Boulder Weekly 02.02.2023

Page 1

Last bite

Chef John Bissell leaves OAK at Fourteenth with a tour de force final menu

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9 FEATURE: What makes flags good, bad or important?

13 NEWS: EPA funds two Colorado companies to develop sustainable technologies

14 BUZZ: Four authors with homespun story collections present a two-day panel on the ‘unique texture of experiences in Colorado’

26 NIBBLES: Cooks may cringe, but it won’t be long until the home gas stove is an antique relic

29 DRINK: Invest in a decent blender and make your own nut milk


5 ANDERSON FILES: Gaslighting panel and TrumpRussia myesteries

7 LETTERS: Signed, sealed, delivered, your views

16 MUSIC: Former Talking Heads bandmembers bring ‘Remain in Light’ to Boulder

17 THEATER: Curious Theatre’s regional premiere of ‘Alma’

18 EVENTS: What to do when there’s nothing to do

21 FILM: Academy Award longshots ‘Argentina, 1985’ and ‘Causeway’ remind us what the Oscars are good for

22 ASTROLOGY: by Rob Brezsny

23 SAVAGE LOVE: Quickies

25 GOOD TASTE: Chef John Bissel leaves OAK with a tour de force final menu

30 WEED: Higher propagation

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FEBRUARY 2, 2023

Volume XXX, Number 24

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House gaslighting panel and Trump-Russia mysteries BY DAVE ANDERSON

The “Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government” is a grotesque, Orwellian joke. Created by the U.S. House Republican majority, it will be headed by Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

In a piece for online forum Just Security, Noah Bookbinder, former chief counsel for criminal justice for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, argues that the committee is going to politically abuse the congressional oversight system.

“Federal law enforcement has approached the rampant illegality of the Trump administration with tremendous restraint,” Bookbinder says. “Despite a plethora of credible allegations of criminal conduct by Trump and those around him, the

many different instances of illegality during Trump’s presidency prior to efforts to overturn the 2020 election have been subject to little investigation and few charges.”

It’s time to re-examine the multidimensional Russian influence operation to elect Trump in 2016. Trumpistas insist it was a hoax.

In his substack, Yale historian Timothy Snyder argues that the recent indictment of a former FBI agent raises disturbing questions.

“We are on the edge of a spy scandal with major implications for how we understand the Trump administration, our national security, and ourselves,” he said.

Charles McGonigal, who was the FBI’s leading spy hunter in the agency’s New York field office, was

recently indicted on charges of money laundering, violating U.S. sanctions and other counts stemming from his alleged ties to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian aluminum tycoon and ally of Vladimir Putin. In his role at the FBI, McGonigal was investigating Deripaska.

Deripaska has been under American sanctions since 2018. He was the former employer of Paul Manafort, longtime GOP political consultant and lobbyist. Manafort owed Deripaska many millions of dollars and the angry tycoon was pursuing him in court. In 2016, Manafort approached Trump and offered to be his campaign manager for free.

Then Manafort offered “private briefings” to Deripaska on Trump’s


campaign. Manafort sent the Russians data from the Trump campaign through an intermediary, including campaign polling data about Americans who would be useful for an influence operation.

In April 2016, Timothy Snyder wrote about the connection between Trump’s campaign and Putin. He wasn’t taken seriously. Snyder’s expertise is Eastern Europe and he was noticing a pattern.

He writes: “Between 2010 and 2013, Russia sought to control Ukraine using the same methods on display in 2016 in its influence operation in the United States: social media, money, and a pliable candidate for head of state. When that failed, Russia invaded Ukraine (in 2014), under the cover of some very successful influence operations.” Unfortunately, the operations were also successful with quite a few Americans on the left who have accepted the Putin narrative of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the FBI, CIA and NSA opened up a counterintelligence investigation of links between Russian officials and the Trump campaign after a Trump aide blabbed to an Australian diplomat in a London bar. The probe was the basis of the Mueller investigation. We didn’t hear about it until after election day. In a clear contrast, FBI director James Comey announced on Oct. 28 that

the agency had reopened its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. This was just 10 days before the election. Polls showed that this hurt Clinton. Trump celebrated the development at his rallies. Then, after eight days, Comey announced on Nov. 6 that the investigation was closed and Clinton was cleared. It was two days before the election.

Comey would later say he was concerned people in the New York FBI office would leak. Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani told Fox News he had insider knowledge of Clinton from the office.

On Nov. 4, Spencer Ackerman of The Guardian reported that current and former FBI agents in the New York office told him agents were enraged that Comey wasn’t indicting Clinton. A current agent said, “The FBI is Trumpland.” He added that Clinton is “the antichrist personified to a large swath of FBI personnel,” and that “the reason why they’re leaking is they’re pro-Trump.”

Snyder concluded: “The Russian operation to get Trump elected in 2016 was real. We are still living under the specter of 2016, and we are closer to the beginning of the process of learning about it then we are to the end.”

This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.

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Nuclear power is not carbon free (Writers on the Range, “The ‘energy gap’ nobody wants to tussle with,” Jan. 12, 2023). Enriching uranium alone requires more energy than Denver. The carbon impact of nuclear is the same as high-efficiency gas, only nuclear costs three times as much and a plant takes 10 years to build.

No insurer will cover a nuclear operator or insure your home against nuclear accident. The industry exists because the government assumed liability under the Price-Anderson Act. Nuclear waste is born government property under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

Reactors generate plutonium and other transuranics. The half-life of plutonium 239 is 39,600 years. Ten pounds of PU 239 will become 5 pounds of PU and 5 pounds of more radioactive “daughters” in that time. After 396,000 years it will be 10 pounds of lead. High-level waste is eternal. It will outlast the formation we burn it in.

You cannot raise a cent of private capital to build a nuclear plant. Obama attempted to revive nuclear by guaranteeing 80% of the capital. The banks said, “No.” Public opinion is being “prepared” to accept complete public financing. Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is rubber stamping operating license extensions for plants about to exceed design service life.

The nuclear industry is necessary to sell and sustain our ambitious nuclear bomb program, which accounts for 80% of the Department of Energy’s budget. Guaranteed profit on construction cost and tax advantages once made nuclear seem viable. From 1952 to the present, “the peaceful atom” has been a bomb.


Yay! Welcome back, John — I’ve missed you!


Wouldn’t it be great if Xcel Colorado customers had an easy-to-use app to minimize greenhouse gas emissions produced when charging electric vehicles (EVs) and running electric appliances and equipment? This goal can be achieved if forecasted and realtime emissions data is available to customers.

Apps exist that do just that and can be used by Colorado customers if Xcel makes emissions data available.

At the upcoming quarterly meeting, I urge the Boulder-Xcel Partnership Advisory Panel to endorse Boulder’s Public Utilities Commission proposal — require Xcel to provide day-ahead emissions forecasts so Coloradans (and software) can plan electricity use with the least emissions.

We understand that clean solar power is only possible in the daytime, but without emissions information, we don’t know whether cloudy day or nighttime power is produced by coal or natural gas or wind.

Xcel, a pioneer in wind forecasting, uses forecasts to plan what fuel to use to produce electricity.

Xcel already informs select EV customers when renewable energy production is high through its EV Smart Charging Pilot Program.

Apple shares this information with iPhone16 users so they can charge during times of cleaner energy, if local carbon emissions info is available. Is Xcel Colorado providing this data to iPhone users?

There is even a nonprofit, WattTime, whose software allows smart home devices, fleet operators, utilities, and corporations to sync timing of flexible electricity to avoid times of dirtier energy. (

An example is smart EV charging station maker, Enel X Way, whose JuiceNet Green software “leverages grid data to charge [using] the cleanest energy.”

Tell City Council, legislators, and the Public Utilities Commission that we want to be informed electricity users — to access clean energy forecasts; to have electricity rates encourage using renewables; and to be assured that excess solar and wind energy is stored (not dumped).

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When it comes to flags, Ted Kaye calls it like he sees it.

“Denver’s is great,” he says. “Centennial has a pretty good flag” and Loveland has “a great design.”

But not every Front Range municipality’s flag game is on point.

“Fort Collins doesn’t have a very good flag,” Kaye says, saving his harshest criticism for Superior’s flag.

“That’s a great business card,” he says. “It’s a terrible [flag] design.”

Kaye is a flag expert and enthusiast. He’s practiced vexillology — the study of flags — for 40 years and is the secretary of the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA). He knows the difference between good flag design and bad flag design, and wrote a book about it (“Good” Flag, “Bad” Flag).

The day we spoke, Kaye is flying the flag of New Orleans at his home in Portland, Oregon. He flies a different flag each day, one of the many he’s collected from around the world since his teenage years, and an electronic sign nearby tells passersby the flag’s identity.

In early January, NAVA announced the results of a survey which asked the public to rate the design of 312


new or redesigned city flags. Nearly 3,000 people participated, most of whom were not members of NAVA.

There were four Colorado city flags

represented in the survey, including Northglenn and Superior. Both received ‘F’ grades for their flags.

Although Diana Wilson with the City of Northglenn says the flag NAVA surveyed isn’t an “official flag,” NAVA survey volunteers found it flying “officially” at city hall.

According to Flags of the World, an online resource affiliated with the International Federation of Vexillological Associations, only two cities within Boulder County have flags: Longmont and Superior.

Kaye says flag design brings together geography, politics and history to create a strong representation of a community.

“If a city has a great flag, there’s an argument to be made that the perception of the city from the outside is

more positive and … that citizens feel better about their city,” he says.

Erin Mendenhall, mayor of Salt Lake City, initiated a flag redesign process during the pandemic in 2020.

“A well-done flag can capture the heart and soul of a community and foster a real sense of pride,”

Mendenhall said in a press release in 2020. “I’m excited for Salt Lake City to have a flag that better represents this beautiful, unique place, and our people. With everything happening in the world, a creative, community pursuit like this is a welcome change.”

Salt Lake’s flag, unveiled in fall 2020, was co-designed by two local teens and placed fifth in NAVA’s survey.

Chicago’s flag — a line of four red stars sandwiched between alternating bands of white and light-blue stripes — is Kaye’s prime example of

A vexillological survey critiques city flags across the country, including some in Boulder County — what makes them good, bad or important?
Courtesy Chicago Architecture Center Courtesy City of Northglenn


community representation, saying it “flies everywhere” and is “embedded in civic culture.”

“You see it in tattoos, you see it in all kinds of tourist mementos,” he says. “When a Chicago policeman dies in the line of duty, it may not be the national flag on his casket, it could be the Chicago flag. That’s how deeply ingrained it is.”

Superior’s flag — featuring “Town of Superior” and “The Gateway to Boulder Valley” in maroon text with a tree and sun encircled nearby — was designed around six years ago by a youth council.

“I have a lot of pride in that flag,” says Kevin Colón, communications and community engagement manager for the Town of Superior. “I know some of these kids. A survey doesn’t have any kind of personal connection, it doesn’t look at the eyeballs of the people that sit around the table and dream about what a flag could be.”

While Superior’s text-heavy flag may have drawn criticism from vexillologists, Colón says it still engenders a sense of unity with some community members. A year after the Marshall Fire, Colón says the city is focused on helping residents get back home.

Kaye says there’s hope for flags that didn’t receive good design ratings, like Superior’s.

“I like to say that in every flag, every bad design, there’s a good design trying to get out,” he says. “[The Superior flag] has the elements that could be made into a great flag.”

NAVA’s flag design guide (written by Kaye) includes five directives: 1) keep it simple, 2) use meaningful symbolism, 3) use two to three basic colors, 4) no lettering or seals and 5) be distinctive. On Superior’s flag, Kaye says

he’d begin by removing text and then play with the design elements (the tree and sun), which are his favorite aspects of the flag.

Although not included in the new NAVA survey, Longmont has been flying its city flag since April 1, 1975, after its own public redesign contest. Kaye called the flag “weird” but “distinctive.” According to Erik Mason, curator of history at the City of Longmont, that flag went to space with Longmont native Vance Brand during a 1990 space shuttle mission.

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Good flag design is about much more than aesthetic appeal. In recent years, a number of state flags have come under fire for culturally insensitive designs.

Minnesota’s state flag, adopted in 1957, has been accused of racist undertones. It features the state’s seal, which shows a white man plowing a field watching an Indigenous person on a horse in the background. Some perceive this as depicting the displacement of Native Americans.

“The state seal has imagery on it that is a problem, to put it charitably,” Rep. Mike Freidberg, the sponsor of a bill (HF284) to redesign the flag and seal, said to the Minnesota Legislature in March of 2022.

Similar representations are on Massachusetts’ state flag, which shows an Indigenous man standing beneath a white hand holding a Colonial sword. According to advocacy organization Change The Mass Flag, Indigenous leaders have called for the state’s flag and seal to be changed for 50 years, asserting that the flag is “seen by many as a symbol of violence against Indigenous people.”

Kaye consults cities and states looking to adopt a new flag or redesign an existing flag. Changing a flag takes time, but Kaye says it’s worth it.

“Everybody cares about flags once you get down to it.”

Boulder is one of the cities in the county that doesn’t have a city flag. City Council member Tara Winer wrote in an email that with “so much happening in Boulder right now … a city flag is not even on my list of the top 500 things I need to think about.”

Along with difficulties allocating resources to the development of flags, Kaye says adopting a flag can be difficult because it involves politics, public interest and cost. And, he says, “part of the issue of city flag design is that in some way they’re not very important.”

Whether it’s considered good design or bad design, Colón says he is content with Superior’s flag. It does what it was created to do — represent its people.

“That flag and these people are pretty special,” he says.

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Two Colorado companies awarded EPA funding to develop wastewater-reuse and microplastic-identifying technologies

Microplastics are everywhere. The small bits of plastic anywhere from about the size of a sesame seed to a tenth of the size of a human hair or smaller — have been found in every ecosystem on the planet.

Just last year, a U.S. Geological Survey study found microplastics in the Upper Colorado River Basin, a remote, high-elevation area, leading researchers to conclude that the particles were distributed from the atmosphere. Another recent study found microplastics in human lung tissue.

“People really don’t know how much microplastics we’re exposed to in our environment,” says Kevin Harsh, a senior scientist at Lafayettebased Sporian Microsystems. “In the last few years people have realized it’s really in everything — in our food, in our water, in our air. Every time they catch a fish and they look in a microscope, they [find] microplastics.”

Accurately quantifying microplastic particles and determining their source can prove difficult, Harsh says, but, with help from a federal grant, Sporian Microsystems is developing a low-cost, high-speed imaging system that will efficiently detect and quantify microplastics in our environment.

Sporian is one of 25 organizations nationwide to receive funding from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which is aimed at helping the private sector address pressing environmental issues. Sporian Microsystems and J-Tech, another Colorado company based in Lakewood, each received $100,000.

Sporian is developing hyperspectral imaging technology that has the ability to “see” more colors at a higher resolution, allowing researchers to better identify different materials, Harsh says.

“You can tell all sorts of things about the materials based on having this additional imaging information,” Harsh says. Microplastics are often identified by adding red dye to a sample and viewing the particles under the microscope, but looking at dyed particles under a microscope doesn’t allow researchers to identify what the plastics are made of and where they came from. Researchers then have to use a chemistry kit, which Harsh says doesn’t work well for tiny, individual particles. Hyperspectral imaging can classify the materials without dye or a chemistry kit.

While the impacts of microplastics on human health are still largely unknown, some studies suggest they can contain toxic chemicals or heavy metals that can be harmful to human health.

“If we’re ever going to understand the impacts to human health, we really

need to know what might be causing the problems,” Harsh says. “[We] need to … make the connection between what’s in the environment and what’s affecting human health.”

The technology builds on a previous system Sporian developed under SBIR funding that identified recyclable materials.

“We’re not the first people to make hyperspectral imagers, but the system we’re building is kind of based on our own really low-cost, more accessible version,” Harsh says.

Initially, the system would likely be used by scientists, but Harsh says the technology could ultimately be used by a variety of entities, like local water municipalities.

For smaller municipalities, “like a rural water system, a $5,000 piece of equipment is a big deal,” Harsh says. “They just don’t have surplus funds. So, [we want to keep the technology] inexpensive and accessible,” Harsh says.

Lakewood-based J-Tech is developing a low-cost, sustainable technology to sanitize wastewater in septic

tanks onsite to use for irrigation and other non-potable reuse — something EPA spokesperson Dave Piantanida says is “desperately needed” in the West.

“It’s just smart,” Piantanida says. “It’s been a big issue out West for more than a decade.”

The SBIR funding Sporian and J-Tech received was for “proof of concept” of their proposed technologies. If their proofs of concept are successful, the companies can apply for a second round of funding to develop and commercialize their technology. Companies can receive as much as $400,000 in the second round of funding.

“EPA applauds these Colorado businesses for working to develop innovative technologies that protect people and the environment,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker in a press release. “We look forward to seeing these projects evolve into products and processes that can be applied to environmental challenges here in our region and across the U.S.”


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There’s no one American West for everyone, but stereotypes abound depending on where you look. Here in Colorado, we get a lot of cracks about Subarus, weed and outdoor sports — clichés that might not apply as cleanly to our neighbors in Wyoming, for example. So it’s silly to try and apply a onesize-fits-all meaning of what it means to live here.

“One reason I chose to write short stories is because you have the opportunity to explore different perspectives,” says Denver author Wendy J. Fox. “Western perspectives are very varied. It’s a diverse place with diverse experiences.”

To discuss this in-depth, Fox will be part of an upcoming two-day panel of women writers exploring these varied perspectives at Boulder Book Store on Feb. 9 and Tattered Cover in Denver on Feb. 10. She’ll be joined by three other authors, Claire Boyles, Jenny Shank and Rachel King — all of whom either live on the Front Range or have set recent collections of short stories in the area.

The themes of the upcoming talks include workplace dynamics, climate change, class anxiety, racial segregation and the “unique texture of experiences people have in Colorado,” particularly on the Front Range.

But geography isn’t the only connective tissue between these story collections. Some share DNA in their exploration of the universal theme of labor. Since how we work can say a lot about our society, while also illuminating someone’s personal traits and habits, both Fox and King follow their characters on the job.

“Most of us are going to spend at least about a third of our life at work, and that’s not even counting commute time,” Fox says. “For me,

it becomes an interesting touch point, because sometimes the job that someone does tells you something about them. But if nothing else, it is a large part of where they spend their time — sometimes willingly, sometimes unwillingly.”

King says her characters are often working low-paying jobs, though they may not be accustomed to that type of struggle.

“A lot of these characters have not chosen to do the work they’re doing; they’ve more fallen into it,” she says. “So, something I was exploring specifically was, ‘How do people in low-wage jobs support one another or not support one another?”


Crafting fiction is making an untold number of minor and major decisions, including one of the most important: setting. And while some of those myriad choices may connect these collections in the form of shared themes or storytelling strategies, few common threads loom as large as Colorado itself.

To that end, these panelists plan to explore what they learned about the state and its people by placing their stories here. That includes transplants like King, who lived in the Pacific Northwest and the Eastern U.S. before moving to the Centennial State.

“There was something about the culture [in Colorado] that felt like I was coming home. I kept trying to figure out what it was, because I grew up in Western Oregon and the landscape is very different on the Front Range,” says King. “I wanted to ask, ‘Does being a Western American mean anything?’ Some

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Four authors with homespun story collections present a two-day panel on the ‘unique texture of experiences in Colorado’ Claire Boyles Jenny Shank Wendy J. Fox

days I think it does, some days, I think it doesn’t.”

When it comes to untangling this elusive meaning, Fox says it’s nec-

essary to confront some common Western clichés, like that of the rugged individual. She also hilariously skewers Coloradans’ tendency to start every conversation by talking about weather, even at parties.

“But it starts to run a little bit deeper. It’s also because people spend a lot of time outside,” she says. “It’s because people in rural areas may be being considerate about their livestock. It may be because there could be an extreme weather event, whether that’s a blizzard in March or, unfortunately these days, a fire in December. So there’s a kind of connectedness that people feel to the natural world. It filters out in things like small talk.”

What If We Were Somewhere Else

Fox won the 2022 Colorado Book Award for literary fiction with her collection of linked short stories, What If We Were Somewhere Else. The book follows characters who are unified by an office in Denver as they experience fraught friendships, bad bosses, job losses and other common torments of the modern workplace.

Site Fidelity

Boyles’ collection Site Fidelity, published by W.W. Norton, won the 2022 High Plains Book Award, among other accolades. The stories are set in the American West. Boyles’ primary interest is how resource extraction, including fracking and mining, affects our lives and environment.

With a bevy of singular writers attempting to capture the area’s unique flavor without being pigeonholed by it, Fox says the Colorado literary scene is going through a “really interesting time.” She points to the fact that writers here are winning big prizes and transcending the limitations of being seen simply as “Western” or “regional” authors.

“I think it’s really becoming a place for literature,” she says.



Colorado panel discussion. 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, Boulder Book Store, 1107 Pearl St. $5; 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, Tattered Cover, 2526 E. Colfax Ave., Denver. Free


Four books by Women Writing Colorado panelists

Mixed Company

Shank won the 2020 George Garrett Fiction Prize for her collection Mixed Company. In it, she juxtaposes the former “cow town” of Denver during the ’80s with the burgeoning city of today.

Bratwurst Haven

King set her collection Bratwurst Haven in Boulder County after living here from 2012 to 2016. The stories follow characters who work in a sausage factory and pull shifts at a bar to fund their art and struggles with booze and pills.

Rachel King


Music legend Adrian Belew brings Talking Heads’ 1980 classic ‘Remain in Light’ to Boulder with former band guitarist Jerry Harrison

Adrian Belew has been busy lately — but that’s nothing new for the 73-year-old music legend. Now 25 albums deep into a solo career, the former frontman of progressive British rock band King Crimson has also been taking stock of his past by revisiting a pair of key collaborations with some of rock’s biggest stars both on stage and in the studio.

This included Belew’s involvement last fall as a featured player and vocalist in the Celebrating David Bowie tour, featuring singer-songwriter Todd Rundgren, Spacehog frontman Royston Langdon and Angelo Moore of Fishbone. Joining the festivities made sense for Belew, considering he toured with Bowie on the 1978 Isolar II tour, played guitar on the icon’s 1979 album Lodger, and was musical director and guitarist on his epic Sound + Vision tour in 1990.

Now Belew, an omnivorous collaborator who began his career playing with Frank Zappa before going on to work with Paul Simon, Tori Amos, Cyndi Lauper and many others, begins what figures to be an even busier 2023 by teaming up with former Talking Heads guitarist Jerry Harrison for a tour celebrating the beloved art-rock outfit’s seminal 1980 album, Remain in Light. The show finds Belew and Harrison fronting a huge band that will play the entirety of the breakthrough album, which fused the Talking Heads’ earlier and more streamlined art-school guitar rock with African music influences to create a fresh sound heavy on polyrhythms — complex, yet highly approachable.

Once again, Belew had a direct connection to the Remain In Light

project, having played guitar on the album and served as featured player in the expanded band the Talking Heads took on tour to promote it. However, recreating the classic record on stage 43 years later hasn’t been without its challenges for Belew and fellow bandleader Harrison.

“It’s a large band. It’s always hard to make that work out economically and otherwise,” Belew says. “But it sure is fun, and we sure get a great response. I love working with Jerry [Harrison] and the band, and I love doing that record in particular. We’re trying to sort of take as our blueprint the 1980 live Rome concert that’s on YouTube, that hundreds and hundreds of people say it’s the best concert they ever saw. We started with that, and we tried to emulate it a bit. It’s a show that if you really love [the Talking Heads], you can’t miss it. It’s a happy show, a joyful show.”

“They weren’t very good, honestly. It’s amazing how quickly they became really good,” he says. “And in my mind, I compare that show … to what we did only a few years later, three years later, and I think, ‘Wow, how quickly they transformed themselves.’ Brilliant stuff — great players and just completely different musical ideas.” Belew says he began to understand how much and how quickly the Talking Heads — which also included singer and primary songwriter David Byrne, drummer Chris Frantz and bassist Tina Weymouth — had developed when he heard the band’s third album, 1979’s Fear of Music, which began to introduce an element of world music into its quirky punk rock framework.

“That was about the time I finally ended up playing with them,” Belew remembers. “Then I went back to the earlier [albums]. But still, Fear of Music was my favorite, until we did Remain In Light.”

tar parts and solos occurred to him the first time he heard the music.

“That’s exactly what happened with the next thing, which was the Remain in Light record with the Talking Heads, the same exact thing, only [he] didn’t say you can’t hear the songs. There weren’t any songs. There were just tracks and one key: ‘We’re going to build the songs around stuff, so place something and we’ll build it around you,’” Belew says. “That’s how [the song] ‘The Great Curve’ was: ‘Go out in the studio, and when you think it’s time to put a solo in, go ahead and put it in.’ And then they would write the song around it later.”

While the Remain in Light tour is an opportunity to look back on one chapter of a storied career, Belew is also focused on the future. His 2022 album Elevator, which he plans to support with a tour after the upcoming shows with Harrison, finds the musician synthesizing his decades of solo and collaborative work to create something wholly new. But whatever musical terrain may remain to be explored by the accomplished artist, he says it all comes back to a core creative inspiration that took root at an early age.

But joy isn’t what springs to mind when Belew remembers the first time he saw the Talking Heads play a small club gig in 1977, just a couple years after the band’s formation.

Like Bowie’s Lodger, the eccentric superstar producer and musician Brian Eno famously handled production duties on Remain in Light. When working together on the former album, Eno didn’t let Belew hear any of the songs before recording and didn’t even tell him what key they were in. Instead, Belew was tasked with playing whatever gui-

“I can’t really get away from the main influence that I had when I was starting out, and of course that’s the Beatles, but in particular the Revolver record, which was when the Beatles introduced all kinds of outside elements into their songwriting and their pop music,” he says. “You had Indian instruments and backwards tapes and all manner of things going on. I’m always trying to find that perfect blend of that avant-garde approach with the pop songwriting approach. That’s kind of what I’ve settled into doing. It’s a tightrope.”

ON THE BILL: Remain in Light with Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew. 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax Ave., Denver. $43 | Friday, Feb. 17, Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St. $36

Michael Weintrob


Curious Theatre Company continues its 25th season with the regional premiere of ‘Alma,’ exploring the ‘American Dream’ through the eyes of an immigrant mother and her daughter

Immigration may just be a political talking point for some Americans, but for others, it’s a tangible reality. That much is evident in Benjamin Benne’s Alma, a play examining the contours of the so-called “American dream” through the perspectives of its title character Alma, an undocumented immigrant facing deportation back to Mexico, and Angel, her first-generation daughter.

“The things people argue about over the water cooler, in Congress and online are really happening and affecting real people. It’s somebody’s daughter, mother, sister or wife,” says actor Laura Chávez, who stars as Alma “What I love about this play is that it focuses on the human beings who people may have never thought twice about, but who are most affected by immigration laws.”

The play, currently making its regional premiere at Curious Theatre Company in Denver through Feb. 18, is set on the eve of Angel’s SAT exam. While Angel preps for her test, she helps coach her mom for her upcoming citizenship exam. Both are excited about the opportunities offered by their respective evaluations, but fear the system is stacked against them.

Benne based the play on the stories he heard growing up from his mom, who immigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala without documentation in the late 1970s. Unlike many in her position today, she was able to become a citizen, which opened a pathway to safety and comfort in her new American life.

With his mom’s story in mind, the playwright began researching immigration law during the early stages of his work on Alma. Benne’s efforts resulted in a play that would take

home the National Latinx Playwriting Award after being developed locally at the 2020 Colorado New Play Summit, hosted by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA). Now the production returns to the Front Range after having its twin world premieres in 2022 at the American Blues Theater in Chicago and the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles.

this incredible team of women. I just remember listening to the play and thinking, ‘I want to do this play one day,’ Barron says. “And it’s so exciting and kind of a full-circle moment for me that I now get to play this role and be a part of this show.”

But this isn’t the first time Barron and Chávez have worked together on stage. The pair previously played a dysfunctional aunt and niece in The Source Theatre Company’s 2019 production of Suicide Lies, and Barron says the reunion is a chance to capitalize on the deep dynamic they’ve built between each other as actors.

“Laura and I connect on a whole different level, and she is so giving

“It’s so wonderful to be in a healthy environment with such powerhouse women,” Barron says. “As a person of color who is also queer, I’m no stranger to the difficulties of life. It is so beautiful to tell a story that’s so truthful but also heartbreaking.”

For Chicago-based director Denise Yvette Serna, a big part of that beauty lies in the devotion and care between Alma and Angel. “The root of the conflict is: ‘I love you so much and would do anything for you,’” Serna says. “I just think it’s beautiful that you can love someone that much.”

In addition to the tender relationship among its two main characters, Serna says she was also drawn to the script’s themes, which explore intergenerational divides and the loss of cultural identity.

“Angel’s life is completely different from her mom’s,” Serna says. “There’s this tragedy that comes from a disconnect in language, culture, and even food. Angel is embarrassed to eat the lunch that her mom makes her at school; she’d rather be hungry than eat the rice and beans. That is the tragedy of assimilation.”

For Chávez, the mother-daughter aspect hit particularly close to home. “As I was first reading the play, I thought, ‘Did somebody eavesdrop on my life and write down actual arguments I’ve had with my kid?’”

Iliana Lucero Barron, who plays Angel in Curious Theatre’s production of Alma, worked on the show when it first appeared in Denver at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ 2020 New Play Summit. “Grady Soapes [DCPA artistic producer and director of casting] gave me the offer to read stage direction for Alma at the stage reading,” Barron says. She has been a part of the festival since 2017 and was ecstatic to be a part of Alma’s presentation at the Summit.

“I got to be in the room with Benjamin Benne, the playwright, and

on stage,” Barron says. “It was a joy to step into this play with her and [was] the best gift of all, because I 100% trust Laura.”

The relationship between the play’s leads may predate this production, but the regional premiere of Alma is the first time Barron has worked with Curious Theater Company. She says getting involved with the Denver-based organization in its 25th year, alongside newly appointed artistic producer Jada Suzanne Dizon, was a special opportunity she couldn’t pass up.

But beyond these familiar moments of family intimacy, Chávez says she hopes Alma spurs more than reflection on the love between a mother and daughter. She also hopes it will change how people think about immigrant communities and policymaking writ large.

“I want the play to make immigration a 3D issue,” Chávez says. “[One] that will make audiences pause and consider if there’s a better way to deal with this that doesn’t rip apart hopes, dreams and families.”

ON STAGE: Alma by Benjamin Benne. Various times through Feb. 18, Curious Theatre Company, 1080 Acoma St., Denver. $32

Montour Larson

Blending dance and sculpture, Samuelson will invite the audience to join them “through time, space and memory” in this site-specific work made especially for the Longmont Museum.


Various times Friday, Feb. 3 through Sunday, Feb. 5, The Spark, 4847 Pearl St., Suite B4, Boulder. $18

The Spark in Boulder hosts a performance based on the popular movie and board game Clue at its theater space on Pearl Street. Was it Miss Scarlet, Colonel Mustard or Professor Plum? Drop by this family-friendly production to find out.


Various times Friday, Feb. 3 through Sunday Feb. 5, Unitiive Theatre, 800 S. Hover St., Unit 30, Longmont. $15

The knowledge. The nerves. The glory. This Unitiive Theatre performance of the Tony Award-winning musical comedy follows six pre-teens taking on the challenge of their annual middle-school spelling bee, with plenty of laughs to spare. Audience members will get to know the partici-

pants as they struggle through sets of potentially made-up words, until one fearless speller leaves as champion.



7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, The Avalon Ballroom, 6185 Arapahoe Road, Boulder. $35



1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, CU Boulder Center for Academic Success and Engagement (CASE), Fourth Floor, 1725 Euclid Ave. Free


7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3 and Saturday, Feb. 4, Stewart Auditorium, 400 S. Quail Road, Longmont. $15

Experience a new work of experimental solo performance by interdisciplinary local artist LA Samuelson.

Mardis Gras comes early to Boulder during this event hosted by KGNU Community Radio and Colorado Friends of Cajun-Zydeco Music and Dance (CFCZ). Head to the Avalon Ballroom for a night of costume contests, music, dance and more.

When it comes to the world of sports, the playing field isn’t always level for everyone. Join CU Boulder Professor Nicholas Villanueva for an intersectional unpacking of how “gender in sport intersects with other dimensions of human experience and identity such as age, ethnicity, race and social class.” Attend in-person or register in advance for the livestream.

18 FEBRUARY 2, 2023 BOULDER WEEKLY 2030 Ken Pratt Blvd. • Longmont, CO • 303-776-1747 • $3 Draft Beers - 16 oz • $5 House Margarita - 16 oz $3 Mimosa - Taco Tuesday $2 Tacos HAPPY HOUR 10am - 5pm EVERYDAY
Courtesy City of Longmont Courtesy The Spark Courtesy Unitiive Theatre Photo courtesy KGNU/CFCZ Courtesy CU Boulder

the test in Lyons this weekend. Competitors can choose a variety of run/bike combinations on gravel, snow or canyon paths. Be sure to sign up before Feb. 5. There’s no race-day registration.



10 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, location provided when registered, near Boulder. Free

Ever wonder how our wet and scaly neighbors survive the winter? Join Boulder County wildlife experts for an event that will teach you how frogs and other amphibians and reptiles get through the cold season through an interactive exploration of nearby wetland habitats.



10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, Bohn Park, 199 Second Ave., Lyons. $40

The 9th annual Old Man Winter Bike Rally and Run puts participants to



1-3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, Greenlee Wildlife Preserve, 1600 Caria Drive, Lafayette. Free

Want to get up close and personal with our feathered friends? Spend your Sunday birdwatching at the Greenlee Wildlife Preserve in Lafayette with city staff and knowledgeable birdwatching experts. No registration required. Drop-ins welcome any time.



6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, OBC’s Equality Center of the Rocky Mountains, 3340 Mitchell Lane, Boulder. Free

Out Boulder hosts a “speaking out” training on the first Tuesday of every month, designed to “give hope and inspiration to queer and questioning youth.” These events feature a panel of LGBTQ+ volunteers who will share their stories, facilitate a Q&A session and lead a post-panel discussion.



7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, Neptune Mountaineering, 633 S. Broadway, Boulder. Free

Need a little adventure in your life without risking life and limb? Cousin and Poe will thrill audiences at Neptune with stories of their climbing adventures in the Alaska Range — specifically what they’ve learned from five cumulative seasons of climbing on Denali.

Alan D. Wilson Courtesy Old Man Winter Courtesy Neptune Mountaineering


ON THE BILL: Bluegrass breakout Billy Strings comes to Broomfield’s 1STBANK Center for a two-night stint, Feb. 2-3. The 30-year-old phenom performs in support of his latest LP, Me/And/Dad, which debuted at the top of the Paradise Found Top 10 in Boulder Weekly last November. See listings for more details.


CHUCK SITERO AND DYLAN KOBER OF HIGH LONESOME. 8 p.m. Velvet Elk Lounge, 2037 13th St., Boulder. Free


8 p.m. 1STBANK Center, 11450 Broomfield Lane, Broomfield. $60


FEB. 3

AL DI MEOLA. 8 p.m. Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St. $40

THE LONE BELLOW WITH TOW’RS. 8 p.m. Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax Ave., Denver. $31


8 p.m. 1STBANK Center, 11450 Broomfield Lane, Broomfield. $60


6 p.m. BOCO Cider, 1501 Lee Hill Drive, Unit 14, Boulder. Free


7 p.m. Broomfield Auditorium, 3 Community Park Road. $20

MOONTRICKS WITH SAQI FEAT. DIAMONDE. 9 p.m. Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder. $15

AUGUSTUS WITH HEADLIGHT RIVALS. 9 p.m. Velvet Elk Lounge, 2037 13th St., Boulder. $10



9 p.m. Gothic Theatre, 3263 S. Broadway Englewood. $30


PHIL LESH AND FRIENDS (NIGHT 1). 7:30 p.m. Mission Ballroom, 4242 Wynkoop St., Denver. $125

SHAKEDOWN STREET. 8 p.m. Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street. $13


PHIL LESH AND FRIENDS (NIGHT 2). 7:30 p.m. Mission Ballroom, 4242 Wynkoop St., Denver. $75


FRYS WINTER CONCERT: WINTER MUSINGS. 7 p.m. Arvada Center for the Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. $12


A BOOGIE WIT DA HOODIE WITH LOLA BROOKE, J.I. AND BOUBA SAVAGE. 8 p.m. Mission Ballroom, 4242 Wynkoop St., Denver. $40

EDEN WITH SLENDERBODIES. 8 p.m. Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax Ave., Denver. $32



9 p.m. Velvet Elk Lounge, 2037 13th St., Boulder. Free



Academy Award longshots ‘Argentina, 1985’ and ‘Causeway’ remind us what the Oscars are good for

The nominees for the 95th Academy Awards are in. The headlines already belong to the genre-smashing Everything Everywhere All at Once and the surprise inclusion of Andrea Riseborough in the Actress in a Leading Role category for her turn as a small-town lottery winner who bottoms out in To Leslie. The nomination highlights that even the little movies that come and go offer something to discover. In that vein, here are two you can stream tonight.

First, Argentina, 1985, which was nominated in the International Feature category. The latest from director Santiago Mitre dramatizes the Trial of the Juntas, the heads of the fascistic military government that ruled Argentina from 1976–83. Ricardo Darín plays lead prosecutor Julio César Strassera as a man exhausted by work but emboldened by family.

Argentina, 1985 might not win the statue on Oscar night, but for a nearly two-and-a-halfhour courtroom drama, it’s an engaging piece of storytelling with more than a few unsavory parallels to modern-day abuses of power and cruelty. Some histories don’t feel like history at all.

Those long-shot odds probably hold for Causeway, nominated in the Actor in a Supporting Role category, but it would be a shame to overlook this quiet drama starring Jennifer Lawrence and the nominated Brian Tyree Henry. Lawrence plays Lynsey, a soldier returning from Afghanistan after a traumatic experience. Henry plays James, a mechanic drifting through life trying to put his own trauma behind him. Yes, they come together and help each other, but not in the way you might expect.

Directed by Lila Neugebauer, Causeway is a movie where the drama exists between the pauses. It’s a somewhat dour affair, thankfully leavened by the setting, a muggy and lush New Orleans, and the casualness of Henry’s performance. His candor brings Lynsey out of her shell, and his ability to toggle back and forth between jovial and serious — often with those same piercing eyes — makes his performance feel like no performance at all.

It would be a surprise to see Henry hoist the statue on March 12 — he’s up against Barry Keoghan and Brendan Gleeson, both for The Banshees of Inisherin, Ke Huy Quan for his multi-faceted performance in Everything Everywhere and

Judd Hirsch’s scene stealer in The Fabelmans. But Henry’s nomination is an acknowledgment of good work, which will hopefully spur movie lovers to seek out this small and rewarding film. If nothing else, that’s what the Oscars are good for.

ON SCREEN: Stream Argentina, 1985 on Amazon Prime, Causeway on Apple TV+ and watch the 95th Academy Awards Sunday, March 12, on ABC.

Courtesy Amazon Prime


ARIES (March 21-April 19): During my quest for advice that might be helpful to your love life, I plucked these words of wisdom from author Sam Kean: “Books about relationship talk about how to ‘get’ the love you need, how to ‘keep’ love, and so on. But the right question to ask is, ‘How do I become a more loving human being?’” In other words, Aries, here’s a prime way to enhance your love life: Be less focused on what others can give you and more focused on what you can give to others. Amazingly, that’s likely to bring you all the love you want.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): You have the potential to become even more skilled at the arts of kissing and cuddling and boinking than you already are. How? Here are some possibilities. 1. Explore fun experiments that will transcend your reliable old approaches to kissing and cuddling and boinking. 2. Read books to open your mind. I like Margot Anand’s The New Art of Sexual Ecstasy. 3. Ask your partner(s) to teach you everything about what turns them on. 4. Invite your subconscious mind to give you dreams at night that involve kissing and cuddling and boinking. 5. Ask your lover(s) to laugh and play and joke as you kiss and cuddle and boink.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): You are an Italian wolf searching for food in the Apennine Mountains. You’re a red-crowned crane nesting in a wetland in the Eastern Hokkaido region of Japan. You’re an olive tree thriving in a salt marsh in southern France, and you’re a painted turtle basking in a pool of sunlight on a beach adjoining Lake Michigan. And much, much more. What I’m trying to tell you, Gemini, is that your capacity to empathize is extra strong right now. Your smart heart should be so curious and open that you will naturally feel an instinctual bond with many life forms, including a wide array of interesting humans. If you’re brave, you will allow your mind to expand to experience telepathic powers. You will have an unprecedented knack for connecting with simpatico souls.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): My Cancerian friend Juma says, “We have two choices at all times: creation or destruction. Love creates and everything else destroys.” Do you agree? She’s not just talking about romantic love, but rather love in all forms, from the urge to help a friend, to the longing to seek justice for the dispossessed, to the compassion we feel for our descendants. During the next three weeks, your assignment is to explore every nuance of love as you experiment with the following hypothesis: To create the most interesting and creative life for yourself, put love at the heart of everything you do

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): I hope you get ample chances to enjoy deep soul kisses in the coming weeks. Not just perfunctory lip-to-lip smooches and pecks on the cheeks, but full-on intimate sensual exchanges. Why do I recommend this? How could the planetary positions be interpreted to encourage a specific expression of romantic feeling? I’ll tell you, Leo: The heavenly omens suggest you will benefit from exploring the frontiers of wild affection. You need the extra sweet, intensely personal communion that comes best from the uninhibited mouthto-mouth form of tender sharing. Here’s what Leo poet Diane di Prima said: “There are as many kinds of kisses as there are people on earth, as there are permutations and combinations of those people. No two people kiss alike — no two people fuck alike — but somehow the kiss is more personal, more individualized than the fuck.”

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Borrowing the words of poet Oriah from her book The Dance: Moving to the Deep Rhythms of Your Life, I’ve prepared a love note for you to use as your own this Valentine season. Feel free to give these words to the person whose destiny needs to be woven more closely together with yours. Oriah writes, “Don’t tell me how wonderful things will be someday. Show me you can risk being at peace with the way things are right now. Show me how you follow

your deepest desires, spiraling down into the ache within the ache. Take me to the places on the earth that teach you how to dance, the places where you can risk letting the world break your heart.”

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Libran author Walter Lippman wrote, “The emotion of love is not self-sustaining; it endures only when lovers love many things together, and not merely each other.” That’s great advice for you during the coming months. I suggest that you and your allies — not just your romantic partners, but also your close companions — come up with collaborative projects that inspire you to love many things together. Have fun exploring and researching subjects that excite and awaken and enrich both of you.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Scorpio writer Paul Valéry wrote, “It would be impossible to love anyone or anything one knew completely. Love is directed towards what lies hidden in its object.” My challenge to you, Scorpio, is to test this hypothesis. Do what you can to gain more in-depth knowledge of the people and animals and things you love. Uncover at least some of what’s hidden. All the while, monitor yourself to determine how your research affects your affection and care. Contrary to what Valéry said, I’m guessing this will enhance and exalt your love.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): In his book

Unapologetically You, motivational speaker Steve Maraboli writes, “I find the best way to love someone is not to change them, but instead, help them reveal the greatest version of themselves.” That’s always good advice, but I believe it should be your inspirational axiom in the coming weeks. More than ever, you now have the potential to forever transform your approach to relationships. You can shift away from wanting your allies to be different from what they are and make a strong push to love them just as they are.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): I analyzed the astrological omens. Then I scoured the internet, browsed through 22 books of love poetry, and summoned memories of my best experiences of intimacy. These exhaustive efforts inspired me to find the words of wisdom that are most important for you to hear right now. They are from poet Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Stephen Mitchell): “For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation.”

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): To get the most out of upcoming opportunities for intimacy, intensify your attunement to and reverence for your emotions. Why? As quick and clever as your mind can be, sometimes it neglects to thoroughly check in with your heart. And I want your heart to be wildly available when you get ripe chances to open up and deepen your alliances. Study these words from psychologist Carl Jung: “We should not pretend to understand the world only by the intellect; we apprehend it just as much by feeling. Therefore, the judgment of the intellect is, at best, only the half of truth, and must, if it be honest, also come to an understanding of its inadequacy.”

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): “In love there are no vacations. Love has to be lived fully with its boredom and all that.” Author and filmmaker Marguerite Duras made that observation, and now I convey it to you — just in time for a phase of your astrological cycle when boredom and apathy could and should evolve into renewed interest and revitalized passion. But there is a caveat: If you want the interest and passion to rise and surge, you will have to face the boredom and apathy; you must accept them as genuine aspects of your relationship; you will have to cultivate an amused tolerance of them. Only then will they burst in full glory into renewed interest and revitalized passion.


Q: My fiancé has a foot fetish, and he hates it. Can you tell him it’s harmless and immutable?

A: Harmless! Immutable! Also, we’re living in the golden age of foot-fetishist representation—from the conniving, murderous, unctuous Ser Larys Strong on HBO’s House of the Dragon (prestige television!) to the sweet, goofy, traumatized Jimmy on TLC’s MILF Manor (trash television!), guys with a thing for feet are suddenly all over our screens. And as kinks go, there are far… well, I don’t want to say worse fetishes. Let’s just say there are fetishes that are far harder to explain, far riskier to attempt, and that a vanilla partner is far less likely to happily indulge you in.

Q: Would you contact an ex after a year to ask how they are?

A: Depends on the ex, depends on the breakup, and depends on where we left things. If the ex was a genuinely nice person that I liked, I might be inclined to reach out. If I experienced the breakup as amicable and I have every reason to believe my ex did too, I might be inclined to reach out. And if the last time we talked we both said we would be open to being friends in the future, I might be inclined to reach out.

Q: Are you experienced with chastity?

A: I have tried on a cock cage — once a philosopher — but the idea of having my cock locked up for an extended period of time doesn’t appeal to me.

Q: Is sexting real sex or mutual masturbation? Is sex with an AI chatbot real sex or masturbation?

A: The American Psychological Association defines “mutual masturbation” as a “sexual activity in which two individuals stimulate each other’s genitals at the same time for the purpose of sexual gratification.”

(Emphasis added for, well, emphasis.) Since you can’t touch someone’s else junk via sext message, sexting wouldn’t count as mutual masturbation. It’s a shared erotic experience, and one many people in monogamous relationships would consider cheating, but it’s not a sex act. And

while you can certainly stimulate your own genitals as you swap messages with an AI chatbot, that’s not fucking. That’s typing.

Q: How do I get my libido back?

I’ve lost it to SSRIs and boredom.

A: Talk to your doctor about adjusting your meds — advocate for your own libido — and then talk to your partner about breaking out of your sexual rut(s). If you’re always having sex with the same person, in the same place, at the same time, and in the same way, try having sex with someone else, someplace else, at some other time, and in some other way. If you aren’t allowed to have sex with anyone else, then have sex someplace else, at some other time, and in some other way with your partner. And if the only person you’re allowed to have sex with (or want to have sex with) isn’t willing to give other places, times, and ways a try, well, breakups are never boring.

Q: How does one find space for masturbation when living together with very little alone time?

A: One takes long showers, one gets up early or goes to bed late, one seizes opportunities as they present themselves, e.g., partner has a doctor’s appointment, partner is out with friends, partner is locked in the storage unit in the basement.

Q: Speaking of Muppet faces… who is your favorite actual Muppet?

A: My ideal man has always been Janice from the Muppets: no lipstick, less mascara, and a very big dick.

Q: Why do I have to feel ashamed in order to come?

A: Because that’s what turns you on. But just like women who need vibrators in order to come shouldn’t feel ashamed, and men who need tit play in order to come shouldn’t feel ashamed, dirty little sex perverts like you who need to feel ashamed in order to come shouldn’t feel ashamed either.

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Chef John Bissell leaves OAK at Fourteenth with a tour de force final menu

Chef John Bissell has spent two illustrious years running the kitchen at OAK at Fourteenth. During that time, he put his signature on seven of the finest seasonal menus to have emerged from the restaurant since it was first opened by Chef Steve Redzikowski in 2010. From the time of its debut, OAK has been the area’s premier location for seasonal, wood-fired American food and inventive cocktails. The eatery recently put out its winter menu, which will be the last by Bissell before he leaves for Portland with plans to open his own spot. He will continue to cook at OAK through Saturday, Feb. 11.

Bissell grew up in Black Forest, Colorado, and has steadily amassed a serious culinary pedigree since working as an overnight cook at King Soopers while attending the University of Colorado. He’s gone on to work at both Mountain Sun and Southern Sun before joining the opening team at Denver’s sorely missed temple for all things meat, Old Major. He then proceeded to cook at the now-shuttered Acorn during its golden era, where he worked alongside Anette’s Caroline Glover and Bar Dough’s Russell Stippich. It was there he found an important mentor in chef Amos Watts, who has

continued to shape the Front Range’s culinary scene with the launch of eclectic LoHi eatery The Fifth String in 2020. Bissell’s path took him to Los Angeles where he cooked classic French cuisine under celebrity chef Ludo Lefebvre at both the famed Trois Mec and its 12-seat counterpart Petit Trois. He returned to take the helm at OAK in May 2021.

Bissell recently accepted a position with Josh McFadden’s Portland-based Submarine Hospitality. Beginning this month, he will help McFadden reopen Ava Gene’s, McFadden’s vegetablecentered trattoria that came in fifth on Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants in America in 2013. The space has been closed since the early days of the pandemic. McFadden gained fame for his award-winning 2017 cookbook Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables

Once Ava Gene’s is up and running, Bissell will pivot into establishing his own space, a breakfast and lunch joint in the Ace Hotel downtown. Under the name Stones Throw, Bissell will focus on bread, charcuterie, pastries, Japanese breakfast sandwiches, Roman-style focaccia and salad shakers. “My dream has always been to open a sandwich shop,” Bissell says. “You gotta do the formal stuff before you do the casual

stuff,” he continues, noting that he hopes Stones Throw will open toward the end of the summer with a “refined convenience store vibe.”

Bissell’s influence at OAK has been substantial. He’s created some truly virtuoso menus, each one better than the last. “I’ve become more confident trusting the ingredients. Less bells and whistles and more focus on solid technique,” says the chef, though he contends that his greatest contribution has been in reshaping the restaurant’s culture. “Not to say that I’ve become obsolete, but at this point the cooks and the sous chefs carry the entire restaurant,” he says with a smile. “I wouldn’t be ready to leave if I didn’t think this place was 100% set up for success.”

In the interim, folks will be seeing more of Chef Redzikowski, with OAK’s four sous chefs — Chelsey Mascchoff, Arturo Bancalari, Reuben Tomlins and Devin Donohue — executing the crescendo that is Bissell’s parting selection of shared plates and entrees.

Bissell says the menu was largely inspired by the cuisines of Scandinavia, Nepal and the Upper Midwest. The steelhead salmon crudo with blood orange, chili lime vinaigrette, thinly-sliced serrano and mint is a good place to start and a nice example of Bissell’s ability to reference a variety of cooking styles while still making wholly original dishes. From there, the Belgian endive salad comes intricately dressed with blue cheese dressing, candied walnut, dill and a healthy portion of freshly-grated horse-

radish. The kale salad is a menu staple from day one, though the Berkshire pork capicola might be a better way to experience Bissell’s real knack for house-cured meats. While it’s easy to fill up on shared plates, it’s worth saving room for the Oak Roasted Alaskan Halibut, which comes atop a thick chowder base dotted with Calabrian chile oil.

With this list, Bissell made a point of presenting his kitchen staff with a greater degree of ownership. “This is the first menu I’ve given my sous chefs a chance to get items on. My biggest thing with this was giving the staff a voice more and more,” he says. The grilled Spanish octopus with maitake mushroom and pumpkin seeds is drenched in a cole coloradito developed by Bancalari.

Libation-wise, do not leave without getting the Mononoke, an ingenious concoction of Szechuan-peppercorninfused Ohishi Sakura Cask Whisky, yuzu, shiso leaf and umeboshi plum gastrique under a thick blanket of green tea egg white foam.

While Bissell has left some big shoes to fill, guests can expect a new menu by a new chef to arrive come springtime.

Chef John Bissel, photo by Lucy Beaugard The interior of OAK at Fourteenth, photo by Lucy Beaugard


Imiss having gas, I really do. My furnace uses it, but not the stove in my apartment. I spent years cooking in professional kitchens and always on gas — never electric — stoves.

There are cooking results I can get from a responsive gas flame that my flat-top electric simply won’t produce. One word: caramelization. Gas flames get hotter quicker. You also need a flame to char green chilies and use a wok.

I get why people love gas stoves, but I’ve accepted the fact that I’m unlikely to ever have one in my home again. Contrary to recent alarmist social media, the woke dark state isn’t coming to confiscate your beloved blue flame. Gas stoves are unlikely to be totally banned, they’ll just fade away.

The latest reason to de-gas and electrify is fresh research published in December by Boulder’s Rocky Mountain Institute indicating that rates of childhood asthma are higher in homes with gas stoves.

If nothing else, the pandemic taught us the critical health importance of good ventilation. Gas stoves emit various gasses, including methane, which fill the interior air of homes unless they have strong air exhaust systems. Most older homes do not.

At the same time, more and more local cities, including Boulder, are reportedly considering a ban on gas stoves in new construction because of the impact on climate change. Rebates are available to switch from gas to electric.

I understand there is also a problem with how utilities generate electricity, but over time, fossil fuels are likely to be a dwindling source.

Baby boomers may grumble, but you won’t hear it from climate-focused millennials and Gen Z members. They can’t label themselves as a “climatarian” or “regenivore” and be able to rationalize burning fossil fuels with open flames in their kitchen.

for as long as utilities supply gas. Many cuisines simply require highheat gas to produce the fare they’re famous for. While eateries must have ventilation systems for indoorbreathing safety, they send the pollutants into the environment. Eventually, like rotary dial phones and eight-track tapes, the home gas stove will become a curious relic of the fading fossil fuel age.


Lots of well-meaning eateries talk “local” and may mention a farm on the menu, but Bramble & Hare truly goes the distance. I sampled an entrée there featuring virtually only ingredients from the eatery’s Black Cat Farm in Boulder. The plate was centered around two tender, savory cuts of rare Mulefoot pork with ancho chile cream nestled atop Bouldergrown polenta. The substantial feast included a fennel salad and perfect ly prepared, Black Cat-grown braised kale and multi-color carrots.


and BRUTØ in Denver. The Best Chef: Mountain semifinalists include Michael Diaz de Leon at BRUTØ

Outstanding Chef nominee Dana Rodriguez, owner/chef of Super Mega Bien, is also the food mind behind the soon-to-reopen Casa Bonita

Other local James Beard semifinalists in other categories include Emerging Chef (Bo Porytko, Misfit Snack Bar, Denver), New Restaurant (Friar’s Fork, Alamosa), and Baker (Ismael de Sousa, Reunion Bread Co., Denver)


● Attention: farm food fans. You better sign up for a local farm CSA program ASAP before they are sold out for the summer. It’s one of the easiest ways to enjoy great fresh produce and directly support local farmers.

Even now, natural gas stoves are used in only about a third of households in the U.S. Housing for elderly baby boomers almost never includes gas stoves for safety and health reasons. The reality is that over time, fewer and fewer of us will have any history of cooking with gas.

Besides, it seems like more of us are doing a substantial amount of home cooking in microwave ovens and air fryers anyway.

Some cooks with electric stoves opt for using an outdoor propane burner when they absolutely need what a big gas flame can deliver.

Restaurants are a separate reality. Gas stoves are likely to remain there

● After 30 years, New Belgium Brewery is re-formulating one of Colorado’s quintessential brews, Fat Tire Ale, for modern and younger taste buds. If you can find any old Fat Tire, hoard it. It may be worth big bucks in six months when people get desper ate for the original. It’ll be like Classic Coke versus New Coke. (Google it.)

● The Longmont Bakery now fea tures a rare treat: scratch-made Fig Newton cookies.

● Fatworks — an artisan cooking fat company in Longmont — has introduced a skincare line that uses tallow (beef fat) as a base.


The list of the 2023 James Beard Award national semifinalists includes Kelly Whitaker in the Outstanding Restaurateur category. His Id Est Hospitality Group includes Basta and Dry Storage Boulder, and The Wolf’s Tailor

Cooks may cringe, but it won’t be long until the home gas stove is an antique relic
Bramble & Hare’s Mulefoot pork, photo by John Lehndorff

● Boulder’s Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts is once again offering classes for home cooks. Upcoming sessions include: Spanish Tapas (Feb. 10), Mexican Street Tacos, Sauces, Tortillas and Fillings (Feb. 11) and Southern Comfort Food (Feb. 19).

● The inaugural Mile High Asian Food Week is set for Feb. 22-26 in Denver.

● Boulder International Film Festival’s annual CineCHEF tasting, March 2, will feature fare from Boulder and Denver chefs, music and desserts.

● Upcoming: Taste of Vail, April 5-8; Boulder Creek Festival, May 26-29; Aspen Food & Wine Classic, June-16-18.

Send information about food events and classes to:



64%: That’s the percentage of shoppers expressing concern over “shrinkflation,” the phenomenon of products shrinking in quantity, size or weight while prices and packaging remain the same. As food prices rise, many of those shoppers are opting for the less pricey store private brand foods.

(Source: National 2022 Morning Consult)


“When I cook, I want to put everything in the oven, and then I want to take a bath for half an hour, and then when I get out of the tub, I want everything to be ready.” —David Sedaris

John Lehndorff co-hosts Kitchen Table Talk with Boulder chefs Dan Asher, Edwin Zoe and Eric Skokan, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Feb. 2 on KGNU-FM.

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Afew years back there was a heated debate over whether plant-based beverages like soy or almond milk could be advertised as milk, which is legally defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as material from the glands of lactating mammals. The dairy industry, for obvious reasons, wanted the FDA to enforce that definition. A California judge ruled against the dairy industry, citing the fact that “language evolves.” As does food. And given that plant-based beverages do a lot of what milk does, and are growing in popularity for a variety of reasons, calling them “milk” makes sense in that light as well.

The homemade versions — especially nut milks — are spectacular. Properly made, they are superior to store bought on every metric, including flavor, texture, all around milkiness and even cost. And they don’t take long to prepare.

You must have a high-speed blender. I use a Vitamix. Blendtec makes a solid product, as does Ninja, though it’s harder to clean. I really like the speed control of the Vitamix, which has a dial rather than buttons. It’s akin to the difference between driving stick versus automatic, or cooking on gas versus electric. The point is:

A regular blender won’t cut it. A good blender is worth the investment.

The other thing you need is a foodgrade cloth strainer. I purchased a nut milk bag at the local hippy food store for straining out skins, fibers and other grainy interruptions to the milky experience.

Of course, you need nuts. Raw and unsalted. My four favorites are almonds, hazelnuts, coconut and cashews, which isn’t technically a nut.

Each of these nut milks has its strengths. If you can find almonds that haven’t been steamed or irradiated, you can get them to sprout before making the almond milk, which is fun. Fresh, sprouted almond milk has the most aromatic flavor of any nut milk except perhaps coconut. Hazelnut milk is creamy with a slightly bitter flavor that blends well with chocolate. Cashew milk is the silkiest, with the creamiest feel, while coconut milk has actual fat you can skim.

Something else to consider is waste. Both almonds and coconut milk involve filtering out a lot of material, while cashew and hazelnuts produce almost none (but those small amounts are still worth filtering out).

Put the nuts in a high-speed blender with about six ice cubes and 3 to 6 cups of water, depending on how

thick or thin you want it to be. Start on low speed and raise the speed incrementally until it’s going full blast. Let it go on high for about 30 seconds and turn off. Pour the liquid into your nut milk bag or whatever system you have and filter out the solids.

That’s it. You can lightly season it with sweetener, a pinch of salt and a drop of vanilla. Start light and explore the possibilities.

My own explorations led me into the fragrant arms of golden milk, an ayurvedic (ancient Indian) beverage that is having a moment, riding a wave of popularity around the internet and groovy cafes near you.

A milk-based drink with turmeric, ginger, black pepper and other spices, the flavor is a bit reminiscent of chai tea, and each cook will have a different formulation. It can be served hot or cold, mild or spicy, raspy or smooth.

My approach to golden milk is an attempt to recreate the golden milk I had at Loved By The Sun, a juice bar in Hilo, Hawaii. It was cashew-based, served cold, was not rip-your-face-off spicy but smooth and buttery, like an afternoon nap in the shade. They wouldn’t tell me how they make it, and I don’t blame them. But I think I’ve come pretty close.


1 cup raw cashews, soaked

1 cubic inch of fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced

1 cubic inch of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

9 small pitted dates; about 1/4 cup

To taste: cayenne powder or thinskinned red chile

Optional: Pinch or more of powdered turmeric for color

Add the dates, turmeric, ginger and spices to the blender, along with six ice cubes. Drain the cashews and pour on top with some fresh water. Grind, filter. Serve chilled.

The spices and dates can be blended by themselves, without ice cubes, water or cashews, and kept as a sweet spicy paste that can be added to milk, or used as a chutney.

The filtered golden milk is magnificent as is; a lush and spicy eggnog. It can also be combined with more ingredients to go even different places. Blending with avocado adds a stupendous body to the golden milk, such that a spoon may be required. Golden milk is great with coffee, too, but I wouldn’t go adding it to your morning coffee. As a general rule, plant milks fall short when it comes to doctoring coffee, but a shot or two of strong coffee in your golden milk fits in really well.

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New research exposes a cannabis breeding technique that could allow cultivators to grow nine times more plants

Mother plants are a staple in most commercial cannabis operations. Shoots from a mother plant are cut and their severed ends are dipped in cloning solution to become vegetative cuttings — new cannabis plants. The mothers are cloned repeatedly like this for several months before another mother plant replaces them.

This is how cultivators ensure the quality of their bud is high, but also that it’s standardized. They’re essentially growing the same plant over and over again. In technical terms, you’d call it a monoculture of the same cultivar.

But there are problems with cloning like this. Sometimes plants require a rooting solution to stimulate growth. Mother plants take up a lot of space and they lose vigor over time. And if you take too many clones from a single mother, you can end up with unhealthy liners (aka young plants).

“There’s a lot of potential for disease,” Lauren Kurtz says.“They’re constantly wounding the plants.”

Kurtz is a graduate student in horticulture at the University of Connecticut (UCONN). She recently co-authored a research paper with Jessica Lubell-Brand comparing the growth efficiency of regular vegetative

cuttings against two other types of liners: microcuttings and re-tip cuttings.

Their findings suggest there may be a better way to commercially propagate cannabis mother plants.

“The industry is mostly clonally propagated,” Kurtz says. “We’re just using basic plant propagation strategies that have been used with other plants and [applying them] to cannabis.”

The researchers planted tissue culture from each of the three types of liners and grew them in identical conditions. They then measured different growth parameters between the three treatments.

They found all three methods produced plants that grow to the same end size. Kurtz says they were expecting a clear winner, but there wasn’t one. Vegetative cuttings, micro-cuttings and re-tip cuttings all produced mature plants with similar sizes and flower yields.

However, the re-tipping method stood out in one significant way. Instead of traditional propagation, those mother plants were micropropagated and grown in small containers in a laboratory under sterile conditions. The re-tip cuttings were then harvested from those and grown into

full cannabis plants. Re-tipping in this way could allow cultivators to increase output by using the plants as mothers in addition to using them as production plants.

And re-tip cuttings take up far less space than conventional vegetative cuttings.

“Re-tipping has the potential to produce nine times as many plants in a similar amount of floor space as stem cuttings from traditional stock mother plants,” says Lubell-Brand. “This method could help cultivation facilities grow more in less space while maintaining the quality of their product.”

Kurtz says the re-tip cuttings grow vigorously and are less susceptible to developing diseases over time. They also don’t require a rooting solution.

But adopting re-tipping would require cannabis grow operations to invest in a whole new system of plant propagation.

“Tissue culture laboratories are necessary to produce micropropagated plants. So you need a sterile environment, you need an autoclave, you need a laminar flow flood,” Kurtz explains.

Lubell-Brand also offers a possible workaround.

“Not every cultivation facility has the means to build a laboratory and grow micropropagated plants,” she says. “However, there are plant nurseries with laboratories that can step in to provide them, especially as cannabis cultivation becomes legal in more states.”

The goal of this research, Katz says, is about exposing this propagation method as a potential for cannabis companies

“The legal cannabis industry is forging ahead of the science,” Kurtz says. “Our lab is helping to bridge the gap and provide evidence-based strategies to improve cultivation.”

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Articles from Boulder Weekly 02.02.2023