Ways and Means: October in Colorado just isn't the same without our annual whinefest over Christopher Columbus. Although this state was the first to honor the explorer/exploiter, giving him his own day back in 1907, it wasn't until 1990 that Denver really made the map, when an Italian-American group revived a dormant tradition and threw a parade in honor of the fellow. By the next year, the parade had floated a second tradition: a protest. In his new autobiography, Where White Men Fear to Tread, movie star/Native American activist Russell Means tells how AIM took aim at the parade; his account runs on pages 518 through 522, sandwiched between Means's role in The Last of the Mohicans and his stay at a pricey treatment center ("I came to understand that life is not about race or culture or pigmentation or bone structure--it's about feelings"). In 1992 AIM managed to put Columbus at parade rest for good. "There wasn't even any talk of a 1993 Columbus Day parade," Means notes. "Instead, AIM held a little ceremony in the park and planted four donated aspens. When the Denver city officials heard we were offering them, one said, `Could you please make it some other kind of tree? We like to keep the park neat and clean, and aspens proliferate--they grow anywhere.' That's why we chose them!"
Maybe so, but today there's not a single aspen in Civic Center Park.
Mayor league: Mayor Wellington Webb works hard for your money. Last Monday Hizzoner reported for jury duty in Denver District Court but wasn't picked--which left him free to appear on Don Imus's radio show, broadcast live from Denver Tuesday. (Among the unlikely Imus fans in the audience: former state senator Regis Groff and his son.) And on Wednesday Webb dropped by to see Colin Powell, in town on a book tour, and thoughtfully provided the general with a copy of his own epic, To Make a Mayor.
Clueless in Colorado: Twenty of those 500 Colorado inmates in temporary storage at a Texas prison staged a strike last Tuesday, refusing to cook lunch because the TV in their pod was broken. Hmmm. And just what could they have wanted to watch that day? A rerun of Andy Griffith? Or maybe, just maybe, a live law-and-order show out of Los Angeles? Ben Griego, chief of prisoner services for the Colorado Department of Corrections, told reporters he had no idea what the prisoners were striking to see.
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Maybe he'd missed those special editions put out by both the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News, which wasted precious newsprint letting anyone who missed the verdict know that O.J. Simpson had been found not guilty of murder. Those specials were just the latest salvos in Denver's newspaper war, a fight that publishing-industry journals Editor & Publisher and the American Journalism Review recently dispatched reporters to cover. (Believe it or not, having two competing newspapers in a town of this size is a rare treat.) And the American Spectator reportedly has a story in the works about the News written by former assistant editorial-page editor Dave Shiflett, now a freelance writer in Washington, D.C. But the verdict on the Post is already in, courtesy of a September New Yorker profile of legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee. In the piece, author David Remnick ruminates on the sad state of newspapers today, comparing local dailies unfavorably to--gasp--USA Today. "It's simply depressing," he writes, "to read the San Francisco Chronicle or Examiner, the Houston Post, the Atlanta Constitution, the Denver Post.