Wednesday, July 25, 2012

UPDATE: Now exploding ...

Posted By on Wed, Jul 25, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Menschen has begun a new round of fundraising in order to aid in upcoming promotional costs.

Visit the film's new online store for products like shirts, a hoodie, posters and stickers.

Here's a brief press release that explains, in part, how new funds will be used:
MenschenStoreRelease.pdf

Also, check out this new behind-the-scenes video:

Making of MENSCHEN "Baptism in Fire" from Anastasia Cummings on Vimeo.

And the latest trailer:

MENSCHEN Trailer - Bande-Annonce from Anastasia Cummings on Vimeo.


——- ORIGINAL POST, TUESDAY, MAY 15, 11:44 A.M. ——-

News from the filmmaking front-line, Tuesday, May 15: "Filming began Saturday, May 12, near Greeley and continued today in Colorado Springs. We will be filming around the state until June 1."

OK, that's not nearly as exciting to read as taking a photo tour of Menschen's Facebook page and seeing big explosions in the production stills.

You know, stuff like this:

Menschen soldiers explosion
  • Mark Mook
  • It's cameras vs. guns on the Menschen movie set.

If you're new to the film, we've been tracking it through its casting and fundraising phases, and now into the good stuff — the actual production.

Filmmaker Sarah Lotfi raised $5,585 through her Indiegogo campaign and that was apparently enough to get going, though a link on the film's home page still seeks tax-deductible donations toward a $30,000 goal to help pay for pyrotechnics, ammunition blanks, crew meals and much more.

Take another look at the authentic costuming and equipping of the actors:

Menschen soldiers
  • Alexis Evelyn
  • With a tight production schedule, there's little time to sit around on the Menschen set.

Considering how our community and many outsiders rallied to help raise $70,151 for Creep! to move forward, it's certainly not unrealistic to think we could dig a little deeper to make sure Menschen gets to the festival circuit on time.

I know one person who'd really be thankful:

Sarah Lotfi director filmmaker
  • Alexis Evelyn
  • Sarah Lotfi on set, probably trying to be heard over the gunfire and pyrotechnics.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

UPDATE: Big changes at Cottonwood

Posted By on Thu, Jul 19, 2012 at 7:38 AM

According to a Colorado Springs Business Journal article published today, Cottonwood has found its new executive director in Jon Khoury, a Colorado College alum who is returning to the Springs from the Northeast for the position. He begins in August.

Read the article here.

——- ORIGINAL POST, THURSDAY, 2:49 P.M. ——-

The new Cottonwood on Tejon

If you've walked Tejon Street recently, you might have noticed that Cottonwood on Tejon, an offshoot of the Cottonwood Center for the Arts, has moved to 214½ N. Tejon St. in the old LuLu location.

The team has spent the past week moving the store from its former location down the street, which had been gifted to Cottonwood by donors who wished to remain anonymous. Cottonwood stayed there 18 months, but now the space has been leased to a paying renter, forcing the satellite gallery to vacate. However, another anonymous donor stepped in and gifted the 214½ storefront to Cottonwood.

“It was never an understanding that we would find another place," says Cottonwood executive director Sandy Murphy. "We were just very lucky.”

Friday night brings the first part of a grand opening weekend. A reception will run from 5 to 8 p.m. and feature artist meet-and-greets, refreshments, live music, gifts and giveaways.

Murphy says the artists who volunteer and show in the shop have made some valuable sales during this rough economy. She remains hopeful for growth in the new location.

“The economy is changing slightly, so anything is possible. If it turns out to be a better retail location for us and we can grow our art sales through it, who knows? The new [executive director] might decide to make it a dedicated art space that is a Cottonwood space.”

About the new ED? Murphy has stepped down from that position for which she volunteered 18 months ago. Murphy was an interim ED following Kay Jeansonne's leave, then approved by the board as a permanent head of the organization.

“I really feel that Cottonwood has had immense growth in the last 18 months, and I feel like it’s time for someone else to grow it to the next level.”

Murphy officially stepped down April 20, but remains ED until the board finds a replacement. A metalsmith and jeweler, Murphy will keep her studio at Cottonwood, and teach classes there, but also plans to travel and give jewelry workshops on the road.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

UPDATE: B is for Bourbon, and Black Bear

Posted By on Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 5:36 PM

Sorry, but I just have to say it: Pappy Van Winkle just ain't all that.

Sacrilege, I know.

Pappy Van Winkle bourbon Black Bear
  • Matthew Schniper
  • It's one of the most celebrated bourbons around, but it didn't unseat my favorites. Try a flight for yourself to find your own top bourbon.

I'm well aware that it's like every chef's favorite bourbon and widely considered the best in the world. (Or we may as well say "in the U.S." since we're the only country capable by bourbon laws of producing the great liquid.)

And that the stuff commands ridiculous prices on eBay and the like. But I dare say that there's probably a lot of hype involved in the praise.

Don't get me entirely wrong: It's definitely an amazing bourbon, and up there in the top 10 easily.

But while at the Black Bear last night to judge the Paragon Culinary School finals, I sampled some new favorites during another small bourbon tasting with chef Victor Matthews and crew.

In the last couple of weeks, the bottle layout of the Black Bear's bar has already shifted significantly. As somewhat of a game, but more of an obsession, Matthews continues to place the bottles in order of least amazing to most mind-blowing across the bar's back.

I'd say "best to worst," but Matthews argues that there's really no bad bottle on the bar, just some that don't shine quite as bright as others when it comes to the multiple rounds of tastings that he and his culinary students and colleagues have happily subjected themselves to while creating the Bear's new bourbon bar.

I'm still calling the Maker's 46 my favorite, especially for its relatively low price point. And we used it last night as our baseline bourbon from which to spring off to the new samples — the one to beat.

But I sampled five other absolute bad-ass bourbons that I could totally respect being someone else's favorites — and depending on the mood of a particular moment, I could see them being mine, perhaps.

Before I briefly unpack them, I'll say that what someone happens to be searching for in a particular moment seems to be the key to choosing a favorite or best bourbon. It's totally subjective and subject to constant change.

The reason the Bear's bar keeps changing is that on given days, the staff have gone ga-ga over a particular bottle for some reason and bumped it up in position.

Maybe it's the rounder sweetness of one of the wheat-rich labels versus the spicy notes of rye-heavy bourbon.

As always, drink what you like, while the rest of us geek-out over the subtle nuances of pricey bourbons.

Without further ado, if you head to the Black Bear for a tasting or purchase your own bottles elsewhere, a gem you should seek out is the Barrel Finished Parker’s Heritage Collection 10-year, which sees an additional six months inside cognac casks.

Black Bear Victor Matthews bourbon
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Victor Matthews consults The Bourbon Book that he organized for the Black Bear. Lined up is our baseline favorite, Maker's 46, being tasted against 12- and 18-year old bourbons from Jefferson's Reserve and Elijah Craig.

It's a little hot up front at 100 proof, but very smooth thereafter, unfolding in complexity much like the Maker's 46, with all kinds of fun flavors coming out and lingering. I definitely got the syrup element mentioned on this blog.

Next up, I'd tried both the Elijah Craig 12-year and Jefferson's Reserve Very Old at my prior tasting, but here I sampled them again next to the Elijah Craig 18-year and Jefferson's Presidential Select 18-year.

Both are powerhouses and the Jefferson's Presidential is a particular stunner. It's a touch softer at 94 proof as as the website says, sports a noticeable toffee edge.

A sticker on the Black Bear's bottle numbered this batch number 30 and bottle number 1,831, noting that it was "distilled from wheat in the fall of 1991."

Think about all that time gone by as you sip and soak in the goodness.

Side note: To Carlos who commented that I try the W.L. Weller 107 Antique, I did so and rather enjoyed it, but it didn't make my top 10. Truly, to each his own, though.

Also new to the Black Bear since my last visit is a bourbon flight menu, broken into five categories: wheated, high-rye, rye vs. wheat, best of the best, and Colorado bourbon. Click the photo below for a look at the players.

——- ORIGINAL POST, 10:13 A.M., TUESDAY, MAY 29 ——-

I'm 14 samples in before I find my new favorite bourbon: Maker's 46.

It's somewhat scotch-y, peaty and spicy up front, nicely rounded and caramel-y too, and a sip just lingers and lingers and lingers on the palate, offering an unparalleled complexity.

Chef Victor Matthews of the Black Bear restaurant calls it "the best deal in all of bourbon," and that's after recently finishing the compilation of The Bourbon Book, meant to be a guide and training manual for the restaurant, Paragon Culinary School and the upcoming Southern Hospitality restaurant chain we first told you about here a couple weeks ago.

Matthews, recently profiled in the Nation's Restaurant News, invited me to a bourbon sampling at the Black Bear last Friday night, along with some of his former students.

This is ahead of the grand opening of his new bourbon bar at the Green Mountain Falls eatery (expected within a couple of weeks), in which he'll feature 42 bourbons (and counting), plus 20 bourbon-based cocktails in what he calls a "Southern-style gastro pub" with Cajun and Southern appetizers accompanying the hooch.

Black Bear Bourbon Bar Green Mountain Falls

Here's an early look at the tentative bourbon menu, as well as other weekly specials at the restaurant, such as "barbecue and bourbon Sundays."
BBR_Menu_Back_2012.pdf
BBR_Menu_Front_2012.pdf

My tasting, which culminated in a total of 18 samples (most just enough of a splash to taste, so as to stay clear-minded), started with a quick bourbon history provided by Matthews, followed by the definitions of everything from small-batch and single-barrel to bourbon itself (as it differs from other whiskey products).

In brief: Bourbon is comprised of at least 51 percent corn; is aged in new, charred white-oak barrels; has certain proofing restrictions as to how it goes into the barrel and bottle; and is American. The whole argument about it having to come from Kentucky is often misunderstood, though the state continues to produce the majority of the drink.

All the info is in copies of The Bourbon Book which Matthews will keep atop the bar at the Black Bear for customers to peruse.

Victor Matthews Black Bear Green Mountain Falls
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Matthews sits behind the newly renovated Black Bear bar, now adorned by some 40 or more bourbon bottles.

Some of the history highlights include how the Whiskey Rebellion, Prohibition and the second World War factored into bourbon's development, destruction and eventual rebirth (thanks in part, cites Matthews, to Frank Sinatra's affinity for Jack Daniel's).

I'd call our tasting progressive in nature as we started out with some of the wider-known bourbons like Jim Beam, Knob Creek and Jack Daniels, before moving to pricier and more exclusive bottles like Elijah Craig 12 year and Willett Bourbon Whiskey.

We discussed the nature of charcoal filtration, which lends to smoothness but arguably strips many of the complexities out of the flavor. It gets at why some folks (like me) appreciate a strong bourbon versus a smooth Tennessee whiskey.

We also discussed the influence of the other 49 percent of bourbon's ingredients, being rye, barley and, as a distinguishing feature of many bourbons, wheat. The wheat produces a sweeter note generally, hence the popularity of the standard Maker's Mark bottle.

We were punched in the face with the awesomeness that is Booker's and Blanton's bourbons, argued by many to each be the best bourbon in the world.

And Matthews concluded our session by making a round of mint juleps with Maker's 46, pureed fresh mint and agave nectar. Undoubtedly, it was the best mint julep I've ever had, certainly worth the drive to the Bear for a summer sampling.

Bourbon Black Bear Green Mountain Falls
  • Matthew Schniper
  • This handful of bottles is among the highest-ranked by chef Matthews and his cohorts, as well as many in other tasting arenas.

Unless you're up for the drive to Denver's Whiskey Bar or, come fall or early winter, Southern Hospitality, the Black Bear is likely your best bet for the widest bourbon selection to be found in the area.

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Thursday, May 31, 2012

More music videos from Kevin Ihle

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 7:32 PM

Alela Diane at the MeadowGrass music festival
Kevin Ihle, the local photographer and videographer who lensed Mike Clark's viral bike-ride video for "Hey Daisy," is continuing his mission to chronicle some of the best music here in town.

And to prove it, here are a few of his most recent videos, including clips of Grant Sabin and Alela Diane performing in the woods of Black Forest during MeadowGrass weekend, as well as the Flumps playing on what looks to be the same rooftop we wrote about here last week.

You can view them all below, along with last September's "Hey Daisy" video, which is now up to 11,359 views.

Grant Sabin, "Rice Farm Head"

Alela Diane, "Colorado Blue"

Flumps, "Just as Well"

Mike Clark, "Hey Daisy"

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A quick look at Brian Jones, animal strangler

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 5:03 PM

As reported by the Gazette's Lance Benzel, Brian Jones is a 28-year-old soldier "charged in court Thursday with animal cruelty after telling authorities that he strangles dogs to quell homicidal urges, court records show."

He's accused of killing a rat terrier and a black Labrador in an attempt to quell voices coming from his basement. A look at what is assumedly his Facebook page reveals a man struggling with personal demons, as well as with leaving his fellow soldiers. Here's some of his posts, starting with being released from prison.

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Colorado College approves film and new media major

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 4:15 PM

Earlier this month we reported on Colorado College's push for a new film and new media major as part of "How to succeed in film," a story on the success of CC alums in Hollywood.

Filmmaker Marc Webb and Professor Barry Sarchett from Colorado College
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Marc Webb (right) is just one of the many CC alums making it big in film.

CC has announced approval of the major, in addition to a new minor in global health, stating in a release that "The film and new media studies major is a response to student interest, expertise, and demand. It also is a result of the Cornerstone Arts Initiative, which stresses interdisciplinary teaching of the arts, using technology to facilitate collaboration between departments."

The global health minor "is a result of a growing student movement for global health equity and social justice, which has sparked a desire to understand complex issues of health inequality. The minor encompasses interests of students from a wide range of departments, including biology, political science, economics, sociology, and anthropology."

According to spokesperson Leslie Weddell, both the major and minor will go into effect at the start of the fall semester.

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Black tea party group attracts a crowd

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 4:13 PM

Rocky-Mtn_Venn-Graphic-Patriot-3.jpg
  • RMBTP

This Saturday, the Rocky Mountain Black Tea Party is throwing a political extravaganza.

While enjoying the company of conservative big-wigs Tom Tancredo and Ken Buck, the tea partiers will be vetting local Republican candidates.

The primary is coming up June 26, and there are a number of districts up for grabs.

According to the press release, every Republican in a local state race, as well as both candidates for the 5th Congressional District, were invited to speak at the upcoming event.

The list of who and won't be there:

Robert Blaha, U.S. House of Representatives - ACCEPTED
Owen Hill, Colorado State Senate - ACCEPTED
Marsha Looper, Colorado State House - ACCEPTED
Lois Landgraf, Colorado State House - ACCEPTED*
Albert Sweet, Colorado State House - ACCEPTED
Doug Lamborn, U.S. House of Representatives - DECLINED
Larry Liston, Colorado State Senate - DECLINED
Amy Stephens, Colorado State House - DECLINED
*Lois Landgraf accepted the original invitation but has a family emergency that prevents her attendance. She will be allowed a surrogate to speak on her behalf.

So only HD 20 will have both its candidates — Sweet and Landgraf — at the event. Hill is facing off with Liston in SD 10, and Looper with Stephens in HD 19, while Blaha is challenging Lamborn in the 5th CD.

From the press release:


The Rocky Mountain Black Tea Party (RMBTP) event takes place on Saturday, June 2nd at 6:00pm at Colorado Christian University, 1125 Kelly Johnson Blvd., Colorado Springs, 80920.

Each of the candidates will be allowed exactly 10 minutes to address the group. As was the case with last month's RMBTP County Commissioner Forum, the Soapbox will be handled by long time RMBTP friend, former U.S. Senate candidate & current Weld County District Attorney, Ken Buck. Each candidate will be allowed opening & closing statements. In between the two, Ken will ask the candidates questions, moderate questions from the audience, etc. This format gives us an excellent opportunity to hear from the candidates and allow them time to earn (or lose) constituent votes.

!!! BUT THAT'S NOT ALL !!!
Just to add a little spice to the evening, a couple of Colorado tea party heavyweights will jump into the fray with their own 10-minute soapbox pronouncements. Tom Tancredo will be joining the affair raising the heat like only he can. Then, just for good measure, once Ken Buck has finished his moderating duties, he will shift modes and deliver a soap box too!!

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The FAC's full 2012-2013 exhibition schedule

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 11:25 AM

We've already talked at length about the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's James Turrell/Scott Johnson exhibit coming in July, but there's even more to look forward to in the months following.

From a recent press release, here's a calendar of the FAC's upcoming exhibits:

Convolutions
Through Nov. 4

Works chosen from the FAC's permanent collection that respond to the upcoming Turrell/Johnson show, featuring pieces by contemporary artists like Monica Petty Aiello, and deceased creators like Isamu Noguchi.

James Turrell: Trace Elements
Scott Johnson: On Turbulence

July 14 through Sept. 30

Hyakkimaru's Kirie World
July 28 through Sept. 15

As part of this year's 50th anniversary of our Sister City relationship with Fujiyoshida, Japan, a series of cut paper pieces by Hyakkimaru, a world-renowned artist.

Hyakkimaru, Native American

Floyd D. Tunson: Son of Pop
Oct. 27 through Jan. 20, 2013

Tunson, a local artist, is similarly world renowned. Though he lives here quietly, his 40-decade career will be put on display for this first retrospective.

Floyd Tunson, Coco Remixed

Eric Bransby and Trevor Thomas: A Mural in the Making
Nov. 17 through Jan. 6, 2013

A collection of the sketches, drawings and renderings that led up the creation of the FAC's 75th anniversary mural (read more about it here.)

Guatemalan Textiles
Jan. 19 through May 26

A guest curation of the textiles in the FAC's permanent collection.

American Folk Art from the Willem Volkersz Collection
Feb. 9 through May 12

Similar to the idea behind the I.D.E.A. Space's self-taught artwork show a few years back, a survey of art by Howard Finster, Eddie O. Martin (aka St. EOM), Nellie Mae Rowe, Alva Gene Dexhimer, Robert E. Smith and others.

Howard Finster, My Wife Cautioned Me

2013 FAC Multidisciplinary Program — Family
March

Though the exhibitions are still being finalized, this three-part program will feature art education at Bemis, and the play Other Desert Cities in the SaGaJi Theatre.

50 x 50: The Herbert and Dorothy Vogel Collection
June 8 through Sept. 15

The museum will pull out the 50 works gifted to it from the collection of the Vogels in 2009 (read more about the Vogel gifts, with an interview with Dorothy, here).

Charles Bunnell: The FAC Legacy Series
Summer 2013

The second show in a series highlighting FAC history (the first was Sandzén in Colorado). Bunnell also attended the Broadmoor Art Academy, both as a student and a teacher. Though he learned traditional painting from the Academy, his subsequent abstract work "later adopted a more purified form."

Drew Dominick
Summer 2013

Sculpture and installation artist from Los Angeles.

Charles and Colin Parson
Autumn 2013

A father and son pair from Colorado.

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Doug Bruce out of jail

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Douglas Bruce was recently released from jail.
  • Douglas Bruce, pre-prison
Douglas Bruce, who was incarcerated for crimes related to tax evasion, was released from Denver jail this morning.

He served only 103 days of a 180-day sentence because of good behavior.

Local media report that Bruce is much slimmer, having refused to eat in jail. Other than appearances, however, he seemed his normal, proud self. Bruce is still convinced an appeals court will vindicate him, and was eager to compare himself to such luminary political prisoners as Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi.

Jail, it seems, may have claimed Bruce's gut, but it couldn't touch his ego.

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Coquette's expands space and menu

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 10:54 AM

In this week's Side Dish column, I briefly mention the minor renovation and expansion of Coquette's Bistro & Bakery.

Co-owner Michelle Marx actually provided me much more information on the overhaul than I could fit into print this week.

Firstly, here are the nuts and bolts of it, in Marx's e-mailed words:

Don't think of us as a creperie anymore. We still make our fabulous crepes all day but with the remodel came new menus. Our breakfast/lunch adds burgers and new specialties. Between 4-5 pm we serve solely cocktails and apps from a new all-day bar featuring Charcuterie platter, calamari and more. Then the dinner menu starts at 5 featuring dishes like homemade lasagna, Mussels with mixed bean ragu or honey glazed duck and much more. The bakery is killing it and we can hardly keep our display case in stock. All still 100% GF. Downtown has arrived in Manitou.

Also, note new store hours: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (closed Tuesdays); Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

And note a new daily happy hour from 3:30 to 5 p.m., with $8 plates from the bar/appetizer menu.

Here's a couple teaser photos of new plates:

Manitou Springs Coquettes Bistro mussels
  • A new mussels appetizer.

Manitou Springs Coquettes Bistro duck
  • From the new entree menu: honey glazed duck.

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Art and anniversaries

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 10:08 AM

From the listings desk: Two art organizations, two milestones, one week.

Celebrating 30 years, the Galleries of Contemporary Art will host Brilliant, a snazzy-looking affair, from 7 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, June 9. The evening will include two stages of live music, food, dancers, "light art" and a live auction. Tickets run $35 to $40 ($20 for students with ID) and include two drinks and a one-year GOCA membership. Best of all, proceeds help GOCA plot and pay for next year's shows.

It all takes place at GOCA 1420 on the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' campus, 1420 Austin Bluffs Pkwy.

brilliant

Next, clocking in at three years old, the Modbo will honor its birthday at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 15, with "an amazing night of musical chaos." Think collaborations between bands, between genres. Edith Makes a Paper Chain and local musician Andy Tanner will both play sets, as will musicians from Colorado College's Summer Music Festival. (Read more about that here.) Following that, they will all mesh and collaborate for another few sets. Get in with a (suggested) donation of $7.

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Home wreckers

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 8:52 AM

In our story "Ramshackle Blues" in this week's Indy, we note there are dilapidated houses across the city, as well as condemned buildings.

For a complete list, as provided by the city's Code Enforcement Department, see this: Placad_Condemned_5-24-12.pdf

A view from West Colorado Avenue.

As you can see, there aren't many (if any) in the ritzy parts of town, a point made by the neighbors we interviewed regarding to houses on the list.

"If this house was in the Broadmoor area, it would be down in a week," says Ernie DiFiore, who lives next door to 1726 W. Colorado Ave., a house owned by Mark Cunningham that's been a rundown mess for more than three years.

Of course, by their nature, ritzy parts of town aren't ramshackle places, so it's not surprising that dilapidated houses are scarce in the Broadmoor area, or Briargate, Interquest, Rockrimmon, etc. (That said, DiFiore also notes of the Colorado Avenue house, "If city officials were living next to it, it wouldn't have lasted this long.)

His point is that the city has budgeted only $50,000 a year to demolish these kinds of wrecks. It will spend $46,000 tearing down just one, Cunningham's place.

Below you'll find more images of the two houses we wrote about in our story, most of which were taken by Indy intern Madalyn Hanson. The first set of photos were taken at 405 S. Cedar St. At the beginning of that set you'll find a photo of the house where the building's owners, Norma and Sam Dunlap Jr., live in northeast Colorado Springs. The second set of photos, of the West Colorado house, is followed by a shot of the house where that building's owner, Cunningham, lives in northwest Colorado Springs.

Code Enforcement does what it can, but it's run ragged keeping up with all the notices and inspections for the condemned and dilapidated houses, not to mention hundreds of complaints it receives about weeds, junk and illegal dumping.

Says Code Enforcement chief Ken Lewis: "I have six code enforcement officers. That’s for the entire city. We’re so inundated with bedbug complaints, illegal dumping, tires, construction debris, landscape debris. Dumping is epidemic. I had to respond to the mayor’s office for a house on Marlow [Circle] because people there are screaming. The whole side of the house is missing. Insulation is blowing around. They're pushing Regional Building [Department] to demolish it.

"I’m trying to leverage my own people to let the weeds complaints go and spend more time on these houses," he adds. "They’re time intensive with all the notices and inspections. But then their calls pile up on them. We’re drowning and we’re trying to swim, and it’s hard to keep up."

We asked for a comment from Mayor Steve Bach last week, since he's the guy who oversees every operational aspect of the city funded by taxpayers, and has the power to spend more money enforcing the city's rules on dangerous buildings, including demolition. But he didn't get back in time for our print edition.

Finally, at 6:29 p.m., Tuesday, city communications director Cindy Aubrey sent us this e-mail:

Sent the questions to the Mayor. Re: the dilapidated buildings, he said that Chief Pete Carey would be more appropriate for comment. It looked as though you had a response from PD.

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Get ready for Gazette TV

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 7:49 AM

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At the end of April, a shiny, new digital feature began hitting the pages of the Denver Post's website: DPTV, a noon newscast of the paper's top stories.

Well, imagine this: Colorado Springs is about to get its own streaming selection when the Gazette begins screening GTV in early June. (See an image of the set here.)

Anchored by local TV veteran Barrett Tryon, now the Gazette's breaking-news-team lead, the video "will be a daily webcast focused on the news of the day — and what we're working on," writes the paper's director of content, Carmen Boles, in an e-mail. "Barrett will produce/write/edit and anchor the daily 2-3 minute webcast."

Though parent company Freedom Communications is going through its own set of troubles, and would likely be looking to innovate, Boles says the idea for the 10 a.m. daily broadcast originated organically.

"I hired Barrett specifically to provide us with in-house TV news experience, knowing we need to meet audience expectations by providing information not only across our four traditional formats — web, print, mobile, social — but also through video," she writes, adding: "Our online audience is at levels we’ve never seen before. Through this initiative and others, we’re focused on being more relevant to our community, and meeting audience expectations wherever we can."

As to why the website's doing so well, Boles says it boils down to one thing: relevance.

"We covered (and will continue to cover the last few ceremonies in June) every high school graduation in the region," she writes. "That’s just one example of something we hadn’t done for years, but that’s really integral to the role of a community news organization. It’s led to record audience and really positive growth in the key metrics on which we’re focused."

And, of course, it's no secret that there's been a recent plethora of slideshows from the daily — which generate plenty of page-views — and additions to the website like its daily "viral video." In any case, Boles says, it's all about keeping up with the times.

"It’s a well-known fact that online video streaming has grown exponentially in the past two years," she writes, "and we want to serve our audience any way they want to consume us."

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Downtown food moves along; Gazette gets it wrong

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2012 at 6:27 PM

It took us aback when the Gazette's Teresa Farney wrote today that the 12 or so vendors thought to be participating in the coming Curbside Cuisine CS — see our story here — were down to only four. We'd spoken with Garden of the Gods Gourmet's Sandra Vanderstoep, the driver of the project, in the last few days, and no such cutdown had come up. In addition, mobile-food owners who weren't mentioned among the Farney Four were unaware that they'd apparently been offed.

So we called Vanderstoep and read her the following quote, which the Gazette had attributed to her:

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Her reaction?

"No, that’s not true," Vanderstoep says. "She didn’t get that from me; she didn’t get that from me. As soon as we’ve got four that we’ve locked down on, we are gonna open. Those [mentioned four] are not bad, but that’s news to me. We haven’t juried anybody out."

Apparent miscommunication aside, there is the fact that the group will slim down, something of which Vanderstoep is not unaware. And it's something that bore out in our reporting today, when we called Mike Bergman and Zack Travis for their thoughts.

"To me, it was a permanent location and I couldn’t do a permanent location," says Bergman, the co-owner of the Springs Cupcake Truck, as well as the brick-and-mortar Mediterranean Café. "I’ve got too many other commitments that I have to live up to.

"If we could all get together on a Saturday night, or a Friday night, or Thursday night, I don’t care, and have a group of carts, trucks, whatever — and do it like [Denver’s] Justice League does it, where it’s an event and everybody comes there and we pool our stuff and all pay a percentage of our gross for the cost — I’m in. I would definitely do that," he says. "But I just can’t be there on an everyday basis. It doesn’t work for my business model."

Travis owns the Downtown Burrito Co., which already sets up, along with Bill Layton's Bite Me Gourmet Sausage, in front of the parking lot planned for the plaza. He's similarly reticent to link fates.

"What [Bill and I] were kind of discussing was just sort of setting up where we normally set up," Travis says. "I mean, that sounds kind of like riding someone else’s wave, but right now, honestly, that would be the best thing for me to do; and, honestly, just about the only thing for me to do right now.

"I don’t want to create any animosity or anything, but it’s just what I’ve been doing for many months now and I don’t plan on changing, really."

Layton had already detailed concerns that we could only allude to in a half-page news story, starting with the $300 monthly rent.

"That’s a big expense and, of course, my other issues are the water and the sewage," he said in a phone conversation last Friday. "We pull out and get out water and sewage every day, so it’s easy for us. But if we’re trying to leave stuff in there, it makes it really difficult for people."

Regardless, here's what's coming for whoever wants to be a part of it:

"The next process that we’ll go through will be one that will be less popular," says Vanderstoep, "in which we have too many people and we begin a selection process. And we’re gonna do that with a foodie committee not made up of the people who are organizing this."

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City: It's all about the money (again)

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2012 at 6:07 PM

City Council and Mayor Steve Bach at the Mayors Council Meeting.

Somehow, city conversations always circle around to the same thing: Money, and the lack of it.

So it was this morning at the Mayor's Counsel meeting. Seated around a long table, Mayor Steve Bach and City Councilors discussed everything from the County Road and Bridge Tax to the FREX bus route to the future of the west side area known as No Man's Land. But the core subject was how to spend the limited funds the city has.

And the mayor was clear that those funds were extremely limited, at one point telling Councilors that the city may be forced to close several bridges on major roadways if the financial picture doesn't improve.

"We're going to need to move to priorities-based budgeting," he told Council. "There's just no choice."

With that in mind, here were some of the hot topics:

No Man's Land : The land along Colorado Avenue, west of 31st Street, is plagued by a patchwork of ownership. Some of the land belongs to the city, some to the county, some to the state and some to Manitou Springs. No owner has taken responsibility for the land, and it has grown blighted, crime-ridden, and become a haven for aggressive panhandlers.

Some Councilors suggested that the city should find a way to annex the area — though that possibility seems like a long shot, since property owners haven't been friendly to the idea in the past, and annexation requires an affirmative vote from them. But Councilor Tim Leigh wasn't deterred, suggesting that the land could be acquired through a convoluted condemnation process.

"What I'm trying to figure out is, how do the good guys get control of that land?" he asked.

His idea did not seem to have much traction. Rather, the city plans to host meetings this summer to ask residents how they'd feel about banning panhandling in No Man's Land.

FREX: The city hopes to decide in June whether to keep the bus route between the Springs and Denver. Many see the value of the route, which has attracted "choice" riders and could soon be funded by the state. But Bach warned that if FREX is not cut, other city bus routes will be cut, because of budget problems.

County Road and Bridge Tax: El Paso County began keeping most of the road and bridge tax in 2009, reducing its payment to the city from around $3 million annually to around $700,000. The county has used the extra funds to pay for public safety and says it is within its legal rights in doing so. But many have argued that the move is a violation of state law and a disrespect to city taxpayers.

Bach said he has planned a meeting with the county to discuss the issue, and he hopes the city will soon be receiving its share of the tax. Councilor Bernie Herpin noted that state law appears to require the county to remit the city's share.

"[The reduced payment] appears to be a violation of the state law according to their [the county's] own website!" he said.

Leigh added that the city should seek not only this year's share, but also past due monies. His comment earned cheers from the audience.

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