The Sounds of Silence

Last December, Oscar Hernandez became the town's biggest story. It's over for him now.

A transplant was no guarantee for Oscar Hernandez. Nor were all the good intentions and best wishes directed his way.

The Hernandezes' phone is now disconnected. Children's Hospital referred questions about Oscar to their lawyer, Ralph Torres. He did not return calls.

"Please keep the Hernandez family in your thoughts and prayers," concluded principal Wiemer.

And hold a special spot for Oscar.

Strip Search

Things must really be tough over at the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau if the hunt for qualified conventions has the organization soliticiting...journalists!

Early this week, the Washington, D.C., office of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (of which Westword is a member) received an e-mail from a bureau sales rep who'd learned that AAN was having its annual conference in San Antonio next year (I can already taste those frozen margaritas!) and wanted to ask, "Have you ever considered Denver or Colorado for this meeting?

"I would very much like to learn how I could present Denver to you while still accomplishing your objectives for your Annual Meeting," she continued. "We represent over 36,000 hotel rooms in Denver and Colorado, from the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs to the Hyatt in Beaver Creek, to the many different areas in Denver including our new 1,100-room Hyatt Hotel and Convention Center. We even have golf resorts and spas located within a few miles of Downtown Denver."

Spas -- now there's a selling point for a bunch of alternative journalists. And don't even get me started on the city-subsidized Hyatt, which is a good two years away from opening the door to any one of those 1,100 rooms. But here's the deal: AAN already held a convention in Denver, back in 1990, before Denver International Airport, before the new Colorado Convention Center, before even the last new Colorado Convention Center. The meeting was at the Brown Palace, where we managed to drink the Ship Tavern dry every night, necessitating many trips to Duffy's.

If only the Diamond Cabaret had been open back then.

Has the bureau no shame when it comes to soliciting? "We never bid for the strippers' convention," points out spokesman Rich Grant, happy to talk about conventions of strippers rather than convention-bureau employees going to strip clubs -- even though all the stories about the bureau's after-hours event at the Diamond Cabaret and the subsequent resignation of bureau CEO Eugene Dilbeck ("The Bare Necessities," November 6) netted this city about $1 million in publicity (none of it good). "The wildest convention of all, though, is the funeral directors."

Neither group is involved in the 79 conventions booked as a result of the meeting of meeting planners that Denver hosted last year. Just 22 of those meetings will bring the city $133 million, Grant notes, "so we don't need any more steenkin' journalists in this town."

The sort, for example, who snickered when the Fall 2003 edition of Colorado Meetings & Events magazine appeared in local mailboxes around town a couple of weeks ago -- with the by-then deposed Dilbeck's photo front and center on the cover (and an interview with him inside). But those journalists can stop their snickering. The publication wasn't produced, commissioned or connected with the bureau; it's the work of an independent outfit out of Minnesota, one with a very bad sense of timing.

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