The stories behind our favorite stories

by David Holub

After 52 issues and a year in publication, we thought it would be fun for DGO’s regular contributors to think back on their favorite columns and stories, works that taught us things about ourselves, subject matter that surprised us, the writing that showed us inspiring sides of this community and connected us with dynamic people. It’s been an amazing year, and hopefully, it’s been as fun for you as it has been for us.

Prescription Drugs: The Opiate of the Masses Sept. 22, 2016I’ve heard information and judgment about pain medication addiction bandied about for years, but I never truly understood it until researching and writing this piece. I spoke to Dr. Dan Caplin, who opened the wonderful Southern Rockies Addiction Treatment Services in Durango last year, and also reached out to former addicts who got candid about their journeys away from pain pills.

What’s the Truth About That UFO Crash in Aztec? July 28, 2016I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but I dig mythology, folklore, fantastical ideas and science fiction. Here in Durango, we’re not far from the famous Roswell (an alleged UFO crash site), but we’re even closer to Aztec, a hotbed of potential alien activity that far fewer people know about. I interviewed several “experts” (including a professional ufologist; yes, that’s a thing) and considered the credibility of UFO landings and government cover-ups. I can believe our government would hide information from concerned citizens (hello, they’ve done much worse), but I’m not convinced by vague evidence of alien activity here on Earth, either. Regardless of what I think, it was great fun to chat with people who do whole-heartedly believe in this stuff.

How the Western Was Won Jan. 14, 2016I studied film history in school, and movies have always been the thing I love most, so it was an enormous treat to get to write about the history and evolution of that quintessentially American cinematic genre, the Western, during my second week in Durango. Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” (partially filmed in our neighboring Telluride) and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “The Revenant” were both in theaters at the time, and Westerns have been particularly attractive to our country lately, as in eras of strife we appreciate the simplicity of good guys versus bad guys. Plus, Americans love their guns.

Durango’s Most Controversial Doctor April 14, 2016Dr. Richard Grossman is one of the only doctors who performs abortions in Durango, and he’s probably the kindest, most honorable person I’ve interviewed since being here. When I met Grossman at Planned Parenthood, there were picketers with protest signs waiting outside, something I was unaccustomed to and ill-prepared for, having lived only in liberal parts of New York. But Grossman’s profession provokes hostility from strangers and fellow townsmen every single day, and he takes it in stride, wanting only to help women.

Boys Will Be Boys… Sometimes Forever June 9, 2016 This piece investigated the mountain town ubiquity of Peter Pans, aka men who work seasonal jobs and refuse to commit. Everyone living in Durango for any amount of time will recognize this type. Most people here are lovers of the outdoors, and few will fault you for not having a conventional 9-to-5 job, so the lifestyle flourishes. But is it healthy? I learned lots about both the appeal and the consequences of PP livin’ by speaking with affected locals and a counselor who deals with men exhausted by their own behavior in his practice.

— Anya Jaremko-GreenwoldDGO staff writer

Style as psychological armor Feb. 25, 2016There was a time back in February when I felt smothered by clothing, and not in a good way. Style has started to mean stress instead of the usual power, glee and freedom. I had a column due and nothing good to say because all clothing seemed to do was break my spirit and my bank account, and also eat my soul and poop it out as lint. I thought “write what you know,” but everything I knew that day was whiny and depressing. When I forced myself to just write through the foul mood and use it as fodder, I was able to get loose enough for the words to flow, make me laugh and change my poor perspective. “Style as Psychological Armor” ended up being a great column, my favorite Style Fetish and my editor’s, too.

I am still trying to figure out how to call down and negotiate that graceful sweet spot that hangs around our creative endeavors and helps them to flow despite ourselves. How to open – on command – the mysterious mouth that deftly compares leather vests to hugs given by Danny Trejo.

— Heather NarwidStyle Fetish

Get Smart about civic engagement May 19, 2016Everyone featured in Get Smart has been a pleasure to speak to, but the hour I spent with Michael Rendon is one I’ll not soon forget. He lived up to his reputation for being engaging and thoughtful, but what surprised me was how he treated the several people who greeted him during our conversation. He called each person by name, and asked a unique, personal question. It occurred to me that while Michael is concerned with policy, he is all the more so concerned with the people who make up his community. What a novelty!

Cyle TalleyGet SmartHere are three country-punk classics you must own May 26, 2016Back in May my name was mentioned on Facebook by musician Mark Rubin. Rubin, along with banjo player Danny Barnes, were the core of The Bad Livers, the Austin band that played bluegrass, punk and, at times, Eastern European music on bluegrass instruments.

Turns out he liked my review of the Bad Livers’ record “Industry and Thrift,” a record I reviewed in DGO 17 years after its release.

Spreading the word about good music, whether 17 days or 17 years old is important. It’s what builds great scenes and spreads the love of decent music.

— Bryant LiggettDowntown Lowdown

Galaxies in my eyes, the strain that hit me perfect Nov. 19, 2015Some say we go through life in seven-year cycles, degrading and regenerating on the cellular level, walking the world – mind, body, spirit – each relating to what we encounter after their fashion; we live, we learn; I love this DGO article because it touches … just … so … perfectly … on the flame that set spark to my most recent leg of this journey and illuminates the best lessons I’ve learned lately.

That Cheese set in motion a chain of events – places, people, scenes – that I could never have imagined and that I wouldn’t trade for anything. And I loooooovvvvvvveeeeee the picture that our esteemed editor chose to illustrate it.

Life is infinite, DGO; as you navigate your journey, always remember that everything you see, feel and do also travels through you and you change it as it changes you.

— Christopher GallagherSeeing Through the SmokeA year of “First Draughts”I’ve written over 35,000 words, enough for a short novel, and covered everything from personal anecdotes about blacking out, to in-depth beer history, science and law. I’ve written everything: positive reviews of rare beers, used the writing to get over and into relationships, bad mouthed huge swaths of the country and slipped in tons of inside jokes. The best part has been the support and encouragement from fellow brewing industry professionals. To the people who have beer puns as part of their workflow, to the folks who wade in the muck and mire, and to the overnight brewers who lose the ability to socialize in normal hours: Thank you for reading.

Robert Alan WendebornFirst DraughtsOne fierce fashionista Nov. 12, 2015I’d met Heather Narwid when I popped into her pop-up shop in the old Lost Dog building on Main, a week or two before DGO launched. Heather in person is a lot like Heather in writing: tornado-like, full of energy and surprising associations, fun and frenzied. That day, she said she was planning on moving her funky mostly-vintage store, Sideshow, from Dolores to Durango. The shop, combined with Heather’s outsized personality, struck me as great story potential. With her clear intelligence, strong point of view and oozing uniqueness, I had a hunch she could write. I walked away from that encounter with a cover story and a fabulous columnist.

One epic furry story April 14, 2016I’d been on the lookout for a couple months for someone who had some insight on the brony movement – those guys who dig My Little Pony – and heard that Durango artist Wu Wallace might know something. The next time I ran into Wu, at a Studio & party, I asked him he knew. “I don’t know much about bronies, but I have a crazy furry story for you!” Wu said. Knowing Wu as a masterful storyteller and that he tends to put exclamation marks on most of his sentences, we walked out to sidewalk, I turned on my recorder and spent the next 15 minutes mesmerized by one of the craziest stories I’d ever heard.

Savage on Savage June 2, 2016The “Savage Love” column “has been at the top of criticisms DGO has received from the community, both from people who have read “Savage Love” and from businesses that refuse to carry the magazine because of its inclusion,” I wrote for this cover story on Savage. The lightning rod of a column kept coming up and coming up, so much so that I thought Dan Savage himself must have something to say about all this. So I called him. The interview was part informative, part laughisode, part therapy session, me trying to understand all the outrage from his point of view.

Daytripping Telluride Dec. 24, 2016It had been about six weeks since my staff writer had to unfortunately quit and I was running on fumes as it was, designing, editing and writing most of the cover stories for the fledgling DGO. I had tasked Telluride writer Cara Pallone to write the story and she and I would be taking a fat tire bike tour in Telluride, mainly so I could get some photos. The day of the ride, I woke up in Durango terribly sick, barely able to get out of bed. I could hardly move, but with a shoestring staff, what choice did I have? The photos were mediocre but driving up and back to T-ride and doing the fat bike tour while half-dead was a personal triumph of will.

How do I get to do this? The answer is clearly, ‘Durango’ May 19I’ve now written 52 columns for DGO, most of them of a very personal nature. While this one is not the best, funniest, most provocative, most popular or most anything, it captures the amazing turn my life has taken in 2016. The column came out the day I performed a one-man show I had written, a show very personal in nature and something I never thought I could or would do. It was a moment in my life I’ll never forget and , for me, it was a reflection of Durango, its amazing energy and wonderful and supportive community, something I think and hope DGO celebrates in some way every issue.

– David HolubDGO editor


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