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Off Limits

Red, white and blond: Jessica Simpson.
Marc Mainz/Getty Images

Hometown-girl-made-good Gale Norton was back in Denver this past weekend to preside over a ceremony at which the Army officially turned over 5,000 acres of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal to the Department of the Interior. Norton, Colorado's former attorney general, grew up a few miles from the arsenal, once known as the most contaminated square mile on earth. Today, a third of it is a wildlife sanctuary, with another 10,000 acres to be added when cleanup at the former Army facility is completed a decade from now.

Saturday's audience of government officials and eager anglers (see page 15) was far more appreciative of the work Norton's been doing than was a certain celeb she met recently. Back in March, singer Jessica Simpson was in Washington, D.C., for a fundraiser for Ford's Theatre, and she stopped by the White House before the performance. There, according to the Washington Post, she was introduced to Secretary of the Interior Norton. Gushed Simpson: "You've done a nice job decorating the White House!"

TREXtasy! Consider this lyric by Marc Bolan from T.Rex's 1971 classic "Planet Queen": Well it's alright/Love is what you want/Flying saucer take me away/Give me your daughter.

Now consider your average drive along an I-25 snarled by T-Rex. Could music soothe this savage beast?

The folks behind the Transportation Expansion Project, that giant construction zone running alongside I-25, has released a set of guidelines that media outlets are supposed to follow when using the project's T-REX nickname or displaying its T-REX logo. "One of the most common errors is not inserting the hyphen between the ŒT' and the ŒR,'" the six-page, four-color guide advises. "The resulting word -- TREX -- is the registered trademark of a building materials manufacturer. We want to do everything we can to prevent potential trademark violations."

But do they care about preventing hard feelings in the music world?

Marc Bolan, singer for the tremendous English glam band T. Rex, was never consulted about whether one of the largest transportation projects in Colorado history infringes on his trademark. That's partly because he's dead, and partly because most Americans would know T. Rex from exactly one '70s single "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" or from the Levi's and Mitsubishi commercials that featured T.Rex's "20th Century Boy." But since T-REX (the construction project) is so concerned with how its image is represented, it's only right that Bolan's distant voice be heard.

To find out if T-REX administrators would be open to acknowledging a great rock-and-roll hero, we asked Toni Gatzen, T-REX's public information manager, if she knew who Marc Bolan was. "No," she said. After learning that he was the voice behind T. Rex, she admitted, "I think I've seen some CDs."

The T-REX guidelines include sections on "Correct Logo Usage," "Logo Colors" (black, green and white), "Clear Space Requirements" and "Size Restrictions," as well as rules regarding potential mascots, rock stars not included. "While the T-REX logo implies that T-REX is a dinosaur," they note, "actual use of a dinosaur likeness is discouraged with any T-REX logo usage." Even with this strict admonition, however, a giant blow-up dinosaur accompanied the first people to cross the newly opened Logan Street bridge on April 1. Ignorance of the rules, or a blatant, rock-and-roll-style disregard for the guidelines?

"It was the local community attempting to draw attention to their businesses," Gatzen explained. "It's a fun thing. People like the image of the dinosaur, and it brings attention to the project."

So, of course, would tying the project to Marc Bolan.

T. Rex (the band) formed in the late '60s and released some of the greatest rock and roll of the early '70s. Widely considered "glam," the band's members were contemporaries of David Bowie and continually pushed him both creatively and stylistically. And Bowie seemed to have had the same influence on Bolan. After Bowie's massive 1972 hit The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, Bolan released 1974's Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow. Although Bolan's effort didn't achieve the classic status of Bowie's album, both men appeared to occupy the same astral plane -- and Bowie's Ziggy-era fashion sense clearly owed a great debt to Bolan's flashy, feather-boa style.

While at first the notion of incorporating Bolan's T. Rex into Colorado's T-REX might seem as far-fetched as finding a deranged Margot Kidder in your back yard, in these fast-moving, celebrity-driven days, it just makes sense. For starters, T-REX should change its very boring, proper Transportation Expansion Project name to "TREXtasy!" This could help bridge the "Bolan Gap" that music fans have wondered about since the inception of the project. It would also help keep us amused through a couple more years of construction. That famous head shot of Bolan, his curly locks hanging loose on his shoulders, could be stenciled on those ugly gray/brown walls being built alongside the highway, creating a pleasant diversion for commuters -- whether they're driving in their cars or riding the new light-rail line that's supposed to debut at the end of 2006. In the photo, Bolan's serious face belies his usual quirky demeanor, as if to say, "Metal Guru is it you?/Sitting there in your armour-plated chair, oh yeah. "

And get this: It was a fatal car wreck in 1977 that robbed the music world of one of its great innovators. That's the clincher for why the transportation project should embrace Bolan. The possibilities for more useful T-REX mottos are endless. "Don't be Marc Bolan: Stay Safe With T-REX!" "Marc Bolan Died for Your Traffic Sins. Rock On With T-REX."

But when we mentioned our undeniably winning "TREXtasy!" slogan to Gatzen, the suggestion was greeted with such deafening silence that at first we didn't think she'd heard us correctly. And then came this: "Trextasy? Not if it's copyrighted. We're pretty square when it comes to that."

When it comes to music, too. And when Gatzen asked us to sing a couple bars of "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" to jog her memory, we knew our Bolan plan had hit a dead end. We weren't about to sing that song over the phone -- but if we're invited to the grand opening of T-REX in a few short years, we'll gladly belt out a rendition of "Planet Queen" that will make the whole state proud.

Marc Bolan, too, wherever he may be.

Is there a Doc in the house? There was only one way to witness Doc Severinsen waggle his baton in his final performance as the Colorado Symphony Orchestra's principal POPS conductor, and that was baked like Spicoli on three hits of Boulder hydroponic bubonic chronic. (Oh, come on, you think Doc never burned a spliff? How else do you explain his jackets?)

But while Marc Bolan could help untangle traffic on I-25, symphony fans who test-drove the newly opened Colorado Convention Center Parking Garage two Fridays ago contracted a severe case of the 'noids while navigating the 1,000-space garage's treacherous spiral entrance ramp, which seems to go up and up and up and up to the sixth story in a constant, stomach-churning series of hairpin turns. Navigating this ramp is like driving through an M.C. Escher painting, and numerous tire and paint scrapes already adorn its concrete bumper rails. Inside the garage are several automated anti-drunk-driving message boards depicting a sedan colliding with a martini glass. Upon impact, the martini glass transforms into a stick-figure pedestrian who performs a spastic swan dive onto the pavement. They're pretty funny -- and pretty redundant -- because unless a drunk is driving a Mini Cooper, there's no way he's making it up or down the ramp without entering his vehicle in a one-man demolition derby.

A clash of symbols: Westword cartoonist Kenny Be is no favorite of Ralph "Bud" Thomson, the Commerce City Beacon columnist honored in Kenny's March 25 "Best of Commerce City" Worst-Case Scenario. "Being you are so into making light of someone's looks Kenny Be," Thomson wrote in his April 7 column, "let me return the favor, since I have no picture of you, let me guess what you look like. I see you as tall and skinny with hair down to your waist, neatly done into two braids, a wide headband, horn rimmed glasses, a beard (untrimmed), and ear rings in both ears. You are covered with tatoo's from the top of your ears to the end of your toenails. I see you driving a pink Volkswagen bus, with yellow, blue and green flowers painted on the sides. I see your VW leaking oil and belching smoke, and your engine quitting at every other stoplight. Your temporary license in the back window expired three years ago. How did I do, Kenny Be?"

Not bad. Not bad at all, Ralph. Now get a proofreader!


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