I've gleefully lit my share of fuses on bottle rockets, cones, pinwheels and other sulfur-spewing devices in honor of July 4th. More than my share, actually, since my cousin -- the future plastic surgeon -- was forbidden by his folks to handle the explosives. Still, there's a lingering guilt for such excess.
So this year, instead of giving a pinwheel a twirl, I thought I'd give karma's wheel a spin. I wanted something different to honor the spirit of the day. Something like an alpine trek up one of the state's 54 fourteeners. But experts have cautioned that there will be quite the outdoor crowd this weekend, so any of the big peaks along the Front Range -- Evans, Bierstadt and the like -- won't exactly allow a "wilderness" experience. And it's hard to say how long such a hike might take, especially if you're cheek-to-backpack with someone wearing high heels and toting a can of Diet Coke.
But there is one unusual outdoorsy way to celebrate the spirit of America the Beautiful.
The Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, a ten-year-old nonprofit dedicated to preserving these giants' environments, has its Weekend Volunteer Projects going on at two biggies: Mount Massive (14,421 feet high), south of Leadville, from July 2 to 5 and July 5 to 10; and Wetterhorn Peak (a puny 14,015 feet), near Lake City, from July 2 to July 6. Groups of up to eight trained volunteers will rebuild trails, reforest and generally de-clutter these landmarks. The reward is simple.
"You get a sense of satisfaction," promises Amy Maching, a group coordinator.
And although she says they'll try to "have some shwag," such goodies won't be the real payoff. The teams will camp in wilderness areas, and the Fourteeners Initiative staff will provide the food and cook the meals. Of course, getting roused out of a sleeping bag at 7 a.m. is probably not everyone's idea of a good time at base camp. But if you're feeling patriotic and want cleaner fourteeners, contact the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative at 303-278-7525, ext. 115, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just don't expect to blow off any firecrackers. -- Ernie Tucker
Revo revs up its outdoor art market
Nobody wants to deal with the forced smiles and awkward conversation that come with being the first guest to show up for the party. But what if that party has a hip host, original art and hot DJs spinning tunes? That's the description of the new Outdoor Art Market & Fair put on by Revoluciones Collective Art Space. Revo owners believe they have a happening idea: Let local artists rent $20 booths from which to peddle their goods; bump some good music; open the doors to their vibe-y facility -- and voilà, a weekly community event takes shape.
Still, even in a place as cool as Revo's new home (the Construct, a creative-arts space at 3519 Brighton Boulevard), it takes time to get the word out. As Revo co-owner Seema Pandya notes, "It's going to take a little while for momentum to build."
But considering the hundreds of people who turned out for the Construct's grand opening and Revo's strong presence in the alternative art community, the concept should come together without a hitch.
This week's market will feature a graffiti-art exhibition and a cookout, making today an ideal time to check out the scene. And remember: The only thing cooler than being fashionably late is discovering the next big thing before it explodes.
The market runs from 10 a.m. to sundown; call 303-292-2234 for more information. -- Caitlin Smith
Drop In, Flip Out
"Tell you what," says the Comic Book Guy to Bart Simpson. "I'll show you something very special if you promise to put your grubby little hands behind your back and keep them there." Bart agrees, and the Guy hands him a rare copy of Radioactive Man #1.
"I bet it's worth a million bucks," Bart says.
"It is, but I will let you have it for a hundred because you remind me of me."
Although the Simpsons fat comics baron may make the comic-book world seem inaccessible, you needn't possess $100 to experience the international art form firsthand.
That's because the third annual Free Comic Book Day, an effort to introduce as many people as possible to the compulsively collectible creations, will have store owners around the world papering the planet with free comics of every kind.
Gimme Anime, at 2495 South Havana Street in Aurora, gets the ball rolling at 10 a.m. today. The shop is taking part in the celebration for the first time, and organizers have included manga comics translated from Japanese. Free samples will be available until 7 p.m.
For more information, call 303-369-0043. For a list of other Colorado stores offering free comics, log on to www.freecomicbookday.com. -- Adam Cayton-Holland
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Free Blues Traveler show offers added incentive to travel
It's easy to picture the images that might be provoked by a psychiatrist's word-association test using "Prague" as a trigger: The beautiful Hradcany Castle, the old Jewish Quarter, the Charles Bridge over the River Vltava. A patient might even mention Franz Kafka before the unblinking doctor moved on to the next word. Were the shrink to mention Prague and hear the name Blues Traveler, however, it would probably be a sign to up the patient's meds. Pilsner Urquell hopes to change all that.
The beer manufacturer is taking the band to six cities this summer as part of its "Picture Yourself in Prague" promotion. The popular blues-rock quartet stops in Denver today for a free show at 9 p.m. at the Celtic Tavern, 1801 Blake Street, before heading to Red Rocks for its annual July 4th gig. Those who attend the Celtic show will receive disposable cameras with which to creatively document themselves enjoying the Prague-based beer there. Urquell officials will select the best photos from each city, and the grand-prize winners (the photographer and three friends) will travel to Prague with the band. Admission to the show is first come, first served, and space is limited.
Blues Traveler, Prague, beer. It's all beginning to make sense. -- Adam Cayton Holland