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Best of Art and Entertainment: Local Folk 

Best Promoter of Creativity
Rodney Wood

Business of Art Center Director Rodney Wood, like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain, has made the BAC ten times bigger than it has any right to be. Despite minimal exhibition space (one medium-sized room), Rodney has created our region's most consistently interesting and innovative shows. Artists working in polymerized clay, artists still in high school whose work puts their elders to shame, a monumental overview of the region's top 50 artists ... How big is this room, anyway? Out in the courtyard, sculptor Hellen Heaven is carving a monumental marble "Snow Queen." Inside, a dozen competent artists in a variety of media are busy doing their thing. And inside Rodney's brain, who knows. Just don't miss the next opening, whatever it is! (JH)

Best Local Beatbox
Matthew Boyd

Ever heard anyone make a beat and sing at the same time? Using his mouth as his only instrument? It's pretty damn cool to listen to one guy make music that would otherwise require a bevy of musicians. And, in some cases, this guy might even produces better results. You can often catch this human beat machine at the Wooglin's Deli open mike night on Tuesdays -- you'll know him when you hear him. (MF)

Best Gun Hugger
Bernie Herpin

Herpin's a certified gun nut and an avid Indy reader who routinely lambasts us for writing factually -- and critically -- about gun issues. Though the Pikes Peak Firearm Coalition officer's fervent love for guns borders on the extreme (he led a failed effort to keep this November's gun show loophole question off the ballot), Herpin does, unlike some other local pistol packers, have a sense of humor. Most recently, Herpin reports he has dropped 63 pounds by joining up with Weight Watchers. (He was initially a little worried that they would make him stand in front of the crowd and say, "Hi, I'm Bernie, and I'm fat" -- which they didn't.) So of course, we are currently fantasizing about the chance that one day we will see Herpin appear in a TV commercial with Fergie, the former Duchess of York-turned-Weight Watchers spokeswoman, as she sucks on Bernie's toes while he lovingly fondles his pistol. (CD)

Best Body Artist
Victoria Wenners
Victory Henna, 888/533-3530

Once you've painted your skin, be it with tattoo ink, scars or organic stains, you feel different -- like you live a little more in your body and less in your mind. One of the most romantic forms of body art is the Middle Eastern practice of henna application, the staining of the skin with a mud made from the henna plant. Local artist Victoria Wenners specializes in this temporary art form, leaving earth-stained customers flaunting their ornamented skin for weeks afterward. Like a delicate pain-free tattoo, her work is skillful, heaven-scented and almost edible. Victoria uses only the purest henna blends, her personality is as exotic and creative as her art, and she's pretty funny to boot. Keep your third eye out for Victoria as she frequents art fairs throughout the West, or call the Business of Art Center at 685-1861 to find out about her upcoming henna classes. (KS)

Best Retired Bureaucrat
Harold E. Miskel

Harold actually officially retired from the city utilities department on Nov. 30, 1999, but the former director of Utilities Services' legacy in Colorado Springs will live on for decades. In the 1980s, Miskel headed up long-term water project acquisitions for the city, aggressively wrestling for water rights all over the state and storing them in a great big war chest for generations of Colorado Springs water drinkers and lawn waterers. More than once he was called the most powerful man in the city and his longtime nemesis, Boulder's Dr. Warren Hern, even compared Miskel to Attila the Hun. In 1994, Hern, who battled the city's unsuccessful efforts to develop a massive water project in the Holy Cross Wilderness area, recommended that Colorado Springs spend a bunch of money on a big statue of Harold. The statue should be placed, Hern said, in the most prominent place in the city and people could then bring their worn-out water hoses and lawn sprinklers and leave them at the base of the statue in homage. Hey! Maybe the name of the new Acacia Park water fountain should be changed to Uncle Harold after all. (CD)

Best B.S. Artist
Gazette editorial writer
Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is courteous, smart, lucid, engaging, and, to all appearances, utterly sincere in his role as the chief proponent of the G's conservative editorial slant. More liberal readers may feel that, like Louis XVI at Versailles, Dan lives in a hall of mirrors at a certain remove from reality. A couple of weeks ago, Dan's editorial applauded a local homeowner who had shot an intruder, and suggested that guns not only made us safer but made our neighbors safer as well. Wonder if Dan read the story that ran in the G that same day about the man who, drunk and naked, went out in his backyard to take a piss and then mistakenly walked into his neighbor's house. Said neighbor grabbed his gun, shot him, and then chased the naked drunk through the neighborhood, and finished him off with three bullets through the head. Seems like a pretty steep penalty for trespassing and urinating in public -- but, hey, whatever it takes to make your neighbors safer! (JH)

Best Undertaker
Popeye's Rocky Mountain Undertakers
10 N. Walnut Street, 630-3439

If, when you pass on to that other shore, you'd like to make one last statement or have one final fling, make sure to put your mortal remains in the hands of Popeye Malchiodi. A bar-fighter, poet, hot-rod artist and Born Again biker, Popeye will make your exit into a performance. His hearse is a remodeled refrigerated trailer pulled by a mega-souped-up '81 Corvette, and he'll "customize" your funeral -- at lower than going rates -- to fit your unique tastes. In honor of a last wish, Popeye once embalmed a friend in a sitting position and drove him around town in a limousine to have one last drink at all his favorite bars. Another time, he laid a friend face down in the casket with his pants down (as requested) "so the whole world could kiss his ass." He'll also cheerfully do the conventional solemn gig if that's your preference. (BC)

Best Replacement for Betty Beedy and Charlie Duke
Dave Schultheis

OK, so the guy who's running to replace Marcy Morrison in House District 22 hasn't exactly been talking much to the press. (Can anyone say stealth candidate?) But if Schultheis beats Manitou Springs City Councilman Michael Merrifield in the Nov. 7 election, we can expect to be hearing quite a bit about him and his peculiar delirium when he gets to the state House of Representatives. The guy waffles back and forth, simultaneously comparing himself to the fair-minded and popular Morrison and castigating her as the devil's handmaiden. And, who can forget Schultheis' famous decapitated rabbit and entrails letter, sent to supporters wherein he accused unnamed anti-Christians of leaving rabbit heads and entrails on his front porch?

Schultheis insists he is a true conservative, but he appears to be running for one reason and one reason only to be Focus on the Family president James Dobson's personal representative in the state Legislature. Like his pal Dobson (and Ollie North and Phyllis Schlafly), Schultheis currently serves on the Council for National Policy, an ultrasecret group of mostly influential archconservatives who gather to set the ulltraconservative agenda of the day. (CD)

Best Pussyfooters
Kyle Blakely and Parry Thomas
Anybody who can stand in front of an entire town and do a fairy dance around the truth deserves recognition. And that recognition goes to Kyle and Parry, the two snappily dressed bunko men at the forefront of Zydeco Development's attempt to get the Red Rock Canyon property annexed into Manitou Springs in order to build a playground for the privileged. The playful pair managed to shimmy out from under pointed questions and well-informed concerns, citing lack of information from higher-ups and at one point, explaining that there was no plan at all, that Zydeco simply liked Manitou's small-town atmosphere. City Council and regular Joe alike were shocked into silence by their blatant BS, spoken in a tone usually reserved for the mentally challenged, but soon realized that Kyle and Parry's story had no more substance than a stale cream puff and promptly ran the dynamic duo out of town. Better luck next time, boys. (KS)

Best Fighter
Lyn Akers

For years, the early morning voice of KRCC has fought against complacency by challenging radio listeners to think and take action. Her example, meanwhile, has provided a standard for activism surpassed by few. As a community leader and neighbor, Lyn has been on the front lines protecting her beloved neighborhood, the Mill Street neighborhood, from being decimated by the proposed Montgomery Center homeless mega-complex. For years she has supported fund-raising efforts on behalf of the American Cancer Society and many other organizations. And now she's battling for her life in her own inimitable fashion -- clear-eyed and unflinching. Hats off, Lyn. You've taught us well. (KCE)

Best Reason to Miss State Sen. MaryAnne Tebedo
Her legendary quotes

The matriarch of the famous Colorado Springs Tebedo clan is term-limited out of office this year. But while in the Legislature, her outrageous -- and factually faulty -- statements on teen pregnancy, AIDS, gun control and African-American culture have been legendary.

In 1997, Tebedo was awarded with the legislative session's most memorable quote of the year by The Denver Post when she testified that teen pregnancy rates decrease "dramatically" after age 25, a blooper that eventually resurfaced on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

This year, she followed up with the following inane insight: "I ... know that in some areas of the state of Colorado ... that it is almost a reality that a person can get arrested for blowing their nose while they're in the car waiting at a stop sign or something. It's ridiculous on some of these arrest things."

One year, fellow lawmakers gave her a half-deck of cards at the end of the legislative session -- presumably so the Colorado Springs lawmaker could operate with a full deck. Don't worry. Tebedo may be out of the state Senate, but reliable sources say she is seriously considering continuing her political career -- as an El Paso County Commissioner. (CD)

Best Deal for a Disgraced Politician

In March, just 11 months after winning a Colorado Springs City Council seat, Joanne Colt tearfully resigned after she was accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of being involved in an illegal stock manipulation scheme. The SEC claimed that Colt's son Doug, a third-year law student at one of the most prestigious law schools in the country, cooked up a bogus Internet stock scam. After a yearlong investigation, the SEC reported that Colt, her son and three of his pals netted $345,000 in what they called a new twist on a classic pump and dump scheme. During her resignation announcement Colt tearfully apologized and humbly asked for forgiveness, then went on to attack the media for doing her in. Colt may have lost her Council seat, but gets to keep her Broadmoor-area home and her downtown restaurant, Giuseppe's Depot. (CD)


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