Sunday, October 30, 2005

Handsome Boy on the Lake This Morning

It seems that the ducks, geese and gulls are all that have stayed behind on the lake. The egrets, herons, cormorants and pelicans seem to have moved on.

Long's Peak


Long's Peak, originally uploaded by George In Denver.

From Berkeley Park this morning, Long's Peak (Rocky Mountain National Park) shows a dusting of snow.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sunday, October 23, 2005

We are Nowhere, And It's Now - Bright Eyes

I've discovered Bright Eyes and really, really urge you to check out the MTV site and take a look at his video, "This Is the First Day of My Life." Parts of this video have been playing on LOGO cable, but the MTV site provides the complete video.

I've always been partial to singers whose voice communicates a bit of pathos which, as you'll see, Bright Eyes does. David, my partner, won't listen to any performer with less than what he believes to be a perfect voice. His ideal is Beverly Sills. David was a music major in college and has perfect pitch and, well, suffice it to say, our music preferences are on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Anyway, I've discovered Bright Eyes and the songs I've downloaded from iTunes tell me I'm accumulating a goodly sum of "Alternative" tunes. Didn't know I was into "Alternative," but if that's what Bright Eyes is categorized as, then, yes, I'm into "Alternative."

Here are some lyrics of one of his latest (I think) songs that I thought were at least interesting and, at most, profound:

"We are Nowhere and its Now" (Bright Eyes with Emmylou Harris)

If you hate the taste of wine
why do you drink it till you're blind?
And if you swear that there's no truth and who cares
how come you say it like you're right?
Why are you scared to dream of god
when it's salvation that you want?
You see stars that clear have been dead for years
but the idea just lives on
In our wheels that roll around
as we move over the ground
And all day it seems we've been in between
the past and future town
We are nowhere and it's now
We are nowhere and it's now

I don't know... Maybe a little nihilistic. But, I like it. No apologies. I like it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Double-Crested Cormorant - Berkeley Park Lake

There is a tree in Berkeley Park where the Cormorants perch as they wait for the perfect moment to dive into the lake where, hopefully, sustenance will be provided. The tree is dead and has been dead for some time. This shot, which silhouettes the Cormorant, is one of my favorites.

Just a Crass Ad for my Novel

Unfortunately, the image link doesn't work. But, the above title link does, if you're at all interested which, I doubt. But, hope springs eternal!



Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Mall Rats, Drunks and Derelicts


Back in mid-July I took this picture of the street in downtown Denver that leads directly to the main entrance (right across the street) to the Colorado Convention Center.

I sent the following email to Denver's Mayor John Hickenlooper which explains the circumstances under which the picture was taken:

My partner and I took a city hike to downtown Denver this past Sunday with the specific intent to see the big blue bear at the Colorado Convention Center. We arrived there quite early in the morning -- probably no later than seven-forty. There was a convention going on at that time, with significant people walking the sidewalks to the CCC. It was disgraceful to see the drunks and derelicts spread out over the sidewalks over which the conventioneers were walking. Hopefully, you will be able to view the picture I took of this disgrace. What's up with this??

The response to my email came from the Denver Police Commander responsible for this particular area of Denver. She said:

George,

Thank you for sharing the picture with me. I am the police commander for the area you describe. I wanted to share with you that nothing in the picture is illegal. We are trying to get a sitting and lying ordinance written in Denver but currently we have no tool to adequately address this issue. There is a brand new law that was passed only about 1 month ago that if they are completely blocking a sidewalk then we can cite them. In this particular case they would not be in violation of that law.

I understand how frustrated you are and the City is trying to work through this complex issue. I always encourage people if they believe they are seeing something illegal to call the police. Please use the 720.913.2000 number for non life threatening and of course 911 for a life threatening issue. We continue to try and address the issues as they arise.

Commander Deborah Dilley
District 6
Denver Police Department


My response to Commander Dilley was as follows:

Cmdr. Dilley:

Thank you for your timely response.

I'm sure you have a better understanding of what can and cannot legally be done about this issue. One would think that the loitering ordinance might, at least, be sufficient and defensible for officers to rouse these folks and ask them to move on before the conventioneers start walking down the sidewalks to the CCC.

It has become a complex issue due to the current (and past) administration's "pie in the sky" notions that the homeless want to be housed; that housing is the first step toward healing all the other demons that infest these unfortunate folks. I don't buy that argument. But, then, that's not your job, nor am I seeking comment.

I really think it is unfortunate that while Denver wishes to put its best face forward, so to speak, when conventioneers visit our wonderful city, that that face ain't so great when they're greeted with what my photo so vividly describes.

Again, thank you for your timely response. I appreciate it.

George

**
Then I received the following email from the Executive Director of Denver's commission to End Homelessness:

Dear George,
Thank you for taking time to forward the photo of homeless individuals sleeping on the sidewalk in downtown Denver. Will you please tell me what the exact location was, so I can notify our outreach worker, Mike McManus to ask him to go to that location, identify who the homeless individuals are, and make every attempt to get them connected to services. Our outreach workers generally know who the people are that sleep out on the streets (parks, under bridges, etc) and work with local service providers to get them off the streets, connected to overnight shelter, and other services such as the Stout Street Clinic to address mental illness and/or substance/alcohol abuse. If any of these individuals are homeless veterans, then we can connect them to a program administered by the Department of Human Services that links them to jobs and housing as well as treat the root cause(s) of why they are homeless.

I will wait to hear from you so Mr. McManus can do the appropriate follow up.

Sincerely,
Deborah Ortega
Executive Director
Commission to End Homelessness



I began this post in the way that I did because it's instructive to point out, as the Commander noted, the lost souls sleeping on the sidewalk that morning were doing nothing illegal. In fact, the response to my suggestion that Denver's loitering ordinance be utilized to handle this problem was that, unfortunately, Denver's loitering ordinance has been ruled unconstitutional.

So, welcome conventioneers!

The "outreach" efforts described by Ms. Ortega are, of course, commendable. In fact, Denver's Mayor John Hickenlooper (the Hick)--not unlike a whole bevy of Democratic mayors around the country--is going to "end homelessness" in ten years at a cost to Denver's taxpayers of about $13 to $15Million. In fact, it appears that the Hick (or Huck--for Huckster) is proposing something over $1.5Million for the 2006 budget to begin this lofty program that, among other things, envisions building, I believe, over 3000 apartments or condos for the homeless.

Now, as well meaning as these folks are, do they really believe that in ten years we're not going to be seeing the same images as the above picture portrays? Are they really that naive? Not that one wouldn't hope to be able to end homelessness, but--and I haven't yet done my homework on this one--I have heard that many, many of these programs around the country have failed, and failed miserably...all on the taxpayer's dollar which, as we know, dwindles more and more each day.
**

Definition of Mall Rat: Slang
A person, especially a teenager or young adult, who frequently passes time wandering through shopping malls.


My friend Brian provided me with a copy of an email he sent to Mayor John Hickenlooper with regard to the outrageous behavior of Denver's mall rats who hang out around our 16th Street downtown mall and also haunt Lodo, bullying the patrons of bars and restaurants for money or handouts.

For example, my friend Brian took an out-of-town guest, who was attending a conference in Denver, to dinner one night. The young woman didn't finish all of her dinner, so she asked that it be boxed. A mall rat approached her and asked for her leftovers. She said no, and the mall rat proceeded to berate her for being fat and stupid and heartless for not helping out someone who was hungry.

Brian's email to the Mayor brought several emails from, once again, the well-meaning folks connected to the Hick's lofty idealism to end the outrage of homelessness, addiction, hunger and mental illness. Brian even got an email from a non-profit that works with "troubled" teens.

Okay, this post is getting a wee bit long. And, perhaps, I should do a two or three-partner. But, one stat I've heard is that since the inception of Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty," in about 1964, the Feds have spent in excess of $11Trillion in an attempt to, yes, end homelessness, addiction, hunger, poverty and give those on the bottom rung of society a step up, a helping hand, a pull on the bootstraps...all on the back of our tax dollars. Has it worked? Has any progress been made? I look to the 9th ward in New Orleans as exposed by the ravages of Katrina and ask that question again. Has it worked?

I don't know what the answer is, folks, but the Hick/Huck is, I believe, barking up the wrong tree. Throw money at it, he's concluded. I'm wondering if we--as a city and a nation--haven't been there, done that.

Isn't it time for maybe some new ideas. Isn't it time for maybe some new approaches that just might work to, at least, assure the image I captured this July (above) isn't still there ten years from now?


Sweet Melissa


Sweet Melissa, originally uploaded by George In Denver.

Just a wee bit of skepticism on Refs. C & D.

Fall


Fall, originally uploaded by George In Denver.

Magnificent Cormorant


Magnificent Cormorant, originally uploaded by George In Denver.

Berkeley Lake this morning.

Gray Day on the Lake


DSC02782, originally uploaded by George In Denver.

Berkeley Park Lake this morning.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Denver's Columbus Day Parade - No Problem (Updated from 10/08)






Ground Zero for Denver's Columbus Day Parade--the earliest established (historically oldest) Columbus Day parade in the country--was 15th and Wazee Streets in lower downtown Denver, right outside the main gate to Coors Field. The revelers came in numbers, as did the protesters, as did the Denver Police Department.

David and hiked from our Northwest Denver home to lower downtown Denver specifically to see the parade and, of course, the antics of the protestors who, over the past decade or more, have attempted to shut this parade down by utilizing intimidation and civil disobedience which usually manifested itself in blocking the parade route with their bodies.

Denver's City Council, however, passed this year a more stringent ordinance that makes it more difficult to avoid successful prosecution pursuant to a charge of blocking or disrupting a legally permitted parade. In past years, charges against the protesters who have disrupted or blocked the parade have never, to my knowledge, resulted in any convictions.

Be that as it may, as soon as David walked into lower downtown, into those steel and stone canyons, we heard the tom-toms and the chants of the protesters who, apparently, had decided to peacefully--if not quietly--walk through lower downtown to Ground Zero. Their gripe, of course, and what their chants reflected is their belief that Columbus initiated genocide against indigenous populations (native Americans) on whatever "new world" soil he happened to trod.

The protestors (on cue and I do believe in consultation with the Denver Police brass who were on the scene and clearly communicating with the protests leaders) breached the street barricades and about twenty folks who wore whiteface masks ran to the middle of the intersection. They screamed bloody murder and moaned and groaned as they writhed in the middle of the street. They then dropped down and quietly lay prone on the asphalt. It was great street theater symbolizing, of course, the claimed acts of genocide by Columbus.

As the catcalls from the protesters on one side of the street were answered by mostly elderly white-haired Italian women on the other side of the street, the Denver Police Department continued to shift their significant presence around the immediate area, giving all spectators and observers, protestors and parade participants alike a pretty good understanding that if the shit was going to hit the fan, they were their with significant strength to handle it. They even brought the SWAT Team into the intersection, but without helmets or riot sticks.

During all this time, the police brass seemed to be in continual communication with the leaders of the protest. Good move on both of their parts.

When the parade participants were nearing Ground Zero, the Denver Police Department gave more than ample notice through a bullhorn three times that the folks writhing on the asphalt in the middle of the intersection were in violation of the law and if they didn't move they would be arrested. At that point, the street theater continued, as a contingent of protestors brought backboards (the emergency type boards that accident victims are placed on) into the middle of the intersection and began carrying the moaning, screaming bodies out of the middle of the intersection. The protestors then dumped what appeared to be watered down red paint across the middle of the intersection where the Italians would be marching.

Once everyone was out of the middle of the intersection, a Denver Fire Pumper pulled into the intersection and hosed down the fake blood that had been spread over the street. Once again, there seemed to be a very obvious coordination of all of the protestor's actions with the police; that is to say, the cops knew in advance what was going to happen. Or, maybe better said, the cops knew in advance what the protests leaders had told them was going to happen.

So, the Italians reach Ground Zero, the protesters hoot and holler, the cops stand ready, I take pictures and, well... All's well that ends well.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. And, I do believe all sides of this annual event: the cops, the protestors, the Italians, the observers acted wisely and carefully. Yes, it is a very, very costly event given all the barricade rental, police and fire overtime. But, what is the price of assuring First Amendment rights to everyone. Mayor Hickenlooper seemed to think he could dicker a bit with the First Amendment rights of both sides of this annual event. He quickly found out he was wrong.

Maybe the Hick will butt-out next time.

p.s. Also marching with the Italians, were contingents from the Libertarian Party, Cowboys of Color and (this might have struck some protestors as a little ironic) an Inca or Aztec dance troop.






Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Scary and Stupid Stuff - A Couple Things

This from the Associated Press and reprinted in this morning's Rocky Mountain News, provides that Dubya is proposing that the armed forces be used to "quarantine" folks where the bird flu may appear. The article reads, in part:

Citing concern that state and local authorities might be unable to contain and deal with such an outbreak, Bush asked Congress to give him the authority to call in the military.

The president has already indicated he wants to give the armed forces the lead responsibility for conducting search-and-rescue operations and sending in supplies after massive natural disasters and terrorist attacks - a notion that could require a change in law and that even some in the Pentagon have reacted to skeptically. The idea raised the startling-to-some image of soldiers cordoning off communities hit by disease.

Um... Haven't I seen pretty scary movies about the military moving in on communities where disease or aliens or whatever happen to land/infest?

Please note the following: Dr. Irwin Redlener, associate dean of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and director of its National Center for Disaster Preparedness, called the president's suggestion an "extraordinarily draconian measure" that would be unnecessary if the nation had built the capability for rapid vaccine production, ensured a large supply of anti-virals like Tamiflu, and not allowed the degradation of the public health system.

"The translation of this is martial law in the United States," Redlener said.

Scary stuff, ya'll. Sounds kind of like John Ashcroft still has the President's ear.

**
This fro Stephen Pizzo (News for Real) via AlterNet, provides that we are in for one hell of a recession. Pizzo writes:

Recessions begin when consumers suddenly discover they can no longer keep pace with their bills. And this one has already begun.

Of course George W. Bush will blame it all on the war and two hurricanes. In fact, it's a direct result of his own flawed economic policies and the "borrow and spend" lifestyle he sparked, not only within government, but consumers as well.

I am referring to the looming recession. It's going to be a doozie. And it has begun, as it always does, when consumers suddenly discover they can no longer keep pace with their bills.

This is a particularly bad time for consumers to be tapped out. It comes at the beginning of the holiday spending season which can account for nearly half of many retailers income for the year. It comes just as gasoline prices reach European levels, hitting low-wage workers hardest, especially if they have to commute to work. It comes just as the first chills of winter begin spreading south from Canada and as heating oil and natural gas prices spiral to unheard-of highs.

**

Finally, although 99.9% of the time I disagree with Denver Post editorialist, Al Knight, his thoughts on Denver's Mayor John Hickenlooper's can't we all just get along bullshit with regard to the Columbus Day Parade is right on. Please read if you have the time.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Locked Your Keys In Your Car??

My friend Connie sent this to me and IT WORKS!

Locked your keys in your car???? If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys (with fob) are at home, call someone on your mobile phone. Hold your mobile phone about a foot from your car door and have the other person at your home press the unlock button of your key fob (clicker), holding it very near the phone on their end. Your car doors will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object you could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other “remote” for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk!).

Sweet Melissa


Sweet Melissa, originally uploaded by George In Denver.

A smile for your Monday!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Dubya as a Speechifier

Thanks to the Drunken Lagomorph for reminding us of this video that emerged during the last election. Ol' Dubya "dissasembles" before our very eyes.

Wicked - Riding High on Hype

David and I and three of the folks David works with saw the Stephen Schwartz-Winnie Holzman musical Wicked last night. Not that I thought it stunk. It didn't. But, I don't understand the hysterical hype this mediocre at best musical is receiving.

I know, I know... How do my credentials stack up against all those professional critics who just get really giddy writing about this play that, some have said, will change the face of the American musical theater forever? Well, I really don't have any credentials. I just know what I like.

I don't know if it was more the inadequacies of the traveling production that caused my disappointment or just the play itself which capialized on so many trite, overused themes that have been there, done that many, many, many times before through the voice of more talented writers and composers.

I couldn't understand a word that was sung by either of the female leads. The orchestra consisted of about five or six musicians: three brass, maybe a clarinet?, percussion and electronics. No strings. The sets were cheap, amateurish even. The choreography was unimaginative. And, the story line was, well--how do I say this so it won't offend that many people? The story line was goofy.

Yes, I know. At the conclusion of the too long play, the Buell Theater at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts erupted in a standing, screaming ovation. Except for me and a couple others, the crowd loved the damned thing.

I guess there's something wrong with me. (But, then, we all know that already. :-] )

As they say, go figure!

By the way, you really ought to check out the above link. You can even buy Wicked karaoke, for Christ's sake.