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Best Freshman in the Colorado Legislature

Joe Rice

We first encountered Joe Rice, who now represents House District 38 in the Colorado Legislature, when he was the baby-faced mayor of Glendale, trying to save the town from turning into Titty City. Since then, the longtime military man has faced even bigger battles, including three tours in Iraq. But he's been fighting the good fight at home, too. Elected to the Statehouse in 2006 from a largely conservative district in the south suburbs, the freshman Democrat passed eighteen bills his first year, including one that established a statewide cold-case unit for unsolved homicides. This session, he's been seriously pushing for business and veterans — but he's not afraid to have some fun, too. To push his proposal that parent-teacher organizations be allowed to avoid sales tax on school fundraisers, Rice recently posed with a big blue Tax Monster. "Right now, these small, volunteer organizations spend way too much time and money on paperwork," he noted. "The government should just get out of the way so they can do what they do best: raise critical funds for their schools." We're with you, colonel.
Far too many TV-news personalities boast hairstyles that seem to have been coated in lacquer and shaped using a hammer and chisel. So it's a relief to rest our eyes on Bazi Kanani, whose hair is cut in a style that's light and casually elegant, deftly complementing her delicate features instead of looking like a plasticized shell that she can remove and set on a shelf at the end of the day. Pulling off such a fashionable but unfussy 'do is undoubtedly more difficult for busy Bazi than it appears, but the result is definitely worth it.
How do the managers at Denver's Fox affiliate keep finding so many on-air dudes with great 'dos? Could they have a deal with the devil — or maybe Paul Mitchell? Whatever the case, Leland Vittert displays hair heroics in the glorious tradition of such predecessors as Phil Keating and Jeremy Hubbard, sporting a pillowy coiffure that floats over his cranium like the sort of brown cloud not even the Environmental Protection Agency would dare oppose. And while his hair looks soft and pliable, it stays put no matter the climactic condition — as if the gods themselves wouldn't dare mess with such perfection. Hmm, maybe Fox does have a deal with the devil.
Back in 1984, Westword's first Best of Denver hit the streets — an 84-page issue touting everything from the Best Radio Station (KBCO, then six years old) to a long-defunct mobile hot-tub business to the Best Gallery Openings at Pirate Contemporary Art Oasis, still going strong on Navajo Street despite plenty of competition from other now-booming arts districts. But no honor was more farsighted than the one given the Denver Broncos' brand-spanking-new quarterback, who'd had a very discouraging season after gracing the cover of Westword during his first days at training camp. Even so, that Best of Denver called a winning play and gave John Elway the Best Future award. "A Hall of Famer, for sure," we succinctly predicted.
During World War II, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal was established north of Stapleton — and the resulting Superfund site was such a toxic cesspool that even after cleanup, parts were so polluted that the land could never be developed — so instead, we got the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Refuge. Immediately to the west of that is Prairie Gateway, where the new Commerce City Civic and Justice Center — which houses offices, courtrooms and the police department — boasts a lovely view of the dump, er, nature preserve. But this building is also worthy of a look: It's a handsome, neo-modernist structure crowded with details such as sunscreens over some windows. Not only that, but different parts are finished in different materials of different colors. Given the checkered past of its setting, though, the best part of the project could be that RNL designed it to be "built green," with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
Named for its location in an alley southeast of the Colorado Institute of Art — though it has no official affiliation with the school — the CIA Wall serves as a rotating showcase for some of the best graffiti productions in Colorado. Legal ones, at that, although "legal" is a relative concept in the graffiti world. The owner of this property's retaining wall long ago started allowing spray-can artists to paint murals here, but if they don't have serious skills and the blessing of some specific high-ups in the local graffiti scene, they can find their hard work crossed out — or worse. This unseen but stern management keeps the artistic quality of the wall work first-rate and free from the gang graffiti and tagger crap that mars Denver's other graf yards.
Who says that watching laws being created has to be boring, dry or, as the famous quote goes, like sausages (best not to see them being made)? With Colorado Springs anti-tax crusader Douglas Bruce now in the Statehouse, the entertainment level has picked right up. From kicking a photographer to grandstanding, Bruce has made plenty of headlines — if not many friends — and quickly become the most entertaining part of the place. What will he do next?
In December, Forbes magazine pronounced Denver "the most lustful city in America." And no, not because the Democratic National Committee chose to hold its 2008 convention in Denver. A single statistic earned the city this honor: Over-the-counter contraceptive sales in Denver are 189 percent higher than might be expected for a city this size. Safety first!
MCA Denver
When Cydney Payton became director of the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, it was located in a former fish market. She immediately started pushing for a permanent home for the institution, and less than eight years later, through the sheer force of her will — and a lot of donations — the MCA is now in its own building. And what a building it is: Designed by an international up-and-comer David Adjaye, a London-based architect who won a competition for the job, it's a neo-modernist gem with deconstructionist tendencies. It looks like a pseudo-cube coming apart at the seams, but the interior has a savvy setup that facilitates Payton's concept of presenting different art mediums in specifically dedicated spaces. Adjaye's best idea, though, was the glass walkway on the roof that does double duty as a skylight, flooding the atrium inside with natural light. Well, that and the rooftop bar with a stunning view of downtown.
Slow and steady wins the race, as a bunch of determined Skyline Vista Elementary School students proved when they successfully lobbied the Colorado Legislature to make the Western Painted Turtle Colorado's official state reptile. It joins such other notable state symbols as the state bird (lark bunting) and state fish (greenback cutthroat trout).

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