Thursday, January 19, 2017

Colfax Update

As regular Blog readers will recall, I posted a number of photographs featuring Denver's Colfax Avenue last month, and figured it was time to once again visit "America's Longest, Wickedest Street."  Especially since I took the photograph above of the Colorado State Capitol (located on the corner of Colfax and Lincoln) last week and wanted to somehow work it into the Blog.  In doing intense research for this post (googling Colfax Avenue), I discovered that someone has a "love letter" to the street posted on a Denver Public Library website Blog.  Until now, I didn't realize the Denver Public Library website had blogs , but I guess you learn new things every day.  Check out the link at   And before you try to make reservations, The Cheeky Monk, mentioned in that post, has closed it's doors.  Bummer.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dealing With Birthdays...

Neither my sister Susan nor I like to celebrate our birthdays any more.  But we do have to recognize them, and so I feel obligated to announce that today is my sister's birthday, and tomorrow is mine.  I won't say how old Susan is, except to state that she is much, much older than I am.   The photograph on the left was taken when she was two years old in Abilene, Texas.  She and my mother Mary took the train down there to visit my father Nelson, who was in the army doing basic training, and soon to be shipped off to Okinawa.  Just looking at this photograph, you can see she was already on her way to becoming "a piece of work," as Miss Collins, one of her teachers at Fort Dearborn Grammar School, located in Chicago's South Side Brainerd neighborhood, referred to her during a talk with my mother.

And tomorrow is my birthday (my 64th), and the diptych on the right was taken of me when I was at my most charming best, just before the long slow slide to where I am today.  In the photograph on the left, I am being held by my mother Mary and in the photo on the right by my father Nelson.  The night before I was born was my sister Susan's 11th birthday, and she and my parents celebrated at the Rosewood Inn, a restaurant owned by my father's friend Art Houle in the southern Chicago suburb of Blue Island. They celebrated Susan's birthday, and then took my mother to St. Bernard's Hospital, where I was born the following morning.  My sister desperately wanted a baby sister, and was absolutely crushed when I showed up.  Happily she forgave me for this outrage on the occasion of my 60th birthday, so it all worked out.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Those Holiday Lights Keep Shining...

I took the light rail train down to Denver's 16th Street Mall the Sunday before last to walk around and take a few photographs, and was happy to see the Christmas lights were still up. It definitely brightens the place up, especially when the streets are still wet from a recent snowstorm.  The 16th Street Mall, by the way, is Denver's top tourist attraction.  It has restaurants and tourist oriented shops, but not a single department store.  When I first moved here, it had 5, but as their leases expired, they all left, and the hipsters gradually took over.

And so these days the 16th Street Mall and Lower Downtown are a big nightclub district.  The bars all close at 2:00 A.M., and thousands of well-lubricated party animals pour into the streets at the same time, often starting fights, urinating in alleys and doorways, and sometimes having the occasional shootout.  The rest of the time, the area is very safe, although last summer homeless transients made their home on the 16th Street Mall for a while, and in one notable incident, a homeless person started attacking passersby with a large pipe.  Since then, there has been a significant police presence on the mall, since the tourist crowd gets all sensitive when they are chased by homeless people with lead pipes.  Wimps.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Watching The Soccer Match With Mark

I watched Manchester United play Liverpool yesterday afternoon with my friend Mark (seen in the snow in the photograph above), who as regular Blog readers know works at the University of Denver's Anderson Academic Commons (the library).  Mark was originally going to spend the weekend up in Steamboat Springs, Colorado with his parents and brother.  However, they have had so much snow lately in the Colorado mountains that it is not safe to drive up there, and he had to settle for soccer on the telly.  In any case, Mark was full of information about the various soccer players, and mentioned that the ex-wife of one of these players was now dating one of the members of One Direction.  Naturally I asked what One Direction was, and Mark replied that I "really do live under a rock - no offense intended."  Mark then explained that One Direction was a "boy band" that is as hot as The Beatles were back in 1964.  Personally, I don't believe it, since as far as I can tell, they have not yet appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.  And by the way, Manchester United scored late in the game and the match ended in a 1-1 tie.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Trump This!

My friend Stuart (seen in the photograph above) and I had burgers and beers at the Old Chicago restaurant on South Colorado Boulevard here in Denver last night, and as usual, the topic of conversation was dominated by the soon to be inaugurated Donald Trump.  Trump is like a car accident you pass by - you just can't stop yourself from looking  - or in this case -  talking about it.  While Stuart is not wildly optimistic (to put it mildly) about the future of the country under Trump, I was surprised to hear he thought Trump's nominee for Secretary of Defense - know to friends and loved ones as "Mad Dog" - was a good choice.  Of course, Mad Dog and Trump have diametrically opposed world views, and so it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming months.  When Trump gets insulted by an article about him in Le Monde and decides to invade France, will Mad Dog be able to stop him?  We shall see.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Private Railroad Cars - Why The Hell Not?

I could swear I did a blog post on private railroad cars a few months ago, but looked back and couldn't find any trace of it. I am hoping that if I can't find it, you can't either, and so am going with that topic today.  And it is especially relevant now that Donald Trump will soon be president.  He promises large tax cuts for the wealthy and for large corporations, and they will need to figure out how to spend all that excess wealth.  I definitely recommend going the private railroad car route.

Last summer I was walking from the bookstore where I work on East Colfax Avenue here in Denver to Union Station, where I catch the light rail train home.  As I headed toward the southbound line, I noticed a number of old-time railroad cars parked in front of the station.  I wasn't sure why they were there, but took a number of photographs, and a few days later did a little bit of research on the internet (always a reliable source).  It turns out that 21 cars were being assembled for a trip from Denver to Spokane, Washington, and was sponsored by the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners as part of  their 2016 convention.  In other words, not only are there people with private railroad cars, and not only can they hire Amtrak to haul them across the country, but there are enough of them that they have conventions and their own non-profit organization. Wow!  Is that an amazing fact or what?

Not only does this organization sponsor trips around the country for people with private railroad cars, they also offer vacations trips to the general public and the opportunity to rent these historic cars.  When I found about this, I immediately thought of my friend and former University of Denver Bookstore co-worker Wally and his wife Linda. They have a daughter getting married this year, and I suggested to them that this would be just the ticket for the wedding reception.  They could park the car on a siding at Denver's Union Station, have the guests board the train, and then let the champagne flow.  That evening the car could be secretly hooked up to the nightly Amtrak train to Chicago, and when the reception ended (keep the champagne flowing till dawn, I say) the guests would find themselves in Chicago, that toddling town.  And how do the guests get home, you might ask?  That is, of course, their problem.  Is that a great idea or what? And for all you "one percenters" (rich people) out there, check out the American Association of  Private Railroad Car Owners (AAPRCO) website at

Friday, January 13, 2017

One Week Away from A Trump Presidency

Today is Friday the 13th, and it is also exactly one week away from a Trump presidency.  A coincidence?  I think not.  After promising to unite a deeply divided America on election night, President Elect Trump went on a victory tour across the country to celebrate his victory, but only in the states he won - not in the states he lost to Hillary Clinton.  Does this strike you as a bit hypocritical, or is it just me?  In any case, Trump is tan, rested and ready to take office next week, and his supporters are beside themselves with joy. All I can say is I am damn glad I am not of draft age. At least for now.  And no, I did not take the above photograph.  If my own sister is willing to chase after me with a knife because of a bad photo, I can just imagine what this guy would do to me if I had taken that image.