One of the displays at this year's Colorado State Fair was a jaw-dropping "H" removed from the usual 4H fare. "Hippie Homie House," the runner-up in the domestic arts, dollhouse division, offered a psychedelic commentary on both the flower-power children of the '60s and the hip-hop generation of today.
"The '60s and '70s were a period of violent social and cultural changes, and that's what the house represents," says Tanya Kulkosky, the dollhouse's 48-year-old creator. "I guess you could say that it's a generational thing, inspired by the youthful rebellion against the establishment."
You could say that. You could also say that the Hippie Homie House looked exactly like a Fisher-Price dollhouse -- Kulkosky bought the plastic shell at a junk shop -- decorated with such handmade miniature furnishings as tie-dyed bedspreads and a miniature beanbag chair, as well as Led Zeppelin, Grateful Dead and Beatles posters.
But the house's inhabitants were completely contemporary: happy homies that Kulkosky purchased for 50 cents each from a vending machine at a local shopping mall.
"I don't know what they are, but they're definitely ethnic, and they're very popular," she reports. "They're very much of the hip-hop generation, but to me, they're just a bunch of college kids living together. One guy is looking through his record collection; another is a Vietnam veteran in a wheelchair."
Outside the home's front door, though, trouble is brewing. One of the homies, wearing dark shades, is slumped over in a car parked in the driveway; a police cruiser has pulled up behind the car, and an officer is investigating. Meanwhile, another homie, dressed in baggy sweatpants and a basketball jersey, attempts to defuse the situation. "His buddy is trying to talk the police out of giving him a citation," Kulkosky says, laughing.
But since the Colorado State Fair is a family-friendly event, the passed-out homie is in the passenger seat, not behind the wheel. "I didn't want anyone to think that he was drinking and driving," Kulkosky explains.
And don't even ask about the extraterrestrial in the kitchen. "There are two dogs staring at an alien; maybe they ate some weird brownies and they're hallucinating," she says. "That's my sense of humor. I like to put something in my houses that will make you laugh."
Kulkosky, a Pueblo historian who is writing a book on the role of aviation in twentieth-century conflicts, won first-place ribbons with her two other dollhouse entries: a '40s pool room and a version of Santa's workshop. "People show some weird things," she says. "The competition is really tough." The gang that couldn't shoot straight: One week after the city began releasing the contents of its soon-to-be-purged Denver Police Department intelligence files, 429 requests had been made by individuals, with 79 of them receiving files; 77 groups had requested information, with eleven getting the goods.
Among those who hit the dubious jackpot was Ken Seaman, a longtime activist -- particularly on anti-nuclear/peace issues -- who's running as the Green Party candidate for the 1st Congressional District against incumbent Democrat Diana DeGette and Republican challenger Ken Chlouber. "The Patriot Act is alive and well and living in Denver," says Seaman. "My eleven pages of nothing but black ink blots makes quite clear that the authorities have no intention of sharing information. It's as if Mr. Ashcroft was personally running the show here at the Denver Police Department."
The Libertarian Party of Colorado also rated a DPD file, in which it was classified as a "militia type organization" that is "pro-gun rights."
"A political party as a militia group? How ridiculous! What next?" asks John Berntson, chairman of the LPC, who then answers his own question. "Seriously, while the files themselves are laughable to the extent that they illustrate just how pathetically ill-informed the DPD is, they are also scary for the same reason. Is this the quality of law enforcement in Denver? Is Barney Fife running the shop?"
Yeah, and Floyd the Barber is running for U.S. Senate. This past weekend, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, Rick Stanley, who survived a recall move last month, was cited yet again with a gun violation, this time for taking a .357 magnum to a Thornton fair. (His conviction this past May of carrying a semiautomatic to a rally in Denver is on appeal.)
"Rick Stanley is a kidney stone in the Libertarian Party," says Doug Anderson, who a dozen years ago was the highest-profile party member in the area. A dark-horse candidate for the Denver Election Commission, Anderson won the contest and served from 1987 to 1991 -- when he wasn't serving drinks at his real job: bartending at Shotgun Willie's, the Glendale strip club. "I did some good Libertarian things when I was on the commission," Anderson says. "The permanent staff was reduced from 21 down to twelve."
On this November's ballot, Anderson is the Libertarian candidate for Colorado House District 26 -- but he doesn't expect to come close to winning. "I'm a lineholder," he clarifies. But those spy files have him thinking. "They're a paranoid's worst scenario," he says. "You have to present a valid ID to get on a list to get off a list. It's no longer an absurdity: They have a law that they can check bookstore and library records. Maybe next time, I'll run for the library board."
In the meantime, Anderson's given up bartending. He moved to Lakewood "for love," he says, and thanks to savvy real-estate investments in Capitol Hill, he's "happily retired."
If only Libertarian Party grudges were as easy to retire. Hue Futch, one of the founders of the National Libertarian Party when it got its start in Colorado back in 1971, says he's still "dismayed and horrified" by Anderson's failure to get the Denver Election Commission abolished. And he's so put off by "this Stanley character" that Futch recently changed his registration from the LPC to Liberty and Justice Independent.
He's now calling for a powwow on the state of the Libertarian Party in Saguache on the autumnal equinox. "Seek and you shall find," he promises.
Bitch, bitch, bitch: The campaign accounted for just a fraction of the millions in marketing dollars the Breckenridge Ski Resort spends each year, but it set off an avalanche of publicity -- and complaints -- by attempting to snag that coveted 18-24 male demographic with lines like this: "The Hill May Dominate You. But the Town Will Still Be Your Bitch."
Breckenridge's après-ski activities, the campaign promised, are "the best kind of nightlife of all -- the kind you can pin down and ask, 'Who's your daddy?'"
Placed in skateboarder and snowboarder magazines by Breckenridge Ski Resort -- now part of Vail Associates -- the pair of ads were supposed to speak directly to hormonally crazed boarders, who would then hide the mags in their sock drawers and run off to tell Mom and Dad that, gee whiz, Breckenridge looked like a keen place to go this winter.
The town did not appreciate the honor, however. Late last week, Mayor Sam Mamula wrote resort officials, noting that Breckenridge, the town, had reached "the conclusion that the ad program is doing a great deal of damage.... The next step is not to just pull the ad, but decide what we can do to convince families to come back here."
But by then, Breckenridge, the resort, had seen the error of its ways and had already canceled the campaign. "This mini-controversy has sparked many an opinion in the past few days," noted Roger McCarthy, senior vice president. "While we admire the intentions of our marketing staff to create an edgy advertising campaign appealing to today's youth for the Breckenridge Ski Resort, some of the wording in the two ads in question crossed a line that should not have been crossed. Sometimes, when companies make mistakes, the best thing to do is just admit the mistake and move on."
Or move up, as in the case of Cathey Finlon, whose McClain Finlon Advertising created the ads. On Friday, even as the debate snowballed, she was being introduced as the new chairwoman of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. "I thought I'd have picketers," she says. "Like the approach or not, we had a very good rationale for the approach" -- even if it resulted in the most controversial campaign in twenty-some years at her agency.
"It's a real hard question for marketers: How do you speak the language to young people that will get them, and then keep them when they're baby boomers like us?"
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Bill McCartney, former head coach of the CU Buffs, responded to criticism of ads for this weekend's Promise Keepers confab with this: "A picture is worth a thousand words, so it's no surprise that Promise Keepers' 2002 advertising image would offend some. That's OK. Our families and communities are worth fighting for.
"The horsemen on our billboard are mounted and ready for battle," he continued. "But what does our 'Storm the Gates' theme this year actually refer to? The battles men fight within themselves. These aren't holy wars against members of another religion, but internal character issues and social injustice, such as our marriages gripped by dullness or misplaced passion; our youth lost to a shallow, pleasure-oriented pop culture; our neighborhoods isolated by poverty or plenty. The Apostle Paul wrote, 'The weapons of our warfare are not made by humans.' He's referring to a battle we all fight -- with selfishness."
Yo! Who's your daddy?