Back in 1972, when Louisville and Broomfield were just sleepy little burgs that broke up the empty space between Denver and Fort Collins, no one much cared how a local business drew attention to itself. Why, an enterprising entrepreneur could fasten a life-sized fiberglass giraffe to his roof if he thought it might generate some interest -- which is exactly what the owners of Jonas Bros. Taxidermy Studio did that year, creating a towering icon that was as much a landmark to the east of Highway 36 as the mountains were to the west.
But a lot has changed over the past 29 years. In April, Jonas Bros. moved from Broomfield to the Colorado Tech Center, a spiffy new business park in Louisville, taking the giraffe with it. "People panicked when we took him down. Three newspapers called. They thought somebody stole him," says company manager Robert Sanders. "It was a real pain in the ass to get him off the roof. Five or six of us got up there and lowered him down. We manhandled him."
Adding insult to injury, the giraffe is now nowhere to be seen.
"They don't get the giraffe," says Louisville mayor Tom Davidson. While he acknowledges that the giant animal was an unofficial Colorado landmark -- "It was hard to drive down the turnpike and not see it," he admits -- he points out that in Louisville, the giraffe is officially considered a sign, and it doesn't fit within the Colorado Tech Center's parameters for signage, which Jonas was told as soon as it announced its moving plans last year. "And anyway, it's a business park, so it wouldn't be visible from anywhere," Davidson adds. "Once you start making exceptions for one thing, where do you stop?"
At one exceptional giraffe, Sanders suggests. "The city council in Louisville is already familiar with him," he says. "We have to apply for the permits to be able to put him outside again, and we are going through the red tape now."
In the meantime, the giraffe stands at the ready inside the Jonas warehouse, where he has plenty of non-fiberglass friends to keep him company, including a stuffed Dall sheep (asking price: $8,500), a cape buffalo (yours for $3,200) and a wolf (a mere $2,500). "Not your average-guy kind of stuff," Sanders admits.
The hands of time: And speaking of landmarks, the clock in front of the Gart Bros. Sports Castle at 10th Avenue and Broadway is missing -- again. Was it mowed down by Gart's new corporate image? Hardly, says Gart facilities manager Rick Merkel. In fact, the clock was decked by a delivery truck just a few months after it was installed to replace an earlier clock, which also was destroyed by a delivery truck.
The first clock, which had stood in front of the Sports Castle for decades, was killed off in 1999. After that, company higher-ups ordered up a brand-new, modern clock, which was finally set in place earlier this year. "It was only up for about two months," Merkel says. "I don't know why the driver even pulled up in front, since the dock is in back. That clock sat there for forty years, and within a year we had to replace it twice."
The trucking company's insurance will cover the cost for a third clock, which has been ordered from Electric Time, a Massachusetts company. "It's a great unit," Merkel says, explaining that the new clock will be custom-cast and include a Global Positioning System timed to the U.S. atomic clock in Boulder. "You'll be able to set your watch to it," he adds.
Just don't set your watch while you're driving a delivery truck.
A killing at the box office: Prepare yourself for Lisl: The Movie. It's got everything Hollywood likes, including lots of action, a misunderstood young woman, skinheads, cops, speeding cars, guns, a potential soundtrack by Warren Zevon, even lumberjacks. The big-name actors -- Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro, John Cusack, etc. -- may have been too busy to jet to Denver for Monday's Free Lisl rally at the State Capitol, but they are allegedly major supporters of the Lisl Auman cause and are no doubt reviewing screenplays on the subject right now.
After all, Aspen gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson, who organized the rally along with the National Committee to Free Lisl Auman, has some clout with movie stars -- Depp even played him in 1998's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which also starred Del Toro. In fact, with a dye job, Depp might do nicely as Matthaeus Jaehnig, the skinhead who took Auman up to Buffalo Creek to get her stuff (Del Toro could put in a cameo as the logger ex-boyfriend) and then led cops on a chase back to town, where he shot Officer Bruce VanderJagt before killing himself. Cusack could play District Attorney Bill Ritter, who prosecuted Auman to the max after she refused a plea; Rick Schroeder, accustomed to playing cops after a year on NYPD Blue and already a part-time Colorado resident, could take on the VanderJagt role. For Lisl, the pouty Reese Witherspoon would seem a prime candidate. And Thompson, of course, could play himself -- as he did so well on Monday.
A pity that state lawmakers -- really the only people in a position to do anything about Colorado's felony-murder law, under which Auman was sentenced to life in prison for her role in VanderJagt's death -- were too busy getting spanked by Governor Bill Owens to come out for the rally and start rewriting the end of Auman's story. But that shouldn't stop Hollywood from taking on her cause, as long as Tinseltown moguls don't recall what happened the last time they got interested in a cause: freedom for Tibet, which resulted in the criminally awful Seven Years in Tibet, starring Brad Pitt, and the criminally boring Kundun, by Martin Scorsese.
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