide leader in the realm of common-sense marijuana policy reform," Vicente says. "It's only a matter of time before marijuana prohibition crumbles entirely."

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How do you feel about the past 10 years?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 8:34 AM

We knew that others would have their own thoughts about our cover-story package this week, "Flipping through the decade."

And it didn't take long for someone to catch us on a story that wasn't mentioned and should have been, because it stunned Colorado Springs at the time. That would be the tragic Castle West Apartments fire in January 2007, killing two people, injuring many more and leaving hundreds without a home in the middle of winter.

The credit for bringing up that one goes to Mike Lewis of KRDO NewsRadio, during our weekly segment talking about the latest Independent with him and Lee Richards on KRDO's Morning News, on 105.5-FM and 1240-AM.

If you read the decade in review, in the paper or online, and see something that you feel we should have included, feel free to respond here, underneath the version or by writing a letter to the editor.

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Just in case you thought it was safe to go out...

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 5:15 AM

Colorado Springs police will beef up their presence downtown on New Year's Eve in an effort to both make things safe and, it seems, call attention to the fact it hasn't been that safe in recent weeks.

From a CSPD press release:

A number of serious assaults, stabbings and shootings have been chronicled in the recent weeks that have a direct nexus to the DTA and liquor establishments in that area. Some examples of these criminal events that should be considered when making your News Years Eve plans are:

· On November 1 at 12:47AM, officers responded to a shooting in a parking lot at Tejon and Cimarron Street. Investigation revealed a fight had occurred inside Sodo Bar located at 527 S. Tejon St and spilled out onto the street where a male was shot twice. No arrests have been made.

· On November 14 at 1:57AM, officers responded to a large disturbance at 13 Pure located at 217 E. Pikes Peak Ave. Investigation revealed that a male received a fractured skull when he was allegedly assaulted by an employee of the bar. One arrest has been made in this incident.

· On November 29 at 2:04PM, officers responded to a large disturbance in the street in front of 13 Pure. Investigation revealed that 2 males had been stabbed during a fight that spilled into the street near Nevada Ave and Pikes Peak Avenue at bar closing. No arrests have been made.

· On December 6 at 2:02AM, officers responded to a shots fired call at 13 Pure. Investigation revealed that a male who had just left 13 Pure was driving though a parking lot near Weber St. and Pikes Peak Ave adjacent to the bar when shots were fired, and his vehicle was struck by a bullet that narrowly missed himself and the two (2) other occupants. No arrests have been made.

If that doesn't make you feel safe going out tonight, what will? Of course, owners of the club 13 Pure say it's troublemakers from outside their club who are to blame for all the violence.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Report: New CEO for USOC will be local

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2009 at 5:28 PM

For those who have been hoping that the U.S. Olympic Committee would hire a new CEO with local ties to Colorado Springs, there is positive news today.

According to a Chicago Tribune story by Phil Hersh, one of the longest-tenured reporters covering the Olympic movement, the USOC has narrowed its search for a new CEO to just two finalists — and both live in Colorado Springs.

They are Chuck Wielgus, 59, currently executive director of USA Swimming, one of the highest-profile and most successful national governing bodies inside the USOC; and Scott Blackmun, 52, a former USOC attorney and administrator (including interim CEO at one point) now working for the law firm of Holme Roberts and Owen.

Hersh's report says the USOC board of directors conducted interviews in mid-December with six finalists to replace Stephanie Streeter, the acting CEO since Jim Scherr was fired last March. Streeter initially planned to be a candidate for the permanent position, then withdrew.

The USOC board is expected to announce its decision on a new CEO by mid-January.

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The year in art, part 1

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2009 at 4:20 PM

It seems that tough times have a way of bringing out the best in us. Locally, this year's art show crop flourished despite taking a slam from the economy. With that in mind, a few of my favorite shows from this impressive year.

Best indoor installations: Scott Johnson's eponymous Smokebrush show featuring one of his gorgeous infinity boxes, and Eric Saline's paper wonderland at CC's Coburn Gallery. Both Johnson and Saline's works enveloped viewers inside spaces both beautiful and bewildering.

Scott Johnson infinity box
  • Scott Johnson
  • Scott Johnson infinity box

Best outdoor installation: Sean McGinnis's string sculpture in Green Mountain Falls. Like a rainbow spiderweb (sans creepiness) this globe of string hanging out in the trees is just fun. It's still there and definitely worth a short detour if you're up that way.

Sean McGinnis Crepuscule
  • Sean McGinnis
  • Sean McGinnis' "Crepuscule"

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Ten from ’09: Songs to remember, part 3

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2009 at 11:22 AM

Why, it seems like it was just yesterday that we began counting down these top ten favorite songs of 2009. But it was actually, you know, Monday. To refresh your memory, here’s a quick recap of previous installments, minus the accompanying videos and rationalizations:

Day One:
10. “Fantasy Man” by the Swell Season
9. “Sea Within a Sea” by the Horrors
8. “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” by Mayer Hawthorne
7. “When I Grow Up” by Fever Ray

Day Two:
6. “Treat Me Like Your Mother” by the Dead Weather
5. “Alcoholics Unanimous” by Art Brut
4. “Her Eyes are Underneath the Ground” by Antony & the Johnsons

And so the countdown continues. As we build up to tomorrow’s final, startling revelation, here are the runners-up ...

3. “Jetstream” by Doves (Astralwerks/Caroline)

With Kingdom of Rust, Doves nearly snagged their third No. 1 album in the U.K. — Lady GaGa won out by just a handful of sales — and this opening track suggests why they’ve had such staying power. It’s a push-pull of power and restraint, with orchestrated arrangements over an almost incongruously loping rhythm, like Aaron Copland brooding beneath a dejected English sky.
Jimi Goodwin’s vocals, meanwhile, are as elegantly plaintive as any since “There Goes the Fear.” Comparisons to Coldplay will no doubt continue, but if that’s what it takes to broaden their audience in the states, so be it. In fact, I kind of envy anyone hearing Doves for the first time. There’s not a better band out there right now.

2. “Panic Switch” by Silversun Pickups (Dangerbird)

When this song came out in March, I was left feeling much the same way I’d felt about Silversun Pickups’ first album: another great live band that can’t pull it off on record. A few listens later, though, and it was like when The Wizard of Oz goes from black and white to color: Nikki Monninger’s sinuous bassline, the driving repetition of the verses, all building up to that monster chorus (“When you see yourself in a crowded room / Do your fingers itch / Are you pistol-whipped ...”). Brian Aubert’s songs sound just like Smashing Pumpkins’ might if Billy Corgan were actually able to sing, and they can expect to be performing this one for a very long time to come.

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TIME selects alt-weekly food writer's book for year-end top 10 list

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2009 at 10:14 AM

I don't get jealous much. I have a small house, old car, squeaky bike, outdated computer and old-school television and I don't covet my friends' flashier versions of all of the above.

But one thing that I confess did make me jealous recently was a Best Food Writing 2008 feature titled "Mr. Wizard," by then Westword writer Jason Sheehan (who now writes for Seattle Weekly).

I should clarify — jealous in a good way. (Like, holy crap, I hope to write like that some day.) The story is about molecular gastronomy and is beautifully told, with sharp insight and a wry tone. Not to mention some hilarious edge:

... It is the best crab I have had in my life, the best English peas, the best shiitake mushrooms ever. It is an absolute wonder of science and cuisine, of processes I barely understand, of chemicals whose names I can't remember. ... After the crab, anything else would be a letdown. I think a blow job and a salad made of hundred-dollar bills would be a letdown.

Anyway, I mention all this because Sheehan's recent book, Cooking Dirty, was just named by TIME magazine as one of the top 10 nonfiction books of 2009.


I haven't read it yet, but based on what I've read by him thus far and this esteemed nod, I'm guessing it's a hell of a read.

Congrats to one of our own (an alt-weekly writer) for this honor.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Still a chance for Clark in GOP race?

Posted By on Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 8:57 PM

For a few days, "expert observers" who supposedly know what's going on inside the state's Republican ranks were certain they had a story: State Sen. Josh Penry, the Senate minority leader, was apparently certain to become fellow Grand Junction resident Scott McInnis' running mate for the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

But that meant Penry would be running for lieutenant governor. And in an interview with the Denver Post, Penry has shot down that speculation, calling it "absolutely untrue."

For his part, McInnis also said he was focusing more on developing his challenge against Gov. Bill Ritter instead of worrying about who might be lieutenant governor. McInnis also has a Republican primary opponent, Dan Maes of Evergreen.

But if Penry won't be running alongside McInnis, that will add fresh fuel to the rumors that El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark might become the No. 2 person on the McInnis ticket. Clark, by the way, already is the El Paso County campaign chair for McInnis.

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Bensberg doesn't treasure a primary fight

Posted By on Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 8:05 PM

Those hoping for some local political theater in the Republican Party this spring had their hopes dashed — or maybe just diminished — by an announcement Tuesday that Jim Bensberg, currently a county commissioner, will not seek the party’s nomination to become county treasurer in 2010.

Bensberg made his announcement at the El Paso County GOP headquarters to a small audience consisting of a few reporters, fellow Commissioner Amy Lathen, party Chair Kay Rendleman and county Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink, who is also seeking the treasurer seat. Bensberg said his real aspiration is to be elected to the state House in 2012, and that he did not want to put the party through a costly and divisive primary.

“I really believe my skills and background are better suited to serve in the Legislature,” Bensberg said, explaining he intends to seek the seat now held by Rep. Larry Liston, who would be prevented by term limits from running again in 2012.)

Bensberg filed paperwork Oct. 30 with the state to run for treasurer. He said Tuesday that he did not know at the time that Balink would be filing to run for the same seat days later. Both men are prevented by term limits from running for their current positions again.

Similar reasoning explains some other GOP shuffling: Treasurer Sandra Damron and Commissioner Wayne Williams, both term limited, are seeking the Republican nomination for county clerk and recorder, competing with election activist Charles Corry.

El Paso County Public Trustee Thomas Mowle, also seeking the clerk and recorder position, is currently the only Democrat seeking county-wide office.

While Bensberg’s new choice for elected office could have a higher profile, it’s definitely lower pay scale — the treasurer position pays $87,000 a year, compared to $30,000 a year for the state House, which is theoretically a part-time gig.

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Good will investment

Posted By on Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 12:16 PM

Yes, it's a blatant piece of self-promotion for a local law firm, but if you are stranded New Year's Eve and need a ride home, it probably won't hurt: Call Yellow Cab after 10 p.m. Dec. 31, and before 4 a.m. the next morning, tell them the ride is on McDivitt Law Firm, and it should be free (the number is 719/777-7777).

There is some fine print: You have to mention the program when you call, and the law firm will only pay to get you home from a bar or restaurant, not to shuttle you to another spot to continue drinking.

I had thought from a couple cheesy commercials I have seen that McDivitt specializes in DUI cases, which would cast this effort in a somewhat grotesque light (Don't drive drunk tonight, but call me when you do...). But their Web site indicates their practice is focused on personal injury cases, which at least leaves room for an argument based on altruism. And if it drums up business for the firm later, it's probably not a bad investment.

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Ten from '09: Songs to remember, part 2

Posted By on Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 12:14 PM

... in which we continue to count down our top ten favorite songs of 2009. Yesterday's action-packed installment unveiled Numbers 10-7. Today, it's 6, 5, 4 ....

No. Six: “Treat Me Like Your Mother” by the Dead Weather (WEA/Reprise)

When it comes to supergroups that feature Led Zeppelin riffs and moonlighting Queens of the Stone Age, I’ll take the Dead Weather over Them Crooked Vultures any day. “Treat Me Like Your Mother” may not be the most original track on the band’s Horehound debut (that title goes to “I Cut Like a Buffalo”), but it’s probably the most immediate and effective, with a merciless rock groove, Jack White and Alison Mosshart’s combative crooning, and twisted lyrics (“You blink when you breathe / And you breathe when you lie / You blink when you lie”) worthy of R.D. Laing’s Knots.

No. Five: “Alcoholics Unanimous” by Art Brut (Downtown)

It’s easy to imagine Art Brut writing one of the year’s funniest songs, but this is also one of the year’s best, assuming you favor intoxicatingly punchy recordings about hangover support groups. (And, really, why wouldn’t you?) Pixies main man Frank Black is at the production helm for 3 ½ minutes of punky guitar riffs supporting frontman Eddie Argos’ boisterous morning-after rationalizations. Anthemic, really.

No. Four: “Her Eyes are Underneath the Ground” by Antony & the Johnsons (Secretly Canadian)

With quavering vocals and industrial-strength melancholy, Antony Hegarty’s poetic oeuvre is even more Poe-faced than that of his mentor, Lou Reed. So while he’s not much help when it comes to delivering the feel-good hit of the summer, this chamber pop masterpiece makes perfectly haunting accompaniment to life’s more reflective moments. The brooding minor-key string arrangements complement a vocal that calls to mind Jeff Buckley when he was reaching for the furthest stars, and it makes me grateful that one of them is still around to do it.

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