DAM, We're Special!

The problem with journalism these days is that reporters are poor. I know: I'm a reporter and I'm poor. All my colleagues are poor, too. It's why, while we talk big game about journalistic integrity, all you have to do is woo us with a continental breakfast (free croissants!) and a grab-bag full of useless schwag (a free magnet!) and we will drone on and on about how amazing you are. The only solution is to pay us reporters gobs of money. I'm serious. Stop laughing.

If you don't believe me, consider exhibit A: the Denver Art Museum's all-day media preview of the Frederic C. Hamilton Building -- a press pandering extravaganza of epic proportions. The love-fest commenced at 8:45 a.m., and it didn't take long for the critical gleam to fade from the newshounds' eyes. After all, with their bellies full of muffins and their brand new "DAM" pens poised over their shiny new "DAM" metal notepads, Christmas had come early for everyone this year, and no one was about to play Grinch. Soon reporters were happily herded into color-coded tour groups. "Are you in the blue group? I'm in the pink group! This is like a field trip! Wheee!"

Wandering through the lunar landscape of architect Daniel Libeskind's creation, no disparagement was heard. There was nary a grumble when a guide shepherded confused media representatives into a pitch-black room with the directions, "Just wait a few minutes 'til your eyes adjust and then you'll see everything," and then, after much stumbling and many head-on collisions, remarked, "Oh, wait, this might not be turned on." No one seemed to notice the incongruity that although there may have been "Just for Fun!" family activity centers in nearly every gallery, there were none among the contemporary art installations. No clever puzzles next to the fiberglass vixen with enormous breasts, no interactive kid's booths neighboring the painting of a de-clothed and eviscerated Mona Lisa. And the fact that Libeskind was wearing high-heeled boots and still resembled an Oompa-Loompa? Well, mentioning that would be downright uncouth.

By lunchtime -- a posh two-course deal at the newly renovated Palettes -- over-sated scribes were swooning in appreciative adoration. The Libeskind question-and-answer session devolved into a love-in. Phrases like "the full flowering of your work" were bandied about. One excited photog posed her plate of lemon-meringue pie on the windowsill, snapping shots as if it were a work of art.

After lunch, reporters were allowed to range freely about the museum. Many are probably still there, ambling slack-jawed through the galleries, waiting for their next free meal.

Honestly, the Hamilton building is pretty cool. I'll describe it as soon as I've rummaged through this bag of "media materials" I was handed while leaving the building. Let me see here... Two free DAM books? Come to think of it, the building was better than I first recalled. A DVD? The museum is downright spectacular. An invite to the hottest party of the year, the Hamilton's opening celebration? Well, that seals the deal. The Hamilton is better than sex. Wait, the opening party isn't free? It's going to cost me $200? Forget it. The Hamilton sucks. -- Joel Warner

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts