Best Of :: People & Places
It's hard to pigeonhole Andrew Oh-Willeke, the erudite scribe behind the Wash Park Prophet blog. Is he a hard-nosed gadfly? A bookish legal theorist? A flighty postmodern philosopher? A romantic poet? In fact, he's all four -- and much more. One day he'll be crunching numbers on gang members in Colorado prisons, the next he'll be detailing the many judicial rulings that have relied on Wikipedia. After that, he'll write some verse based on a real-life Denver tourist who found the homeless more helpful than the cops. Then he'll expound on what society's obsession with zombie attacks suggests about the human condition. The result is sort of like a college semester squeezed into a web page -- minus the homework and the parties.
If it's good enough for Colorado's second official state song, "Rocky Mountain High" should work just fine as a slogan for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Not only is it inclusive of the entire region -- and planners are touting this as a convention not just in Denver, not just in newly blue Colorado, but in the pivotal Rocky Mountain West, where the next presidential election could well be decided -- but it would remind people both inside and outside of the convention to relax, mellow out and recall that the Democratic Party is the party of inclusivity. And drugs.
Paul Fiorino didn't win the governor's seat last November -- in fact, the artist/dancer's candidacy registered barely a blip at the polls -- but he hasn't forgotten the little people. He not only feels their pain, but he's experienced it firsthand as a victim of foreclosure. So he composed "The Foreclosure Blues" to express what thousands of people are feeling, and to commemorate Colorado's then-status as foreclosure capital of the country. "I got the Foreclosure Blues, they're gonna take away my house/I got the Foreclosure Blues, I feel like a louse/I couldn't pay my bills/No money to be had/The heater gave me chills/I really had it bad/The blues, the Foreclosure Blues." Can't wait to hear the legislators sing a couple rounds of this one.
Now that the Colorado Legislature has approved "Rocky Mountain High" as the second official state song (joining that ever-hummable ditty "Where the Columbines Grow"), should we upgrade the rest of our slogans and symbols? Starting with the state motto? From Colorado's days as a territory, the Latin phrase Nil Sine Numine has been part of the official seal -- and despite translations that range from "Nothing Without Providence" to "Nothing Without God," it's held on for more than a century. But now it's high time to separate church and state once and for all, which Colorado could do by adopting as its motto one of the last lines in its new state song: "Everybody's High." Legislators should be able to get behind this, since they've already bought into the explanation that John Denver's song was not referring to drugs. As for the old motto, Colorado Springs could be looking for a gently used slogan.
Although it marked the hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, 1876 didn't have much going for it besides the Battle of Little Big Horn and the admission of Colorado to the Union -- timing that saddled this state with the dull, dull, dull "Centennial State" nickname. Although boosters responded by promoting Colorado as "The Highest State," in recognition of this state's stunning array of chart-topping fourteeners, that title was retired decades ago by prudey-pants promoters worried about drug connotations. Clearly, the name now can -- and should -- be elevated to its rightful place.
The legislature adopted blue grama grass as the official state grass in 1987, but even though it's native to Colorado, this state has no business endorsing any ground cover. Besides, as Mason Tvert continues his campaign to get the possession of marijuana legalized in Colorado, our state's residents may one day adopt a new kind of grass.