Jon Caldara
Jon Caldara
Susan Goldstein

Off Limits

Perky right-wing pinup Ann Coulter - seen on the cover of Time the same week the mag named John Hickenlooper one of the country's top five mayors -- is now pushing Jon Caldara. A recent pitch letter from the Independence Institute came with a return envelope boasting a Ronald Reagan stamp and a personalized sticky note from Coulter. "If you don't already know my good buddy Jon Caldara, you need to," she chirped. "Jon runs one of the most effective and ferocious free market organizations in the country."

"She considers me her boy toy," Caldara says, when asked how the Institute got Coulter's seal of approval. "She's a drinking buddy of mine."

Although the libertarian think tank has sent out pitch letters before, it's never done such a massive direct mailing, buying assorted mailing lists and sending out between 10,000 and 15,000 pieces -- one to a Westword writer. "Must have been the Mother Jones or Juggs list," Caldara muses.

The campaign has drawn lots of response -- some monetary, some mean.

"From Ronnie's smiling mug on the stamp to that cunt Ann Coulter's post-it note, I knew you'd be full of baloney as Oscar Meyer," wrote one unhappy recipient. "Take a long walk off a short pier, Jonny-lad."

Wrote another: "In response to your letter of May 2005, my reply, in the words of my Italian grandfather, 'go fuck yourself.'"

Then there was this: "I truly believe that you and Ann Coulter are a danger to America. And I sincerely hope you fail at whatever nonsense you are trying to perpetrate on the American public."

And this: "You are out of your fucking mind, your organization sucks. Even if she's not a terrible-looking wench."

In the "gift amount" blank, people scrawled everything from "eat shit" to "stick this up GW's ass and yours" to "I can't afford to be a Republican, asshole."

Caldara's favorite response came scrawled in big, black marker: "I am a liberal and proud of it so get me off your list, mouron."

"I'm just cut to pieces by the sophisticated wit of our ideological enemies," Caldara confesses. But he's not so injured that he won't recover by June 25, when the Institute holds its annual Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Party, with iconoclast Christopher Hitchens as the invited guest. The writer is "a terrific spokesman on how the war on smokers has taken away the diversity of America," Caldara says. "The perfect character to come shoot, drink and smoke."

And no mouron, either.

Let there be light: We know there's a lot of action in the Platte Valley, what with pricey loft projects popping up every day. What stunned an Off Limits operative looking down from north Denver, though, wasn't all the new stuff behind Union Station, but the sudden disappearance of an old landmark. Union Station looked naked without its Travel by Train sign. Had loft-dwellers complained that its classic neon was disturbing their sleep (not to mention clashing with their decor)?

Fear not. "We're refurbishing both the signs, and doing the back one first," says Scott Reed, spokesman for RTD, which now has official responsibility for Union Station. "We had to take it down using a crane, and the neon gas tubes will be upgraded, the background repainted and the transformers replaced."

He promises that both signs should be back by June 30.

That won't be the case with another sign that left the station. Although the Ski Train moved its office out of the right wing more than a year ago, its orange-neon sign just came down last month and is currently in storage. "We're accepting offers," says Jim Bain, general manager of the train, which starts its summer trips to Winter Park on July 30. "Anyone want to buy a vowel?"

On the Record

With the onset of summer, we here at Off Limits wholeheartedly endorse the first-ever National Leave the Office Earlier Day, created by Denver resident Laura Stack , president of the Productivity Pro. By "earlier," though, Stack doesn't mean noon, so we asked her to explain herself:

Q: Why is June 2 National Leave the Office Earlier Day?

A: When we registered with Chase's Calendar of Events, we had to pick a day. So my husband said, "How about your birthday?" And really, who wants to work more than eight hours on their birthday? If you can't take it off, then leaving on time is the next best thing. The idea is that if people can leave earlier just that once, then maybe they can start doing it once a week. Then perhaps they can expand that to two days a week. Typically, professionals work a fifty-hour week. The forty-hour work week is long gone.

Q: What time do you leave your office every day?

A: I leave every day at five. I have three kids, so I have to practice what I preach.

Q: So what time will you leave on National Leave the Office Earlier Day?

A: I'm not encouraging people to play hooky. I don't say leave early, just earlier than the normal ten hours. So for me, it's just a normal day. My goal is to get people who are working over sixty hours a week back down to a reasonable number of hours.

Q: What is the most frequent complaint your clients have about managing their time?

A: Right now, the biggest complaint is e-mail.

Q: What is your best tip for that?

A: I make them turn off all of the noises. You can't have notifications. You have to turn the sound off, turn off the pop-ups. I don't let them look at their in-box as their main screen. There are a lot of obsessive behaviors around e-mail, so I try to help them unlearn the addictive behaviors.

Q: What is the best technology time-saver?

A: If your system is broken, then no technology, no tool is going to help you. If you can't sort and process the e-mail as it comes in, then just getting the latest gadget isn't going to help you.

Q: Do you use a paper calendar or a BlackBerry?

A: I have a hybrid system. I am fundamentally a paper person. I still use a FranklinCovey for a calendar and my to-do list. But I do have a Treo, because it is easy to access my e-mail while I'm on the road. The trick is to figure out how you are wired naturally and not try to force yourself into an all-or-nothing kind of approach.


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