Columns » Public Eye

All the news that didn't fit


This newspaper business can warp you. Last week, sifting through 10 years' worth of accumulated paperwork to prepare for an office move, I was reminded of just how twisted things can get.

Here was an old Associated Press story about a human head that got dragged home by a dog.

And there, buried in a drawer, was a guest column from a man who is part of a national movement of men who, angry because they were circumcised as babies, are trying to "restore" their penile foreskins. The guest editorialist had included a photograph of himself for publication. He wore only a T-shirt and a strategically held tree branch. A very small tree branch. We never did publish that.

There have been other stories that never made the paper, some of them hilarious. On Aug. 28, 2001, reader Jeff Pearsall wrote in with part outrage, part humor to complain about being inconvenienced by Colorado Springs police. Here is his description:

"Did you hear about the 'bomb' at the VA building yesterday? Just south of Bijou Street on Spruce a suspicious package was discovered next to a tree at the far end of a parking lot. I saw this 'package' was in a small, black plastic bag. It looked harmless enough. Apparently some security people deemed it dangerous and called the police. Eventually the bomb squad arrived and blocked off the area around the package (and my vehicle).

"They tried to detonate the package with their own explosives, to no avail. That package must have contained some high-tech device. Because my vehicle was in the containment zone, I had to take a taxi to my doctor's office, [and] missed out on the ending of this life-threatening situation.

"When I arrived two hours later, the heroic police were gone! I soon found out from some employees in the parking lot that the suspected 'bomb' was a baloney sandwich! Thank you Colorado Springs Police Department for saving me from the threatening lunch box! I was also impressed by your display of power and self-importance.

"P.S. You owe me $23 for cab fare!"

We never did write about Pearshall's baloney bomb. That's because, a little more than two weeks later, the events of Sept. 11, 2001, changed everyone's perspectives.

And here's another item that crossed our desk: a snippy little complaint that was sent on March 7, 2002, by the county's public information officer and one-time TV reporter Ann Ervin to the Fountain Valley News in response to one of their news stories about a county project.

"We love the Fountain Valley News. That said, there are so many error's [sic] in Jery [sic] Barner's [sic] article on Carp Lake, it's almost impossible to find a sentence that's actually factual. I've noticed this problem in his reporting before. This particular article is just mind boggling [sic]. He doesn't even have the correct spelling of the reservoir (McCrae) or the proper names of the parties involved; Fountain Mutual Irrigation Company owns the reservoir, not Fountain Vally [sic] Irrigation Company. As a former reporter, I'm pretty unimpressed."

In newspaper language, "sics" indicate the author's spelling and grammatical errors, which, at least in the above case, are embarrassing, even for a former reporter. We sure hope that Ervin has since learned to simply ask for a correction instead of haughtily weighing in on the subject matter at hand.

And finally, on top of the pile was a news feature that appeared just a few weeks back in the Jan. 24 Gazette. Headlined "This present darkness," the article, by reporter Paul Asay, was a shocking expos of how demons have targeted Colorado Springs and are preparing an attack on the area. An accompanying graphic depicted the silhouette of a man, praying on his knees, surrounded by lightning and bright orange flames with embedded screaming faces. It is quite possibly the greatest thing the Gazette has ever done.

"We're talking demons, forces of darkness," the story warned. "They're mad as hell -- literally -- at Colorado Springs' thriving evangelical community. And they're certainly not pleased that many leading spiritual warfare experts call the city home."

Asay continued: "These demons, experts say, will tempt, distract, or even injure people to further their goals. They're hungry for power, and experts say they'll get that power by staking claim to everything from individual souls to whole cities and nations.

"Considering Colorado Springs' standing in religious circles, it would be quite a prize."

Over here at the Independent's new headquarters at 235 S. Nevada (an old church, no less!), our reporters are scrambling to follow up the Gazette's stunning piece of journalism. The daily may have scooped us on that one, but the Weekly World News can't be far behind.


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