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    Patriot Waiting Games

    Pueblo Marine Corps veteran David Jiron had a stroke this past April. Once out of the hospital he went through the Veterans Administration to seek follow-up treatment at one of its facilities. The VA scheduled the treatment for this coming October.

    Rather than wait about half a year to see a medical provider about the aftereffects of the stroke, Jiron used his costly private health insurance to get treatment within the local Parkview health-care system.

    The Veterans’ Choice Program is supposed to cut down on VA wait times by allowing veterans to receive treatment at community medical facilities, which in turn would be compensated for their services by the VA. In theory, a veteran making a trip to the family doctor would be no different than being treated by a primary care doctor at a VA facility.

    Jiron praises the Choice program for how quickly the VA got him an eye exam (within a week) at a non-VA facility. Yet the VA would not allow him to use the program for his stroke follow-up at Parkview. Jiron also was frustrated that the program won’t pay the tab for the teeth cleaning he needs, and getting it done through a VA facility is difficult because he was told the VA was “short-staffed” when it came to routine dental work. As for wait times at VA facilities, he is still waiting to see a neurologist at an out-of-town VA facility related to his April stroke.

    Veterans’ Choice

    Jiron is Southern Colorado service officer for Disabled American Veterans. The national nonprofit organization supports the Veterans’ Choice Program, which was established the Veterans’ Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014. Signed into law by President Barack Obama and then extended by Congress and President Donald Trump this past April, the Veterans’ Choice Act came about after it was widely reported in 2014 that about 35 veterans died while waiting for appointments at VA facilities in Phoenix. Although the Choice Program was extended this year it is still considered a temporary benefit. The extension Trump signed in April and which took effect on Aug. 7 was for $2.1 billion to pay for Choice services nationwide, and when that money runs out, the Choice Program will need another extension from Congress to keep operating.

    Andrew Grieb at the Colorado DAV’s Denver headquarters says his organization backs the Veterans’ Choice Program and sees it as playing a role in what the DAV hopes would become an “integrated VA health system.”

    Jiron says the VA needs to “turn around” adding that current VA Secretary David Shulkin seems to be the person to do just that. But Jiron is not the only one with issues regarding Veterans’ Choice.

    Small-town, big concerns

    The town of Springfield in extreme southeastern Colorado has no VA facility making it a prime location for the Choice Program. The Southeast Colorado Hospital District serves Springfield and the towns of Pritchett, Vilas and Campo. David Engel is the CEO of the hospital district, which entices veterans on its Facebook page to take part in the Choice Program at its facilities. Yet despite the promotion Engel says the number of veterans taking part in program is “sparse” for two reasons. The first is that, he says, the VA rejects veterans for the Choice Program if they carry other pricey insurance like a private plan, a plan through work or Medicare. The other is that, once a veteran jumps through the VA hoops and uses Choice to see a primary care provider within the hospital district, that vet again has to clear VA hurdles to see a specialist that the primary care provider recommends. Engel, who’s relatively new to his position at the district, adds that staff members have told him of significant delays in getting reimbursed from the VA through Choice for the hospital district’s services.

    Engel says as an alternative to VA Choice Program many veterans living in the communities served by his hospital district drive as far as Amarillo, Texas, to get treatment at VA facilities there.

    Telling stats

    VA wait times in southeastern Colorado are daunting. Brandy Morrison, congressional liaison and acting public affairs officer for the VA’s Eastern Colorado Health Care System reveals some eye-popping statistics, which were last updated on July 31. The AVERAGE wait time for a new patient to receive care at the VA’s PFC James Dunn Clinic in Pueblo is 69 days; at the VA clinic in La Junta, 54 days; at the VA’s PFC Floyd K. Lindstrom Clinic in Colorado Springs, 52 days; at the VA facility in Lamar, 36 days; at the VA clinic in Alamosa, 29 days. The new-patient wait times at the VA facility in Salida is relatively outstanding at a mere six days. The picture for average primary care wait times for patients already established in the VA system is much, much brighter:  13 days for Alamosa; 11 days for Lindstrom in the Springs; seven days each for Lamar and James Dunn in Pueblo; four days for La Junta; and for Salida, one day.

    Morrison adds that a national VA statistics website uses an average of new patient and existing patient wait times for primary care and at least one other factor to come up with its numbers. Using those statistics, the national average VA primary care wait time is 4.9 days compared with 26.68 for La Junta, 22.38 days for Alamosa, 18.35 days for Lamar, 13.99 days for Pueblo’s Dunn Clinic, 12.95 the Springs’ Lindstrom Clinic and 2.88 days for Salida.

    Choice restrictions

    Morrison says regarding the Veterans’ Choice Program designed to cut down on VA wait times, veterans are eligible to use the program through three avenues. The first is that if wait times for the services they require are greater than 30 days. The second is if veterans needing care live 40 miles or greater from the nearest VA facility. The third is what Morison calls a “geo-burden” which means if a veteran is separated from a VA facility by such obstacles as mountains or bodies of water. Note that a veteran having other forms of insurance is not on Morrison’s list for a veteran being turned down for the Choice Program.

    Yet Morrison says relatively few veterans in the Eastern Colorado region choose to take advantage of the Choice Program. In fact, she says, during the third quarter of federal fiscal year 2017 (which runs from Oct. 1, 2016, to Sept. 30) 71 percent of the veterans served by the VA’s Eastern Colorado Health Care System chose to stay with the VA for their primary care needs rather than go through the Choice Program.

    Yet for a veteran opting to go into the community to use the Choice Program, Morrison says a VA employee will place them into the program and forward all pertinent medical information to the VA “third-party administrator” or TPA (which is a company called Health Net Federal Services) for appropriate scheduling.

    “Once Health Net receives and accepts the referral,” Morrison says, “they begin their scheduling attempts to get the veteran scheduled as timely as possible with the provider of their choice. Since May of 2017, the VA is the primary insurance for all services received through the Veterans Choice Program.”

    Regarding payment to Veterans Choice Program providers,

    Getting paid

    Morrison says she cannot speak to that because Health Net handles all payments to the providers as part of its contract with the VA.

    And, as Southeast Colorado Hospital District CEO Engel previously indicated, reimbursements from the Choice Program are hard to come by. And, by way of example, Pulp has learned of one story about an eye care clinic in the Pueblo area having its reimbursement check sent to an eye clinic in Alaska.

    Health Net Federal Services communications director, Molly Tuttle, gives a generic response to Pulp’s concerns about delayed Choice Program reimbursements.

    “It is our honor and responsibility to serve the veteran community,” Tuttle, who is based in northern California, says. “We strive to provide excellent service to every veteran, every time. Health Net Federal Services has no higher priority than the fulfillment of our Veterans Choice Program obligations in support of our continuing and long-term commitment to the veteran community.

    “We strive to address issues as they arise and continue to work with our over 14,000 community providers to service the state’s more than 80,000 Choice eligible veterans in Colorado,” she adds. “Developing a complex and consistent new program like Veterans’ Choice is a team effort, and HNFS is working closely with Congress, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Colorado VA Medical Clinics, and local health care providers to ensure veterans have the appropriate, coordinated and convenient care they have earned for their service to our nation.”

    Congressmen respond

    The office of U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) representing Colorado’s 3rd District says VA wait times and the Veterans’ Choice Program do have issues. “As the Veterans’ Choice Program has been administered, it has become clear there are problems that need to be addressed, including administrative burdens and red tape in the referral process, as well as issues with payments for Choice providers,” says Liz Payne, the congressman’s communications director, in an email.

    “Despite the identified problems, there are countless examples where we have seen the Choice Program work for veterans who had no access to care prior to the program’s implementation, and Congress and the VA continue to work to ensure the programs is as efficient and as streamlined as possible. Congressman Tipton and his staff also continue to work with veterans across (his district) to help them navigate the Choice Program process. We are currently serving over 1,000 veterans on Choice Program-specific casework.”

    Colorado 4th District U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) has this to say in an email about the Veteran’s Choice Program: “I support giving veterans more health care options through the Veterans’ Choice Act, but I recognize the challenges faced by the act over the past few years. Congress needs to continue working to improve this act so that veterans receive the care they need, when they need it.”

    Kyle Huwa, Buck’s communications director, says in an email the congressman’s staff is looking into concerns Pulp has raised about long wait times at VA facilities in southeastern Colorado and the effectiveness of the Veterans Choice Act.

    “Once he has more information on the specifics of the issue,” Huwa says, “he can address that question.”

    Although southeastern Colorado has obvious problems with VA wait times and the Veterans’ Choice Program, there is reason to be upbeat. Air Force Veteran Phil Andreski is pleased with the VA service he receives. “No complaints from me,” he says in an email. “Don’t use VA other than getting hearing aids, and I’m satisfied.”

    Andreski is the southeastern Colorado representative for the United Veterans Committee of Colorado, a Denver-based veterans’ advocacy group. He adds that he has not received any complaints from the veterans he knows about long VA wait times or the Veterans’ Choice Program.

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    Her Paris

    When we open an art history book or go to a major art museum, male artists dominate the narrative. A woman may be represented here and there, but the overall impression given is that women were negligible players in the history of art, outliers and curiosities.

    In fact, nothing could be further from the truth, especially in 19th-century Paris. From the French Revolution on, women were a major presence on the Parisian art scene. They may not have been allowed into l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts, France’s largest art school, until 1897, but they were allowed to exhibit in the Paris Salon, Europe’s preeminent art exhibition–and did, in great numbers. Women studied art under private tutors or at smaller art academies like the Académie Julian, all while pushing for greater equality in the art world and, by extension, society as a whole. They were also major contributors to independent exhibitions, including those of the French Impressionists.

    Her Paris goes a long way toward bringing more attention to these “forgotten” artists with an exhibit devoted entirely to women painters from the latter half of the 19th century. This huge exhibition is divided into seven sections covering portraiture, genre scenes, fashion, childhood, landscape, history painting, and “jeunes filles,” or young women.

    The exhibit opens with portraiture, which seems a straightforward subject. But this section is more than just a series of portraits. It’s the perfect way to start the conversation about female artists in Paris because it demonstrates they weren’t a negligible presence on the Parisian art scene: they were part of an entire community. They were friends, sisters, roommates, neighbors, and rivals who lived, studied, socialized, and worked together to gain recognition for their artistic talents–not just individually, but as a group. From Berthe Morisot and her sister, Edna; once-famous Marie Bashkirtseff and the only person she considered her artistic equal, Louise Breslau; to Anna Elizabeth Klumpke, an American painter who was friends with Rosa Bonheur and later wrote her biography. These portraits show that women artists didn’t just come to Paris because it was the epicenter of European art; they came because in Paris they could find encouragement and support amongst other women.


    The next section of Her Paris continues that theme, with scenes from everyday life, also known as genre. The theme may seem innocuous at first, until one looks closer. Between moments of eating dinner and pouring tea are women smoking (scandalous!), reading–which for a woman at the time was still a revolutionary act, underscoring they were human beings with an intellect and interior “life of the mind,” as the exhibition puts it–and performing the commonplace tasks and chores that formed the underpinning of Parisian society.

    The grandest painting in this section is Lunch in the Greenhouse by Louise Abbéma, which dominates the wall at the far end of the gallery. When it was first exhibited in public, it was criticized for being “flat” and “emotionless.” But its rich color and high level of detail make it nearly irresistible: you feel like you can step right into the piece and sit down at the table.

    There’s also a very modern rejection of narrative or moralizing in Lunch in the Greenhouse; it’s merely a snapshot of a moment, although Abbéma couldn’t resist adding the charm of the little girl with the big pink bow or the dog beside her. The other figures are friends and family of Abbéma, most notably the famous actress Sarah Bernhardt, with whom Abbéma is rumored to have had an affair. If true that makes Abbéma’s expression in the painting as she reclines behind Bernhardt all the more intriguing.

    Abbéma also painted one of the stand-out pieces in the next section, devoted to fashion. Among the Flowers shows a woman in a gorgeous flower-printed white dress, whose form is mirrored by the black urn overflowing with flowers beside her. Abbéma’s association of a woman with a decorative object (indeed, the woman seems to be greeting the plant as if it were a person) sums up the theme of this section: that by focusing on fashion, these female artists weren’t just conflating fashion with art, but rejecting the idea that decoration of themselves and their homes should be their only creative outlet.

    The next section focuses on paintings of children. While the idea that women artists are innately better able to depict children is patently stupid (men had been doing it perfectly well since the Renaissance), it can perhaps be said that women had greater access to child models. In fact, female artists of the 19th century usually used friends and family as models exclusively, since models for hire tended to have unsavory backgrounds (cough prostitutes cough).

    The childhood section introduces the most unique artist by far included in Her Paris, German painter Paula Mendersohn-Becker. One of the earliest expressionist painters, Mendersohn-Becker is frequently referred to as the first female modernist and with good reason. Her paintings look like something out of the 1930s rather than the 19th century. Becker’s figures are flatly modeled, with a limited palette and expressive facial features. Far from pretty, there’s no denying the irresistible charm of Becker’s work in her use of line and her focus on the emotions, rather than the appearance, of her sitters.

    The landscape section serves as the lynchpin of the whole exhibition because it’s here where you can really see how 19th-century women were pushing painting forward in new directions.

    One of the most unique pieces is Waterfall by Fanny Churberg, which was described as abnormal and “strange” by contemporaries. It is unusual, but in an intriguing way. Churberg’s painting is highly naturalistic and textured, almost as if one is looking at it through a stereoscope (a way to combine two images into one to create a 3D effect). Anna Bilińska-Bohdanowicz’s atmospheric Unter den Linden in Berlin is another standout piece, as is Helen Schjerfbeck’s The Door, which captures a church door in Brittany. It’s a landscape, but could just as easily be called a still life, one that uses light and color to suggest a spiritual and symbolic component.

    The last two sections of Her Paris–history painting and jeunes filles–are not as tightly themed as the previous sections, although they contain some of the exhibition’s best pieces. One of these is Plowing in the Nivernais by Rosa Bonheur, by far the most famous female painter of the 19th century, or any century before it. A child prodigy, she was the first woman to be awarded the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest artistic award, which the Empress Eugenie herself pinned to Bonheur’s breast at her chateau outside of Paris.

    Plowing in the Nivernais is one of Bonheur’s most well-known works, painted just after the 1848 Revolution that instituted the Second Republic. The stars of the painting are the Nivernais oxen clomping across the canvas, rendered in exquisite and loving detail. But Plowing in the Nivernais doesn’t just demonstrate Bonheur’s skill as an animal painter: her treatment of the soil, atmosphere, and sunlight is the height of realism. You can almost feel the heat of the sun, smell the turned earth, and feel the soft ground beneath your feet. Indeed, the very solidity of the oxen and landscape conveys a sense of permanence and on the grand scale of a history painting. Bonheur may not have been painting history as such, but she was undoubtedly commenting on the endurance of France, despite the ups and downs of political changes.

    Other artists of note include Anna Archer, whose paintings are quiet, yet luminous; Eva Gonzalès, the only pupil of Edouard Manet, who has several charming pieces; Marianne Stokes, with gorgeously rich canvases inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites; and Julie Delance-Feurgard, whose Le marriage exudes an intense feeling of movement and suspense, despite the rather staid subject matter.

    Her Paris is an extraordinary exhibition that introduces art lovers to the best painters they’ve never heard of. The sheer volume of work in this exhibit is staggering, especially when one considers it covers just 35 female painters who trod Paris’ cobblestoned streets for a mere fifty years. Her Paris, along with The Women of Abstract Expressionism that took place earlier this year, marks the DAM as an institutional leader and innovator. This show is definitely not one to be missed.

    Her Paris: Women Artists in the Age of Impressionism will be on view through January 14th, 2018. Advanced tickets are highly recommended. For more information, visit denverartmuseum.org.

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    November 2017 Horoscopes

    Capricorn 12/22 -1/19

    You are the tenth sign of the zodiac, an earth sign ruled by Saturn, planet of restriction and limitation. Your ruling sign will be in Sagittarius until the end of the year; and Jupiter, the ruler of Sagittarius, is in the house of Saturn. The synergy of the planets will have you feeling as if you’re in the right place at the right time, particularly around November 11th, when Saturn will trine Uranus. The New Moon in Scorpio on November 18th is your hard reset date, time to see how beautiful letting go can be.

    Aquarius 1/20 – 2/18

    Aquarius, you are an air sign ruled by Saturn, planet of restriction and limitation, and Uranus, God of the heavens and the sky. The most powerful day for you in November will be when both of your ruling planets (Saturn and Uranus) trine one another, that is the planets are 120 degrees apart, creating a harmonious angle of support, this day is November 11th. Prepare for this date by taking time out your day on or near November 4th (The Full Moon) to do some agenda setting, your wish is the universe’s command.

    Pisces 2/19 – 3/20

    Your dreamy and ethereal nature will come into play this November. You are a sign represented by two fish, swimming in opposite directions that find a way to balance each other out. There is a lot happening in November with the water signs, so you will be in an elemental month of favor. Some examples are Venus entering Scorpio on November 7th, The New Moon in Scorpio on November 18th, and your ruling planet Neptune going direct in Pisces on November 22nd. The proverbial fog in your life will begin to lift as Neptune takes an exodus on its retrograde cycle, you’ve noticed a difference since your other ruling planet, Jupiter, entered Scorpio on October 10th and will remain there for quite some time.

    Aries 3/21 – 4/19

    Your ruling planet, Mars, the God of War is housed in Libra, an air sign ruled by beauty and love. Fire needs oxygen (air) in order to remain ablaze, balance is the key so as to not burn bridges or to risk your flame being snuffed. There will be two major meteor showers this month. November 4th go outside and check the Taurids Meteor Shower, and on November 17th the Leonids Meteor Shower. The Leonids is produced by dust grains left behind by the comet Tempel-Tuttle.

    Taurus 4/20 – 5/20

    You are an earth sign governed by Venus, Goddess of Love. The most powerful dates for you this month are November 4th, 5th, and 13th. On November 4th, the Full Moon is in Taurus, this is a great time to harvest that which you’ve sewn, and is also the date of the Taurids Meteor Shower. Venus will enter the mysterious and charming sign of Scorpio on November 7th. November 13th is the Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter; the two bright planets will be visible in the eastern sky, just before sunrise.

    Gemini 5/21 – 6/21

    Your ruling planet Mercury, will enter Sagittarius on November 5th. Sagittarius is intelligent and cunning, so you can use this beneficial date to use the power of gib to get your way; or at least practice rhetoric. The best day to let go of what no longer serves you is on the darkest night of the month, which will be on November 18th when the New Moon is in Scorpio; You can also go outside and look at the Leonids Meteor Shower, which takes place near the constellation of Leo.

    Cancer 6/22 – 7/22

    You are an emotionally intelligent and sensitive sign, dear Cancer. A water sign who is ruled by our local satellite, the Moon. The Moon will be in the fellow friendly sign of Taurus on November 4th and in the highly compatible sign of Scorpio on November 18th. November is a month that is primarily dominated by the element of water so you may feel more at home particularly during this lunar cycle. When your home life is steady and safe, everything else in your life seems to fall in place.

    Leo 7/23 – 8/22

    Although the days have gotten shorter, we are closer to the Sun in the Northern Hemisphere compared to Winter months as opposed to the Summer. The tilt is what causes us to feel like we are in the dark; entering a slumber. Now is the time to harvest the gifts of what the year has brought to you and then prepare to enter a mode of reflection. It’s been quite the year of change and growth and in retrospect you’ve grown so much. The Sun will enter fellow fire sign Sagittarius on November 21st, set the world ablaze with your leadership abilities during this time.

    Virgo 8/23 – 9/22

    This may be a quiet month for you, but will be ruled in your favor. November is primarily dominated by water and you are an earth sign that compliments water completely. Your ruling sign Mercury, will enter Sagittarius on November 5th. Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot, I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot. A time to blow your own canons into the world of possibility.

    Libra 9/23 – 10/22

    Libra, you are ruled by Venus, the Goddess of Love and Beauty. Venus will enter the mysterious waters of Scorpio on November 7th. This will be a time when your personal art of charm and wit will come into play; ask and you shall receive. The power of gib and retort will be in your favor. A good time to wish upon a star is around the beginning of the month, when the Taurids Meteor Shower will be giving earthlings quite the spectacle in the sky.

    Scorpio 10/23 – 11/21

    Happy Birthday, Scorpio! November is the month when your sign is at home in the elemental sign of water. Many favorable days lie in front of you. Venus will enter
    Scorpio on November 7th, The New Moon will enter Scorpio on November 18th, and Neptune will cease its retrograde period and enter the fellow harmonious sister sign of Pisces on November 22nd. The eight weeks leading up to your birthday are a thin slice of what you can expect in the year ahead. Take note and enjoy.

    Sagittarius 11/22 – 12/21

    The latter half of November will be chock-full of Sagittarius birthdays. The eight weeks leading up to your birthday are a preview and synopsis of the year ahead. God of Communication, Mercury, enters Sagittarius on November 5th, use this powerful day to ask for what you want. Your ruling planet Jupiter, the God and planet of plenty is residing in the constellation of Scorpio, a powerful sign full of emotion and mystery. Expect the unexpected; you may feel anxiety on November 22nd when Jupiter will sesquiquadrate with Chiron, this angle is asking you to “just breathe, all will be okay”, and it will.

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    Ask Dr. Scott: Straight-Up education about E.D.

    Q: Dr. Scott, I’m 55 years old and my sexual life has really declined. I have something my doctor calls erectile dysfunction. What are my options from a natural health care perspective?

    A: As everyone sees on TV, other than trucks, beer, and chronic arthritis/joint/muscular pain ads, the most common direct-to-consumer ads are for sex-related issues, specifically, the very suggestive ads for erectile dysfunction such as Viagra, which in 2013 had revenues of $1.88 billion, with $133 million spent on advertising this drug. We’ve all seen these TV and magazine ads with gorgeous female models wearing provocative lingerie speaking seductively about erectile dysfunction while the background announcer warns, “If you have an erection lasting more than 4 hours, call your doctor.” Jeff Foxworthy quipped about these ads that “If I had an erection for 4 hours, I’d call everyone I know.”

    Among the litany of “common, infrequent, and rare side-effects” from Viagra listed on WebMD.com, these advertisements purposely cite the rare side-effect of priapism, or prolonged erection. Since sex sells, every other warning after hearing “4 hour erection” falls on deaf ears!
    What the Viagra ads don’t highlight are the other serious side-effects:

    • Cardiovascular side effects like heart attacks.
    • Ophthalmic side effects like ischemic optic neuropathy and retinal hemorrhage.
    • Side effects such as decreased hearing, and sudden hearing loss.
    • Reproductive side effects such as priapism, which is that prolonged erection.
    • Dermatological side effects such as erythema, or flushing.
    • Gastrointestinal side effects such as indigestion.
    • Neurological side effects such as headache and insomnia.
    • Ophthalmic side effects such as visual disturbance.
    • Respiratory side effects such as nose-bleeds, nasal congestion and rhinitis.

    For most men, replacing testosterone does improve sexual function – both desire and erections – but for others it doesn’t help. Some of those who don’t respond may be suffering from atherosclerosis of the blood vessels that supply the penis and facilitate erection. Good, healthy nutritional practices and supplementation with aged garlic can reverse atherosclerosis.

    Natural Options for Erectile Dysfunction

    There are natural approaches and nutritional supplements that improve blood flow to the penis and really give your erections their old stamina. A dependable clinical tool is L-Arginine (inexpensive, in the powdered form) that works by dilating the arteries through which blood flows into the penis (Institute of Metabolic Disease at Baylor Research Institute, 2016).

    When I recommend 5 to 8 grams (a single tablespoon) of arginine before sex, they regularly report waking up with firm erections in the morning. Arginine is inexpensive and non-toxic. Arginine is not only useful for erectile dysfunction, but also for angina and high blood pressure. It boosts nitric oxide levels in the blood vessels of the penis, making erections stronger and longer. Nitroglycerine, the traditional medication to relieve chest pains, is simply a drug form of nitric oxide. As we age we make less nitric oxide and this deficiency permits blood vessels to constrict and lose their flexibility, contributing to vessel stiffness, inflammation and plaque buildup, producing hypertension around the body and less engorgement of the penis during sex. Viagra does the same thing as arginine, it also promotes the action of nitric oxide to help relax blood vessels and vascular smooth muscle tissue in the penis. The result: increased blood flow and a harder erection.

    Treating several other conditions that impair blood flow to the penis should be done if present, including atherosclerosis, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and alcohol abuse. Men who smoke have an increased risk of erectile dysfunction. Asian Ginseng (900 mg of concentrated extract) two or three times a day can improve libido and the ability to maintain an erection. Psychological issues can be a cause, or an effect, of erectile dysfunction, so counseling might be appropriate in this scenario. A standardized extract of Ginkgo (250 mg/day) can also increase blood flow to the penis. Vitamin B6 and zinc deficiencies also impair penis strength and function.

    Saw Palmetto and Pygeum can improve urinary flow in cases of prostate enlargement, and have been shown to improve sexual performance in men.

    A recent study found that elderly men who regularly used arginine saw their erectile dysfunction significantly improve – without the complications common to testosterone hormone use. I would initially advise taking 2,000 to 3,000 mg. of arginine a day, and about 8 grams (one full tablespoon) before sex.

    Although DTC ads have been profitable for Viagra, drug marketing has had a tremendously negative influence on the care of chronic health problems and pain across the United States. Aggressive drug marketing has been a major driver of the opioid overtreatment, addiction, and mortality crisis that we are experiencing all over Southern Colorado. The ceaseless drug company advertisements to treat chronic pain with opioids have tragically played a role in up to 400,000 deaths across the country. Instead of referring patients to functional medical doctors and chiropractors as well as other nondrug providers, people have grown to expect prescription painkillers as the standard of care, not realizing the long term damage, addiction and ineffectiveness of these drugs.

    Erectile dysfunction is angina of the reproductive organs…lifestyle and dietary improvements that help your heart will also improve your strength and stamina in bed.

    Dr. Scott Cuthbert is the chief clinician at the Chiropractic Health Center in Pueblo, Colorado, as well as the author of two new textbooks and over 50 peer-reviewed research articles. PuebloChiropracticCenter.com.

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    Beat Insurgence

    Since it’s inception, hip-hop music and culture have thrived and fueled themselves upon the innovation of the genre. From the earliest incarnation and modification of Reggae and Dub freestyle toasting, to the disco era good times of the Sugar Hill Gang, to our current cultural fascination with down south trap mumble raps, these varied artists have risen to this occasion again and again, along the way pushing boundaries at every turn.

    But it doesn’t mean a damn thing if the beats don’t slap. Along with the evolution of rapping, b-boy, and graffiti lifestyles, hip-hop production and the underground consortium of DJ’s and producers have also seen and gone through the same changes and evolutions over the years–each new beat tape and DJ set pushing the envelope, rebirthing themselves like prodigal phoenixes from the ashes.

    And on the cusp of these new changes and facets of hip hop are the next Colorado-grown batch of producers and beatmakers. Whether they opt to pay homage to the greats of the past or get inventive on the next level, this new batch of producers is on our radar.


    Big J Beats

    The musicality and audio stylings of Denver’s Big J Beats are the aural equivalent of the old phrase Go Big or Go Home. And this dude goes big. Between his lo-fi aesthetic and glitzy gloss-over use of dank samples, this Coloradoan’s musical output and production style harbor a loose and future funk feel; his music evokes hot nights out on the town, riding in the backseat of your boys hoop-d, not knowing what will happen next but for damn sure knowing it’ll be a great time.

    https://soundcloud.com/bigjbeats


    Elimence

    The vast output that makes up the online catalog of Colorado Spring’s producer Elimence (stylized ELiMenCe) may simply fall under the golden era style of boom bap hip hop, but a quick listen or two shows that there is so much more. Through sheer innovation, Elimence has added doses of electronic-infused experimentation and glitch-laden nu jazz into the fold, turning his music and style into a passionate pouring of the soul into every mix.

    https://soundcloud.com/elimence


    Crl Crrll

    St Petersen, the newest album from Denver’s own Crl Crrll (real name Carl Carrell) is an indelible and unfazeable mix of modern Soul, trip-hop production, and thick electronic swell, converging head on with a strong sense of 90’s uptempo R n’ B and some of the catchiest songwriting in recent memory. If he keeps this up, you’ll for damn sure be seeing Crl Crrll making some big moves here in the future.

    https://soundcloud.com/crlcrrll


     

    Amalgimals

    Telluride, CO’s Amalgimals take a unique sonic approach to their music; sure, the samples and drums are dusty and the beats still knock, but this production duo instead opt for a loose, trippy, psychedelic vibe with their beats rather of going the traditional hip hop route. It’s weird, it’s off-kilter, and it’s most importantly just what hip hop could use more of in an era of mumble-rap nonsense filling the airwaves.

    https://soundcloud.com/amalgimals


    Davey Remix

    Trap music has seemingly jumped the shark. The triplet-induced and 808-heavy beats themselves, hailed a decade ago as the future of hip hop by music mags (though their roots run much deeper) have become largely passè. I say largely because of artists like Denver’s Davey Remix, who generously utilizes the down South format to make intricate neck snappers on the regular, blending trap tonality with smooth R’n’B silkiness and a serious pop edge to hopefully take the genre into the next era with panache.

    https://soundcloud.com/daveyremix


    Think we missed someone? Have a favorite hip hop producer or artist in Colorado? Let us know! Send it to johnbueno@pueblopulp.com

  • in ,

    Behold the genre-bending indie of FoCo’s Places Back Home

    For Fans Of: Real Estate • Foxing • Moose Blood

    As modern society continues our various progressions, so shall our music progress with it; sure, there are plenty of artists who easily and happily fall in line within a genres constraints, and many musicians look to the past to help define their own sound. But the really great artists out there, the ones shaping the sounds of tomorrow, are the ones that can shift between genres and classifications; making music that is more than the sum of its genres.

    Fort Collins band Places Back Home absolutely embody this; with just a scant few years and just two releases under their belt, this five piece move effortlessly between wide-eyed nu folk, starry post-rock and intimate indie on a whim and with purpose and conviction; never at once content to stay put within any of the aforementioned genres, yet embodying them fully as a result. It’s here where Places Back Home really shine; for it’s by lacking a genre’s easy trappings they are able to make such raw and honest music, equal parts grit and glitter, that shines like a beacon of what’s hopefully to come in music.


    Pick up “Falling Apart” from Places Back Home on Bandcamp now.

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    If you build it they may come: a talk with Martyr Thompson

    In the “new” musical landscape, viral views, likes and clicks all too often define an artist’s popularity and visibility. It’s easier and also harder than ever to get your music out to the world. But we often forget a crucially important tenet as a result; the local community. Sure, it’s easy in larger cities to reach more people at a show, but in smaller scenes like our own, if you can’t get the local community to gas you up, it can feel like you’re putting in double the work for half the results.

    Martyr Thompson understands this better than most. For nearly a decade and running, this Pueblo-bred lyricist and musician has churned out consistently adept and challenging hip hop music, rife with whip smart wit, an iron tongue and undeniable heart. He’s got the potential and the work ethic, but how do you get the people behind you?


    PULP: How long have you been an emcee for?

    Martyr Thompson: I’m twenty seven now. I started when I was eleven, so like sixteen years.

    That’s so young! Who did you look up to at such a young age?

    I watched How High in the fifth grade and then heard soundtrack to it. Straight up; It was just like man this is cool; Redman and Method Man were in this movie acting and now they wrote a whole album for it too. I had a friend that I was close with and was like “Let’s try it out”. So I just kind of started writing really profane raps. They were so bad. My fifth grade found them in my desk and called my parents! (laughs)

    Do you feel like you took it seriously right away?

    No, definitely not; not until I was probably seventeen. But up until that point, I would have cousins and other family members that would be like “yo freestyle something” when I was younger. So I got to sharpen those skills a bit; but it wasn’t until like I was probably older and I rapped at Central’s rally for the Bell Game. That was the first time I thought “I could do this. this is something I want to pursue”; not just like a pastime, but make something out of it, because I just got a lot of props from people that had heard it.

    How’s the hip hop scene right now? Do you like being Pueblo based?

    Yeah, to a certain extent. I love it here; a lot of talented people. Still though, I feel like Pueblo and myself included could do a lot better when it comes to putting different hip hop events together. It seems like it’s more of a show right now and less of a community thing; I feel like that’s the kind of the responsibility I feel hip hop has as an art form and as a culture is to be a voice within its community. That’s my hope for it is this to become something more than just shows at local bars. Grow something together and try to change the narrative that all hip hop heads are just drug dealers and bangers.

    Do you feel like it’s the responsibility of the artists to try to change the narrative?

    I think so. A lot of us here in the scene, and I say this as a general statement, know people that have a negative perception that hip hop is just drugs and violence. This is how some people look at it, because most of the content that being produced is content that talks about those things. It’s not it’s not bad to rap about smoking weed or drinking, but if if you don’t realize that those things actually affect people’s lives and you just settle for making content because it’s popular and profitable rather than being impactful and influential, we all suffer.

    But we can change the narrative. Yeah, some of us do smoke weed, some of us do drink and some of us are hustlers; But some of us are fathers, too. We care about the children. Some of us smoke weed because we have stress and anxiety, you know?

    What would you like to see more of here in Pueblo?

    I would love to see a of rebuilding of the hip hop community. Not just rappers and producers, but bringing the elements back into a and making it more accessible to the youth. Building up of younger MC’s. I feel like it’s important of whatever culture you’re involved and you have to be pretty invested in it if you want what you say matter. To put out the best content you can and have it say something important.

    Do you feel like it’s more rewarding that way?

    It definitely is. It’s way more rewarding that way. I want it to be more of an experience with the people that are fans of the music and are fans of what I’m doing; have it feel a little bit more personal, so that when I do interact with them that it’s on a different level and deeper.

    So you want it to be more than just entertainment?

    Yeah, definitely. Way more than entertainment. We can do so much more to actually get the community involved and make them feel like they’re part of something rather than just a spectator.


    Indigo from Martyr Thompson is available at fullcirclemusicgroup.bandcamp.com. For news and info on the upcoming Keeping it Together mix, head to www.facebook.com/martyrisdead

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    Me Too, when even an acting Colorado State Legislator is sexually harassed

    It took Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, three drafts before finally publishing a post to Facebook acknowledging that she, too, was a victim of sexual assault and harassment. The most recent incident was just a week earlier, she wrote.

    State Representative Daneya Esgar made public on Facebook that she too was sexually harassed and assaulted by a “colleague” and was expected to stay quiet.

    The posts tagged or titled “Me Too” started as a rallying cry after an exposé in the New York Times cataloged the sexual assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

    Social media posts on Twitter and Facebook came from women of all walks of life, all skin colors, all sexual orientations — a message that it wasn’t one type of woman that fell victim to sexual violence. The message was one that quickly reinforced that the problem is widespread and doesn’t discriminate.

    “Like the (Facebook) post said, the first time I was sexually harassed I wasn’t even old enough to go to school,” Esgar said.

    The latest was just a week before a wildfire of “Me Too” posts hit the internet.

    “I was at an event with a number of different professionals and colleagues from the general assembly were there. I had to leave for another event, so I went to another table to thank the woman who planned the event,” Esgar recalled.

    As she was standing, waiting to say goodbye and slip off to the next gathering, Esgar said she felt a hand wrap around her thigh “and start moving upward.”

    “There was a table of people around that didn’t realize what had just happened,” said Esgar, who exclaimed, “Oh my gosh!” as she quickly realized she was groped by a man she only described as somebody she regularly works with sitting at the table.

    The response from the man was, “Now, darling. You don’t need to make a scene,” according to Esgar.

    “It doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but it’s completely inappropriate and for him to tell me not to make a big deal about something,” she said.

    Perhaps that’s also part of the problem, Esgar said: That women often feel like they’re the ones who are overreacting.

    “We are (as women) absolutely conditioned to feel guilty,” she said. “We need to start calling out sexual assault and sexual harassment for what it is. We should put it out there and what was interesting about the ‘Me Too’ campaign was to see the number of men surprised by the number of women admitting they had been apart of an incident.”

    House Speaker Crisanta Duran said the social media campaign has brought a sense of prevalence to the issue, but it’s one that isn’t new.

    “In my opening day speech I spoke to the importance of inclusiveness, and of condemning that which is inexcusable,” she said in a statement. “Everyone should have the right to feel safe and respected in their workplace and in their day to day life.”

    Duran, who would be in charge of investigating any kind of reported sexual harassment that took place in the legislature, added that “it’s clear that this is an issue that impacts us all, and we should all strive to create a more inclusive, safe, and respectful environment, in the legislature and more broadly.”

    Esgar said she’s grateful that in her past she was able to have access to therapy after incidents of sexual assault, and that she feels comfortable admitting it happened to her. But that doesn’t mean every woman who has encountered that type of abuse should feel that they have to speak out like she has.

    That was the flipside conversation to the campaign: that it would be a trigger for many women. Esgar said no woman should feel shamed into talking about their incident or not talking about it, healing is individual.

    Nationally, one in five women will experience rape, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. In Colorado, the prevalence of sexual assault against women is 23.8 percent, higher than the national average of 18.3 percent.

    If it seems like sexual assault and harassment have landed a permanent place in the news cycle, it’s probably because it has. Esgar points to the current president, who was elected even after an old tape surfaced in which Trump boasts his own fame, saying he can do anything to women, even “grab them by the p*ssy,” as the tipping point.

    The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault spokeswoman, Neta Meltzer, said on one hand, the different recent news events — the Trump tape, Taylor Swift winning a symbolic dollar against her assaulter, and Weinstein’s several accusers — have shined a light on the previously taboo subject. On the other, she said many women fear they will be met with blame or disbelief if they speak up.

    “Our goal is to make sure that individuals feel safe to come forward – to make sure they know that they will be believed and that they are never to blame for what happened to them,” Meltzer said. “So many survivors have been met with skepticism and victim-blaming responses, so it is easy to understand why reporting or disclosing one’s experience is not always a safe or realistic option. The important thing is that survivors get the help and resources they need, and that they know they are not alone.”

    Esgar said she has been in two abusive relationships in the past, but is fortunate to have had access to counseling and now has a supportive wife and title that allows her to talk about the issue of sexual assault and harassment.

    “Nothing has changed with this position. But it does give me a platform to call things out a little bit louder,” Esgar said of her job as a state lawmaker.

    She recalls one particular moment during the 2017 legislative session when debate on an immigration-related bill amendment caught a comment about a rape, which Esgar said had become routine throughout the session.

    Rep. Dave Williams, a Republican from Colorado Springs, referenced a case in Maryland where an 18-year-old student raped a 14-year-old girl in a school bathroom stall. It was later discovered the offender was from Guatemala, illegally living in the U.S.

    On that day in mid-April Esgar left the floor and found Rep. Faith Winter, also a survivor of sexual assault, sitting and waiting out the speech outside of the chamber as well.

    “I went to her and said we’ll go (and speak) together and we waited our turn to speak and we went down and basically said we didn’t want another survivor’s story to further his political agenda anymore,” Esgar said.

    At the well of the House, standing side-by-side, the two were obviously upset. Winter said the story of a sexual assault victim was being used to “target hate” and “incite fear against an incredibly important population.”

    Esgar told the chamber that using one woman’s traumatic experience over and over again had to end.

    “We put up with it all session,” the lawmaker, on the verge of tears, said. “And we can’t take it anymore.”

    The two promptly left the well and after more discussion the amendment failed.

    After Esgar published her “Me Too” Facebook post she said she didn’t think it was such a big deal, even as she saw the speech from Williams as distasteful and insensitive. Esgar said she knows so many women who have encountered similar incidents as she has. But she also hopes maybe her story, like millions of others posted to social media, will shift the conversation and convince men to listen and women to stop shaming each other.

    “The therapy went through helped me because of what happened. Every single day I’m working to stand up for people at the Capitol,” Esgar said. “I try to hold myself in that strength and to move me forward and be strong not just for myself but for the people I make decisions for everyday.”

  • in

    Ask Dr Scott: I can’t believe I’m using margarine

    Q: Dr. Scott, is it safe for our family to use margarine instead of butter?

    A: One of the most prevalent nutritional myths of our time is that margarine is superior to butter as a source of fat.

    Liquid oils are artificially hydrogenated in the manufacturing process, which produces a “hard fat” that is partially saturated. The molecular structure of the oils is changed in the manufacturing process, creating a more stable molecule. Unfortunately these “stable” molecules — called “trans fats” — have been shown to be involved in many health problems. Trans fats are fats that have been altered or damaged by high heat. These are a man-made type of fat not found anywhere else in the natural world.

    Essential fatty acids (EFA) are components of larger fat molecules. These molecules are essential for the production of hormones and cell membrane components. Essential fatty acids are not produced by the body and must be supplied by fats in your diet. EFAs are found in many foods, but they are most richly concentrated in the oils of certain nuts, seeds, and fish. Nuts, seeds, and beans aren’t important items in the diets of most Americans. Partly because of this, and partly because we eat much less fish than we used to – and over process most of what we do eat – one whole group of EFAs has been virtually eliminated from our diets.

    Another major function of EFA is the formation of prostaglandins, which are short-lived hormones that function at the tissue level. These prostaglandins control local tissue effects such as the inflammatory reaction, platelet aggregation (involved in blood clots), response to hormones, and tumor growth.

    EFA found in natural vegetable oils lower serum cholesterol and decrease blood pressure. People whose diets are high in olive oil have a much lower incidence of coronary artery disease than do people eating the typical American diet. Olive oil has been a human staple for 5,000 years! Artificially hydrogenated oils (“trans fats” like margarine, shortenings, and spread blends) supply less EFA than meats and dairy products, and contain more saturated fats than butter, whole milk, and meat. They contain few, if any, of the nutrients necessary to metabolize these fats.

    The dietary need for EFA increases with increased intake of hydrogenated fats. The “trans” fatty acids found in hydrogenated fats actually elevate serum cholesterol. These trans fats are absorbed by the body, but are not used as readily in cellular metabolism. When these foreign fats are metabolized, they may actually impair cellular function. Their presence in heart and smooth muscle may be a factor in cardiovascular disease. These foreign fats are incorporated into the cell membrane, altering the cell membrane structure and making the membrane more susceptible to damage. Peskin warns that “Trans-unsaturated fat, as the man-made stuff is called, is 14 times more potent as a disease risk factor than the saturated fats the public has been warned about for years – the kind in marbled beef, butter, and cheese” (Peskin, 1999).

    The Hydrogenated Oil Menace

    Hydrogenated oils should be eliminated from your diet because they are stressful to your liver and to your red blood cells. The free radicals in hydrogenated oils can cause damage to the red cell membranes and leave the cells susceptible to invasion by toxic substances
    You should read labels to detect hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil. It is not something that you will find by itself in a bottle; it will be listed as one of several ingredients. Some of the most common sources are:

    • margarine of all kinds, even from the health food store
    • mayonnaise
    • salad dressing
    • breads
    • cookies
    • ice cream desserts
    • any dry-packaged foods, especially treats
    • corn and potato chips

    Besides all of these problems with margarines and hydrogenated oils, studies have shown that margarine actually coats the stomach wall, rendering foods indigestible.

    Atherosclerosis begins with damage to the cell membrane, and thus the lining of the blood vessel walls. The normal use and metabolism of cholesterol does not cause atherosclerosis. Many factors damage the cell membrane, among these are the intake of artificially hydrogenated fats like margarine. Cholesterol is a factor in atherosclerosis simply because it becomes incorporated into the fibrous scar tissue that forms over the damaged tissue lining. Natural cholesterol mobilizers are found primarily in naturally occurring vegetable oils and butter.

    Additionally, the mitochondria of the heart muscle contain high concentrations of essential fatty acids, the composition of which mirrors that of the diet. You are what you eat – and if you eat fake phoods and fats – your body reflects this. The mitochondria are the “power houses” of the cells in which ATP is produced – our “energy currency.” A diet high in “trans” fatty acids alters the lipid (fat) composition and interferes with oxygen uptake and the production of ATP, i.e. you lose your endurance and your energy using margarine.

    To put it simply, artificially hydrogenated fats such as margarine and shortening are a health menace. Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils are found in practically every processed fake phood product on the market. Avoid these in your diet, and use unprocessed vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, and olive oil. Use butter and not margarine!

  • in

    Fruits of labor not enough to feed in Pueblo County

    Back in March, the latest statistics available from the Colorado Department of Human Services show 5,670 adults working throughout Pueblo County were receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. At that time, Pueblo had a total active workforce of 71,065. Eight out of every 100 workers in the county receives SNAP benefits, according to the state’s Department of Labor and Employment report. Each state agency respectively reveals that, also in March, 71,617 of 2,858,545 active adult workers statewide were getting SNAP. That’s 2.5 out of every 100 workers.

    Kevin Duncan seems unfazed by what may seem shocking and sobering to many county residents. This is because he views these statistics through the lens of an economics professor at Colorado State University-Pueblo’s Hasan School of Business. “These data are not surprising given the differences in average annual earnings (in Pueblo County) versus the rest of the state,” Duncan says.

    Nearly 8 out of 100 working adults in Pueblo County were both working and still not making enough to leave the Food Stamp Program.

    Wages telling

    The professor explains that in 2016 the average annual pay in Pueblo was $40,196 compared with $54,664 statewide, referencing federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. “The income threshold for a family of four for SNAP qualification in Colorado is $31,590, or about 79 percent of (Pueblo’s) annual pay,” he says. “Since average pay in Pueblo is so close to the SNAP threshold, more workers will qualify.” Duncan further explains Pueblo’s income is low because of a high unemployment rate compared with the rest of the state (4.1 percent compared with 2.4 percent), a low cost of living countywide, and other demographic factors like the county’s lack of workers with the necessary education required for higher paying jobs.

    Obviously, the professor suggests an economic strategy that emphasizes developing workers’ skills along with attracting employers who need those skills to stem the tide of Pueblo’s low wages. “This is generally the plan pursued by PEDCO (Pueblo Economic Development Corp.),” Duncan says. “But competition for such employers is tough. Other strategies would involve the creation and development of industry clusters. The local health-care industry is an example where CSU-Pueblo and PCC (Pueblo Community College) supply trained employees for work in the local hospitals that serve the region.”

    The professor identifies the area’s abundance of underutilized sun and wind resources as a future “industry cluster” that can be tapped for jobs offering higher pay. “Pueblo has pieces of a broadly defined renewable energy cluster (the Vestas windmill tower manufacturer and local solar farms) that could be developed further,” he says. “Local higher education institutions could play a coordinated role in the further development of this and other clusters.”

    PEDCO’s surprise

    PEDCO is the organization tasked with bringing jobs to Pueblo. Jeff Shaw, president of PEDCO, chooses to be optimistic when looking at Pueblo’s job situation.

    “Too often we as a community focus on the negatives and not the positive aspects of Pueblo,” Shaw says. “Companies we have recruited have found Pueblo to be an incredible place to live and raise a family. Pueblo does have some challenges, however, we are not unique as any city has challenges.
    “There are numerous opportunities in Pueblo for those desiring to improve their individual situations,” PEDCO’s president postulates. “(The) majority of these are not low-paying jobs.”
    Shaw adds that PEDCO is concentrating on attracting companies to the area that enhance the income level of the community. He also compliments the region’s learning institutions for their workforce training efforts.

    “Bringing primary jobs to Pueblo requires locating and expanding great companies but also requires a well-trained workforce,” he says. “There is always room for improvement. Accordingly, PEDCO will become more active in workforce development in the upcoming months. You will hear more in the next couple of months.”

    Can figures lie?

    The statistics showing Pueblo County has a relatively high number of workers receiving SNAP benefits compared with the rest of the state could be, in a way, misleading, according to Tim Hart, the county’s Social Services director. He relates that a Denver-based group, Hunger Free Colorado, informed him recently that Pueblo County Social Services has the a 94 percent “penetration” or food stamp enrollment rate when it comes to issuing SNAP or food stamp benefits to those in need – the highest among all the counties in the state.

    Michelle Ray, Hunger Free Colorado’s communications director, in reference to a report compiled in January by her organization, shares that the food stamp enrollment rate in Colorado counties ranges between 12 and 94 percent, and that Colorado as a whole has only a 59 percent enrollment as compared with the national enrollment rate of 74 percent.

    Ray also notes Pueblo County has a lower per capita income than the state average ($23,420 vs. $34,542, according to the 2016 U.S. Census). “We know that per capita income is a predictor of high food-stamp enrollment of the eligible population,” she says.

    Not an economist

    Hart readily admits he is not an economist when it comes to analyzing why there are so many low-wage earners in the county. Yet he did offer a best-guess explanation. He says that Pueblo has long advertised itself as a community with a manufacturing base and, in general, manufacturing jobs tend to offer lower pay. He adds that Pueblo also seems to have a high number of jobs offering hourly wages like in the retailing, food service, and call center industries. Unlike salaried jobs in which workers are paid by the week, month, or year regardless of how many hours they work, hourly workers can be sent home any day without pay anytime the business has fewer customers. So $12 an hour, let’s say, amounts to a lot less take-home if you’re not working a 40-hour work week.
    Hourly jobs, Hart says, are great for people in their twenties, but after age 30, workers need something more stable. That is why Hart touts a plan “to build pathways out of poverty” whereby someone who wants to be a welder, for example, receives necessary training and other assistance needed to accomplish that goal.

    Politician’s perspective

    State Sen. Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo) puts the blame for Pueblo’s low-wage dilemma squarely on the state. “The state needs to do more so communities outside the Front Range like Pueblo do not continue to fall behind,” he says. “Pueblo has a rich blue-collar history that stretches back decades. Puebloans are hard workers. Unfortunately, as the cost of living has continued to rise, wages have stagnated, and good-paying jobs have become harder to find. From the Great Recession, to companies moving their jobs out of the United States, hard-working families are struggling to get by. That’s why resources that fill in the gaps and help members of the community make sure their children don’t starve are so crucial.”

    But the senator does express some hope for the future. “I do see great promise and opportunity for our strong community,” he adds. “Colorado has a very business-friendly climate, and Pueblo is attracting new companies and industries to come set up shop because people recognize our potential. But there is more we can do at the state Legislature. This session, we focused on expanding transportation options to connect Pueblo to the greater Front Range, worked on bills to incentivize businesses to make capital investments in the state, and worked to hold local utility entities accountable so costs are affordable for businesses to open. These efforts, along with others we will continue to work on, will help to increase opportunity for Pueblo families so they can earn a wage that really supports them and their families, and so Pueblo does not continue to fall behind our Front Range neighbors.”

    Far and wide

    The specter of low-wage jobs spreads beyond the borders of Pueblo County into southeastern and south central Colorado. State Sen. Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa) says, “With a declining population and economic conditions, it would indicate that the demographics of the area are correct in stating, of the 16 counties which I represent, 15 are below the federal poverty level. … What can be done is for people to not become complacent in our situation, but strive to improve our economic situation. To look for opportunities to improve. To educate ourselves on what opportunities exist. To continue to dream about the future. Government can assist, but we are of limited resources. It will take us all to do our part on improving our standard of living and recognizing what southern Colorado has to offer.”

    So as statistics seem to confirm Pueblo County’s and southern Colorado’s low-wage plight, there is optimism here that things can get better and are improving. How long before the area rids itself of the dark clouds of poverty and replaces them with the sunshine of prosperity? No one can tell.

  • in

    Weekend Getaway: The Santa Fean

    There’s something about The Land of Enchantment and a closeness to Colorado that makes New Mexico one of those amazing weekend getaways—that is, one that is both easily accessible and unlike any other place in the world. That’s why one weekend, my friends and I decided on a last-minute weekend trip to New Mexico—specifically, Santa Fe, with a taste of Albuquerque and Taos, too.

    I was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but I haven’t been back in years. I vaguely remembered the Sandia Mountains as they framed the city of Albuquerque—how each sunset made them purple in the evening. The eastern point of the city boasted views of the golden sun setting in the west, hitting mountain silhouettes in a vibrant, magical way. I remembered amazing summers of camping in those mountains—of building forts and wading across streams. I vaguely remembered the streets of Santa Fe, lined with beautiful shops and weekend art festivals—flowing with cultural diversity of Native American, Spanish, and Southwestern art. And the food—unlike anything I’d ever tasted of all the places I’ve called home. But it was all sort of a dream, really—something fairy-like in the past—because I had thoroughly enjoyed my childhood immersed in New Mexico before leaving at the age of 11.

    I was curious to see the area as an adult. So two friends and I made the 5-hour drive on a Friday night after work — the kind of quick weekend trip one can take to New Mexico in this part of the state.

    Our goal was to make it to Raton, N.M.  before stopping for dinner.

    In Raton, we were excited to have real New Mexican food, so we stopped at the Casa Lemus Inn & Restaurant. Contrary to misconceptions, New Mexican food is not Tex-Mex, nor is it Mexican. New Mexico has its own unique combination of Spanish, Pueblo Native American, and Cowboy Chuckwagon influences. In other words: this isn’t quite your typical fair. It has its own unique flavors that are hard to replicate anywhere else—believe me, I’ve looked—making it truly worth investigating for any foodie.

    Our waiter that evening heard that one of my friends had never been to New Mexico. She told us to order meals “Christmas style,” referring to the colors of the red and green chile that New Mexico is famous for. And if we really wanted to be authentic, we should ask for two over easy eggs on top of our entrees.

    After getting a taste of what was in store for the rest of the trip it was time to return to I-25, conversation among friends and the clarity of the New Mexican night sky.

    My friends were blown away at the clarity of the stars as we watched the sunset fade into the horizon. You haven’t really seen stars until you’re out in the wildernesses of the desert with no electric lights around. As a child, I remember gazing into those stars quite often, feeling the awe and wonder of knowing how small you really are amongst the vast cosmos.

    Having stumbled into Albuquerque at around 11:30pm, we hopped into our homebase for the weekend at a friend’s house—we weren’t going to pass up a free place to stay. And by the morning, we were ready for the wonderfully unique Santa Fe—which was the main focus of our trip.

    Santa Fe is known as an art mecca, with a vibrant arts community that boasts over 250 galleries—which is a huge feat for a place that only has about 80,000 people living in it. Santa Fe attracts visitors each year with its art festivals, which have consistently been voted as some of the top in the nation. To many who haven’t been before, being in downtown Santa Fe almost feels as if you’re in another part of the world. Everything is made from adobe, which is a really uncommon type of architecture in certain places in America. There’s such a strong essence of culture displayed within the artwork—from Kokopelli, (a Native American deity god who dances with a flute), to the iconic Zia sun symbol that’s found everywhere, including the New Mexican state flag.

    Like any good weekender, the plan isn’t as much fun as the discovery and our plan had us start with exploring the Saint Francis Cathedral, which is over one hundred years old and was heavily influenced by French architecture. We attempted to visit Loretto Chapel’s famous staircase, and then decided against it because we didn’t want to pay an entry fee of $3. (We’re cheapskates, what can we say?) Instead, we used that $3 for coffee, discovering the Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse, which frequently hosts live music. There, we were drawn under the spell of a clarinetist and guitarist/vocalist who sang wistful, bluesy tunes. In fact, the coffeehouse was so great, we would’ve stayed there much longer—but other adventures were calling.

    As we ventured into the shops of Santa Fe, we eventually found ourselves walking through small art festivals—which are held almost every weekend, with high quality craftsmanship displayed on every corner. Cattle heads, colorful blankets, red chili decorations, artisan turquoise jewelry: These things are New Mexico.

    In recent years, the patterns and styles from the Southwest have become nationally trendy, but they’ve always been here—authentically rooted to the native people and diverse cultures, whose designs are an inspiration to those high-end labels. Such an inspiration, some argue that this Southwestern cultural aesthetic has been stolen from its New Mexican roots and used by the mainstream.

    For lunch, we went to The Shed—which was highly recommended to me by a local—and rewardingly scrumptious. There, we did indeed order our food “Christmas style”—Huevos Rancheros and Carne Asada with red and green chili. As we compared the red and green chili, we decided that we all liked green more—although the local Albuquerque friend (who was hosting us) was adamant that red is better. I stand firmly with the green chili crowd. Their version is savory and spicy and pretty much beyond description by the human tongue.

    What we were all really excited for, though, was Meow Wolf—a 20,000 square foot permanent art installation that opened in 2016—that has already made headlines across the country over since its reveal.

    I was fascinated by the story of Meow Wolf—starting out as a scrappy art collective in Santa Fe, which later convinced George R. R. Martin (author of the Game of Thrones series) to invest 3 million dollars, resulting in the purchase an old bowling alley that would become their permanent space—that is, the space that it has become today. Something special was obviously happening here, and we wanted to see it for ourselves. Our plan was to simply check it out, anticipating to only spend roughly an hour or two there—but we ended up spending a good, solid five hours at the unique space. And, in all honestly, we could’ve spent more.

    Meow Wolf’s “House of Eternal Return” is an immersive, interactive story. A lived-in, 3D, fully discoverable story about a family whose house is doing strange things. It’s a combination of fantasy, sci-fi, and mystery, making it one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever had. From walking through fridges and sliding down dryers, to exploring other worlds and dimensions like a fairyland forest—it’s indescribable and unreal to say the least. Kids and adults alike love this space—and I know I felt like a kid, climbing, dipping, and diving from one bizarre area to the next. Meow Wolf’s “House of Eternal Return” has become one of the most Instagrammed places in all of New Mexico—but even with all of the pictures, it’s hard to grasp how imaginative and expansive the experience is until you see it for yourself. My experience was as expected—full of wonder and awe at the imaginative minds that came up with such an original place.

    Meow Wolf was quite the experience, but we were exhausted afterwards—and really, really hangry. So we hit up a place called Maria’s for chiles rellenos, green chile, and chalupas and sopapillas.

    A night in Albuquerque called and we answered with a visit to the Santa Fe Brewery’s ABQ location. But the locals had us visit the Sister Bar for their specialty cocktails such as the El Chapo with tequila and roasted jalapeños.

    Imbibing well into the night Sunday was going to be a rush to fill it with things to see and stores open to shop. We didn’t plan for stores to be closed on Sunday and our hunt for Santa Fean jewelry ended with a scenic view of “Closed” signs.

    But we made up for it driving through Taos with its lush scenery and expansive views. Taos is arguably one of the prettiest areas in New Mexico, with its own vibrant culture and arts scene. And not a town you can just tack on after a visit to Santa Fe. Both towns deserve their own weekend away.

    One last, locally sourced, grass-fed green chili burger (which all of us ranked five-star quality) served with sweet potato fries and a milk shake—making this the perfect final stop on our New Mexican weekend adventure—and it was back to the interstate headed towards Mile High State.

    New Mexico lived up to the memories of my youth, but I was able to cement a more modern image into my mind with all the amazing things that New Mexico has to offer—from the big skies and mountainous views, to the art-filled streets and cultural experiences—these things cannot be found in any other place.

  • in ,

    Denver’s Lumesa prescribes an audio chill pill on new EP

    Deep Ambient Chillstep | LUMESA

    Deep and immersive layers of soft electronics are the key to Denver based Lumesa’s sound; Downtempo chillwave-esque beats and ambient tones taking the reigns for the majority of the record, making magic along the way. Indeed, Miles Behind Us from LUMESA is like an audio chill pill you ask your doctor about, specifically designed to kindly make the listener take a beat or two, breathe, and enjoy.


    Psychedelic Indie Yacht Rockers | Ancient Elk

    Yacht Rock, a recently coined term used to describe the easier side of 70’s and 80’s AM radio hits, has met its current incarnation with Denver’s Ancient Elk. Taking cues from the sha-la-la wonder and easygoing vibes of those bygone eras and marrying them with a lackadaisical indie rock vibe, Ancient Elk have done something really special with this new self titled record, making an album full of placid yet undeniably infectious tunes. Pina Coladas all around!


    Doom Rock Sludgefest | ALONE

    The sweltering hell-fuzz and doom-laden grind fury of Colorado Springs two-piece behemoth ALONE is not to be ignored, for that’s precisely how they become more powerful. Which is the last thing this band needs; more power. I don’t think modern man can even handle their intense new offering known as Death Hoarders; the towering riffage and thunderous momentum of the record was almost too much for me; I am become ALONE. 1 Million Gold Stars awarded.


    Dream-Inducing Lo-Fi | DEEP DREAM

    有限 EP (translated to Limited EP) from Fort Collins based producer and mad genius DEEP DREAM is 5 tracks of music designed to “simulate the deepest dreams” in the listener. Gorgeous and multifaceted sampled layers of downtempo pop and funk pervade, all tied together with a lo-fi aesthetic that is undeniable. And while I wasn’t left with a spontaneous bout of narcolepsy, I was left with a strong desire for more music from DEEP DREAM.

     

    We wanna hear your new music. Seriously. We ❤ new music! No matter the genre, drop us a link at editor@pueblopulp.com so we can get our fix!

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