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Outsider

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As a newly minted West Sider (moving into an 1898 Victorian in a couple of weeks), I was distressed to find that this column, not to mention the newspaper in which it appears, had been banished from the magazine racks of my neighborhood King Soopers.

Obviously, we at the Independent need to reform; we need to become more like the conservative publications that they so proudly display. After spending a half-hour in the store perusing a variety of popular newspapers and magazines, it was easy to figure out what to do.

More sex! Gear, a men's mag directed at the young, upscale demographic that we reach, featured a comely young woman on the cover, completely naked (unless you count her tattoos). Editorially, the magazine was devoted to a single theme: the search for the perfect woman! Jostling Gear for valuable shelf space were a bunch of similar pubs (Maxim for one), as well as a dozen or so muscle mags. Ostensibly devoted to bodybuilding, they all featured a balanced menu of homoerotic imagery (impossibly buff young guys wearing virtually nothing) and '50s-style hetero cheesecake (impossibly buff girls with improbably big gazongas wearing virtually nothing). And what do we have on our cover? A bearded artist.

More gossip! All we do is prattle on about public policy, local politics, and big, seriously boring subjects like education and open-pit mining. Look at the Star, the Enquirer, People, and Soap Opera Digest -- they give the people what they really need. Admit it, wouldn't you rather read about Demi's ex having a 40-stripper sex orgy than plow through some solemn analysis of the city's latest tax proposal?

More guns! There are at least 20 publications devoted to firearms; buying, collecting, using, admiring, fondling and just generally loving the sweet smell of gunsmoke and Hoppe's #9. Meanwhile all we do is scold our local gunnies, especially Bernie Herpin.

We don't do nearly enough with corporate sports, vapid fashions, dieting, self-improvement, home improvement and computer geekery, though we can be proud of our devotion to astrology, alternative pop, personal ads, restaurants and nightclubs.

Anyway, we're ready to change; hopefully, the publisher will agree to make me guns, gossip and sex editor.

And change, as we all know, is what happens, like it or not.

For example, this year the Legislature will probably pass a growth control bill, which is supposed to magically transform wasteful sprawl into smart growth.

It'll call for every city to have a comprehensive plan, and for intergovernmental/regional cooperation. In other words, it'll require Colorado Springs and El Paso County to do precisely what they already do, and will require no departure from business as usual.

And although there'll be arguments about education, transportation and taxes, don't expect to see real change. We'll still be navigating cone zones, Steve Schuck will still be working out at the Y wearing a T-shirt pushing vouchers, and we'll still be writing fat tax checks to various governments.

Real change begins the day after tomorrow, when George W. becomes president of these United States.

Remember, the federal government owns/controls over half of Colorado. Note that this is the first time since the early '50s that Republicans hold the presidency and control both houses of Congress, not to mention the Supreme Court. And think what Gale Norton's nomination tells us about the president and his plans for the nation's public lands.

Here in Colorado, we can expect that individuals and corporations seeking to gain control of public lands to use for private ends will have a relatively easy time. Logging of our national forests will increase dramatically, if economic conditions warrant, as will ski area expansions, road-building in formerly roadless areas, and open-pit mining.

If Norton's statements over the years are in any sense a guide to the new administration's policy positions, we'll have a federal government that is suddenly actively opposed to the very policies that the Feds have historically advocated: species conservation, habitat protection, wetlands preservation and non-destructive use of public lands.

It's a dismaying prospect. I still can't believe that George W., who so successfully played the moderate card during the election, has glommed on to a pair of strident ideologues like Norton and John Ashcroft. Doesn't he realize that the Dems are cackling with glee at the sight of those two albatrosses hung around his neck? C'mon; either he's dumber than dirt, or he's a right-wing crazy. Guess Al Gore was right after all.

And being the sex, guns and gossip editor looks better all the time.

-- jhazlehurst@csindy.com

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