Heaven, December 31, 1999
Once again, it's time for the millennial survey of all that is my dominion. And as I look out over the heavens and Earth, one thing troubles me greatly: the state of Colorado.
Those people live in the closest thing left to Eden, but I haven't seen a more pathetic lot since the pharisees. I've given them everything -- fruit trees bearing fruit, waters teeming with countless living creatures, beautiful wilderness areas crying out to be developed -- and they just keep screwing it up.
I couldn't wait to see what Coloradans would do with their new governor, the first Republican in 24 years, a member of that group that always claims to have me on its side. But right out of the chute, Bill Owens had the nerve to throw that ostentatious party, charging his corporate guests tens of thousands of dollars to sip chardonnay and nibble on salmon and filet mignon, to dig into a chocolate replica of the State Capitol and to say, "The good Lord has smiled on us." Memo to Owens: It wasn't me, sonny; it was US West, Coors, Texaco, PacifiCare, Lockheed Martin Astronautics and the other moneychangers -- the developers and attorneys and bankers -- who financed your campaign, some of whom you then appointed to your administration. And what did that Janet Elway think she was doing, imitating me when she pronounced that the governor and his family were "down-to-earth, family-oriented people, and that is good."
The new governor immediately began spouting more platitudes than an apostle, although in retrospect, I find his inauguration speech quite amusing. "In 1899, Coloradans were still building horse-drawn buggies," Owens said, using the unimaginative rhetoric of short historical perspective. "Today Coloradans build America's rockets -- the Titan and Delta." Yeah, they also build the Mars Polar Lander, which those rocket scientists at Lockheed have been waiting to hear from since December 3! They work on it for four years, and after it spends eleven months flying through 470 million miles of space, they lose contact in the last five minutes! I don't have the heart to send word that the thing is headed straight for the next galaxy, quickly catching up with its little buddy from October, the Mars Climate Orbiter. (They think it blew up on contact because -- typical self-centered Americans -- they'd forgotten to convert its engineering measurements to the metric system. Little do they know the gizmo also misread their fuzzy calculations to mean "turn right at that piece of space trash floating around the 225-million-mile marker.") And when the governor starts adding lanes to I-25, Coloradans will wish they had horse-drawn buggies. "In 1899, the telegraph was Colorado's communication lifeline," Owens proclaimed. "Today we build the computers and state-of-the-art digital phones that link the world." Okay, but will someone please tell US West to hook up Conifer?
I blessed Colorado with a world-champion sports team, but then the NFL spoiled everything -- hell, who gave those geezers in KISS permission to play at the Super Bowl pre-game show? And who told Cher she looked good in that outfit? "Mastermind" Mike Shanahan, no doubt, that damned false idol. At least Justin Armour stayed a virgin, even if he had to do it by dancing with a transvestite in a South Beach bar. (I wonder if that was the same transvestite who was grabbing women and exposing his underwear in Highlands Ranch, Lakewood and Greenwood Village in the weeks before the big game? Memo to Sergeant Attila Denes of the Douglas County Sheriff's Department: The man was dressed in a tight red blouse, a black skirt and a white baseball cap, and you said, "We're hoping to get this guy off the street before he hurts anybody." Just get him a better outfit before he hurts everybody!)
Yes, I made a beautiful blue-and-orange sunset over Miami just after kickoff and, yes, the Broncos won, with the help of Saint John, Saint Terrell, Saint Shannon and Saint Romo. (Memo to Denver Post sportswriter/Broncos lackey Adam Schefter: After the Super Bowl, you wrote that Romo "fed off vitamins, minerals, championships and Falcons" -- but what do you know about his alleged diet of Phentermine?) All of those icons had fallen by the end of the year, except for Saint Ed (who just kept playing because the exposure helped his wife Lisa's comedy career). I confess: It was their greed -- all that talk of a third no sooner than they'd won the second -- that made me strike them down.
Come to think of it, the night of January 31 might just have been a rehearsal for later this evening, when I could give Coloradans something to really riot about. I still haven't decided whether to just let Monte Kim Miller be right. Remember, Monte and his doomsday cult followers got kicked out of Israel after they were accused of scheming to start a gunfight with Israeli police, thinking it would trigger the Second Coming. They spent most of January in the downtown Denver Holiday Inn, making occasional sightseeing trips to the Denver Museum of Natural History and King Soopers. Then they took off for Greece, where they all lived peacefully until this month, when 25 of them were deported. At Kennedy Airport, one of them told his brother, who lives in Boulder, "That which we have been accused of doing is not going to happen" -- just before he was whisked away by a taxi to an unknown destination. Monte's men originally said they were supposed to be dying in the streets of Jerusalem on this very night, but I'm thinking Larimer Square might be just as dramatic a setting. After all, everyone's had plenty of advance notice for whatever goodies I might have in store for them tonight -- just like they did last year. In fact, the police had been preparing for "potential calamity immediately after the Broncos won the AFC championship," but that didn't stop those hardy Denverites from taking to the streets anyway, where they were met by black helicopters, tear gas and mayhem. All in all, a nice little preview of Y2K!
I've half a mind to see just how much Coloradans can take. It's tempting to test their mettle, since they've spent so much time self-righteously professing their allegiance to me. In February, the legislature passed Mark Paschall's "Covenant Marriage" proposal, and those Republican tough guys in the State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee killed a bill recognizing homosexual marriages. And in March, all of those overzealous Castle Rock students took to the streets yelling, "Honk your horn! Stop the porn!" after one of the little brats snuck into the assistant principal's office and found pictures of the poor guy posing nude on a hunting trip -- before it turned out that the pictures weren't of him at all. In April, there was that paranoid vice principal in Colorado Springs who pulled sixth-grade girls out of class and -- in the presence of a security guard! -- accused them of practicing witchery; in June, a woman from Aurora, Priscilla Lee Jansma, shot her husband to death and said, "I'm right by God. Jesus told me it was okay to do it." In July, Bob Enyart's wacko anti-abortion protesters were blocking neighborhood traffic in an Arapahoe County cul-de-sac and whining that an abortion doctor's neighbor was "menacing" them (when she was only trying to park in her own driveway), and they had the nerve to say, "God will forgive them if they repent." There was also that very confused Charles Duke, the senator from Monument who resigned from the legislature last year because I supposedly told him to -- but in October, Duke resurrected his political ambitions, vowing to try to get his seat back in next year's election because he's getting "very strong spiritual signals." Also receiving very strong signals was Desmond Howard Derrick, that guy who climbed on the statue at Civic Center, waving road flares, professing himself to be the Mormons' "endtime Son of Man" and yelling "Praise the Lord!" And lately there's been all this hoo-ha over Harry Potter -- Douglas County forbidding elementary-school teachers to read the books to their students and Focus on the Family saying the stories about "love, courage and the ultimate victory of good over evil" are "packaged in a medium -- witchcraft -- that is specifically denounced in Scripture."
And all that's nothing compared to everyone putting words in my mouth after the Columbine massacre. Okay, I admit I got distracted by Kosovo, and the next thing I knew, everything was blowing up on me -- but, hey, give me a little credit. Those detectives say they don't know why Harris and Klebold's huge cafeteria bombs didn't go off, killing hundreds more students. Hello?
Everyone can rest assured that the twelve Columbine kids and their teacher are fine up here with me. But down below -- oy! I've never seen such un-Christian behavior from a bunch of Christians! Blaming all of the kids who wore different clothes and listened to unpopular music (who would have been Jesus's chosen ones in biblical days!). Elbowing out all of the other religions at the memorial service. Running with Cassie's "she-said-yes" story when they knew it wasn't true. Fighting over who gets the Healing Fund money. Trying to order schools to put the Ten Commandments in every classroom and school entrance to remind students they live in "one nation under God." (Memo to Englewood Republican John Andrews: Thou Shalt Not Use the Lord's Name for Political Grandstanding. Just look at that Colorado Springs bar owner, Leonard Carlo, busted by state liquor agents in August for having 29 signs with the F word posted in his bar. Well, he also had the Ten Commandments on his wall!) Cutting down trees at a church and then arguing in the letters-to-the-editor sections about who had truly repented and who hadn't. Suing each other. Saying Jewish lawyers shouldn't represent them. Urging a boycott of the United Way. Trying to buy a public park so they can put up crosses. Cutting down crosses.
I haven't seen so much cross abuse since those damned Klanners were burning them all the time a few years back. Memo to Illinois carpenter Greg Zanis: Taking your original Clement Park crosses on a nationwide tour and putting them up at places like Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta during the Southern Baptist Evangelical Conference strikes me as morbid at best, opportunistic at worst. And that construction worker, Garlin Newton, who walked 700 miles from Oklahoma to Littleton in November, carrying a cross all the way, claiming I'd told him to do it. But I never, ever, would have told anyone to make a cross out of white vinyl fencing material and put it on rollers. Frankly, I almost had to laugh when the kids stood outside their school yelling mean things at him!
I'd ask my new secretary, Vikki Buckley, to make a note of all the excess, but she seems to have some trouble keeping my records straight.
Vikki might have made a mess of my rosters, but she's a pleasure to have around -- Colorado's late secretary of state has become a big-sister angel to all of those former welfare mothers, showing them how they could have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, how they could have refused to be tokenized by the Republican Party, how they could have sucked up to the NRA and even been considered presidential contenders. Memo to Sam Riddle: Sam, I see you made $16,780 for "TV strategy, media relations, themes consolidation and adverse condition handling" during Vikki's re-election campaign -- worth every penny, if you ask me. I was sorry to cut short your $250-an-hour special consulting gig for the state, but your services were clearly needed elsewhere -- specifically, as tour manager for Michael Shoels and James Brown's worldwide "Let's Stomp Out Hate Tour." I haven't heard anything since the Godfather of Soul was talking about the idea with Isaiah's parents in November, but I'd sure hate for you to miss out on such a great opportunity to present James Brown as a role model to people across the country, as well as in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. (For now, we'll just ignore his history of drug abuse and the fact that he served a six-year sentence for aggravated assault and failing to stop for police.)
But remember, Sam, the rock-and-roll life can take its toll on a person. You already have a $29 fine on your record, and I know you pleaded innocent in November to that driving-under-the influence charge, all stemming from the very unfortunate incident outside Judge Claudia Jordan's house on July 16, three days after Vikki's death. That was when you said you weren't "feeling too much pain" and were a "jerk" to the cops who'd been following you after receiving frantic phone calls about your erratic driving. Now I see that in December you got a ticket for refusing to take a Breathalyzer when you were pulled over by a cop in Adams County. I'm disappointed, Sam.
Not nearly as disappointed, however, as I am in Latonett Hollander. "Saudi princess," my sweet patoot! Now here's someone who needs the Ten Commandments posted on her bathroom mirror: Thou shalt not lie, honey. The only thing stupider than thinking Denver would sell its basketball and hockey teams to a woman was thinking anyone would fall for that ridiculous Arab shtick. Then again, it did take those Post reporters long enough to figure out she was just a bumpkin from Kansas City. (And the News never caught on.)
Hollander was disparaged for good reason, but at least one female who'd been wrongfully scorned by Coloradans got vindication this year. Turns out Ulu wasn't such a bad mother after all, was she? The poor polar bear had been vilified for allegedly abandoning her cubs Klondike and Snow in 1994, but after watching Ulu demonstrate excellent parenting skills with new cubs Ulaq and Berit this spring, zookeepers admitted that maybe they'd been too hasty in dubbing her the animal kingdom's Mommie Dearest. Some lady even tried to give her some extra meat in August, but the zookeepers -- understandably paranoid, I guess, considering their track record -- thought the lady might have been trying to poison the bear, so they made Ulu drink a quart of vodka. Said it was "designed to counteract the poisonous effects of anti-freeze, which can do lethal damage to an animal's kidneys." And vodka won't? Maybe they should have just gone ahead and thrown in the two-foot-square box of dope the cops confiscated from those Bongathoners up in Larimer County at the same time.
But, nooo -- Coloradans can't have too many celebrations, or else the cops will be back with the tear gas, just like they were again on September 4. Only this time they weren't going after Super Bowl marauders, but innocent members of the Colorado State University Marching Band at Mile High Stadium. Okay, maybe there were some very, very drunk kids throwing bottles, cans and paper cameras at the officers, but, jeez, can't everyone just get along?
I guess that's too much to expect when Colorado's leaders are setting such a bad example. Governor "Raz" Owens and Lieutenant Governor Joe "Penny Loafer" Rogers spent an entire year fighting: Rogers complaining about how Owens wouldn't appoint his brother, Tracy Rogers, to a $70,000-a-year job on the state parole board; Owens threatening to take away Rogers's $25,000 Dodge Durango and replace it with a $15,000 Intrepid -- and Rogers threatening to sue him over it; Rogers accusing the governor of dissing Vikki Buckley by not rescheduling his child welfare task-force meeting; both offices whining about the other not returning phone calls and memos; Rogers's office manager suing Owens for her paycheck -- after she refused to submit to a criminal-background check; and the governor releasing a list of his lieutenant's questionable expenses (including $300 for an ad congratulating Body of Christ newspaper on its ten-year anniversary) -- as if Bill's new $37,500 GMC Suburban, with its average 23 miles per gallon, was fiscally responsible (especially when it needed $3,000 worth of repairs in October after it was hit by a runaway school bus that had been parked in the George Washington High School lot). Denver mayor Wellington Webb wasn't a shining example of compromise, either, bickering with Donald Sturm over the sale of the Avalanche, Nuggets and Pepsi Center, his spokesman accusing Sturm of living on a "bizarre billionaire planet," while Sturm felt as if he'd been "roasted, toasted and kicked around."
Not as much as all of Denver will be, however, if I don't find something worthy of redemption before this evening ends.
And I wonder if it isn't time to start throwing some lightning bolts at Boulder. Three years, two million dollars, experts from the O.J. Simpson case, 1,058 pieces of evidence, an official Internet plea for information about Santa Bear, all manner of psychics, channelers, astrologers, spiritual advisors and tarot-card readers -- and still the people of that "perfect town" can't solve that murder. JonBenét and I were just talking yesterday about how even the grand jury couldn't come up with any indictments. She was just rolling her eyes about the whole thing -- but not nearly as much as Linda Arndt was rolling her eyes on Good Morning America, making that really scary face and those very strange new-age hand gestures as she talked about how I, or someone very much like me, had sent her some kind of damn message about who JonBenét's real killer was. Like JonBenét says, "As if!" Memo to Linda, with JonBenét's real message to her: "That little silvery-blue sleeveless miniskirt ensemble was a very inappropriate outfit to wear on national TV. Take it from someone who knows about inappropriate outfits!" You tell her, kiddo.
At least after Alex Hunter announced there would be no indictments, that multitude of media types finally left Boulder -- but Colorado just couldn't stop embarrassing itself. Everyone on earth had to hear about Jefferson County's preferred method of apprehending bad ten-year-olds: yank out of bed, snap handcuffs around wrists. Yeah, yeah, we all know there was much more to the story of Raoul Wuthrich -- that he wasn't just a young Swiss outdoor-urination expert -- but couldn't the whole situation have been handled in a more dignified manner? One that didn't make Colorado law-enforcement officials look so insane?
Obviously, that's expecting much, much too much. Especially since they still have so many lessons to learn. Memo to Jefferson County sheriff John Stone: What were you thinking, boy? That Time magazine really wasn't going to write anything about the most sensational piece of evidence to come out of the year's biggest story? Did you really have such hubris as to think that you, yourself, were powerful enough to keep Harris and Klebold from becoming the cult figures they hoped to be?
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Then again, I guess such hubris characterized many, many Coloradans this year. What was it that Columbine's Andy Lowry said when they named him high school football coach of the year? "We have been knocking on the door the past few years." I doubt he even knew he was comparing himself to all of those pictures of my son knocking at the door to people's hearts.
But such is the unconscious nature of human arrogance, the misguided nature of human priorities, the inability of humans to learn their lessons. Otherwise, they never would have made such a big deal of the fact that Columbine won the state football championship. Even the Cherry Creek players -- they'd won five state championships over the last decade -- knew the stakes. "If we lose," said one player, "Columbine has the David-against-Goliath story." No, son, only I have the David-against-Goliath story. The newspapers misguidedly turned it into the feel-good story of the fall -- so maybe it was no coincidence when those idiotic intentions were trumped two weeks later by Time magazine. It just about made me sick, watching over that December 8 pep rally in the school gym -- the band playing, the cheerleaders prancing around, everyone cheering so wildly over a damned trophy. "This team never quit," said principal Frank DeAngelis. "It's about not giving up, and that's what Columbine High School represents." Yes, Mr. D, a football victory symbolized everything the school stands for -- proving, once and for all, that jocks really do rule at Columbine.
(Heavy sigh.) No, it hasn't been the greatest of years for Colorado. I'd level the whole town of Denver, but I'd hate to hurt any innocent bystanders -- though I doubt there are any. Hmm.
I know! Gabriel, bring me those 51 homeless people who died in Denver this year. I'm sure they'll be able to tell me how to exact my final judgment.