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.
Mathews Gotthelf House
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.
The most important asset for a successful politician — especially these days, when there's not much money to buy popularity — is an appealing vision that inspires constituents. Failing that, a good pol should have a funny name and a prop-comic's ability to perform in television commercials. John Hickenlooper rode into office on the success of his scooter campaign, then won Denverites' hearts and votes by acting opposite a parking meter in a second hit commercial. Although many local critics panned his follow-up performance in the "Oversized Foam Alphabet Bond Issue Election," Denver's mayor pressed on, snow shovel in hand, to star in a public-service announcement that took his commercial career out of the deep freeze. Unlike Hickenlooper's other starring roles as a celebrity dork, in "Senior Scooper" he played an average dork who saved a senior citizen's day with one push of a shovel and a snow-eating grin. If only it were always that easy!
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
The last depression wasn't all bad news. Thanks to the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Denver area reaped the benefits of several federal projects, including Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Hundreds of New Deal laborers worked to create a stage and seating in this stunning setting; the amphitheatre, finished in 1941 and improved periodically since, is legendary with artists around the world. Less well known is the role of the CCC workers at Red Rocks — but their contribution is remembered with a statue at the entrance to the Visitor Center.
Primary 9News sports anchor Drew Soicher did Rod Mackey a big favor a few years back. He decided that he didn't want to work on the weekends, leaving Mackey the chance to take charge on Sundays, the biggest sporting day of the week. Still, credit Mackey with making the most of the opportunity. He's developed into a strong, solid on-air presence, with a good sense of balance that keeps the focus on sports instead of shtick.
Sports yakkers tend to be ghettoized, as if their chosen subject automatically makes them less worthy than peers who gab about hard-news happenings. But Sandy Clough transcends the genre. He's a rigorously analytical thinker who's not interested in dumbing down his commentary to make it more understandable for average Joes and Janes. Rather, he works under the theory that sports fans are smarter than their reputation and deserve a smarter brand of conversation. If only more sports specialists played the game his way.
Center For Native Ecosystem
The Center for Native Ecosystems is located in the heart of LoDo, at 1536 Wynkoop Street, but from there it keeps an eye on all of the Southern Rockies, working to save endangered plants and wildlife. The organization just turned ten, and as a celebration of its first decade, it launched "From Where I'm Standing: Perspectives on Conservation in the American West" on its website. Every day for thirty days, the site will post a new essay by one of thirty residents of the West, residents who just happen to be some of the best authors and leading environmentalists in the region. So far, we've heard from everyone from photographer John Fielder to Golden mayor (and former CNE head) Jacob Smith, with still more to come. Judging from this site, clear thinking is far from endangered.

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