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PEOPLE & PLACES

Best Arms Export
Soldier of Fortune
For years the Boulder-based bible of American paramilitarists had the Soviet Union in its gunsights, briefing its readers on the gory details of anticommunist insurgencies and singing the praises of free-world mercenaries who were willing to take on the Russkies. But the times they are a-changin'. When the magazine was distributed in the evil empire itself this year, sales exploded with the force of a well-placed cluster bomb. All 24,000 copies sent to Moscow in the initial shipment sold out; SOF executive editor Tom Slizewski noted that the Russians he and his comrades had been fighting against for years were especially interested in the publication's detailed information about firearms.

Best Disarmament Campaign
Felix L. Sparks
General Felix L. Sparks lived through World War II to lead the U.S. Army brigade that liberated the Dachau concentration camp. Nearly fifty years later his sixteen-year-old grandson was shot to death on the streets of Denver by another teenager with an automatic weapon. The general, also a former Colorado Supreme Court justice and director of the state's Department of Natural Resources, became active with the group PUNCH! (People United--No Children's Handguns!). For his efforts, he was named the 1994 winner of the Community Champion Award by the Civil Justice Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Best Visiting Dignitary
William Webster
Colorado has hosted some exciting visitors lately: Pope John Paul II, President Clinton, Curtis Sliwa. Alas, they were all so...temporary. Fortunately, that's not the case with former Missouri attorney general William Webster. He'll be around at least until the end of 1995. That's because he's in stir at the Florence medium-security federal prison, serving time after pleading guilty to having state employees do personal work for him.

Best Funeral
Bagpiper Gordon Speirs
Garden of the Gods

Gordon Speirs, a cantankerous Londoner-turned-Coloradan, learned to play the bagpipes at a World War II orphanage, where he was sent after his mother was killed in an air raid. The unwieldy instrument became his ticket to fame: Speirs was one of the premier pipers of his time, and his compositions came to dominate bagpipe repertoires worldwide. After this grand old man of the genre died of cancer at 56, his colleagues from the Pikes Peak Highlanders were on hand in full regalia as his ashes were scattered over the Garden of the Gods. We can't think of a more fitting--or mournful--memorial than a last hurrah of "Amazing Grace" among the eerie rocks.

Best Candidate for a Funeral
Rocky Flats
In February Rocky Flats manager Mark Silverman floated a novel idea for dealing with the bomb factory, where nuclear-weapons production has at long last been marked for shutdown by the federal government. His tongue-in-cheek plan: Clean it as well as it can be cleaned, then bury it--at least--six feet deep. Critics, including Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary, immediately questioned the environmental soundness of putting the world's largest supply of plutonium under grass (the worms crawl in, but they don't crawl out). But given the ignominious history of the operation, there's something attractive about putting the Flats--most of which now has a half-life of 24,000 years--in a symbolic grave.

Best Move by a Dead Guy
Major William Cooke Daniels
When local mercantile legend Major William Cooke Daniels died in 1918, he wanted to rest in pieces. Accordingly, half his ashes were placed in a lead box on the fourth floor of his famous Clock Tower on 16th Street (historians aren't sure what happened to the rest). Daniels was known as a world traveler in his day, and his remains kept up the tradition. When the clock tower was refurbished in 1980, the Major moved up to the company store at 16th and Tremont. When May D&F, the conglomerate that succeeded Daniels's original company, opened up its new store in the Cherry Creek Mall, he went uptown, taking up residence in a small vault specially installed at the swank establishment. Last March Daniels's wandering came to an end when Michael A. Blatnik, director of restoration for the clock tower, announced plans to bring the Major's better half back home this summer--and even reward him with a new bronze urn.

Best Deathbed Confessions
Lenny Jaramillo
Out Front

Funny, sad, tragic, mundane, horrifying, sexy, pathetic, heroic--Lenny Jaramillo, who pens the "Living With AIDS" column for the local gay publication Out Front, touches all bases. As the disease digs away at him, Jaramillo never seems to descend into apathy, and he knows how to describe the fear and anger--as well as the humor and irony--that cross his path. This is not sugarcoated.

Best Sacred Visit
The Ganden Jangtse Tibetan Monks
The nine holy men from India spent a week on the grounds of the Denver Art Museum creating an intricate sand mandala--something akin to a Native American sand painting--by painstakingly placing colored sand, a grain at a time, on a design five feet in diameter. But the mandala was intended as more than a work of art--it was also meant to serve as a mystical healing agent that would help cleanse the Mile High City of endemic gang violence. Couldn't hurt.

Best Speed Trap
Emerson Street, just north of I-25
If you think you'll turn off onto this one-way residential street during the morning rush hour and simply zoom northward toward downtown, forget it. The neighborhood will beat you long before you beat the traffic. The speed limit is 30 mph--that's why residents are standing outside their houses holding up signs asking you to slow down, pal! And if you decide to shrug that off, cops are often waiting just around the corner. The traffic moves well on Emerson, so relax and go with the flow.

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