This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Heavyweight: Jack Johnson, shown in 1909, is featured in a new Ken Burns PBS documentary, previewed Monday at the Starz FilmCenter.
Gary Phillips Collection

Thursday, January 6

While most people enjoy winter in Colorado by heading up to the mountains to ski, snowboard or embark on a trek through the snowy woods, others get into the season via pontoon boats, sailboats or schooners. Whatever vessel tickles your winter fancy, you'll probably find it at the 2005 Denver Boat Show, opening today and running through January 9 at the Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th Street. It's the first consumer show in the newly reopened venue and will feature a kids' boating clinic, during which children will receive free T-shirts and life jackets. They'll also experience the tricks of illusionist Lawrence Gregory, who will make a 3,000-pound boat disappear. Hundreds of vessels will be on display, reminding one and all that we live in an utterly landlocked state. Advance tickets -- $7 for adults, $4 for kids -- are available at King Soopers; admission is a dollar more at the door. For information, go to www.boatcolorado.org.

Friday, January 7

"Richard Groskopf is a mysterious man whose complete biographical information is still being unraveled. He is allegedly in his mid-thirties." So reads the beginning of the bio on Groskopf's website, www.richardgroskopf.com. And although anyone can write quirky bios on his own site, the tale gets more and more intriguing as Groskopf's personal information continues to unspool. A longtime member of the Denver music scene -- the former Boss 302 leader currently heads the Agency and the Blacksmiths -- Groskopf turned his attention to painting several years ago. He moved to Paris, where he studied and showed his work as part of an independent art collective. Upon moving back to D-town, he opened a gallery and began painting bright, colorful glimpses of Denver and its neighborhoods. That artwork will be on display in Friends of Rich, a new show opening today with a First Friday reception from 7 to 11 p.m. at Atelier/Gallery Groskopf, 276 Galapago Street. The show is an eclectic mix of the recent works of fifteen artists, some established, some unknown. The opening will also feature "pleasant rock music." Unravel on. Call 303-825-6565 for details.

Saturday, January 8

Two roads diverged in front of a coffee shop, and I/I chose the one that went inside to get help with my crappy poems/And that has made all the difference.

Budding poets, take note. There's a message in that simple yet gut-wrenchingly profound stanza: Even if you're Robert Frost, it never hurts to have somebody take a look at what you've written. That's why the good folks at Common Grounds, 3484 32nd Avenue, are flinging wide their portals, er, doors today to poets looking for help with their writing. The Colorado Poets Association will put on a free workshop beginning at 1 p.m. that's open to everyone, from writers of drunken-wino rants all the way to scribblers of sexually dubious iambic pentameter. Dialing 720-308-3764 will yield greater knowledge of this gathering.

Sunday, January 9

Hey, suburbanites! Tired of riding your BMX bikes down the front stairs of the Olive Garden only to get yelled at by that temperamental hostess and have to pedal home to the cul-de-sac? Of course you are. Well, worry no more, my bleached-blond friends. The ESPN X Games Skate Park, in conjunction with Yellow Designs, a Denver-based, rider-owned-and-operated design company, have got the cure for what ails you. Today's BMX Day Camp, a special one-day clinic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Colorado Mills mall in Lakewood, will offer riders the chance to learn from Yellow Designs' team of professional stunt riders how to rip, jump and pedal faster. The $55 fee includes admission to the skatepark, lunch, a T-shirt, professional instruction and bike-maintenance tips. The camp is limited to 25 participants, so call 303-837-8055 early to sign up.

Monday, January 10

In late-nineteenth-century America, African-American boxers were not allowed to compete for the title of Heavyweight Champion of the World because of racism, not lack of talent. Jack Johnson changed all that. His relentless pursuit of a title shot forced the early retirement of James J. Jeffries, the champion at the time. A new champ emerged in the form of Tommy Burns, who, in 1908, agreed to fight Johnson in Australia for the unheard-of sum of $30,000. The fight was called after Johnson walloped Burns for fourteen rounds. The first black champ was crowned, and Johnson's success sparked a search for a "great white hope," who could defeat Johnson and win back the world title. Jeffries was coaxed out of retirement, and in a fight referred to as the "Battle of the Century," Johnson knocked out the former champ in the fifteenth round, sparking race riots, stern editorials and the ban of fight films -- to prevent the further spread of images of a black fighter beating a white one. Angry whites scorned Johnson all the more because of his penchant for gallivanting with white women. In 1913, the government convicted Johnson of violating the Mann Act. The law was meant to curb prostitution, but in Johnson's case it was cruelly manipulated to unfairly punish him. The boxer fled, lived as a fugitive for years, lost his title in Cuba and returned to the U.S. and served his time in prison before dying in a car crash in 1946. His fascinating life is the subject of Ken Burns's new documentary Unforgivable Blackness, screening free today at the Starz FilmCenter, 900 Auraria Parkway, at 7 p.m.

Tuesday, January 11

Two-time Olympic gymnast and Tony Award nominee Cathy Rigby has received rave reviews across the board for her sprite-like singing in the immortal J. M. Barrie tale Peter Pan. And though the slight Rigby seems ideal for the pint-sized Pan, she's moving on to bigger, or perhaps smaller, things. Fans can catch her farewell performance beginning tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets. The show runs through January 16 with 7:30 p.m. shows Tuesday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. matinees on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Tickets, $15 to $55, may be purchased at the box office or at King Soopers. For information or to purchase tickets online, go to www.denvercenter.org.

Mountain life does strange things to people. Isolated from the hustle and bustle of the city, surrounded by pine trees and reclusive coots, the mind can begin to play tricks on folks, causing them to see shadows in the forest when they're out walking alone or hear voices in the breeze. Transplanted East Coasters tell their parents that being a ski bum is a valid existence and actually begin to believe it. And every winter, in the town of Breckenridge, the citizens worship the mythical Norse God of Snow. But maybe that's not so odd; when you think about it, it's downright noble to honor Ullr, if only to give thanks for the 300 inches of powder the ski town receives every year. Sponsored by Budweiser, Ullr Fest keeps the spirits flowing with parades, float competitions and the kooky antics of mountain types given a free pass to revel. Today's event, the Ullympics, is a competition featuring coed teams of four competing in such zany events as the frying-pan toss and the ski-plank team relay. All events take place on the Riverwalk Center lawn. The festival runs through January 14. For information, call 1-877-593-5260 or go to www.gobreckevents.com.


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