There seemed little chance of anything just "petering out" in Boulder, however, while Big Chief Koby was in command. Throughout the year, Koby railed against journalists, dragging a copy of the First Amendment along to press conferences so he could shake it in his fist while refusing to answer questions and getting so worked up in general that when a loud explosion rocked Boulder in October, it was assumed his head had finally exploded. Actually, it was the No. 2 steam generator at the college power plant that went ballistic, but judging from the Big Chief's ongoing blue funk, he should continue to be monitored for seismic activity.

Of course, Koby had his reasons for being steamed. After Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau told a group of Colorado College graduates to "go forth and raise hell," Boulder's college legions raised a little of their own. The kids rioted over such civil-rights issues as their ability to get liquored up without being hassled by the fuzz. But they soon learned not to beat the war drums with Big Chief. During nightly melees in May, Koby sent buses full of cops in riot gear to keep the longhairs in check and, after a repeat performance, told the Boulder Planet that his officers "would have been justified in killing some of these young people."

In August, the cops actually did kill a twenty-year-old man who'd made the mistake of fondling a woman at a rave party; after handcuffing, hobbling, hog-tying and pepper-spraying the offender, they sat on him until he couldn't breathe, in the process blowing any chance Jack the Gripper had of making it onto America's Most Wanted. Then the department promptly went on Full Panic Alert. In November, SWAT teams shut off the Pearl Street Mall after getting reports that a "potential sniper" had been spotted on a balcony overlooking the shopping strip with a rifle. The lone gunman turned out to be a video cameraman teaching a film class to a group of schoolchildren.

Helping maintain law and order up north were CU's campus cops, whose past arrest of three black football players for riding their bikes at night without headlights apparently led the school to make an attempt at reconciliation with the African-American community. CU officials this year honored Black History Month by serving up an all-you-can-eat "soul food dinner" at the Cheyenne Arapahoe Dining Room. The menu included barbecued ribs, catfish, collard greens, black-eyed peas with ham hocks, cornbread and okra-tomato gumbo. For dessert there was peach cobbler--and a whole lot of love.

And there were still a few people in Boulder who wanted to make love, not war. Most belonged to the group Loving More, which told its members to have multiple sexual relationships--at the same time--and celebrated weddings with as many as six figurines atop the cake. Most locals, though, were Loving Less. The dour mood was summed up by a man who dashed off a piece of hate mail after a city transportation planner bent on eliminating air pollution suggested putting electronic monitors in cars and then paying people for the trips they didn't take.

"Even the Communists never tried this," said the letter writer. "You people are out of your minds."

The state hit a Rocky Mountain Low in October, when John Denver, the finest singer-songwriter ever to wrap his car around a tree in the Starwood subdivision of Aspen, pulled a similar stunt with his Y-shaped experimental airplane, piloting it into the surf off Monterey. John Boy splashed down just weeks before a promising career move that might have marked the beginning of a huge comeback: the issuance of a greatest-hits collection advertised on late-night television and not available in stores. Sadly, the album doesn't include his last recorded song, in which he sang of "my brother, the wolf, my mother, the moon" but left out the part about his cousin, the fish.

Denver was intensely mourned by thousands of fans, such as the sensitive soul who fought through his tears to pen the tribute "But Now I'm an Ocean Buoy" to the tune of "Thank God I'm a Country Boy." However, the man whose attorney once moved jurors to tears when he revealed that his client suffered from a thyroid condition that stalled the metabolizing of booze would not have wanted people to cry for him. There had been enough of that while he was alive. No, he would have wanted people to smile. And smile they did, all the way through an open-air ceremony in Aspen, where Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn gathered to hear Lyle Lovett make his most controversial public admission since being dumped like a sack of manure by Julia Roberts: "John Denver was my hero and my teacher." The festivities were capped by a flyover from a small plane, which dipped both wings in what was either a traditional pilot's tribute or a dramatic re-creation of Denver's death plunge.

The mountain flying wasn't so good for Air Force pilot Craig Button, whose A-10 Thunderbolt was finally found atop Gold Dust Peak after an exhaustive search. When the aircraft was located, there was but one clue to its fate: a black-box recording of Button saying he "knew he shouldn't have turned left at Albuquerque." The massive search effort threw a scare into mountain goats and other creatures: One Eagle County woman, worried about infrared devices that could reportedly "see" into buildings to detect areas of great heat, told the sheriff she was afraid the Air Force might be planning to watch her take a shower in her home.

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