Best Of :: People & Places
Colorado's current motto is Nil Sine Numine — "Nothing Without the Deity." Territorial governor William Gilpin came up with it when the new territory needed a seal in 1861; it became part of the official state lineup sixteen years later. Which means it's high time that we dump that mothbally motto for something a little newer, a little less ecumenical, a little more hip. After all, Denver successfully courted the Democratic National Convention, which in August will return to the state where it was last held a hundred years ago. Last fall, our Colorado Rockies garnered international attention with their last-second Cinderella win of the National League pennant. The square state has never been more hip. And while the Colorado Legislature recently laid claim to sentimental favorite John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" as a second official state song, we're singing a different tune these days: "Hip to Be Square." As both a reference to our geographical outline and a defiantly tongue-in-cheek nod to what many on the coasts have always considered Colorado, this cheesy Huey Lewis and the News song is perfect — and perfectly ironic.
The stately Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is one of the most important buildings in the Mountain Standard time zone. Built in 1936, the concrete-and-black aggregate structure combines Pueblo style with art moderne design, and was unquestionably the high point of architect John Gaw Meem's career. But while the building remained stunning, sixty years after its completion, it was also too small. After a misguided attempt to enlarge it failed, Denver architect David Owen Tryba and his crew were hired in 2003 to come up with a solution. And they did. The addition, which debuted last summer, is tucked behind the original building, giving the center adequate facilities to both showcase its impressive collection and host traveling shows while preserving the integrity of the original design.
The city was agog at reported Britney Spears sightings earlier this year. But her best Colorado appearance was in cartoon form — as if that isn't always the case — on a recent episode of South Park, the Comedy Central series that just celebrated its tenth anniversary. In "Britney's New Look," the pop princess fled the paparazzi and landed in South Park, the mythical creation of Colorado boys Matt Stone and Trey Parker, where she wound up losing her head. As if you could tell.
Long before commuting was cool, green-thinking Boulderites started hopping the B Route when they needed to get to downtown Denver — for a meeting, for a dinner, for a play. But just sitting on the B bus can be entertainment enough, since it gives you easy eavesdropping access to conversations involving everyone from MacArthur Foundation grant winners and University of Colorado professors to fraternity leaders planning the next big bash.
No matter how much the city cleans up East Colfax Avenue, RTD's #15 bus will always be the true gauge of this neighborhood. Hop on between Colorado and Broadway, and listen to East High School students talking with the homeless. Or as happy hour turns to night, watch as drunken blue-collars heading home from the strip's rougher bars rub shoulders with twenty-something hipsters on their way to hear live music. Conversation is the sole soundtrack to this route, because music is allowed with headphones only — and you'd better have exact change, because RTD doesn't dish any out. Other than that, though, no rules apply and all bets are off. Whether you're chatting with an immigrant about the world he left behind or hoping that the drug dealer to your left will leave you alone, the #15 delivers the bold, hard facts on the real Colfax.
Isaac Slade, frontman for the Fray, Denver's first double-platinum band, has been living the dream in more ways than one. Last year he met up with Sir Benjamin Slade, an English aristocrat in search of an heir to inherit his thirteenth mansion. The estate, valued at $15 million, includes three lakes, a ballroom (perfect for private rock shows), hundreds of cattle — and plenty of expensive upkeep projects. Sir Benjamin had been looking for an heir for eighteen months before he decided that Isaac might be just the Slade he was looking for; at last report, Isaac still hadn't decided if English manor life was for him.