Sunday, January 31, 2010

The word gets out on Colorado Springs

Posted By on Sun, Jan 31, 2010 at 7:32 AM

Our city's budget cuts are more than just a local story now, as the Sunday Denver Post has a front-page story by reporter Michael Booth giving an outsider's look at what's going on with local government services in Colorado Springs.

Under the print headline Springs lays bare its budget woes in painful cuts, the story reiterates what many of the Independent's readers already know from our coverage over the past ... well, year or more. But it's also interesting to see how it's presented to a different audience.

The story does have one news hook: The city will "turn out the lights" for at least a third of its 24,000 streetlights on Monday. Initially, we had heard that the city might just wait for lights to burn out and then not replace them. But that apparently wouldn't be saving money fast enough.

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Book review: Happy: A Memoir

Posted By on Sun, Jan 31, 2010 at 7:03 AM

Outwardly, Alex Lemon is a typical obnoxious college freshman. His language is filthy, his parties are wild, his academic life is an afterthought. To his friends, Alex leads a idyllic life, one befitting of one of those nicknames, Happy. Everyone on campus knows him as Happy.

But Alex's brain is bleeding. He has suffered a stroke from a malformation in his brain stem but it takes months before he gets help.

Worse, his dark childhood has programmed him to fake happiness and normalcy until it becomes almost real. He abuses drugs, alcohol and college boy shenanigans to wipe it away. But none of his usual tricks will curb his condition, or his painful years of surgeries and recoveries.

Lemon has published three books of poetry and it shows; his emphasis on words outshines his plot at times. But that's OK, since his descriptions of the time he spent stumbling out of bed, attempting to play baseball and partying are beautifully creative, vivid and brutal.

I must have drunk a bottle of Drano last night, snorted a bag of glass, and leapt open-armed from the top of the stairs. A tree. A roof. The moon.

Happy is an often vicious book. Alex is almost insufferable at times, he can be rude and mean. But you never pity him, even when he's feeling sorry for himself. Lemon's precise accounts of his symptoms are of such incredible language you get the feeling that he has more strength within than he knows.

Extra points for badass cover.
  • Extra points for the badass cover.

Check out an interview with Lemon on Amazon.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Appetite = ruined

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 5:37 PM

Consider skipping lunch and heading straight for the pistachio rosewater cupcakes from Cheyne Willems' BFF Cupcakes.

All cupcakes are, "100 percent organic, 100 percent fair-trade and 100 percent vegan, 100 percent of the time." Look for them in Manitou Springs at places like the Gift Shop.

cupcake.jpgBFF CUPCAKES

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Witching hour at the AFA

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 3:58 PM

You may want to sit down before you read this.

The U.S. Air Force Academy is constructing a worship circle for Earth-centered religions on the hill overlooking the Cadet Chapel and Visitors Center.

Seriously. We kid you not. It's supposed to be finished on March 10. If you don't believe us, you can check here.

Tech. Sgt. Brandon Longcrier, who identifies as a witch (meaning he has pagan and earth-worshipping beliefs, not that he can fly on a broom), is quoted as saying:

"There really haven't been any obstacles for the new circle. The chaplain's office has been 100-percent supportive."


So anyway, in case you didn't already know, the AFA hasn't exactly earned a reputation for tolerance.

There was the Mikey Weinstein debacle a few years ago. Weinstein (who along with his dad and sons represents three generations of military academy graduates) was enraged when his son told him that he was being harassed while attending the AFA. The young man said he had been called, among other things, "a fucking Jew." Weinstein went for the jugular, and ended up embarrassing the AFA into some reforms.

Still, last year AFA officials refused to allow atheist writer Christopher Hitchens to speak on campus last year.

And let's face it, the military as a whole doesn't have the greatest reputation on these issues. The AFA Web page, for instance, notes that a pagan worship circle was built in Fort Hood, Texas in 1999.

"The Fort Hood Open Circle was vandalized on four separate occasions from 1999 to 2000, including an incident Oct. 27, 2000, in which the half-ton limestone altar was destroyed outright," the site notes.

So if anyone sees a bulldozer on the hill above the Chapel, I guess we'll know why.

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We think we have it bad

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 3:20 PM

From the misery loves company file, we note the budget cuts in Colorado Springs have been brutal, but check out what's happening in Tulsa, Okla., where 124 police officers are getting the axe after their union voted to whack jobs instead of taking a pay cut. Another 59 civilian city workers are packing it in as well.

In that northeastern Oklahoma city, where I covered City Hall for the Tulsa Tribune until it closed in 1992, Mayor Dewey Bartlett offered to save all the police jobs in exchange for a 5-percent pay cut, eight furlough days and benefits changes. Similar deals were offered to the firefighters, who stand to see 147, and civilian city workers who had 59 on the layoff list.

The police and civilian worker unions, though, said, "Nope." So those officers with the least seniority turned in their badges this week, while the 59 civilians also took a hike. Firefighters will vote this weekend on whether to accept the mayor's deal.

Here, no uniformed officers or firefighters were shown the door. Rather, positions were eliminated, which required moving people to other jobs, city spokesman John Leavitt says. However, several dozen civilian workers have lost their jobs here as the city has pared millions from its budget due to declining sales taxes caused by the recession.

Read the Tulsa World's story here.

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Maybe Avatar isn't so otherworldly after all

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 3:15 PM

I admit I haven't seen the movie Avatar yet, but I have a pretty good idea about it being set in some place called Pandora and featuring giant blue people.

Now I'm trying to decide if it adds or detracts from the movie's allure to learn that the plot, such as it is, may revolve around the very local politics of Crested Butte, Colorado.

The Denver Post's Bill Husted picks up on a letter published in the Crested Butte News to describe some striking parallels.

Rothman describes Pandora, the movie's distant moon setting, as a kind of harsh paradise, and its denizens as "a handsome and adventuresome group who do things such as climb floating mountains to harness and ride flying dragons — a rather extreme sport." Sounds like the folks in the Butte.

The Earthlings in "Avatar" are set to attack Pandora to mine Unobtanium, a metal worth millions. The motherlode, however, sits directly beneath the Hometree where the native Na'vi dwell.

Likewise, in Crested Butte there is an ongoing fight to mine the Red Lady, the beautiful mountain that overlooks the town, for molybdenum, a precious metal that lies within.

The last parallel is even more striking, but I'll refrain from mentioning it here for those who are worried about ruining the suspense. But here's the kicker: Director James Cameron has a place in Crested Butte.

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Henry Moore sculptures at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 1:39 PM

This isn't the best of time of year to visit a public garden, but the Denver Botanic Gardens at York Street and Chatfield is putting this downtime to good use. After tomorrow, both locations can boast outdoor art by one of the most important British sculptors of the 20th century, Henry Moore.

Twenty Moores are in the process of installation at both sites, finishing today. Many of the works clock in at a ton and are over 10 feet tall; one 135-ton crane is required to hoist two pieces over the walls of the gardens.

The exhibit, Moore in the Gardens, formally opens on March 8, and will be on display through Jan. 31, 2011.

So much Moore to love.
  • Denver Botanic Gardens
  • So much Moore to love.

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Pad people

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 1:37 PM

Before there was the iPad, there was, well, the iPad. Mad TV's prescient 2007 2005 skit managed to anticipate the heavy flow of feminine protection jokes making the rounds this week.

While some contend the iPad name is a tactical error, the association will surely recede as Apple's latest fetish object becomes part of our cultural lexicon, just as the word iPod no longer conjures up images of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (Except, you know, for me.)

Face it: Steve Jobs will always have the last laugh, at least until Microsoft releases its replicant version a year or two down the road.

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Defining 'comprehensive' for the Gazette

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 11:26 AM

The Gazette released its 2010 Dining Guide today, boasting 222 mini-reviews and the following excerpt from editor Warren Epstein's introduction:

The 2010 GO! Dining Guide represents the only comprehensive, easy-to-use guide to the best restaurants in the Pikes Peak region. NOBODY ELSE DOES THIS! You can look in Zagat, AAA, Yelp, Yahoo, Google, Forbes, The Independent. Nobody has done this kind of painstaking culinary research of our local dining scene.

Well, Warren, we simply disagree and find your assessment to be exaggerated and frankly, untrue.

You see, the Indy also releases an annual dining guide called Bites, which will be inserted into our Feb. 4 issue next week. And yes, we absolutely do undertake "painstaking culinary research" to construct our guide. I speak as one of the two people responsible for said research.

You aren't alone in mapping our local culinary scene, so the bold " NOBODY ELSE DOES THIS!" line is simply erroneous.

It would seem you've based this claim on the word "comprehensive," as your guide does contain the aforementioned 222 write-ups. But we of course, could point out key, longstanding Springs-area businesses as missing, such as The Pepper Tree, Giuseppe's Depot, The Loop, Front Range Barbecue, Mona Lisa, Vallejo's, Señor Manuel's, the Black Bear and the Corner Café.

With our Bites guide, we are upfront about being not entirely comprehensive, as it's not realistic to include every single Springs eatery into a dining guide. Whereas most Gazette Dining Guide blurbs run a sentence or two, the majority of our Bites guide picks will run between 50 and 100 words, nearly a full paragraph.

So, we could argue that with depth, instead of just quantity, comes a product that best serves the readers.

We'd rather simply acknowledge the Gazette for its effort. But we encourage the daily next year to be more humble, and not falsely claim exclusivity.

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Norton: I've not been a lobbyist

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 8:31 AM

It's only been a couple weeks since former Colorado Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, the GOP's frontrunner in this year's U.S. Senate race, got national attention her outreach efforts to the tea-party crowd, delivering the anti-Obama zinger that "the rights of terrorists are more important in this administration than the lives of American citizens." (You can find more about that here.) She subsequently banned a Democratic Party tracker from recording her events, according to this blog.

That may stop some negative stories, but Democratic opposition researchers swung into high gear again this week after Norton, speaking Jan. 26 on Richard Randall's local KVOR-AM radio program, responded to a viewer's question about her past work as a lobbyist with the assertion, "I've not been a lobbyist." (You can hear the program here; fast forward to minute 48 for the relevant part.)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee points out that Norton's work in the '90s for the Medical Group Management Association in Englewood — she headed the offices of state government relations and strategic relationships, according to a bio posted on her campaign Web site — sounds a whole lot like lobbying, and a policy statement on MGMA's Web site announces: "You can take charge of advocacy through our grassroots lobbying efforts."

Norton's campaign spokesperson could not be reached Thursday afternoon for comment.

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A new Belgian ranger

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 7:22 AM

Last night, New Belgium Brewing Co. unveiled a historic new beer at the Pikes Peak Center's Studio Bee: the Ranger India Pale Ale, its first-ever IPA.

The caramel-colored beverage — named after the company's beer advocates who "protect, pour and partake" — sports a 6.5 percent alcohol by volume with a slightly citrus-y nose, a big, hoppy taste up front that sucks the moisture from your mouth and a very clean, soapy-IPA finish. Further tastings confirmed its place as one of the top craft IPAs available, as well as the fundamental truth of that ABV.

Beer rangers on-hand said that the Ranger IPA had been in development for over a year, and was currently on its ninth incarnation; the beer initially experienced delays due to New Belgium's reluctance to create anything outside the Belgian mold, though repeated requests swayed the issue. Look for it in restaurants, bars and liquor stores starting Monday, Feb. 1.

Only you can poor good beer on forest fires.
  • Only you can poor good beer on forest fires.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

A sample of Balog's time-lapse photography

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 8:02 PM

Inside the Web version of this week's cover story, you'll find a short slideshow featuring some of James Balog's Extreme Ice Survey photos.

But if you'd like to see some of James Balog's time-lapse photography at its most striking, check out this snippet of video from his PBS NOVA special last year:

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All clucked up: A chat with Zach Deputy

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 7:23 PM

We didn’t realize that the massively talented Zach Deputy would be playing the Ancient Mariner tomorrow — tomorrow being Friday, Jan. 29 — until it was too late to do something for the paper. (But hey, don’t let that stop you from reading this week’s very special Anvil interview
and Grammy predictions.)

Anyway, to appease the gods of music, sin and redemption, I went ahead and e-mailed a handful of questions to the South Carolina-bred musician. Deputy traces his family lineage back to Puerto Rico and St. Croix, which explains why songs like “Home,” the opening track on his Out of Water album, wouldn’t sound out of place on a Wyclef Jean record.

What else should you know about Zach Deputy? Well, for one thing, he’s among the best of a growing number of artists who accompany themselves by recording and looping audio samples live in real time. And for another, he’s arguably funkier than just about anyone else who’s doing that.

He’s also very funny. So go catch his free show in Manitou tomorrow night. He’s scheduled to play from 9:30 to midnight, so you should still be able to drop by after seeing John Hammond, whom we also interviewed right over here.

And so, without further digression, our chat with Zach:

Indy: You do a lot of live looping when you perform, which is something mostly associated with either experimental music or people who’d sound good in a hotel lounge. How does that translate into the more R&B-influenced sound you favor?

I think of a live loop machine as an instrument, just like the guitar is an instrument. I’ve heard guitarists that suck and guitarists that wail. You use the instrument to get across your art, but it is the artist who has the vision. In 10 years, when looping is common knowledge, people will quit looking at loop artists as loop artists and simply artists with a cool instrument.

Indy: Do you really play hundreds of shows and live in a truck? Is it a nice truck?

Yes, and yes. It’s a cool truck. Most of the time we stay with friends and at hotels, but we stay in the truck when we need to. We love it.

Indy: You have a funky little song about chicken pot pies, which mostly consists of clucking and repeating the title over and over. And you’re also using the lure of chicken pot pies to recruit street team members. Is this kind of an obsession, and how’s it working for you?

The song is out of hate. I hate chicken pot pie. Especially frozen chicken pot pies. I wrote the song when I was 18 years old, when I lived with my mom and there was nothing to eat in the house except for chicken pot pie. The song became a song of comedic rage of epic proportions. But, Stouffer's has reported a 20 percent increase in chicken pot pie sales as a result. I’m still waiting for my cut.

Indy: As for the clucking, is that a tribute to the Meters?

I don’t know what you’re talking about. "Cissy Strut"? Maybe... I’ve never heard a Meters song with clucking in it that I can recall.

[Note to readers: Zach came real close with his "Cissy Strut" guess. The correct answer is actually "Chicken Strut," which the Meters had a regional hit with one year later. A chicken pot pie consolation prize is winging its way to him at this very moment.]

Indy: Has anyone ever told you that you look a little like D. Boon from the Minutemen?

I don’t know who that is. Maybe it was before my time. But I’ve gotten Grizzly Adams, Paul Bunyan, John Popper, Jerry Garcia ... pretty much any big guy with a beard. But to my friends I just look like that Zach Deputy fella.

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Get outta here (or, don't park at Denny's)

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 4:36 PM

Tow trucks are on the move at Denny's on West Bijou Street next to the county's Department of Human Services office.

"The parking situation is a little bit crazy," DHS spokeswoman Jennifer Brown says.

DHS, at 105 N. Spruce St., has more employees than parking spaces — 415 full-time employees work at its two buildings but there are only 307 spaces. Then there are part-time workers and the 400 to 600 clients on average who visit the DHS offices each day.

What's a person to do? Park in the Denny's lot, apparently, but Denny's decided to put its foot down, or should we say boot? Some vehicles parked in the Denny's lot are booted with a mechanism that prevents the driver from moving the car; others are towed away. Costs to reclaim a vehicle range up to $190, Brown says.

The towing began early this month, and Brown didn't know why Denny's decided to crack down now. We tried to ask Denny's, but nobody was answering the phone there today.

Brown says the DHS security guards report up to nine vehicles were towed in one day.

She says the Family Dollar store nearby as well as the Veterans Administration also have been known to tow cars of those at the DHS offices. But neither has been towing lately. Only Denny's.

Brown says DHS has posted signs in its waiting rooms warning people about the towing and announce every 15 minutes that cars parked in the Denny's lot will be towed.

Many DHS clients are there for food stamps or other assistance, so the last thing they need is an unexpected expense.

"You hate to have someone come here for assistance and have their car towed," Brown says.

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Give and get with GOCA

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 4:27 PM

Since the late November announcement, we've all been anticipating the opening of GOCA 121 in the former FAC Modern space downtown.


The inaugural show, POINT A: a place to start, opens Feb. 5 (look for a full feature in our Feb. 4 issue), and building on the newness, GOCA hopes to elicit new members.

Use the above link, and donate a minimum of $50 and you'll receive:

• 24/7 happy hour pricing at Nosh for a year
• 15 percent of all purchases at idorü
• Discounts on all ticketed GOCA events
• $5 off all THEATREWORKS shows

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