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Living on cable and jail time

Hangin' with my geezer pals at a downtown coffee shop the other morning, I was taken to task about this column. I'm used to it -- the geezers are all dyed-in-the-wool Republicans who usually regard the opinions expressed herein with amused condescension ("Someone has to vote for Kerry, John, so it might as well be you.").

But this time it wasn't about politics, but about relevance. "So why don't you write about things that people are really interested in? Writing about local politics is like talking about your hemorrhoids -- you hate 'em, and no one else cares." So we made a list of mostly non-hemorrhoidal topics.

Adelphia: It's our "local" cable TV franchisee, hated by all, loved by none. Like any monopoly, they charge as much as they can get away with for increasingly marginal service. I'm plagued by service outages and by the absurdly complicated apparatus that they make you rent to receive their signals.

And I can't believe how much sheer, unwatchable dreck you have to pay for just to get a couple of marginally worthwhile channels. It's as if, shopping for breakfast cereals, you had to buy 20 boxes of stale dog biscuits before being allowed to buy a box of Wheaties. Wouldn't it be nice if there were some competition? Maybe we'd have lower prices and better service ... Alas, because of the decades-old structure of the industry, featuring sweetheart franchise deals, interlocking cartels that supply both products and services, and ruthless billionaires who like things just as they are, we're permanently screwed.

So here I sit, with a non-working remote. I only hope that the Rigases, Adelphia's founders who were recently convicted of looting a billion or so from the company's coffers, get free cable in their cells. They can have my remote.

If you're really indignant about the cable company, you could go bitch to City Council, since Adelphia holds a city-granted franchise enabling it to operate in our fair city. Wouldn't do you any good, though -- under the agreement, the city can't require the company to provide decent service and has no ratemaking power. Of course, Adelphia broadcasts City Council meetings as a public service -- now doesn't that make you feel better?

Moving on, The Broncos: Sorry to disappoint all of you perpetually hopeful fans, but this is not their year, just as last year wasn't their year, and just as next year won't be their year. Why? Because once again, they're not very good, and they're not very bad.

Sure they've added one of the best corners in the league (Champ Bailey), but they've lost a superb running back (Clinton Portis), the best tight end ever (Shannon Sharpe), a superbly gutsy receiver (Eddie Mac), and two fine 'backers (John Mobley and Ian Gold). They'll find bodies to fill those holes, but they won't improve.

The Elway era is over, and it'll never return. It was sheer luck that he came to Denver in 1983, and, No. 1 pick or not, sheer luck that he became the greatest quarterback ever. He took the Donks to the big show five times and won it twice. And without the equally extraordinary luck of having Terrell Davis, Sharpe and Elway playing together at the peak's of their careers, we wouldn't have won those two Super Bowls.

Absent Elway & Co., Mike Shanahan's just a run-of-the-mill coach, raking in the big bucks courtesy of Bronco owner Pat Bowlen's hopeful nostalgia. Jake Plummer's barely adequate, Ashley Lelie is a great receiver who can't manage to actually, like, catch the ball, a failing shared by the defense, which has been last in the league in interceptions for the past two years. But ours is not the only mediocre team in a league defined by lasting mediocrity and flash-in-the pan champions. Prediction: 9-7, no playoffs.

And lastly, the Democratic Convention: Glued to your seats, aren't you? Yup, those Dems are oh-so-inclusive, oh-so-diverse, oh-so-representative of our country, compared to those Vicious, Insensitive, Plutocratic, Evil Republicans (VIPERS for short).

Strangely, only 2 of the 64 Colorado Democratic delegates are from the Springs. But I guess that's good; I, for one, am inspired by our state delegation, which includes 48 folks from the Denver-Boulder Axis of Liberalism and only 12 from the rest of Colorado. So go for it, guys and gals, and don't worry about Colorado Springs, Grand Junction, Montrose, Gunnison, Pueblo or Durango ... no one here but Republicans and tourists.

And come Election Day, all of us outcast lib'ruls just stay home with the curtains drawn. You mean ... it's legal to vote Democrat?!

-- johnhazlehurst@earthlink.net

  • Living on cable and jail time

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