In Bernie’s America, the people rule

photo courtesy of

I’m against tyranny. This is a popular political position. Americans pride ourselves on defending liberty from the machinations of malevolent power all over the world. It is our heritage, beginning with the Boston Tea Party, to demand that government be held accountable to the governed. Our ancestors answered the call of resolute and courageous leaders to fight the tyranny of their own government, and won. There were many, especially among the ruling class, who sided with the tyrant, did his bidding, and betrayed their fellow human beings for personal gain. Ultimately, they lost, despite all their money, connections, and cunning deceptions. This demonstrated one of the axioms on which America is founded, that the right of self-governance is a fundamental and inalterable component of human existence.

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Seattle Diary: if you have a community, do not take it for granted

When my marriage fell apart in 2010 I quickly realized just how much of my social life was tied to my wife’s friends and family. I had friends of my own, of course, but most were married with families, or they lived way the hell out in the ‘burbs. Very few were of the “let’s go grab a quick beer” variety, so the result was that I spent a lot of time alone.

Let me amend that. I spent all of my time alone. And given the upheaval that divorce represents, not just in your routine, but in your soul and in your psyche, it’s probably safe to say that I have never felt quite so totally alone in life. Her family had become my family, and all of a sudden my family was taken from me. No family. No tribe. No community.

In some respects alone was helpful. I needed to reconnect with the guy I had lost over several years of dysfunctional marriage, and time with my thoughts was important. But I’m a social person and I needed human contact, too. Continue reading

Denver FOX News affiliate caught making shit up

Well, this is fun.

FOX31 reported Saturday that Daniele Perazzi, president of the world-famous Perazzi gun brand and grandson of its famous founder, was detained at the Colorado Gun Collectors Association show near 58th and Washington Street. FOX31 said a cab driver alerted police thinking Perazzi was a potential terrorist.

The gun company, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Taxis on Patrol and the Colorado Gun Collectors Association all claim the reported incident never happened.

The story has gone viral online and caused concern for gun rights supporters. 9NEWS has received numerous emails inquiring as to why the story isn’t being broadly covered.

The Perazzi company issued a statement in Italian on Tuesday denying the incident occurred. A US representative for the company said its founder, Daniele Perazzi died last year, and that he does not have a grandson named Daniele. The current CEO of the company is the founder’s son, Mauro. The Perazzi representative said the company did not have anyone in Denver over the weekend and called the story “totally fabricated.”

The FOX reporter responsible for the story went on a local radio show this morning to defend herself.

“I think that something did happen. I think there is some essential truth to it,” Hayden continued.

In other words, she’s almost certain that something must have happened. Otherwise, why would she have reported it. Or something.

Definitely give the video a look. And stay tuned. FOX being FOX, their next step will almost certain be to distract us from this fabrication by making up some even more outlandish shit.

Thx to Rho Holden for bringing this to our attention.

WTF? Happy May Day from Colorado (STFU weather, anyone?)

Monday it was in the 80s here in Denver. This weekend the forecast calls for pretty, seasonal weather in the upper 50s. But today is May Day, the midpoint of springtime. What better opportunity for Mother Nature to show off a bit.

Here’s Ronan MacScottie, out for his morning constitutional a few minutes ago.


Happy Beltane, everyone. Here’s hoping your day is as beautiful as ours.


TunesDay: Fiction 8 at the Colorado Dark Arts Expo

Sunday’s Colorado Dark Expo here in Denver featured live music, DJs, visual artists, fashion and stylists, alternative performances and vendors, all to benefit homeless and LGBTQ youth programs. Worthy cause, great event, and the high point for me was the opportunity to see the first local appearance of Fiction 8 in quite some time. It wouldn’t be accurate to call it a reunion show since they never broke up, but now that founder and front man Michael Smith lives in Austin it sometimes feels that way.

FULL DISCLOSURE: If you’ve been around here awhile you know that Mike and I are friends. He’s a regular S&R reader and sometimes commenter, and I have co-written songs on their last two CDs (with one more slated for the next one). So this is less about “objective music journalism” and more about the opinions of a guy who has known and loved the band for 15 years or so. Now, that said….

Sunday’s show was an absolute revelation. When band members live hundreds of miles apart they don’t get much time to rehearse, and when they don’t get to play together very often you expect some ring rust when they finally do pull the curtain. In addition, they have added a third member, with Heather Sowards stepping into the keyboardist role once occupied by the departed Steve Hart. In other words, there was every reason to be prepared for a sub-par outing.

Instead, we got the precise opposite. Mike’s guitar work was cleaner than ever and I don’t know that I recall him being in finer voice. He’s always been a confident performer, but lately – perhaps owing to the influence of Austin’s seethingly diverse music culture – he has seemed even more sure of who he is as an artist. To say that he was in full command of the venue is to understate the dynamic.

Sowards, a longtime friend of the band, brought a whole new energy to the production – a warmth and vibrance that was positively bouncy at times. She connects both musically and personally with Mike and bassist/violinist/vocalist Mardi Salazar, and the result is that F8 has evolved from a cold, dark, two-person industrial front into something that feels more like community, and the crowd clearly felt it, too.

But the big story was Salazar. F8 has always been Mike’s band. Mardi has taken on an increasingly significant role over time, but in some respects their CDs and shows have felt more like two bands trading songs. Nothing stark or discontinuous, exactly, but they haven’t seemed fully integrated, either. I suppose living in different states will breed that sort of dynamic.

And there’s certainly no blaming here. Mardi’s songwriting and instrumental contributions have always been flawless. But from my perspective, I guess she has always felt like the other person in Mike’s band. This is probably me projecting here, since he’s been the one constant in F8 since I discovered them back in the mid-1990s, and she’s the relative newcomer by comparison.

Regardless, Sunday night it was clear that Mardi has wholly inhabited her place at the front of the stage. Her playing was seamless and intuitive, and when she took the mic she absolutely owned the room. This is normally the place in the program where I’d step aside to tell you that the highlight of the show was “Hegemony,” and really, not just because I co-wrote it, you know. And yeah, “Hegemony” rocked the house – no doubt about it.

The real highlight, though, was Salazar’s “We Are Machines,” a song that I’ve never really clicked with. I’m fully on board with the message, but it’s never been one of my favorites. Sunday night, for the first time ever, I really believed it. Put simply, Mardi knocked it out of the park.

In summary: a) damn, what a fantastic show, and up against a set of circumstances that would have excused a not-so-great performance; b) how freakin’ awesome would it be if Mike moved back to Denver so they could, you know, rehearse and gig more often; and c) I’m very much looking forward to the new CD, which I have been told will be available sometime this year.

Fiction 8: Hegemony

ArtSunday: Doors Open Denver

Good morning, everyone. Here’s hoping your ArtSunday is off to a sunny start.

A couple of us with strong S&R ties are entered in the Doors Open Denver photo contest and would really appreciate your support. In order to convince you that we’re worthy, we’re even going to give you some pretty shots to look at.

Up first, me! I have four shots entered (two in the Exteriors category, one in Interiors and one in Building Details). This is “Butterfly,” which probably represents my best chance.


My first exterior is “Janus”…

…and the second is “Treble.”

Finally, my Building Details entry is “Footwork.”

Registration is required to vote, but it’s quick and painless. You can register and view all the entries here.

Vote for my shots at these page links (or simply scroll down on the page linked above and click as you go).

Up next, Greg Thow. Greg is a mainstay at S&R’s sister site, 5280 Lens Mafia, and we’ve also featured his work here a few times, so regular readers are hopefully familiar with him. My assessment of Greg’s entries is fairly simple: the rest of us are playing for second. I’d ask you to throw some stars his way, as well.

The first shot to note is “Red Dawn,” which I expect to win every prize they have.

This is called “To the Heavens.”

And finally, “Taking the Fifth.”

To vote:

We’re grateful for any and all support, and we’d be even more grateful if you’d pass this link along to your friends who appreciate photography.

Happy Sunday.


See more of Greg Thow’s photography at Denver Digital Photography.

More of my work can be found at Samuel Smith Photography.

A quick, nonpartisan democracy lesson for our anonymous faux-patriot thugs

Let’s start with this.

DENVER – A Mexican restaurant in the Highlands neighborhood declined a Mitt Romney campaign stop.

Now the owners of Rosa Linda’s Mexican Café are getting death threats, nasty threatening phone calls, and insulting e-mails criticizing their choice.

“I don’t want people to be angry at me,” Rosa Linda Aguirre, the owner of the neighborhood staple, said. Continue reading

Kudos to Denver: city government gets one right

I think some of us are so used to the frustrations of how local governments sometimes work that we’re shocked when a municipality gets one right. Here in West Denver, for instance, a lot of us have been incensed by the way our elected officials are siding with developers against the needs and express wishes of the people who put them in office.

But by golly, it looks like we can put one in the win column for common sense. Like many cities, Denver has an ordinance aimed at keeping places that serve alcohol away from schools. The thing is, these regulations can result in some utter silliness once you get past the philosophy and begin examining the specifics. Since you can’t very well force existing businesses to close when you pass a new ordinance or when a new school opens nearby, you wind up with a situation like we have in my neighborhood. Continue reading

ArtSunday: The DaVinci Gallery – a study in bracketing and High Dynamic Range

Lately I’m working not only on my actual camera ability, but also on better understanding the technology of processing images. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours in the DaVinci Machines Exhibit in Denver working on both composition and technical skills (shooting in lower light, for instance) and doing so with an eye toward how I’d be outputting the images later. Interesting results.

I bracketed everything I shot (three exposures: -3, 0 and +3) to enable composite High Dynamic Range processing. Here’s one series that emerged. This is obviously several different versions of the same raw shot. First, the basic image, fine tuned a bit in Photoshop.

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So much for the fires: an ark with two animals of each kind just floated down my street…

This time last week Colorado was enduring epic wildfires and “Fire Danger: Extreme” seemed an understatement. We were seeing temps in excess of 100 degrees and one day the humidity dipped as low as three percent. So much for the “earth is burning” portion of the show. Now we’re three or four days into the great floods foretold in the Old Testament. Three weeks ago I posted a couple of pictures from movie night on the Elitch Theater lawn. Here’s one of them, to refresh your memory.

Here’s that same lawn a few minutes ago, after a few hours of positively biblical rain this morning. Continue reading

A star is born

Our real photographer, the estimable Lisa Wright, is on vacation, so I ventured out last night, new camera in hand, to see if I could capture something vaguely interesting for our readers. As luck would have it, they were showing A Star is Born, the 1937 classic starring Janet Gaynor, on the lawn in front of the old Elitch Gardens Theater.

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