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Off Limits

The ultimate power lunch: Steve Farber and Norm Brownstein have come a long way since the two west Denver boys partnered up in a law firm that would, three decades later, be renowned for its influence that not only smothers Denver but stretches right across the country. On Thursday the folks of Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber & Strickland and 500 of their nearest and dearest friends will gather at a luncheon to commemorate The Firm's thirtieth anniversary (which actually was last October) and announce the establishment of minority scholarships at the University of Colorado law school (which both Farber and Brownstein attended) and the University of Denver law school (the alma mater of other lawyers in the firm and one of Farber's many board posts). "You have some successes, and you want to give back to the community," Farber says. "Thirty years of law practice--most guys my age have already retired."

But these guys are far from shy and retiring. And the real coup--and sign of the firm's prestige--came on Monday, when the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment of partner and 1996 Senate candidate Tom Strickland as U.S. Attorney for Colorado. Strickland, who was nominated by President Bill Clinton back in January, replaces Henry Solano, who's now with the U.S. Labor Department. (Another notable Labor employee: regional head and Denver First Lady Wilma Webb.)

Anyone who's anyone knows The Firm's partners, as evidenced when Farber returned a call via his cell phone just as he was going through a metal detector Tuesday. Flying out of DIA for an overseas celebration? No, just heading into the Denver City & County Building for more business as usual, including a meeting and lots of casual schmoozing--complete with greetings from councilmembers Susan Barnes-Gelt and Sue Casey heard by a nosy reporter (who will not be at the luncheon) as the cell phone went through the X-ray machine.

Beer today, gone tomorrow: Cell phones were ringing all over Coors Field Monday, as the town's movers and shakers gathered for an afternoon of hooky and baseball at the Colorado Rockies' season opener against the San Diego Padres. But a brief scan of the crowds quickly revealed that one thing was in short supply.

Beer.
Vendors were few and far between. Lew Cady, a fan of both beer and baseball, kept track of their visits to section 136 between home and third base. Bob the Beerman, a former New York stock analyst at Salomon Brothers and today the ballpark's most notorious vendor (order his self-published book at 1-800-FULLMUG), came by once before the game and once more during the game, as did another vendor. Although both were selling Bud--the subject of a labor protest outside Coors Field--B the B says that's nothing personal, despite the suit the Beerman recently filed as Robert Donchez in U.S. District Court in Denver against the Adolph Coors Company. Donchez claims Coors's $100 million "Beer Man" ad violates the concept he trademarked in 1993--and discussed with the brewer two years later. Coors "realized the value of plaintiff's mark and character and believed that they could, through their wealth and resources, take such property," Donchez charges in the suit.

Still, at Monday's game, Bob said he'd be happy to sell Coors to the thirsty fans--he just didn't have any of the homegrown brew. A vendor selling Coors finally arrived in the seventh inning, making a single foray down the aisle between sections 136 and 137. Sadly, her supply was gone before she reached Cady.

You can run, but you can't hide: It was standing room only last Thursday when Amy Bourgeron, deputy director of aviation at Denver International Airport, hosted a briefing to discuss FlyDenver Magazine, an as-yet hypothetical publication that would tell travelers all the swell things they can do when they've got time on their hands at DIA--say, when the trains stop dead in the tunnel, as they did when Bourgeron herself was trying to reach the terminal one fateful day last April.

More than two dozen would-be publishers showed up to learn specifics about the proposal, which calls for the winning bidder to not only assume all costs of publishing the magazine--set to debut a mere six weeks after the contract is awarded--but to potentially share revenues with the airport, as well. The publisher would bring in those revenues, of course, by selling space to advertisers eager to reach this with-any-luck-not-completely-captive audience. The purpose of the magazine, according to DIA guidelines, is "to create a dynamic blend of existing public information and create a marketing tool that promotes DIA services, assets and destinations for free distribution to DIA customers."

Wow--sounds fascinating. But Bourgeron, who's seen similar magazines at airports in Europe and points to the D.C. Flyer as a prototype, insists that there are many topics such a magazine could cover. For example, DIA now has a Wolfgang Puck restaurant at Concourse B--where the lines are much shorter than they are at his place in the Denver Pavilions. Travelers would also be interested to learn that they can fly to Fargo, North Dakota, from DIA. "All we know is that we'd like to try something a little more interesting and entertaining," Bourgeron concludes. And at no cost to the airport.  

Still, there's one expose that FlyDenver's unlikely to publish--despite Bourgeron's interest in the topic. "Forty-three percent of business travelers are women," she points out. "But where can you get pantyhose at DIA?"

Curses! Foiled again: Louisville conceptual artist Terry Maker creates pieces that shock and engage people. "I like to take them out into the world and have people interact with them," she says. But her latest work, "Take out home," elicited a little more artistic interaction than the Boulder police could comprehend.

"Take out home" consists of a wooden trailer covered with a shiny, silver, foil-like veneer; inside the trailer is a mechanical monster that shakes, groans and churns out miniature tin-foil homes. The entire piece--displayed as part of the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art's Housed exhibit--is intended to represent "the idea that unchecked development is like fast food," Maker says. "It's not very nourishing, but everybody eats it up."

Maker and her husband, Chris Rogers, were shooting pictures of "Take out home" in front of the museum at about 2 a.m. April 7, "to get a different look at it," when two men in a nice car drove by.

"One of them was a nice gentleman," remembers Maker, clearly delighted by the entire story. "And the other one was wacky and wild, and he says, 'I want to get naked and get inside your piece and interact with it.' Lo and behold, he gets out of the car and he is completely bare naked. He has a weird little body with white skin and sad eyes, and he's balding, with scrappy hair. He jumps in and starts posing and starts doing these wonderful nudes inside, and my husband starts shooting away. The piece is all about the coldness of development, and he is very cold and pale. We were having a good time and thinking this is very lucky and serendipitous, when the police show up and they ask us what the hell we are doing."

The officer insisted that nudity--even artistic nudity--wasn't allowed in front of the museum. "We kept saying, 'But it's art, it's art,'" Maker says, "and the cop says, 'I don't care.'"

After eliciting a promise that the man would get dressed, the officer eventually left--"which is kind of Boulder-like," Maker says--and they started taking more pictures of the still-nude model. But as they saw the patrol car circle back, Maker notes, "we told him he'd better get his pants on and leave."

But not before Maker had added another layer of meaning to her piece.
"Foil is meant to preserve food, just like houses preserve people and homes preserve the soul," she says. "I'm addressing the issue of whether housing developments are a true preserver of humanity. He furthered the piece for me. He was a fragile, meek-looking man, and that's what the piece is all about."

Johnny, we hardly knew ye: For campaign hijinks, it's hard to beat the lineup in District 10, where incumbent Denver City Council representative Ed Thomas is running against Kevin "Mr. Leather" Shancady and Mason Lewis Byrne, a radio exec who's also gay. Despite Shancady's Mr. Leather credentials--a videotape of his campaign for the title shows Shancady being spanked and inserting a penile catheter--Shancady's been endorsed over former cop Thomas by police and realtors' groups, among others.

But now the action's heating up in District 2, where perennial candidate John Gonce--whose domestic altercation with his wife a decade ago earned him jail time, during which Gonce came to the novel conclusion that men battered their wives because the batterers had poor dental work--is fighting incumbent Ted Hackworth tooth and nail. In fact, Gonce's attacks on Hackworth--"without a doubt the most corrupted person that I have ever known, and I have known a number of heads of state, including President Marcos of the Philippine Islands and President Richard Nixon"--has grown so fiery that Gonce campaign manager John Noffsinger, an employee at the Denver Auditor's Office and the son of a late friend of Gonce's, just resigned the post.

Not surprisingly, Gonce has something to say about Noffsinger's departure, too. "If Mr. Noffsinger has resigned, it would be because of the pressure being placed on him by the corrupted Hackworth and his thugs," Gonce says. "The late Dale Noffsinger was truly a most ethical and honest man. He supported me going after Ted and would, if he were alive, support the truth I have revealed in this campaign."  

And still almost three weeks to go before the May 4 election

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