BY DOROTHY ROSBY I’m loaded down like a pack mule. I have a purse so big it could double as a gym bag. I have...
The Denver Press Club recently celebrated its 150th anniversary by joining the ranks of the National Register...
Greg Reinke and baloney go together—but what about bologna? That’s right, the Associated Press Stylebook makes...
Karen Fisher has announced her intent to seek a second term on the Cherry Creek Schools Board of Education, re...
‘Spellbinding’ seniors bring new life to ancient art BY PETER JONES NEWS EDITOR In an age where it is difficul...
Deputy director talks ‘crisis’ at University of Phoenix event BY PETER JONES NEWS EDITOR Colorado’s budget may...
I really need to work on my memory triggers. I keep a little notebook on my desk every day to scribble down my...
Award-winning Los Angeles-based artist Henry Asencio, known for his interpretations of the female form, sketch...
As men and women age, their risk for cataracts increases. Starting at age 50, cataract risk rises, and that ri...
BY DOROTHY ROSBY
I’m loaded down like a pack mule. I have a purse so big it could double as a gym bag. I have my padfolio, with papers poking out the sides. I have my lunch, an assortment of snacks and an iced tea the size of San Diego. You never know; I could get stranded during my five-minute commute to work.
But what’s that? I stop halfway down my stairway and listen. Is that…? Yes, it is. It’s my cellphone, vibrating from the depths of my gym bag purse. It sounds like there’s a giant fly trapped in there.
This could be important. I set everything down on my steps to dig for my phone, and in the process, I bump my gargantuan iced tea. It tumbles down the stairs, spraying the walls, the stairway and me. Ice cubes fly every which way. A few hit my cat, and he bolts like he thinks I’m throwing things at him. I dive into my handbag and emerge wet, annoyed but victorious; my phone is still buzzing.
I answer it and…DANG! It’s her again. I have spilled a gallon of iced tea, upset my cat and made myself late for work all so that I could take a call from the queen of phone scammers: Elizabeth from the Resort Rewards Center. And I would have known it was her—or Rachel from Card Services or Sam from Travel Promotions or some other phony phoner—if I had only looked at my cellphone before I answered it. Elizabeth is calling from a Madisonville, Tenn. phone number today. I bet she doesn’t live in Madisonville. And neither does anyone else I know.
A look at my call history shows I get more phony phone calls than real ones, and by a wide margin. You would think knowing this, I wouldn’t have been in such a rush to answer the phone. I would think so too.
I’ve about had it with phone call scams. And I’m worried that one of these days, I’m going to snap, answer my phone without looking at the screen and start ranting as only I can. It could be my husband or my boss calling. It could be you calling. Please don’t take it personally. Just stay on the line until I calm down.
That could take a while. In fact, while I was mopping up iced tea, picking up ice cubes, changing my shirt, comforting my cat and driving to work late, I was muttering all the things I’d like to say to Elizabeth, Rachel, Sam and the rest of them: “Isn’t it bad enough that I spend half my work day deleting spam emails. Now you’re using up the other half. I’m sure American productivity suffers because of the likes of you. I know mine does. And another thing! I was just in an accident because of one of your kind.” I wouldn’t tell them it was an iced tea accident.
I was still mad an hour later when my phone rang again. It was someone pretending to be from Brookhaven, New York where I know no one. I picked it up and said loud enough for the people in the next room to hear, “Stop calling me and get a real job.” Wouldn’t you know it? It was a recording.
Dorothy Rosby is the author of several books of humor, including I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Tudor-style building with English tavern style inside was designed by architects Burnham F. Hoyt and brother Merrill H. Hoyt, and built by Francis Kirchof for about $50,000.
The Denver Press Club recently celebrated its 150th anniversary by joining the ranks of the National Register of Historic Places. An anniversary celebration and formal dedication took place Aug. 2 with guests including U.S Rep. Diana DeGette, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Colorado historians Dr. Tom Noel and Stephen J. Leonard, and Rocky Mountain News veteran, Denver City Councilman and former Club President Kevin Flynn.
The club began in 1867 – although not officially incorporated as the Denver Press Club until 1877 – but at that point there was no actual building. Members initially met in the grocery store basement of the club’s first president, Wolfe Londoner, on Larimer Street, then in hotels prior to constructing the building in 1925. The Tudor-style building with English tavern style inside was designed by architects Burnham F. Hoyt and brother Merrill H. Hoyt, and built by Francis Kirchof for about $50,000.
The building at 1330 Glenarm Place in downtown Denver was designated an historic landmark by the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission in 1986. Visitors have included Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft (both of whom received honorary memberships) and Woodrow Wilson, but women weren’t allowed to join until the mid-1960s.
Today the club is led by President David Milstead with the aim “to support the journalistic profession and work.” A statement on the club’s website notes: “As the nation’s oldest press club, there has never been a time when we are needed more to promote and strengthen journalism while educating on issues that protect and encourage an empowered Fourth Estate.”
Greg Reinke and baloney go together—but what about bologna?
That’s right, the Associated Press Stylebook makes a distinction in spelling between the bologna you eat on a sandwich—first slapped between bread in Bologna, Italy—and the baloney you endure with Reinke.
It is only when you enjoy them both simultaneously that it all gets a little confusing.
It all began a few Fridays ago when I took Reinke, co-owner of Littleton’s Reinke Bros. costume superstore and president of Historic Downtown Littleton Merchants, to a couple of my favorite newer haunts along South Broadway in Englewood.
With all the recent hubbub about millennials flocking to walkable Englewood, I wanted to show Reinke that Littleton’s Main Street is not the only neighborhood on the planet.
After a stop at the mixed-drink haven of Englewood Grand, we walked a block to the ‘hood’s latest addition, the Whiskey Biscuit, three doors south of the Gothic Theater—with all the standing-room business and bushy hipster beards to show for it.
The drinks fit the bill just fine, but when Reinke got a gander at the menu and the $10 fried bologna sandwich, you might have thought he found a biscuit in his whiskey.
Ten bucks for a friggin’ bologna sandwich?
Reinke called over the owner, who confirmed the item’s price and popularity.
“People love our bologna sandwich,” the owner said.
By then, we had both already eaten, but a date was set to answer the seldom-asked query: Is a $10 bologna sandwich good bologna or just baloney?
With Reinke, eating is a family affair, so I joined him, along with a few of the other eatin’ Reinkes—Greg’s business partner and younger brother Chris, his father Don, and Don Jr., the oldest Reinke brother, celebrating his post-dialysis a la fried bologna.
As it happened, Don Sr. had worked at one of the many businesses that predate the Whiskey Biscuit at the corner of Broadway and Floyd Avenue. Don was fired from what was then Miller’s Supermarket in the mid-1940s for having the audacity to accept a customer’s 25-cent tip.
“That was a lot of money in those days,” Don said with a smile.
Full of baloney? Greg Reinke inhales. Photo by Peter Jones
The elder Reinke would land on his feet as an usher down the block at the Gothic, which was then a movie house, and as a prehistoric human pin setter next door at the still-surviving bowling alley in the present-day Moe’s Original Bar B Que.
“I used to throw ‘em back at the people who tried to hit me,” he said.
But back to that bologna sandwich.
The consensus at the table seemed to be positive, with particular raves for the thick cut that your mother never served. No mayonnaise or mustard here—This ‘wich boasts roasted garlic aioli and whiskey barbecue sauce, along with lettuce, tomato and pickled sweet onion. The sides, including french-toast-battered onion rings, were eclectic.
The only gripe was the size of the sandwich. Maybe a second slice of bologna, or perhaps the restaurant’s signature biscuit would be a heartier bread?
Still, if one is searching for a $10 bologna sandwich worth its weight in lunchmeat, here it is.
“We may not be food critics, but we know bologna,” Greg Reinke said, with no reference to his intended spelling.
My other favorite lunch in recent memory was at the State of Our City by Centennial Mayor Cathy Noon. [I’m not too proud to pile my plate at these affairs.] But it was another former area mayor, Doug Tisdale of Cherry Hills Village, who made a wry observation as I ran around the grand ballroom taking photos of Noon speaking.
As it happened, I had taken the glass elevator up to Embassy Suites’ third floor to get a bird’s eye view of Noon and her audience of residents and public officials.
Remember Mel Brooks’s goof of Jimmy Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo?
“Look carefully to see The Villager’s own Peter Jones in the elevator as he does his best to channel Mel Brooks in the film High Anxiety,” Tisdale posted on Facebook.
I must add that at least one of Tisdale’s respondents remarked that I had to be too young to remember Brooks’s 1977 all-purpose Hitchcock parody.
Thank you, Centennial City Councilmember Kathy Turley!
As I posted in response, in the midst of other replies, “I’m glad this is getting all the social-media traction it deserves. A speech from the mayor only goes so far.”
Noon clicked “like.”
Karen Fisher has announced her intent to seek a second term on the Cherry Creek Schools Board of Education, representing District E.
“I look forward to continuing to serve our over 54,500 students and help ensure that CCSD remains the premiere district in our state,” the longtime district resident said. “There’s no more important work than preparing all students to succeed in tomorrow’s economy and to participate as fully functioning members of society. As a school board member, I take seriously my job of setting a strategic direction so that all of our students have the opportunities and pathways they need to graduate ready for success in college and careers.”
Fisher’s volunteer experience spans school, district and community levels. She has served on elementary, middle, high school and district accountability committees.
As the Board of Education’s treasurer, Fisher has served on the Audit Committee since 2013 and was the board’s liaison to the district Special Education Advisory Committee, the District Accountability Committee and the ESSA Implementation team. She is currently serving on the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation Board and the Long-Range Facilities Planning Committee. In 2016, Fisher led the 3A/3B Mill and Bond Election Committee as chair of Citizens for Cherry Creek Schools.
Fisher also serves students and districts throughout Colorado as a director for the Colorado Association of School Boards, whose board advocates for the statewide K-12 education community. In January, she was appointed to represent the 6th Congressional District on the NSBA Federal Relations Network.
“Students and families deserve informed, dedicated and accessible school board members who can help to navigate what’s next for Colorado’s public schools,” Fisher said. “The Cherry Creek School District is a high-performing system, but we need to constantly evolve to stay on top. As a school board member, it has been my priority to listen to students, parents, educators and other educational experts. I am immensely proud to be a part of the excellence that is found in all of our schools. I have the drive, work ethic and time to continue this work for the next four years.”
Fisher serves as a volunteer on community nonprofit boards and committees. She is also a court-appointed special advocate for Arapahoe County, which allows her to support abused and neglected children.
Her professional expertise is in finance, budgeting and corporate lending.
Two of Fisher’s six children attend Cherry Creek schools. The other four are district graduates.
Spellbinders has revived a near-lost oral art for the iPhone generation by sending older storytellers into the classroom. A local chapter is dedicated to Cherry Creek Schools. Photo courtesy of Spellbinders
BY PETER JONES
In an age where it is difficult to sever kids from electronic devices, a group of retirees has somehow revived the near-lost art of oral storytelling.
The iPhone is usually a tough act to follow for a generation that has never known life without the internet, but these seniors are not just storytellers—they are spellbinders.
“What has surprised me is how rapt the students get from kindergarten all the way up to eighth-graders. We have their attention,” said 64-year-old Cathy Lichty, who pulls up a chair and spins yarns in Cherry Creek classrooms several times a month.
Whether the story is a fictionalized historical account or an ageless tall tale from Asia, Lichty will spice the foundational narrative with spontaneous flair, character and audience interaction.
“Because we are telling—not reading—a story, we are always recreating it from memory and imagination as we tell it each time,” Lichty said.
The retired business trainer, who spent a career telling stories of another kind, is one of many mostly-older volunteers who have found their latest act in the classroom. Spellbinders is a growing association of trained storytellers who have recharged the ancient tradition while fostering intergenerational bonds with 21st century children.
“That brings tremendous benefits to both the children and the storytellers,” Lichty said. “So many of the children have very little interaction with people in a senior generation. You walk into a class and you have all these faces just light up. For the seniors, it keeps you active and alert, keeps you learning new things and interacting with young people.”
Spellbinders was founded in association with Denver Public Schools in the late 1980s and has since birthed chapters in school districts ranging from south metro’s Cherry Creek Schools to across the United States and Canada.
Volunteers commit to about 12 hours of training, then enter a mentoring period before soloing in the classroom without benefit of a book or notes, much less a PowerPoint demonstration.
Lichty, who also serves as a Spellbinding trainer, stresses that the stories, which range from the common folk tale to the contemporary slice of life, are not memorized per se, but learned—and often embellished—in the classic oral tradition.
“Once a storyteller knows the basics of the story, then it’s a matter of seeing the characters and the setting in their mind and describing what they’re seeing. That way, it’s creative each time they tell it,” Lichty said.
More experienced Spellbinders are given leeway to relate stories of their own histories or even spin new fiction right on the spot, oftentimes in collaboration with students, who range from kindergarten to middle school. The same storyteller goes back to the same class each month, developing an ongoing relationship with the kids.
Middle-schoolers are not as tough a crowd for storytelling as one might expect, Lichty said, once they realize that stories are not just for the little kids anymore.
“Maybe the first session they have to figure out who you are and what you’re doing, but after that it’s great,” the five-year veteran said.
Spellbinders is always looking for new volunteers. Although the program is more popular among seniors, there are no age restrictions. The youngest storyteller is in his early 30s. A background check is required.
“It’s usually people who are somewhat outgoing and feel a little creative,” Lichty said. “So you get these people together and start encouraging them and fostering them to use their creativity, and it’s a great deal of fun.”
The whole experience has also been useful training for Lichty, a new grandmother who will soon be at the ready with a wide range of bedtime stories.
“My oldest granddaughter is not quite 2 yet, so they’re not the best audience for my stories yet, but I still tell them,” she said with a laugh.
Those interested in volunteering are encouraged to visit spellbinders.org.
Erick Scheminske, deputy director for the Colorado Office of State Planning and Budgeting, says the state will enter crisis mode if it does not fix the TABOR-Gallagher quandary. He spoke last week at an alumni event for the University of Phoenix. Photo by Peter Jones
Colorado’s budget may be a ticking time bomb, to hear Erick Scheminske tell it.
“Hopefully, we can solve this problem before it becomes a crisis, but my suspicion is the problem will become a crisis before the voters decide that it needs to be solved,” the deputy director of state planning and budgeting said to an audience last week.
One way or another, education would likely be on the chopping block, the official told a University of Phoenix luncheon March 31 at Madden Museum of Art at Palazzo Verdi in Greenwood Village. The probable victim: Either K-12 or higher education.
Scheminske, whose office coordinates Gov. John Hickenlooper’s proposed budgets, predicted that annual funding to Colorado’s public universities would be cut by more than 50 percent if the state does not fix constitutional wrinkles in state-revenue policy.
“You would look at CU and CSU likely becoming privatized institutions altogether,” he said.
According to Scheminske, the problem is in large part rooted in complications surrounding the Taxpayers Bill of Rights or TABOR, the amendment to the Colorado Constitution approved by voters in 1992. It requires that increases in overall tax revenue be tied to inflation and population increases, unless larger increases are approved by voters.
TABOR’s often complicated effects have worked—in concert or conflict—with the Gallagher Amendment, passed a decade earlier, that effectively keeps residential property taxes “artificially” down, in Scheminske’s words.
“Colorado has probably the most complex revenue and expenditure structure of any state in the country. All of these competing interests are starting to collide,” he said.
In the interest of continuing to fund education, human services and other programs, state officials have sought workarounds. While a controversial fee paid by hospitals has helped meet the state’s Medicaid responsibilities and has resulted in matching federal funds, that revenue has run afoul of TABOR’s tax-limitation provisions by the hundreds of millions of dollars.
“It’s pushing us over our overall TABOR limit,” Scheminske said, noting those overages have required refunds to taxpayers, even though it is hospitals that pay the fee. “This has been a very, very challenging experience for us in the last few years.”
What’s more, the same state Constitution that mandates TABOR refunds also requires increased K-12 funding, even as Colorado’s Medicaid bill rises. Meanwhile, the state’s gas tax— last increased in 1992 when vehicles were less fuel efficient—is still calculated on a stagnant per-gallon rate, regardless of gas prices and increased wear and tear on the roads.
“Our government right now is bigger than our britches. We just don’t have enough revenue coming in to fund everything,” Scheminske said. “… You can’t continue to have a system like we have that on one hand requires revenue reductions and on the other hand requires spending increases. The citizens of Colorado are going to have to make a fundamental change.”
That transformation can be delayed for a while, according to the official, but not indefinitely.
“If we do stay on this path, we’re in deep trouble the next time we have a recession,” he said.
I really need to work on my memory triggers.
I keep a little notebook on my desk every day to scribble down my ideas for this kitchen sink of a column. But often I take that “scribble down” axiom a little too literally as I note the goings-on in the newsroom, the strange phone calls I get, the stories behind the news stories, and the interesting stories that never make it to print at all.
A week or two ago, I marked down the words “Mother’s Day 200 Gambler.” But as of this writing, I have no idea what those cryptic words are supposed to mean.
They are fraught with meaning, I’m quite certain.
Ever hear of early-onset Alzheimer’s? I’ve never heard of it. Or have I?
The aforementioned word-stream might ring a little like a Japanese haiku if I were to add a second line: “The sound of one confused reporter.”
Or the fragment could even make for a strong password, if I hadn’t just blown it by publishing it here in a widely-distributed newspaper.
It could also be the stuff of nuclear codes, or perhaps a band name, though a little long for a marquee. Maybe 200 Gambler could open for Mother’s Day?
All I can figure is this must have had something to do with our sister publication, the Colorado Gambler. What connection I made to the number 200 or the floral industry’s salute to American matriarchs is beyond my paygrade, but what isn’t?
I promise a follow-up column sometime in the coming months when—likely in the shower, or in a dream—it all suddenly comes back to me like a ton of euphoric bricks.
I thought maybe writing this column would help, but no such luck.
I also wrote down the words “Belgard movie”—and here’s where my memory didn’t fail.
Former local Steve Belgard, who once worked for Douglas County-based Starz (founded by John Sie) and did publicity for Greenwood Village’s Film Festival Flix, is crowd-funding his bizarre in-production documentary, Schlitzie: One of Us. The movie will tell the story of a near-legendary four-foot-tall circus performer born with microcephaly. Schlitzie was perhaps best known for his role in Tod Browning’s controversial 1932 cult classic Freaks. Learn more at dfs.dntly.com/campaign/schlitzie-one-of-us#.
Henry Asencio puts the finishing touches on a figure sketch done live at Fascination St. Fine Art with a live model. See more on page 10.
Award-winning Los Angeles-based artist Henry Asencio, known for his interpretations of the female form, sketched live over the weekend, Feb. 10-11, at Fascination St. Fine Art in Cherry Creek North. It was a romantic pre-Valentine’s Day weekend of art, served with chocolate and wine on the side.
Artist Henry Asencio signs a dedication on one of his newest creations.
Aaron Lapedis, owner of Fascination St. Fine Art, talks art with guest Henry Asencio.
Henry Asencio, center, with Fascination St. owners and staff. Photos by Stefan Krusze
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