The Religious Right Stuff
If people want to know what stubby-fingered former Coloradan Karl Rove whispered in the ear of James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and current Coloradan, about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, maybe they should talk to another famous export from this state: John Wells. On Sunday night, the genius behind The West Wing had presidential candidate Alan Alda lying about his potential judicial picks to a religious-right leader who bore a marked resemblance to Dobson.
Last week, Dobson told radio listeners that he'd talked with Rove, and said that "when you know some of the things I know -- that I probably shouldn't know -- that take me in this direction, you'll know why I've said with fear and trepidation I believe Harriet Miers will be a good justice." Dobson now says he'll clarify that comment on this week's radio broadcasts. But for the real story, we'll stick with Wells.
Bottle cry: VFW John S. Stuart Post #1 is as endangered as the World War II-era soldiers who kept the patriotic watering holes in business for the past few decades. The home of the nation's very first VFW -- the group dates back to the late 1800s -- is now for sale on craigslist for $1.4 million.
"We're peddling the place," says manager and vet Bo Vikstrom. "The bar has not made a profit in twenty years, and so we all just subsidized it with bingo income."
Earlier this year, Vikstrom tried changing the saloon's name to update the place for its suddenly hip Golden Triangle environs; he also changed the menu. But even "an excellent Mexican food product" didn't bring in the crowds. "That just didn't work," Vikstrom says. "We just couldn't sustain it. It's our feeling that if you hang a VFW sign on the front door, the public has a connotation that they're either private clubs or that there's a couple of World War II drunks sitting around telling war stories and watching John Wayne movies."
Hey, pilgrim, there's nothing wrong with The Duke.
So head on over to 955 Bannock Street for one of Vikstrom's stiff drinks -- he can pour a mean vodka tonic -- before the place fades to black. After the building sells, Vikstrom intends to resurrect the post in either downtown or Capitol Hill, but only its history will survive the move. "We have 106 years' worth of artifacts, so our goal is to get recognized as a museum and make that the focus and have meeting rooms and other public accommodations," Vikstrom says. "Just not a bar."
A cup of kindness: The Human Bean Company, another Denver institution, is also moving on. After more than a decade at 218 South Broadway, Kerry Appel has taken his free-trade coffee business, which uses the sales of good coffee beans to subsidize good causes, north to 381 East 55th Avenue.
"We've been through a crazy roller coaster the last year or so," Appel says, "but we have it all resolved now. The landlord put the building up for sale down there on Broadway. They gave me an opportunity to buy, but it was way too small, so we had to find a place to move. We found a great warehouse up here. And we don't do hardly any walk-in, so we didn't need to be in a more commercial retail area like Broadway. Plus, I live in my work spaces, so it was crazy with all the sirens and drunks and graffiti and break-ins and noise from the traffic on Broadway."
Along with the new location, the company also got a new name: Café Rebelión. An Oregon drive-thru coffee joint called the Human Bean has been selling franchises the naming rights all over the country, even though Appel used it first. But after fighting for almost a year, he decided to let the Oregon bunch buy his moniker. "I got what I felt was a fair, substantial price that would help my company and the Zapatistas in Chiapas, where I get my coffee and honey," he says. "And I like the name even better. With these times and what's going on with Bush and the erosion of civil liberties, I think it's important to come out and say what were doing, which is a rebellion."
Appel is also a leader of the rebellion against gas prices. The Human Bean on Broadway frequently hosted meetings at which do-it-yourselfers talked about making biodiesel, and Appel plans to continue those confabs in the new location. Meanwhile, he's riding around town on a motorcycle that he designed and built to run on the alternative fuel: He makes the fuel for about fifty cents a gallon and gets approximately 135 miles to the gallon.
Fill 'er up.
The basement tapes: Although the future developer of Union Station has yet to be chosen -- does LoDo really need the Donald Trump treatment? -- the Colorado Midland Railway has already gotten a station break. With the facility soon to transform into a transportation and business hub, this summer it seemed that Colorado Midland -- the oldest model railroad layout in the country, and one of the largest, operated by the volunteer Denver Society of Model Railroaders -- might be booted from its home in the bowels of Union Station, where it's resided since 1935.
But the Railroaders recently got a three-year reprieve and will continue to be open to the public for two hours on the last Friday of every month, thrilling small and large boys alike -- including Mayor John Hickenlooper, who lives in LoDo and has been known to visit the set. "It's a treasure," he says. "For all train-loving children."
And plenty of adults.
Scene and herd: Last week, an Off Limits operative spotted a man standing stunned in the basement of the Denver City & County Building, holding a file that a clerk had just delivered. "I'm still married," he said, baffled.
"That's what it says here," the clerk replied.
"I'm still married," he said, putting his hand to his head. "I'm still married. I mean, I love the woman, but I'm still married?" He grew flushed, staggered to a chair and plunked himself down. "I'm still married."
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