Off Limits

Holy Moses!

"We can't have two guys wearing bow ties," Mr. Bigwig responded.

"I was ready to quit," Smith recalls. "I went back to see my wife in Dallas. 'This is the way it starts,' I said. 'This is the way they take control of your life.'" Smith stayed with the job. "I wear them off the air," he says. "I've made an adjustment to life without bow ties."

He's also made an adjustment to life 2,000 miles from Denver. Although he frequently comes to Colorado to ski, "I miss my pals," says Smith. "And playing softball at Lawson Field." Told that the downtown ballpark is now kept locked when not in use by teams, Smith responds: "That's wrong, that's wrong.... There were lots of homeless folks and people of dubious reputation. So I would bring packs of Redman chewing tobacco, and they wouldn't throw bottles at us."

Early bird: Harry Smith returns to CBS, not Denver.
Early bird: Harry Smith returns to CBS, not Denver.

Another change in that neighborhood: The Punch Bowl is no more. "That's wrong," says Smith. "My going-away party in 1985 was held at the Punch Bowl -- a great, amazing event. The place was packed, and we were having a really good time. It was a bit of a who's who. Norm Early said that it was late and he had to go."

But a few minutes later, Denver's then-district attorney was back in the bar. "Someone had broken into his car," says Smith.

See you in the morning, Harry.

Off the island: Sadly, Harry Smith's path won't cross with that of legal secretary Ghandia Johnson. The "Denver Diva" was featured on The Early Show last Friday -- the morning after she became the fourth person to be kicked off Survivor: Thailand.

Earlier in the week, a whopping 30.1 percent of the people responding to a CBS poll had picked Johnson as the Survivor most deserving of the boot -- despite the peaceful ways of her namesake, Mahatma Gandhi. "You can play the game or the game can play you," Johnson told Julie Chen. (Chen is the sole member of The Early Show's current cast to survive the shakeup.) "I got played. And I played myself, too."

She's now playing herself all over town, where she's the mother of two.

Rocky Mountain guy: The fifth anniversary of John Denver's death passed almost unnoticed in the city whose name he adopted rather than hang on to his bland, original moniker, Henry Deutschendorf.

But the day got plenty of attention in Aspen, Denver's longtime residence and home of the Windstar Foundation, the environmental-education organization that he co-founded 25 years ago with aikido master Tom Crum. On Sunday, the foundation unveiled a more-than-life-sized bronze statue of the singer, guitar dangling down his back and eagle perched on his left forearm.

"When approached with the idea of this remembrance to John Denver for the Windstar land," writes sculptress Sue DiCicco in her artist's statement, "I began to think of all he meant to all of us and incorporate that into a single idea and image. I went to a quiet place. I popped Windsong into the CD player. I knew where to start looking. I walked a quiet road. The vision came. This was the beginning stage of the 'Spirit'...

"First and foremost, when thinking of John's role at Windstar, his love of nature and the world around us was paramount. To express this, I placed an eagle in the forefront, a symbol John used often in the imagery he created with his music, to represent his love of nature and care for our planet. His music, ever present, creates the backbone, in the form of his favorite Taylor guitar, strapped to his back. Reaching for the skies. Ready to take flight."

Of course, Denver had already achieved liftoff when the experimental plane he'd just purchased crashed off the California coast on October 12, 1997.

To pay for the sculpture's Snowmass installation, the foundation is accepting donations (DiCicco gave her time) and selling off 200 Spirit bronzes, each 24 inches and a paltry $6,000.

Post-Columbus Day fireworks: Given the potential for disruption during last Saturday's dueling demonstrations -- the Columbus Day parade and the Four Directions/All Nations march -- Denver officials made certain that the boys (and girls) in blue were out in force, with over 600 on hand in downtown Denver.

By the time the sun set that day, the Denver Police Department had arrested a grand total of seven people (not including Chuck Green; see page 24), with no reports of violence.

The war of words didn't end there, however. On Monday, the DPD released photographs of potentially dangerous objects discovered by authorities along the parade routes of both the Four Directions march and the Italian-backed stroll, objects ranging from what appeared to be Baggies of paint to what were described by police as mustard-gas bombs. DPD officials later backed off the B-word, downgrading the devices from bombs to mere firecrackers -- "nothing to do with commercial or government type" mustard gas, according to one police spokesman.

Still, parade organizer George Vendegnia says that while he felt "very safe," there was the specter of violence -- including a death threat to U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo. But Tancredo marched anyway, right alongside Vendegnia, and there weren't any problems aside from "hearing insults and people giving us the finger," Vendegnia says.

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