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Off Limits

Pei to play: Now that the pesky, if historic, I.M. Pei-inspired hyperbolic paraboloid is out of the way and the Denver Urban Renewal Authority subsidy safely pocketed, phase two of the $130 million renovation of Fred Kummer's Adam's Mark Hotel is going full-bore.

And speaking of bore, Kummer's company has just announced the "birth" of the Denver hotel's "guardian ballerina." While a line of lawyers might be a more appropriate symbol, five of Ruth Keller Schweiss's eighteen-foot-high dancers--who resemble anorexic aliens--will grace the entrance to the hotel, standing close to where Pei's paraboloid once soared. Schweiss is not a local artist--but then, although Denver has an arts commission that supposedly supervises the city's one-percent-for-art rule on public construction projects, no local opinions were sought for the Adam's Mark art. Local subsidies were, of course; with over $30 million from DURA going to the renovation, one percent would have been a nice chunk of change for a local artist.

Denver's been shelling out to Adam's Mark in other ways for years. Since 1992, the city has leased 21,245 square feet of space on the top floor of the original hotel, where it has stashed five county courtrooms and other assorted offices. In exchange for easing the crunch at overcrowded City Hall, Denver pays $292,359 a year...room service not included.

Udder contempt: Rocky Mountain News international editor Holger Jensen is back from Russia, where he encountered tough bureaucrats and tougher steaks. But the cows are even tougher here in Colorado.

In May the News sent a promo pitch to potential advertisers that boasted, "We have the circulation lead where people live. They do where cows live. Before placing your next ad, consider that the lack of opposable thumbs makes flipping pages difficult." Many folks outside the News's circulation area--most of them alerted to the campaign by pieces in the Post--took issue with the cow comparison. "I don't go around calling you bald, soft and pink, do I?" wrote Stephen Busemeyer, editor-in-chief of the Daily Press in Craig, in an irate letter to News execs. "Frankly, folks, we in Craig give you pretentious, shallow, bedroom-community, air-conditioned, brown-clouded swine (is that a compliment?) two big opposable thumbs down."

In particular, Busemeyer fingered Jensen, whom he'd seen one day at the Denver Press Club picking up caviar. The same Jensen, he noted, who "busted his leg, got lost and almost kicked the bucket when he was vacationing just down the road from us, where the cows live. Wait. You mean someone who can flit his way through a world war can't walk down a trail?"

Jensen quickly fired back. "Sure, I've traveled a bit, covered a few wars and been shot a few times, mostly without the caviar and champagne," he wrote. "I'd venture a guess that I was in Vietnam before you were in swaddling clothes, but I certainly don't hold that against you--in fact, I envy you the pristine cow pastures of Craig and spend most of my off-duty time wandering around your wilderness areas." Where, Jensen added, he'd never been lost. "Next time you're in town, introduce yourself and I'll see if you're really as big an asshole as you came across in your letter." Moo.

Cows aside, the hot topic at the Denver dailies is the surprise defection of investigative editor Lou Kilzer from the Post to the News. Kilzer, who won a Pulitzer during his first stint at the Post, left for the tabloid on Tuesday.

 
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