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Dust Bowl Exposition

Denver again wants to move the State Fair. Instead of moving it’s time to save the Colorado State Fair by making it more Colorado and less dust bowl. 



I knew I wouldn’t come back but I got my hand stamped anyway. 

Crossing the avenue, and we were on our way home. The hot afternoon sun baking the asphalt as we walked by a line of parked cars. Past the church we went. The curved street cooled down under big, leafy trees. A little bit more now, no more trees, it’s straight under the sun until we get to the front door. A little bit longer and I can enjoy the rest of this milkshake on the cool patio of my grandmother’s back porch.

In August this was my ritual and what I wish I could return to.  It was the end of the summer and the end of the State Fair. There wouldn’t be another real vacation until Thanksgiving; those teacher inservice days never count. 

The final walk home from the State Fair for the season was my end of the summer. It was the last time to feel the bright and ineffable sun. The days would be shorter now. The sun would color everything differently. The hot and dry summer air would have a tinge of cool with it. 

I loved this final day of summer. Labor Day was really just the end of the Fair and the end of the Fair was the end of summer. I’m not sure I ever missed or wanted the State Fair to come, but I liked the idea of it. Ice cream, fireworks, the smell of livestock, the taffy machine that would spin and spin. I miss the mini Rainbo bread loaves. Even the sight of ‘Bessie’ there to greet you as you walked into the Fair from the west gate. 

It was always the same. As a kid, I didn’t care. I didn’t know better. Country singers just show up and play and people buy tickets. There’s a rodeo and a bunch of cheap things to buy. It’s all the same. 

To this day the Colorado State Fair is still the same. And every year Colorado debates its worth being in Pueblo. 

As much as I love what the State Fair represented to me, as hard as this is to admit, the Fair was never great. It was just something to do. It might not have always been that way but it is that way now. And unlike politicians from Denver, I love what the Colorado State Fair is supposed to represent. I just don’t like what it has become. The Fair like many other things in Southern Colorado is an homage to what once was but no longer is. 

Like the World’s Fair, the Colorado State Fair and Exposition was the showcase of Colorado. People from all over the state would descend on Pueblo. Farmers and ranchers to see and share the latest technology. The ribbon winners of the county fairs would bring their best to pit against other ribbon winners. 

The Dust Bowl is over but its buildings are still standing on Beulah Avenue as relics to what once was. Two Colorados are being formed, the one that we will become and the one that fails to reinvent the past—saving our agrarian future. And Pueblo, the should-be center of the state during the Fair, nearly has to shut down because Colorado doesn’t even support its own State Fair. This economic driver then drives Pueblo to close. 

The answer of course is to move the State Fair. Not to Denver. Denver would never appreciate it enough to value it. No politician is worth his/her salary who thinks it’s a better solution to move an institution than to fix the institution. Would these same politicians think that to fix the University of Colorado’s football program, they should hire John Wristen and move the Buffaloes to Pueblo? If location is of no importance, why not just move the pieces of the state around. Boulder is the reason for the Buffs losing seasons. If they can’t win in Boulder they should move to Pueblo where we have a winning football program. 

None of these ludicrous ideas will fly because every summer So. Co. has kept the Colorado State Fair going. Not Denver. Not Ft. Collins. Not Grand Junction. Every year we support it, maybe out of honor or even boredom but always out of complete reverence for what the Colorado State Fair should be—the nostalgia of a true Colorado’s Fair. 

To keep the Fair here, it must be moved, not away from Pueblo, not away from agriculture but to nostalgia. Away from this idea, that for ten days, cheap stalls selling cheap trinkets with overpriced food and beer is what attracts people. Colorado, yes we are bored with it too. 

The answer is to return these ten or so days to the original idea of what state expositions should be. The best technology. The best food. The best entertainment. What if the fair wasn’t ten days of uninspiring vendors but a month-long celebration of Colorado that consumes Colorado. From the best companies, to the best hamburger joints, to the best musicians, to the best breweries, and yes, as it is already, to the best cornbread, the best livestock, and the best arts and crafts. 

If we want to end the yearly ritual of saving the State Fair, the State Fair needs to be a yearly ritual of promoting the best of Colorado by the state of Colorado. 

(Photo Denver Public Library | Western History Collection)

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Denver’s Wes Watkins dynamic new future-funk EP is from another planet




Future-Funk Party Starter | Wes Watkins

Dreams Out from Denver’s best kept secret Wes Watkins wears so many musical hats it needs a rack; downtempo G-Funk homage and sweltering nee-Soul / Rn’B are all over this release, all covered with a thicc pop glaze and a penchant for electronic-sonic experimentation that keep every song fascinatingly adventurous while maintaining a danceability and groove that easily, easily warrants multiple listens. Don’t sleep on this one.

Lo-Fuzz Folkie | Hoi Ann

The beauty of Hoi Ann’s Tangenier lies in both what you can hear and what it may want you to not hear. Lo-fi folk and bedroom-pop are easily tangible on its surface, but the buzzy electronic tones that sparingly flourish the 5 songs of this release lie low and create a unique aural atmosphere for listeners, like hidden secrets for your ears only.

Indie-Punk Sweeties | Gestalt

The pop-punk shred-bois in Gestalt are back at it again; The irresistible combo of the Get Up Kids earnest midwestern-emo and smart pop-punk wit of the Wonder Years is strong on the tracks that encompass LongBoix, as is an acute fondness and growing appreciation for the finer indie rock of yesteryear. Well I guess this is growing up.

Psych-Rock Screamcore | Gone Full Heathen

On their criminally good self titled EP, Fort Collins heavies Gone Full Heathen friggin dare you to try and trap them in a single genre. Nice try, but they’ll just chew right through your puny ropes using a gnashing blend of crushing stoner-rock laced hardcore punk and overdriven psych-rock / post-metal induced bite like the righteous rock and roll wolves that they are.

All releases available for purchase now thru Bandcamp. Go Local!

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The Haze Craze for Lazy Days



There are many different styles of beer. Ranging from light lagers (think Bud Light) and ales to sours, stouts, and IPAs.

Within those styles, however, are varying styles.

For example, one would think a sour beer is a sour beer, right? Wrong. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, which defines every style of beer, there are six recognized European sour styles.

For IPAs, there are seven. American beers have four; stouts have three… You get the point.

Even with viewing the list of recognized styles, it’s not a complete list.

Take New England IPAs (NE IPA), as a prime example. Many breweries are currently mass producing this style of beer, and it’s selling like crazy.

You may have heard one of your annoying beer loving friends talk about drinking a “juice bomb,” or a requesting a “hazy IPA” at the pub, and shrugged it off. It turns out, they (sometimes) know what they are talking about.

What makes NE IPAs so popular when compared to a more traditional, West Coast IPA? NE IPAs have all of the hop flavors, without an overabundance of bitterness.

Instead of constantly adding hops throughout the boil to achieve a fruity flavor balanced by bitterness, the NE IPA has a small hop addition at the begging, and then nothing else until after the boil has finished.

That translates into a beer with very little bitterness, and plenty of hop aroma and flavor. Hops like Citra, Mosaic, Mosaic, Galaxy, and El Dorado are most common in NE IPAs, according to the Homebrewers Association. Those hops tend to impart a fruity, and dare I say, juicy flavor profile.

Between the juicy flavor and the seemingly natural haziness to NE IPAs, it’s not far fetched for an NE IPA to look like a tall glass of orange or grapefruit juice, only carbonated and full of alcohol.

NE IPAs are starting to gain momentum here in Colorado, with breweries turning their focus to the haze craze. Specifically, Odd13, WeldWerks, and Epic Brewing coming to mind.

Odd13 is based in Lafayette, Colo. and has a long list of NE-inspired IPAs constantly rotating through the tap room and distributed throughout the state. Codename: Super fan and Noob are two beers that are found in cans, and both offer a different approach to the haze craze.

WeldWerks is based in Greeley, Colo. and has accumulated a cult-like following in just a few short years for its Juicy Bits NE IPA. The brewery just started self-distributing locally, so you’ll have to make the trip to the brewery and pick up a crowler or four. Be sure to check the WeldWerks Facebook page for availability and limits. Yes, they have to place per person limits on how much you can purchase.

Epic Brewing recently announced its NE IPA, which will rotate between four different flavor profiles throughout the year. The cans will look the same but will be different colors as a quick way to tell identify which version you have.

So the next time you walk into a brewery or liquor store, it’s OK to ask for a hazy or juicy IPA. It’s a thing, and, frankly, they are damn good.

On Tap: By the time this hits newsstands, ThunderZone Pizza & Taphouse will have opened on the CSU-P campus. Located at 2270 Rawlings Blvd., the ThunderZone features 32 taps, a carefully curated tap list, and is locally owned.

At the opening, the tap list includes tasty brews from the likes of Florence Brewing and Lost Highway.

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Senators upend GOP health care bill in true Trump style… Twitter



WASHINGTON — When Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran decided they were in ready to disrupt the GOP rewrite of the health care law, they chose President Donald Trump’s favorite medium.

They could not support Senate Republicans’ plan, the somewhat unlikely pair of conservatives tweeted at 8:30 p.m. Monday night, giving no heads up to the White House or Senate leaders before pressing send.

The story behind the statement reveals two senators willing to be branded as bill killers and seemingly unconcerned with trying to soften the blow with party leaders.

The announcement, coming after some 10 days of conversations between the men, stunned official Washington and left Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at least two votes short in the closely divided Senate from being able to move forward with the GOP bill, effectively sinking the measure. It landed shortly after Trump dined with a group of senators to discuss strategy – unwittingly plotting a plan that would immediately become outdated.

Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican leader, found out about Lee’s defection after the White House dinner of rosemary-grilled rib eye and summer vegetable succotash. He “had no idea it was coming,” Cornyn said.

Another Republican, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, found out from TV news.

Moran, a second-term lawmaker from Kansas who isn’t known for making waves, and Lee, a two-term senator from Utah who has clashed with Trump, have been talking over the past 10 days about the health care legislation and agreed the GOP bill did not go far enough to repeal Obamacare or address rising health-care costs. They decided to announce their position to make the bill’s fate clear and allow senators to move on, Moran said.

“It could have been prolonged for days or weeks while no one said anything,” Moran said in an interview.

Moran, who oversaw the Senate Republicans’ 2014 election campaigns, concluded last week he wouldn’t vote for the latest version of the bill but “gave myself a weekend in Kansas to think about it,” he said.

Lee had helped draft an amendment, along with fellow conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that would allow insurers to sell skimpy plans alongside more robust ones to lower costs. Cruz agreed to some changes in wording by GOP leaders, but Lee thought the new language allowed too many Obama-era regulations to remain in place.

After talking again, Moran and Lee agreed Monday night on a statement drafted earlier in the day. They issued their statement shortly after a White House dinner attended by seven GOP senators – all likely yes votes on the health care bill. Neither Lee nor Moran attended.

A Lee spokesman said the statement – and its timing – “had nothing to do with the White House dinner. It was not a reaction in any way.”

The statement was made public as soon as it was ready, the spokesman said.

Neither Trump nor McConnell received advance warning about the statement, although it’s likely that neither the president nor the Senate leader was completely surprised.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spent the weekend calling lawmakers, including Lee and at least seven other GOP senators, according to the administration. Trump talked politics, while Pence discussed policy.

Trump called Lee on Saturday, and Lee told the president he was leaning against the bill, for the reasons he later made public.

Lee told Utah’s KSL Newsradio that he had a great conversation with Trump, when he told the president his “consumer freedom” amendment had been weakened and that he wasn’t sure that he could support the bill.

“He was encouraging to me and said, you know, ‘Just see what changes you can make to it,’ ” Lee said.

Lee and McConnell did not talk over the weekend, but Lee spoke twice to Cornyn, R-Texas, the majority whip.

Trump, who frequently takes to Twitter to announce proposals or denounce opponents, was blindsided by, of all things, a tweet.

He told reporters Tuesday he was “very surprised when the two folks came out last night, because we thought they were in fairly good shape. But they did. And, you know, everybody has their own reason.”

Moran said while he remained committed to repealing the health care law, Congress needs to make a “fresh start” on writing a replacement bill in an “open legislative process.”

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” he said, in a statement that followed the tweet.

In his own statement, Lee said the GOP bill does not repeal all the Obamacare tax increases and “doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.”

Both explanations were issued on social media.

“Twitter is a nice medium to get your message out,” Lee’s spokesman said.

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