Rush Rocks Denver (Freedom Updates: June 30, 2004)

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Rush Rocks Denver (Freedom Updates: June 30, 2004)

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.


Rush Rocks Denver
As we drove south on 93 into Golden and toward Redrocks, the rain pummeled the car, and I had to slow down to compensate for poor visibility and water on the road. I thought we were going to get soaked at the Rush concert, if we were lucky enough not to see it canceled altogether. At least we had our rain gear.

But the weather was lovely. The seats were a little damp from the storm, but the skies cleared overhead, and later the moon and a few stars peeped through the thin swirling clouds. The stage lasers shot up toward the southern sky, while lightning blasted to the north. I didn't know Mother Nature was available for hire as a stage technician, but it appeared to be so.

The clouds prepare for battle
In the dark and brooding silence...
Thunderheads are rumbling
In a distant overture
All at once,
The clouds are parted...
Follow men's eyes
As they look to the skies
The shifting shafts of shining
Weave the fabric of their dreams...

People nonchalantly violated arbitrary laws. I bought a pair of Pabst for a buck each on the walk up to the amphitheater, and somehow I doubted the dudes with a box of beer were properly licensed. The sweet aroma of marijuana drifted with the smell of cloves and tobacco. Not even smoking tobacco is supposedly allowed in the regular seating of the Denver-owned property.

So Rush is 30 years old. Yup, they cut their first self-titled album in 1974, when I was a pup of two and some odd months, about 17 years before I heard my first Rush album. That would be 2112, the '76 album that first made the band famous. At the time, I was too overwhelmed to quite know what to think of it.

That album I had borrowed. The first album I purchased, just by luck, was Presto, still among my favorites though sometimes maligned even by fans.

After a short video and an instrumental medley, the band took off with The Spirit of Radio to begin the three-hour set (not including the break). The trio shuttled back and forth among eras, drawing from its 17 studio albums. The gang added a couple of acoustic pieces and a handful of covers. I was thrilled to hear a couple lengthy instrumentals, Yyz and La Villa Strangiato.

The band closed with the classic Limelight.

Those who wish to be
Must put aside the alienation
Get on with the fascination
The real relation
The underlying theme

The band mostly stays away from contemporary politics. One exception was that Lifeson, the guitarist, poked a bit of fun at Bush over his "fool me once" foible. Yet Peart's lyrics are infused with political and philosophical meaning. (The band is even the subject of a multi-part analysis in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.) There is something powerful about thousands of people cheering on Rush's critique of totalitarianism in 2112, of which the band played a bit. Peart's thoughtful lyrics mesh well with the stunningly complex music of Lee and Lifeson. During the first part of the song, as Lee describes the future authoritarian priesthood, thousands of fists rise into the air in defiance.

Happy anniversary, guys. And thanks.


Donner Addresses Law Suit
I'm one of the parties in a law suit led by Christie Donner and Stephen Raher of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. The suit seeks to block a legislative proposal to build a prison and medical facilities. Paul Grant serves as the attorney in the case. The suit makes two basic claims: the two projects were improperly linked in a single bill, and the bonding requires voter approval.

Donner further explained the suit in a June 17 letter to the Denver Post:

Re: "Court fight stymies work on CU's new med school," June 10 news story.

I am one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that has delayed construction of a new prison and also various academic buildings at Fitzsimons. We, too, want a quick resolution and have also asked the Colorado Supreme Court to take this case directly.

Both Pete Steinhauer, chairman of the University of Colorado regents, and Tim Foster, former director of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, lamented that the delay in starting construction at Fitzsimons may result in higher costs if CU ultimately prevails in the lawsuit. Foster said the delay is a travesty.

This prison will cost more than $100 million to construct, plus $34 million annually in operating expenses. The CU system as a whole would be better served if its financial concern focused on how the state was going to pay for this new prison. If history repeats itself, this increase in the Department of Corrections budget will come straight out of the higher education budget. And the taxpayers will pay either way.

By hitching its wagon to a prison project, CU has become a co-conspirator in its own financial dismantling. That is the travesty and tragedy.

Christie Donner, Lafayette

The writer is director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, which filed the lawsuit.

In an editorial the next day, the Post argued, "Before the projects were bundled, conservative Republicans opposed the funding mechanism, while many Democrats opposed the 948-bed prison, preferring that the state update its sentencing laws. By marrying the projects in one bill, Owens got the votes for passage. During debate, some lawmakers questioned whether the state would violate the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights by incurring long-term debt without voter approval, and also whether it was legal to combine two projects under one funding plan in view of the single-subject rule for legislation... Owens and the lawmakers who supported the measure need to understand that political gameplaying sometimes makes for a costly outcome."


Buckley Bucks Prohibition
William F. Buckley, Jr. wrote a nice column June 29 for National Review concerning marijuana.

He writes, "[T]he thunderers who tell us to stay the course can always find one man or woman who, having taken marijuana, moved on to severe mental disorder. But that argument, to quote myself, is on the order of saying that every rapist began by masturbating. General rules based on individual victims are unwise. And although there is a perfectly respectable case against using marijuana, the penalties imposed on those who reject that case, or who give way to weakness of resolution, are very difficult to defend."

Buckley defends the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, and he suggests the same course is proper for marijuana across the board.


Stanley Convicted
As Joe Garner and Hector Gutierrez reviewed for the Rocky Mountain News, Rick Stanley was convicted on two felony counts June 24 for "attempting to influence a public official."

Stanley wrote a poem cleverly titled, "Something Evil, This Way Comes," and published it on his web page. It concludes, "The battle erupted. From both sides they came. The evil. The good. From government. From 'We The People.' It spread from shore to shore. From defense it came. Deadly and triumphant, the Lion joined the fray. The New World Order, smashed by God's Order. Free Will And God, This Way Comes. GOD'S LAW RESTORED." Though unfortunate, it's no mystery how such an apocalyptical mythology could guide a person to make unwise decisions.

Stanley will be sentenced on September 10, according to the News. He faces a maximum of 12 years in prison.

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