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Iced out

The Colorado Avalanche blanked the Los Angeles Kings at the Pepsi Center on Monday to advance in the Stanley Cup finals. But the Kings weren't the only losers that night. According to Jean Martineau, vice president of communications for the Avs, numerous autos were towed from the arena's designated media parking lot, including a Channel 9 vehicle and the set of wheels belonging to veteran Channel 7 sportscaster Mike Nolan.

Why?

"All the vehicles that were towed had fake parking passes," Martineau says. "It's very easily done. You have a real parking pass, you go to a photocopier business, and you make a photocopy." And then he adds, ominously, "But we have a way to know if it's fake or not." Even more ominous, Martineau accuses the media organizations themselves of phonying up the permits: "We provide media with parking passes, and some of them are duplicating ours to make fake ones. That's why they got towed."

After researching the issue, Channel 9 news director Patti Dennis confirms that the station was using fake passes. "The Avalanche issued us three passes at the beginning of the season. In the course of the season, two went missing...so two were manufactured to replace them," she says. "I'm not happy about it. It doesn't reflect our ethics at all.... I talked to the people involved, and it doesn't reflect their normal method of operating, either." She adds that Channel 9 will use its one pass and pay to park its other vehicles for the rest of the playoffs.

Nolan couldn't be reached for comment, but Martineau claims the TV man apologized for reacting poorly to the disappearance of his ride. "He's a great guy," Martineau allows, "and he called up and told me, 'I want to apologize, because I acted like a jerk -- and I'm going to apologize to your security people, too.'"

As for Martineau, he's not sorry for anything. "If they do it again, the same thing is going to happen," he says.


Don't have a cow, man: Those virtuous veggie-lovers with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA (rhymes with "Don't Eat-a," as in anything with a face), want to make sure locals think twice about what they're eating. And so the Virginia-based organization has rented a billboard on East Colfax Avenue, just west of York Street, where it's spoofing the well-known ad campaign of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association: "Beef: It's What's for Dinner."

PETA's message? "Beef: It's What's Rotting in Your Colon."

Yum! Diners at Pete's Kitchen, a Denver landmark smack dab across the street from the billboard, haven't found the message a particularly appetizing visual garnish to their meals. "They hate it. Even the vegetarians here," says restaurant manager Gina Belearde. Over the past few weeks, Belearde has been collecting upwards of eighty complaints a day from customers who can't swallow PETA's display. "We've had ideas about what to do, like go out and shoot paintballs at it," she says. But in the meantime, the line of would-be customers still snakes out the door at Pete's on weekends. And Belearde insists that the sale of steaks -- New York steak with eggs, $7.75, or T-bone, $12.95 -- remains sizzling all day.

The campaign -- PETA calls it a "rotten stunt to get cattlemen's goat" -- is typical of the group's tactics, which usually include plenty of flashy, if painfully obnoxious, imagery to get the point across. (Last year, PETA dressed a woman in a G-string and tiger paint to protest the treatment of circus animals.) According to Heather Buckmaster, spokeswoman for the Colorado Beef Council, an affiliate of the Denver-based National Cattlemen's organization, the stomach-churning line on the billboard is "typical of PETA's sensationalism." There's "no research" to support claims that beef is harmful, she adds: "They're lies by a fringe group. I'm not sure why they're doing this now."

PETA isn't totally down on Denver, though. In fact, it recently named Coors Field one of the "Top 10 Vegetarian-Friendly Ball Parks in Major League Baseball." Denver finished in the top three, along with Tropicana Field, home to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and the SkyDome, where the Toronto Blue Jays play.

"In addition to longtime vegetarian favorites like peanuts, Cracker Jacks, French fries, and pretzels, Colorado Rockies fans can sink their teeth into Gardenburgers, veggie wraps, bean burritos, veggie pizzas and subs, and nachos," reads a PETA pronouncement.

The statement didn't mention that the Rockies also have a pitching staff that couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, let alone harm any of the animals inside of it.


Urban jungle: Get ready! Get set! Ride the bus! Denver also made the cut for twenty cities that will be hosting a wacky, made-for-TV-style race called the Urban Challenge this summer. The event requires two-person teams -- each of which has to pay a $200 entrance fee -- to race through downtown Denver, scavenger-hunt style, looking for clues that will lead them through twelve checkpoints. The only forms of transportation racers can use are their feet, the bus, and light rail.

To get a good start on the race, participants have to score well in a trivia challenge that takes place at the starting line (which will probably be at the Wynkoop Brewing Co., although race organizers say they're still negotiating with the bar). "There's book smarts, and then there's street smarts. You'll need both," reads an information page at the race's Web site, www.UrbanChallenge.com. "Unlike other races, there's no set course. It's up to you. Use shortcuts and study that bus book. Those who know and love their city will win the day."

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