Off Limits

Get the rope: Forget the unfortunate lynching routine with black rodeo clown Leon Coffee at the National Western Stock Show. And ignore--if you can--the inexcusable "Jew down" joke repeated by longtime rodeo announcer Hadley Barrett, even though stock show president Pat Grant had promised in a letter to the Anti-Defamation League last year that it would never be used again. Here's the real insult: Governor Roy Romer was a no-show at last Thursday's rodeo, which had been billed as "Governor's Night," and someone else had to crown Miss Rodeo Colorado! Could it be that Romer's double duty as general chair of the Democratic National Committee is already getting in the way of his official state duties?

Hold your horses. According to Romer spokesman Matt Sugar, the governor was stuck at the Capitol--the State Capitol, that is--in "important meetings" with staffers and legislators.

You can bet that Grant, who may throw his cowboy hat in the ring as a Republican candidate for governor in 1998, wouldn't show the same disrespect for a Western institution--even if he can't get Barrett to shut his trap.

Talk is cheap: Just in the nick of time, Gene Amole returned from sick leave to salvage the Rocky Mountain News's generally abysmal "RockyTalk." Tagged as "Views From the Mile High City," it would be better labeled as "Newcomers' Views of the Mile High City," since Kim Franke-Folstad hasn't been here long enough to need a new driver's license (much less have a handle on what would interest local female readers, the group she's clearly been designated to attract), and recent hire Bill Johnson isn't exactly a native, either. For this the News sacrificed a page of local news?

Recent News ads have crowed over another coup, the fact that the paper is the only Denver daily with complete movie listings, since United Artists theaters showtimes aren't included in the Denver Post. Although United Artists offers an official "no comment" on the listings blackout (the chain still advertises in the Post), the paper is reportedly negotiating to get UA back into its pages. After all, it was the Post that recently announced, "Affluent Denver a Great Movie City." That news flash was part of Jeff Bradley's December 15 package that began with the front-page headline "Sports Town Goes Crazy for Culture," which was followed by that old warhorse of a story trotted out every few years in an effort to convince us that Colorado residents support the arts as much as they do sports. A subsequent letter from Mathew and Cheryl McFarren put the lie to that story pretty effectively: "As artists within the community, we would agree with him [longtime theater producer Henry Lowenstein] that the talent level is impressive and probably similar to the pool in other major cities. But support for this talent pool? Get real!

"Bradley also quotes Carol Dickinson, who admits that local galleries have 'had a hard time selling anything or establishing a market,' although she calls this market 'vibrant.' Hmmm. As long as Denver prefers Broadway touring companies to local performances staged by local companies and posters to fine art, Mr. Lowenstein's and Ms. Dickinson's comments seem vastly overstated, and Mr. Bradley's conclusions seem like propaganda."

And Mathew McFarren knows news when he sees it--or makes it. On July 4 he pulled away from a local gas station while his car was still connected to the hose, resulting in some spectacular early fireworks. Shut down for several months, that station at Speer and Zuni finally reopened a few weeks ago.

Stringing her along: Last year, then-Rocky Mountain News copy editor, former Westword writer and long-ago Playboy playmate Laura Watt left journalism to pursue fiction writing full-time. She'll display the result--Carry Me Back, a novel that combines country music, time travel and true love--at a book-signing Friday evening at the LoDo Tattered Cover. But the finished product isn't quite as she'd initially envisioned it. The plot concerns a banjo that resurrects Hank Williams, and in her original, Watt quoted liberally from the late country-Western great's lyrics. "I knew I'd eventually have to get permission," she says. Instead, she wound up in a "pissing match" with Williams's estate, which is now handled by Nashville's Opryland (which also happens to own the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs). The estate not only wanted $6,000 for the right to reprint well-known song lyrics, but also demanded that Watt remove all profanity from the book, as well as a scene in which "Hank makes it" with an underaged girl. "Anything I could write about Hank Williams pales compared to the real man," says Watt.

She excised the Williams lyrics instead.


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