More Messages: Relatively Harmful

A common journalistic mistake? The assumption on the part of writers that their experiences mirror those of everyone in their readership. Rocky Mountain News classical music scribe Marc Shulgold made just such an error in "Too Many Let Fine Concert Slip By," a generally benign January 6 piece that crimped my colon anyhow due to what Shulgold likely felt was an offhand remark.

The item concerned a poorly attended January 5 performance by the Colorado Symphony at Boettcher Hall. Shulgold enjoyed the gig so much that he chided those who didn't turn up. "Maybe concert-goers are a little bit shell-shocked by our recent storms," he began, adding, "Maybe Friday's relatively harmless snowfall scared Colorado Symphony patrons into staying home instead of hearing a delightful night of music in Boettcher Hall."

Guess there wasn't much snow at Shulgold's place. But things were very different around my abode.

I live in Ken-Caryl Ranch -- an outlying section of metro Denver, granted, but not exactly Vail. On January 5, I awakened to another ten freaking inches of snow, which brought the total on my property to a nice, round fifty inches since the flakes started falling on December 21. To make matters worse, I live on a part of a cul-de-sac that never gets plowed. This was a major problem that day, since my thirteen-year-old twin daughters were scheduled to get braces at noon, and I needed to transport them to the Park Meadows area, where their orthodonist's office is located.

Prior to this latest storm, navigating my street was already like exploring a lunar crater field because of uneven sheets and mounds of solid ice at least six inches thick. We could only get our minivan in or out of the garage by zooming at ridiculous speed -- a technique that required seat belts, since the head of any unharnessed person would otherwise go through the vehicle's roof in the process. This approach was typically successful, but not always. Since our spate of bad weather struck, my car's gotten stuck in our neighborhood once, my son's had to be dug out twice, and my wife's wound up mired in the muck three times.

To make sure something similar didn't happen again, my son and I built a de facto runway by shoveling out our driveway and a 100-foot-plus strip of roadway -- the distance from our curb to the portion of the cul-de-sac in which the snow had been partly pounded down by other traffic. Doing so took well over an hour, and along the way, I pulled a muscle on the left side of my chest that briefly convinced me that I had suffered a heart attack. But no such luck.

Thanks to these labors, which cleared the new snow down to the ice level, we escaped just after 11 a.m. -- barely. However, the fun wasn't over. During our drive along C-470 toward Park Meadows, we saw seven cars that had gone off the highway. Upon our return about six hours later, we saw four more, not counting the accident we witnessed in real time; a truck going the opposite direction from us spun out and barreled into the median's fence.

And then, the next morning, I opened up the Rocky and was scolded for not shrugging off a "relatively harmless snowfall" to watch a show by the Colorado Symphony that was being repeated Saturday night and Sunday morning.

"Relatively harmless," Mr. Shulgold? Kiss my ass. -- Michael Roberts

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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