Separation anxiety: Now that Ocean Journey is open, it looks like the Denver Zoo recognizes it has some competition for cute and cuddly animal stories, an area it used to have all to itself. A billboard at 15th and Platte streets--a corner that is conspicuously close to Ocean Journey, with an overflow parking lot used by the aquarium and almost nothing else--shows a picture of two polar bear cubs and advertises that the zoo is only twelve minutes away (actually thirteen, according to a Westword reporter who made the drive).
In a bid to recapture the warm-and-fuzzy beat, last week the zoo reported that two newborn cotton-top tamarin monkeys, Bruce and Candy, had been rejected by their parents and were being raised by zoo personnel. The twin monkeys--they each weigh approximately one ounce and are the size of a man's thumb--were introduced to the media in a "special photo opportunity" last Friday; both dailies ran big, four-color baby pics over the weekend. "The tiny monkeys are on display from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily but are best seen at feeding time due to their shy nature," reported the Post. "They're fed every two to three hours."
Does this sound familiar? Remember Klondike and Snow?
Abandoned monkeys may be just what the vet ordered to steal the aquarium's thunder. The outdated zoo needs $125 million worth of renovations, zoo officials say--and they hope taxpayers will approve bonds to pay for part of that this fall. Since news of abandoned animal babies (and repeated photos on TV and in the dailies) generated so much positive publicity for the zoo after polar bear mom Ulu allegedly ditched cubs Klondike and Snow in 1994, maybe the zoo's public-relations people are thinking that Bruce and Candy will get them votes at the polls.
After watching Ulu demonstrate excellent parenting skills with new cubs Ulaq and Berit this spring, however, zookeepers admitted that Ulu hadn't abandoned Klondike and Snow after all and that they'd been too hasty in taking the cubs away from her. (Fortunately, Ulu refrained from suing for slander.) But that report was based on a misquote and later corrected, zoo spokeswoman Angela Baier now says: "The new theory is that she probably gave birth in the den but carried [Klondike and Snow] into the hallway and put them there and didn't know what to do with them. There's no doubt they were abandoned--they were so hypothermic when they were found that they didn't even register a temperature. Taking them saved their lives. That wasn't a question."
The only real question? Whether polar bears and baby monkeys can beat out otters and white tigers for Denver's affections.
As for that twelve-minute drive, Baier, who has attended marketing meetings between Ocean Journey and the zoo, says, "I've been to the aquarium many times, and I only leave here about ten minutes before my meetings."
So the monkeys may be too little, while Baier is two late.
Flaming the fans: Troubleshooter Tom Martino is "dedicated to helping consumers," according to his Web site. "He fights rip-offs, cheats, con artists and anyone else preying on consumers." He is so dedicated that "now you can interact with The Troubleshooter and his staff to get the inside scoop on protecting your rights" via e-mail at tmartino@TROUBLESHOOTER.COM.
YOU CAN ALSO GET BITCHED OUT, SWORN AT AND BELITTLED BY THE TROUBLESHOOTER AND HIS STAFF.
WITHIN A FIVE-DAY PERIOD AT THE END OF JUNE, TWO FORMER MARTINO FANS GOT A TASTE OF HOW MARTINO--OR HIS STAFF--REALLY VIEWS THE CONSUMING PUBLIC. ON JUNE 19, MARK EDGAR E-MAILED MARTINO TO COMMENT ON THE WEB SITE. "TOM, I LIKE YOU AND YOUR SHOW MOST OF THE TIME," EDGAR WROTE. "BUT YOU GOTTA QUIT BRAGGING ABOUT YOUR FANTASTIC WEBSITE...YOU KEEP THIS UP AND YOU WILL HAVE TO PUT YOURSELF ON THE SLEAZE BRIGADE. DON'T GET ME WRONG. YOU DO GOOD WORK ON YOUR SHOW, BUT YOUR WEBSITE ISN'T WORTH BRAGGING ABOUT. IT IS LIKE AN OLD FIXER UPPER HOUSE. A GOOD START BUT NEEDS A LOT OF WORK...I HATE WEBSITES THAT DON'T BOTHER TO UPDATE THEIR STUFF. PROBABLY NOT YOU, BUT SOME OVERWORKED UNDERPAID COMPUTER GEEK GETTING LAZY."
"GO TO HELL. HOW'S THAT FOR TRUTH?" CAME THE REPLY.
THEN, ON JUNE 21, A LONGMONT LISTENER E-MAILED MARTINO--AFTER HAVING E-MAILED HIM ONCE BEFORE ON THE SAME TOPIC--TO ASK IF HE HAD EVER HEARD GOOD OR BAD THINGS ABOUT A LOCAL AIR-CONDITIONING COMPANY.
"I GET THOUSANDS OF E-MAILS EVERY MONTH," CAME THE ANSWER. "IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO ANSWER ALL IN A TIMELY MANNER. WE TAKE THE MOST CRITICAL PROBLEMS FIRST...AND THOUGH IT IS HOT...AUT[O] AIR IS NOT CRITICAL. I HAVE NO INFO OR REFERRAL ON AUTO AIR. THANKS FOR WRITING."
"OK, THEN YOU MIGHT CONSIDER DOING WHAT MANY OTHERS DO, AND THAT IS HAVE YOUR E-MAIL ACCOUNT SEND OUT AN AUTOMATIC REPLY TO THE SENDER THAT EXPLAINS EXACTLY WHAT YOU HAVE TOLD ME HERE," THE MARTINO FAN REPLIED. "THAT WAY, GUYS LIKE ME DON'T HAVE TO JERK YOUR CHAIN."
BUT MARTINO'S OFFICE WAN'T SATISFIED WITH SIMPLY THANKING THE CONSUMER FOR HIS HELPFUL TIP. "ARE YOU EVER GOING TO GET TO YOUR PROBLEM? OR DO YOU JUST LIKE WASTING TIME? (GOOD IDEA ABOUT AUTO RESPONSE...WORKING ON IT.)"
"OH, OK, YOU MIGHT ALSO INCLUDE IN YOUR AUTO-REPLY THAT UNLESS THE E-MAIL TO YOU IS ABOUT A 'PROBLEM' AND NOT JUST A REQUEST FOR SOME SIMPLE INFO (OR IN THIS CASE, A SIMPLE YES OR NO WOULD HAVE SUFFICED), THEN DON'T BOTHER," THE DIALOGUE CONTINUED. "REALLY TOM, IF I HAD KNOWN YOU WOULD BE SUCH A JERK, BELIEVE ME, I WOULDN'T HAVE BOTHERED. CONSIDER ME OUT OF YOUR HAIR, AND MY EARS OUT OF YOUR RADIO SHOW AS WELL."
AFTER ANOTHER EXCHANGE, MARTINO'S SIDE GOT THE THE FINAL WORDo "NOW FOR THE REAL SHOCK ASS HOLE. TOM HAS NEVER SEEN YOUR E-MAIL. I AM A COLLEGE INTERN--ANSWERING HIS E-MAIL. DICK HEADS LIKE YOU MAKE ME SICK. DO YOU REALLY THINK TOM CAN BE ON THE AIR WRITING ALL THIS STUFF WHILE TAKING CALLS? WHAT A DUMB FUCK YOU ARE."
Martino's producer didn't respond to an e-mail from Westword asking for comment on the situation. Thank God.
Jail mail: J.T. Colfax, the performance artist and mortuary worker who gained notoriety in the last few years by stealing a page from the mortuary log that had JonBenet Ramsey's name on it and starting a fire through the mail chute at the Ramsey's Boulder home, celebrated two years in the Boulder County Jail on June 26. But Colfax, who is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, has wasted no time in the klink.
His Web site, www.come.to/colfax, a compilation of musings, newspaper articles, art and other miscellaneous information, has logged approximately eighty hits a day, and occasionally more.
"While the site never became a massive odd trend for watching live jail from the comforts of home, I did sometimes get 1,000 hits a day--once got 2,600," Colfax writes in a letter to Westword. "The site most assuredly did become a frequent topic of conversation amongst the guards, especially when a Net surfing Sgt. brought it up in briefing that my diary postings included officers' names...and the punchline: you should see the looks on guards faces when I tell them that by plugging into the site, all their personal info becomes available to the nuts that run the site for me."
At least one of those "nuts," Lance Matthews, will fly to Colorado to welcome Colfax back to the free world. Matthews, Colfax and others plan to meet in front of Pasta Jay's restaurant and walk to the Boulder Justice Center, where Colfax will meet with his probation officer. Matthews has titled the event the "1,000 Noodle March," to symbolize what he calls "noodle justice." That's what happens when someone with money and the right friends gets probation--as Pasta Jay Elowsky did after attacking a reporter with a baseball bat--and someone without those assets gets two years in jail for stealing a piece of paper, Matthews says.
A few days later, on July 16, Heart Studio & Gallery in west Denver will host a party/art show featuring some of Colfax's jail-based collages. After that, Colfax says, he will ask his probation officer if he can move to Albany, New York, where he will have "a good view of Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign. Now, there's something to look forward to. Yee-haw."
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Cakes on the griddle: The West Virginia Bureau of Commerce announced last month that it plans to spend $85,000 on the rights to John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" to promote tourism over the next three years. "A staple at wedding receptions, crafts festivals and football halftime shows," according to the Charleston Daily Mail, the song--which starts with the phrase "Almost heaven, West Virginia"--was hailed by state commerce commissioner Robert Reintsema as "a universally recognized tune, which we feel is a great asset for us."
Opportunities to follow West Virginia's lead and affiliate with the late singer are rife for other states, even countries. California--where the singer died--could co-opt "Berkeley Woman" (from 1972's Farewell Andromeda), and the folks in Toledo could promote themselves with "Saturday Night in Toledo, Ohio" (from 1975's An Evening With John Denver). The state of Alaska might glom onto "Alaska and Me" (off of 1988's Higher Ground). Paris could adopt "A Country Girl in Paris" (also off of Higher Ground); the Netherlands could use "Amsterdam" (from 1970's Take Me to Tomorrow) to promote the city of hash bars; and Brazil could take "Amazon" (from 1991's Different Directions) as its national anthem.
Colorado blew its chance for an image upgrade two years ago. Despite a sincere campaign by a Fort Collins fourth-grader and hundreds of musicians shortly after Denver's death, legislators failed to adopt "Rocky Mountain High" as our state song. That honor continues to go to "Where the Columbines Grow," with words and music written by A.J. Flynn in 1911; it's been the official state song since 1915. But with less than six months until the start of 2000, it's not too late for the legislature to give the nod to our non-native son--and move Colorado squarely into the Seventies.
Off Limits is compiled by Jonathan Shikes. If you have a tip, call him at 303-293-3555, send a fax to 303-296-5416, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.