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Best Of 2006

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Best Of :: People & Places

BEST SPOT TO PONDER DENVER'S BURGEONING CULTURAL RELEVANCE

There are strips that are faster, but when you're heading west across central Denver, there's no more scenic route than Thirteenth Avenue. And if you happen to get stopped at the light at Broadway -- as you inevitably will -- your route will seem positively inspired. Rather than fume silently at the crimson glow overhead, use the time to ponder Denver's rapid ascension into a bona fide city of cultural note. To your immediate right, there's the Colorado History Museum, with its buffalo sculptures, exhibit banners and exasperated teachers bookending chains of linked-armed kids. Across the street, there's the massive central branch of the Denver Public Library, alternately spilling out and sucking in the bookish, the homeless, the hurried. To your left, a museum devoted to the work of Clyfford Still will soon join the galleries and theaters that already dot the Golden Triangle. And there, straight ahead, like some strange metal spaceship, is Daniel Libeskind's sprawling addition to the Denver Art Museum, slated to open this fall. Imagine the influx of art and architecture buffs; envision the lines out the door. Think about all the great concerts you've seen recently, all the creative, artistic people you know. Could this city be on the verge of something big? Twirling in the second floor of the Colorado Ballet building, the Degas ballerinas smile down on your still-stopped car. To them, that's the dumbest question in the world.

BEST NEW JOB FOR GOVERNOR BILL OWENS

Governor Bill Owens says that when he's term-limited out of the governor's office in January 2007, he'll go into the "private sector," but it's not too late for him to reconsider and give just a few more years to public service. (No need to go the full Roy Romer route and become superintendent of Los Angeles schools -- although that job's about to be open, too.) At one point, Owens was touted as a potential presidential contender -- so there's no reason he shouldn't head the list as a vice-presidential contender. And the White House could use some fresh blood, particularly blood that hasn't been shed by a friend of the current vice president. At some point, Dick Cheney's got to go -- to hell, to the hospital, wherever -- and who better than Texas native Owens to keep George W. company through the rest of his term? Not only has the genial Owens proven his ability to debate almost anyone, the ACLU included, on the national stage, but he's an accomplished hunter who's never, ever shot anyone, confirms spokesman Dan Hopkins.

BEST NEW JOB FOR DAN HOPKINS

No matter where Marc Holtzman is next January -- and we're betting it won't be the governor's office -- the shoot-from-the-lip Republican challenger could use a smooth, personable frontman. And there's no one more personable than Dan Hopkins, current spokesman for Governor Bill Owens. When his boss leaves office, Hopkins will be sixty and eligible to retire after 24 years in the state system -- assuming PERA still exists, of course. But should the state retirement system go down the tubes, Holtzman could do a lot worse than latch onto Hopkins. Sorry, Dan.

BEST CANNON FODDER
Colorado State Capitol

The State Capitol is full of many surprising finds -- and that's even before you set foot on the floor of the House or the Senate. For starters, there's the fact that unlike at the Denver City and County Building, the Capitol has no security check, so you can wander in and out at will. And as you wander, you can gaze at great artwork dating from all eras of Colorado history, look up at the impressive interior of the dome (now closed to most traffic, sadly), and even see a public servant or two putting your money to use. Although the elevators have recently been overhauled from their creaky, cranky former condition, don't skip the stairs: The cannonballs on the railings are genuine Civil War artifacts.

200 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, 80203
MAP
303-866-2604
BEST POLITICAL PLAY-BY-PLAY

At the Colorado Legislature, you often can't tell the players without a scorecard -- and fortunately, Rocky Mountain News reporter Lynn Bartels is there to keep score. When she's not breaking news (and there's been plenty this session), she's offering amusing, insightful play-by-play on the various wins and losses. Unlike Denver's sports-page stars, politicians play for keeps. But so does Bartels.

BEST POLITICAL DECISION

It took him long enough, but in the end, John Hickenlooper made the right decision. Disappointing those who wanted him to run for governor (and divide the Colorado Democratic Party in the process), he opted instead to complete a whole term (at least) as mayor of Denver, continuing to push the impressive, ambitious agenda that has already put him on the national political map. Today and tomorrow, the city; there's time enough for the world after that.

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BEST SPOT TO PONDER DENVER'S BURGEONING CULTURAL RELEVANCE: 13th Ave. and Broadway

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