Local Buzz: Jazz & Gentry

Published March 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 3

Will Denver Have its own Harlem Renaissance?

written by Tim Covi
reporting by Dwayne Pride
photography by Adrian Diubaldo

Standing at the corner of Welton and Washington Streets, if you look hard enough you might still see throngs of people coiling around the sides of the Rossonian Hotel. Young men standing under tipped fedoras and women in cocktail dresses and heels lined up to hear some of the best jazz the country has to offer. You’d have to look hard, mind you. Past the dusty, lightly sootsoiled brick, past the 1993 renovations, around the light rail that sidles up to the hotel’s flank and comes to a slow, furtive stop at the traffic light before rushing off down Welton with its payload. You’d need to look beyond the empty shell being remodeled, well into history. Because for several years, this corner has been a husk of what it was.

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Feature: Man in the van

Published December 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 11

by Dwayne Pride

Undeterred by the loss of a job, Oregonian Aaron Heideman turns his van into a home to canvas America.

Artprize is a national contest for fine artists and emerging artists from all around the world. It is said to be one of the largest prizes that an artist can hope to win to get recognized for his or her craft. All of the winners are chosen by the public. The top prize is $250,000. For most, when they think of somebody that would be part of a contest like this they would not think of a poor man,  a homeless man, as one of its participants. Artist/ driver Aaron Heideman aka “The Man in the Van” proves this theory wrong.

“I don’t want to panhandle,” reiterates Aaron Heideman.

After losing jobs during the recession his life was more than just a struggle. He hit rock bottom. But he took a creative angle on his situation and found some freedom from a 9 to 5 with a road trip that would eventually take him through at least 30 States in America. His mission: to make an enormous tapestry of people’s experience of the recession. State by state, city by city, he collected words.

His project started out in Medford, which he calls home. Driving through places like Portland, Fresno, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Denver, he met all types of people and had them share their experiences from a sagging economy and what it has done to their lives.

People wrote their individual stories on rolls of 50-foot waterproof, tear-proof white tyvek paper.  All he asked them was,  “How has the recession affected you?”

“There is No Recession”

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Local Buzz: Mental Health Cuts

Published October 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 9

by Dwayne Pride
photographs by Adrian Diubaldo


“The difference between the closings before and the closings now is that this time half of the hospital will be closing down.”
—Steve Wager

As the state budget gets carved up, Colorado residents, state workers, service providers and clients are all scrambling to figure out what the looming budget cuts mean for them. One area of concern is among the health and human services. These services are directly responsible for supporting homeless and poor people in the metro area and across the state, a portion of whom are considered disabled. Fort Logan Mental Health Center is among the organizations taking large cuts to balance the budget, and the cuts could mean as many as 200 people won’t get needed mental health services.

Fort Logan provides hospital services for the mentally ill. It serves patients with complex, serious and persistent mental illnesses. There are 153 inpatient beds and 20 residential beds. Each year about 650 patients are admitted, according to hospital admissions at Fort Logan. Cuts could mean that most of these patients would need to be redirected to other institutional facilities or not hospitalized at all.

Fort Logan Mental Health Institute is losing much of its resources due to state budget reform.  Beds and employee hours are being cut, leaving employees unhappy and many homeless people without a place to recuperate. Photo by ADRIAN DIUBALDO.

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Feature: Busker Hustlin’

Published July 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 6

by Dwayne Pride

Street performers bring 16th street mall to life for summer.

Noon-lunch; lots of people sitting around and he is just dancing in the midst, showing off what he does. People are laughing and talking. Smooth jazz rolls off a trumpet somewhere down the street. Then he disappears into the alley. All I could see was the handle of his silver umbrella. He returned from the alley with some kind of ‘roller-type’ stage set up. People keep trying to take his picture and he keeps hiding under his umbrella.

Then—what a surprise! He has music! It’s plugged in somewhere up the alley. It’s a little more than the average street performer. The way he carries himself, Leroy Midyette, who goes by “Jambot” on the mall, seems to be a mime. His bags are full of props. He starts putting on more make-up while “Thriller” plays from his boom-box. His face looks like a mask or statue.

Jambot entertains pedestrians on the 16th Street Mall, photo by Vinnie Vertigo.

Some lady is walking by and he trots along beside her as she keeps walking. He finally puts his bucket out for tips and gets up on the stage. Overcast skies have turned to sun. Out comes the sign, “Photo or Video $5. Money Make Me Move.”

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