Any good big-city daily newspaper that doesn't take itself too seriously has one, though few are fortunate enough to have that special one that becomes a silk thread in the urban fabric. San
Francisco had Herb Caen. Denver has had Bill Husted for as long as I can remember.
What's their role? Gossip columnist? Man about town? If they're good, the phrases don't do them justice.
These guys, and a few gals, take the pulse on their city. They tell the rest of us what happens behind closed doors, what happens after the bars close, what's new, what's old, what's coming next. They invite us to
the city's water cooler for the latest gossip on the movers and shakers, and they whisper the latest dish over the city's backyard fence. They're the ones who know what local boy has done good, and what local girl
has gone bad. What famous visitor has been spotted where, doing what, with whom.
Las Vegas' version was Norm Clarke.
Norm had briefly gone head-to-head with
Husted back in Colorado, scrounging the usually dull Front Range of the Rockies for paltry scoops, but years before he'd moved on to ply his trade at the Review-Journal in the much more fertile gossip terrain of Las Vegas. By all the reports that made their way back across the Great Basin and the Rocky Mountains to Denver, Norm soon owned his adopted town.
He knew everybody in Vegas, had spies everywhere, had eaten at every now table, could get backstage at any show, and was escorted to the front of the line and past the velvet rope at any trendy club. After a few years in the desert Norm had, literally, written the book on Las Vegas, and was always busy taking notes for the next edition. His mug, and his column, graced the front page of the paper every weekend.
Celebrities weren't really in Vegas until Norm said they were in Vegas. Some begged him for ink. A few had managers and publicists call and beg him to please, please, please forget what he had seen or heard.
Back in his days at the Rocky Mountain News,
Norm had done a feature on Raoul, and on Raoul's golden touch incubating Boulder tech companies during the heady days of the early 1990s. Raoul, who generally despised publicity, thought the piece was on the money,
and he and Norm had become casual friends. They'd stayed in touch over the years even as each of their lives grew more complicated.
Visit Norm Clarke's web site.