Category Archive 'Denver'

26 Oct 2014

Denver Post Critic Deplores Union Station’s Racist Architecture

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DenverUnionStation
Denver’s Union Station.

Denver is in the process of renovating its long-neglected Union Station, built in 1914 in the Beaux Arts style. Denver Post Fine Arts Critic Ray Mark Rinaldi has serious issues with the renovation of a building designed exclusively in European styles, which thus inevitably celebrates European culture and civilization, while neglecting to represent all those various peoples of colors which our liberal friends all tell us are destined very soon to displace us as the American majority. Evidently Mr. Rinaldi thinks that Denver ought to be consigning European culture, architecture & European history to the ash-heap of history right now.

Union Station is a neo-classical mix of styles — European styles. The symmetry, arched windows, ornate cornice and stacked, stone walls have their roots in the glory days of France, England, Greece and Rome, in empires that were nearly absent of ethnic minorities and who felt fully at ease invading, exploiting and actually enslaving the people of Africa, subcontinent Asia and South America.

Yes, that’s all in the past; things have changed. But the $54 million renovation of Union Station doesn’t take that into account. It restores the symbols of an old world with no updates. The gilded chandeliers have been rewired, the marble polished, but there’s no nod to the present, no interior walls in the bright colors of Mexico, no Asian simplicity is in the remix. There are no giant sculptures by African-American artists bonused into the lobby, no murals on the basement walls.

Would any of those updates have made Union Station more welcoming, made it “Ready for the Next 100 years,” as its marketing proclaims ? Could they still?

A preservationist might object to physical updates. Restoration is about the exact, the original. History has its ups and downs, the thinking goes, and you can’t blame buildings for the good or bad that happened. But a preservationist just might end up with a building that draws mostly white people — with a Union Station.

The present restoration harkens back to Union Station at its height, in the first half of a 20th century when many Americans suffered the social indignity and economic disadvantage of a segregated America. Denver’s neighborhoods, parks, schools and social amenities were divided sharply by race. Denver’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan, one mayor a member, kept things in their place.

The trains themselves were not officially segregated here, but you can bet many people on them boarded or disembarked in stations where blacks entered in separate doors and rode in restricted cars.

Denver’s bigshot bigots are gone, schools and workplaces desegregated. But the structures of back then look the same — are they to be honored or altered to make the past palatable for everyone?

The programming does little to mitigate the obstacles. The local restaurants and chefs that made it onto Union Station were the city’s highest-profile operators whose establishments serve mostly white clientele, and their fans have followed along. Minority businesses were part of the station’s redevelopment, but many of the key players were white, too. These people are not racists. They are our among our best, most creative thinkers.

Still, something is missing. There’s no traditional Mexican restaurant, no soul-food restaurant, no sushi bar, as if no one noticed that the Mexican-American, African-American and Asian-American families that own and operate those places across the city are also our best food purveyors. …

Union Station is programmed toward wallets. You need a password to use the Wi-Fi. Its product is elegance, even exclusivity. You can’t even find the Cooper Lounge unless you know where you are going; it’s set up for insiders. Exclusivity has its own historic baggage. Whether it’s about keeping Jewish people out of a subdivision or gay people out of the military, it historically benefits the majority.

That’s only part of it, of course. Because today’s Denver has a growing middle-class of minorities. Plenty of blacks and Latinos could afford to play at Union Station. The surrounding neighborhoods are diversified with residents who could simply bike over or take the light rail or downtown shuttle. There is no one at the door looking folks over. The workforce is mixed. There’s no open policy of exclusion.

But there may be an institutional one. RTD had a thousand choices when it was rehabbing the station. It could have put in a farmer’s market or a suite of micro-offices. It could have let its imagination run wild and installed a basketball court or a rec center, day-care facility, museum, a theater that any group could rent, an indoor playground, or yes, a Subway.

But it chose a different path. RTD, whose buses and trains are the most diverse places in Denver, created a monster of separation. You can’t keep private enterprise from doing this sort of deed, but a public entity, a common asset, might have more democratic obligations.

Union Station will make plenty of money and that will help keep our transportation system solvent. But how much is lost?

This really was a chance to define today’s Denver, to show off to the world, to say we are as interesting and relevant as anywhere you can name. But this project has defined us narrowly, darkly, negligently. There is danger in that, too.

17 Oct 2011

Occupy Denver Leaders Sporting Sinister Symbol

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El Marco discovered, in the midst of photographing the lefties’ antics in Denver, that the movement has official leaders and organizers, who are identifiable by a sinister symbol of officer status not entirely unreminiscent of the swastika.

Zombie at PJM points out how much it resembles the swastika take-off used by Charlie Chaplin in “The Great Dictator” (1949) .

14 Aug 2008

Ooops!

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29-year old Saleman Abdirahman Dirie, a Canadian citizen from Ottawa of Somali origin, was found deceased in his room at the Burnsley Hotel in downtown Denver, about four blocks from the State Capitol.

The cause of death remains to be determined, but the pound (.45 kg.) of Sodium Cyanide found by authorities next to the body may provide an important clue.

A suspicion person might conjecture that the late Mr. Dirie was visiting Denver in connection with some kind of plans related to the upcoming Democrat Party Convention, taking place August 25-28, and that the unlucky, or possibly maladroit Mr. Durie, while examining or otherwise manipulating the cyanide compound he had brought along for reasons of his own, met with an unhappy accident when he breathed in its vapors or somehow contacted the very dangerous chemical with his bare skin.

Mr. Dirie’s death (now being described as a suicide) somehow reminds me of the 2005 “suicide” of Joel Henry Hinrichs III, an engineering student with a Pakistani roommate who mysteriously chose to kill himself with a bomb containing the highly unstable and explosive compound triacetone triperoxide, in the very near vicinity of a football stadium where a game was being played with more than 80,000 people in attendance.

Fascinating, isn’t it, the way some people choose to commit suicide using very much the kinds and quantities of materials suitable for use in mass terrorism attacks in locations suspiciously close to suitable targets?

11 Jan 2007

Fooled Again!

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I should know better. Anonymity of the original source is always a dead giveaway that the item is a hoax.

Some alert classmates spotted yesterday’s “Denver vs. New Orleans” as hoax email which has appeared in several variant forms, and which is recorded on Snopes.

The moral is that one should always take the time to investigate these things, no matter how agreeable to one’s own prejudices and preconceptions a particular item may be. I get the dunce cap for today.

Hat tips, kudos, and thanks to Rodger Kamenetz and Stephen Frankel for the correction.

10 Jan 2007

Denver Versus New Orleans

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Donald Luskin posts a comparison, which has been making the rounds, between Denver (and its surrounding region)’s response to the current weather emergency and the behavior of New Orleans.

Up here, in the Northern Plains, we just recovered from a Historic event— may I even say a “Weather Event” of “Biblical Proportions” — with a historic blizzard of up to 44″ inches of snow and winds to 90 MPH that broke trees in half, knocked down utility poles, stranded hundreds of motorists in lethal snow banks, closed ALL roads, isolated scores of communities and cut power to 10’s of thousands.

George Bush did not come.

FEMA did nothing.

No one howled for the government.

No one blamed the government.

No one even uttered an expletive on TV.

Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton did not visit.

Our Mayor did not blame Bush or anyone else.

Our Governor did not blame Bush or anyone else, either.

CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX or NBC did not visit – or report on this category 5 snowstorm. Nobody demanded $2,000 debit cards.

No one asked for a FEMA Trailer House.

No one looted.

Nobody – I mean Nobody demanded the government do something.

Nobody expected the government to do anything, either.

No Larry King, No Bill O’Rielly, No Oprah, No Chris Mathews and No Geraldo Rivera.

No Shaun Penn, No Barbara Striesand, No Hollywood types to be found.

Nope, we just melted the snow for water.

Sent out caravans of SUV’s to pluck people out of snow engulfed cars.

The truck drivers pulled people out of snow banks and didn’t ask for a penny.

Local restaurants made food and the police and fire departments delivered it to the snowbound families. Families took in the stranded people – total strangers.

We fired up wood stoves, broke out coal oil lanterns or Coleman lanterns.

We put on extra layers of clothes because up here it is “Work or Die”.

We did not wait for some affirmative action government to get us out of a mess created by being immobilized by a welfare program that trades votes for ‘sittin at home’ checks.

Even though a Category “5” blizzard of this scale has never fallen this early, we know it can happen and how to deal with it ourselves.

In my many travels, I have noticed that once one gets north of about 48 degrees North Latitude, 90% of the world’s social problems evaporate.

It does seem that way, at least to me.

I hope this gets passed on.

Hat tip to Maggie’s Farm and Seneca the Younger.


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