Boulder Weekly 3.11.21

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writers on the range:

The West badly needs a restoration economy by Jonathan Thompson










weed between the lines:


Community organizers are navigating residents through Boulder’s online petitioning system by Matt Cortina

A slew of bills have been introduced at the state Capitol, including one proposing universal representation at immigration court by Angela K. Evans

How NFTs are changing the world of collectibles and art by Caitlin Rockett

MeatOut Day calls for people to try a plant-based diet, but the Colorado ag industry isn’t happy about it by Matt Cortina

Cannabis Doing Good awards companies working to right the wrongs in the industry by Will Brendza

departments 8 Guest Column: Clinging to privilege 9 Letters: Signed, sealed, delivered, your views 17 Events: Science under the dome, celebrating women in the mountains, art, music and more to do when there’s ‘nothing’ to do... 20 Words: ‘A Lot,’ by Garrett Okenka 21 Film: SXSW Film Festival goes virtual and loads up on music 22 Astrology: by Rob Brezsny 23 Savage Love: Cutting remarks 25 Food/Drink: Chicken Shawarma Wrap @ Boychik 27 Drink: Local distillers produce whiskeys that highlight the breadth of the spirit BOULDER COUNTY’S INDEPENDENT VOICE


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Publisher, Fran Zankowski Editor, Matt Cortina Circulation Manager, Cal Winn EDITORIAL Senior Editor, Angela K. Evans Arts and Culture Editor, Caitlin Rockett Contributing Writers, Peter Alexander, Dave Anderson, Emma Athena, Will Brendza, Rob Brezsny, Michael J. Casey, Sarah Haas, Jim Hightower, Dave Kirby, John Lehndorff, Rico Moore, Amanda Moutinho, Katie Rhodes, Leland Rucker, Dan Savage, Alan Sculley, Ryan Syrek, Christi Turner, Betsy Welch, Tom Winter, Gary Zeidner SALES AND MARKETING Market Development Manager, Kellie Robinson Account Executives, Matthew Fischer, Sami Wainscott Advertising Coordinator, Corey Basciano Mrs. Boulder Weekly, Mari Nevar PRODUCTION Art Director, Susan France Senior Graphic Designer, Mark Goodman CIRCULATION TEAM Dave Hastie, Dan Hill, George LaRoe, Jeffrey Lohrius, Elizabeth Ouslie, Rick Slama BUSINESS OFFICE Bookkeeper, Regina Campanella Founder/CEO, Stewart Sallo Editor-at-Large, Joel Dyer

March 11, 2021 Volume XXVIII, Number 30 As Boulder County's only independently owned newspaper, Boulder Weekly is dedicated to illuminating truth, advancing justice and protecting the First Amendment through ethical, no-holds-barred journalism and thought-provoking opinion writing. Free every Thursday since 1993, the Weekly also offers the county's most comprehensive arts and entertainment coverage. Read the print version, or visit Boulder Weekly does not accept unsolicited editorial submissions. If you're interested in writing for the paper, please send queries to: editorial@ Any materials sent to Boulder Weekly become the property of the newspaper.

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The West badly needs a restoration economy by Jonathan Thompson


armington, a city of 45,000 in the northwestern corner of New Mexico, has run on a fossil fuel economy for a century. It is one of the only places on the planet where a 26-kiloton nuclear device was detonated underground to free up natural gas from the rock. The city’s baseball team was called the Frackers, and a home run hit out of their practice park was likely to land next to a pack of gas wells. The community’s economy and identity are so tied up with fossil fuels that the place should probably try a new name like Carbonton,

Methanedale or Drillsville. Over the last decade, however, the oil and gas roller coaster here has shuddered nearly to a halt, and one of two giant coal-fired power plants is about to shut down. The carbon corporations that have been exploiting the local labor and landscape for decades are fleeing, taking thousands of jobs with them. Left behind are gaping coal-mine wounds, rotting infrastructure and well-pad scars oozing methane. The pattern of abandonment is mirrored in communities from Wyoming to Utah to Western


MARCH 11, 2021

Colorado to the Navajo Nation. Community leaders scramble to find solutions. Some cling to what they know, throwing their weight behind schemes to keep coal viable, such as carbon capture, while others bank on outdoor recreation, tourism and cottage industries. Yet one solution to the woes rarely comes up in these conversations: Restoration as economic development. Why not put unemployed miners and drillers back to work reclaiming closed coal mines and plugging up idled or low-producing oil and gas wells? The EPA estimates that there are some 2 million unplugged abandoned wells nationwide, many of them leaking methane, the greenhouse gas with see WRITERS ON THE RANGE Page 8



Clinging to privilege by Gregory Nelson


n Saturday, March 6, hundreds of CU Boulder students played part in a maskless, bacchanal spring celebration in the midst of a pandemic that has killed more than 2.5 million people worldwide. By night’s end the ground was littered with broken glass and debris, Isabella Sackheim’s car was tipped over and destroyed, a fire truck was ridden and pummeled with cans and bottles, the SWAT team arrived, tear gas was deployed, and three police officers were injured. I’ve lived in Boulder County almost exclusively since 2001 and am a CU alumnus myself. These events hit close to home quite literally. In fact, I was even witness to a similar event back in 2001 during my freshman year. After a particularly good or bad (who can remember?) football game, The Hill was swarmed by students setting fires in newspaper boxes, throwing objects and, yes, attempting to tip a car. The police came out in full riot gear, deployed gas and marched the students back onto campus firing rubber bullets and pepper bombs along the way. This is nothing new to CU or University Hill. Couches and upholstered furniture were banned from porches almost 20 years ago because students were so frequently setting them on fire. But something about Saturday feels different. There have been comments online equating the violence that erupted in Boulder to the Black Lives Matter protests that took place last summer. If you haven’t seen these, they’re similar to the comparisons that were made to the siege on the

Capitol building on Jan. 6; the type of whataboutism that’s become prevalent in social media forums. Clearly, there’s nothing that can equate the protest of generations of systemic racism and inequality to a frat party allowed to get out of hand. It is, in fact, the contrast that really hit me. The sort of behavior that was on display Saturday was only possible because of rich, white privilege. I find it doubtful that any of its major participants had any thought that there might be consequences to their actions. And here I’m not just talking about the consequences their actions have on others; the destruction of property, the closure of businesses, etc., but more importantly (to this point) the consequences to themselves. How could they be arrested? How could they be kicked out of school? Privilege is a detriment to both those with and without it (though undeniably much more so to those without). There’s a major difference between taking to the streets because you can be arrested and taking to the streets just because you can. There’s a difference between living your entire life knowing you can be harassed, arrested or killed because of how you look and spending a year with a mask on your face while you’re in public. The loudest cries for freedom are from oppressors clinging to their privilege. Boulder is one of the most liberal cities in our country and yet it remains one of the least diverse. The

The sort of

behavior that was on display on Saturday was only possible because of rich, white privilege.




MARCH 11, 2021


86 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide, along with healthharming volatile organic compounds and even deadly hydrogen sulfide. Hundreds of thousands of additional wells are still active, yet have been idled or are marginal producers, and they will also need plugging and reclaiming. Oilfield service companies and their employees have the skills and equipment needed and could go back to work immediately. A 2020 report from the Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy found that a nationwide well-plugging program could employ more than 100,000 highwage workers. Massive coal mines are also shutting down and will need to be reclaimed. Northern Arizona’s Kayenta Mine, owned by coal-giant Peabody, shut down in late 2019, along with the Navajo Generating Station, resulting in the loss of nearly 300 jobs. The Western Organization of Resource Councils estimated that proper reclamation of the mine could keep most of those miners employed for an additional two to three years. Peabody, however, still has not begun to meet its reclamation obligations. This is a failure not only on Peabody’s part but also of the federal mining regulators who should be holding the company’s feet to the fire. Who will pay for all of this? Mining and drilling companies are required to put up financial bonds in order to get development permits, and they’re forfeited if the companies I

fail to properly reclaim the well or mine. Unfortunately, these bonds are almost always inadequate. A Government Accountability Office report found that the Bureau of Land Management held about $2,000 in bonds, on average, for each well on federal land. Yet the cost to plug and reclaim each well ranges from $20,000 to $145,000. An example: In New Mexico, a company can put up as little as $2,500 per well that costs at least $35,000 to plug. Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet tried to remedy this last year by crafting a bill that would increase bonds and create a fund for plugging abandoned wells. Republicans kept the bill from progressing, but with an administration that touted reclamation of mines and abandoned wells in a climaterelated executive order, and a new Senate in place, the bill stands a good chance of going forward. Economic development focusing on restoring the land once miners leave is a natural fit for beleaguered towns suffering the latest bust. “Restoration work... is accepting an abandoned responsibility,” wrote Barry Lopez, the renowned nature writer who died recently. “It is a humble and often joyful mending of biological ties, with a hope clearly recognized that working from this foundation we might, too, begin to mend human society.” This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly. BOULDER COUNTY’S INDEPENDENT VOICE

Bold democracy reform For generations, we’ve been told that money is power. It’s an axiom that continues to drive our politics. Despite being able to vote for our elected officials, once they reach public office, they’re all too often swayed by lobbyists and big money interests. Instead of representing the people, lawmakers

spend the majority of their time fundraising, relying on large donors and holding court with corporations. That can change, but only if Congress passes the For the People Act. The For the People Act is a bold anti-corruption and democracy reform bill that would strengthen our democracy by reducing the influence of big money in our politics. It would enact limits on dona-

tions from lobbyists and increase the power of campaign contributions from everyday Americans by creating a small-dollar donor matching program. These changes would open up new opportunities for different kinds of candidates to run for office — candidates that come directly from our communities and understand the problems we face. Instead of being beholden to the donors and lobbyists with the fat-

test wallets, our elected officials will be working for the people. Without this type of bold democracy reform, our political system will never be truly democratic or fully representative and our government will continue to work only for the privileged few. It’s past time to build a better system for all Americans — which is why I’m urging Congress to pass the For the People Act. Deborah Irwin/Broomfield

GUEST COLUMN from Page 8

“Boulder Bubble” is often referenced in a joking manner, but it’s a bubble that continues to keep a large segment of this country on the outside. Right here, at the very heart of liberal America, we had a violent, maskless mob of white men take over multiple blocks and chase off the police. Lambasting others while this city continues to be a huge part of the problem is unacceptable. But it’s also representative of how a lot of us behave these days. It’s time to take a look inward, myself included. I mean, what have we been doing this whole time? It can feel like there’s no room in the middle, no time for nuance. It’s all become talking points fed to us and flung violently at other people we’ve never met. But we’ve created this reality. The pandemic was an amazing opportunity to come together, not only as a nation but as a planet. Instead we’re more divided than ever. And over what? Wearing a mask? It all seems as meaningless as whatever brought about the violence of Saturday. Long after the sun had set and the tear gas had dissipated, a handful of students wandered about in the aftermath picking up trash, some coming all the way from Highland’s Ranch. This mess might not be entirely ours, but I hope someday we can come together to clean it up. Gregory Nelson is a Colorado native who graduated from CU Boulder with a BA in Humanities. He currently lives in Lafayette. This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly. BOULDER COUNTY’S INDEPENDENT VOICE


MARCH 11, 2021



Testing the system

Community organizers are navigating residents through technical glitches and design flaws while gathering signatures online for a ballot initiative

by Matt Cortina


hether they like it or not, and whether it’s fair or not, organizers of the Bedrooms Are For People (BAFP) campaign are the guinea pigs for Boulder’s new electronic system to collect signatures for ballot initiatives, Boulder Direct Democracy Online (BDDO). So far, the process has had some technical and procedural glitches. Some problems the City has been quick to fix, other issues are baked into the design and rollout of the technology, organizers say. But in order to get the required 3,336 signatures to put the BAFP Act (which would increase housing occupancy limits to the number of bedrooms plus one) on the ballot this November, campaign organizers have had to take on the role of educating Boulder residents how to navigate the system. “If we had just sent people to the City website, about 80% of the people who tried to sign immediately would fail,” says BAFP co-organizer Eric Budd. Some of the issues Budd and BAFP co-organizer Chelsea Castellano have identified include people wanting to sign the signature but having an unlisted phone number in their voter registration (necessary for authentication), the site being down while voter lists are updated, and people using a nickname, incorrect name or name unrecognized by the system (if, say, a person has two last names or a hyphenated name or a nickname). One must input their Voter ID, and the Boulder system directs people to find that on the Secretary of State’s website; most people will find it, some won’t, or won’t immediately, and, thus, won’t go through with signing the petition. It’s an important step that validates a voter’s identity, but the truth is it’s an extra step that’s moved from the back-end of the petitioning process (when signatures are verified) to the front-end, now in the hands of organizers. All these little obstacles matter because the more time and effort added to the signature-gathering process, the fewer people follow through to sign the petition. BOULDER COUNTY’S INDEPENDENT VOICE

“To get a physical signature, it’s about 30-60 seconds,” Budd says. “Online, if there are any roadblocks and we have to fix issues, it becomes very unwieldy for a majority of folks.” That leaves it up to BAFP to help residents navigate through the process. “We have a lot of people who have started to sign but we’re still following through to get them to finish because of the fact that they need to take additional steps and be reminded to finish,” Castellano says. Of course, none of this would be an issue if City Council allowed petition-gatherers to use both online and paper signatures in their efforts. But Council voted against that, with City Attorney Tom Carr saying it would cost too much money, require too many staff resources and raise security issues if both were allowed. Budd and Castellano also assert, generally, that BDDO’s design is not easily navigable for those who aren’t comfortable with digital services. Allowing in-person and online signatures would’ve brought more people to the literal and virtual table to consider signing the petition. “You have to have a certain level of understanding and familiarity with online digital systems to make it through this process,” Castellano says. “It’s exclusionary and it makes it really difficult for people who don’t have familiarity with digital systems to sign and really to participate in the democratic process. The onus is on us because we are committed to supporting these individuals and to getting them through these steps. Just the other night Eric was on a 10-15-minute phone call helping someone get through the process, just doing customer servicerelated work. That’s our commitment to helping people through but it would’ve been obviously a lot better if we had a system where that wasn’t necessary.” Both organizers say the City has been responsive to fixing acute issues. City Communication Manager Shannon Aulabaugh, in a statement to BW, says, “This is a new system so issues postlaunch were expected. We have worked through all I

MARCH 11, 2021

glitches with the system. The biggest issue was people not getting confirmation codes and that has been resolved.” The resolution requires voters who have unlisted numbers on their registrations — Budd estimates 20-30% of voters — contact the County to go through the process of listing the number. That’s a lot to ask of someone who likes the idea of the BAFP Act and might sign the petition outside of a grocery store, but wouldn’t go through the trouble of making multiple phone calls, updating their voter registration and finding the petition again — and that’s even if they think about it twice. That’s a fundamental design flaw, Budd says, and one the City needs to address for subsequent efforts. “I think the system, from a technical perspective, is pretty solid, from everything that I can see. Some of the challenges are just design problems that I fundamentally believe can be fixed if the City prioritized fixing them,” Budd says. “The place where the City is not doing enough is for the kind of fundamental issues with the system. This issue with the unlisted phone numbers; that was a design issue with this website. I think it’s going to take them years to address this issue even though it disenfranchises tens of thousands of people.” Ultimately, BAFP organizers chose to go the online route and so they knew they’d have to work through some of the early kinks, but given that we’re still in a pandemic, and given their experience collecting signatures last year (only to find out Carr had given them the wrong deadline, thus nullifying their efforts), it made more sense to deal with potential issues and go online. “We’re looking at the long game here,” Budd says. “The reality is physical signatures, what it leaves you with is very little after the fact. What we’re trying to do here is build a movement, and we’re doing that by really investing our resources in digital organizing, and being able to bring people along in the process and keep them in the loop. I think the benefits there, assuming we can get over this hurdle, far outweigh the costs we are incurring.” Castellano hopes the hiccups in the rollout of BDDO don’t distract from the message of their petition efforts — that people have a chance to assess the BAFP Act and, if they decide to sign, can do so easily. “We know there’s a lot of support out there. We don’t want the difficulties of getting through the process to deter people. We’ve made it easy to get through this. People won’t get lost, we will follow up until we get every person through,” Castellano says. “What you get from singing a petition could be a future of Boulder that maybe is a little less exclusionary and provides more access to people. We think it’s a good bang for your buck.” I



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Already thinking about the next election

New bill proposes universal representation for immigration court by Angela K. Evans


hen Guadalupe Lopez and her husband were both put into deportation proceedings after a traffic stop several years ago, they often had to choose between paying their immigration lawyer and putting food on the table for their children. But for them, that choice made all the difference. “I can’t imagine confronting this process without legal representation,” she said in a press release circulated by several immigrant rights groups. When it comes to removal proceedings, immigrants don’t have a right to legal counsel since it all takes place in civil court. That’s despite the fact they are 10 times more likely to win their case with access to a lawyer and 3.5 times more likely to be released on bond. A new bill introduced on March 4 in the Colorado legislature could change that, however, as it proposes replicating a public defender model for immigration court. “Immigration deportation proceedings are the

only legal procedures in the nation where a person can be detained without the right to a government-funded lawyer, even if that person is a child or an asylum seeker,” the press release states. HB21-1194, sponsored by Rep. Kerry Tipper (D-Jefferson), Rep. Naquetta Ricks (D-Arapahoe) and Sen. Dominick Moreno (D-Adams), would create a fund with public and private contributions through gifts, grants and donations to provide a free lawyer to qualifying individuals facing deportation proceedings in Colorado. Advocates say representation can offset the harm of deportation and detention for Colorado families. As Daniel Fesshaye, a Fort Morgan resident originally from Eritrea, explains in the release, “Coming up with the money for a lawyer was difficult, but I knew I had no other choice if I wanted to win my case. I had to borrow $4,000 from a friend. As soon as I got out of immigration detention, I had to focus on repaying him, instead of rebuilding my life.”

More bills introduced at the Colorado Capitol With the 2021 legislative session comes a slew of other bill introductions this week. Here are a few Boulder Weekly is keeping tabs on. Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) discovered an active data-sharing collaboration between the DMV and ICE, starting after the state passed a law allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses. This year, CIRC, along with its Senate sponsors, is backing a bill (SB21-131) that prohibits sharing an individual’s personal and private information with outside entities for civil immigration enforcement purposes. is spearheading a bill that seeks to limit foreign influence in state elections. Corporations with a 1% ownership from a foreign government, a 5% ownBOULDER COUNTY’S INDEPENDENT VOICE

ership from a single non-U.S. person, or 20% aggregate ownership from multiple non-U.S. persons will be prohibited from contributing to Colorado SuperPACs, which spend money on candidate campaigns in the state. Colorado, Sen. Janet Buckner from Arapahoe County introduced legislation to reduce the juvenile detention bed capacity in the state and eliminate the use of cash bail for kids. While most jurisdictions in Colorado don’t use money bond for juveniles, there are a few that do, namely the 18th judicial district which includes Arapahoe, Elbert, Lincoln and Douglas County. The ACLU filed suit this week in Douglas County after several School Resource Officers from the Sheriff ’s Office handcuffed an 11-year-old Latino student with I

autism (captured on bodycam) and placed him in custody at a juvenile detention center in 2019. He was released after his parents posted a $25,000 bond. (Adams) and Democrat Rachel Zenzinger ( Jefferson) plan to introduce a bill to expand statewide recycling infrastructure and funding by establishing a fee on all food service packaging materials in hopes of diverting more waste from landfills. While this bill could potentially help the state boost its recycling rate (currently 15.9%), it’s being put forward as more “pragmatic” for small business owners than other proposed Democratic legislation (HB21-1162) that would ban businesses from distributing single-use plastic bags and plastic foam containers (Styrofoam) statewide. MARCH 11, 2021


fter 2020’s momentous national and statewide election, it feels hard to think about voting on more ballot issues anytime soon. But in reality, the 2021 election is right around the corner, and several campaigns have already submitted ballot measure language to the state for approval. A bipartisan team of educators, parents, nonprofit leaders and education-focused state lawmakers is proposing the Colorado Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress (LEAP) Program, which would provide financial aid for tutoring and expand out-of-school instruction like career and technical education for low- and middle-income students. It would be funded by a 5% tax increase on recreational marijuana sales and by repurposing a portion of revenues derived from activities on state lands, expected to bring in an estimated $150 million each year. “For a generation, Colorado has struggled to close the education gap between the rich and poor, between those attending high performing schools and those not, between those who have access to tutors, technology and other out-of-school tools and those for whom even a little help with homework feels like a world away,” State Sen. Rhonda Fields, (D-Aurora) said in a press release. Under the ballot measure, each student would be given at least $1,500 and there would be a certification process for providers of tutoring and other out-of-school services, while school districts would be precertified as providers, and teachers would be given priority approval to become qualified providers. The Donnell-Kay Foundation, a private family foundation in Denver that focuses on public education, is a key architect of the program. There are two other amendments also currently under review at the Legislative Council: one would reduce the property tax assessment rates for both residential and commercial properties; the other would amend the requirements for spending of custodial money, or money received by the state. I




ranko Vatterott kept his interest in cryptocurrency to himself for several years — he’s been a self-professed “crypto guy” since circa 2016. He knew how people felt. “People who are not into it think you’re wearing tinfoil on your head,” he says. But when the pandemic “came crashing down on” his Boulderbased sports marketing and business development firm, Human Interest Group (HIG), Vatterott stopped caring what other people thought. “I kind of came out of the closet on the crypto stuff,” he says. “I started being a little more vocal with my partners [at HIG], and then Bitcoin kind of took off and I was like, alright, it’s time. I don’t care if people think I’ve gone off the deep end. And that’s when everything started launching with NetCents.” Late last year, HIG partnered with the cryptocurrency payments service to stake out some territory in the Wild West that is non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a blockchainbased certificate of authenticity of sorts — a kind of digital collectible. NFTs are being simultaneously heralded as a panacea for creators of all stripes in the digital age, and derided as a new system of social stratification. Art, sneakers, NBA highlights, in-game real estate, digital cats, albums, concert tickets; NFTs are everywhere, challenging the seemingly indisputable notion that nothing can be scarce on the internet. “We’re in interesting times right now, that’s for sure,” Vatterott says, “and I don’t even think we’ve seen the real disruption. That’s still yet to come.” NFTs and cryptocurrency are based on the same technology: the blockchain, a type of database. In a blockchain, new data is entered into a fresh block, and once the block is filled, it’s chained onto the previous block, creating a chronological ledger. Many parties hold the ledger, which makes blockchains distributed. Sometimes everyone holds the ledger, making the blockchain decentralized — a big selling point for digital currencies like Bitcoin. It’s the ultimate middle finger to “the

The real disruption is coming

How NFTs are changing the world of collectibles and art

by Caitlin Rockett



man,” cutting out all federal governments and banking institutions. While both exist on the blockchain, NFTs and cryptocurrency differ in fungibility, which, if it’s been a while since Econ 101, refers to interchangeability. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ether, for example — there are more than 4,000 cryptocurrencies as of January 2021, by the way — are fungible, just like fiat currency. If two people exchange dollar bills, they each still have $1, no matter the serial number. Same with cryptocurrency: one Bitcoin is the same as any other Bitcoin. But NFTs are more like works of art. They are nonfungible. Two people can each have a painting by Picasso, but the values aren’t the same — they aren’t interchangeable. NFTs lend themselves perfectly to the world of collectibles because they are non-fungible — they’re unique, recorded on the blockchain by a distinctive alphanumeric tag called a hash. And nowhere are collectibles more pertinent than the sports world, where Franko Vatterott has made his career. A press release in December says HIG’s partnership with NetCents promises to bring “the first application of the technology to market allowing buyers and sellers of merchandise to prove ownership and authenticity of the item when purchased through the NetCents platform. The companies will also be co-developing industry-specific perks aligned with NetCents’ cryptocurrency business solutions to benefit merchants, athletes and consumers in active lifestyle markets.” MARCH 11, 2021


Vatterott can’t talk specifics just yet, but he says the goal is to “protect my clients.” “I’ve basically been watching our athletes sort of get ripped off for years,” he says. “We do a partnership with a sponsor and they pay the athlete and we do a contract and [the sponsor] acquire[s] rights to use [the athlete’s] name, image, likeness, all that stuff. And then somebody else will take that proprietary content and repost it or repurpose it. I can’t tell you how many times over the years we have found stuff, even our own photos that we’ve shot, used in a magazine or something else that nobody asked permission for. “And it’s like jaywalking,” he adds. “It’s like, alright, well, it happened, but what am I going to do about it? And you don’t do anything. What’s really interesting about this NFT world is it allows you to sort of protect your intellectual property that can be digitized and track it. And that doesn’t really exist in sports.” Vatterott is talking about much more than just promotional photos. He brings up Pat Riley, the former Lakers head coach who trademarked the term “threepeat” in the late ’80s as the Los-Angeles-based team attempted to win its third championship in a row. Riley successfully trademarked the phrase — though the Lakers didn’t win their third championship — and subsequently collected royalties from sports apparel makers who licensed the phrase for use on merchandise commemorating the accomplishment when the Chicago Bulls did win their third championship in a row in 1993. Today, Vatterott says, Riley could profit even further by creating NFTs for the products that use the phrase. NFTs correspond with smart contracts, electronic transaction protocols that automatically execute actions according to the terms of the contract. A smart contract could demand, for example, that 10% of every sale of a product, no matter how far down the line in a secondary or tertiary market, goes to the creator. “Musicians, artists, athletes, any of these people, BOULDER COUNTY’S INDEPENDENT VOICE


NFTs are going to be a godsend for them,” Vatterott says. “Because every time somebody has a massive amount of success where [other people are] willing to pay for their product or their service or their likeness, there’s a significant amount of fraud. And that’s what I see the biggest benefit of NFTs is going to be; essentially that digital smart contract follows the product, so you have a great history of what you’re buying, honestly, on a secondary market.” Used sports equipment is another example Vatterott points to: you could purchase a bike that Elia Viviani used, and an NFT could be created that logged all of the details about the bike in the blockchain where it can’t be tampered with, ultimately giving the buyer a very accurate certificate of authentication. Much more accurate, Vatterott says, than current records, because most blockchains are decentralized, meaning none of the information is stored in a central location. Instead, the blockchain is copied and spread across a network of computers. Whenever a new block is added to the blockchain, every computer on the network updates its blockchain to reflect the change. “So imagine what Carfax was back in the day, when you bought a used car and you could get all the history of it,” Vatterott says. “Even that can be manipulated because it’s still through a centralized source versus an NFT on the blockchain. It’s impossible to manipulate — you’d have to have a 51% attack (a group controlling more than 50% of the network’s computing power) in order to go in and overcome the public ledger. That’s what makes the blockchain so powerful.” Eric Alston, a scholar in residence in the finance division of the Leeds School of Business at CU Boulder, is also a crypto guy. But he’s got a more cynical take on NFTs. “We really have to understand a lot of different underlying economic incentives that are occurring,” Alston says. “The big question you should be asking yourself is what are you getting with a particular non-fungible token.” Alston points to recent headlines about the millions of dollars spent on NFTs created by artists such as electronic music producer Grimes, who recently took to the digital merchandise platform Nifty Gateway to sell a series of 10 pieces of art — some one-of-a-kind, others one of hundreds of copies — featuring flying cherubs and original music. She made nearly $6 million in a matter of hours (in cryptocurrency, of course; Ether specifically). Alston offers a “couple of hypotheticals surrounding the cryptocurrency bull run that we’re currently in.” “Imagine you’re an electronic music artist that’s been into cryptocurrencies for awhile, and you just became a multimillionaire as a result of the bull run, but most of your value hasn’t been transferred into U.S. dollars. So what if you buy all of your own non-fungible tokens through some not-particularly-well-monitored user on Nifty Gateway and don’t pay capital gains tax on them, and instead pay whatever tax you would pay as an artist selling art? “Second, what if you are a newly minted crypto hundred millionaire and you’re having the time of your life and you want some of your artist friends to be there with you?” he adds. “You could literally give them a million BOULDER COUNTY’S INDEPENDENT VOICE

dollars without thinking about it — except Uncle Sam would come and take half of that. Oh, but if your artist friend lists a particular NFT? Well, that’s a great way to gift your friend a bunch of money and support their art. “What if you’re the famous- usician wife of one of the richest men in the world who also has an interest in crypto? Do you think he could afford to just firehose money at his wife’s non-fungible tokens? But that’s the cynical take. And I do think there’s gotta be some of that going on in terms of the numbers we’re seeing on this Nifty Gateway, and what’s in the value that’s being exchanged.” And Grimes isn’t the only artist making bank on nonfungible tokens: other exorbitant NFT sales include an inked sketch of Batman for $195,000, and a digital cat — a CryptoKitty — for nearly $400,000. Electronic music producer 3LAU (pronounced “blau”) raked in more than $11 million for a custom song, access to never-beforeheard music and custom art. Just this month, rock band Kings of Leon reportedly made $1.4 million from an NFT auction of their new album — the first band to sell an album as an NFT — including exclusive album editions, digital artwork and lifetime concert passes. “I don’t mean to impugn the amount of money they’re making, but we should spend some time talking about what’s implicit in that, in the sense of why people might be throwing this much money at these things right now,” Alston says. But he has a less cynical take as well. “I suspect there are a lot of periods in history where one of two things was happening: The newly minted wealthy — whether they were millionaires or a hundredthousand-aires or whatever the standard of the time was — I bet that they’ve spurred artistic revolutions because they said, ‘Hey, I like these artists and I am going to bankroll this movement.’” These early NFTs may “suck,” Alston says, “but we have to start somewhere.” “And maybe some of them will actually become incredibly valuable because they stand as the beginning of an artistic movement in the digital realm,” he says. “And certainly you could argue that the rapid duplicability of digital art deters artists from engaging in that output. I know artists who are like, ‘I would be interested in digital painting, but my main medium is this physical one because I can sell that, because the people who will buy it know that it’s the only painting.’ And so that’s the radical inclusivity that [could come from NFTs].” NFTs could, theoretically, cut out middle men, like record labels or art auction houses, as artists can “mint” their own NFTs and use platforms like Nifty Gateway to sell their work and retain more of the profit (it does cost to mint an NFT, to create a new block in the chain, I

MARCH 11, 2021

which could be cost prohibitive for some artists). Boulder-based graphic and brand design studio Berger & Föhr has also ventured into the NFT realm with a series of monochromatic artwork they auctioned off late last year. Todd Berger, who cofounded the company with his friend, Lucian Föhr, more than a decade ago, acknowledges the cynicism around NFTs — including the argument that crypto mining, which allows for the decentralized security of blockchain, is highly energy-intensive due to how much processing power it requires. Still, he says, the criticism is akin to virtue-signaling. “There’s a lot of, like, old guard folks out there that missed the boat on crypto, missed the boat on Bitcoin, are missing the boat on NFTs, they don’t get it,” he says. “So they make the environmental argument. And meanwhile their personal footprint is, like, massive.” Berger, Vatterott and Alston all mention a shift in blockchain technology — from proof of work to proof of stake; too convoluted to address here — that aims to decrease the amount of energy required to make transactions on the blockchain. The technology isn’t there yet, but all three say they believe proof of stake (lower energy) is the future. Their concerns are centered more squarely on how best to use NFTs and cryptocurrency to empower people in a day and age when the rich only seem to get richer. “I see artists and people that don’t necessarily want to sell their soul to the man to make a living and want to focus on what they want to do, I see this being outstanding for the independent [artists],” Vatterott says. “There’s a whole flock of new people that are going to come up because they don’t have to go through the corporate channel to be able to have a chance anymore because they can NFT something.” But what we’re seeing with NFTs right now — $6 million on digital art of angels floating over planets — doesn’t feel like the solution to traditional capitalism. “I would say there’s a cynical take on the prices people are making,” Alston says. “If somebody reads a headline that says Grimes made … $6 million ... I’d like people to look a little bit deeper in terms of why those numbers might not be an indicator indicative of true market value being changed right now. That doesn’t mean NFTs are bunk. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t an important innovation. But it’s just a headline. … I get the incentives about these eye-popping numbers, but it could give someone the impression that artists will all soon be millionaires by minting NFTs. That’s not the case.” Kristelia Garcia, an associate professor of law at CU Boulder, says she’s “more curious to see if we can do something better and more useful with” NFTs than just selling art or music. “I actually wonder if the real question here might be requiring all originals to have NFTs and be on the blockchain, so we know where they came from,” she says. “I’m thinking more from a criminal perspective, like child pornography or revenge porn — who posted it originally? We would know because the NFT would record it. To me, the more interesting angle is: how can we use this for something other than allowing very rich people to do silly things?” I


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Enjoy a drink and romantic favorites expertly performed by a string quartet of some of the best musicians in the country! Hosted at the Westin in downtown Denver, these performances are a safe and enchanting experience for all! 6:30pm and 9pm Tickets $45 - Use Coupon Code WEEKLY15 to save 15% at checkout!

Get your tickets now at For questions and answers, please contact 16


MARCH 11, 2021





If your organization is planning an event of any kind, please email Caitlin at RACIAL IMPLICATIONS OF INJUSTICES IN FOOD AND AGRICULTURE.

5 p.m. Thursday, March 11. This event is free, In this virtual lecture, part of the University of Colorado Law School’s Race and the Law series, professor Alexia Brunet Marks and postdoctoral research fellow Hunter Knapp will trace the history of structural racism in agriculture in Colorado, focusing on disparate treatment for racial and other minorities. They will explore labor protections for farmworkers and health and safety protections for meatpacking workers.


6 p.m. Thursday, March 11. Neptune Mountaineering, 633 S. Broadway, Boulder. Tickets are $15, with proceeds benefiting Women’s Wilderness, Join Neptune Mountaineering and The Elevated Alpine ( for a celebration of women in the mountains. Get inspired by women pushing the limits of their sports, connect with adventurous ladies in your community and discover films featuring women breaking boundaries and discovering new heights. Featuring iconic ski mountaineers Hilaree Nelson and Kit DesLauriers, professional splitboarder and climate activist Alex Showerman, and AMGA rock and ski guide Mia Tucholke.


6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 17, Naropa University’s Nalanda Campus, 6287 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder. Tickets are $14.99 per car, and include a presigned copy of Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Spooky Stories, Jeff Kinney (author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books) is embarking on a socially distanced tour: a scareyourself-silly themed drive-thru event that brings Rowley’s spooky stories to life. Traveling in a Rowley’s Spooky Drive-Thru Tour van, Kinney will be in Boulder to host a drive-thru event following COVID-19 guidelines. Families will drive through and follow beloved characters Rowley and Greg as they explore spooky Snake Road; encounter spiders, zombies and bats; and reach the final moment when Kinney will personally deliver children their signed copies of Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Spooky Stories from the grave using a six-foot cemetery shovel. Decorations and signs are highly encouraged.


7 p.m. Thursday, March 11, Many of us have dreamed of what alien life may be like. With upcoming missions to other worlds in our solar system and continued discoveries about planets that orbit other stars far away, it begins to feel like we are continually approaching a time when we might have an answer to the age-old question, “Are we alone in the universe?” Astrobiologists have a lot of ideas about what alien life might look like, mostly based on what we know about life here on Earth. In “Craziest Creatures on Earth,” you’ll learn about some of the weird creatures that dwell on this planet and what the extremes of life on Earth can teach us about life in general.


Streaming March 12-April 1. Free or pay what you can, In this eight-person, one-act abridgment of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, religion, government and justice collide following the reinstatement of old morality laws in Vienna. Written in the early 1600s, the play asks a still relevant question — without evidence, who must we believe: men in power or the women who accuse them?


March 11-April 4. Opening reception 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 12 (Facebook livestream 6-6:30 p.m.), 667 Fourth Ave., Longmont. This event is free, Situation Report presents a capsule of artists’ responses to three concerns facing everyone as we look back on recent events: the state of our environment and our relationship to it, viewed through large-format land studies by Erin Dvorak, images from Boulder County Rangers documenting the CalWood fire, and Lynn Cazabon’s photograms on expired photographic vellum; documentation of protests for social justice in Denver by Armando Geneyro and Nolan Septer; and Heather Schulte’s titular stitched ribbon of COVID-19 case counts winds through the space, and, along with Elizabeth Morisette’s sculptural treatment of mask-making remnants, records the passage of time. Situation Report offers an opportunity to view each work in relationship to the others, evaluating and informing responses. see EVENTS page 18



MARCH 11, 2021




from EVENTS age 17


Noon, Friday, March 12. This event is free and open to the public, On Nov. 20, Patty Limerick, director of the Center of the American West, and Jennifer Ho, director of the Center for Humanities & the Arts, held their first Zoom public program to discuss the divisiveness splintering U.S. society. On March 12, they will reunite on Zoom to continue their conversation on the state of American society in the wake of the Jan. 6 takeover of the U.S. Capitol. The audience will be encouraged to propose topics and questions that might invite a spirited and congenial disagreement between these two good-natured souls.

7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11. Livestreamed to Facebook,, and Local Comcast Channel 8/880, Hear local storytellers interpret and celebrate the energy, vitality and radiant color of both spring and Impressionism. Inspired by the Longmont Museum’s Enduring Impressions exhibit, the evening will also feature Impressionist music performed by pianist John Boggs.



6 p.m. Sunday, March 14. Tickets are $20, On the one-year anniversary of the shutdown of most major American theaters, two friends and frequent collaborators sit down for a candid conversation on creativity in the face of the pandemic. Award-winning playwright Luis Alfaro and Director of Public Works at New York’s The Public Theater Laurie Woolery will share how they have kept their personal creative fires burning (and offer ideas for how you might do the same).



Noon, Thursday, March 18 via Instagram live. This event is free, Rochelle Johnson was born and raised in Denver. Inspired by the work of Lois Mailou Jones and Jacob Lawrence, Johnson enrolled at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, where she learned to create stories using oils and watercolors and earned a degree in illustration. Today Johnson continues to develop her unique style of storytelling, and has become a curator. To watch the Virtual Studio Tours live, log into your Instagram account then navigate to BMoCA’s profile and click on the circular icon with BMoCA’s logo.




7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 13. Tickets are $40 per household, A night featuring a unique double-cello work along with Schumann’s moving Cello Concerto reimagined for chamber forces as the composer had planned to do. The program also includes a triple-violin work by Paul Trapkus and concludes with Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll.


7 p.m. Friday, March 12, Boulder Theater, Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., Boulder. Tickets are $50, Boulder Colorado’s long-running champions of high-energy funk and soul music, The Pamlico Sound are known for their original, contemporary songs and performances, while drawing inspiration from classic legends like Sly & The Family Stone and Parliament Funkadelic. see EVENTS page 19



MARCH 11, 2021




from EVENTS age 18




7 p.m. Tuesday, March 16, Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., Boulder. Tickets are $150, Two-time Grammy-winning bassist Oteil Burbridge has been in the music business touring and recording for more than three decades, first as a founding member of the Aquarium Rescue Unit featuring Col. Bruce Hampton, then with classic rock group the Allman Brothers Band. He’s joined by Joey Porter from The Motet and Chris Pandolfi from The Infinite Stringdusters.


5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 16. Tickets are $20-$50, Brendan James is an American singer-songwriter in the pop/folk genre, in the vein of David Gray, Jason Mraz and Elton John. This virtual event with James will be produced at full 1080P video and audio quality. There will be a limited number of VIP packages available.


7 p.m. March 17 and 18, Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., Boulder. Tickets are $150, Wreckno is a rising 25-year-old queer rapper/producer/DJ creating a safe space for queer people in the bass/EDM scene. His most recent EP, ROYGBIV, was a Pride month celebration, which exclusivly featured collaborations with fellow queer artists and allies.



MARCH 11, 2021




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A Lot

by Garrett Okenka There is a parking lot in Virginia where plastic Wal-Mart bags now blow To find a fence post 4 miles out or a lone tree still standing, planted the year before Where carts sit forlorn forgotten in corner spaces with empty coffee cups And subways sandwich bags with balled up paper, like foxtails for child’s play, are windswept with kennel syndrome Thrashing within the lattice walls of their prison I can stand and listen for the creek; car motors, doors, and horns And the vibrating plastic hum of cart wheels over rigid pavement I can smell the winter breeze of idling engine exhaust And the bed bath beyond scent of subway sandwich bread and of cigarette smoke Where once a wood burning chimney and the subtle decay of leaves let on that winter had come And a man on the horizon across an ancient field dimly made out from my place behind the tree line would be seen with an armful of wood, and life told me that man was my father, but I told life otherwise and turned my back, going deeper into my haven through thorn and bramble, alone I stand alone now over flattened plastic flasks of Fireball nips Beneath light poles with bird spike branches Thinking of my blood beneath this blacktop Am I as lost to this world as the forest which once grew in this place, now paved over with market growth Where my legs first felt the cut of thorns And my imagination climbed the tops of every tree turning each thick patch of leaves to bear Can a body so removed from roots bare the weight from these decades of deadfall? Is this what aging is like? Or am I now on the dying side of life? There is a parking lot in Virginia where as a child I hid away whole days To find within the forest a sanctuary A sanity away from abuse, away from the know life And now as a man I stand vulnerable beneath light poles and profit margins Where the machines are still cutting decades after the last wild tree fell.

Garrett Okenka lives in Boulder, but is from everywhere east. He started writing runaway notes at the age of 12 and has been running and writing since. MARCH 11, 2021



Play these movies loud

The SXSW Film Festival goes virtual and loads up on music

by Michael J. Casey


t was just over a year ago, on March 6, 2020, when South By Southwest (SXSW) pulled the plug on its film, music and comedy festival. It was the first time in 34 years that the Austin, Texas, show wouldn’t go on, and it was on account of the coronavirus pandemic. Ten days later, the rest of the world followed suit. So we come to 2021, and in-person festivals are still a hope for the future. For the first cinematic casualty of COVID, virtual is the way it’s going to be. On the bright side: Colorado cinephiles will be able to stream this year’s SXSW from the comfort of their couches March 16-20. And for the Boulder audience — who love a good music-themed documentary — SXSW will screen plenty. From opening night’s Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil to closing night’s Alone Together, about pop star Charli XCX creating, connecting and living in quarantine. Alone Together won’t be the only movie at SXSW with a COVID-bent — you can peruse the schedule at and see for yourself — but for those tired of COVID talk and looking for ‘WITHOUT GETTING KILLED OR CAUGHT’ something with a little more distance, SXSW has you covered. The festival is premiering a new restoration of Les Blank’s 1989 documentary about the creole/zydeco music of southwest Louisiana, I Went to the Dance. Playing centerpiece is Mary Wharton’s latest, Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel — which focuses on Petty’s second studio album, Wallflowers. And ON THE BILL: The Edgar Wright’s first foray into documentary, The Sparks SXSW Film Festival Brothers, highlights the influential and overlooked American screens virtually pop duo. March 16-20. Tickets, titles and Watch them all, but make sure to leave time for Tamara details at Saviano and Paul Whitfield’s portrait of outlaw country er/songwriter Guy Clark, Without Getting Killed or Caught. Cribbing a line from one of Clark’s songs, Without Getting Killed or Caught employs no fancy tricks, just three chords and the truth, to tell the trials and tribulations of Clark’s career. But you can’t really tell Clark’s story without telling the story of his wife, painter and songwriter Susanna Clark. Then again, it’s hard to tell Susanna’s story without talking about musician Townes Van Zandt — Susanna’s soul mate and Clark’s best friend. The movie makes room for Susanna and Van Zandt, and Rodney Crowell, Vince Gill, Steve Earle — if you want to get to know someone, you have to start with their friends. Saviano and Whitfield relish in these alcohol-soaked stories with the golden hue of a sunset. Nostalgia permeates every aspect of the film, but Clark and Susanna’s relationship comes across the strongest. You get the feeling they fit each other nicely, even when they didn’t. If they didn’t already write country music, someone would have suggested they ought to. Without Getting Killed or Caught is playing in SXSW’s sidebar: 2020 Spotlight, nine selections from last year’s festival that have been waiting for their time in the spotlight. Their time has come, on with the show.



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MARCH 21-APRIL 19: Artist Richard Kehl tells this traditional

Jewish story: God said to Abraham, “But for me, you would not be here.” Abraham answered, “I know that Lord, but were I not here there would be no one to think about you.” I’m bringing this tale to your attention, dear Aries, because I think the coming weeks will be a favorable time to summon a comparable cheekiness with authorities, including even the Divine Wow Herself. So I invite you to consider the possibility of being sassy, saucy and bold. Risk being an articulate maverick with a point of view that the honchos and experts should entertain.

APRIL 20-MAY 20: Spiritual author Ernest Holmes wrote,

“True imagination is not fanciful daydreaming. It is fire from heaven.” Unfortunately, however, many people do indeed regard imagination as mostly just a source of fanciful daydreaming. And it is also true that when our imaginations are lazy and out of control, when they conjure delusional fears and worries, they can be debilitating. I bring this to your attention, Taurus, because I believe the coming weeks will be a favorable time for you to harness the highest powers of your imagination — to channel the fire from heaven — as you visualize all the wonderful and interesting things you want to do with your life in the next nine months.


MAY 21-JUNE 20: “I’m always waiting for a door to open in a wall without doors,” wrote Gemini author Fernando Pessoa. Huh? Pessoa was consistently eccentric in his many writings, and I find this particular statement especially odd. I’m going to alter it so it makes more sense and fits your current needs. Here’s your motto for the coming weeks: “I’m always ready to figure out how to make a new door in a wall without doors, and call on all necessary help to make it.”

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JUNE 21-JULY 22: You can’t drive to the Kamchatka

Peninsula. It’s a 104,000-square-mile area with a sub-Arctic climate in the far east of Russia. No roads connect it to the rest of the world. Its major city, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, is surrounded by volcanoes. If you want to travel there, you must arrive by plane or ship. And yet Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky has long had a thriving tourist industry. More so before the pandemic, but even now, outsiders have come to paraglide, hunt for bears and marvel at the scenery. In this horoscope, I am making an outlandish metaphorical comparison of you to the Kamchatka Peninsula. Like that land, people sometimes find it a challenge to reach you. And yet when they do, you can be quite welcoming. Is this a problem? Maybe, maybe not. What do you think? Now is a good time to re-evaluate.


JULY 23-AUG. 22: Biting midges, also known as no-see-

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ums, are blood-sucking flies that spread various diseases. Yuck, right? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we used science to kill off all biting midges everywhere? Well, there would be a disappointing trade-off if we did. The creepy bugs are the primary pollinators for several crops grown in the tropics, including cacao. So if we got rid of the no-see-ums, there’d probably be no more chocolate. I’m guessing that you may be dealing with a comparable dilemma, Leo: an influence that has both a downside and an upside. The central question is: Can you be all you want to be without it in your life? Or not? Now is a good time to ponder the best way to shape your future relationship.


AUG. 23-SEPT. 22: According to my analysis of your immi-



SEPT. 23-OCT. 22: Poet Wendell Berry says “it’s the immemorial feelings” he likes best: “hunger and thirst and their satisfaction; work-weariness and earned rest; the falling again from loneliness to love.” Notice that he doesn’t merely love the gratification that comes from quenching his hunger and thirst. The hunger and thirst are themselves essential components of his joy. Work-weariness and loneliness are not simply inconvenient discomforts that he’d rather live without. He celebrates them, as well. I think his way of thinking is especially worthy of your imitation in the next three weeks.


OCT. 23-NOV. 21: Famous and influential science fiction



and appreciative about being able to feel so much. 2) Since only a small percentage of your feelings need to be translated into practical actions, don’t take them too seriously. 3) Enjoy the ride!

nent astrological potentials, you already are or will soon be floating and whirling and churning along on an ocean of emotion. In other words, you will be experiencing more feelings and stronger feelings than you have in quite some time. This doesn’t have to be a problem as long as you do the following: 1) Be proud


novelist Philip K. Dick relied on amphetamines to fuel his first 43 novels. Beginning with A Scanner Darkly, his 44th, he did without his favorite drug. It wasn’t his best book, but it was far from his worst. It sold well and was made into a movie featuring Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr. and two other celebrity actors. Inspired by Dick’s success without relying on his dependency — and in accordance with current astrological omens — I’m inviting you to try doing without one of your addictions or compulsions or obsessions as you work on your labor of love.


NOV. 22-DEC. 21: Ninety percent of all apples in the

world are descended from a forest of apple trees in southeast Kazakhstan. Most of us have tasted just a few types of apples, but there’s a much wider assortment of flavors in that natural wonderland. You know how wine is described as having taste notes and aromas? The apple flavor of Kazakhstan’s apples may be tinged with hints of roses, strawberries, anise, pineapples, coconuts, lemon peels, pears, potatoes or popcorn. Can you imagine traveling to that forest and exploring a far more complex and nuanced relationship with a commonplace food? During the coming weeks, I invite you to experiment with arousing metaphorically similar experiences. In what old familiar persons, places or things could you find a surprising wealth of previously unexplored depth and variety?


DEC. 22-JAN. 19: Author Andrew Tilin testified that he some-

times had the feeling that his life was in pieces — but then realized that most of the pieces were good and interesting. So his sense of being a mess of unassembled puzzle parts gave way to a deeper contentment — an understanding that the jumble was just fine the way it was. I recommend you cultivate and enjoy an experience like that in the coming weeks, Capricorn.


JAN. 20-FEB. 18: Indian poet Meena Alexander

(1951–2018) was born under the sign of Aquarius. She became famous after she moved to the U.S. at age 29, but was raised in India and the Sudan. In her poem “Where Do You Come From?,” she wrote, “Mama beat me when I was a child for stealing honey from a honey pot.” I’m sorry to hear she was treated so badly for enjoying herself. She wasn’t committing a crime! The honey belonged to her family, and her family had plenty of money to buy more honey. This vignette is my way of advising you, in accordance with astrological omens, to carry out your personal version of “stealing the honey from the honeypot,” dear Aquarius. Take what’s rightfully yours.


FEB. 19-MARCH 20: The bad news is that the narrow

buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea is laced with landmines. Anyone who walks there is at risk for getting blown up. The good news is that because people avoid the place, it has become an unprecedented nature preserve — a wildlife refuge where endangered species like the red-crowned crane and Korean fox can thrive. In the coming weeks and months, I’d love to see you engage in a comparable project, Pisces: finding a benevolent use for a previously taboo or wasted part of your life.


BY DAN SAVAGE Dear Dan: How do I know if a guy is a player or if he has feelings for me? This guy goes to my university and we had our eyes on each other for more than a year. I made a move and sent him a friend request on FB and we started spending a lot of time with each other. The problem is, I am constantly finding him with other girls. He got to know my female friends and started talking them up too and he says the same things to them that he says to me. This made me really upset, and I told him I wanted some space and asked him to stop contacting me but I couldn’t tell him the real reason. Instead I told him he was suffocating me with his attention (partly true) but he kept reaching out to tell me how much he misses me. He even told me he has feelings for me but he isn’t sure what they are and so can’t put a label on them and says I’m special to him and he gets insanely jealous whenever he sees me with other guys. Feel free to ask about more details about our story if you’re interested. —Parsing Love And Yearning Dear PLAY: No more details. Please. While I’m sure every last detail is fascinating, PLAY, what you need to do here is obvious — it’s so obvious you’ve already tried to do it. Zooming out for a second: “He’s a player,” is just another way of saying, “He’s a liar.” A player is a guy who tells someone what he thinks she wants to hear (“you’re so special to me”) to get into her pants. If a little play is all a person wants — if some sexual attention and a whole bunch of compliments you know to be bullshit are what you want — then it doesn’t matter if the guy is a player. His lies can go in one ear and out the other at the same time his dick goes in and out of you. But if you want something serious with this guy and you know you’re being played, that’s going to be painful. And if you want something serious with someone and you’re hanging around with or fucking a player, that’s a waste of your time. So, PLAY, do that thing again, that thing you already did, but stick to it this time. Tell this guy to stop contacting you, unfollow him on FB, and block his number and encourage your friends to do the same. Dear Dan: Heterosexual, 30-something female here. For all of my sexual life, until recently, I really enjoyed having my nipples played with by my partners — during sex, as part of foreplay, fingers, clamps, lips, tongue, just about any touching of my BOULDER COUNTY’S INDEPENDENT VOICE

nipples was a turn-on and an orgasmenhancer. But something changed after witnessing my boyfriend’s sister breastfeeding her child. Something about seeing nipples being used for, well, what they’re meant to be used for, has really squicked me out. Now, when my boyfriend touches my nipples in the slightest way, I find it irritating, a little gross, and a huge turn-off. I think maybe this was the first time I’d seen breastfeeding in person? Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that it was my boyfriend’s sister? I don’t know! I don’t know why, but for whatever reason, seeing nipples in a different light has left me repulsed by the idea of using mine in a sexual way. If I’m close to orgasm, I can stand a little bit of nipple attention but nowhere near the amount I used to like. I want to enjoy nipple play again, Dan! Any advice for getting my nipples back? It’s been months! P.S. I don’t mean any offense whatsoever to those who breastfeed. It’s not the breastfeeding that I find squicky. It’s the idea of using my own breasts in a sexual way that has me suddenly feeling all conflicted and weirded out. —Breasts Out Of Business Suddenly

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Dear BOOBS: I don’t wanna ruin dick for you, BOOBS, but you do know men don’t just ejaculate out of those things, right? Dicks serve more than one purpose. Dicks and nipples both have specific nonsexual purposes (peeing and breastfeeding) as well as specific sexual functions (ejaculating and, um, erogenous zoning). There are a lot of sensitive nerve endings and erectile tissues in and around our nipples, both the male and female varieties, and our nipples — like our assholes and our throats — don’t just have a sexual use, they have a sexual purpose. Considering that we have more sex than we do children, BOOBS, you could argue that their sexual use is their highest and best use. Which means you aren’t misusing your nipples when you derive pleasure from having them licked, sucked, clamped, etc., BOOBS, you are enjoying your nipples just as nature — natural selection and spontaneous mutation — intended them to be enjoyed. And if thinking about breastfeeding squicks you out, don’t think about it — just like you don’t think about piss when you suck your boyfriend’s dick and I don’t think about shit when I eat my boyfriend’s ass. Send questions to, follow Dan on Twitter @fakedansavage I

MARCH 11, 2021




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Try this week:

Chicken Shawarma Wrap @ Boychik

WE CAN ALMOST imagine it post-pandemic: Avanti Food and Beverage in Boulder, with its high ceilings and open atmosphere, bustling with colleagues catching up over happy hour, families gathered for a meal, college students studying over coffee, a couple on their first date enjoying adult beverages from the bar. While that’s not possible quite yet, the curated offerings of the food hall’s restaurant concepts are open, and we recently visited middle eastern-inspired Boychik for a chicken shawarma wrap. Tender chicken is wrapped in pita with rich hummus, crisp, fresh pickles, arugula and onions. The addition of sumac, a traditional Mediterranean spice, adds a certain tang and zest to each bite. We also added a side of fries spiced with za’atar — a mix of oregano, thyme, marjoram, toasted sesame seed and more sumac — which was well worth it.


1 St. Patrick’s Day with West End Tavern BOULDER’S WEST END Tavern usually produces some tasty specials for holidays throughout the year, and it’ll be no different this St. Patrick’s Day. There’ll be an in-house special package this weekend (March 12-14), and a preorder deal for pickup on March 17. Among the food offerings, there’s housesmoked corned beef and cabbage, and lamb shepherd’s pie with Guinness gravy. For drinks, there’ll be flagons of (rum-based) “Leprechaun Punch,” Jameson flights and, of course, Guinness. If you’re doing the takeaway option, order before Tuesday, March 16 at 5 p.m. for pickup the next afternoon. Find more details and order at



The Waffle Lab is coming to Boulder THE WAFFLE LAB, which opened in Fort Collins in 2012, is expanding to Boulder (1155 13th St., to be exact). The opening date is not yet set, but we can start to envision the Lab’s Belgian-style Liège waffles, available in both sweet and savory varieties. A Liège waffle, by the way, is unique — made from yeast-leavened dough (as opposed to batter) and imported Belgian pearl sugar. The waffles are crispy, crunchy and lightly caramelized. You’ll also be able to get chicken and waffles. More info at

MARCH 11, 2021



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Local distillers produce whiskeys that highlight the breadth of the spirit by Matt Cortina


t. Patrick’s Day is around the corner, and if you participate in any festivities on the day, chances are you’ll find yourself staring into a shot, snifter or cocktail with Jameson. There’s nothing wrong with it — it’s remarkably smooth, after all, and sipping it is like visiting an old friend — but you can do better locally. Of all the spirits available from Boulder County distillers, whiskey has found the strongest footing. Some producers are able to make whiskey from entirely local sources. Some have outfitted their warehouses with state-of-the-art aging technology that works the spirit through the wood to maximize flavor. Here are a few whiskeys from Boulder County that show the breadth of our local whiskey offerings — we suggest picking up a few bottles and running through a tasting flight, maybe while you’re cooped up on this upcoming snowy weekend. And if you want to throw Jameson into the flight as a control, we won’t hold that against you.

often to decide when it’s time to bottle. The whiskey is cut with fresh Rocky Mountain water to cut the proof down to 90, and the result is a nuanced spirit with hints of smoke and peat, and rich butterscotch and caramel flavors on the tongue.


The folks at Boulder Bourbon create this flavor-forward spirit by aging its corn-heavy Bourbon (making for a sweet sip) for two years before moving it to casks that aged sherry. That finish gives this spirit a wine-like


If local’s what you’re after, then grab Dry Land’s Colorado Antero Wheat Whiskey — everything in the spirit is grown within 30 miles of the distillery, and the spent grain from the production of the whiskey goes to Black Cat Farm. The spirit gets its name from the Antero wheat it’s made from, a grain that was developed by Colorado State University in conjunction with local growers. The spirits are bottled from a single barrel, and the result is a complex whiskey with robust spice balanced with cooler flavors like caramel and vanilla.


To flesh out your tasting flight, or just for future reference, there are a few other local whiskeys you’ll want to grab if you see them. DV8’s single barrel whiskey is Colorado’s only rice-based whiskey; it’s aged for a year and has a unique flavor profile that includes lemongrass and beeswax. On Point’s Bourbon is a classic take on the spirit, with a smooth vanilla backbone and hints of smoke and spice on each sip. And the Colorado Twister from Hogback Distillery is an excellent entry-level offering; it’s blended from four types of grain, including a healthy dose of wheat, which sweetens and balances the spirit.


The Lyons’ distillers’ flagship product has brought home numerous awards, and for good reason: bottles are culled from single barrels and the whiskey itself is made entirely from barley that’s grown and malted in Alamosa, Colorado. Aged for two years in new, charred American oak barrels, distillers taste


quality, and combined with the notes of wood and the sweetness of the mash bill, each sip is like tasting fruitcake or mulled wine. It’s an easy-drinking spirit, but one that stretches the flavor boundaries of whiskey.


MARCH 11, 2021



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e should’ve expected this. As soon as Gov. Jared Polis proclaimed March 20 Colorado’s MeatOut Day, a long-running national event that encourages people to eat only plant-based foods on the first day of spring, the meat industry and its supporters pushed back. The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) declared a MeatIn Day on March 20, counties in Colorado (and the state of Nebraska) said they’d join in. Lawmakers called it a “war” on rural Colorado, ranchers and the meat industry. The CCA is even using it as a fundraising effort, calling for $200 to support the local ag industry (with 25% going to feeding kids, to be fair). (Responding with a MeatIn Day is kind of like advocating for an international men’s day or white history month or straight pride — we don’t celebrate the status quo, folks.) All for one day of eating vegan. But, again, we should’ve expected it: Big Meat has pushed back against calling plant-based milks “milk” and they’ve pushed states (with success) to call meat substitutes anything but meat. Cutting meat and animal-products out of one’s diet, even for one or several days of the week, can have a big effect on curbing climate change, not to mention benefits to health and animal welfare. Animal agriculture contributes more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than cars, planes, trains and other transportation sources combined — raising livestock contributes to 15% of the total GHG emissions on the planet. A recent study in The Economist found we could cut carbon emissions by about two-thirds if two out of our three meals a day were vegan. The Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM), the first animal rights group in the U.S. which worked to get Polis to declare MeatOut Day in Colorado, advocates for cutting out meat, eggs and dairy immediately. But the all-or-nothing approach vegan evangelists often espouse turns some people off and so Eric Lindstrom, FARM’s executive director, says his personal views have shifted over the years — even if he is one of those vegans who shifted from meat to plant-based overnight. “My own perspective and ideology on this is that any little bit helps,” Lindstrom says, “any opportunity to open the dialogue, to start a discussion, about what people are eating, to make them think about what they’re eating. Meatless Mondays. Is that enough, for people to give up [meat] one day a week? Well, it certainly is because that could trickle into Try-Veg Tuesdays. So people do their vegan journey at their own pace. That’s something the entire movement has been strongly considering and promoting recently, not to be so dug-in-the-heels about it, to be like, do what you can.” And so MeatOut is a way to “start the discussion” with vegan skeptics and those curious about the diet and lifestyle. Lindstrom is realistic about the effects of one day of veganism, regardless of the “outrage” from the meat industry. “Being able to start the discussion is really what our goal is anyway at this point,” he says. “We’re not going to change the state of Colorado overnight. MeatOut itself is not going to adversely impact the revenue of the meat industry within the state of Colorado in 2021. We’re simply asking people to consider taking meat off the plate for one day.” And the time is right for reconsideration. As we move the needle toward addressing climate change in a variety of society’s institutions, the immediate impact of changing the way we eat can help accelerate our efforts to save the planet. In turn, retailers and food producers have created a bevy of plant-based products that make the switch to veganism not so daunting anymore. “We need to get a handle on this, we need to address human health and address the health of the planet, and ultimately save animals,” Lindstrom says. “There’s no excuse now for not trying a vegan diet. Anything you’ve eaten in the past now has a comparable vegan version, which we didn’t have in the past.” Still, food is personal for many. It provides comfort, connects people to their pasts, and provides an opportunity to share some of themselves with others. But Lindstrom says with the animal-product substitutes available, those considering veganism needn’t switch out much to accommodate those who are following a plant-based diet. “When someone says, ‘We have vegans coming over for dinner, what do we make?’ my answer is, ‘What would you make them if they weren’t vegan?’ Chicken piccata or spaghetti and meatballs? I’d say, ‘Make them that, but trade out ingredients.’ There’s nothing you can’t make vegan.” But getting people to eat more, or only, plant-based foods is still an uphill climb, and this MeatOut-MeatIn kerfuffle is evidence of that. “The reaction has been pretty intense,” Lindstrom says. “We’re very impressed with how committed the ranchers and poultry farmers and cattlemen are within the state about how they feel about this. I think they feel personally attacked. Maybe the writing is on the wall for them.” Find recipes and more info at

Cut it (the meat) out

MeatOut Day calls for people to try a plant-based diet, but the Colorado ag industry isn’t happy about it

by Matt Cortina



MARCH 11, 2021



Changing hearts and minds

Cannabis Doing Good awards companies working to right systemic wrongs in the industry

by Will Brendza


s a burgeoning industry in the U.S., cannabis has a unique opportunity to correct some of the inherent problems that have emerged in the years since it was legalized. The big three issues, according to the nonprofit Cannabis Doing Good (CDG), are racial inequality, poor environmental practices and community detachment. That’s why the group is working to inspire new avenues for progress through its annual CDG awards, and its newly launched Cannabis Impact Fund, both of which aim to address those three systemic problems in cannabis markets across the nation. “We can activate cannabis to be a lever for social and environmental change, and show businesses that there’s money in doing it,” says Kelly Perez, president and co-founder of CDG. Her hope is that CDG can help foster the evolution of the cannabis industry by raising money and lobbying for change. Policy is necessary, Perez says, but insufficient alone to fix systemic issues. In order to do that, the economic and social value in doing so needs to be demonstrated. “We’re living in the time of corporate activism. It’s an expectation among consumers,” she says. “To think that consumers won’t have that expectation in cannabis is pretty short-sighted.” In order to better leverage that change and inspire businesses to become more racially equitable, more sustainable and more engaged with their community (by



their own free-will), CDG has been honoring outstanding companies across the cannabis industry, particularly those that excel in the designated areas of need with their three CDG awards: the “Change Maker,” “Love Your Planet” and “Good Neighbor” awards. CDG just announced the 2020 winners. The 2020 Change Maker award went to Terrapin Care Station, a Boulder-born cannabis company, for its efforts to increase diversity in the sector and push to make a more just and equitable society. The Love Your Planet award went to Dama Packaging, a company dedicated to providing eco-friendly compostable packaging alternatives while changing the industry’s mindset around sustainable packaging. And the CDG Good Neighbor award went to Curaleaf for its extensive community engagement efforts that encourage people to volunteer locally and address the needs of their community. “Our Cannabis Doing Good awards are our way to recognize companies out there that are doing good, and we want to give an extra push to make sure that other folks know about them,” Perez says. The awards also serve as a means of raising money for other causes CDG cares about — in 2019, the CDG awards raised $10,000 for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. Perez believes that in awarding purpose-driven companies like these for doing the right thing — working to solve systemic problems in the industry — it can incen-

MARCH 11, 2021


tivize others to pursue the same ends. “That would supersede the regulatory requirements,” she says. “It actually moves them forward.” CDG also just launched its Cannabis Impact Fund, in partnership with kindColorado and PufCreativ. The three companies, together, have created a single nonprofit dedicated to uplifting racial justice, environmental sustainability and community engagement. It will allow all three to work solely on these issues (both within the cannabis industry and outside of it) for the next 12 months. Sponsored by Sensible Colorado, the Cannabis Impact Fund’s website says it aims to promote, showcase and create social impact in the cannabis industry — and it’s inviting cannabis companies everywhere to help. Companies that donate to the Cannabis Impact Fund automatically get the opportunity to receive CDG’s anti-racism training, which, Perez says, was built basically from scratch, since there was no such training for the industry before. “Most people have never heard of training like this. They’ve never seen training like this,” Perez says. But since it launched, CDG has already trained staff from Terrapin Care Station and Wana Brands, and it’s in discussions with others as well. “We’re slowly reaching a lot of companies.” CDG is working hard to foster change in the cannabis industry from the ground up. Policy changes make a big difference, but it’s akin to policing, Perez says. Cultivating an industry mindset that upholds racial, environmental and community values on its own is the only way to carve out a truly inclusive, just and sustainable path. “We’re changing hearts and minds and we will be for a while,” Perez says. “The war on drugs and cannabis has been weaponized to continue to keep people down. It is beholden on us to change that. And we want to show that there’s a return on investment for doing so.”


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