Slam dunk, Sexton and Dirty Novels

by Chris Aaland

Basketball was my life. From the mid 1970s through a series of knee injuries a decade later, I had hoop dreams of college stardom and beyond. I played for one of Colorado’s traditional high school powerhouses, earned trophies at all-star shooting camps, won praise from opposing coaches for my rebounding and defense, and, for a 6-foot-5 white guy with bad genes and a hefty build, could legitimately dunk. One-handers. Two-handers. Reverse dunks. All the moves to make you a budding legend at the Jeffco YMCA.

But there was one place where I could be Dr. J., Michael and Dominique all rolled up in Suburban glory: Stober Elementary. Stober had 8-foot outdoor hoops. What our heroes would do in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, we could do on an empty, mid-summer playground with an old-school boombox blaring Van Halen, Night Ranger and .38 Special. Suddenly, we were doing alley-oops, 360s and two-ball dunks, at least for those of us like me with hands big enough to palm two balls simultaneously.

Last Saturday’s NBA Slam Dunk Contest shattered whatever frail images were left of my teen-age dunking memories. For starters, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard took the old dunk contest rulebook and torched it like a televangelist at a Harry Potter book burning. Superman simply bounced a pass off the back of the glass and reverse-dunked while banging his head on the backboard, flew threw the air like Clark Kent’s alter-ego, and generally altered the rules of gravity and physics to win the slam-dunk contest in a rout. But Howard’s heroics were not the evening’s gold standard. TNT’s ex-jock commentators blitzkrieged Mother English past the Middle Ages.

A different kind competition rages in Durango in the form of the 22nd annual Chocolate Fantasia from 5:30 ’til 9 p.m. on Friday at the College Union Ballroom at Fort Lewis College. If Valentine’s Day didn’t satisfy your honey’s sweet-tooth, then the best chocolate desserts from Durango’s finest chefs will. Proceeds benefit the Volunteers of America Southwest Safehouse.

Singer-songwriter Martin Sexton returns on Sunday for a 9 p.m. gig at the Abbey Theatre. Sexton has played locally three times before – once at the Community Concert Hall and twice for Durango Acoustic Music (including a previous Abbey show in 1999) – and this one will likely sell out. Sexton’s 1996 effort, “Black Sheep,” is considered a classic in folk circles.

Former Jane’s Addiction and Porno for Pyros drummer Stephen Perkins brings his new art rock band, Banyan, to the Summit on Friday. Banyan features heavy jazz and punk influences and includes Memphis Horns member Willie Waldman on trumpet.

Go west on Saturday night for rock and roll at the Hollywood Bar in Dolores with Albuquerque’s Dirty Novels. This group has been compared to early British mod rockers, blending garage, glam and power pop. The Hollywood books a band per month as part of its live music series.

DCAT hosts the unique “Martini and a Movie” fund-raiser on Friday featuring the world premiere of the documentary film “Forest for the Trees: The Art of Mary Ellen Long” at 6 p.m. at the Smiley Theatre. Long is a Durango artist who receives international acclaim for her site-specific environmental works. Rumor has it that Goat martinis and complementary appetizers will be served. A minimal donation is requested at the door.

The monthly Red Slipper Dance Club ballroom dance at the Henry Strater Theatre takes place on Friday, starting at 7: 30 p.m. Music will be provided by Jeff Solon and his swing band, with dance instruction for beginners also part of the festivities. Proceeds will benefit the Southwest Safehouse.

Sunday finds a free concert by the Women’s Prerogative Barbershop Chorus at 3:30 p.m. at the Henry Strater Theatre. Women’s Prerogative includes three different quartets. All ages are welcome to this family event.

Martin Sexton

The Durango Independent Film Festival officially opens on Wednesday night with free movies at the Abbey and Gaslight theatres at 4, 6 and 9 p.m. These screenings are open to the public. Check the DIFF program schedules, available in the week’s Telegraph and around town, for listings.

March Madness has officially hit Colorado’s Campus in the Sky a week early with both the women’s and men’s basketball teams ranked in the NCAA Division II Top 25. As of last Sunday, the women were No. 8 in the nation with a 24-1 record and had clinched a share of their first Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title since 1989. The men’s team boasted a 20-4 record, a No. 25 national ranking and their second RMAC crown in four years. Both teams host their final regular season games on Saturday, with the women starting at 6 p.m. and the men following.

This week’s Top 10 is provided by my little brother, Billy Raines, who is the stadium announcer at Skyhawk men’s and women’s basketball games. Billy, who learned to read and write by charting drafts for all major league sports, has chosen his Top 10 all-time dunks during all-star festivites:

1. Dwight Howard’s Superman in 2008 ; 2. Air Jordan’s free-throw-line leap in 1987; 3.Dr. J.’s original 15-foot soar in 1984; 4.Vince Carter’s elbow dunk in 2000; 5.Dominique’s general dominance in 1985; 6.Spud Webb overcoming his Napoleon Complex in 1986. Winning the NBA dunk contest at 5-foot-7 was unprecedented.; 7.Dwight Howard’s left-to-right bounce off the backboard in 2008; 8. Gerald Green’s “blowed out” birthday candle in 2008; 9. Jason Richardson’s between-the-legs 360 in 2003 … or was it 2004? He won it twice.; 10. Lebron James’ reinvention of the tomahawk at the 2003 McDonald’s High School All-American Game. •

Ever looked in the mirror at your pigeon chest, had to put on your clothes because it made you depressed? E-mail me at


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