Know thy past, know thyself

by Ted Holteen

As an East Coast transplant who has lived in Durango for about 11 years now, I get a lot of grief from Colorado natives about my refusal to denounce allegiances to my beloved Philadelphia sports teams and embrace these Johnny-come-lately Denver/Colorado squads. What many of these critics may not realize is that I am only continuing in the tradition of this town’s forefathers, something the jerks would know if they took a few minutes to actually learn the history of this oddball town. Despite the best efforts of our tourism industry to paint Durango as some sort of Wild West “Gunsmoke” frontier town, its history is in truth much less colorful and could hardly be called wild. Durango is a city for one reason, and one reason only – the train. Far from attempting to create another Dodge City, the town fathers wanted to duplicate cities of the east as they existed during the Victorian Era, and in the true Robber Baron tradition make a few bucks from the burgeoning mining industry without actually dirtying their hands. Outlaws, gunfights and the general lawlessness that we’ve come to associate with the West during that time would simply have been bad for business, not to mention unsightly. The men of the day would be more likely to resemble a Boston banker than Wyatt Earp, and the ladies spent the better part of each day dressing and undressing what with wearing 10 to 14 petticoats and other highly inconvenient Victorian garb that usually involved several variants of heavy metals.

During this celebration of Durango’s 125th birthday, there is no better time to take a few minutes to learn your local history, and as always, there is no better source than our walking repository of all knowledge past, Duane Smith. The good doctor and his frequent compatriot Carrie Foisel will be onstage tonight (Thursday) at the Diamond Circle Theater for an evening that will both entertain and educate. Carrie and her Victorian ladies will display the fashions of the day (the day being the 1880s remember), and she and Duane will talk about the town’s history amid period music and even barber shoppers. I happen to love barbershop quartets, so don’t laugh. Longtime residents and immigrants alike can learn a thing or two from this program, not the least of which is that we outsiders ironically make for more authentic Durangoans than the natives. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. tonight, and proceeds benefit the Animas Museum, another place you morons should visit sometime. Go Phillies!

The live music scene this week doesn’t boast much in the way of big-name talent, but the local venues won’t be empty, either. And let’s face it, big-name talent is more often a misnomer than not nowadays. The stages will be full at Scoot ’n Blues (Nite Owl all weekend), the Abbey Theatre (Nosotros Saturday night), and Steamworks (Aftergrass Thursday night), but I will make mention of the action at the Summit, as it is surely the most controversial and therefore most worthy of extra ink. Sad, but that’s how the world works. I’m just a cog myself. Anyway, the men of Hotmops are using their Friday Summit show as a podium to further a political agenda, kind of like Bono but less self-aggrandizing. The adopted cause of this band who really cares is, a bunch of hippies who are surprisingly close to getting an initiative on the November ballot that would make it legal to possess up to an ounce of pot with no penalty. They need a certain number of signatures, and petitions will be available at this and all Hotmops shows until Aug. 6, the petition deadline. I don’t know what this “pot” is or what you’re supposed to do with it, but as a libertarian anarchist, I’m usually on board for the decriminalization of anything short of sadistic dismemberment or wiretapping. Here’s hoping that the whole band stays out of the clink at least until after Friday’s show.

It’s gotten a bad rap recently, but there’s more to celebrating April 20 than just Adolph Hitler’s birthday and the anniversary of the Columbine shootings. It was also the date of the first Earth Day back in 1970, and the fact that it falls on a weekday this year is in no way slowing down local commemorations. I’m aware of three of them, and if your event is not included, the fault is yours for not making me more aware. That said, the first thing is on Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. at the Bank of Colorado of all places. They do this every year, having a big hootenanny with an impressive silent auction, booze and food, and all the other good things that make a party a party. The money raised goes to Durango Nature Studies, which is invested in educational programs for children and adults throughout the Four Corners. A fine event. On Saturday, the Four Corners Gem & Mineral Club is holding its first Earth Day Open House from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the little clubhouse behind the Brookside Motel at 23rd & Main. They’ll be selling gems, fossils, weird rocks and other stuff that someone dug out of the Earth. Great for kids and geologists. The most traditional and unfathomable of the Earth Day celebrations takes place on Florida Road across from J-Bo’s where people will rant, rave, dance and possess up to an ounce of all kinds of different earthen goods all in the name of environmental consciousness. I hope they sing really loudly so as to drown out the sounds of Dubya’s bulldozers paving Alaska one forest at a time. Onward, Christian soldiers.

Bet you didn’t know that next Wednesday is Administrative Professionals’ Day. They used to call it Secretaries’ Day, but Rumsfeld was getting too full of himself and taking the day off every year. Bad joke, yes, but a good opportunity to plug another of my pet projects. The local chapter of the Red Cross is selling roses that you’re supposed to give to your favorite indispensable underling, and they come in a variety of colors to indicate just what that person means to you; there’s red (if you’re sleeping together), yellow (if you’re no longer sleeping together), and a surprise bouquet of mixed colors (if you only slept together following the company Christmas party and it’s been a really awkward first quarter). They can be delivered, but you must act quickly – call 259-5383 by Friday for all the details. The money goes directly to our local Red Cross, not the national thing, and as I’ve said before, you’ll be glad they’re there this summer when you come home and find a pile of ashes where your house used to be. Karma, man, karma.

One last thing – it’s that time again. KDUR’s summer DJ meeting is next Wednesday at 5: 30 p.m. in the Blue & Gold Room in the CUB on campus. All it takes to be an honest-to-goodness DJ is a love of music, some semblance of responsibility, and the ability to not steal CDs from a nonprofit radio station. They train you, and it’s really quite fun. As always, if your taste in music is unacceptable, please don’t bother. For point of reference, your music is unacceptable if your car presets include The Point, Big Dog, K-FROG, or any other radio station that has a name other than its call letters. Ugh.

I need a king sized-bed, with or without roses. Oh, yeah – the Avalanche will be gone in five. •