Forget the Denver Boot, that dreaded clamp invented here more than fifty years ago that has since immobilized vehicles around the globe -- and inspired many choice epithets directed at the city of its origin. Today Denver has an export we can truly be proud of: the Denver Drill. This maneuver, now practiced by every fire department in America, was created in response to the 1992 death of Mark Langvardt, an engineer with the Denver Fire Department who was trapped in a small, second-floor storage room. To avoid repeat tragedies, the drill calls for two firemen to enter a closet-sized room through a second-floor window; one sits against the wall below the window while the other lifts the injured party onto the legs of the first, which are then used to lift the victim toward the ladder and waiting rescuers. Denver's reputation is saved.
This past year, Men's Health magazine evaluated the public water supplies of a hundred U.S. cities, examining the "most recent data on levels of arsenic, lead, halo-acetic acids and total trihalomethanes (linked to cancer), and total coliform bacteria, plus the number of EPA water-system violations from 1995 to 2005," and determined that Denver's is the best-quality water in the country. And it even tastes good. We'll drink to that.
Colorado's water may dry up, but John Orr will keep pouring it on. Orr, who works for the city's wastewater treatment department, started Coyote Gulch in 2002 as a blog about local and national politics but soon started posting about his passion, water. Although he still comments regularly on topics like Barack Obama's campaign and the Iraq War, more often than not he's spouting off about all things hydrated in the Centennial State: well shut-downs on the South Platte River; the thirtieth anniversary of the Big Thompson flood; a proposed Caon City whitewater park; sex-changing fish in Boulder Creek. If you thirst for knowledge, head to Coyote Gulch.
DenverInfill is a geeky love letter to the city of Denver -- a nostalgic testament to what it once was, and a joyous celebration of what it could become. Ken Schroeppel, urban planner with Matrix Design Group, has created a comprehensive and interactive guide to all infill development proposed or completed in and around downtown Denver. Through vivid maps, clear charts, a colorful blog and such creative forays as photo essays of LoDo's remaining painted commercial signs and a mix-and-match guide to cheesy subdivision names that lets you churn out such stinkers as "The Dominion at Buffalo Gap Knoll" or "The Sanctuary at Thunder Brook Butte," Schroeppel takes the obscure topic of urban planning and makes it understandable, even exciting. You grow, Ken.

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Wash Park Prophet

It's hard to pigeonhole Andrew Oh-Willeke, the erudite scribe behind the Wash Park Prophet blog. Is he a hard-nosed gadfly? A bookish legal theorist? A flighty postmodern philosopher? A romantic poet? In fact, he's all four -- and much more. One day he'll be crunching numbers on gang members in Colorado prisons, the next he'll be detailing the many judicial rulings that have relied on Wikipedia. After that, he'll write some verse based on a real-life Denver tourist who found the homeless more helpful than the cops. Then he'll expound on what society's obsession with zombie attacks suggests about the human condition. The result is sort of like a college semester squeezed into a web page -- minus the homework and the parties.
What do Spalding Gray, good design, a dog named Maddie, environmental awareness and "Mile High Stories" have in common? Hugh Graham! A longtime fixture on Denver's arts-and-culture scene -- a former Significant Guy, and the other half of artist/River North Arts District co-founder Jill Hadley Hooper -- Graham is fascinating to chat with, whether discussing his time as a stage manager for Spalding Gray; the design of the Frederic C. Hamilton Building; his dog, Maddie; the funny environmental newsletter Grist or his involvement with "Mile High Stories." If you can't get your daily dose of Graham in person, stop by his blog, which is as eclectic and delightful as Graham himself. And be sure to comment: He likes to know who's stopping by.
All of politics is personal -- very, very personal -- for the folks over at ProgressNow.org. Since lawyer (and former Westword intern) Michael Huttner started his troublemaking squad of truth-seekers, they've made news as often as they've reported it, creating the catchy "Both Ways Bob" campaign that gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez could never escape, offering a stylish video response to Marilyn Musgrave's disabled-vet ads, jumping so fast on inconsistencies in Scott McInnis's campaign that the former congressman took a pass on the 2008 U.S. Senate race, and now running a Presidential March Madness elimination. But ProgressNowAction.com isn't all fun and games; the blog's home is full of information and position papers, and its get-out-the-vote campaign just won a Golden Dot award from the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet. Turn on and tune in.
When David Bennahum, the president and CEO of the Center for Independent Media, a progressive organization based in Washington, D.C., decided to create his first state-based spinoff, he looked to Colorado. His creation went live last year, quickly establishing itself as a lively and journalistically credible blog capable of breaking news about, for instance, irregularities in failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez's campaign. Reporters at mainstream outlets haven't always given Colorado Confidential credit when they've followed the site's lead, but they're definitely reading -- and that's what matters most.
Like Colorado Confidential, Colorado Media Matters is the initial regional foray by a national organization -- in this case, Media Matters, a Washington, D.C., outfit founded by former right-winger David Brock. Overseen by the indefatigable Bill Menezes, an ex-Denver Post staffer, the Colorado branch monitors an incredible amount of local TV, radio and print product with an eye toward ferreting out anything that smells like conservative bias. Knowing such detectives are keeping an eye on them is bound to make ethical journalists even more aware of being evenhanded -- and that's good for everyone.
Conservative pundits constantly fulminate about liberal media bias but seldom bother trying to prove their case. So props to the Independence Institute for "Unabashed Bias," an analysis that attempted to show that the Denver dailies regularly engaged in slanted coverage of referenda C and D, two 2005 ballot issues. Because Institute honcho Jon Caldara publicly opposed both measures, questions about objectivity are worth raising -- yet the findings themselves were often quite persuasive. That's putting your study where your mouth is.

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