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The Company Town You Keep – The best little town you love to hate but really love

Every time that I say “I love Pueblo,” without fail, I get the same reaction: a tilted head, furrowed brows, and a questionable “Really?” 

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I love this city. 

No, really, I do. And every time that I say “I love Pueblo,” without fail, I get the same reaction: a tilted head, furrowed brows, and a questionable “Really?” 

Pueblo natives always follow up with “You must not be from here.” 

So, no. I’m not from Pueblo. I grew up in Colorado Springs, and growing up in Colorado Springs — or any place north of Pueblo, really — meant that Pueblo is the one place in the state you don’t want to be.

When I was in the midst of applying for college in my senior year of high school, Colorado State University-Pueblo wasn’t even on my list. It was never even a consideration. But, as with all things in life, plans don’t always work out, so we adapt. When I decided to come to Pueblo after my other plans fell through, I was reluctant.

My parents always taught me to make the most out of any situation, so I tried. I bought a CSU-Pueblo sticker for my car. I bought a few t-shirts. I even bought a lanyard for my keys. But I still felt this hesitancy to actually own Pueblo as a new part of me. 

Maybe it was the school, maybe it was the department I was now part of, or maybe it was a head injury I suffered inexplicably in my sleep that I still don’t recount, but Pueblo began to grow on me — fast. By the end of my freshmen year, I was so wholly integrated into the campus culture serving on committees or volunteering for events that I finally owned Pueblo. Well, the school, mostly. I was a proud Thunderwolf. 

But there was still this dissonance between the campus culture and the city culture.

Last year I decided to make the move to Pueblo. It was an easy decision. I was teaching at the university and taking graduate courses, so it was time to be closer to school and work. The only ties I had left in Colorado Springs were a few friends and my family. The rest of my life was forty miles south on the interstate. 

And once I moved here, I finally got it. Somewhere beneath all the hatred for Pueblo is a smoldering pride, like the hot coals at the bottom of a fire, that with a little poke can reignite and spread. 

There’s something about this town. In all the places I’ve lived, all the places I’ve visited, all the people I’ve met, and all the people I’ve known and loved, there’s something about Pueblo that can’t quite be described. 

Aside from the talk of steel, the never-ending rivalry between Central and Centennial’s football teams, the Riverwalk, and the green chili — which until I moved to Pueblo, I refused to eat and now I can’t get enough of it — there’s so much more to the city of Pueblo and the people of Pueblo than any of us really realize. 

It’s effortless to assimilate into this town; to really become part of the culture, but only if you really want it. 

Last month, I had family visiting from Alabama. My parents drove them down to Pueblo to see me, my little home, and check out the town. It was during the First Friday Art Walk, so I took them to a few of the spots downtown that I knew would be interesting. 

We checked out Angelo’s then took a walk around the Riverwalk. We headed up to Cycle of Life to see the whiskey art. We walked down Union, poking our heads into the other shops showcasing local talent. Then we ended our night at The Cock and Bull. I’d taken my parents there before, but this night with our out of town guests, I became instantly aware of this place I’ve come to call “home.” 

We talked about the locals; the figures that we all see around town with whom we occasionally engage in conversation. We talked about the town’s history, its ethnic groups, its strength in unions, and its intense ferocity for support. 

I was proud to live here, and a tinge envious that I wasn’t a local. 

You, as Puebloans, have an identity. It’s complicated. It’s old. Parts of it are ugly, and sometimes that ugliness wriggles its way to the surface, cracking the beauty that people like me — and I know I’m not alone in this — see every day. But then again, so does every other town. 

There’s homelessness, disparity, poverty, gangs, violence, death, and despair everywhere. We fool ourselves into thinking we can somehow create a utopian ideal of safety and security, then are in disbelief when we find a stain on the pristine fabric we’ve woven. 

So what makes Pueblo any different? What is it about Pueblo that makes people stay here, live here, work here, and love here? 

For the longest time, I couldn’t understand that. I didn’t understand why people would choose to come here until I did. And when I chose to come here, I didn’t understand why so many others outside of Pueblo — and all too often, within Pueblo — speak of this town with such shame. 

If you are exposed to social networking, you are probably aware of memes; those images with super-imposed texts offering witty quips. There are dozens of memes about Pueblo. One of the first ones that my friends from northern parts of Colorado posted to my Facebook after my move here is with two images from the Disney animated film, The Lion King. 

The images show the scene where Mufasa tells Simba that everywhere the light touches is their kingdom. The meme uses the original lines from the film and alters them to be applicable and funny to certain audiences: Mufasa says “Look Simba, everything the light touches is Colorado.” Simba asks “What’s that dark place over there?” Mufasa replies “That’s Pueblo Simba, you must never go there.”

I found myself inclined to defend Pueblo, more than I’ve ever felt inclined to defend my own hometown. Pueblo is often viewed as the step-child of Colorado. We don’t have the mountains to climb, the powder on which to ski or snowboard, or the bustling city life. 

Admittedly, it’s hard for younger people to find safe and practical things to do in the town, and that’s something that should change. But what Pueblo has is a mix of all the things of Colorado that draw people here. 

It’s a strange mix of the liberal attitudes of Boulder with the pragmatic and fiscal ideologies of smaller towns of which there are an abundance in Colorado; the dangerous thrill of big city downtowns with the calming mundaneness of living in the country, sitting on the front porch with a pitcher of ice tea; the warmth of neighborhood communities, waving as you leave your home with the comfortable distance of space between homes. 

When I receive a package that needs to be signed for and I’m not home, the note on my door directs me to a neighbor’s home, so while I’m troubled with having to go a few houses down, I know that I’ll not only receive what I ordered, but a quick chat with a friendly face. 

I’ve never really known that until I moved to Pueblo. 

I also never thought it’d be possible to hear the sounds of train horns, rooster crows, ambulance sirens, motorcycle engines, and children’s laughter all in the span of an hour without ever leaving my living room. 

I’m a firm believer that whatever effort you put into something, you will get the same amount out of it. So rather than disdain and accepting “Only in Pueblo” responses and the negativeness that comes with them, put effort into being prideful of the city. 

The perfectly imperfect mix of people, ideas, and cultures are exactly what makes Pueblo the kind of place it is. It’s okay if people from other cities don’t get it. 

Keep Pueblo the tarnished, rejected gem it is, because it’s the people — it’s you — that makes this town a constant work in progress.

 

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APRIL 1: Iceburg’s 17 minute investigation into April Fool’s Day

While April 1 should evoke a mandatory grin followed by a, “By-the-pecs-of-Poseidon, what’s that mega-crap on your shirrr – made ya look,” the scrolls of time tell us there were people who and events that replaced the frivolous, laid-back attitude that April Fools’ Day is celebrated for with the motivation to be forever recognized within the highest echelon of killjoys.

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Humor is to wellbeing as a tightened fist is to a lighthearted crotch-shot: they both leave you breathless, on your knees in a rejuvenating stupor (or in a red-rain of pain!), and eager to contribute to or reciprocate the joke (or low-blow) with giddy enthusiasm. 

With this month being helmed by All Fools’ Day, we’ve never been more accepting of the hysteria that comes with being barraged in the funny bone; regrettably, history doesn’t share our excitement. While April 1 should evoke a mandatory grin followed by a, “By-the-pecs-of-Poseidon, what’s that mega-crap on your shirrr – made ya look,” the scrolls of time tell us there were people who and events that replaced the frivolous, laid-back attitude that April Fools’ Day is celebrated for with the motivation to be forever recognized within the highest echelon of killjoys.

Those people and events include…  

The Pope Who Fooled the French

New Year’s Day was originally on April 1. No, really. Several ancient cultures, like the Romans and the Hindus, marked the now notorious day for practical tomfoolery as the beginning of the year because the date closely aligned with the Vernal Equinox, which is usually around March 20. 

In 1582 Pope Gregory “Me So Fresh” XIII ordered the use of the new calendar. It placed New Year’s in January, and when the change was made, rumor says that many of the French were either unaware of or rebelling against the date change and continued to celebrate New Year’s on April 1. These traditionalists became one of the most rotund butts in the history of jokes, and April Fools’ Day was born. 

The Volcano That Burst Forth (Probably Because It Took Offense to a Joke)

If we’ve learned a single piece of [mis]information from the science portion of our grade school education, it’s that a volcano’s ease to anger is only equaled by its unwillingness to be a comedic punch-line. You’ve at least witnessed parts of the eventful life cycle of a volcano on the Discovery Channel (before reality shows like Rise of the Stink People began oozing their irrelevance over the airwaves); its dome was seemingly sedated, calmly drooling its molten effluence down a thirty-degree grass patch at speeds that an infant in flame-retardant pajama bottoms could out-roll. Unexpectedly, like the quick snap of a sucker punch, the cameraman or the millionaire working pro bono as an expert in lava composition cracked a bad joke at the volcano’s expense, and all hell leaked, boiled, blew, and broke loose. 

This might have been the case on April 1, 1793, when a collapsing lava dome — Mayu-yama from Mount Unzen, an active group of volcanoes on Japan’s Kyushu Island — triggered a landslide that rioted through Shimabara City and belly flopped into the Ariaka Sea, creating a pant-fertilizing megatsunami that reached the titanic heights of 330 ft., which combined with the land slide killed an estimated 15, 000 good humored citizens. 

The man who offended the snoozing goliath with salty humor was never found (or existed), but if he was (or did exist), we’re assuming: (A) he was a white guy (because that’s provocative), and (B) he was a would-be galactic samurai, i.e. the megalomaniacal ancestor of Thomas Cruise Mapother IV (AKA Tom “The Pleasure” Cruise). 

The Novelist Who Sneered at a Royal Suggestion

You don’t tell royalty no, unless, of course, you’re Jane Austen (or a free spirit dying to experience exile). On April 1, 1816, Austen responded to a letter from the Prince Regent regarding a suggestion to write a historic romance by saying, “I could not sit down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life.” 

Maybe it was a joke: “Prince Regent, your story pitch is awful; I wouldn’t consider it unless my life was on the line… April fools!” 

Claire Harman, author of “Jane’s Fame,” talked on NPR on March 25, 2010, about Austen’s personality in addition to her popularity, and it turns out everything you’d imagine Austen to be is probably true: she was witty, cynical, and judging by her response to the Prince Regent, a little bit headstrong. 

Harman says that Austen’s fame was, in a way, rekindled by the biography written by her nephew. “James Edwards’ memoir of his aunt made her into a sort of sentimental object. You know, and people loved her as a person and as a character, as well as the books and sometimes instead of the books,” Harman said. 

The idea, however, that Austen had a meek and mild personality would not be accurate. Who would have thought?

“She wasn’t necessarily a nice person at all. I mean there’s really nothing in the letters to suggest anything other than a very sharp-witted and at times rather acid-tongued woman,” Harman said. 

So the whole “screw you Prince Regent” thing probably wasn’t a joke then. You go, girl! 

The Theory That Big-Banged Science

Melodramatic male studs who claim ladies to be the ficklest of life’s challenges need to escort Science on a dinner date or two: During the appetizer (cheese sticks), Science would intimately observe your surface area to get an estimate of your internal composition. She’d alleviate your physical insecurities by assuring, “Your name’s Pluto? How cute! I hear that small planets are in touch with their emotional side.” 

But the moment the dessert platter (Hazelnut Dacquoise with Chocolate Mousse served on an Astronaut’s face shield) lands on the table, she’d be all curled up on Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, bragging about how she recategorized you as a Dwarf Planet, Science’s way of catapulting you into the “friend zone.” 

Science played the Steady State Theory in the same sort of way; prior to April 1, 1948, cosmological opinions were split between whether Steady State Theory or the Big Bang accurately described the origin and continuing development of the cosmos. But once the Big Bang Theory was officially proposed on the date listed by subjectively sexy, objectively brilliant geniuses Ralph Alpher and George Gamow in Physical Review through the essay “The Origins of Chemical Elements,” Big Bang began to gradually earn more favor within Science’s academic bedchambers. Science has been developing excuses to keep Steady State in the “friend zone” ever since. 

The Revolution That Preferred Loss-of-Life over Laughter 

Remember when McCarthyism was a thing? It was kind of a blip in American history. Luckily, China out did us. How often do you get to say that? 

Roughly ten years after the red scare settled down in America, the Cultural Revolution in China became the cool new trend. Just by chance, the nationwide witch-hunt for capitalists started on April 1, 1966. 

Admiration for market economies is no joke. 

This was the era of Mao Zedong and communism was at its peak. Zedong feared the country was headed in the wrong direction, so he called on China’s youth to put the country’s political ideology back on the right – well, left track. 

Nearly 1.5 million Chinese lost their lives and tons more felt the wrath of a large group of angsty, nationalistic teenagers. Take that, laws of supply and demand. 

By Leviathan Robb & Ginger Jones

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Profiles of our beloved supreme leaders – Kim Jong-Un, Paul Ryan and Chris Brown

Three men who want to rule the world and are the truest examples of what a supreme leader should be.

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Kim Jong-Un

At only 30 years old this bright individual is the supreme leader of North Korea. Not only has Kim Jong-Un legalized pizza he has also forced employees at the local gourmet restaurant, McDonalds to serve breakfast until noon. Sure he threatens people with nukes every day, what teenager who plays Call of Duty doesn’t? Kimmy is such an inspirational figure to local teens, they can really learn how to be a social success and loved worldwide.  Rumor has it that Kim has sent all local redheads to South Korea so that they can find Seoul—whatever that means. If your bratty little brace faced sweetheart won’t listen, why not pick up a copy of Kim’s new book, “The Nukes of Hazzard.”


Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan looks like a model straight off a package of Hanes boxer briefs—the look every politician strives for. Who cares if he has just graduated from pampers to public dampers. After recently announcing, “We are not going to give up on destroying the healthcare system”, his ratings went through the roof– taking with it your average American’s basic personal rights. Ryan is the guy you can go to with all of your personal problems, sure he won’t listen but you’ll be sidetracked by his baby blues. Like Kit-Kat give him a break! If Paul Ryan were an item at Big R he would be the perfect tool bag.   Paul Ryan has the kind of personality only a mother could love—which is totally in right now. 


Chris Brown

If young men want to know how to be the perfect guy look no further than Chris Brown. When Chris was a child listening to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” he took it to heart by utilizing the lyrics and incorporating them into everyday life.  Brown likes his women like he prefers his eggs; beaten and over easy. When Rihanna (Browns’ current girlfriend) told Chris that she wanted a “black guy” he misheard her and gave her a love stamp right across her face—now that’s love.  Recently, Rihanna had taken up a career in stand-up comedy at high school proms but soon gave up another one of her dreams due to Brown’s embarrassing behavior. Reports say he kept “beating her to the punch line.”

   

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Talking to the ‘that’s what she said’ girl at your mom’s house

Her name is Lauretta Scapini, and she is the “she” of “that’s what she said.” I ask her the hard questions.

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I recently sat down with a woman we all know, but few would actually recognize. Her name is Lauretta Scapini, and she is the “she” of “that’s what she said.” I ask her the hard questions.  

Iceburg: Hi Lauretta, thank you so much for meeting me today.

Lauretta Scapini: Of course, thank you for having me.

Ice-B: That’s what she said. 

LS: Yes, yes it is. 

Ice-B: Nice. So how did this whole thing get started? How have you taken the blame for so much, and please excuse my lack of decorum, but sluttiness?

LS: That’s a great question, thank you. Well, as many people probably know, the phrase “that’s what she said” gained tremendous popularity on the NBC hit show The Office. You know the one where the boss tries to screw over his employees?

Ice-B: That’s wh- um of course.

LS: I knew some of the guys on the set, you know, as a woman in my profession would–

Ice-B: Which would be what, exactly?

LS: Isn’t it obvious? I make wax sticks to light on fire. I’m a candlestick maker. 

Ice-B: Excuse me?

LS: It’s a very erotic field, and I mean come on, look at me. I’m a California “10,” which is like a New Mexico “87.” Don’t take it wrong.

Ice-B: None taken. So tell me more about being a candlestick maker and how that brought you to work with set guys at The Office.

LS: I’ve always been fascinated by my ability to mold wax into shapes, then just watch it burn. The scent combinations is probably the most exciting part of it. Anyway. I had a series of videos that were posted on YouTube that have since been removed where I walked the audience through the process of making candles, step by step. I know how men — and even some women — look at me, so I knew the best way for me to really market myself and my candles would be to play up my sexuality. So everything I said was meant to taken as euphemism. (Editor’s note: We love to take euphemisms.)

Ice-B: What would you say to those who criticize that sort of behavior? Discussions about who “she” must be inevitably turn to accusations of promiscuity and defamations of “her” character.

LS: It’s the cross I choose to bear. As much as I loved Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, I can’t help but feel more connection to the work and theory of Audre Lorde, specifically her discussions of intersectionality. As a beautiful, intelligent, mixed-race woman, I’ve found it frustrating to live and accept any sort of authentic experience that posits we live in simple binary oppositions that serve to differentiate men from women. Lorde maintains that there are a whole slew of categories and subdivisions for characterizing women because each experience is authentic and different and beautiful and can’t possibly speak to the whole experience of being a woman; of being a feminist. 

Ice-B: So by being overtly sexual, you’re helping women? I don’t understand. 

LS: We’re taught using the master’s tools. Our culture is a patriarchal one that we’re wholly dependent on. So I take what’s expected of me and blow it… out of proportion. 

Ice-B: Has it been hard? 

LS: That’s what I said. [Laughs] But yeah, it has been. It’s been a long, hard, road full of bumps and bruises, leather and lace– 

Ice-B: Ample alliterations. 

LS: Exactly. But my work isn’t done. We tend to categorize everyone: races, religions, genders, sexual orientations. If the world was meant to be black and white, we wouldn’t have colors. As much as women are forced into specific roles, men are, too. They need to know that they’re not sex machines, expected to fertilize the earth. And until I can get people to accept and own their sexuality, I won’t quit. I’m not finished yet.

Ice-B: That’s what he said.

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