Enough complaining! Rather than focus on everything that’s wrong about our city, it’s time we focus on what’s right. Let’s forget about the wretched economy, the fumbling politicians and the crazy Republicans/Democrats (pick either or both) who are cheerfully destroying our great city/state/nation.
Here’s my top picks.
Pikes Peak! Let’s hear it for our mountain, which finally managed to fight off the annual assault of the AdAmAn Club. For decades, this motley crew has contemptuously climbed the mountain in the dead of winter, shot off fireworks, and ridden down the mountain in comfortable vans. Mount Everest wouldn’t allow such nonsense, so why should Pikes Peak be any different?
Red Rocks open space. If this 700-acre tract bordered any other American city, it would have been set aside for public use a century ago. But so blessed are we with protected places like the Garden of the Gods, Palmer Park and North Cheyenne Canyon that it took us a hundred years to do the deal. We could thank the hundreds of activists who campaigned for the TOPS initiative, but we really ought to thank …
Local voters. They’re as inconstant, unpredictable and fascinating as a movie star boyfriend/girlfriend. They voted for Douglas Bruce, and then threw him out. They voted to increase taxes, and voted to cut them. They voted for TABOR, TOPS, and the PPRTA. They voted for Doug Lamborn, Amy Stephens, Mike Merrifield, and John Morse. They decreed that Mayor Bob Isaac be paid nothing, that Mayor Lionel Rivera be paid $6,250, and that our next mayor be paid close to $100,000. You’ve gotta love ‘em, because otherwise we wouldn’t have such a wonderful crop of …
Local politicians. Love the Dougster or hate him, you’ve got to admit that he’s endlessly entertaining, outrageous, and out there. He’s been quiet since amendments 60, 61, and Proposition 101 were crushed by a coalition of the sensible last November, but don’t count him out. The bad dog won’t sleep on the porch forever. And how dull and colorless our lives would be without Sean Paige’s devastating wit, Tom Gallagher’s rambling, brilliantly nonsensical remarks, or Sallie Clark’s crimson suits? As one generation of interesting politicians passes into history, let’s hope that promising youngsters such as Lisa Czeladko, Brian Bahr and soon-to-be senior citizens such as Richard Skorman, Steve Bach, and Dave Munger will step forward to replace them.
Local artists. They get no national shows, no adoring write-ups in the New York Times, no million-dollar commissions, and little visibility. But they’re often amazingly good, worthy successors to their quasi-legendary predecessors who brought nationwide fame to Colorado Springs. Forget about the Broadmoor Art Academy, forget about the early day of the Fine Arts Center, and enjoy today. You can pick up wonderful pieces for very little money — and perhaps one of these days you’ll bore your grandchildren with tales of those halcyon days when you could go to the ModBo and pick up a Phil Lear or a Brett Andrus for a few hundred bucks.
Our churches. I don’t mean cavernous mega-structures such as New Life or the Woodmen Valley Chapel (no offense to the good folks who worship in such places). I’m thinking of all the wonderful buildings from the 19th and early 20th century that house congregations small and large throughout historic Colorado Springs. There are half a dozen of them within a few blocks of our Westside home, ranging from California Mission-style splendor of Sacred Heart at 21st and Colorado to the plain and graceful 1st Mennonite Church at Pikes Peak and 22nd. Walking my dog on a Sunday morning, it’s clear that our neighborhood churches still define and knit together our community, as they have done for a century and a half.
The Westside. If the Broadmoor is a sleek new Mercedes, the North End a perfectly restored ‘57 Chevy, and Briargate a low-mileage Lexus, then the Westside is a Ford pickup with 150,000 miles on the odometer. It’s the oldest neighborhood in the city, the quirkiest, and one of the poorest. The houses are sometimes shabby because owners have neither the income nor the credit to fix them up. But so what? Many of our families have lived on the Westside for generations, and we like it just fine. And if you don’t, go up north and live in identical beige houses, where there aren’t any junked cars in the back yard and no snarling rottweilers behind cyclone fences. How boring.
Hazlehurst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-227-5861. Watch him at 7:45 a.m. every Tuesday and Friday on Channel 3, Fox Morning News.