Shirt Happens, After Columbus Day

The Colorado History Museum has put these Homeland Security tees on ice until the Columbus Day contention cools down.

The $17.99 T-shirt features a historic photo depicting a well-armed Geronimo and a few friends above this slogan: "Homeland Security: Fighting terrorism since 1492." It's available at the Colorado History Museum gift shop — but only if you ask for it specifically, since the clerks are keeping the shirts in a back storage room until after Columbus Day.

Welcome to Colorado, where Columbus is both loved and hated and Columbus Day has become a flash point between proud Italian-Americans, who typically celebrate their Nina-skippering paisan with a parade and other festivities, and protesting Native Americans, who see the explorer as an oppressor and a symbol of a skewed history that credits Columbus with "discovering" America in 1492 while ignoring Native Americans. Colorado was the first state to honor Columbus with a holiday, exactly one hundred years ago, and both sides have promised plenty of fireworks at this year's Columbus Day Parade on October 6 (for more details, see Follow That Story).

The Colorado Historical Society, which runs the museum, is well known for its exhibits documenting Native American history, and right now it's honoring the state's rich Italian heritage, as well, with The Italians of Denver, a show that runs until next July. But while the two cultures exist relatively peacefully inside the museum's walls, the "Homeland Security" T-shirt has raised a few eyebrows, admits CHS spokeswoman Rebecca Laurie. "We did get a couple of phone calls and letters about it," she says.

And so the shirt is being kept under wraps, at least through Columbus Day. After that, the CHS will have a little pow-wow with the private concessionaire running the shop and decide whether Geronimo gets the heave-ho.


Blockheads: Developer Evan Makovsky has saved Block 162 from its schizophrenic self, and in the process has become the hero of civic boosters who'd long despaired of something, anything, being done to that sad square of downtown bounded by Welton, California, 15th and 16th streets. Somehow, this summer Makovsky managed to assemble all the disparate pieces of property into a whole that's ripe for redevelopment ("Evan Almighty," September 13). But just what, exactly, should it develop into? To get creative juices flowing, the Downtown Denver Partnership is looking for possible interim uses of a portion of Block 162, which is falling to the wrecking ball. The goal is to have the project in place in time for the Democratic National Convention – but it won't last forever. (For Kenny Be's take, see Worst Case Scenario.)

"In the end, whatever use is designated must be temporary while creating an exciting use of the space," says DDP president Tami Door. "This will not only provide a much-needed upgrade to the appearance of this block, but could also encourage the redevelopment of adjacent properties."

The Partnership is accepting ideas, in 200 words or less, through October 5 at www.downtowndenver.com. But we don't need any extra time, or even 200 words, for ours: Give the space to Lauri Lynnxe Murphy, the woman who brought us Capsule — and who will lose that gallery/performance space at 560 Santa Fe Drive on January 5, 2008, when it closes so that the building can come down and, yes, become a parking lot (Off Limits, September 20). Like so many aesthetic entrepreneurs before her, Murphy has helped regentrify a neighborhood, only to have the rents rise beyond the grasp of the very artists who made it hip. So give the space to Murphy, who's creative enough to come up with just the right way to turn Block 162 into the coolest spot in town, even if only temporarily — an arts mecca where people can see art over their lunch hour and buy more than just the rubber tomahawks and black-velvet paintings currently available at the souvenir shops that line the 16th Street Mall.

By all that's almighty, Evan!

 
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