Wednesday, April 30, 2014

An Auspicious Anniversary

Today is April 30th, the 39th anniversary of the fall of Vietnam.  I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing that day back in 1975, sitting in a riverfront cottage in Jensen Beach, Florida, reading William Safire's Before The Fall, and listening to radio reports on the evacuation of Saigon.  After 11 years of war and the loss of 58,000 American lives (not to mention up to one million Vietnamese lives), it was finally clear to everyone that it had all been for nothing.  It made me, as well as many other - if not most - Americans, never trust their government again.  For that reason alone, April 30th,1975 was a major turning point for this nation.  Not much to celebrate on this anniversary, I'm afraid.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

More Florida Nostalgia...

Soon after my parents moved to Stuart, Florida in 1976, I drove down from Chicago to visit them along with my great Aunt Babe (my mother's aunt, in the photograph above on the right) and her daughter-in-law Lorrie (on the left).  My parents gave us the grand tour, showing us the highlights of the area. I remember my father driving us along the Indian River, past beautiful Florida scenery, thinking he was giving everyone a big treat.  Halfway through the drive Babe asked when we would get out of this swampy crap.  It reminds me of when my mother got older and lived with me here in Colorado.  I drove her through the mountains to show off the beautiful scenery, and all she wanted to know was how much longer it would be until we got back to civilization.  I guess when you grow up in Chicago, you are never comfortable unless you have sidewalk under your feet. Maybe that explains why Highlands Ranch, Colorado always gives me the creeps.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Celebrating Easter A Little Bit Late

I drove up to Fort Collins yesterday afternoon to celebrate Easter with my sister Susan and brother-in-law George.  And yes, I do realize that Easter was "officially" last Sunday, but Susan and George decided to postpone celebrating it for a week.  They also delayed celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas this past year.  Does this sound like some sort of pattern to you?  Nah - I don't think so, either.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Millennium Magic!

My friends Wally and Mark and I took the Light Rail to Denver's Union Station Friday night and walked from there to Churchill's Public House for dinner and beers.  Our walk took us across Denver's famous Millennium Bridge into Commons Plaza, and from there across Common's Park and the Platte River to the Lower Highlands neighborhood.  Our route took us past several public art works, including the one above and the famous "Hill of Beans," another beloved piece of public art (see last Tuesday's post).  And I must say, Wally was truly impressed by the "Hill of Beans" sculpture.  He couldn't stop starring at the sculpture, and spent the rest of the evening shaking his head and muttering to himself about it.  And that's what public art is supposed to do, no matter how much it winds up costing the taxpayers.  Keep on muttering, Wally!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Churchill's Public House

As befits our "jet set" image, Mark (on the left in the photograph above), Wally (on the right), and I had dinner last night at Churchill's Public House in Denver's super cool Lower Highlands neighborhood.  Mark works at the University of Denver's Anderson Academic Commons (aka the library) and Wally still works at the University of Denver Bookstore, where I myself toiled for 30 years.  Churchill's Public House has all kinds of Churchill memorabilia and quotes along the walls throughout the place, although I must say the music was a bit loud for the older jet setter.  I guess they are trying to attract the young, more hip Churchill fanatic, of whom I am sure there are many in that neighborhood.  I can't wait for the Churchill look-a-like contest, which I am sure is coming up soon.  Good luck with that, Wally!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Living The Good Life In Cherry Creek

My friend Stuart (in the photograph above) and I had burgers and beers at the Cherry Cricket in Denver's tony Cherry Creek neighborhood last night.  The Cherry Cricket has been around since 1945, well before Cherry Creek became Denver's most exclusive neighborhood, and has retained its laid back atmosphere and inexpensive menu.  Stuart and I spent the evening outside on the patio and mingled with the beautiful people, all of whom seemed to accept us as one of them.  And why shouldn't they, even if we weren't wearing berets?  Such is the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Walking The Camino - A Movie Review

I went to see Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago - a documentary film about the famous pilgrimage route to Santiago, Spain - last Sunday at the Chez Artiste Theater.  The Chez Artiste used to be called the U-Hills 3 many years ago, but once they started showing art films, the name was changed, even though it still looks much more like a U-Hills 3 than a Chez Artiste.  I must say I liked The Way - a fictionalized account about the pilgrimage starring Martin Sheen -  much better, but enjoyed this film as well, especially the towns and people along the route. I definitely want to do this trek after I retire in another 4 years or so.  I plan to travel to the starting point, Saint Jean Pied de Port, France, and then start the hike as soon as I feel up to it. Of course, that could take years, but what the heck. I'll be retired, and you won't.  Ha!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Going Crazy Over The Absinthe Bar!

Talk about a happening place!  Denver's Lower Highlands neighborhood has a touch of Paris at the corner of 30th and Wyandot Streets, where Z Cuisine and A Cote Restaurants are located.  Z Cuisine opened first, but there was such a hue and cry for absinthe from the Lower Highlands masses that they had to open up A Cote, a "Bar a Absinthe," to satisfy the demand.  Both restaurants are right across the street from the former Gallery Sink, which was a well known photography gallery here in Denver.  I imagine this is why the entire west side of the building is covered in weather-worn black and white photographs.  One of them is of a very attractive woman, nude, hanging by her wrists from the ceiling of a ruined store.  A man is peering in at her through the front windows. This is, of course, high art. Now, if I tried to take a similar photograph, they would toss me in jail and throw away the key. What gives with that?  Perhaps if I just wore a beret.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Not Just A Hill Of Beans

Anybody who says the City of Denver doesn't amount to a hill of beans is dead wrong, and the photograph above proves this beyond a reasonable doubt.  I refer of course to Peyton Manning - Number 18 - the quarterback of the Denver Broncos, whose mural is seen plastered to the side of a local bar.  Plus, as an added bonus, the photo also includes one of Denver's beloved pieces of public art, an ACTUAL HILL OF BEANS!  Top that, Kansas City!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Yes! More Zoo Photos! Deal With It!

The temperatures have been in the 70s here in Denver lately, and so the animals are all once again outside these days at the Denver Zoo, even the elusive Mandrill (seen in the photograph above).  The Mandrill is used to an extremely hot and humid climate, kind of like a Florida retiree, which explains it's aversion to cold weather.  And what do they feed this exotic creature?  Monkey chow.  There is actually a product called monkey chow.  Go figure.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter Everybody!

Happy Easter To One And All!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Nostalgia Weekend!

Yes, it is nostalgia weekend once again, and in honor of that occasion, and to celebrate my sister and I getting our condo in Florida back from our renter there, I am featuring a photograph of my mother and myself taken a few years back on Stuart Beach.  It is one of the nicest beaches in the country, in my humble opinion. A little warm and humid in the summertime, but so is Nebraska, and at the end of the day there, you are still in Nebraska. A major drawback in my opinion.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Condo In Paradise

My sister and I have been renting the Stuart, Florida condo where our parents (seen above in a 1976 photograph) spent their retirement years.  Renting the place out has helped to pay the expenses, but on the down side, neither of us have been able to visit in almost 5 years.  Both my mother and father loved that condo and considered Stuart a paradise on earth.  Our current tenant has told us there are lots of problems with the unit, and since we have been unable to correct them, has decided not to renew the lease.  That means we will once again be able to spend some time down there, which I am very much looking forward to, although I am not looking forward to trying to fix the problems we have been unable to fix in the past.  To pay for the maintenance, I am hoping to work for the Mossad (Israeli Intelligence) on the weekends.  I've read most of Daniel Silva's books and now know the routine, and as I have said before, I think the Mossad has a major operation going down in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, one of my favorite towns.  Watch out terrorists!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

John Visits Denver

I had dinner with John from Nebraska Book Company last night at the Bull and Bush Tavern here in Denver. Nebraska Book Company was the former software provider for the DU Bookstore, which is now run by Nebraska's arch rival, the Follett Higher Education Group. John lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, and this gave me a good chance to catch up on everything that is happening back in Nebraska these days.  The short answer: nothing.  Surprise!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Happy Tax Day Everybody!

April 15th is that wonderful day when Americans can show their appreciation to the government that has done so much for them and theirs by sending in their annual tax payment.  And especially grateful citizens are perfectly welcome to send in a little extra this year to their Uncle Sam, making the 15th the true April Fool's Day.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Deja Vu All Over Again

It snowed a bit overnight here in Denver, and so I was extremely careful walking past the auto body repair shop on Colfax where I fell and had to have 14 stitches in my forehead last month.  In fact, virtually everyone at the bookstore where I work knows about my accident, and tells me they take extra care walking past the place when the weather is bad. The management there prefers to let the sun melt the ice instead of taking direct action themselves.  Probably part of some strange religious belief.  Maybe even a cult.

Monday, April 14, 2014

I Don't Believe It! Churchill Is "In" Again

I took a walk through the Lower Highlands - Denver's hippest neighborhood - Saturday afternoon, and was amazed to see that there is a new restaurant called Churchill's Public House.  It is filled with Churchill memorabilia, photographs, and quotes on the walls.  Churchill is the hero of my friend and former DU Bookstore co-worker Wally.  I imagine he will be thrilled to know that he can dine there and actually eat off Churchill plates.  To me it would be kind of off-putting to see Churchill grimacing up at you throughout dinner, but that's just me, I guess.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

In Search Of A True Crazy

Whenever I pass a B-Cycle station like the one in the photograph above, I think back to the last gubernatorial race here in Colorado, when the Republican candidate said that the bike-sharing program was part of a United Nations plot.  That was 4 years  ago, and the Republicans will need to choose another candidate this June to run against Governor John Hickenlooper.  The question is, can they find someone equally as crazy?  Since former congressman Tom Tancredo is on the primary ballot, I answer that question with a resounding yes!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The More Things Change...

Cheyanne - daughter of my friend Valarie and a "Teacher of Teachers" with the Peace Corp in Mozambique - is keeping very busy and doing a lot of good work in that country, which is probably why she hasn't updated her Blog ( since February.  However, she has been posting lots of photographs on her Facebook page, such as the one above (Cheyanne is kneeling in the sand in the front row on the right).  She is not captioning the photographs, but I am going to take a wild guess and say she is probably still spending her weekends at the beach.  Just a guess, of course.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Up Close And Personal With The Sawaya Law Firm (Offices)

I was walking downtown to the Union Station Light Rail stop after work yesterday and happened to pass the offices of The Sawaya Law Firm.  I know of them because Mike Sawaya is on the television about every five minutes these days here in Denver advertising his firm.  Now let me make it very clear: I have no intention of making any snide comments about personal injury lawyers for two very good reasons.  First, they would probably sue my pants off, and second, I think Sawaya is the most reputable of these type of attorneys.  Sawaya says in his ads that one of the main duties of their firm is to make sure the victim receives proper medical care and to make sure he or she recovers from their injuries.  This is in stark contrast to a rival attorney whose ad features a woman who only wants to know "what is my case worth?"   But back to my main point - Sawaya's offices are located in the Bailey Mansion at 16th and Ogden Streets here in Denver, a beautiful and historic old Queen Anne style mansion built in 1889.  Plus, it is also haunted, which to me is always a positive thing.  People who work there have reported hearing footsteps walking up behind them, and house painters who have labored there claim that the ghost or ghosts would remove the paint can lids each night.  Probably just the ghosts of injury lawyers past.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Daily Commute

I am settling into life as an urban commuter these days, catching the 7:38 A.M. University Boulevard bus to work every day.  The bus ride is routine and uneventful, and takes all of 20 minutes.  This is in contrast to the Colfax Avenue bus, which Linda - the wife of my friend Wally - refers to as the "rolling asylum."  Although the ride to downtown Denver on the Colfax bus takes only a few minutes from my place of employment, the experience often lasts a lifetime.  I call that getting your money's worth.  And the reason I don't ride the Colfax bus more often is because I need to walk downtown to get my daily exercise.  If it wasn't for that, I would be soaking up all that drama on a daily basis.  Perhaps they should do a reality television series about it called "Survivor - Colfax."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Party On, Party Deck People!

I went to Coors Field the past two evenings to see the Chicago White Sox play the Colorado Rockies, and spent a significant amount of time (for research purposes only, of course) exploring the new party deck in the upper right field stands.  I must say they did a pretty good job of designing it, and the place was packed. The beauty of it is that you can spend the entire night up there, and never even have to look at the baseball game being played on the field down below, which was a very good thing last night, considering that the Rockies lost 15 to 3.  I say Party On and wait until next year, Rockies fans!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

If I'm Lion I'm Dyin'

I went to the Denver Zoo Sunday afternoon (yes, yet again) and came away feeling that the lions are the animals that will consistently look you in the eye each time you visit.  It is my belief that this is because they are supremely confident - they know they can eat you alive, want to eat you alive, and would do so if they got half a chance.  By sheer coincidence, that is also the mission statement for many, if not most, of the Fortune 500.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Jerusalem And The Great Beauty - Not One But Two Movie Reviews!

I went to see two movies over the past week, and enjoyed both of them.  Yesterday evening I went to see the IMAX film Jerusalem at the Denver Museum of Natural History, and was very surprised to see that the place was packed for the 5:00 o'clock show.  It was a 3-D movie, and so they handed out these funky glasses when you entered the theater.  I must say, I was impressed with the photography.  It was just like you were walking down the street. Christian, Jews, and Muslims were coming right at you from all directions. It really made me want to drop everything and go visit that fascinating city. And last week, I went to see The Great Beauty at the Sie Film Center, right across from where I work. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film this year, and I must say it was very good.  Not only did it have great scenes of Rome, but it also featured a Federico Fellini style look at the Italian Jet Set, which appears to be much different from the Denver Jet Set, of which I consider myself an integral part.  And I could not help but notice that none of those Italian "beautiful people" were driving a classic 1987 Honda Civic Sedan, the car of the true aristocrat.  Obviously all  just pretenders.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Rockies Are On A Roll...

I went to the second home game of the baseball season with my friend Stuart yesterday evening, and the Colorado Rockies once again won big - this time beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 9 to 4.  I say buy World Serious tickets now, but Stuart seems to feel that Arizona might not be all that powerful an opponent, having won just one game so far this year and sporting a .125 winning percentage (.500 is considered a mediocre record, by the way).  I say that is sacrilege.  See you in the playoffs!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Home Opener

I went with my friend and former DU Bookstore co-worker Wally to the Rockies Home Opener yesterday. The Rockies won big, 12 to 2.  Have the Colorado Rockies really improved that much?  Could this be the start of a World Series run?  Do pigs fly?  My feeling is that the Rockies organization didn't put in the new rooftop party deck in right field to take the fan's minds off a winning team.  Am I a bit cynical or what?

Friday, April 4, 2014

It's Winter Again - What Gives?

Just 24 hours after I blogged about the joys of public transportation, I found myself standing around waiting for the bus during a spring snowstorm.  By now I should be used to April snowstorms here in Denver, but it was still a shock, especially since the Colorado Rockies Home Opener was scheduled for the very next day. The weather forecasters assured everyone that Opening Day would be fine, but they have been wrong before. I still remember sitting in the left field stands one Opening Day in the middle of a snowstorm, watching Rockies outfielder Howard Johnson (HoJo) dropping fly balls left and right.  I don't think he ever recovered from that experience.  HoJo retired from baseball by the end of that month.  Still another victim of Denver's unpredictable weather.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Light Rail Rant: Beware Of Wolves

Lately I have been walking downtown after work each day and taking the Light Rail (Rapid Transit) train home from Denver's Union Station.  Not only is it a pleasant walk, but it helps keep the pounds off.   Public transportation has made great strides here in Denver over the past few years.   There are 5 new Light Rail projects currently being built here.  Lines are being built to the airport (near the Kansas State line), to and through the suburbs of Arvada and Aurora, and to the north and northwest.  The Regional Transportation District (RTD) is even thinking of extending a line into my favorite town - Highlands Ranch, Colorado, where I used to work delivering the mail.  However, I must advise RTD to think very carefully about expanding to Highlands Ranch.  As most people now know, it is overrun by wolves and/or coyotes (is there a difference?), and if reports of commuters being attacked and eaten while waiting for trains began airing on the local television news, it might seriously deter riders.  I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Remembering Tom Melrose

Tom Melrose was the husband of my cousin Betty and a heck of a nice guy.  He gave me my first job, at the Richton Park, Illinois Gee Lumber, a local lumber and hardware chain that was later put out of business by national chains such as Home Depot.  Betty and Tom were kind enough to let me stay with them for a month or two when I was changing school districts at the start of high school, and hosted countless family gatherings at their home in Country Club Hills.  Sadly, Tom suffered a debilitating stroke at a pretty young age and passed away a year or two later, lending credence to the old saying that the good always die young.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

It's Opening Day! Time for Some Voodoo!

Yesterday evening the Colorado Rockies started the 2014 Baseball Season in Miami, Florida.  To celebrate this momentous event, I decided to walk downtown to the Sandlot Brewery, which is attached to Coors Field, and where a big Opening Day party was being held.  Unfortunately, I had to work late, and when I finally walked into the Sandlot (at 8:10 P.M. I might add), I was told that they were "done" and closing up. So much for that party.  In any case, I did get to pass Voodoo Donuts on my walk downtown, which, as usual, was doing a box office business.  And now that I think about it, I am convinced that voodoo is just what the Rockies need if they hope to get to the playoffs.  The Rockies, by the way, lost to Miami 10 to 1. And Miami, I might add, is a major center for Santeria (i.e. voodoo).  A coincidence?  I think not!  Time to sacrifice some chickens, guys!