Denver's Washington Park looks back at more peaceful times

Categories: Books

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Washington Park, before the brewhaha.
Washington Park is the focus of a major brewhaha right now. Last week Denver City Councilman Chris Nevitt, who represents the area, sent a letter to the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation asking for a six-month alcohol ban at the park due to abuse and "bad behavior." The only alcohol actually allowed at the park is 3.2 beer, so you need to swill a lot before you really reach the bad-behavior level - but even so, the controversy shows no signs of drying up. After a packed public meeting on Wednesday, Denver Department of Parks and Recreation director Laurie Dannemiller should issue a decision on the proposal next week

For a look at a time when the park was a much less rancorous spot, pick up a copy of Denver's Washington Park, the newest addition to Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series.

See also: Washington Park alcohol ban meeting -- freedom and responsibility versus urine and vomit

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Justin Hocking on surfing, trauma and The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld

Categories: Books, Readings

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Credit: Anna Caitlin Harris
Justin Hocking is the author of The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld.
When he hit rock bottom, DIY zine-maker and literary adventurer Justin Hocking started taking evening jaunts from New York City to Rockaway Beach, where he surfed the waves under the moonlit sky. He defied death; he navigated trauma; he searched the shadows of his soul. This period of self-exploration launched a new journey: the writing of The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld, a surfing memoir and a personal exploration of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. On Wednesday, April 2, Justin Hocking will be reading from his memoir at the Tattered Cover Colfax. In advance of this appearance, Westword spoke with Hocking about the book.

See also: Bruce Weber on bicycling, mortality and Life is a Wheel

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Andy Thomas on Hell is in New Jersey, Etgar Keret and Shel Silverstein

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Reading is about more than following a narrative or learning facts; it can also be a profound shared experience that culminates in a better understanding of ourselves and each other. In that spirit, welcome to the Westword Book Club, a bi-weekly feature celebrating the books that inspire Denver artists.

After a brief hiatus, the Westword Book Club is back to conclude our series chronicling the reading habits of Denver area Andys. This week's Andy is Andy Thomas, a local musician and gadabout who recently self-published his debut novel, Hell is in New Jersey, which takes place in a gift shop on the border of Hell. He's also been the vocalist and guitarist of Tin Horn Prayer and released a solo album featuring songs inspired by Coen Brothers films called Andy Thomas' Dust Heart. Thomas plays drums for The Knew, too, which will be performing at the Snowball Music Festival at Sports Authority Stadium April 4 through April 6.

See also: Comedian Andrew Orvedahl on JG Ballard, George Saunders and airport books

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Rae Wiseman on the Jane Austen Society and why Coloradans love the writer

Categories: Books, Film and TV

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Artist: Cassandra Austen (c. 1810)
Jane Austen's witty, romantic plotlines have captivated readers for two centuries.
Chuckling in libraries and meeting halls since 1979, members of the Jane Austen Society of North America have been digging deep into the English novelist's classic tales of romance amongst the British landed gentry. In advance of the March 30Alamo Drafthouse Cinema screening of the BBC's 1995 adaptation of Austen's novel Persuasion, Westword tracked down Rae Wiseman, the regional coordinator of the Denver-Boulder chapter of JASNA, to find out just what brings these people together and why they love Austen so much.

See also: Bruce Weber on bicycling, mortality and
Life is a Wheel


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Trista Sutter opens her heart in Happily Ever After

Categories: Books

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Was it really dozen years ago that Trista Sutter, a pediatric physical therapist moonlighting as a Miami Heat dancer, had her heart broken on the first season of The Bachelor and then became the very first Bachelorette, falling for poetry-writing firefighter Vail Ryan Sutter and getting married on national TV? For those who changed reality TV channels after that, Trista and Ryan are still married, still live in Vail and have two kids, ages four and six. And Sutter, a self-described work-at-home-mom, has a new book, Happily Ever After: The Life-Changing Power of a Grateful Heart. But as that book reveals, her fairy-tale story has had a few dark chapters.

See also:
Best appearance by a Coloradan on National TV 2003 -- Ryan Sutter, The Bachelorette

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Ari Kelman's book on Sand Creek Massacre site wins Bancroft Prize

Categories: Books

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On Monday, Governor John Hickenlooper announced the creation of the Sand Creek Massacre Commemoration Commission, designed to further understanding of that dark chapter in Colorado history as the 50th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre approaches on November 29, 1964. And that process just got a big boost when Columbia University announced that The Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek, by Ari Kelman, a University of Denver alum, was one of two books awarded the Bancroft Prize, one of the top academic honors for American history.

See also:
John Hickenlooper, Edward Wynkoop, Black Kettle and the creation of the Sand Creek Commemorative Commission

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Jason Heller on The Time Travelers Almanac

Categories: Books, Events

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If there's one thing science-fiction writers love as much as exploring space and meeting aliens, it's traveling back in time and screwing things up. From H.G. Wells to the recent reboot of Star Trek, time travel is one of the genre's most well-explored tropes, but authors keep finding new ways to spin it. The brand-new anthology The Time Traveler's Almanac encapsulates that storied history, collecting almost seventy tales of altered timelines and unresolved paradoxes from across the trope's history, from its roots to its latest twists. To celebrate the book's release, three local contributors -- Jason Heller, Connie Willis and Carrie Vaughn -- will be signing and reading from the book, as well as discussing what makes time travel so special, this Sunday, March 23 at the Broadway Book Mall. In advance of that event, we caught up with Jason Heller to talk about his contribution to the book and what makes time travel such an enduring favorite.

See also: Local author and journalist Jason Heller on winning a Hugo Award


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Physicist Michio Kaku talks telekinesis, uploading memories and The Future of the Mind

Categories: Books, Science

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Andrea Brizzi
Though telepathy and photographing dreams seems like the stuff of sci-fi, physicist Michio Kaku says science is catching up to fiction. In his new book, The Future of the Mind, the theoretical physicist and co-founder of string-field theory delves into the study of the human brain and these seemingly impossible feats that are now becoming possible. In advance of Kaku's book-signing and talk at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Tattered Cover Colfax, we spoke with him about telekinesis, uploading memories and the evolution of the theory of consciousness.

See also: Goodbye, Ghostbuster: Remembering Harold Ramis

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Author Colleen Oakes on transitioning from chick lit to fantasy

Categories: Books

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Local author Colleen Oakes's newest book, Queen of Hearts hit the shelves on February 14. To celebrate the first book in her new trilogy, she will be at Bookbar on Saturday , February 22 at 6:30 p.m. Oakes took a break from writing to talk to us about straying far away from chick lit, which she identifies her first book Elly In Bloom as and channeling the anger of the infamous Queen of Hearts.

See also: Melinda Chateauvert talks Stonewall, SlutWalk, rights for sex workers and her new book

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100 Colorado Creatives: Manuel Ramos

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A Manuel Ramos sampler.
#10: Manuel Ramos

Manuel Ramos looms large in Denver's Chicano arts and political communities: A veteran legal-aid lawyer for more than forty years, Ramos found voice as a writer when he wasn't fighting for justice, though even that vocation is imbued with an innate understanding of the struggles of the downtrodden. In five published mysteries, his lead character Luis Móntez, also a Chicano lawyer but with a dark side, finds adventure in familiar Denver locales, while in his 2010 novel King of the Chicanos, Ramos conjures up the rise of the Chicano movement of the '60s, from its roots in migrant-worker communities.

Last year, Ramos published a new stand-alone mystery, Desperado: A Mile High Noir, and today he continues to contribute to La Bloga, an online Latino news and arts magazine he helped found, while looking forward to his impending retirement. But don't worry: Ramos still has a lot to write and say, as evidenced by his answers to the 100CC questionnaire.

See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: Mario Acevedo


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