3Dsound: Draggin' the Line
It's all Fort Collins news to me
3Dsound: Draggin' the Line

Frank Fairfield: This is about where things left off

Frank Fairfield (Tompkins Square label, 2009) Pop music
Draggin' the line

Not long ago, a friend sent me the hyperlink to an NPR interview with the country singer Frank Fairfield from last summer. I was shocked to hear a contemporary musician playing Fiddlin' John Carson's "The old hen cackled" from 1923 and doing such a good job with it that I wanted to hear their whole album.

But that's Frank Fairfield. He takes old music and changes it up, in a way I can't quite put my finger on, and makes it engaging for a 21st century audience.

Here's what I can say: When Fairfield sings a song, he drags the beat, even as his instrumental playing pushes the song forward. The effect surges as an engine for both Fairfield's ballads and up-tempo songs and shows us how smart he is at taking 100-year-old material and making it new. Because, however much we want to say Fairfield's approach sounds like one of the "pioneering recording artists" of country and western music from the teens and 20s, in fact, Fairfield cultivates his allusions to early recordings without slavishly reproducing them. Which is what he tells us in his NPR interview, where he says, when asked if people should hear his music as being nostalgic of an early kind of playing:
Ya know, people talkin' about the past. This is all the same stuff – Right here, all the time. Nothing goes anywhere.

You know, I want to continue playing the music that people used to play before it got cast aside. And this is the most natural place to go from – this is about where things left off, and I'm just picking up where things left off, and keep playing and see what happens from there.
That's the forward-looking attitude that explains how Fairfield's self-titled debut album, from one year ago, hasn't got a drop of the mawking – but enjoyable – nostalgia we hear in many artists who love their 78 records (think of any number of old-timey bands or Leon Redbone).

Fairfield's fiddle playing, for example, might squawk like it comes from the Georgia highlands, but we are hard-pressed to identify which of the artists from the Columbia 15000-D series – which is ground-zero for the commercialization of American white rural music – who Fairfield sounds like exactly. The same goes double for Fairfield's singing, in which we hear all the nuances of intonation, casual phrasing and ways of telling a good story that we recognize from early country singers like Jimmy Rogers or Uncle Dave Macon, but it's impossible to single out just one singer who Fairfield seems to have primarily learned his tricks from.

What we've got are Fairfield's songs. The ones I like are "Nine pound hammer" (exquisitely well recorded, which is true of his whole album, but we hear it here first); "Call me a dog when I'm gone" (the torque on Fairfield's guitar pulls his shuffling, fun lyrics into the present, where his girl is wondering where'd he been so long); "The blackberry blossoms" (fiddle playing so hackneyed you might think he doesn't know what he's doing); "The dying cowboy" (high pathos, where the vocals and fiddle work together elegantly; which is also true to a lesser extent of the next song, "Old Paint"); "The train that took my girl from town" (remarkable for how Fairfield lets the song do the singing).

Cross-posted in a slightly different form at Tales From the Microbial Laboratory.


Kathleen Folden: Christianist terrorist invades Loveland Museum

Kathleen Folden, Christianist terrorist who invaded the Loveland MuseumReligious fundamentalism
الله أكبر, Allahu akbar, God is great: •Maria Schmitt (07-Oct-10), Woman bashes Jesus display with crowbar, Coloradoan [Fort Collins, Colorado], online at www.coloradoan.com (accessed 09-Oct-10). •Maria Schmitt (07-Oct-10), Truck driver admits she drove to Loveland to destroy artwork, Coloradoan, online at www.coloradoan.com (accessed 09-Oct-10). •Maria Schmitt (08-Oct-10), Jesus art basher free on anonymously posted bond in Loveland case – Attorney says Loveland deliberately provoked her with 'lack of sensitivity', Coloradoan, online at www.coloradoan.com (accessed 09-Oct-10).

It's easy to shake our heads at Kathleen Folden's Christianist assault on Enique Chagoya's lithograph of Jesus at the Loveland Museum.

Because first of all, Kathleen, the picture you attacked and tore to pieces did not show a man performing oral sex on Jesus. I know you heard that repeatedly from many sources, but saying something over and over again doesn't make it true.

What the picture showed, Kathleen, is Jesus's head affixed to a fully-clothed woman's body, with a man knelling in front of her, licking her knee cap. The picture did not depict – even to the most excitable and vigilant-to-experience-the-gratifying-pleasure-of-self-validating-offense of Christianist imaginations – a man performing fellatio on Jesus.

If you had bothered to look at the picture, Kathleen – before raising your crowbar and screaming "How can you desecrate my Lord?" – you would have saved yourself a lot of trouble. You would have stuffed your crowbar back into your pants and maybe thought that, as long as you're at the Loveland Museum, you might have a look around. You would have then discovered the period rooms showing life in old-time Loveland. The rooms have been recently cleaned and refurbished and look particularly good right now. I'm sure you would have enjoyed them and perhaps reflected on the similarities and differences in life, at that time, between Loveland and your part of Montana.

But no. You drove the 960 miles from Kalispell, Montana to the Loveland Museum for the sole purpose of committing violence and destroying property. And that's what you did – in the name of your Christianist religion.

You are a terrorist.

•Like other terrorists, you scoffed at the objective descriptions of Enique Chagoya's picture.

•Like other terrorists, you scoffed at the picture's failure to meet the city of Loveland's criteria for identifying pornography.

•Like other terrorists, you scoffed at the administrative deliberations of the Loveland City Council and its decision to allow the picture to remain on public view.

•Like other terrorists, you scoffed at the opportunity for peaceful protest – as, for example, exercised by the parishioners and clergy from St. John the Evangelist Catholic Parish.

•Like other terrorists, you scoffed at the possibility that your violence could harm others.

•Like other terrorists, you felt threatened by the most inconsequential of challenges to your fundamentalist beliefs.

•Like other terrorists, you sacrificed your personal welfare for a judgmental, self-righteous cause.

•Like other terrorists, you intended to dictate to the rest of us what we can see, how we can think and what we should believe. Otherwise, you'll come at us again with your crowbar.


Creationism at Liberty Common School: Panda's Thumb unpacks the evidence

Fort Collins charter schools
Failure of the charter school education system: Matt Young (03-Oct-10), Publicly funded parochial school in Fort Collins, Colorado? Panda's Thumb [blog that discusses evolutionary biology and the creation-evolution controversy from a scientific perspective], online at pandasthumb.org (accessed 05-Oct-10).

Earlier this year I engaged Bob Schaffer – the Principal of Liberty Common high school – in a Twitter dialogue about creationism at Liberty Common School. The dialogue didn't go well and put Schaffer on the defensive. I had wanted to know about Liberty Common's science curriculum and how the suit between Liberty Common and the Poudre School District, from ten years ago, got resolved.

I didn't learn much from Schaffer. Nonetheless, I researched the court case, which turned out to be more challenging than I thought it would be because the most readily available electronic indexes for local newspapers don't go back ten years. I wrote up a blog article about my dialogue with Schaffer and what I learned about the court case, but I didn't get around to researching the Liberty Common curriculum.

Still, the Liberty Common science curriculum is all online – hiding its religious fundamentalism in plain sight. That fundamentalism has now been unpacked.

The article by Matt Young at Panda's thumb, which I've cited above, analyzes Liberty Common's curriculum and shows precisely how it's derived from creationist sources and activism.
[T]he Liberty Common School is a private religious school operated with public funds... I do not want to discuss charter schools in general, but I will discuss Liberty Common's science policy, which reads like a Compendium of Creationist Canards... Why then does Liberty Common have an explicit science policy, and why does it single out biology almost exclusively? I can't read their minds, but I can suggest two possible reasons: First, to send a coded message to parents who want creationism taught to their children. Second, to cover their collective flanks, so that when they are challenged they can say that they told the school district all along what they intended to do and they were permitted to do so.
Don't miss the comments to the article, which present more evidence of Liberty Common's creationist designs.


Lafayette Notebook, page 19


Fort Collins blogger Polygl0t describes it best: Nerdgasm

Pink Floyd dark side of the that's no moon

Giving credit where credit is due: Polygl0t via ROFL Razzi via Julia Segal (or something like that).


Hike Fort Collins: Big South trail and the upper reaches of the Poudre River

Northern Colorado
Draggin' the line

The Big South trail is an out-and-back hike with many possibilities for how far up the Poudre River you want to go. The trail will satisfy anyone who wants a first-hand experience of what the river's upper reaches are like (even though the trek into Rocky Mountain National Park, to the river's source at Poudre Lake, is only recommended for those who are prepared for a river fording). We chose the six-mile hike, where the destination is Goose Creek. Unfortunately, a small emergency caused us to turn back, a little short of our goal.

Still, the Big South trail is said to be one of the best hikes in Poudre Canyon, and we agree. The views up- and downstream are amazing. They give you a sense of how the entire canyon, including the canyon's lower reaches near Ted's Place, must have looked back in the 1860s, when Euro-Americans first started coming up here in earnest.

When we looked away from the river, we saw the mountain slopes streaked with patches of yellow, as the aspen trees at higher elevations had already changed color. We also saw the dead lodgepole pine and the bark beetle's toll.

Closer to the level of our calves, a Rosa species lined the trail. The plants weren't large, often only a foot in height and sparsely branched. Probably the rose was R. acicularis (prickly wild rose) or R. woodsii (Wood's rose), both of which inhabit Northern Colorado and often stump experts in the characters separating them. Whatever the rose's identification, its orange and red hips glistened in the fall light.

Big South trail, Poudre Canyon, Colorado – September 19, 2010 Big South trail, Poudre Canyon, Colorado – September 19, 2010
Bridge at May Creek – Big South trail, Poudre Canyon, Colorado – September 19, 2010 Big South trail, Poudre Canyon, Colorado – September 19, 2010
Big South trail, Poudre Canyon, Colorado – September 19, 2010 Big South trail, Poudre Canyon, Colorado – September 19, 2010
Rosa sp. – Big South trail, Poudre Canyon, Colorado – September 19, 2010 Rosa sp. – Big South trail, Poudre Canyon, Colorado – September 19, 2010


Poudre Canyon Chapel: A practically unknown but great Northern Colorado building

Northern Colorado
Draggin' the line

This morning we took off for the Big South trailhead, which is located up Poudre Canyon almost to Cameron Pass. But first, because it's Sunday, we stopped at Poudre Canyon Chapel, hoping to see what it looks like inside.

We were in luck. The chapel was open, and the interior turned out to be spectacular.

The chapel's A-frame design swoops up and creates a surging space above the pews (I don't exaggerate – go and see for yourself). The effect is energetic and unexpected (based on the exterior of the building), yet inviting, due to the warm tones of the blonde siding that's used to cover the ceiling and walls. At the front of the chapel, the siding wraps around the space behind the altar, as a fluid, curvilinear backdrop. A low wall constructed of local stone signals the chapel's mountain location and debt to vernacular preferences. Altogether, the interior is terrifically realized, which my photo below only hints at.

My opinion is that the chapel's interior ranks among the best architecture in Northern Colorado, up there with the Miller Block in Old Town Fort Collins, Danforth Chapel on the CSU campus, the Rialto Theater in Loveland and, yes, the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.

We spoke with the lady who serves as the chapel music director. She said she'd been married in the chapel and had gone to school at the one-room schoolhouse, which is located near by. She said the congregation holds services at the chapel during the summer and on Christmas Eve. The chapel itself, she said, had recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary and had been built in 1959. In addition, she said the congregation had recently written a grant and received funding to build a new fire station, which has just begun construction on the site.

Poudre Canyon Chapel, near the historic Old Poudre City in Northern Colorado – September 19, 2010
Poudre Canyon Chapel, near the historic Old Poudre City in Northern Colorado – September 19, 2010
Poudre Canyon Chapel, near the historic Old Poudre City in Northern Colorado – September 19, 2010


Let them eat Palin priorities


An end of summer garden from 30 years ago

The front porch on Tom's Creek Road in Blacksburg, Virginia, circa 1983 The front porch on Tom's Creek Road in Blacksburg, Virginia, circa 1983


What's for dinner: Pot roast, Italian-style

Italian-style pot roast 17th in a food series
Draggin' the line

It's starting to feel like fall, with daytime temperatures in the 80s and nighttime temperatures dropping into the 40s. The change in seasons strikes me like a good time to think about pot roast. I've written before about Fannie Farmer pot roast, where the beef is simmered in tomato juice. That recipe turns out pretty good, but it's not the only way to roast a beef.

At our house, our alternate method for making pot roast is to simmer the beef in a bottle of red wine, Italian-style. It's a basic recipe (beef + wine), and there are certainly more elaborate ways of making Italian pot roast (as Google is ready to show you), but the recipe below represents a balance between a simple preparation and large flavor. And it smells wonderful while it's cooking.

Last night I served this pot roast with oven-roasted potatoes, carrots, onions and an orange bell pepper (which someone at yesterday's farmer's market was almost giving away). The roasted bell pepper was a fortuitous addition, which I'll repeat next time because the color looked good on the plate, and the moist texture complemented the other vegetables.

2½ pound beef chuck cross rib boneless roast ($2.99 per pound, on sale), or another cut of beef you can roast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil ($8.99 per 25.5 fluid ounces)
1 bottle (750 ml) medium- to full-bodied red wine (last night I used Cranelake Merlot; $4.99, on sale)
3-4 medium-large garlic clove, crushed
15 juniper berries, bruised with the side of a knife or with a mortar and pestle
2 fresh bay leaves ($2.79 per package)

Rub the salt and pepper all over the roast. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven. When hot, add the roast and brown it on all sides. Add the garlic, juniper berries, bay leaves and wine, and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for 3½-4 hours, turning once or twice during the cooking.

When the roast is done, remove it from the Dutch oven and set it aside. Filter the juice through cheese cloth to remove the garlic, berries, leaves and fat. Spoon the juice over slices of roast and over the vegetables.


Is this how Fort Collins wants to distribute medical marijuana?

Hayley advertising the medical marijuana dispensary located at the corner of Stuart Street and South College Avenue in Fort Collins, Colorado – Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 5:30 pmNorthern Colorado
Draggin' the line

Hayley advertising the medical marijuana dispensary located at the corner of Stuart Street and South College Avenue in Fort Collins, Colorado – Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 5:30 pmThat's Hayley standing at the corner of Stuart Street and South College Avenue in Fort Collins at 5:30 pm this afternoon, about an hour ago. She's holding a sign promoting the medical marijuana dispensary that's located in the building across the parking lot from where's she's at. "I just got this job," she said enthusiastically, and she seems to be doing it well. When I saw her, she was rhythmically swaying her sign back and forth in a way that was hard to miss.

I actually hadn't known about the dispensary until I saw Hayley and her sign, but I guess the dispensary isn't a secret. It was referred to in Tuesday's Coloradoan, as part of a story about the Language Exchange of Northern Colorado, which closed for business on September 1st but had been located on the opposite corner, across College Avenue from the dispensary ("Language Exchange of Northern Colorado closes" by David Young [07-Sep-10]).

According to the Coloradoan, the owner of the Language Exchange associated the demise of her business, in part, with its close proximity to the dispensary. The Coloradoan reported, ""The two cultures don't mesh on the same corner," said [Dannielle] North-Decunto, who operated a preschool and kindergarten out of her former South College location. Some parents expressed concern over some of the products nearby MMD [medical marijuana dispensary] shops sold, North-Decunto said." When I read that, I thought, "What rubbish―she's obviously trying to blame others for her business failure." I still think that. But, I was surprised this afternoon to see Hayley and her sign.

Hayley explained the dispensary had recently changed hands, and the new owner also owned a dispensary in Denver. Hayley said the new owner had doubled his Denver business when he put someone outside, holding a sign like hers.

That's all well and good – and as much as I support the use of medical marijuana – it does not strike me as a good idea to put a girl on the street with a placard, in order to promote a quasi-legal product that's touted for its medical benefits but remains an illicit drug almost everywhere else in the country. In fact, I agree with Dannielle North-Decunto. Such bald promotion is bad for surrounding businesses. It's bad for the neighborhood. And it's bad for medical marijuana. But most importantly, it sends the worst possible message to kids.

The dispensary can stay, but Hayley has got to go. (Sorry, Hayley... Your good nature and open affect will land you another job.)


Is this what Jesus intended, when he said to be in the world but not of it?

Copper Pointe Church, Albuquerque, New Mexico – September, 2010Hipster Faith, Christianity Today – September, 2010Religious fundamentalism
The WTF Church isn't clueless―they're hipster Christians!Copper Pointe Church, Albuquerque, New Mexico, online at www.wakewtf.com (accessed 06-Sep-10). •Brett McCracken (03-Sep-10), Hipster Faith, Christianity Today, online at www.christianitytoday.com (accessed 06-Sep-10).

I won't belabor this, but the WTF Church in Albuquerque (which is otherwise known as Copper Pointe Church) claims to have intentionally designed and hung their obscenity-laced banners, which you can see to the left. Obviously, someone at Copper Pointe Church has been listening too closely to the "hipster trendsetters" in their congregation, a group Christianity Today profiles in its current issue.

From Christianity Today, here's what happens when "Christian hipsterism" hits the pavement or, in the case of Copper Pointe Church, the wall:
In order to remain relevant in this new landscape, many evangelical pastors and church leaders are following the lead of the hipster trendsetters, making sure their churches can check off all the important items on the hipster checklist:

•Get the church involved in social justice and creation care.

•Show clips from R-rated Coen Brothers films (e.g., No Country for Old Men, Fargo) during services.

•Sponsor church outings to microbreweries.

•Put a worship pastor onstage decked in clothes from American Apparel.

•Be okay with cussing.

•Print bulletins only on recycled cardstock.

•Use Helvetica fonts as much as possible.

•Leverage technologies like Twitter.
"Cussing" is one thing. Hanging ridiculous Church banners is another. But elevating Helvetica to a standard of cool?! That's uncalled for.


What's for dinner: Chorizo and nopales tacos

Mexican chorizoNopales16th in a food series
Draggin' the line: Popularity of nopales has been around for generations (02-Aug-10), The Brownsville Herald [Brownsville, Texas], online at www.brownsvilleherald.com (accessed 10-Aug-07).

I like eating nopales a lot. They're tender yet firm (when not cooked to death) and taste like a green vegetable should. I usually prepare them with zucchini, red bell pepper and cilantro dressing. Part of their appeal, for me, is their New World domestication and adaptation to an arid environment. As far as I'm concerned, how could you not want to eat a desert crop that produces bountifully, deliciously and agronomically under extreme environmental conditions?

My enthusiasm for nopales is currently not shared by my daughter, who, over time, has decided she dislikes the nopales slime, which sometimes – but not always – can be a feature of a nopales dish. "They're not as slimy as okra," she says with a lilt in her voice (trying to be helpful but knowing that okra is my favorite vegetable above all others and that I'd make it more often, if she'd just give okra a chance).

To combat the slime factor I've started serving nopales in a chorizo taco, where the flavor and texture of the nopales remain in tact, but the "slime" gets diluted by the other ingredients. It tastes fantastic.

2 links of "market made" chorizo sausage (a little more than ½ pound from Las Delicias Carniceria, 1705 South College Avenue, Fort Collins) (approximately $2.25) or longaniza sausage, although it's not as readily available as chorizo
1 bunch chard ($1.49)
1 medium-size onion, coarsely chopped ($0.50)
½ pound sliced white mushroom ($1.99)
1 cup or so of nopales ($2.75 per 1-pound bag from Las IV Americas, 1669 South College Avenue, Fort Collins)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
flour tortillas (from Las IV Americas)
some crumbled cheddar or other cheese
hot sauce (we like original Tabasco pepper sauce and Tabasco green pepper sauce, which is milder)

Wash and trim the chard, removing the tough central stem. Tear the leaves into pieces. Meanwhile, sauté the onion in the olive oil until translucent. Add the chard to the onions, along with a little water. Cover the pan and steam until the chard is nicely wilted. Season with salt and pepper. When done, put the chard and onion mixture in a covered bowl, and set aside in a warm place.

Remove the casings from the chorizo links. Break each link into four or five pieces. Sauté the chorizo until almost done. Drain off the excess fat. Add the nopales and mushrooms, along with a little water. Cover the pan and cook until the mushrooms are done. The nopales should be firm but not excessively so, and they definitely shouldn't be mushy.

Make a taco by placing a couple of spoonfuls of the chorizo, nopales and mushrooms onto a tortilla and then topping them with chard and onions. Add some cheese and hot sauce, although not much of either is needed.

While you're enjoying your taco, you should read the following article, which was recently published by the Brownsville, Texas newspaper. The article describes details on the cultural history of nopales that I've never read before, and as a result, the article is more informative than it might seem (the highlighting below is mine).
Popularity of Nopales has been Around for Generations

The use of nopales in the Mexican culinary tradition predates the arrival of the Spaniards, said Juanita Garza, lecturer and academic advisor for the history department at the University of Texas Pan-American in Edinburg.

Indigenous people in pre-Columbian times didn't use nopales in festivals or religious ceremonies. Instead, the cactus pads were a mainstay of the daily diet just as they are for many people today.

"Nopales is a native food that the Spanish picked up when they came," Garza said. "Then it has remained in the diet ever since, especially during the spring season when the nopalitos are nice and tender, and also when it's Lent season because of the non-meat diet."

Garza said the most important change in the use of nopalitos since the arrival of the Spanish about 500 years ago is the addition of meats. The indigenous people prepared them only with onions, tomatoes and other vegetables and spices.

Tony Zavaleta, professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College, said the earliest manuscripts written by Spaniards in Mexico in the 1500s describe the use of nopales.

"This particular form of cactus was cited as one of the staple foods," Zavaleta said. "So, it has been around as long as Europeans have been observing Mexican and Native American practices. It is what is called a cultural super food of Meso-America."

He compared its importance to that of the corn tortilla.

"I think it's ditto," he said. "It's the same thing. Beans would be the next one. Those are the cultural super foods of the indigenous Mexican population."

However, not all Hispanics like nopales.

"Many people would look down their nose at it," he said. "Most of the Mexican Americans that I know, unless they grew up eating nopales, with their mothers preparing nopales, they don't eat it. So when they see it in the buffet line, they just go right past it. It's seen as something that is just too simple. But for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people throughout Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, it's used as an essential staple food."

Indigenous people combined nopales with other vegetables and also with spices.

One of the more popular dishes, says Sylvia Contreras, manager of Emilia's Restaurant at 605 West Elizabeth St., is fajitas Guadalajara, prepared with spicy peppers, onions, melted cheese, avocado, plus the ubiquitous nopales, or nopalitos, a type of cactus.

The cooks at the restaurant now also prepare nopales with meats.

During Lent, Garza said, people prepare them with either salmon or tuna croquets. At other times of the year, they can be prepared with pork, hamburger or turkey meat. "And then of course you add all the spicy kind of ingredients like tomato, onions, chiles," she said.

For breakfast, Contreras said, nopales can be prepared with scrambled eggs with a side of beans.

Emilia's menu also includes the more traditional nopales a la Mexicana: fried nopales with onion, tomato and chile peppers, with rice and beans on the side.

Nopalitos are also believed to have medical uses, Garza said.

"They are used for diabetics," Garza said. "It really helps to bring down the sugar levels."

First and foremost in Contreras' mind, however, is their culinary value. Her mother in Matamoros keeps a large nopal cactus from which she regular cuts pads for use in cooking.

"There's a lot of plates," she said. "My mother, for example, prepares nopales with ground beef and mixed vegetables. She cooks, boils them and serves them with rice and beans. She cuts them in the little pieces and puts them on the grill and puts salt and black pepper. Other people sometimes prepare nopales with little pieces of chicken and green beans, and on the side, some pasta, like Alfredo or fideo. I think there's an infinity of plates where people use nopales."


Hike Fort Collins: Montgomery Pass trail near Cameron Pass

Northern Colorado
Draggin' the line

Unbelievable as it sounds, school starts for my daughter in ten days, when she'll be a Junior in high school. This seems momentous and premature on soooo many levels. It also seems like something I can't do much to thwart and had better get used to.

To mark the end of summer, I asked my daughter if she and her friends wanted to go hiking above tree-line at Cameron Pass. She texted her friends about it. And then, she texted them some more (and her mother got involved in the recruiting effort), and in the end, three of her friends thought it would be a fun thing to do.

And so, yesterday morning we had breakfast at Las Salsitas (chorizo breakfast burrito Yum!), and picked up everyone between 8-8:50 am. The kids, of course, lived all over town – which made me wonder what ever happened to neighborhoods? Regardless, we headed out of town; took a left at Ted's Place onto Colorado 14; and headed up Poudre canyon towards the Montgomery Pass trail.

The guide books tell you the Montgomery Pass trailhead is located at the Zimmerman Lake parking lot. What the books don't tell you is that the Zimmerman Lake parking lot is the only unmarked destination on the entire stretch of highway up to Cameron Pass. As a result, we ended up at the Colorado State Forest's Moose Visitor Center in Gould, ten miles on the other side of the pass, asking for directions. It turned out to be no problem. The Zimmerman Lake parking lot is located just to the west of Joe Wright Reservoir and on the south side of the highway, before you crest the pass. Once we got there, the trailhead was well marked and across the road from the parking lot.

We took off. The trail follows an old track that represented the only way into North Park before the highway at Cameron Pass was built. For the first mile and a half, it's an attractive hike and passes through a lodgepole pine forest. However, the trail does get a little steep. Some members of our group thought it was a challenge. We took it slow. Stopped often. Drank water – and I ended up talking about everything I know about how bark beetles kill lodgepole pine.

After a while, the trail continues uphill more gradually. About that time, we reached the remains of a cabin, which is said to have been built around 1900. Large mushrooms grew underfoot. The "cutest" one (my daughter said) was the one that might have been the poisonous and psychoactive Amanita muscaria (you can see the photograph of it below; and Google – which you've got to love – tells me that this very blog has referenced A. muscaria before, here, in the comments). There were remarkable Douglas fir trees growing just beyond the cabin.

About a half mile before the summit, the forest gave out. We were above tree-line. The usual rules and expectations didn't seem to apply as much. It was steep and windy, with incredible views, and everyone had more energy. The kids took it all in and ate a lot of trail mix. We had lunch on the lee side of a rock outcropping, above the pass.

The trip back was all downhill, which made everyone happy. We were in the car by 3 pm, and everyone got dropped off at their home by 5 pm (more or less). Altogether, it was a great hike for those who don't hike very much but still want to know more about the mountains they can see from town.

Montgomery Pass, Colorado, elevation 10,990 feet – August 7, 2010 Montgomery Pass, Colorado, elevation 10,990 feet – August 7, 2010
Montgomery Pass, Colorado – August 7, 2010 Montgomery Pass, Colorado – August 7, 2010
Montgomery Pass, Colorado – August 7, 2010 Montgomery Pass, Colorado – August 7, 2010
Historic cabin, ca. 1900 on the Montgomery Pass trail, Colorado – August 7, 2010 Historic cabin, ca. 1900 on the Montgomery Pass trail, Colorado – August 7, 2010
Possibly the poisonous and psychoactive basidiomycete, Amanita muscaria on the Montgomery Pass trail, Colorado – August 7, 2010 Unknown basidiomycete on the Montgomery Pass trail, Colorado – August 7, 2010


The CSU Oval and its remnant planting of American elm

American elms growing on the Oval at Colorado State University – July 24, 2010Fort Collins built environment
Draggin' the line

A hundred years ago in 1910, American elms shaded American streets. Since then, most of us have grown immune to stories about the great American elm die-off, which has left our urban landscapes impoverished of elms and of their grace and vase-shaped amenities, not to mention the elm's unusual capacity, among trees, to tolerate the demands of domestication. It's an old story and tragic.

The outline of the loss and how it happened are easily recited. In 1928 a shipment of elm timber from the Netherlands to Ohio brought the fungal pathogen with it. The fungus (Ophiostoma ulmi, formerly called Ceratocystis ulmi) colonizes the vascular tissue of American elm (Ulmus americana) and other elm species. The flow of water and nutrients within infected trees becomes disrupted, because of the fungus, and affected tree limbs wilt and die. Dead branches in an elm canopy are known as "flagging", and the disease is known as Dutch elm disease (DED). The disease spread rapidly from Ohio to all the states east of the Mississippi River and even to western states, reaching Colorado and Fort Collins in the early 1970s. Bark beetle vectors made the spread possible. When bark beetles (Hylurgopinus rufipes and Scolytus multistriatus, both scolytid beetles) feed on diseased elms, they acquire propagules of the fungus, which they carry to healthy trees, where the fungus takes off anew. The consequence of all this is that DED killed-off the most loved tree in the American urban landscape.

What shocked me when I first came to Colorado was the sight of remnant plantings of American elm growing all over the historic parts of Fort Collins. There's nothing like it anywhere in the country east of here. Drive over to the Avery House, for example, and you'll see elms growing on the grounds, as you'll also see on the grounds of the nearby courthouse and St. Joseph Catholic Church. Go up to City Park and over to Grandview Cemetery; there are elms. Double-back across town to Library Park and the old Fort Collins High School; elms. You might start asking yourself, 'Where aren't there elms growing in Fort Collins?' The Old Town business district is one place without elms. And another is anywhere south of Prospect Road. But also, rows of elms don't line College and Mountain Avenues, like they must have done at one time in the city's past (which is not to suggest there aren't magnificent – and some not-so magnificent – individual elm trees to be seen along College and Mountain Avenues, only that the sight of elm-lined avenues has been lost to DED).

Actually, I learned from the Fort Collins assistant city forester that the city never followed a grand design of lining city streets with elms. What seems to have happened is that a Fort Collins bank in the 1910s distributed elm seedlings to its customers, who naturally planted them out.

In the 1970s and 80s, Fort Collins lost upwards of a couple thousand elm trees to DED. The rate of loss has slowed in recent years, to less than 10 trees per year (and the fascinating reason for that reduced incidence of DED may relate to a shift in the predominant bark beetle species feeding on the elms... but that's another story). Still, the most spectacular planting of elms in Fort Collins – which was planted by design and which remains free of DED – is located around the Oval at Colorado State University (CSU).

The CSU Oval is the central feature of the oldest part of campus. It includes an allée that was planted to American elm in 1880, only ten years after the college's founding. The drive around the Oval was laid out in 1909, and the elms on the perimeter were planted in 1922, which coincided with an important period of campus construction.

I spoke with CSU's landscape architect about the elms and how they're managed to maintain tree health. It turns out, probably as you'd expect, CSU follows an integrated program. An arborist came this spring and pruned out any limbs showing squirrel damage or representing a hazard. Applications of insecticide periodically reduce the numbers of the European elm scale (Gossyparia spuria). These applications seem particularly effective in maintaining tree health, the CSU landscape architect said. In addition to pruning and the management of scale, the landscape architect said they watched for soil compaction. It's one of the reasons – in deference to the elms – that the Taste of Fort Collins was moved away from the Oval... But Barack Obama's rally in October 2008 was not. If it's any consolation to the elms, my daughter, who was there, remembers Obama remarking on the attractiveness of the Oval and the elms.

One evening last week after dinner, my daughter and I went over to the Oval to admire the elms. We ended up walking around the perimeter, counting the number of trees. We counted 48 perimeter trees. Down the central allée, we counted 31 trees, which brought our total to 79 trees. That number differs from the 65 trees that CSU reports as being on the Oval, but our count included 12 replants. CSU's landscape architect told me they replanted removed trees with the DED-resistant Valley Forge cultivar of American elm or with a similar American elm cultivar (rather than with a resistant Asian elm cultivar).

You owe it to yourself to go visit the Oval. Look at the elms, and admire their remnant example of what American cities and towns used to look like. Since CSU isn't in session right now, the parking is easy, especially in the evening and on weekends.

Wanting to admire the elms is certainly a good thing, but it's not obvious – to most of us – how to go about doing it. Here are some suggestions:
•Stretch out on the grass in the middle of the day, and take a nap.

•Take your significant-other across the street, to Las Salsitas Mexican Grill (1010 South College Avenue); get an authentic Mexican take-out lunch; and enjoy it together on the Oval.

•Photograph the elms in the most interesting way you can. Or, take any snapshot of the elms, to remind yourself later that the elms are still there.

•Walk around the perimeter of the Oval and down the allée. Note the spaces where elms have died and have not been replaced. Consider counting the elms and spaces.

•Find the replanted trees. Ask yourself how they'll look, when they mature and all the elms on the Oval are different ages.

•Take your mobile device to the Oval. Sit on the grass, and find the Cans Around the Oval webpage. Read the history and significance of this program, which collects food for the Larimer County Food Bank. It's a pretty amazing story, which the elms have borne witness to.

•Go online. Find historic photographs of the elms. Print off the photos on the worst printer available to you, even if that only means printing-off the photos on a printer that's low on ink. Bring the grubby printouts with you to the Oval, and see if the images do – or don't – still capture a representation of the elms you see in real life. (This will be more fun than it sounds; I promise.)

•After experiencing the elms in some way – and before you leave the Oval – reflect on how your perception of the elms has changed (or not) from what it was when you first stopped to admire them.
Having said all that, for God's sake don't hug the elms. People will rightly think you're weird if you do. The elms are only trees.

And in that spirit of recognizing that an elm is perhaps a tree that DED has yet to kill, you might feel you don't need to visit the Oval to appreciate the amenities of a well shaded lawn. Many people would agree with you. Still, if you live in Old Town, go outside and see if you have an elm on your property. To do that, you'll need to consult an internet page, somewhere, and confirm your identification. Share what you find with your spouse and kids.


Depictions of Jesus: Playboy Portugal and José Saramago

Playboy Portugal, July 2010 – tribute to Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago's The Gospel According to Jesus Christ Photo art (updated with a personal note to Laura Schlesinger and Sarah Palin)
Parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony: Playboy Portugal (Jul-10), cover photograph and multi-page photographic spread [photographer un-named].

By now you've read the Huffington Post article, or another one, describing the falling-out between Playboy Enterprises and Playboy Portugal. Problems arose when Playboy Portugal published an unauthorized cover for the July 2010 issue – showing Jesus knelling in bed with a tattooed topless girl.

"[A] shocking breach of our standards" is how Theresa Hennessy, Playboy Enterprises vice president of public relations described the cover. She continued, "we would have not allowed it to be published if we had seen it in advance." And as a result, Playboy Enterprises has terminated its contract with Portugal's Frestacom-Lisbon Media Publishing.

Except, the cover photo and the ones in the accompanying pictorial, for all their sexiness, are more artsy than they are salacious. Which is underscored by the absence of any eye contact between Jesus and the girls.

Put yourself in Jesus's sandals. There He is, all luminescent and arms outstretched, but the girls won't have anything to do with Him. Theresa Hennessy is right – it's shocking. We're looking at Playboy photos where the titillation is of the PG-13 kind. We can easily imagine Jesus dragging Himself home at the end of the night, without having spread the Kingdom of God.

However, that's not Jesus's fate in José Saramago's novel. Saramago is a Portuguese national hero, for having won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998. The July Playboy cover prominently displays the title of Saramago's most controversial novel painted on the headboard of the bed: O Evangelho Segundo Jesus Cristo (The Gospel According to Jesus Christ). In the novel Mary Magdalene seduces Jesus – which is a concept much more risqué than anything depicted in the July photos. And in fact, the July issue is intended as a tribute to José Saramago, who passed away less than a month before, on June 18, 2010. You have to wonder if Playboy International could even have completed its approval process on such a short fuse.

In giving Playboy Portugal the ax, Playboy International delivered its own backhanded tribute to José Saramago. In 1991 the conservative Portuguese government – in a censure similar to Playboy International's – prevented The Gospel According to Jesus from being submitted for a prestigious European literary prize, ostensibly because the novel offended the country's Catholics, who, even now, we can hear decrying the novel as "a shocking breach of our standards." (Personal note to Laura Schlesinger and Sarah Palin: That's what it looks like when a government infringes on someone's free speech.)

Hefner gets the last word on this, I think, because at the end of the day – after the sudden publicity for José Saramago has died down and the online distribution of some Playboy photos has circuited the globe a few thousand times – the problem is Playboy's and how it succeeds in the global, online marketplace. The Hefner formula from 1962 still sounds like a good reason to pick up the magazine (virtually or otherwise) from time to time.
Playboy has always dealt with the lighter side of contemporary life, but it has also—tacitly and continuously—tried to see modern life in its totality. We hope that Playboy has avoided taking itself too seriously. We know that we have always stressed—in our own way—our conviction of the importance of the individual in an increasingly standardized society, the privilege of all to think differently from one another and to promote new ideas, and the right to hoot irreverently at herders of sacred cows and keepers of stultifying tradition and taboo.

Playboy Portugal, July 2010 – tribute to Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago's The Gospel According to Jesus Christ Playboy Portugal, July 2010 – tribute to Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago's The Gospel According to Jesus Christ
Playboy Portugal, July 2010 – tribute to Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago's The Gospel According to Jesus Christ
Playboy Portugal, July 2010 – tribute to Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago's The Gospel According to Jesus Christ
Playboy Portugal, July 2010 – tribute to Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago's The Gospel According to Jesus Christ Playboy Portugal, July 2010 – tribute to Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago's The Gospel According to Jesus Christ

Depictions of Jesus: Goose your western senses


Conservative logic: Economic beliefs that have nothing to do with the real world

Economic fundamentalism (updated)

•Government is to the economy what a tick is to a dog. Money paid in taxes is lost forever to the national economy.

•Government jobs are not real jobs. Wages paid to government employees are not real wages. When government employees use their wages to buy stuff, it doesn't count as a stimulus for business to make more stuff. Only stuff bought with wages from a private sector job can do that.

•Free markets are forces of nature that self-regulate and grow the economy as long as they aren't regulated.

•Private enterprise does everything more efficiently than government bureaucracies.

•Tax cuts to the rich are sacred.

•Budget deficits caused by tax cuts don't count. Budget deficits caused by wars don't count most of the time. However, domestic spending by government causes a different kind of deficit that does count.

Barbara O'Brien (aka Maha) (12-Jul-10) at her blog, The Mahablog

UPDATE, Thursday, August 12, 2010: Do you doubt the validity of O'Brien's characterization of right-wing economic biases? Doubt it no more. Today's Coloradoan has published a letter to the editor that so thoroughly embodies the shibboleths of right-wing economics – which O'Brien summarized – that you might think O'Brien herself wrote the letter, but she did not (Ralph Asher [12-Aug-10], Coloradoan, page A6 [Opinion page]; reproduced below with the highlighting mine).

The letter bears the stylistic economy and directness of expression that I've noted before in right-wing missives to the Coloradoan, but that's beside the point. Whatever sense that the letter makes can only be accessed through the SPF 90 filter of Republican partisanship, and not in terms of recent policy or history.

Wouldn't it help the country more – and dare I say be more patriotic? – if our passionate right-wingers spent less time writing overheated letters to the editor and, instead, directed their beady eyes towards the private sector and asked why it didn't do more to create good-paying jobs for the 18% of Americans who are unemployed or under-employed?
Unemployment Truth Would Cause Riots

I would like for the media to report the unemployment in two categories: private sector versus public sector. And then maybe even break the latter down into state/local employees versus federal employees. If this were done, I would suspect there would be blood in the streets as people begin to see what is really going on here.

This is a blatant destruction of the private sector as socialism is forced upon us all. And in January, President Barack Obama will raise taxes on every successful small business left standing, as well as on anyone with the temerity to invest in business who might make a capital-gains profit, by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire.

No terrorist could have hurt this country more than we have seen these past two years - which was actually begun in January 2007 when the Pelosi/Reid Congress took over the running of the government. Eighteen months later, the meltdown hit, and it has been downhill ever since.

November is our only hope, and that might be too late.

Ralph Asher
Fort Collins


Loveland Loves Bar-B-Que: Photo essay by Bugman at Roadside Mysteries

ChiBi-Q of Fort Collins, competing at the 4th Annual Loveland Loves BBQ – photo by Bugman at the Roadside Mysteries blog – July 9, 2010 Northern Colorado
Hog wild: Bugman (09-Jul-10), Loveland Loves Bar-B-Que, Roadside Mysteries [blog reporting on life on the Front Range], online at eegraphics.com/roadside (accessed 14-Jul-10).

Roadside Mysteries is a local Fort Collins blog that's published a fun photo essay on the competitor banners displayed at last weekend's 4th Annual Loveland Loves Bar-B-Que.

I tweeted about Roadside Mysteries' photos, but my tweet didn't do justice to how much you'll see when you check out the photos for yourself.


Should Susan Dailey's outdoor mural at Avogadro's Number fade away?

Fort Collins built environment
Draggin' the line: •Susan K. Dailey [fine artist], Art in public places: Avogadro's Number, online at www.susankdailey.com (accessed 05-Jul-10). •Kevin Duggan (08-Jun-10), Fort Collins preservation officials consider signs in Old Town Square: Preservation officials working on specifics, Coloradoan [Fort Collins, Colorado], online at coloradoan.com (accessed 03-Jul-10). •Terence Hoaglund (27-May-10), Fort Collins murals, Lost Fort Collins [an unofficial exploration of historic Fort Collins, focusing on topics related to old commercial sites, art, housing, people, places and things], online at www.lostfortcollins.net (accessed 03-Jul-10).

There's a buzz in the Fort Collins air over the intersection of sign painting, outside wall murals and public sentiment.

At the rejuvenated Lost Fort Collins blog, Terence Hoaglund christened the blog's re-design by publishing an article about the outside wall murals in Old Town. I've hyperlinked to the article, above, and it's worth reading. Terence expresses his enthusiasm for Old Town's murals, which reflects my own and that of many others in Fort Collins. We like how the murals look on our buildings. "They add depth and character to otherwise blank facades", Terence says – And while public murals can do more than that (think of the political perspectives WPA artists sometimes brought to their public art), in Fort Collins, depth and character is enough.

In addition to wall murals, Old Town is famous for its ghost signs – which are commercial advertisements from 50 years ago and before that, painted on the sides of buildings. All of Old Town's ghosts are in plain sight, but you have to know where to look. The most famous ghost is the Coke sign on the wall at CooperSmith's (the home of Sigda's Green Chili beer, which I like and recommend) on Mountain Avenue. Local sign painter and graphic artist Don Brown painted the sign in 1958 for Angell's Delicatessen, which Coke reimbursed for its promotion of the new, 12 oz, king-sized bottles of Coke (even then, soft drink manufactures wanted to supersize us).

Commerce created the Coke sign, but it now serves as a visual anchor defining how we see and experience Old Town (those of you who live in more metropolitan areas might think it's quaint that an advertisement plays such a prominent role in the Fort Collins landscape, but you have to realize how compact the scale of this city is, as compared with, say, Denver). The sign functions as a worthwhile landmark... How it and other Old Town landmarks will evolve into the future is something else entirely.

But not so fast. The city's Historic Preservation Office has been trying to contend with Don Brown and his legacy for a while. And finally, a series of recent Coloradoan articles announced the Office has raised over $44,000 to preserve the Coke sign. I've cited one of the Coloradoan articles above and reproduced it below, with the highlighting mine. The Coke sign will move forward with Fort Collins and not, for the foreseeable future, fade away.

What's undetermined, at this point, is the stage-of-life that the Coke sign will assume in its preserved, forward-looking condition. Will preservation turn-back the clock to the sign's spanking-new appearance in 1958? That would be pretty ugly, but the possibility of doing so focuses our attention on the wide range of successive stages in the sign's history that preservation could reproduce.

Once we get the Coke sign squared away, what's next? Are we going to preserve all the other ghost signs in Fort Collins? All the outside wall murals? All the other public art that the city's funded in its program to deter graffiti?

We'd agree not all the outside art – and related visual phenomena – in Fort Collins is worth saving forever. But, do we know where to draw a circle around the art that means the most to those who live here?

The art I want to see included in that circle – every time someone enumerates the worthwhile visual experiences in Fort Collins – is the outside and inside murals by Susan K. Dailey at Avogadro's Number on Mason Street in Old Town.

Susan Dailey's murals (also see her website hyperlinked above) are one of the reasons why eating at Avo's is a great experience and what makes Avo's a Fort Collins landmark. It's a place remembered by people who visit here (and a place where creatives always end up), which is what Avo's seer and owner, Rob Osborne, told me; and he should know – he's officiated over Avo's since the early 1980s. (Kristian – who, herself, is a force-of-nature and the author of the Feasting Fort Collins blog – really needs to add Avo's to her must-visit list, and when she goes there, I recommend the falafel sub, although she'd be remiss not to try the tempeh.)

Having said all that, Susan Dailey's Avo’s murals illustrate stories we know immediately, even when they're new to us. Stories that include:
•The link between Easter Island's megaliths and Star Trek's exploration of space.

•Our familiarity with a jungly environment, where bobcats and elves emerge from behind the leaves.

•Our familiarity with a Poudre River pastoral, where deer graze beneath the cottonwoods – and keep us at several snouts distance from the picture plane that they gracefully inhabit.
Then, on the outside wall of the north side of the building, there's a wizard sitting in a tower. He's studying a book of ciphers (we assume it's Avogadro's Number), while eating a sub. Children – or the representatives of some diminutive species – play in the bushes. That is, they play in the landscaping. Part of what makes the mural enjoyable is the way it accommodates, wraps itself around, and comments upon the building's door, windows and shrubbery. You don't see that kind of site specificity in other Old Town murals or in the ghost signs.

Susan Dailey began painting the mural in 1982. For years, Avo's patrons enjoyed it when eating on the terrace. Sometime in 2003 or 2004, Rob Osborne closed the terrace and moved Avo's outdoor dinning to the back yard.

How many of Avo's patrons experienced the mural in its 20+ years of active life? Find out for yourself:
Total number of patrons =
Patrons on the terrace per day × Days amenable to outdoor dinning per year × 20 years
What estimate do you get? Somewhere between several hundred thousand and a million patrons? That's a lot – and all of them passed through the terrace in warm proximity to Susan Dailey's mural.

What's the status of the mural now? It's still there – overlooking a gravel parking lot. The colors seem less vibrant to me, and I think they're fading. When I asked Rob Osborne about that, he said he thought the mural looked OK. Which is true; the mural is very far from end-of-life. But it's also in the precarious position of no longer being connected directly to the daily activity at Avo's. Susan Dailey's mural is in the same orphaned position that Don Brown's Coke sign was in, when Angell's Delicatessen closed up in the 1960s.

I asked Rob Osborne what would happen to the mural. He said he hadn't thought about it, but probably it would fade away.

Fair enough. I wonder if all the people who have enjoyed Susan Dailey's mural over the years would agree that that's the mural's appropriate fate.

Susan K. Dailey outdoor mural at Avogadro's Number restaurant in Fort Collins, Colorado – June 19, 2010
Susan K. Dailey outdoor mural at Avogadro's Number restaurant in Fort Collins, Colorado – June 19, 2010
Susan K. Dailey outdoor mural at Avogadro's Number restaurant in Fort Collins, Colorado – June 19, 2010
Susan K. Dailey outdoor mural at Avogadro's Number restaurant in Fort Collins, Colorado – June 19, 2010
Avogadro's Number restaurant in Fort Collins, Colorado – June 19, 2010
Susan K. Dailey inside mural at Avogadro's Number restaurant in Fort Collins, Colorado – June 19, 2010

Fort Collins Preservation Officials Consider Signs in Old Town Square
Preservation Officials Working on Specifics

by Kevin Duggan • kevinduggan@coloradoan.com • June 8, 2010

An iconic Old Town "ghost" sign may be restored in the coming months, although just how lively it will be remains to be seen.

Fort Collins historic preservation officials are exploring their options for preserving the familiar Coca Cola and Angell's Delicatessen signs on a brick wall near an entryway to Old Town Square off Mountain Avenue.

The faded, peeling signs were painted on the side of the building that now houses CooperSmith's Pub & Brewing Co. in 1958 by noted local artisan Don Brown.

In 2009, the city's Historic Preservation Office received a $22,200 grant from the Colorado State Historical Fund to preserve the signs.

During the past year, matching funds for the grant have been secured for the project, including $13,411 from the Downtown Development Authority, $6,388 from the city, $2,195 from Progressive Old Town Square LLC, which owns the building, and $500 from the Fort Collins Historical Society.

Contractors that would stabilize the wall and work on the images have been selected. Now comes the hardest part, said Carol Tunner, a historic preservation consultant who is managing the project – deciding what the spruced-up signs should look like.

"Everybody has an opinion," she said. "I'm going to do what I can to make everybody happy."

The issue is choosing the point in time at which the signs should be restored, said Tunner, who formerly worked as a planner with city's Historic Preservation Office.

Options include repainting the signs to their original colors, keeping them as they now appear and recreating what they looked like some years ago based on photographs, she said. Some people support just letting the signs continue to deteriorate until they naturally fade away.

"I personally don't like that idea," she said. "I think they should be saved for future generations to see."

Considerable public input has already been received about the project, said Karen McWilliams, a planner with the Historic Preservation Office.

More input will be taken before choosing which treatment to apply to the sign, she said. Stakeholders include the state historic fund, the city's Landmark Preservation Commission and the City Council.

"We just want to make sure everybody is on the same page," she said.

During a recent City Council meeting, some members said the Coca Cola sign should continue to look old to fit in with the ambience of Old Town. Mayor pro tem Kelly Ohlson said "a giant, new Coke sign" would not "look right at all."

Ohlson said "lightning would have to strike" before he would support restoring the sign to its former appearance.

"I think we ought to protect it as is," he said. "I think going back even five years and trying to make it look kind of old and funky... (is) even more faux than redoing it."

Mayor Doug Hutchinson, who ate at Angell's Delicatessen while growing up in Fort Collins, said he was "bowled over" by the thought of a sign being painted to look like new.

Restoration efforts will include replacing mortar between bricks in the wall, removing flaked paint and applying a special varnish to the paintings to stop further deterioration, Tunner said.

The J.L. Hohnstein Block, which has the signs, dates to 1904.

Hand-painted advertising signs on the sides of commercial buildings were common in the era before mass-produced signs and billboards, city officials say.

Coca-Cola paid Brown $400 to paint the sign; the restoration project is budgeted for $44,694.

Tunner said the process of preserving the sign will be complex. Special scaffolding will be brought in during the work, which is likely to happen this fall or next spring.


Tom Bender: Larimer County's Super Patriot

Tom Bender: Larimer County's own Republican super patriot (actual photograph) Right-wing politics
Draggin' the line: •Tom Bender (06-Jul-10), It's time to replace Obama's team [letter to the editor], Coloradoan [Fort Collins, Colorado], online at www.coloradoan.com (accessed 09-Jul-10). •Susan Lauscher (08-Jul-10), Mr. Bender, what did you really mean? [letter to the editor], Coloradoan, online at www.coloradoan.com (accessed 09-Jul-10).

Earlier this week on Tuesday, the Coloradoan published a letter to the editor by Larimer County's own Republican Super Patriot, Tom Bender. The letter is as mean-spirited as Bender's letters always are. He wrote (apparently not on spec for the Onion):

"Replacing Obama's godless team at the polls with conservative representation to restore government subservience to our Constitution and the people is the first step in stopping enslavement of Americans into Obama's socialist world of serfdom, misery and poverty."

It's hard to hold Bender accountable for the ridiculous, anti-social things he says. Many have tried over the years – most often pointing out the divisiveness that Bender brings to public discourse, but they've had no effect on Bender's propensity to spew forth his foetid thought. Besides that, you can tell how much pride Bender takes in being able to capture in writing the private knowledge of his particular right-wing cultus.

Occasionally however, the Coloradoan publishes a rejoinder to one of Bender's letters where Bender gets pwnd so badly that even he would have to concede he's been topped. Susan Lauscher accomplishes that in her letter published yesterday. She observes:
But I found myself going back to Bender's claim of "Obama's Godless team." I must admit that I have trouble understanding how God has anything to do with government and politics (except perhaps as a negative example such as the government of Lebanon, and, yes, even Israel, during the years), but I began to wonder if these are code words for something else. I don't pretend to know what President Obama's religious beliefs are, although I have heard him express religious sentiments, but I do know that Rahm Emanuel, the president's chief of staff, is a practicing Orthodox Jew. David Axelrod, Larry Summers, Ben Bernanke are all Jews. The president and his family have honored his Jewish staff and Judaism by celebrating two Passover Seders in the White House. I don't look for anti-Semitism around every corner, but I am wondering what a "government of moral stability" really means.
Our respect and thanks go out to Susan Lauscher for calling Bender on his rhetoric.

So, who is Tom Bender anyway? He's been writing-in to the Coloradoan for as long as I've lived here, which is 17 years. In the 1990s his Coloradoan dispatches were more frequent than they are now, and I have to wonder if the Coloradoan is limiting his access to its pages.

From 2001-2004 Bender served for one term as the Larimer County Commissioner from District 2 (approximately the middle third of the county). He was defeated in the November 2004 election by Karen Wagner, his Democratic challenger.

Bender's official profile – from the time when he was a Commissioner (which I retrieved from the Internet Archive Wayback Machine) provides biographic information about him (the hyperlink below is mine):
Tom is a California native who moved to Colorado in 1950 where he graduated from Limon High School and enlisted into the U.S. Air Force in 1957. Tom ended his military career, moved to Larimer County, built his home, and established the Bender Tree Farm in 1977. During his military service, Tom was awarded the Bronze Star and Air Force Commendation for his participation in four combat campaigns in the Republic of Vietnam.

Tom and his wife, Mary, of 43 years have three daughters, a son, and nine grandchildren. Tom and Mary are members of John XXIII Catholic Community and he is a member of the Knights of Columbus.


Tom worked in the electronics division of Woodward Governor until 1984 when he became a full time tree farmer...

Volunteer Activities:

•Served as a county fair natural resource judge for 4-H projects and exhibits at the Larimer, Weld, and Adams county fairs over the past 6 years.
•Served as a volunteer firefighter for the Rist Canyon Fire Department and as fire chief for six of those years.


•Member, former chairman, and co-founder of the Larimer County Tree Farmers Association.
•Former member and president of the Colorado Forestry Association.
•Served for ten years on the Colorado Forest Stewardship Coordinating Committee.
•Served two years on the Extension Renewable Resources Committee. Tom is one of the first graduates and practitioner of the Colorado Master Tree Farmer program.
•The Tom and Mary Bender Tree Farm was designated the first Colorado Stewardship Forest in 1991.
•Designated Colorado Tree Farmers of the Year twice.
•Designated Western Regional Tree Farmers of the year in 1996 for outstanding resource management and environmental stewardship.
•Received a leadership and "Teammate" of the year awards from the Colorado State Forest Service.
•Received many certificates of merit from the National Arbor Day Foundation.
•As a member of the Larimer County Farm Bureau Board of Directors for the past ten years, Tom served as the National, State, and Local Legislative Affairs Chairman and for four years on the Colorado Farm Bureau Land Use Policy Development Committee.
•Member of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Military Organizations:

Tom continues to serve as an active member in patriotic, American organizations such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the National Rifle Association. Tom is a member of the American Legion and VFW honor guard and firing squad for flag honor ceremonies and military funerals.

Political Associations:

Tom has served as an election judge, a precinct committee chair, delegate to the State and 4th Congressional conventions for the Larimer County Republican Party. Tom is a graduate of the Republican Leadership Program in 1998. Tom is a member of the Larimer County Republican Breakfast Club, Larimer County Republican Club, and auxiliary member of the Larimer County Republican Women's Club.