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Off Limits

Author! Author!: A twofer of Coors is coming right up, with a pair of books due out on the Golden brewery and the family that founded it.

One of the tomes is the official Coors history, authorized--and subsidized--by the brewery in time for Coors's 125th anniversary in March 1988. According to company spokesman Joe Fuentes, the book of a hundred-plus pages will rely heavily on chats with family members, employees and distributors (with most of the initial copies going to those same groups). But even so, the vanity volume won't steer clear of Coors's most controversial moments: the 1984 Rocky Mountain News headline that got Bill Coors in so much trouble with minorities, for example, and the contra support that earned Joe Coors and the company a black eye in the national press. "You have to mention those things," Fuentes says.

Not in as much depth as some initial authorial candidates, including local historian Tom Noel, might have liked, however. Ultimately, the job went to Russ Banham, a writer from Missoula, Montana.

Oddly enough, another Missoula author has set his sights on Coors. Dan Baum, who's relocated to Boulder, has a $130,000 deal with William Morrow to write a book on the Coors family--and unlike their beer, his look at the Coors family won't be pasteurized. "Nobody had ever written about them," he says. "Americans are interested in old, wealthy families."

Particularly old, wealthy families that built a business--and a legend. So far, the focus of Baum's research, now in its fourth month, is how Coors could move from nineteenth-century to twentieth-century sensibilities so quickly, and "from political pariah to one of the most progressive" companies in the country. But he's had to do that research without benefit of official Coors comment; family members--perhaps remembering such unflattering earlier books as Silver Bullet and Coors Connection--aren't cooperating. In fact, they've asked friends not to talk with Baum, either. And that's unfortunate, Baum suggests: "Those are the people who like them. I think they will like the book better if they cooperate with me." But then, many of the people who have talked with Baum, even those who may not agree with assorted Coors politics, have told him surprisingly positive things. For starters, Baum says, "I've never spoken to anybody who has said anything bad about Bill Coors."

Baum's last book was about a different vice entirely from alcohol: drugs. Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure, which came out last year to critical acclaim, is now in its second printing; the paperback hits bookstores May 5.

All bets are off: Just six years ago, Coloradans voted to allow limited-stakes gaming in three old mining towns--all for the good of historic preservation, of course.

And historic preservation is the nominal motivation behind the latest proposal set for public hearing in Black Hawk next Wednesday. Preservation--and parking lots. Eagle Gaming, which bought out Harrah's, wants to move several historic houses to a parcel of land it will donate to the town for a "historic residential district" (conveniently located near the sewage plant); in exchange, it wants the land one of those houses now sits on. Unfortunately, that's the historic site of the Lace House, a 134-year-old dwelling that is one of Black Hawk's few authentic attractions and one so famous it has its own nonprofit foundation.

Although residents of Black Hawk have rolled over for almost everything else casinos have requested, they may draw the line at the Lace House. Or, as alderman Al Price says, "We shouldn't give up all this. I'd like to get as many people as possible to stand in front of it."

Officially, the town of Black Hawk has yet to take a position on the proposal (unofficially, administrators have been go-go for gambling). If the Lace House were moved, town spokesman Roger Baker points out, the new location might actually allow for a more accurate renovation. For example, if tour guides could use other nearby bathroom facilities, the Lace House could get rid of its far-from-historic flush toilet. "Does it make sense to have a more historically accurate renovation in a building moved off its original site?" Baker asks.

Ka-ching.

Punch and duty: Aspen, which hosted last month's national comedy festival, also served as the butt of many jokes (so what else is new?). Asked Colin Quinn: "You know what I hate about Aspen? The racial tension." And Paul Rodriguez offered a variation on that theme: "If you see a black or Latino on the mountain, it means there must have been a plane crash.

 
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