Best Of :: People & Places
You've got three tons of urban assault vehicle strapped to your back, but it won't get you to your remote mountain sanctuary unless you know how to use it. In fact, it won't get you out of a snowy King Soopers parking lot, either, unless you learn how to handle it on slick roads. Enter Medved Autoplex, which sponsors an ice-driving academy for its new Hummer owners. This winter, thirty gasoline-powered H2s took laps around Georgetown Lake as their drivers dodged cones and practiced emergency braking maneuvers, learning that any four-wheel drive turns into four-wheel slide on ice, even if you did pay sixty grand for the beast.
Greg Moore, a former managing editor with the Boston Globe who was cherry-picked by owner Dean Singleton for the position of Denver Post editor, has been on the job for less than a year, but he's already done what many observers thought would be impossible: He's got people talking about a paper previously regarded as stodgy and deadly dull. The Post isn't yet the great American newspaper that Moore and Singleton envision; there's still a long way to go. But Moore's energy and drive have helped make this goal seem like an actual possibility rather than the haziest of pipe dreams. The rest is up to him.
We'll admit it: At first the Rocky Mountain News's new design hurt our eyes, and we couldn't imagine how the paper would continue to fill its "channels" -- those left-hand columns earmarked for chatty tidbits, quotes and "by the numbers" trivia. But the News adjusted some type, we adjusted our expectations -- and the channels just kept getting better and better. The most successful of all: The Stump, with notes, odd news and observations from the campaign trail.
Two days after the new leaders of the Colorado General Assembly were sworn in this session, a correction appeared in the Denver Post: "Because of a reporter's error, Diane Carman's column on the Denver and the West cover Thursday incorrectly stated that Colorado House Speaker Lola Spradley's mother was among the family members at the Capitol on Wednesday to witness her swearing in. Spradley's mother is deceased." Easy mistake, though: In her speech, Spradley had referred to her mother, who passed away three decades earlier, looking "down from above." Guess Carman thought she wound up in the cheap seats.
In January, the Rocky Mountain News ran this correction on page two: "The cover photo of today's Spotlight section shows a snowshoer rather than a cross-country skier." Bet they know the difference now.
Welcome to the city of conditional love. You know about Denver's 300 days of sunshine a year, right? But nobody ever talks about the other 65 days, which are consumed by blizzards, tornadoes, wildfires, drought and calamity. The temperature here is mild, except when it isn't. Average precipitation is moderate, all of it coming in a single dump of snow that paralyzes the city for several weeks. We are the City of Trees, but in the post-blizzard weeks we become the City of Busted Trees (also the City of 10,000 Lakes). In the summer we bake in the cruel sun, except when we're pelted by guinea pig-sized hail. Our airport is terrific, except when it sucks. And did we mention the ever-evolving convention center, the wonderful freeway improvements known fondly as "T-Rex," and our very own Colorado Rockies? No, no, the pleasure is all ours. Well, mostly.
Forget the snowpack. Colorado is awash in less ambiguous liquid assets, a fact noted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science when it welcomed 6,000 members to Denver for a convention this year. True, the brainiacs acknowledged, Denver is the most educated city in the U.S., also the "thinnest" city in the "thinnest" state. But what's the most important stat for convention-goers? Colorado produces more beer than any other state.
Smile and say "Cheese." In 1935, Louis Ballas, owner of the Humpty-Dumpty drive-in in northwest Denver, put a slice of cheese on a hot burger, and the rest is history. The world's first "cheeseburger" - a term patented by Ballas -- is honored with a small memorial at 2776 Speer Boulevard, now the parking lot of Key Bank.
You'll learn things reading Steve Owings's new book, Colorado: A Silly Guide to the Centennial State, that you never imagined. For example, "The city's night life is best viewed from LoDo (lower downtown). Once teeming with vagrants, panhandlers, prostitutes, and abandoned warehouses the area has been rejuvenated with the addition of Coors Field, Starbucks, Planet Hollywood and numerous other attractions designed to separate you from your money just like the panhandlers and prostitutes used to especially since one mocha latte at Starbucks now costs a little more than a night with a hooker." C'mon -- that can't be true! After all, LoDo doesn't have a Planet Hollywood. But Owings's book -- published by Cabin Lake Publishing out of Colorado Springs -- offers dead-on satire on the Centennial State, if no useful information. At all.