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Off Limits

Duty is skin deep: Members of grand jury panel No. 97-1 were warned to show up Tuesday at the federal courthouse at 18th and Stout streets in "casual business attire," according to an information sheet sent out earlier this month. "Denim jeans, shorts, tee-shirts or tank tops are not appropriate," the missive warned. Over the phone, a clerk elaborated: Suits would be nice.

No, these are not the jurors who will be assigned to the Oklahoma City bombing case. (Prospective members of that jury, some 3,000 strong when they started out last week, are currently being questioned by Judge Richard Matsch.) This improved jean pool will be seated on a traditional grand jury--but one ruled by an untraditionally strict dress code. Are Matsch and other federal judges worried a grand juror will flash an inappropriate T-shirt message to the world as he walks past a TV crew covering the Oklahoma City bombing trial, set to start next Monday in the same building? That someone wearing fatigues might be confused with Timothy McVeigh and further muddy witness testimony? (Adding insult to injury, jury members were informed that they would be reimbursed only $4.50 per day in parking fees--lots of luck.)

As long as the judges want to clean up Denver's act, why not go all the way and require formal attire? For inspiration, they need look no further than the gown Natalie Pujo wore while delivering the news on Channel 7 Monday night. Ostensibly, the getup was in honor of the Academy Awards, but the red prom dress added a surreal element to Pujo's Oklahoma City update.

Too bad her clipboard wasn't sequined.

The groves of academia: Colorado Historical Society curator Stan Oliner is looking for a few hundred good men--and women--to archive the Oklahoma City coverage now exploding in the media, both official and unofficial.

Oliner, whose projects include collecting press releases from the Westword office to capture Denver's cultural scene, started thinking about tracking the Oklahoma case eighteen months ago, "when it became evident that the trial possibly was headed this way," he says. "I called the Oklahoma Historical Society and said, 'Hello, colleague.'" The Oklahoma group had already started its collection; today it numbers over half a million pieces, including teddy bears left at the site of the Murrah building. But Oklahoma had yet to tap one source: cyberspace.

So Oliner plans to "vacuum the Internet." His volunteers will search sites already in place, as well as others expected to pop up as the trial gets under way. Although their task is high-tech, researchers are supposed to document their finds on lowly paper. "I won't be around in the year 2050," Oliner explains, "and I can't guarantee that we'll continue to update the technology. So we're going to sacrifice a little grove of trees to print out hard copies."

What those trees will give their lives for ranges from e-mail condolence messages, to a fellow who thinks he can tie the bombing to Bosnia, to more "wild speculation in terms of conspiracy theories," says Oliner. As a librarian, he saw all the conspiracy theories that surfaced in the wake of the Kennedy assassination; in retrospect, he speculates about half were true.

He won't venture an accuracy rating for his favorite theory to crop up thus far: that the Japanese bombed the Oklahoma City building because it was the CIA that put the poison gas in the Tokyo subway. "That has to be number one," Oliner says.

On talk radio, where he's taped some shows, Oliner finds more "wild speculation," he says. "The future is going to have to sort that out." In the meantime, he's doing some sorting of his own--separating Oklahoma City talk from chat about the JonBenet Ramsey murder, another local event he's attempting to archive. And in a noble effort to do so, he popped into a supermarket earlier this week to pick up the four tabloids--where, he says, Ramsey is the lead story for the ninth straight week.

How Boulder is different, exhibit A: What's the difference between the New York Times syndicate commissioning Janet McReynolds, better known as "Mrs. Santa," to write a several-part series on the Ramsey family and the Globe paying for interviews? That's easy: No one's called for a boycott of the Times.

How Boulder is different, exhibit B: The premiere issue of Colorado, Views From CU-Boulder, offers this official "CU-Boulder Alumni Office Diversity Statement" on its opening page: "People are different, and the differences among them are what we call diversity, a natural and enriching hallmark of life. Diversity may include, but is not limited to, ethnicity, race, gender, class, sexual orientation, religion, physical abilities, age, geographic location and academic background."

Not surprisingly, this all was "printed on recycled paper.

 
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