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Best of Urban Living: Uniquely us: 

click to enlarge KATHY CONARRO

Best Place to Read the Sunday New York Times Shuga's Sunday Brunch
702 S. Cascade Ave., 328-1412

Sunday brunch should be a lingering affair, with a table to spread out on. Read the cumbersome front section while sipping your coffee or complimentary lemon-ginger tea cooler. Switch to a magazine section when your food comes out -- golden French toast encrusted with raw sugar, served with bacon, maple syrup and crme anglaise; seasonal fruit over mango-infused couscous, drizzled with raspberry coulis. In the mood for a morning panino? Go for the Northwest -- a grilled sandwich filled with scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, capers, red onion, cream cheese and cucumber. Done? A cappuccino with the Week in Review section sounds just right. KCE

Best Example of Disdain for the Folks Who Elected Them El Paso County Commissioners
Behind the backs of the voters who rejected funds for a new courthouse, the El Paso County Commissioners negotiated Certificates of Participation to pay for one anyway, leaving the electorate to pay down the debt over the next several decades. Despite opposition from groups like TEA, the Parks Advisory Board, the Historic Preservation Board and Friends of the Pioneers Museum, the El Paso County Commissioners selected a site that at least partially blocks the view westward from the Museum plaza. Despite public outcry at meetings and the admission from their chosen architects that other sites are equally suitable and comparably priced, the El Paso County Commissioners are proceeding with their plans. NH

Best Reason to Drive Carefully Don Ortega
Some people get their 15 minutes of fame by being everyday heroes; others by inventing something that contributes to the betterment of mankind. Don Ortega got his for carrying a shotgun around claiming he had to protect himself from bad drivers as he walked across the street. But he didn't get much press for this activity, so he started lugging the firearm to City Council meetings, where he scared off a lot of children and otherwise civic-minded people who didn't understand the point -- was there one? -- of carrying a shotgun into City Hall. CD

click to enlarge Shugas, the place to kick back and read the Times on Sundays. - MATT STEVENS
  • Matt Stevens
  • Shugas, the place to kick back and read the Times on Sundays.

Best City Council Election Quote Mayoral Candidate Kendall Kretschzmar
This is what Kendall Kretschzmar said he would do if elected mayor:

"I will have no attorneys or doctors on the Council, since attorneys write our lawyer language and doctors keep vegetable bodies alive for job security. City jail would be moved to the Broadmore [sic] or Focus of the Family [sic]... Drugs will be legal, treatment centers abolished, druggies can dry out in the new county or city jail property in eastern El Paso County, or The Broodmore [sic] or Focus Of the Family [sic] area while physically doing manual labor to produce their own food to stay alive. Convicted murders [sic] will be executed immediately with no appeals."

Kretschzmar got 958 votes. CD

Best Place to Meet Joe Millionaire/The Bachelorette Readers Poll Winner Best Place to Dump Someone Readers Poll Winner Ritz Grill
15 S. Tejon St., 635-8484

Forget about churches, social clubs and co-workers. If you're in the market for a beautiful bod with good hair, neon-bright teeth, a skin-preserving spray-on tan and too much attitude, your best bet is the Ritz. All the beautiful people go there to see and be seen. Face it, this is as trendy as Colorado Springs gets. This is the place to be happy at happy hour, to cadge martinis from your friends, to give your sparkling wit free rein with the opposite sex. And if things don't work out, bring 'em back where it all began and dump their tired butts. MBP

click to enlarge Mayoral candidate Kendall Kretschzmar got 958 votes.
  • Mayoral candidate Kendall Kretschzmar got 958 votes.

Best Reason for Mandatory Behind the Wheel Driver Training The passing lane on I-25
Listen, people. Most of us need to drive on I-25, being the only north-south highway through our wonderful city. There are currently only two lanes for most of it, except in cases of construction or an accident. There is a right lane and a left lane, also called the passing lane. The passing lane is called that because it should be used for passing, not for loitering. Please remember this when you're dawdling in the left lane at the same speed as the little Honda on your right. Put your pedal to the metal, and then pull in front of them after a safe distance. Jamming up the passing lane won't get you where you're going any faster. CSB

Best Job Nobody Knows About War driving
Do you picture Navy Seal-esque guys in camouflage driving through deserted parking lots late at night?

You have an overactive imagination. War driving simply means someone with easily obtained equipment and a laptop can drive by your place of business and tell if your wireless network is open to infiltration. You'd be surprised how often it is.

In Colorado Springs, some folks with IT Samaritans are war driving with scruples. That means if they find an opening in your network, they tell you about it but do not enter. They can also tell you how to fix your problem. To find out more, call 599-9190. MBP

Best Paparazzi Hangout New Life Church
11025 State Highway 83 North, 594-6602

click to enlarge Boys night out, a proud Ritz tradition.
  • Boys night out, a proud Ritz tradition.

With architecture more likely to inspire the second coming of your lunch than anything heavenly, New Life Church is a surprising hot spot for celebrity sightings. In the last year, Colorado's most mega of churches has hosted country musician Ricky Skaggs, ex-Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron, Entertainment Tonight co-host turned Christian rocker John Tesh, Neoconservative blowhard Dinesh D'Souza, and, drum roll, please, Mel Gibson.

Associate pastor Rob Brendle says the White House has even responded to an invitation to speak at the upcoming conference for the National Association of Evangelicals. Brendle reported that Dubya and company said they're considering the invitation. JD.

Best Friend to Your Best Friend The Nonprofit Animal Adoption Groups of

Colorado Springs
Thousands of Colorado Springs domestic pets are euthanized annually in shelters that cannot house them. Hundreds are abandoned by owners. The few lucky ones find new homes via the hard work of animal adoption groups like DreamPower Animal Rescue (390-7838), 9-Lives Rescue (591-4640), Colorado Greyhound Adoption (303/816-2799 or www.greyhoundadoption.com) for retired race dogs, and Safe Place (540-0947 or www.safeplaceco.org), an organization that finds homes for the animal companions of terminally ill people. On behalf of your Best Friend, think about volunteering some time, sending a donation, and spreading the word: Spay or neuter your pet. NH

Best Nonprofit Readers Poll Winner El Pomar Foundation.
10 Lake Circle, 633-7733,

www.elpomar.org

click to enlarge Unconditional love, fleas optional.
  • Unconditional love, fleas optional.

Every city in America should have an El Pomar. The 60+-year-old foundation, with assets in the hundreds of millions, has directed the bulk of its funding to nonprofits and charities in Colorado Springs. Penrose Hospital, Penrose Library, Colorado College, the Fine Arts Center, and Fountain Valley School have been immeasurably strengthened by El Pomar's unflagging support. Without El Pomar, the Pikes Peak Center and World Arena wouldn't exist. And let's not forget the hundreds of smaller nonprofits that El Pomar supported and nourished over the years. JH

Best Local Issue To Get Involved In Readers Poll Winner Open Space
If there is one remarkable success story in our community over the last decade, it's open space. Prior to the 1997 Council elections, when voters approved TOPs, the city had no dedicated source of funding for the acquisition and preservation of open space. Since then, we've managed to preserve literally thousands of acres of spectacular land -- notably the JL Ranch (now Cheyenne Mountain State Park), Red Rock Canyon, the Stratton Open Space, and the Big Johnson shortgrass prairie. And let's thank ourselves again, for approving the TOPs extension this April, ensuring that as the city grows, we'll preserve much of the natural beauty that we treasure. JH

Best Lilac Season 2003
Thanks to a wet spring, strolling through the West Side on a May evening was like swimming through perfume. Remember? The lilacs were so covered with blooms that you couldn't see any leaves. Modest bungalows with a few lilacs in the front yard seemed like the gates to paradise, and the world was new again. Alas, spring turned to summer, the rains went away, the thermometer stuck at 95, and dust and car exhaust took over. See you next May. JH

Things Colorado Springs Needs Most Readers Poll Winner Better Public Transportation
Let's make one thing clear: Cars are great. Getting where you need to go, when you need to go, is a privilege that's hard to argue against. But an infrastructure of auto dependence is not great and, by gum, it's what we're stuck with. For now.

Out West, the cri de coeur of public transportation is typically equated with hammer and sickle socialism, but this shouldn't be the case. Yes, pondering the possibilities of a front line express from Albuquerque to Cheyenne is a pipe dream. But it's a pipe dream worth indulging in. JD

click to enlarge Readers could do without Focus on the Family.
  • Readers could do without Focus on the Family.

Things that Colorado Springs Could Do Without Readers Poll Winner Focus on the Family
8605 Explorer Drive, 531-3328

It was a sad day for Colorado Springs when the newly elected City Council bowed low to our local theocrats and axed domestic partnership benefits for city employees. While the spineless politicians are culpable, let's be real. If not for the political muscle flexing out of Briargate, then all of the estimated six (six!) city employees whose partners applied for the benefits would be enjoying them right now. How such an act of Christian charity strengthens anyone's family is one of many mysteries that make our city maddeningly unique. Or just maddening. JD

Best Neighborhood Bar Readers Poll Winner Tony's
311 N. Tejon, 228-6566

Crammed with comfortable tables, a cheese-filled comfort food menu, cheap beer, the Packers on the tube, and a friendly Midwesternish staff, Tony's makes you feel like you're sitting on your living room couch surrounded by friends without having to stock the fridge, do dishes or vacuum the floor. Whether you go in a group or by yourself you'll feel equally welcome. CSB

click to enlarge Raise a glass to Tonys, voted Best Neighborhood Bar. - DREW WYETH
  • Drew Wyeth
  • Raise a glass to Tonys, voted Best Neighborhood Bar.

Best Reason the Colorado Springs Male Dresses Like Your Dad Rutledge's Department Store
1 S. Tejon St., 632-7654

To understand why Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is less entertainment than an essential public service announcement, take a gander at Rutledge's windows.

There you'll find sweaters of such patterned pukery even the biggest solid color haters will be sprinting to the Brothers Brook. Until the Fab Five are dispatched to the 719, just study Rutledge's duds and then dress in the opposite direction. (FYI: Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson is known to be a regular off-hours customer -- nuff said.) JD.

Best Reason to Live In Colorado Springs Readers Poll Winner The mountains
The mountains define our city. If you don't believe it, look around on a gray, gloomy day when you can't see 'em. Suddenly, our bright, shining city looks a lot like Cleveland without the glamour.

Drive (or better still, ride your bike) for a few miles, and there you are --wild quiet, and beautiful. If you spend enough time on our mountain trails and byways, you'll see every large mammal in Colorado (elk, deer, bear, lion -- well, maybe not moose). And every morning, every noon, and every evening brings a new view of Pikes Peak, comforting, remote, familiar, and, happily, entirely ours. JH

Best Reason to Leave Town The dull, dreary, stuck-in-the-fifties smarmily pious Republican guys-who-couldn't-get-a-date-in-high-school and who serve in virtually every local elected office. JH

Best Category We Forgot Readers Poll Winner Best Thai Restaurant
What were we thinking? Can you ever forgive us? If we promise to do better next year?

Obviously you were all thinking about the incredible Jungle Curry at Royal Thai, on Austin Bluffs just west of Academy or Wild Ginger, the heavenly spot on West Colorado Avenue. Although you could be flocking to the new fast Thai place, Bhan Thai Orchid at Academy and Galley. And let's not forget about the venerable favorite, the makers of magnificent Phad Thai, Little Bangkok, located in an alley by Kimball's Twin Peak Theater. On the other hand, Tam Nak Thai on Chelton has their devotees as well. Guess next year we'll have to let you vote on it. MBP

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