The corollary to Dr. Johnson’s oft-quoted maxim may be that, absent such knowledge, one’s mind is regrettably dispersed — so here’s a week’s worth of unrelated but interesting stuff.
Forty-two years ago, in an astonishing act of civic vandalism, the then-owners of the Burns Opera House tore down that beautiful and distinguished structure. Their excuse: the city told them to bring the building up to code, so they did — by turning it into a parking lot. It remains a parking lot to this day, although located at the prime downtown corner of Cascade and Pikes Peak.
No trace of the building endures, other than the elegiac photographs by Myron Wood in the library’s collection. Everything of note was destroyed by the wrecker’s ball — or so it seemed until last week.
The entry to the building was graced with magnificent stained glass panels. The panels had vanished, dimly remembered by a few old-timers. Had they been destroyed, or removed to a theme restaurant in Kansas City, Detroit, or Milwaukee?
The panels, which may once have been a backlit skylight above the main lobby, resurfaced last week at Ross Auction. There were four sections, each 5-feet by 14-feet. Would they be sold individually, to be dispersed forever? Or would they remain intact and somehow carry forward the memory of the Burns for generations to come?
Thanks to Chuck Murphy, whose company has renovated many of our city’s great historic structures, they’ll stay together. Murphy bought all four at auction on Saturday, and will see that they’re installed in an appropriate setting. It’d be nice to see them in the Mining Exchange Hotel — Perry Sanders, take note!
And speaking of ancient monuments, it was interesting to note the banner ad on the Gazette’s web page.
“With 82 FTEs, the Gazette newsroom is the biggest in the region, delivering more local news than any other media outlet.”
True enough. Yet, as a once-famous radio commentator used to say, here’s the rest of the story.
Ten years ago, more than 120 people labored in the Gazette’s newsroom. Since then, the daily’s circulation has declined by more than 40 percent, and the paper has shrunk correspondingly. It seems evident that although the news will not disappear, the paper will. Print media may be going the way of passenger railroads, quaintly archaic reminders of another time.
Last Saturday I was a guest on Tonya Hall’s talk show, as was Tim Moore, the digital media chief at the New York Times.
The conversation turned to the IPad. Moore said that many Times journalists use their IPads to access the paper. So here’s my question: if the NYT’s own reporters don’t read their print edition, who does?
No one under 45, and that’s the problem for the G, for the NYT, and for all daily print media.
One Colorado Springs businessman, who once considered making a bid for the Gazette, neatly summarized the daily’s dilemma.
“We hired some people to evaluate the business,” he said, “and we concluded that we didn’t want the building, we didn’t want the presses, and we didn’t want the employees — so it was hard to figure out just what we were buying.”
As print declines, and the newsroom count diminishes, the Gazette will find it harder to defend its position. Print dailies require tens of millions in capital investment, while websites require very little. Competitors will appear, and try to snap up undefended segments of the G’s turf. Eventually, someone will take on the G directly. It’ll be interesting to watch — a digital replay of the newspaper wars waged in every American city during the early 1900s.
Finally, forget the “strong mayor” hype. In less than 11 months, we’ll elect a new mayor. Who will it be?
At the moment, Tim Leigh and Buddy Gilmore are the only declared candidates. Neither has been anointed by traditional power brokers, who have historically been cautious and circumspect.
If city voters pass the strong mayor charter amendment, other candidates will surface. There’s only one person who has all of the “necessaries,” including long experience in government and business, a deep pool of passionate supporters, vast political savvy and steely resolve — county commissioner Sallie Clark.
She’ll run only if Scot McInnis loses to John Hickenlooper. Otherwise, she’ll join McInnis’ cabinet, possibly positioning herself to run for the Senate against Mark Udall in 2012.
And if the amendment fails? Expect the usual assortment of the rich, the retired and the delusional to compete for a full-time job paying less than 75 cents an hour.
Tim? Buddy? Are you still there? It’s me, your therapist.
John Hazlehurst can be reached at email@example.com or 719-227-5861. Watch John with the latest in business at 7:20 a.m. every Tuesday and Friday on Channel 3, Fox Morning News.