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
JC Buck
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).
Colorado's current motto is Nil Sine Numine — "Nothing Without the Deity." Territorial governor William Gilpin came up with it when the new territory needed a seal in 1861; it became part of the official state lineup sixteen years later. Which means it's high time that we dump that mothbally motto for something a little newer, a little less ecumenical, a little more hip. After all, Denver successfully courted the Democratic National Convention, which in August will return to the state where it was last held a hundred years ago. Last fall, our Colorado Rockies garnered international attention with their last-second Cinderella win of the National League pennant. The square state has never been more hip. And while the Colorado Legislature recently laid claim to sentimental favorite John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" as a second official state song, we're singing a different tune these days: "Hip to Be Square." As both a reference to our geographical outline and a defiantly tongue-in-cheek nod to what many on the coasts have always considered Colorado, this cheesy Huey Lewis and the News song is perfect — and perfectly ironic.
You know you've arrived as a wine-producing (and not just -consuming) state when you hire an official State Enologist. Stephen Menke, who previously served in the same role in Illinois, came to Colorado with a stack of credentials, including a degree in agriculture and a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology. More important, he loves the science of wine and considers the high-altitude peculiarities of Colorado's wine industry to be a challenge well worth pursuing. In vino veritus!

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