Off Limits

The Greens are coming, the greens are coming! Between 600 and 1,000 Green Party members from across the United States -- and at least fourteen other countries -- have been revving up their VW buses and Volvos (no Corvairs, please) and are, at this very moment, on their way to Denver for the Green National Nominating Convention set for June 24 and 25. One group left Washington, D.C., on Monday in the "D.C. to Denver 2000 Freedom Ride" caravan, which will be stopping in several cities along the way, including Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Kansas City.

Consumer advocate and author Ralph Nader is expected to be nominated as the party's presidential candidate, although he faces competition from former Boulderite/ ex-Dead Kennedy lead singer Jello Biafra and Steve Gaskin, a native Denverite, well-known hippie and founder of the Farm Community.

The event is the party's second-ever national convention, says Lynne Serpe, spokeswoman for the Association of State Green Parties convention-planning committee. The first was held in Los Angeles in 1996, when Nader's acceptance of the nomination was a bit lackluster. "This time he's running for real," Serpe says.

Dean Myerson, a former ASGP officer, longtime Boulder Green and the convention's coordinator, confirms that the Renaissance Hotel is already sold out for the event. (Ten-dollar tickets to the acceptance speech are still available.) "We planned for 400 people and got 550 so far," he says. "It's the biggest Green Party event in the U.S. ever." So big, in fact, that C-SPAN is covering it live all day on Sunday. That's good news -- and free publicity -- for Longmont resident Ron Forthofer, who's running for the 2nd Congressional District seat now held by Democrat Mark Udall; along with candidates for several other races around the country, Forthofer will be speaking to the delegates -- and, consequently, the entire C-SPAN audience.

Myerson says the Colorado Greens' bid to host the convention won out over a competing proposal from a D.C. group. "Things are cheaper in Colorado -- Greens aren't wealthy -- and the climate is better," he says. And once they won the convention, the Colorado Greens picked Denver over Boulder because "we wanted the bigger city name, Boulder is much more expensive, and we were trying to avoid the stereotypes that go along with Boulder." And which stereotypes are those? Myerson doesn't specify.

Values and valuables: Also in line for some free publicity is the Denver Art Museum. Months before appraisers and producers with the hit PBS program Antiques Roadshow pulled into Denver for last Saturday's sold-out taping at the Colorado Convention Center, they contacted the museum about filming some breakaway segments there. The DAM happily agreed, says spokeswoman Christine Genovese, adding that "they were as nice as they could be."

One of the subjects they wanted to film was the museum's collection of twentieth-century chairs, which are part of the Architecture, Design and Graphics department. Despite the show's growing appeal among antique collectors and mainstream TV viewers alike, though, that department's curator, Craig Miller, had somehow never heard of the program. Fortunately, he still agreed to do the gig and proved a natural before the camera, joking with TV appraiser Usha Subramaniam. "Once he got on there, he liked the publicity," Genovese says. "In addition to the segment about the chairs, the PBS people filmed at least two other segments at the museum over a two-day period, including one about the history of the building."

The Denver episode is scheduled to run in January -- whether or not Miller tunes in to catch his own appearance. "If you don't watch that much TV," Genovese concedes, "I guess you wouldn't really know about it."

Sticks and stones: So the Metro Football Stadium District has decided to put the rights to name the Denver Broncos' new stadium up for sale. No surprise there. What was once the glamour and glory of Mile High Stadium will now be some pimped-up new moniker like Qwest Park or Gatorade Arena. (Hey, we've already got Coors Field and the Pepsi Center. Why not go for the beverage-company trifecta?)

Or maybe not.

The Ralph Nader-affiliated Washington, D.C.-based consumer group Commercial Alert is asking sportswriters to call sports stadiums by nicknames instead of their god-given corporate names. In a letter sent to the fifty largest U.S. and Canadian newspapers, Commercial Alert director Gary Ruskin calls ballparks and stadiums the stuff of lore and legend and asks: "Can one recount Willie Mays' back-to-the-plate catch off Vic Wertz in the 1954 World Series, without mention of the spacious center field of the old Polo Grounds? Would Reggie Jackson's October heroics have loomed quite as large in any stadium besides the House that Ruth Built? Could Havlicek have stolen the ball anyplace besides the Garden? Those stadium names...are being ripped from our lives, and the reason is that corporations are seizing the names of our beloved parks and stadiums, and replacing these with their own."

America West Arena in Phoenix, Cinergy Field in Cincinnati, Comerica Park in Detroit, the FleetCenter in Boston, Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco, Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego and, of course, Denver's own Coors Field and the Pepsi Center. The list is endless.

"Sports writers are our last line of defense," Ruskin continues. "You are the keepers of the language of sports. You have the power to name, which is the power to define. You wield this power each time you sit down to write; and I urge you to wield it on behalf of our memories, our local cultures, and the bonds between parents and kids...There is no law that says that you have to call a sports venue what a big corporation wants you to call it...You can do this. No one can stop you. What good is freedom of speech if you are not willing to exercise it?"

Then again, maybe Microsoft will buy the Constitution.


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