Best National Nod to a Local Institution 2009 | Mercury Cafe | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Best National Nod to a Local Institution

Mercury Cafe

Marilyn Megenity's Mercury Cafe is a Colorado institution, beloved both inside and outside of this state. It's also a no-brainer for a left-leaning catalogue of American collectives, co-ops, eco-conscious and alternative businesses, think tanks, coffee houses, favorite leftist anthems and restaurants for locavores, but we were still happy to see that The Nation Guide to the Nation mentions Denver's long-lived, free-thinking hippie outpost not once, but twice. Lauded for its rooftop windmills, organic fare and alternative politics, this Mercury is still rising.
It's not law — not yet — but Colorado ASCENT, the bipartisan legislation sponsored by state senator Suzanne Williams and representatives Mike Merrifield and Tom Massey, and heartily endorsed by Governor Bill Ritter, is well on its way to becoming the most welcome new law this legislative session. It would establish a statewide concurrent-enrollment plan that gives students an opportunity to earn a college associate's degree while finishing high school. It will also replace several different, and often debated, plans in school districts around the state with a single, uniform program. Let's just hope the kids don't get too much education; they might start questioning how such a bipartisan group ever came up with such a wacky name. For the record, ASCENT stands for Accelerating Students through Concurrent ENrollmenT.
We may not like his position on House Bill 1299, which would pledge all of Colorado's electoral-college votes to the presidential candidate who wins the state — but otherwise, we're with Democrat Joe Miklosi all the way. For years, he worked behind the scene, as state director for Progressive Majority, as director of the Democratic State House Caucus for then-Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff; as chief of staff for then-House Minority Leader Jennifer Veiga; and as a health-care legislative aide for U.S. Senator Howard Metzenbaum. Last year, he decided to run for office himself, and the candidate who bills himself as "not your average Joe" handily won in his south Denver district. In the Statehouse, he's proved himself above average, pushing for such measures as online voting registration and in-state tuition for illegal immigrants — even going on Peter Boyles's show to debate the issue. Now, that takes cojones.
Every Friday for years, 9News morning anchor Gary Shapiro has shared an upbeat message with viewers: "Congratulations, you made it through the week." But given the state of today's economy, this slogan is more timely than ever. Thanks, Gary. We needed that.
Not so long ago, the conservative Face the State site regularly battled such well-funded liberal blogs as Colorado Media Matters and the Colorado Independent. But whereas CMM recently shut down and the Independent has been hampered by a significant downsizing, Face the State is scrappier than ever." Brad Jones's creation churns out fresh, original content at a rapid clip, with some items displaying an actual sense of humor — a rarity in political blogging. No wonder lefties have found it difficult to put many marks on this Face.
Like most reality shows, CNN's Freshman Year features a contrived premise that should stir up tension and drama. Here, it's two totally different members of the House of Representatives going about their daily lives: Representative Jared Polis, the openly gay, extremely wealthy Boulder Democrat, and Jason Chaffetz, a conservative Utah father of three who sleeps on a cot in his congressional office to save money. The show is filmed by the congressmen themselves, using shaky handheld cameras, and highlighted by bad sound, weird music and unbelievably boring plot lines. And yet, as with other reality shows, once you start watching, it's difficult to stop staring. In episode 5, Polis zooms in on the blisters on his feet, a moment that beats his munching of soggy tacos from Episode 4 for pure TV magic, while Chaffetz leg wrestles Stephen Colbert and lists to the songs on his iPod. We can't wait to see what happens — or doesn't — next.
While far too many radio formats have been described as "unique" over the years, the sonic blend offered up by Indie 101.5 truly deserves the descriptor. Music director Whip — our choice for Best DJ in Denver — juxtaposes many of the most interesting current modern-rock acts (the kind that scare off most stations) with alterna-cuts that haven't had all the life sucked out of them through overplaying. The combination is as fresh as it is intelligent. Full disclosure: Indie 101.5 was smart enough to tap Westword's music editor for a regular Wednesday-night show.
By its very nature, Radio 1190, the University of Colorado at Boulder's station, has a very fluid staff, with DJs coming and going at various times of the year. But despite these frequent changes, 1190 has some important constants. The vast majority of hosts are more interested in exploring the variety of independent sounds being created today, as opposed to focusing on the most predictable or heavily hyped stuff — and instead of phonying up their presentations, their straightforward talks comes from the heart. That's giving it the old college try.
The 5,000-square-foot house on the corner of Champa and 26th streets was once the pride of the Curtis Park neighborhood, a circa 1880 Queen Anne-style home that was one of the largest Victorian-era houses in the city. James Mathews, an ore and bullion broker, was the first owner; Isaac Gotthelf, a merchant and legislator, bought the place in 1890. Over the years, though, the home deteriorated into a warren of tiny apartments inside and a horror show outside, its mansard roof crumbling. Colorado Preservation Inc. bought the property last year and started a massive renovation project in January — a project that's already brought twelve jobs to the historic neighborhood, and will be a real landmark.

Best Republican to Run for Governor in 2010

Tom Tancredo

Although Tom Tancredo is among the most recognizable Republicans in the state, that's not why we're encouraging his candidacy. No, he's the right-wing man for the job because he'll say just about anything, any time. Unlike most politicians, he doesn't have a mechanism for preventing ideas sure to generate controversy from popping out of his mouth at any moment. For that reason, Tancredo's candidacy would make for one of the most twisted yet entertaining campaigns imaginable. Could he win? Dunno — but it'd sure be fun watching him try.

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