Off Limits

Your attention, please

The following item violates the City of Denver Solid Waste Management Department's recently issued guidelines concerning media coverage of graffiti and graffiti-related issues. Reader discretion is advised.

Spray it, don't say it: Last month, a criminal artist or artists unknown spray-painted a dozen stencil-graffiti images of commander-in-chief George W. Bush, along with the slogan "Liberate America, Kill Bush," on a concrete wall in the 4800 block of South Yosemite Street.

The Greenwood Village Police Department immediately launched an investigation and notified the Secret Service, because threatening the life of the president is a felony and a federal offense (as is threatening a presidential candidate, à la "Die, Nader, Die, You 5% Pulling Tofu Cruncher"). Village officials also called in street-gang experts to explore the possible connection between the "Kill Bush" stencils and "gang-like" tagging graffiti discovered on the same wall.

Ned heads: Mike Torpie and his campaign manager, 
Mountain Girl.
Anthony Camera
Ned heads: Mike Torpie and his campaign manager, Mountain Girl.
Dis Bush: Street stencil graffiti.
Dis Bush: Street stencil graffiti.

No arrests have been made thus far, and no conclusive evidence has been found of a conspiracy to do a drive-by on a certain ranch in Crawford, Texas. Greenwood Village police have, however, logged multiple reports of further "Kill Bush" stencil sightings on sidewalks and walls elsewhere in the metro area, including along East Colfax Avenue between Colorado Boulevard and Monaco Parkway.

Oops. We did it again.

Three days after the "Kill Bush" stencils were discovered, Solid Waste Management's "Graffiti in the Media" announcement arrived: "There has been a lot of public concern about graffiti in recent weeks. Solid Waste Management appreciates the media's coverage of this issue and would like to pass along some information we hope you will find helpful while reporting graffiti-related stories.

Please photograph graffiti out of focus to distort the actual writing.

Please do not disclose locations of recently cleaned areas, recently hit or tagged areas, or areas where owners and residents are diligently maintaining their communities.

Taggers see this as a battlefield, where they must win."

Fear not, good people of Denver. The battle is joined, and we have dutifully filed the above under "Solid Waste."

Play ball! By any measure, Doug Kauffman has more than enough to keep him busy. As the founder and co-owner of the promotion firm Nobody in Particular Presents, he oversees four local music venues -- the Ogden, Bluebird and Gothic theaters, plus the Lion's Lair -- that collectively put on dozens of shows a month. He's also had to deal with plenty of off-stage drama: In January, shortly after former partner Jesse Morreale ended his association with the company, the City of Denver closed NIPP's offices over a back-taxes dispute. A settlement was brokered in that case, but NIPP still owes big bucks to another promoter, House of Blues, and its lawsuit against Clear Channel Entertainment for alleged anti-competitive practices continues to wind its way through the courts.

So what's on Kauffman's mind these days? Softball.

Kauffman has played competitive softball for a couple of decades at facilities all over the metro area, but the diamond at Sonny Lawson Park, at 23rd and Welton streets, is the field of his dreams. When he moved to Denver from his native Michigan in 1981, he drove straight to Sonny Lawson because it had been immortalized in On the Road, Jack Kerouac's picaresque opus. Kauffman can still quote from the scene in which "strange young heroes of all kinds, white, colored, Mexican, pure Indian" raced across the outfield on an evening when Sal Paradise, Kerouac's fictional doppelgänger, wished he were "a Denver Mexican, or even a poor overworked Jap, anything but what I was so drearily, a 'white man' disillusioned."

Today, the area around Sonny Lawson is just as diverse as it was in Kerouac's day, and the culture is equally rich, something that hasn't escaped notice. In conjunction with the Denver Musicians Association and several other groups, the city is staging a Five Points Jazz concert in the park on April 25, with a bill featuring Mood Express, Purnell Steen, Le Jazz Machine and the Denver Jazz Orchestra. For Kauffman, the park's environment enhances the game, as do what he delicately refers to as "colorful characters who sit out beyond the left-field fence. They'll give you advice on how to play and yell that somebody should warn them if you hit a home run, because they're right in the line of fire."

The setting doesn't charm everyone, which helps explain why there's been little organized softball at Sonny Lawson for "four or five years," Kauffman says. So he's taken it upon himself to pull a Wednesday-night league together. Although he's already gotten a commitment from three teams, his included, Kauffman needs nine to make the project viable. Once enough players are assembled, he'll happily let Ernie Perez of Softball in Denver oversee the contests. But the season starts May 12, so he needs interested athletes to call him -- soon -- at the NIPP office.

Yes, Kauffman has a lot on his plate -- but that won't stop him from stepping up to the plate at Sonny Lawson Field. "To me, softball's a priority, just like concert promoting is," he says. "You've got to fit it all in."

High anxiety: Election day is next Tuesday in Nederland, the beatific blue-collar hamlet seventeen miles up Boulder Canyon. Late last week, though, there were no campaign signs up for any of the seven candidates vying for the three spots on the town's board of trustees. The only symptom of election fever was the twin banners hanging outside the town accountant's office -- one for each of the two candidates running for mayor. Still, on April 6, more than a quarter of this town's 1,380 souls are expected to turn out to vote in the most contentious general election in decades.

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