Off Limits

Is it just me, or is it snot in here? Now it can be said that if brains were dynamite, the Rocky Mountain News really would have enough to blow its nose. A News employee was fired recently for blowing his nose while on duty--and doing it all over the walls of the hallowed journalistic institution. Yes, they really know how to pick 'em over at the Rocky. And staffers are still wiping away tears--or something--over the forced departure of "Snotman," a living legend known for making beautiful mucus all over the walls and floors of the newspaper's Colfax Avenue offices. The spontaneous displays by the boogermeister--who reportedly could knock an apple off an editor's head at fifty paces--have been a topic of office gossip for years, say sources. Indeed, in the wake of his leaving, staffers reportedly have been leading unofficial guided tours of the piles of petrified sputum he left behind.

The undoing of the modern-day Nostrildamus--who reportedly had already been warned once about his proboscidiferous pastime, as well as for his habit of spitting in public--reportedly came after a group of back-shop employees witnessed one of his dishonorable discharges in a second-floor break room. To document the misdeeds of the latter-day Green Hornet, managing editor John Temple reportedly ordered photo chief Janet Reeves to photograph the remains of Snotman's dirty deeds, a taxing investigative assignment if ever there was one.

Temple was out of town last week and unavailable for comment, and his assistant didn't respond to a request for comment. Photographer Reeves also declined to discuss her alleged role in Snottergate. A spokesman for the Denver Newspaper Guild says the union has heard of l'affaire de phlegm but hasn't been contacted about intervening. "We really don't have a comment on this one," notes the Guild's Tony Mulligan.

Wherever you are, Snotman, never change. You're beautiful, man. But here's some advice: Instead of working for a rag, use one.

Heap big trouble: National news services picked up the story last week after a self-described Lakota Indian came to the Colorado farm town of Wellington and told the town board that Dances With Wolves star turned paleskin buddy Kevin Costner planned to put $1.2 million in cash into his "Native Escape Resort," a conceptual marvel on an eighty-acre plot outside town that would include a log-cabin visitors' center, a "horse barn" and eighty teepees suitable for overnight lodgings. Yep, it sounded like a surefire winner. After all, who wouldn't jump at the chance to motor to Wellington--conveniently located between Fort Collins and the Wyoming line--to spend the night in a mass-produced teepee and tour an authentic stable? As it turns out, though, the vision of a politically correct tourist trap may indeed have been too good to be true. The man who told the town board that Costner was planning to bankroll the project has since backed off the claim, say sources, and inquiries about the development, whose teepees allegedly would have been made from the same material used for the big tent at Denver International Airport, now draw chuckles from the folks answering the phone at the town hall.

"We're not holding our breath on anything," says Mayor Don Irwin, adding that his community hasn't committed a single tax dollar to the concept, even though the town board gave the project preliminary approval last week. According to Irwin, he now has questions about whether the promoter really is an Indian, not to mention concerns about the threat to public safety that might be posed if people started lighting fires in the teepees. The mayor also questions the plan to offer no amenities whatsoever to overnight visitors--other than to make six buffalo skins per teepee available as communal blankets. "How many people would pull off the interstate and say, 'I'm gonna go sleep on that buffalo skin?'" muses the mayor. Well, maybe Costner, if the Great White Brother suffers another box-office scalping like he did in The Postman.

Leavin' on a jet plane: As the city prepares to wave goodbye to Denver airport boss Jim DeLong, whose many out-of-town trips at DIA's expense finally paid off with a new job in the renowned aviation hub of Louisville, Kentucky, speculation has already started about who'll be the next cabinet member to fly off into the sunset. Though DeLong has denied that his departure was hastened along by Mayor Wellington Webb, the city-hall grapevine had Webb gunning for DeLong since well before last October's blizzard reduced stranded airport travelers to clawing each other's eyes out over the last bag of vending-machine pretzels. The latest scuttlebutt says DeLong may be followed on the exit ramp by B.J. Brooks, the parks and recreation boss whose greatest claim to infamy so far has been getting busted for playing the city's public golf courses--and playing them and playing them--during working hours. But don't believe it, advises parks department spokeswoman Judy Montero, adding that her boss (whose tee privileges have since been cut back by the mayor) says she doesn't plan on leaving anytime soon.

How touching it was to see the City of Denver celebrate National Public Safety Telecommunications Week last week, holding ceremonies to honor the work of the dispatchers who answer 911 calls. Too bad it had to come ten days after a snafu in which the Denver Police Department initially castigated witnesses to a cabbie's murder for not calling 911 to report the attack--and then had to admit somebody had called to report the victim being dragged toward a car with an open trunk but that the information hadn't been relayed to officers on the scene. As a result, the cops didn't bother to look in the cab's trunk for a full 58 minutes. When they did pop the hatch, they found the lifeless body of cabbie Moustapha Marouf. It's still unclear whether Marouf could have been saved had he been found sooner.

How do you like them apples? Ow! Why can't the New York Times leave Denver alone and pick on something its own size--say, Bill Gates's ego? After exposing the Bolder Boulder's cowardly dealings with all those speedy Kenyans last week, the Times turned the spotlight on Governor Roy Romer, the lyin' in winter. In the April 16 "A Wisp of Scandal, but Nothing More," Denver-based Times reporter James Brooke reported on the fallout since Romer revealed his "very affectionate relationship" with B.J. Thornberry ten weeks before. "That is behind me," Romer told Brooke "tersely." But then, as the piece pointed out, so is Romer's political career--and the Democrats' 24-year lock on the Governor's Mansion.

Gee, and just a month ago, Times reporter R.W. Apple was so nice to us. Touring the country for a series of "On the Road" articles, Apple focused on Denver in the March 27 "A Cowtown That Acquired High Culture." The piece was pleasant, if predictable, enough that both the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post reprinted it the following Sunday--with a few tell-tale cuts. The Post snipped bits throughout the article: a quote from University of Denver law school dean Robert Yegge ("The city I grew up in doesn't exist"); a section on the failure of the city's musical organizations to find the support that its theater groups have; an anecdote about Horace Tabor, who, after asking who this Shakespeare was, wondered, "What the hell has he ever done for Colorado?"

The News cut just a phrase here and there (former Post publisher and DCPA head Donald Seawell was no longer "silver-haired, pink-cheeked")--and then sliced the end off Apple's conclusion. Describing DIA, Apple had written, "The building itself has a certain majesty, especially the main terminal hall, which is covered with a tent of Teflon-coated fabric." You had to read the Post to get the rest of the story:

"But from the outside," Apple concluded, "it looks like nothing so much as a high-tech encampment for a race of Bedouin giants, and I confess that I can't look at it without giggling.


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