Off Limits

Independence daze: When candidates for Pat Schroeder's congressional seat gathered at an Independence Institute forum last Friday, only the remaining Democrats--Tim Sandos and big-bucks-raiser Diana DeGette--were in attendance. Although he hardly would have faced a hostile audience (institute head Tom Tancredo is a former Ronald Reagan appointee), Republican candidate Joe Rogers declined an invitation to appear. But that fact apparently slipped by the irate Rogers staffer who called the institute's Golden office the morning of the forum to raise hell that Rogers's campaign hadn't been contacted about the event. Yes, it had been, said Marty Nalitz, the institute member and talk-show host who happened to answer the phone--and he was in a position to know, because "I'm the one who called you." After hearing that from Nalitz, the staffer conceded that perhaps there had been a call, but said the campaign had thought the institute's gathering was a debate--and Rogers has declined to debate a Democrat, any Democrat, until the party settles on one candidate in August's primary.

In the meantime, candidate Rogers is appearing in some less traditional places: on the faces of watches bought with campaign funds, and on a brand-new Web page (www.joerogers.com). In addition to "Joe Cool" links (the Conservative Cartoon Club and Bob Dole for President) and ties to other famous Rogerses (Ginger, Roy, Mr.), the page offers Rogers's bio and a scrapbook of media coverage--not including Westword's February 14, 1996, article reporting that the former Davis, Graham & Stubbs lawyer had been served with a court summons at the law firm for failing to repay some of his student loans.

Back in D.C., Schroeder's longtime aide, Dan Buck, is contemplating a Pat-less future and keeping busy providing quips for the media, including this gem in a recent Washington Post article about Dick Lamm's candidacy: "Every issue he brings up is the coming peril. It's either a ticking time bomb or a cancer, so when Dick Lamm gets up to talk, you don't know whether to call the bomb squad or the ambulance."

Or the cops: Lamm's former writing buddy, adman Arnie Grossman, is now out in California directing episodes of Highway Patrol. Grossman and Lamm once accorded Buck a high honor: In one of their political potboilers (more on this on page 13), they modeled a pesky administrative assistant after him.

Farm team: Ellen Orleans, a Naropa Institute staff member who oversees the Boulder school's writing-proficiency program, must be pretty proficient herself, judging from her third book, The Butches of Madison County. "I had the title, so I had to write the book," Orleans says. Move over, Robert Waller: Orleans's plot includes a wandering, "post-menopausal" lesbian writer and a straight Iowa farm wife who come together--ahem--for five romantic days. So far, Orleans has yet to hear from the macho author of the original--fortunately, her publisher at Laugh Lines Press was a lawyer in an earlier life--but others have taken note of her book: Last month it won the 1995 Lambda Literary Award for best Lesbian and Gay Humor at a ceremony in Chicago. The event, Orleans says, was "a parody of the Academy Awards"--fitting, since she describes her book as "a parody not only of the original, but of romance novels in general, and lesbian romance novels in specific.

 
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