Friday, January 28, 2011

UPDATE: Academy investigates "Spice" use

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 4:14 PM

The Associated Press is reporting that Colorado lawmakers are moving forward with a plan to ban synthetic cannabinoids currently sold over-the-counter as "Spice."

From the AP:

Senate Bill 134 would ban synthetic cannabinoids sometimes sold as Spice or K2. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has issued a temporary ban of some of the 10 chemical compounds, but at least 20 states are moving ahead with their own state bans.

Colorado's version would make synthetic cannabinoids illegal to possess or sell, and it would make no exception for people with legal clearance to use medical marijuana.

——- ORIGINAL POST, 4:14 P.M., Jan. 28 ——-

Colorado Chronic is one brand of the drug commonly called Spice.
  • Colorado Chronic is one brand of the drug commonly called Spice.

The Air Force Academy is having a crisis with a little-known drug that's commonly called Spice.
You may have heard of the drug when I wrote a July 22 cover story about it, "Incense Nonsense".

Spice is sold as incense in local head shops and even gas stations. But that's not how it's used. Spice contains any number of chemicals that get people high, but can also have serious side effects. Spice is illegal in several states, and branches of the military, including the Air Force, have banned it. But that didn't stop cadets from using the readily-available drug. So far, about 25 cadets are under investigation for Spice use. Five cadets have been dismissed from the Academy for using the drug.

Spice is still legal in Colorado.

Here's the full release:


General Order Prohibits Use of Intoxicating Substances

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - The Air Force Academy is
currently investigating approximately 25 cadets for violating a General
Order prohibiting the use of an intoxicating substance, commonly known
as "Spice." The investigation remains ongoing and any additional
allegations will be fully investigated as well. Since the Academy
Superintendent issued the General Order in April, five cadets have been
separated from the United States Air Force Academy for using Spice.

"Consistent with Air Force policy and instructions, the U.S.
Air Force Academy has a zero tolerance policy regarding the use of these
intoxicating substances, and certainly illegal drug use or possession,"
said Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, USAFA Superintendent. "The abuse of these
products by military members, cadets and cadet candidates contradicts
the nature of the profession of arms, threatens our military readiness
and impairs our responsibilities to the Air Force and our Nation," he

Based upon investigations by the Air Force Office of Special
Investigations in late 2010, USAFA launched an immediate investigation
into cadets who allegedly violated the general order. Those who disobey
the General Order face disciplinary actions which could include trial by
court-martial, non-judicial punishment under the Uniform Code of
Military Justice, reprimands and involuntary separation from the Air

"These recent separations and the use of Spice by a few of
our cadets is not the behavior we expect of America's future Air Force
and world leaders, and is not reflective of the highest standards we
hold true to everyday," said Brig. Gen. Richard Clark, USAFA Commandant
of Cadets. "Ultimately, we are protecting our primary mission:
developing leaders of character."

Spice is commonly known to have dangerous side effects,
manufacturing of the substance is not closely controlled and its
ingredients can be unknown and dangerous.

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The Producers: You can do it, and the FAC does

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 3:17 PM

Cory Moosman, Alannah Moore and Mark Lively
  • Cory Moosman, Alannah Moore and Mark Lively

Last night, Matthew Schniper and I were lucky enough to attend a preview showing of the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center Theatre Company's production of The Producers. (See our story from Bree Abel here, or in this week's Independent.) Though it was the cast's first time in front of an audience, and a dress-rehearsal to boot, they killed it, nailing line after line of Mel Brooks' twisty dialogue. And though costume changes came fast and free, and new backdrops rolled through every 10 minutes, only small miscues — a late curtain, a dangling set piece — stood out.

When we spoke by phone with Cory Moosman and Alannah Moore today — who play Max Bialystock and Ulla Inga tor Hansen Benson Yansen Tallen Hallen Svaden Swanson (Bloom), respectively — they both said the same thing: The show is larger than life, in every sense.

"I think it went well," Moosman says. "I think it’s the biggest one we’ve done at the Fine Art Center, as far as just the technicality. There’s just so much. It’s like puzzle pieces backstage, very much so."

Moore: "It’s a huge show, so we’re talking so many set pieces, so many costumes, so many props. So a lot this week we’ve just been trying to work all the transitions, and work all the quick-changes and pretty much everything went smoothly last night, and that’s really all you can ask for, for a preview night."

Moore, who hails from Denver and recently moved to the Springs for a teaching job at Eagleview Middle School, says that size helped more than it hurt.

"It’s crazy backstage — people are just running around. Whenever you’re not on stage, you’re pretty much helping other people get on stage," she says. "But it makes it fun, and I think ... it’s kind of made us a lot closer as a cast."

For his part, Moosman — who's awesome during the marathon jail scene number "Betrayed" — says there's no choice but to just keep up with the frenetic pace; of not only putting the show together, but the show itself.

"You try to pace yourself, with adrenaline and everything," he says. "I’ve done a lot of shows in my career and this is the most physically demanding. Comedy’s always hard, physically, but then you add the singing ..."

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New art gallery/coffee roastery coming to old Smokebrush space

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 2:21 PM

In the former Smokebrush Gallery space at 218 W. Colorado Ave., Cottonwood Center for the Arts artist and Phantom Canyon curator and employee Abby Kreuser will debut the Kreuser Gallery at Purple Mountain Roastery.

Art and coffee merge in the former Smokebrush Gallery space.

The opening will coincide with First Friday, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 4, and Kreuser will display her own abstract floral-themed photography for this month, to be followed by new shows with other featured artists monthly. As part of the grand opening celebration, bags of Purple Mountain Roastery coffee will be half-off with the purchase of a regular priced bag.

Also, Kreuser will collect items such as coats, gloves and hats and sell cups of coffee to benefit Bill's Kids (an initiative honoring recently deceased Springs artist Bill Hyer) and Urban Peak).

As for the coffee component, Kreuser and her mother, Pat Ellis, have run that business, which was previously Monument-based, since 1998. It has a retail component at 7601 N. Union Blvd., which they sold in 2006 but continue to distribute to. Now, they'll run their wholesale operation from the new space — the room that Smokebrush used as its back office now holds the roasting unit, complete with an afterburner to limit the smell of burning chaff and reduce emissions in an environmentally friendly manner.

Abby Kreusers abstract floral photos will kick off her gallerys exhibition run.
  • Abby Kreuser's abstract floral photos will kick off her gallery's exhibition run.

To be clear, the new venture is basically a roaster inside a gallery, but not a coffee shop — Abby says to think of it as like a High Rise or BB Bean, where you can sample cups of coffee and buy beans or ground coffee to make at home.

The tentative hours will be: Tuesdays through Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with special First Friday openings from 5:30 to 8:30. Call 630-6347 for more.

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Air Force agrees to visit Michigan's Big House in 2012

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Air Force will invade Michigan Stadium in 2012.
  • Air Force will invade Michigan Stadium in 2012.

Air Force still is one game short of filling out its 2011 football schedule, but that hasn't stopped the AFA athletic department from booking a major nonconference opponent for 2012.

That would be the University of Michigan, which will host the Falcons on Sept. 8, 2012, at Michigan Stadium, the largest college football venue in America with a capacity of almost 110,000 spectators. It's just a one-year contract, meaning the Wolverines haven't agreed to visit Air Force or play the Falcons at a neutral site.

Michigan's new head coach going into 2011 is Brady Hoke, who just had a successful two-year run at San Diego State doing a quick revamping job of the Aztecs. SDSU just went 9-4 this past season, including a home victory over Air Force and a convincing bowl win over Navy.

In an AFA release, head coach Troy Calhoun was quoted as saying: “We are so fortunate at the Academy to play our home games in one of college football’s finest environments in Falcon Stadium. In 2012, with the addition of Michigan, the Falcons will also have the opportunity to play at many quality road sites too.”

Of course, that will also be the case in 2011, with Air Force scheduled for an Oct. 8 trip to face Notre Dame at South Bend, Ind. However, the Falcons still are one game short of the 12-game maximum for next season, after the departures of Brigham Young (going independent) and Utah (for the Pacific 12 Conference).

Air Force and Michigan, by the way, have played once before, in 1964, a 24-7 victory for the Wolverines at Ann Arbor.

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Skating drama builds: Flatt third, Zawadzki fourth

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 9:02 AM

Mirai Nagasu revived her charisma from the Olympics. Alissa Czisny looked like the champion she was two years ago. Rachael Flatt unveiled the kind of extra energy that many thought she needed.

Rachael Flatt
  • Rachael Flatt

And a newcomer, Agnes Zawadzki, showed Thursday night that she could upstage everyone else in the ladies' competition at the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, N.C.

Nagasu won the short program event, but the margin is so close that any of the top four could win in the free program Saturday night, to be televised nationally by NBC (8 p.m. Mountain time). The 17-year-old from Pasadena, Calif., came away with 63.35 points.

Just behind her, at 62.50, is Czisny, who won the 2009 national title but fell apart and finished 10th last year. Czisny, 23, made no mistakes and showed the confidence that won her the early-season Grand Prix international title.

Then there's Flatt, the 18-year-old Cheyenne Mountain High School graduate and defending U.S. champion. After being hampered by injuries in December, she put together a new short program and debuted it impressively, earning a score of 62.32.

In fact, Flatt very well might have won the short program, except that her program-opening jump combination, a triple lutz-triple loop, turned into a triple double instead. But she still was satisfied, telling media she felt it was a "strong showing" to start the event.

But the biggest surprise had to be Zawadzki, a 16-year-old from Colorado Springs skating at the senior level nationally for the first time. The 2010 U.S. junior champion, she skated strongly to finish fourth in the short program at 61.54 points, making her a clear-cut medal contender if any of the top three might falter in the free program.

Only two of those four, however, will qualify for the 2011 World Championships in March at Tokyo. They'll be skating in the final group Saturday night.

It was a disappointing night for another Colorado Springs skater. Alexe Gilles, who had hoped to make a big move upward from her ninth-place finish a year ago, is 11th after the short program.

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Electronic arts in Denver, too

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 8:54 AM

Down here, GOCA 121 is about to investigate the crossover between visual art and noise. (Look for more on its Breaking the Sound Barrier show in next week's paper.)

Up north, the Denver Art Museum will be tackling similarly intangible material. Blink! Light, Sound and the Moving Image is a large-scale exhibit devoted to "electronic and time-based media."

Locals will surely recognize a few of the contributing artists' names, such as William Kentridge, Bill Viola and Lorna Simpson, who all have shown at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Simpson's video, "Easy to Remember," was a part of Conflict | Resolution and will be in Blink!.

But the list goes on to include electronic art pioneer Nam June Paik, as well as Jenny Holzer, Bruce Nauman and Stacy Steers. James Turrell seems an odd exclusion, but who knows what finagling was done unsuccessfully in an effort to bring one of his works here.

That said, enjoy a preview of this show, which opens March 13 and runs through May 1. Click here for a guide of exhibit events.

Pleasures by Sylvie Fleury

Family by Alan Rath

Evangelion Ayanami Rei by Hung Tung-lu

Chamber by Charles Sandison

Easy to Remember by Lorna Simpson

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Calling all queens

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 6:46 AM

If you are a pretty good public speaker, are personable and know how to ride a horse, the El Paso County Fair Queen Committee wants you to apply to become the 2011 queen. You can't be married, and must be between 18 and 22 and live within the county.


The four key judging areas will be application, public speaking, personal interview and horsemanship.

Application packets are available online, and the deadline for applying is 3 p.m., March 3. The contest will be held at 9 a.m., March 19.

In case you don't know how to be a queen, a "Queen Clinic" will be be offered on Saturday, Feb. 12, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the fairgrounds in Calhan.

"All aspiring Fair Queen contestants are strongly encouraged to attend this clinic, which will provide valuable information and tips in all areas of the Queen Contest," the county says in a news release.

Clinic participants will be charged a $20 fee, which will cover lunch.

A clothing sale will take place immediately following the clinic and will include queen outfits and an assortment of western attire for all to purchase. If you want to participate in the Queen Clinic or contribute items to the clothing sale, RSVP to Pam Dawson at 719/749-2342, no later than Feb. 10.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lamborn is coming, with protection

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 5:56 PM

Well, Rep. Doug Lamborn has scheduled four "town hall" meetings in his 5th Congressional District in coming days and, as he indicated earlier to the Independent, he plans to have a law-enforcement presence in the room.


In his Between the Lines column on Jan. 13, Ralph Routon included this description from his visit with Lamborn after the Tucson shooting that nearly killed U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords:

We also talked about security, with Lamborn noting that "we haven't had problems here," as compared to more flammable areas such as Arizona. He did say that, along with others in Congress, he would take more precautionary steps in the future, such as asking sheriffs to provide a few deputies at events — not just as a deterrent, but also to make constituents feel more at ease.

You might recall that in August 2009, Lamborn's constituent meetings caused quite a stir. They took place prior to Congress adopting health care reform and drew a lot of vitriol from Lamborn's backers, who heckled people who thought reforming the monstrously expensive yet inaccessible system might be a good idea. One of those meetings disintegrated into a shouting match when outsiders discovered they couldn't get in because the place had been packed with Lamborn's supporters.

Anyway, this time, Lamborn and his people will be ready. The press release announcing the town hall meetings states, "All meetings will have either sheriff or police presence."

The release says Lamborn will talk about his legislative priorities, including "progress being made to repeal and replace ObamaCare" and ideas to cut federal spending, "including his efforts to defund NPR."

Here are his dates:

Canon City, Monday, 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Canon City Council Chambers
128 Main Street

Buena Vista, Tuesday, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Buena Vista Community Center, Aspen Room
715 East Main Street

Woodland Park, Thursday, Feb. 3, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Woodland Park Council Chambers
220 West South Avenue

Colorado Springs, Saturday, Feb. 25, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Pikes Peak Community College - Rampart Range Campus
11195 Colorado 83
Classical Academy Auditorium.

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In Falcon, meetings hold you!

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 5:50 PM

Not as catchy as the Yakov Smirnoff meme, I'll give you that, but it is true.

Falcon School District 49's announcement that it will reconsider how it will bus its students to and from school was a public relations disaster that drew the ire of many of the community's parents and constituents. Therefore, the district has planned meetings, and lots of them, in order to punish/listen to the disconcerted public.

Here is a copy of the flier that the bus drivers handed out to students, to remind their parents of the six meetings to be held next month. Each is an opportunity to voice opinions on district plans.

And now, Mr. Smirnoff:

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Bartkowicz sentencing Friday

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 5:30 PM


The trial of Highlands Ranch grower Chris Bartkowicz comes to an end Friday when he is sentenced at 10 a.m. on the seventh floor of the Alfred A. Arraj United States Courthouse. A news release from the Cannabis Therapy Institute says it's "so important that he see a lot of friendly faces in the courtroom, as he will likely receive a five year sentence."

Prior to the sentencing, a protest sponsored by Moms for Marijuana will be held at 8:30 a.m. outside the courthouse.

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SXSW pre-event mixer coming to Boulder

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 4:36 PM

Austin's South by Southwest conference, widely regarding as a Twitter tipping point after attendees critically overloaded AT&T's network in 2009, has steadily grown from an indie music festival into a sprawling music/film/interactive behemoth.

And if you're among the emerging technology geeks who are planning to attend the March 11-15 interactive portion of this year's 10-day event, you can mingle with like-minded Coloradans at a newly announced official pre-event mixer up in Boulder.

The free meetup will take place next Monday, Jan. 31. It begins with a 6 p.m. "Town Hall," during which SXSW staffers will answer questions about the conference. After that, you and fellow techno-freaks can par-tay from 7 to 9, after which you must go home.

Email to RSVP for the event, which will take place at Bacaro Venetian Taverna, 921 Pearl St., Boulder. No word yet on whether Mountain Dew Throwback will be served.

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Buy local? Thanks, I think I will

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 3:55 PM

In this week's Indy, Pam Zubeck reports on the Colorado Springs business community's new "We Think Local" push. In it, she quotes the leader of the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp.:

"If we all did 10 percent more [business] locally, it would create 2,000 new jobs," says CEO Mike Kazmierski, basing his figure on research from a 2008 visit to Austin, Texas, to study its thriving economy.


It's nice to hear someone like Kazmierski talk up this effort (even if, as Pam put it, he isn't "encouraging people to shun big-box stores in favor of locally owned businesses"). But anyone who has a tattered, forlorn "Local Biz" sticker on their car or water bottle — a relic of last decade's now-defunct, buy-local campaign — may be forgiven for wondering whether any of this stuff really works.

Well, besides Pam's reporting on two West Coast cities that have seen encouraging results from their efforts, we have a report released yesterday by the New Rules Project, part of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. The Institute is not an unbiased source — as we noted at the bottom of her 2009 "Corporate co-opt of local" essay, senior researcher Stacy Mitchell is "an unabashed supporter of local business." But the numbers from the survey it helped administer look pretty good, nonetheless.

The survey, which was conducted over an 8-day period in January, gathered data from 2,768 independent businesses, including retailers, service providers, restaurants and others. It found that those in places with a "buy local" initiative reported revenue growth of 5.6% on average in 2010, compared to 2.1% for those elsewhere.

Among independent retailers, which accounted for nearly half the respondents, there was a similar gap in holiday sales performance, with those in "buy local" communities seeing a 5.2% increase in holiday sales, while those elsewhere reported an average gain of 0.8%.

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Update: 'Ride it Out'

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 2:34 PM

I am happy to report an update to my story "Ride it Out," which came out in today's paper.

In my story, Michelle Thomasik (pictured) was cut off from her food stamp benefits in a bureaucratic whirlwind. Food stamp users have been facing a lot of headaches lately because high demand has led to backlogs and other problems. However, when I told Arturo Serrano, manager of El Paso County food assistance and family Medicaid, Michelle's story, he was eager to help.

And it turns out he made the difference for her. This is a verbatim excerpt from what Michelle e-mailed me today: "I wanted to let you know that I did receive my january benefits in full today...yay!! Arturo really did take the reigns and made it happen quickly."

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Indy Minute

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 12:26 PM

The Independent is proud to sponsor the premiere of Mel Brooks' The Producers, which opens this week at the Fine Arts Center. Meanwhile, the National Ballet of Denver pays a visit to the Pikes Peak Center and contemporary artists come together for an amazing show at the Business of Art Center.

Tune into the Indy Minute — as seen on ABC affiliate KRDO News Channel 13 — each week for details on all the events that entertain and bring our community together. It's simulcast on KRDO News Radio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM.

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Meat purveyor issues new beverage threat

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 11:27 AM


Gizmodo and AOL News are reporting it as real, the Daily Telegraph has its doubts, and Morrissey has yet to make a statement.

Meatwater, a high-concept concoction with flavors ranging from Hungarian goulash to haggis, has been creating a new wave of interest across the Internet these past couple of days.

Of course, urban legends have a long track record, from Charles Fort's rain of frogs to Justin Bieber's recurring deaths. And as far as we can tell, Meatwater is one of them, in spite of New York artist Till Krautkramer's wonderfully elaborate promotional campaign.

In fact, we're not even sure Krautkramer himself exists, although if he does, the family name would clearly predispose him to this kind of enterprise.

Since the Meatwater meme has been floating around for a couple of years now, this current ripple of publicity is kind of mysterious and seems largely unrelated to the recent introduction of four new products called Meatwater Void. As you've surely guessed, it's a new line of salad-flavored vitamin waters.

You can go to the dinnerinabottle website to enjoy all facets of the the Meatwater experience, which prompted our own food writer Matt Schniper to exclaim, "I'd try every flavor!" Sadly, nowhere among the elaborate promotional materials, videos and sponsor links (including one to Krautkramer's fine art photography portfolio) is any information on how to actually buy it.

It's all pretty brilliant, but the best lines are definitely in the pdf of standard answers to common questions you'll find lurking in the press section:

Will it be in health shops or normal beverage outlets?

Gas stations are our main outlet, besides galleries and regular beverage markets. Health shops not so much.

What, in simple language, are you recommending as the best way to take this drink? For example, how much in one go, how many times a day, week etc?

This is a difficult question, as so much is situational, and the context of any scenario may be more or less important than the scenario itself. We do not encourage our privileged consumers to stop eating solid food completely. We attempt to inspire them to host dinner parties for friends and family at least three times a week.

Can you successfully grow a tongue-in-cheek brand or is this going to remain a novelty product?

Anyone can do anything they want with a water product. You can sell any liquid as long as it doesn't kill somebody. It's all a matter of taste whether anyone will buy. In fact, it could taste terrible and people would buy the water if it they think that something that tastes god-awful is something more 'real.' Astronauts drink reprocessed urine. Space programs need to reduce water weight in space crafts. We aspire higher.

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