Friday, September 30, 2016

730 South

I stopped at 730 South, a rather upscale bistro in the Bonnie Brae neighborhood of Denver, last night for a  libation.  My friend and former DU Bookstore co-worker Wally told me about the place, which has a very reasonable (i.e. cheap) happy hour menu and no music or any other extraneous sounds to listen to.  In other words, peace and quiet when you need it most, after work and before heading home to cook dinner. However, the clientele is a bit on the older side, and I suddenly realized that I was sitting in the midst of a bunch of Trump supporters.  The woman sitting next to me said she was very angry because her brother was strongly supporting "that woman."  It was all I could do to keep my opinions to myself.  Otherwise  I would have been beaten to an inch of my life with their canes.  Scary.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Another Dog Has It's Day!

My choice for Dog of the Week was tied up outside The Green Door Fitness Center, a few blocks from the bookstore where I work as the bookkeeper.  Considering how long people spend on their workouts these days, I'm afraid this dog had a long wait until his or her owner came back outside.   The Green Door Fitness Center is a very small operation right on the corner of Josephine and Colfax Avenues, and has been featured in several very positive stories on the local television news.  Unfortunately, the City of Denver is building a huge recreation center right across the street.  Will the Green Door survive?  Hopefully the personal attention they give each client will convince their clientele to stay put.  And maybe the Green Door staff can incorporate the dogs into the training regimen, to give their client's pets a little exercise, too.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Gorilla Encounter

I was at the Denver Zoo this past Sunday and took the above photograph of a little girl and a gorilla having a stare-down.  What a shame it is that the zoo insists on glass partitions to separate the wildlife from zoo patrons.  How wonderful it would be if the zoo had a "Gorilla Encounter," similar to it's "Giraffe Encounter." You can just tell that the little girl would like to give that gorilla a great big hug.  Think of the childhood memories it would create.  After all, gorillas are vegetarians, so what could possibly go wrong?  I suggest you e-mail the Denver Zoo today and ask them to make those kind of childhood experiences a reality.  It will be a memory that will last their entire lives.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Wildlife Tips From An Ex-Chicagoan

I have to admit that I am originally from Chicago, and have never seen a bear in the wild.  But I have lived in Colorado for 35 years, and that gives me some credibility on the topic, right?  And at this time of year, when the bear population in Colorado - not to mention the rest of the Northern Hemisphere - is desperately searching for food before hibernating, it is time to offer some valuable tips.  First of all, if you are heading up a mountain trail and see a grizzly bear like the one in the photograph above directly in front of you, I would advise you stop and start backing  up.  If you happen to bounce against one of it's cubs while doing this, you are truly screwed.  Sorry about that.  However, if you don't back into one of it's cubs, continue to keep backing down the trail until you get to your car, and then hop the hell in it.  I would then  - if you happen to be hiking in the mountains west of Denver - drive to the town of Breckenridge and stop at the first bar you see.  If you happen to be hiking in Uzbekistan, the principles are the same - only the word for beer when you get to the local taverna will be different.  And that's today's wildlife tip.  No thanks necessary.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Difference Between Cubs and White Sox Fans...

My friend Stuart and I went to the Old Chicago in exciting Lakewood, Colorado last night for pizza and beers.  The most emotional topic we discussed was the fact that a large Chicago Seven pizza now cost $23.75, which we both agreed was an outrage.  And we also both agreed that neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton would do anything about it.  The other major topic was how the Chicago Cubs would do in baseball's upcoming playoffs.  I asked Stuart if he was excited about the Cubs being in the playoffs for the second year in a row, and he gave me a very unenthusiastic yes.  I questioned him further, and he replied that he knew the Cubs had the best record in baseball, but he worried about how they would do in a short series against a team like the Washington Nationals.  Of course, now that my team, the South Side Chicago White Sox, are long out of contention, I will root for the Cubs.  However, White Sox fans are always fatalistic.  If something can go wrong, it will. And so my feeling is that since the Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908 (at first I said 1906, and Stuart was highly upset that I dared to take those two years away from the Cubs), they are indeed doomed.  They also have the curse of the Billy Goat to contend with (which I have mentioned several times on the Blog).  However, despite this hopeless situation, we still need to enjoy every victory that they win during these playoffs.  And so Go Cubs!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Just The (Col)Fax

Last week - I think it was a Friday night - I was doing my walk from the bookstore where I work to Denver's Union Station, and couldn't help but notice the number of homeless people lying on the sidewalk, on bus benches, and in doorways.  Maybe it was the time of day or day of the week, but I didn't think Colfax was like that anymore.  Maybe it was because the city dismantled their shacks along the Platte River, or forced them from the 16th Street Mall, but it seemed the homeless were everywhere.  Sometimes they hang out right on the street, and sometime they hang out in nearby alleys, such as the fellow in the photograph on the left.  And is that a person lying in the alley behind him, or just his bedding? The city is trying to help them, building more shelters, but many of the homeless absolutely refuse to go - the alcoholics, the insane, the hard core individualists, etc.

There are a lot of poor, but not homeless people, who also hang out on Colfax, like the ones waiting for the bus in the photo on the right.  Maybe they work around here, maybe they don't, but at the end of the day they take the East Colfax bus to Aurora, where the cost of living is substantially less. Because even though they hang out here, the neighborhood around Colfax is actually pretty pricey.  Many if not most of the bars and restaurants are pretty upscale, catering to an affluent young population that lives in the area. They wander from bar to bar and share the streets with the homeless and poor, not even noticing them.  A sad commentary on today's world. Colfax used to be called "America's longest, wicked street" in the days Jack Kerouac hung out here, but it is no longer wicked, just sad - Denver's own little India.

The houses off Colfax are large Victorians, and many were once rooming houses for the poor.  Now most have been restored to single family residences and are quite expensive.  The houses that are still multi-tenant units are now occupied by the trendy young people who populate the area, or people who work in the stores and bars in the area.  Not too long ago the middle and upper middle classes abandoned the city for the suburbs, where they could raise their children in safety and get away from the poor.  At some point they began to realize that the poor were occupying the most desirable real estate in the metro area, and gentrification began.  Now, everywhere in the country, the middle and upper middle classes are beginning to reoccupy the city and the poor are being driven off to the suburbs.  I took the photograph on the left of the sun-dappled Victorian just around the corner from where I took the previous photo.  What a contrast.

As I have mentioned ad nauseam on this blog, if you walk downtown on Colfax (also known as 15th Street), you see both the upscale and the downtrodden, often having to step over the homeless as they lay on the sidewalk.  If you take the same walk down 17th Street (a mere two blocks north), you see nothing but fancy bars, restaurants, and both new housing and restored Victorian era apartments and homes for the affluent. And you only see the affluent on 17th Street, walking between trendy bars and dining outside on the patios,  enjoying the fall weather.  And what it the solution to this problem?  I myself blame the Reagan Administration, which eliminated funding for the institutions that housed the insane and treated the others who currently live on the streets, and now the country doesn't have the money and its citizens the desire for the increased taxes needed to bring them back.  And so I have no solution.  Sad.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Not Another Oktoberfest?

Yes!  Just two weeks after I attended Oktoberfest in the Colorado mountain town of Breckenridge, I walked to Lower Downtown Denver after work last night and attended Denver's version of Oktoberfest. And I immediately noticed very striking differences between the two festivals.  For one thing, it seems to be all about the beer here.  The festival features steins for sale at $35 each empty and $40 filled (I assume with beer, but the sign didn't specifically say that).  You can, of course, just buy a regular pint in a plastic cup.  It was Happy Hour when I got there (two pints for $6.00), and the crowd was electric over that - happy hour was on the lips of everyone.  However, as you can see in the photo on the left, a lot of people were going for the Full Monty.

There are other differences between this Oktoberfest and the one in Breckenridge.  The crowd in Denver is decidedly younger.  And the biggest difference of all was that the only people wearing lederhosen and Bavarian peasant dresses were the people in the booths trying to sell you something, like the young lady in the photograph on the right doing the cooking at Das Turkey Leg, which by the way was also up in Breckenridge. Up there, a great deal of the visitors were in Bavarian garb - not just the vendors.  It definitely felt a lot more like Oktoberfest up there.  And whereas the band was a German one up in Breckenridge, the one in Denver was a local rock band.  Dare I say it, the Denver Oktoberfest felt a bit like A Taste of Colorado.  De je vu all over again.
Oktoberfest used to take place at Larimer Square, between 14th and 15th Streets on Larimer Street, a one block area where the old buildings were saved from the wrecking ball by a woman named Dana Crawford and was the place to go back when I first moved to Denver.  I really enjoyed going to the festival back then, and have fond memories of going there with my sister Susan, brother-in-law George, and then wife Lisa.  The event became so popular that the merchants decided it was more of a detriment to business than a help, and so the festival moved to what is called the Ballpark  Neighborhood, between 20th and 22nd on Larimer Street.  This neighborhood used to be considered run down and dangerous before Coors Field was built to house baseball's Colorado Rockies, but now is a hip locale to hang out.  Some vestiges of the neighborhood's past still survive, however, like The Star Bar, once an infamous dive bar (see photo on the left) and is now who knows what?  I have never been in there - honest!  In any case, Oktoberfest in Denver runs both this weekend and next, so head on down and buy your $40 stein now!  Sound like a bargain to me.