High Noon

When it's springtime in the Rockies . . .

If Denver's portal to hell is a souvenir shop, this city's doing just fine.

At Welton, we encountered our second street musician: a man playing "Springtime in the Rockies" on his clarinet near a planter filled with flowers. "Okay," the booster admitted. "This looks like utopia."

Such a utopia that the fellow who sells fifty-cent hot dogs was enjoying a nice, expensive lunch at an outdoor table at one of the Denver Pavilions restaurants. Such a utopia that rather than being asked for handouts, I was handed fliers about Jesus (he's coming), the Latino Voting Project, a seminar on medical marijuana -- each delivered with a silent smile.

David Rehor

Finally, after a seventy-minute stroll up one side of the mall and down the other (with time out for souvenir-store stops), we spied our first genuine panhandler outside of Marlowe's. By the time we reached him, he was on a pay phone in the center of the mall, talking quietly. The sign on his back read: "God bless you and your family. 45 % of my body burn, artificial leg. Can't work."

"He's giving panhandling a good name," sighed my companion.

In all, we spotted exactly one crime: a bike on the mall, which is forbidden. Then again, its owner was just walking alongside it, talking to his friend, enjoying the sun, the day, the city. It looked like heaven.

"Next time," the booster said hopefully, "you should really try eight in the morning."

Sex and This City

Colorado's facing disastrous shortages of cash, of water, of common sense. So why are our state legislators devoting so much of their day to excessive fretting about sex? When they're not panicking about same-sex marriage, they're worrying about sex education or the ludicrous possibility that some teen previously as pure as Rocky Mountain spring water might be corrupted by the cover of a magazine he spots in a bookstore, or a poster advertising a play in the window of a theater.

Under the proposal originally floated by Representative Ted Harvey ("F-Bombed," January 22), the owner of that bookstore and the producer of that theatrical performance could be thrown in jail if "a reasonable adult person would find that the material or performance lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors."

Why not just throw legislators in jail if they fail to display serious political value?

But Harvey and his cohort in the Senate, Doug Lamborn (a Republican from Colorado Springs, as if you couldn't have guessed), have escaped the hoosegow for now. Last week, HB 1078 -- the bill that had been amended, tabled, then resurrected from the dead -- was finally killed by the Colorado Senate. And free speech is free again -- or as close as it can get to it in this state.

Representative Shawn Mitchell was speaking pretty freely at the legislature last week, pushing his bill that would give parents greater leeway in letting their kids skip sex-ed classes. And while Democrats claim that the bill finally approved on Friday simply returns Colorado to the status quo, Mitchell says it's actually "a greatly improved version of what we had before." Now schools will be required to give parents more details about the content of the curriculum, as well as more information on their right to opt their children out of the class -- and no longer will parents have to offer a religious reason in order to do so. "A parent can opt out for any reason," he says.

And has Mitchell opted his children out of sex ed? "We've allowed them to participate, and then we visit with them afterwards," says the Broomfield Republican. "We've had practice; we have seven kids. After the third, you lose the blush."

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