Best New Motto for Colorado 2008 | "Hip to Be Square" | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
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!
A few years back, crews of underground street knitters began tagging up cities across the nation — but Denver's street-art scene remained in the cold. Local light poles were left naked, bus benches stayed bare, and orange construction cones looked chilly without their little yarn hats! But thanks to the tireless work of the young women at the Ladies Fancywork Society, Denver's urban grit has gotten a little more warm-and-fuzzy of late. The anonymous knitters have donated an abundance of parking-meter mittens, trees scarves and bike-rack cozies, making the city a much warmer place. Needless to say, Fancywork members should not be harassed while applying the tricks of their trade, as knitting needles can be sharp. Thanks, ladies!
For years, the Civic Center has been under threat — most recently with a proposal to move the Colorado History Museum into the park itself, opening up space in the 1300 block of Broadway for a revamped Colorado courts structure. But after months of debate, the board of the Colorado Historical Society instead wisely decided to build the new museum on a surface parking lot a block south on Broadway, right across the street from the Daniel Libeskind-designed complex that includes the Denver Art Museum's Hamilton Building. David Owen Tryba's firm will design the museum as part of a project that will also include office towers. So instead of shoehorning a shoebox and basement into Civic Center, as he'd proposed, he'll now get to mastermind an enormous, prominently placed work of architecture. That makes this decision a win not just for preservationists, but ultimately for Tryba, as well.

Best Place for Barack Obama to Visit During the Democratic Convention

Continental Divide

Since he began campaigning for president (back in 1961, the year he was born), Barack Obama has been promising to bridge the partisan divide that has split the country into red and blue states. So what better place to visit during the Democratic National Convention than the physical divide that separates the country: the Continental Divide, which runs right through this state? Besides, since Barack had Denver all sewn up at the February caucus, he doesn't need to waste any time campaigning around this town.

Best Place for Hillary Clinton to Visit During the Democratic Convention


By August, we're betting that Hillary Clinton could use a good laugh. And so during a break in the action at the Democratic National Convention, she should make tracks to the scene of one of Colorado's most surreal moments, which occurred the last time this state hosted a high-profile international event. Back in 1997, Denver was the site for the Summit of the Eight, and while Hillary's hubby, President Bill Clinton, met with other world leaders, she and a contingent of First Wives hopped aboard the Ski Train for a trip up to Winter Park. The train was passing through Tolland, just short of the Moffat Tunnel, when a couple of fans greeted the women — by mooning them. "Ooh, there are people like that in every country," Bernadette Chirac assured Hillary.
It seems like just yesterday that Brad Jones was pissing off young liberals at the University of Colorado at Boulder as the snot-nosed president of the College Republicans. But just look at him now: all grown up into the snot-nosed twenty-something managing editor/owner/spokesman/shadowy frontman behind What was launched exactly one year ago as a Colorado-centric news aggregation site has expanded into a clearinghouse for right-of-the-aisle editorials, news items and, increasingly, actual investigative reports. Jones's overtures into an area long the sacred province of journalists has rankled longtime reporters, liberals and legislators, who point out his work as a Republican consultant and question the backgrounds of his unnamed staff of writers. But like it or not, no one can deny the website's headline-grabbing successes, from revealing Democratic representative Mike Merrifield's "e-mail from hell," to breaking news of Governor Bill Ritter's discussions with union reps about a statewide collective-bargaining order, to scooping other media outlets with the revelation that Democrat Michael Garcia had exposed his junk to a female lobbyist. The representative resigned soon after — but Jones isn't about to go away as easily.
An outgrowth of the Rocky Mountain Progressive Network, and its sister site,, have been burrs under the conservative saddle for several years, and if Michael Huttner and his cohorts have their way, the ride will become increasingly uncomfortable as Election Day nears. The group's approach, which combines grassroots organizing with action plans targeting right-wing candidates and causes, has proven so effective that it's being employed by numerous emulators around the country, and ProgressCon, a gathering of left-leaning bloggers and other activists planned in conjunction with the Democratic National Convention, should spread the word even further afield. Progress, indeed.
The fact that Dick Wadhams still has a viable political career shows just how good he is at engineering comebacks. In 2006, Wadhams oversaw one of the Republicans' most disastrous campaigns, the re-election crusade of Virginia's George Allen, whose unexpected loss — fueled in part by Allen's use of an obscure racial slur, "macaca" — handed the Democrats the majority in the U.S. Senate for the first time in years. But Wadhams soon rose again, first as head of the Colorado Republican Party — a spot from which he can battle his ideological enemies on a national as well as a local level, thanks to the Dems' decision to locate their nominating convention in Denver in August — and now doing double duty as head of Bob Schaffer's campaign for the Senate. As lefties know, this Dick can take a beating without retreating.
Nerf isn't just the knowledgeable jock manning the boards during KTCL's weekday afternoon-drive shift; as the station's program director, he's also the music lover behind the decision to add local acts to the regular playlist rather than limit them to a Sunday-evening slot. On the surface, this decision doesn't seem like such a noble act of bravery. But in the commercial-radio world, where taking risks is virtually verboten, it's a bold step that's paid dividends — not just to KTCL, but to the entire scene, as more and more Colorado bands get signed, from the Fray to Single File, Meese and Tickle Me Pink, with the Flobots coming up fast. These groups, along with local music fans, owe Nerf a debt of gratitude.

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