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Best of Urban Living: Uniquely us: 

click to enlarge HD had a triumphant return this year after thieves made off with the street art last year. - SUNNIE SACKS
  • Sunnie Sacks
  • HD had a triumphant return this year after thieves made off with the street art last year.

Best Artwork On The Street

Readers poll winner "HD" by Kimber Fiebiger

321 N. Tejon St.

Humpty Dumpty sat on the street

Until a thief accomplished the feat

Of stealing the heavy, bronze statue egg-man

Then artist Kimber Fiebiger made Humpty all over again.

Find Humpty at his new home in front of the Tejon Street Market. --CSB

Best Correction In The Gazette

Editorial pick Feb. 11 and Feb. 12, 2004 From the "just give us a couple of days, we'll get it right" department:

This correction appeared in the Feb. 11 Colorado Springs Gazette:

"The local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colorado People was misidentified in a story on Tuesday's front page. It is the Colorado Springs Branch NAACP."

The following day, on Feb 12, the newspaper printed this correction to its correction:

"A correction on Wednesday's Metro 1 has an error about the NAACP. It is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People." -- CD

Best Way To Make CC Parents Uncomfortable

Editorial pick Eric Schlosser's 2004 commencement speech at Colorado College

Lord, was it gorgeous: a world-renowned leftist writer addressing a huge throng of well-dressed, proud and nervous undergraduates and parents on a beautiful May morning. Did you hear the folding chairs creak uneasily as he called this the darkest era of American history? Not an extremist speech, this one -- Schlosser's far too bright to alienate his audience and the higher-ups who invited him -- but one that swung left enough to disconcert well-to-do, middle-of-the-road parents and make them ask, What kind of school is this, anyway? -- AR

Best Local Scandal

Readers poll winner Jim Bensberg with a stack of "four" really fat newspapers

Early this year, County Commissioner Jim Bensberg was accused of harassing a county employee after she had spurned his romantic advances. After what lawyers and others derided as a sham of an investigation, Bensberg cast the deciding vote to exonerate himself from all charges -- conflict of interest be damned. The day the Independent offered up a critical report of his activities, the elected official was caught on video staggering under the weight of what appeared to be a stack of 50 Independent newspapers taken from the distribution site at the county office building. Just this year, the Colorado Legislature enacted a law criminalizing the theft of more than four free newspapers from a rack. When challenged, Bensberg's lawyers denied their client had stolen the papers. They insisted that Bensberg had only taken four -- coincidentally the exact number that is allowed under the new law. -- CD

Best Local Urban Legend

click to enlarge Commissioner Jim Bensberg, shown 1) arriving early to work at the county office building; 2) crossing in front of a camera toward shelf that held a stack of 50 Independent newspapers; 3) crossing back toward the stairs to his office and; 4) emerging from the stairwell where his fourth floor office is located. Though he appears to be staggering under the weight of a stack of newspapers  Bensbergs attorneys insisted he took just four.
  • Commissioner Jim Bensberg, shown 1) arriving early to work at the county office building; 2) crossing in front of a camera toward shelf that held a stack of 50 Independent newspapers; 3) crossing back toward the stairs to his office and; 4) emerging from the stairwell where his fourth floor office is located. Though he appears to be staggering under the weight of a stack of newspapers Bensbergs attorneys insisted he took just four.

Editorial pick NORAD

"See that mountain up there, the ones with the antennae and stuff? That's Cheyenne Mountain, and NORAD's inside. That stands for ... um, something evil. Anyway, there's like a huge underground lake in there filled with plasma that they use to nourish cyborgs that they're planning on introducing into society in a couple months. The cyborgs have, like, genes from owls and cheetahs and stuff, so they're superhuman. Plus, they're totally evil. And also, there's a tunnel that takes the president from Washington, D.C., to NORAD in 30 seconds or something. And they're reverse-engineering UFOs there, too. Super black-helicopter stuff, man." -- AR

Best Roadside Wood-Carved Bear

Editorial pick 720 N. Nevada Ave.

In all their simple, chainsaw-cut majesty, wooden monuments to creatures sometimes called nature's fury -- bears -- dot the roads around Colorado Springs. Some surely inspire long, detailed conversations about trout fishing. Others snarl. Still others obediently salute passersby, arms out straight. Far from the soaring trees that fuel the region's wood-carved bear economy in Manitou Springs, the best place to see a growling effigy this year is at a house next to an Econo Lodge. Towering roughly 20 feet in front of 720 N. Nevada Ave., the painted bear sits on the stump of the tree from which he was carved, grimacing as he claws his own belly under the weight of a wolf, a mountain lion, an owl and a bald eagle with its wings spread. -- MdY

Best People Watching

Readers poll winner Downtown

Whether your preference is sitting on a restaurant patio, park bench or street corner, the passers-by you see will undoubtedly keep your wondering mind occupied: smartly dressed business people, swimsuit-clad families drawn to the Uncle Wilber fountain, our fashionable punk contingent, transients trying to gather donations or others seeking to avoid the crowds, random musicians, tourists ... the list just goes on. --MB

Best Wait Staff, Best Place Be Seen, Best Place To Dance Like A Fool

Readers poll winner Ritz Grill

15 S. Tejon St., 635-8484

Ah, the Ritz ... still the best, after so many years! Start with the bartenders, waiters and waitresses, all of whom are superbly competent, attentive, friendly, good-natured and sweet-tempered. And they're right up there in the eye candy rankings, too; in downtownspeak, "Ritz Waitress" or "Ritz Bartender" is just another way of saying "hottie." Whether you're a first-timer or a 10-year regular, you'll get great service and a smiling welcome.

And if you hang out there for a while, you'll meet lots of people, because everyone goes to the Ritz. It's an eclectic crowd; sloe-eyed beauties in their 20s, cheerful downtowners hoping to get lucky, balding real estate honchos plotting their next deal, and of course the regulars. By 8:30 or so, the place is packed, the crowd's noticeably younger, the band's setting up, and it's time to boogie!

On a recent Friday night, Dave Weed and Head Full of Zombies were serving up hard-driving garage rock to a packed, sweaty crowd on the postage-stamp-sized dance floor. A couple of evenings later, it's quiet and sedate -- it's the Sunday evening dinner crowd, mostly middle-aged couples for whom this is a ritual of many years. The place empties out -- the weekend's over, isn't it? Not quite -- it's server appreciation night at the Ritz. After midnight, the place fills up with wait staff and bartenders from all the other downtown bars/restaurants -- now it's their turn to party! By 3 a.m. or so, the place is empty, the lights are off, and ... there are just five more days till Friday. -- JH

Best Neighborhood Bar

Readers poll winner Tony's

311 N. Tejon St., 228-6566

In a perfect world, there would be garlic fries and pickled eggs at every neighborhood bar. A neon sign would hang above the door, the bar stools would be well-worn, and the game would be playing silently on the television. You could stop by for a drink after work or stay all night, and you would feel comfortable whether the bar is packed with your nearest and dearest or it's just you and the barkeep. A jukebox with music ranging from The Beatles to Weezer would take up permanent residence by the front door. There would be young slackers and retired businesspeople sitting side by side, reminding you that with a PBR in hand, everyone is on a level playing field. That's Tony's. -- SG

Best Friday Night Activity To Build Civic Awareness

Editorial pick Colorado Springs Police Department citizen ride-alongs

click to enlarge The Best Wood-Carved Bear is at 720 N. Nevada Ave. - BLANCA MIDDLEBROOK

Applications available at area command stations:

Falcon Area Command, 7850 Goddard St.

Sand Creek Area Command, 4125 Center Park Dr.

Gold Hill Area Command, POC, 705 S. Nevada Ave.

Ever wonder what it's really like to be a police officer? As a "courtesy to the citizens of this community," the Colorado Springs Police Department offers people a chance participate in their cop ride-along program -- limit one ride per division per year. All you need to do is fill out an application, sign a liability waver and undergo a background check. Assuming permission is granted, you're then ready to experience for yourself the adrenaline rush that accompanies being unexpectedly called to the scene of a crime. Chatting with your host officer as you cruise the streets together can also offer countless insights into the life of a cop -- such as when speed limits are simply suggestions. You can request to ride along during daytime or nighttime shifts, but you must be 16 years old or older to participate. -- MB

Best Church Service

Editorial pick Faith Mission House of Prayer Full Gospel Church, 611 E. Espanola St., 633-1233

In an age of religious megaplex churches complete with light shows, espresso bars and singles' clubs, the Faith Mission House of Prayer Full Gospel Church in the old North End is a welcome reprieve. This unassuming little church with painted stained glass windows is home to Pastor Dr. Clifford L. Walton's clear voice and honest convictions about righteousness, clarity and the path toward goodness. But like any good gospel church, the service is nothing without the congregation, whose creative affirmations and questions only add fuel to the feeling of down-home faith that imbues every crack in the ramshackle paint with special meaning. -- BLS

Best Gentrification Of A Strip Mall

Editorial pick Broadmoor Towne Center, Southgate Road and Nevada Avenue

So we all secretly miss the huge letters in the sky spelling out Southgate, but the renovations at the Broadmoor Towne Center more than make up for losing a landmark. Complete with both monolithic and local businesses, it appeals to all walks of life -- one could shop at Ross and then grab a cleverly titled personal pizza at Extreme Pizza or taste imported meats at Par Avion and then hop over to the Home Depot. Or, if one prefers exercise to shopping and eating (yeah, right, move back to Canada, you Commie!), one can hop on over to 24 Hour Fitness for a vigorous StairMaster session. It's truly for the people. -- BLS

Best Colorado Springs Utilities Foul-Up

Editorial pick Flying manhole covers

While the rising rates that will sap Colorado Springs Utilities users' buying power this winter could have easily topped this category, as could the utility's accidental dumping of 62,000 gallons of bacteria-laden sludge into Sand and Fountain creeks, the chart-topper could well be determined by the answer to this question: What if everyone in Colorado Springs pooped and flushed at once?

Manhole covers might be blown to high heaven.

While that's probably not why several of the heavy metal disks went flying like Frisbees near Cascade Avenue and Fillmore Street this summer, the utility hasn't officially ruled it out. Seriously, the leading theory is that someone illegally dumped something that caused explosive vapors in the sewer.

Luckily for the utility and its customers who live north of downtown, nobody was injured when the covers came careening back to earth. -- MdY

Thing Colorado Springs Needs Most

Readers poll winner Better street repair

Who does not know the familiar kathunk-a-kathunk of falling into the unexpected pothole? Who among us has not devised a new route to avoid damaged roads, poor irrigation or sand-filled crevasses? Who has not wondered if the city planners are secretly auto mechanics that specialize in rebuilding suspensions? Perhaps those who drive Hummers or Ford Excursions do not know the pain, but for the rest of us, driving without fear of road-induced-whiplash is a distant dream. -- BLS

Thing Colorado Springs Could Do Without

Readers poll winner Focus on the Family

Seems the villagers would really dislike Focus on the Family if it weren't for all the money mega-wealthy Focus pumps back into the community by building all those hospitals, libraries, day-care centers, homeless shelters and, of course, schools. Oh, wait. Focus has never done any of that. Our bad. Maybe Indy readers are tired of the babble echoing from Focus' marble halls, including this recent blathering by founder Jim Dobson, who called for a boycott of Procter & Gamble Co. because: "The company has said it will not tolerate discrimination in any form, against anyone, for any reason." Gee, what a lousy world that would make. -- RT

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