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What the VPs want 

We asked so you wouldn't have to

Oh, the joys of being a local celebrity: getting weird looks from people on the street who "swear they recognize you from somewhere"; being constantly name-dropped by the Independent; maybe having your caricature hanging on the wall at The Ritz Grill.

It's a fun gig, if you can get it, being a part of this social upper class.

Well, most of the time. Believe it or not, some people would rather avoid all the attention. Those people don't return our phone calls. (At least, we presume that's why they don't return our calls.)

So, in this portion of our annual holiday gift guide extravaganza, we're not going to pretend we've accumulated the end-all, be-all group of local newsmakers. But we did assemble a pretty awesome crew of VPs (as in Visible People sort of like VIPs, but not so, well, look-at-me-I'm-a-star) from around the Colorado Springs area. Most of them you know. The rest of them, you should.

And, as a way for you to better know them, we asked each of them, either by phone, e-mail or in person, four questions:

1. What gift would you most like to get for the holidays this year?

2. What gift would you absolutely not want this year?

3. What's the best gift you've ever received (or given)?

4. What's the worst gift you've ever received (or given)?

Here are their answers, assembled in no particular order. Note the willingness to re-gift; if these prominent folks do it and publicize it, no less perhaps you'll feel better about doing it yourself.

Either way, enjoy.

Jan Martin, city councilwoman

click to enlarge Jan Martin, city councilwoman
  • Jan Martin, city councilwoman

Would like: I'd like a gift for the city of increased sales tax revenue for 2008. That would make life so much easier.

Would NOT like: I would prefer Doug Bruce not go to the state Capitol. It's the ultimate Peter Principle. It doesn't do any good to push him up the ladder.

Best ever: I just recently this is fresh in my mind showed up at a surprise party in New York City for my sister's 60th birthday.

Worst ever: As an aunt, I'd always try to be cool with my nieces and nephews. And one year, when they were teenagers, I gave them CDs that were [by] New Kids on the Block. And those kids looked at me like I was the dorkiest aunt on the planet.

Black Pegasus, hip-hop artist

click to enlarge Black Pegasus, hip-hop artist
  • Black Pegasus, hip-hop artist

Would like: I would like four Playboy playmates as girlfriends over the next five years.

Would NOT like: My girlfriend to get mad about that wish.

Best ever: When I was in seventh grade, I never, ever had anything fashionable, and my parents got me a Starter jacket (Miami Hurricanes).

Worst ever: You know what I hate getting for Christmas, and what my family always gets me? Sweaters and wife-beaters. Even underwear's better than that.

Lauren Fox, executive director, All Breed Rescue & Training

Would like: What I'd most like for the holidays is that all of our dogs would find homes. That's my No. 1 thing.

Would NOT like: More debt.

Best ever: When I was 5, our dog had to be put to sleep and my parents said, "No more pets." Then they came home on Christmas Eve and asked us to help unpack groceries. We found a box of dog bones in the bag and then a bag of dog food. ... They told us it was for dogs that might come to visit. ... But when they sent us out to get the last bag of groceries, there was our dog Benji, who we had for the next 16 years.

Worst ever: The worst things for me to receive are decorating things for my house, because they just end up covered in dog and cat hair.

Jeff Bieri, KRCC-FM DJ and program manager

Would like: I want an HD radio receiver for my car so that I can listen to all the excellent programming available on KRCC HD2: programs like World Cafe, Talk of the Nation, Marketplace, The Grateful Dead Hour and Groove Salad.

Would NOT like: I absolutely do not want anything with a Broncos, Nuggets, Rockies or Avalanche logo on it.

Best ever: The best gift I've ever received is probably the HD car radio receiver I'm going to get this year from the NPR Shop at npr.org (with 7 percent of the sale price going to KRCC). The best gift I have ever given is probably the HD home radio that I'm giving to my cheery household this Christmas.

Worst ever: The worst gift I ever got was a neon orange Bronco vest with bright blue fur lining. The worst gift I ever gave was the re-gifting of that damn Bronco vest.

Margaret Radford, city councilwoman

click to enlarge Margaret Radford, city councilwoman
  • Margaret Radford, city councilwoman

Would like: My inner child: A pretty horsey! My outer councilwoman: A sales-tax rebound. (Please spend lots.)

Would NOT like: My adult self: Not another horse (I have two) ... unless it's free and hay is included.

Best ever: The original gift (a certain baby in a certain manger). And I fell in love with my would-be husband at Christmastime.

Worst ever: A popcorn popper that wasn't really for me. (I was a toddler and it was for my mom go figure!)

Jeff Crank, candidate for Congress

click to enlarge Jeff Crank, candidate for Congress
  • Jeff Crank, candidate for Congress

Would like: Commitment from all the delegates at the 5th District assembly.

Would NOT like: Visa and Mastercard bills arriving in the Christmas mail.

Best ever: Any present from my children.

Worst ever: Oakland Raiders Christmas tree ornament.

(I hate the Raiders.)

Barbara Buswell, executive director, PEAK Parent Center

Would like: To have all my kids home for Christmas.

Would NOT like: If I got something I really didn't like, I'd find someone to give it to who would.

Best ever: When my family and my brother and sister and their families all crowded into a house in Steamboat Springs for the holidays. It was inconvenient and wonderful.

Worst ever: Probably the gift I forgot to send.

Richard Myers, police chief

click to enlarge Richard Myers, police chief
  • Richard Myers, police chief

Would like: The gift of having my family all together with me for our first holiday season in our new home is the best gift I'll receive this year.

Would NOT like: Well, I can always use another tie ... or socks ... I guess I really don't want the gift of a major blizzard. So far, the Colorado Springs winters are much more tolerable than what I'm accustomed to in the Upper Midwest.

Best ever: In the late 1980s, when I was a chief in suburban Detroit, my mother was visiting us for the day and I took her for a drive in the country, and we stumbled upon an old log cabin that her father had built for her to use as a very large playhouse when she was a child. She had long ago forgotten about it. I found out that the homeowners were going to raze all the buildings on that property. I engaged some friends, and somehow very early one Sunday morning, we actually moved the thing about 40 miles to my hometown, where my mom lives. The city there accepted it as a gift, placed it in a nature preserve, and it's now used for youth education programs. It's all in honor of my mom, who's lived in that town now for over 70 of her 83 years. On Christmas morning, we played a tape of the big move, and then drove her to see it; I will never forget the joy and total shock in her that morning!

Worst ever: If I've ever received a lousy gift I sure have forgotten it; I usually am very grateful for whatever I receive, and for me the joy is in seeing kids experience Christmas morning.

Jim Bensberg, county commissioner

click to enlarge Jim Bensberg, county commissioner
  • Jim Bensberg, county commissioner

Would like: I'd like the ability for the county to balance its budget without closing its doors on Fridays.

Would NOT like: Another drop in the local housing market.

Best ever: I always hearken back to my childhood days when I got a really cool Tonka hook-and-ladder fire truck.

Worst ever: I try to erase those from my memory banks. I've gotten some awful neckties.

Romiah Milner, KKMG-FM 98.9 morning host

click to enlarge Romiah Milner, KKMG-FM 98.9 morning host
  • Romiah Milner, KKMG-FM 98.9 morning host

Would like: A new set of professional cooking knives. (I love to cook!)

Would NOT like: Honestly, this sounds cheesy, but there's not one gift I wouldn't appreciate.

Best ever: Received: My husband proposed on Christmas Eve. Given: The answer yes!

Worst ever: Received: My grandmother gave me a pack of makeup from the dollar store when I was 17 ... it all broke to pieces in days. (She tried, though.) Given: One Christmas, I rewrapped a lotion set that was given to me and gave it to my sister. I already had the set, and at least I didn't give her the used one.

Matt Cookson, winemaker, Holy Cross Abbey

Would like: An endless supply of Sapporo in the can.

Would NOT like: Four more years of George W. Bush.

Best ever: The best gift given is always diamonds to the wife.

Worst ever: The worst gift I've received is a bottle of two-buck chuck.

Denise Stinson, owner, Tam O'Shanter Pub

click to enlarge Denise Stinson, owner, Tam OShanter Pub
  • Denise Stinson, owner, Tam OShanter Pub

Would like: I'd like for my grandchildren to have a nice Christmas. I'd also like a role-reversal for the liquor board's members, so they could have firsthand knowledge of what I went through [to get a liquor license].

Would NOT like: I would absolutely hate fur or diamonds.

Best ever: My first microwave from my mother, back in 1986, maybe.

Worst ever: I got a Ronco food dehydrator from an ex-fianc. Now you see why he's an ex-fianc. I'd have rather had new tires, or anything.

Kat Tudor, Smokebrush Foundation creative director

click to enlarge 42be_giftguide-26027.jpeg

Would like: I would like to have Colorado Springs be blessed with the spirit of peace and tolerance.Would NOT like: I would not like to have a gift certificate to Chuck E. Cheese.Best ever: Well, that's pretty easy. Mine would be a trip to Antarctica that my husband Bob gave me for Christmas last year. That was very memorable. All others kind of pale before that one.Worst ever: I get a ham every year, and I'm a vegetarian. I would say that hasn't been a great gift, but I don't want to hurt the feelings of the person who sends me the ham.

Sean Anglum, PR and special events manager, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

click to enlarge Sean Anglum, PR and special events manager, Cheyenne - Mountain Zoo
  • Sean Anglum, PR and special events manager, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Would like: In a perfect world, peace in the Middle East. In my real world, the deluxe Help! DVD set from The Beatles.

Would NOT like: I'll have to say one more ugly necktie. If I get one more, I'll scream.

Best ever: The best I've received ... my first electric guitar when I was 12. The best I've given is probably some really special jewelry for my wife.

Worst ever: Once I received a pair of mid-forearm-high work gloves that looked like something a superhero would wear, from my aunt. And I'm sure I gave my Dad some really bad socks.

Rosemary Harris, president, Colorado Springs NAACP

click to enlarge Rosemary Harris, president, Colorado Springs NAACP
  • Rosemary Harris, president, Colorado Springs NAACP

Would like: Either a hybrid car, or a suspension of these $3-a-gallon gas prices, or world peace, because they all would factor in making my three-times-a-week work commute to Denver and life in general more tolerable.

Would NOT like: Anything listed on the Top Ten Hottest Gifts list for 2007.

Best ever: The set of World Book encyclopedias my father bought me for Christmas when I was in the fourth grade. We spent the next two years reading them together from A-Z.

Worst ever: Any of them that didn't come from the heart.

Penny Culbreth-Graft, incoming city manager (currently city administrator of Huntington Beach, Calif.)

Would like: Kisses from my husband.

Would NOT like: A tsunami alert. We just received notice that we're going to have the largest swells we've seen in years ... but we're taking precautions.

Best ever: Poetry from my son.

Worst ever: The worst gift I ever gave was a lamp. It was not received well. It was expected to be a personal gift.

Troy Calhoun, Air Force head football coach

click to enlarge Troy Calhoun, Air Force head football coach
  • Troy Calhoun, Air Force head football coach

Would like: Continued hugs, laughs and bright eyes from friends and my family. And to find ways to share moments and small items for young kids who literally have so little.

Would NOT like: I prefer to not receive many items for Christmas. As a youngster growing up, we frequently heard my mom say, "They are only things ... there's much more to life." Now, we were very fortunate to have enormous amounts of guidance, food and love. And with the friends and activities in which we were involved, we learned fairly early to treasure friendships and very small items that were caring and thoughtful.

Best ever: Best Christmas present we ever received was in 2001, when our son Tyler was born in October of that year. The love and care you have for your own kids makes you even more aware of how much my family invested in love with me and my sister.

Worst ever: We've tried to live from our heart where we asked for so little in regard to tangible gifts, that I cannot think of a bad Christmas present.

Eric Verlo, Bookman and Toons owner

Would like: A surprise, because I guess that's what I like, is to be surprised.

Would NOT like: Not an expanded war.

Best ever: I would say someone coming to visit. That's happened to me a number of times.

Worst ever: I got an afghan from a grandmother, now deceased, who I suppose now it's safe to say that when she asked me over the phone what colors I would want, I think I said brown and orange. And somehow she thought I said bright yellow and orange.

Tony D, KKML-AM 1300 radio show host

click to enlarge Tony D, KKML-AM 1300 radio show host
  • Tony D, KKML-AM 1300 radio show host

Would like: A digital camcorder so I can tape my son's hockey games.

Would NOT like: A New England Patriots Super Bowl championship.

Best ever: An Atari 2600. I was 8 or 9, and I played it a million times.

Worst ever: A snow shovel, when I was 12. It was a hint from my father that the torch had passed.

Alison Seyler, president, Autism Society of the Pikes Peak Region

click to enlarge Alison Seyler, president, Autism Society of the - Pikes Peak Region
  • Alison Seyler, president, Autism Society of the Pikes Peak Region

Would like: Time to share with family and friends. This has been the busiest year on record for my family.

Would NOT like: A plastic bath pillow.

Best ever: A Steiff life-sized tiger stuffed animal when I was a little girl. I still love stuffed (and real!) animals.

Worst ever: A dollhouse. My mom made it for me. My brother and I discovered it before Christmas in a closet and ruined the surprise for my mom. I feel guilty about it to this day. (Besides, I never really liked dolls.)

Jason Zacharias, founder and curator, OpticalReverb Gallery

click to enlarge Jason Zacharias, founder and curator, OpticalReverb - Gallery
  • Jason Zacharias, founder and curator, OpticalReverb Gallery

Would like:

I want an official Red Lip-Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot range model love rifle to fire sensual kiss-rounds at pretty girls!

Would NOT like: I would not want a set of keys to my new, scenic loft in beautiful Baghdad.

Best ever: The best gift I have ever received was a blazing fireplace on Christmas morning, followed by hot chocolate with my family. The best gift I have ever given was a pint of tequila to a buddy on Step 12.

Worst ever: The worst gift I have ever received was a dickie turtleneck. The worst gift I have ever given was later that day ... to my sister ... a dickie turtleneck!


Compiled by Edie Adelstein, Pete Freedman, Anthony Lane, Ralph Routon, Matthew Schniper, Jill Thomas and Kirk Woundy.

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