Monday, September 30, 2013

Kaos Reigns Again!

My sister Susan, brother-in-law George, and I went to Kaos, a beer garden/pizza restaurant here in South Denver yesterday afternoon to relax and take advantage of a beautiful fall day.  Kaos serves great pizza and has a happy hour (with $2.00 pints, no less!) until 7:00 P.M. most days.  Talk about heaven!  In any case, George and I shared a pepperoni and sausage pizza, while Susan had a "garden" pizza.  It was topped with an egg, and had absolutely no meat on it.  NO MEAT!  Does that even qualify as a pizza?  Sounds like just a salad to me.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Oktoberfest With Susan And George

I went to Oktoberfest with my sister Susan and brother-in-law George this afternoon down on Denver's Larimer Street.  When the polka band started playing "Just Because," one of polka master Frankie Yankovik's greatest hits, Susan became all nostalgic. She recalled how our mother and father would sit in the living room of our house in the Brainerd neighborhood of Chicago some evenings listening to Yankovik's albums on the hi-fi (the predecessor of today's stereo).  They never did dance the polka, however.  Probably a good thing.  I would have hated to see them have an accident and fall out the picture into the front yard. Not only might they have hurt themselves, but the neighbors would have talked about it for years.  What can I say?  We have never been a family of dancers.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Oktoberfest Hits Denver

This weekend and next is Oktoberfest here in Denver.  The celebration is taking place on Upper Larimer Street, right near Coors Field.  Not only are there brats, sauerkraut (yum!), and beer, but there are also polka bands and buskers, like the one in the photograph above.  Upper Larimer was once the skid row area of Denver, but due to the proximity of Coors Field, it is slowing being gentrified.  That is why you can find places such as Ignite! (Denver's current in-spot), right across the street from The Star Bar, a traditional dive that has been around since the 1950s.  And both places were packed this afternoon.  Coexistence has arrived at last, at least among the drinking set.      

Friday, September 27, 2013

Drinks With Wally At Jordan's Irish Pub!

I met up with my good friend Wally tonight to have a couple of pints at Jordan's Irish Pub, located just across the street from the University of Denver.  Wally still works at the DU Bookstore and keeps me informed about what is happening there.  And as Wally tells it, virtually nothing new is going on these days at my old stomping ground.  Definitely no surprise there.  In any case, Wally regaled me with tales of some of his very fascinating family members and his equally fascinating in-laws, and gave me a couple of his favorite books to peruse.  Wally is a great fan of the late humorist Jean Shepherd, and so any recommendations by him need to be taken seriously.  Thanks for the books, Wally! A detailed book review will be forthcoming.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The End Of The Season And The End Of A Career

I attended the last Colorado Rockies game of the season here in Denver last night, although due to my part-time job I was two hours late.  Nevertheless, I was still able to see the last half of the game.  Plus, an elderly couple (in other words, older than me) left at the top of the 6th inning and gave me their seats right behind the batters box.  Last night was Todd Helton's (number 17 in the photograph above) last game here in Denver as the Rockies first baseman - he is officially retiring from baseball - and there was a major celebration down on the field.  As I watched all this from my seat, I couldn't stop thinking to myself that these people actually paid Ninety-Five Dollars each for these seats and left with half the game remaining.  If I paid Ninety-Five Dollars for a seat at a baseball game, I would insist on sitting there the entire night.  "Wake me up at dawn, stadium ushers!"

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Word From Mozambique: No Word

The last Blog post by Cheyanne, a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique and the daughter of my friend Valarie (former Operations Manager of the DU Bookstore), was August 9th, well over a month and a half ago.  But don't worry everybody!  I've mentioned this to her mother and told her to have a stern talk with Cheyanne, so we should be hearing from her very soon.  In any case, be sure to check out Cheyanne's Blog and her great photographs at

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Those DAM Photographs Are Great!

I went to the Denver Art Museum this past Sunday for a final look at the photographic portraits of August Sander and Seydou Keita.  These black and white photographs are wonderful!  Sander photographed all manner of people, usually dressed in their work clothes, in pre-WWII Germany. Keita photographed his subjects in colonial Mali during the 1950s.  He photographed his subjects as they wished to be portrayed - the dandy, the urban success story, a successful son or daughter.  These photographs make you appreciate photography for the true art form it is.  It almost makes me want to give up digital and go back to traditional black and white. Almost.  Those memories of falling asleep face first in the developer and waking up in the darkroom at 4:00 A.M. are still too vivid.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Still More Nostalgia!

My parents moved to Stuart, Florida, from Chicago in 1976, and my sister Susan and I would visit them down there several times a year.  While living in Florida, my father put on a little weight, and so whenever we would go out to a restaurant, my sister would tease him by saying that the other restaurant patrons were whispering that Sidney Greenstreet (who played the role of "The Fat Man" in the movie The Maltese Falcon), had just walked into the room.  My father took this little jibe in good humor and laughed it off, but as I look back, maybe Susan had a point. Check out the photograph of Sidney (on the left) and my father, Nelson Hoyt (on the right).  Is there a resemblance, or was my sister just being a stinker?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Catching Up With Valarie...

I had dinner the other night with Valarie - the DU Bookstore's former Operations Manager - and we caught up on everything that has been happening in each other's lives over the past few weeks or so.  Valarie will be traveling to India with her daughter Cheyanne (a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique) in a few months to attend a wedding and do some sightseeing, and she is getting pretty excited about the impending trip.  I had promised that I would give her a list of "must see" sights, but unfortunately have not had the time to put it together yet.  I have never been busier since I got laid off from the DU Bookstore. What's the deal with that? Don't worry Valarie, the list is coming!  I am not known as the Rick Steves of South Central Denver for nothing.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Brittney Says Goodbye!

Brittney, the Assistant Manager of the DU Bookstore, is moving to Fort Collins to pursue a career in real estate appraisal.  She will be working from home, and will now be able to actually start spending time with her children.  "I have children?" Brittney often replies when asked about them.  Brittney is very excited about all these changes, although she is a little stressed out about having to quickly close on the sale of her house, pack up the place, and move to a new town with 2 small children.  In any case, she is celebrating in the above photograph with Donovan, the DU Bookstore's former Computer Store Manager (in the center), and Chris, the Bookstore's former Accounting Associate (on the right).  Flo, the DU Bookstore's A/R and A/P Accountant, was there too, but refuses to have her photograph taken, since she is one of the many Bookstore employees in the Federal Witness Protection Program.  At least that is what they keep telling me.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The New Improved Stinkmobile

Years ago I managed the Hatch's Bookstore at the University Hills Mall here in South Central Denver, and my friend Stuart (pictured above) worked there part-time in the evenings.  One day, for a reason I now forget, he told me to feel free to call him anything, even Stinky.  I mentioned this to another employee, Joanne, who really perked up when she heard this.  Every afternoon from that day forward she would look out the window of the store, and when Stuart drove up in his rather ugly Chevy, she would announce "Here Comes Stinky in his Stinkmobile!"  I mention this because now Stuart will only drive Toyotas, and is very particular about how his car looks.  As for me, not so much - if the cars runs, no problem.  In other words, guess who's driving the Stinkmobile now.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The End Is Near!

Mercifully so, in the case of the Colorado Rockies.  The end of the baseball season in Denver is just a week away. The Rockies were terrible this year, which is actually a big improvement over last year, when they were horrendous.  However, there is one noteworthy event taking place.  Todd Helton, the Rockies' star first baseman, is retiring at the end  of the season.  Fortunately, I was able to take a photograph of him last night sitting in the stands, resting up for the game (see above).  I have to admit, Todd is looking a little older these days.  He came up to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning, bases loaded, with a chance to win the game - but, like Casey at the Bat, struck out.  Next time start your rest period earlier, Todd!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

There Is No There There - Or Is There?

Yes - Gertrude Stein's famous quote about Oakland can be applied to almost every suburb in America. However, I have been working at a part-time job out in Lone Tree and Highlands Ranch, Colorado, and am beginning to see the appeal.  You can take the Light Rail downtown to work every day, and be home in time to drive to the Tattered Cover at the Town Center and afterwards have a couple of pints (Imperial pints, no less) at the Lansdowne Arms Bistro and Pub, a popular local hotspot, just across the green.  Of course, the only exercise you get is when you walk from the TC to the pub, but any exercise is good, right?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Random Thoughts While Cruising Colfax...

Denver's Colfax Avenue is the longest street in America.  It was once the haunt of Jack Kerouac, and Sue Lyon - the star of the movie Lolita - once lived on West Colfax Avenue at the Big Bunny Motel for a while (this was long after her movie career ended.  She even got into a fight with the landlord there and threatened to jump out the window, but since they were on the ground floor, the threat wasn't taken too seriously).  In any case, Colfax is slowly but surely being gentrified.  There are now many trendy bars and restaurants up and down the avenue, and even Smiley's, the giant 24 hour laundromat, has been purchased by a developer for a new project.  However, I am happy to report - for all you nostalgia fans - that there are still plenty of seedy areas left.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Colorado's Crazy Weather

For several years now here in Colorado we have been in a drought condition.  For the longest period of time we never saw a single raindrop, and have had several very destructive forest fires as a result.  People all over the state prayed for rain.  And then, over the past few weeks, it started to rain and hasn't stopped raining since. Boulder and other parts of Northern Colorado are now a disaster area and everyone is praying for the rain to stop.  As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A New Photography Project!

Many years ago, when my father was about to sell my grandparent's house in the Brainerd neighborhood of Chicago, I was rooting around in the basement and came across an old scrapbook, filled with photographs and penny postcards from the early 1900s.  At first I thought it belonged to Adam Boysen, who died tragically during the Second World War and whose elementary school drawings were included in the scrapbook. I put the album away in a box, and haven't looked at it until now, 45 years later.  After actually reading some of the postcards, I now realize the scrapbook belonged to my great aunt, Viola Thayer, who died in 1910 at the age of 17.  Time has completely forgotten her.  Not even my 90 year old Uncle, who was born in 1922, remembers her,  or even knows of her existence.  My project will be to photograph the people and places connected with these relatives of mine, Viola Thayer and Adam Boysen, and remember these two lives that ended so long ago.  The scary thing is that in not too many more decades, somebody will be going through my albums.  Or perhaps, like reading a frightening book like The Shining, they will choose not to.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Drink With Wally

I met Wally - my friend and former colleague at the DU Bookstore - at Jordan's Irish Pub yesterday afternoon to return a large serrated butter knife, which he and his wife Linda left at my condo after a barbecue / pot luck I hosted a few weeks ago.  I was tempted to just walk in there with it, but then everyone would have shouted "He's finally snapped" and I would probably have gone down in a blaze of gunfire (Colorado is a concealed carry state, after all).  Best just to put it in a Safeway bag and keep it low key.

Friday, September 13, 2013

When Last We Heard From Cheyanne...

When last we heard from Cheyanne, daughter of my friend Valarie and a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique, she had just returned home from two weeks in the northern part of the country.  Since then, there have been no further postings on her Blog.  Once again, I am thinking of organizing an expedition of unemployed, ex DU Bookstore employees to travel to Mozambique to make sure all is okay.  Seeing as how we are out of work and short of funds, we will have to work our way across to Africa on a tramp steamer, and then hitchhike to the town of Homoine from wherever we land.  But what the heck, we do have the time, after all. Let me make some phone calls and I'll get back to you guys.  By the way, if you haven't checked out Cheyanne's beautiful photographs of Northern Mozambique yet, be sure to take a look at ( 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Nostalgia Time!

A week or so ago I wrote a Blog concerning the virtues of South Side Chicago pizza, which made me very nostalgic for the good old days back in the Brainerd neighborhood of Chicago, where a pizza from Vito and Nicks was a major treat.  The member of our family who went most crazy when we brought home a pizza from there was Irma, our pet beagle, seen in the photograph above being held by my father in the backyard of our house on South Aberdeen Street.  Standing next to him is my sister Susan and Grandmother Spillard. If only we could invent a time machine and go back to the happy days of our youth.  Of course, it would probably cost a fortune, on par with a commercial flight to outer space.  On the other hand, what the hell.  It would only be a one way trip.  In any case, if you are interested (and who wouldn't be), check out more about Chicago and my old neighborhood in my New York Times bestselling book "The Journey Home: Returning to Chicago" (

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Very Strong Recommendation

I ran into Carol (my friend and a former DU Bookstore coworker) and her husband Greg last Friday night at the Carson Art Gallery, where Carol is having a major exhibit of her work.  Somehow the conversation turned to the subject of ghosts.  Greg related the tale of how Carol, alone in a condo in the middle of the Colorado mountains, and while reading The Shining (by Stephen King), decided to throw the book behind the sofa, in hopes she would not be able to get to it anymore and would no longer be scared out of her mind by reading any further.  After hearing that, I immediately bought a copy and definitely intend to read it.  I just love books that suggest there are scarier things in this world than reality.  Thanks for the recommendation, Carol.  I will let you know if the book has the same effect on me.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fix It Again Tony! (FIAT For Short)

That was the running joke about Fiat the first time they were introduced into the American market.  This time around, the word is that they are a pretty good car.  In fact, many people I know have been suggesting I look into buying one, since they claim my classic 1987 Honda Civic is on its last legs (definitely not true).  In any case, I ran across this beauty in the photograph above last Friday night at the First Friday Art Walk.  How about this one, guys?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Cheating Death! Twice!

Denver's Lakeside Amusement Park is closing for the season (still another sign of fall approaching), and so I decided to head over there yesterday afternoon to take a few photographs of their famous Art Deco neon lights and architecture.  I started taking photos, and was quickly informed by a security guard that I needed go to the office to get permission to do this.  I did just that, but was told that the owner did not want any photographs taken.  A shame, but I decided to console myself by riding the Cyclone Roller Coaster.  Twice! It was built in 1940 and is one of the most famous roller coasters in the country.  And I survived!  Although just barely.  And by the way, if anyone tells you it is easy to take photographs while riding a roller coaster, I can tell you straight out.  They are lying.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Pool Is Closing And Summer Is Ending

University of Denver students return to school Monday, and so, following tradition, the pool at my condo building closes Sunday.  As I have mentioned in previous Blogs, after a few cocktails, some DU students like to jump off the balcony into the pool to impress the coeds.  One student did this (from the second floor balcony, I might add) just a few weeks ago and broke his eye socket.  No doubt the coeds in attendance were indeed impressed, or something.  In any case,  the closing of the pool is just one more sign that summer is ending.  Is it my imagination, or didn't summer just begin?  I think it was Einstein who discovered that the older you get, the faster time flies.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Carol At The Carson!

I ran into Carol (my friend and a former co-worker at the DU Bookstore) and her husband Greg last night at the Carson Art Gallery on Santa Fe Boulevard here in Denver.  The gallery is run by the Art Students League of Denver, and Carol has a major exhibition there this month.  Carol is an extremely talented artist and is spending a lot more time on her artwork since leaving the DU Bookstore.  Curiously enough, she does not seem too broken up about not working at the Bookstore anymore.  Go figure.  Check out Carols art at

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Photographic Genius Is Born!

Lately I have become very nostalgic about our family vacations back in the 1950s and 1960s at a resort called Britannia, located on the Lake of Bays in Ontario, where my family and my Uncle Bill's family would spend a really wonderful two weeks.  The photograph above shows my Uncle Bill and his family on the left, my family in the center (with my sister Susan looking weird, as usual), and my mother's parents (my Grandmother and Grandfather Spillard) on the right.  And who was taking this photograph? Obviously, it had to be me - at 5 or 6 months old, no less!  Certainly a sign of the photographic genius who would soon emerge.  What other explanation could there be?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Old Guy Ticket Discounts!

I recently learned that "Rockpile" seats at Colorado Rockies baseball games can be purchased in advance, and that if you are over 55, they cost only $1.00 each.  I know this policy has been in effect for 5 or 10 years or so, but now that I have more time on my hands these days, I am able to look into things a bit more closely.  I must say, however, that I was a bit chagrined that the ticket seller at Coors Field charged me a dollar each for the two tickets I purchased without even asking if I was over 55.  What's the deal with that?  I look at myself in the mirror every day, and I see the same face I've always seen staring right back at me.  Haven't aged a day.  These young whippersnappers must think everybody over 30 is ancient.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The New Neighbors

The building where I live has undergone many transitions since I moved in here in 1987.  Originally it was half retired people and half University of Denver graduate students.  After that it was the "low cost alternative to Cherry Creek," and attracted a more mixed crowd.  After the building was converted into condos, it became almost a dorm for DU students and was known far and wide as "party central."  These days it is undergoing still another transition, as more and more students from mainland China move in.  I must say they make very good neighbors - they are polite, tend to focus on their studies, don't party very much, and they don't jump off the balconies into the swimming pool, as many a non-Chinese DU student has done over the years. There are, of course, a few minor problems, as with most condo complexes.  Some of the Chinese students keep Yetis for pets (see yesterday's post), which can be an annoyance, and they evidently have not been informed about the ban on banners hanging the balconies, but I'm sure building management will take care of that soon. Welcome aboard guys!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Yeti Next Door

I think my next door neighbors are keeping a Yeti in their apartment.  They are from mainland China, and who knows what kind of pets people tend to keep over there.  Whenever I come home at night, there is an earthy, musky, urine-like smell emanating from just behind their door.  I get the feeling that something is lurking there. At night I sometimes get the feeling it is on my balcony, right on the other side of my den window.  This is not right.  I don't think customs should let people bring Yeti's into the country, I don't think building management should allow people to keep them in their apartments, and I especially don't think Yeti's should be allowed out on the balcony, where they can easily hop right onto mine.  I'm definitely going to bring this up at the next Homeowner's Association meeting.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Chicago Pizza - North Side Or South Side?

My friend Stuart returned home from a brief trip to Chicago to visit family last night, and I picked him up at Denver International Airport, conveniently  located somewhere close to the Kansas State line.  On the ride back, Stuart mentioned that he and his sister and brother ate the best pizza they had ever tasted the other night at a place called Riggio's, located in Niles, a northern suburb of Chicago.  Could Riggio's pizza actually be better than such South Side legends as Vito and Nick's or Aurelio's?  I think not!  Aurelio's actually opened a branch in Denver (on the south side of town, naturally), but people here were so freaked out because the pizza slices were square instead of pie shaped that the place was forced to close it's doors. What is the deal with Denverites?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Going Postal Over My New Job!

I recently took a part-time job to help cover my expenses during a period of unemployment.  Although I know that Follett Higher Education Group (the current operator of the DU Bookstore and the company that laid me off last May) loved and revered almost everything I did, I am still not convinced that they were crazy about my Blog. Therefore, I am not going to reveal the name of my new employer.  Suffice it to say that I am now in a position to have a direct impact on the fight against terrorism.  If you guessed the Mossad, please take a bow.  I'm not saying you are right or wrong, but please take a bow anyway.  In any case, I was able to complete my new position's tasks fairly early yesterday afternoon, and therefore was able to get to Kaos, the beer garden / pizza restaurant on South Pearl Street here in Denver, just in time for Happy Hour.  Pints of Colorado micro-brews for $2 each - is this a wonderful world, or what?