Thursday, July 31, 2014

Chihuly's Big Chance!

I went to see the Chihuly art exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens last week (see photograph above) with my old University of Denver pals and their spouses, and I had a great time.  Now that I appreciate Chihuly's genius, I think he has a great opportunity to endear himself forever to the citizens of Denver.  After loaning his impressionist masterpieces to the Denver Art Museum this past spring, Frederick C. Hamilton decided to donate his $100 million dollar collection to the museum permanently.  I think Chihuly should consider doing the same thing.  His glass masterpieces would make wonderful streetlights in Denver's various funky neighborhoods.  Talk about a lasting legacy!  As Nike says, just do it, Chihuly!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Chihuly Or Kerouac?

I had to make a major decision today - which of two great artists to feature first on my Blog this week. And what do these two great artists have in common?  Nothing, as far as I know.  However, I understand that both Kerouac and Chihuly used to drink at some of the same bars when they were in Denver, although not at the same time.  In any case, Kerouac won the honor, mainly because of his close connection to Denver.  As I mentioned in yesterday's Blog, he used to drink at the old Terminal Bar - which has been reincarnated as a yuppie hangout in the newly remodeled Union Station, by the way - and also spent a lot of time on Colfax Avenue.  Now if Chihuly had only designed some of the city's streetlights, things might have been different. Eat your heart out, buddy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Union Station Reopens!

Denver's Union Station has reopened after a 54 million dollar remodel, and the results are very impressive. In addition to a number of trendy restaurants, there is now an upscale  hotel and a variety of retail shops located in the historic structure, including a small branch of the bookstore where I work.  Plus, the old, long-gone Terminal Bar, the onetime hangout of Jack Kerouac, has reopened at the station as a yuppie watering hole, and the entire waiting room has been transformed into an upscale lounge.  Whereas once people wandered around the place with bottles in paper sacks, they now saunter through with martini glasses, although no doubt paying a slightly higher price for their liquor. The only downside is that there are still only two trains a day arriving there.  However, the city promises that in just two years, Union Station will be the city's transportation hub, so from now on you'd better leave those brown paper bag beverages at home.

Monday, July 28, 2014

It's Back!!!

My beloved 1987 4-door Honda Civic was found by the ever intrepid Englewood, Colorado Police Department early Saturday morning.  I got a phone call at 1:30 A.M. telling me that it had been abandoned at the very top of the parking garage at Swedish Hospital and that I needed to pick it up right away.  I tried calling a taxi, but was told it would be an hour's wait (Denver bars close at 2:00 A.M.and taxis are popular at that hour) and so wound up having to bike there instead.  I have to assume that someone walking past my parking lot had a medical emergency - possibly a woman going into labor - and decided to take the most reliable form of transportation - my car - to the hospital.  I'm still not sure why it took over a week to discover my stolen car.  Perhaps hospital security thought it belonged to a wealthy doctor on an extremely long shift.  In any case, the steering column and ignition are pretty screwed up. but I am sure that my insurance company will take care of everything, perhaps even throwing in a new paint job.  The important thing is that I once again have wheels!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Happy Anniversary!

Today would have been my mother and father's 74th wedding anniversary.  The photograph on the left shows my mother Mary and father Nelson on their wedding day back in 1940.  They were married at the farm of my father's Uncle John just west of Geneva, Illinois.  Uncle John, in addition to running a farm, was also a plumber.  His plumbing shop in Geneva, by the way, is now the very upscale Mill Race Inn restaurant.  In any case, my Uncle Jack (my father's brother) has very fond memories of that farm, where he worked during the summers.  My sister Susan also has very fond memories of feeding the animals there.  My mother, on the other hand, once told me that she and my father "were married in somebody's old farmhouse," and I got the feeling she was still unhappy with that arrangement even after 65 years.  Oh well, the price was right, as we Hoyts are fond of saying.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chihuly II

As I mentioned in yesterday's Blog, I went to the big Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens Thursday night with some of my old University of Denver pals, and really enjoyed it. In the photograph above are Wally, my friend and former DU Bookstore colleague (on the left), and Mark, my friend who works at DU's library (on the right).  Chihuly is a master with glass, and Wally, Mark, and my friends Bill and Renee (see yesterday's Blog photo) went to the exhibit looking for ideas on improving their gardens.  I suggested that they check out the garden department at the local Wal-Mart.  Surely Wal-Mart has a Chihuly collection, just like the Martha Stewart collection at rival chains.  At least that is what I would tell the authorities when they find various works of art like in the photograph above in your garden.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Chihuly At The Denver Botanic Gardens!

I met my former University of Denver Bookstore colleagues and friends Wally and his wife Linda, Bill and his wife Renee, and Mark - who works at DU's library - for pizza and beer at the Bonnie Brae Tavern yesterday afternoon, and then went with them to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens.  I must say Chihuly's glass sculptures were very impressive, especially after the sun set and all the works were illuminated by spotlights.  Bill, seen in the photograph above with his wife Renee, organized the outing, and I must say it was a great success.  Good going Bill!  But what's the deal about having to pay to get in?  I hate that.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pizza And Beer With Stuart!

I went out for pizza and beers with my friend Stuart at the Old Chicago Restaurant on South Colorado Boulevard here in Denver last night.  Stuart let me take his photograph for this Blog, but told me he thought I was a bit of a "wise guy" the last time I blogged about him.  And I must say, this is the first time anyone has ever said that to me.  I feel that I have always been a beacon of journalistic integrity, although I must admit that I have never believed in letting the truth get in the way of a good story.  In any case, I should report that Stuart works long hours for a major corporation up in Boulder, exercises vigorously every day, and holds up convenience stores in his spare time.  No!  Wait!  Stuart does NOT hold up convenience stores in his spare time - that I know of.  No more Mr. Wise Guy for me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Grand Theft Auto!

It has been a week since my car was stolen, and so far it has not turned up.  I got a card in the mail from the Denver Police Department yesterday, telling me the case was "inactive" and implying that it would be best if I investigated the theft myself and give them a holler if I turn up any suspects.  The insurance company, however, is very optimistic that the car will turn up, and will wait until every stone has been turned to pay off the claim.  Meanwhile, I can only think back to those happy days when I had my own set of wheels and life was good, such as in the photograph above.  And if anyone sees a classic crimson 1987 Honda Civic, 4-door sedan cruising around their neighborhood, please give me a call.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Life Itself...

I went to see Life Itself, the documentary about Chicago Sun-Times Movie Critic Rodger Ebert, with my friend and former co-worker Valarie this past Sunday night.  I enjoyed seeing all the clips about Ebert's life, and felt a great deal of nostalgia about those years when Siskel and Ebert at the Movies was the number one show on public television and we were all much younger.  However, it was difficult to watch the struggles Ebert faced in his later years.  I must say, he dealt with those health issues with tremendous dignity.  When he returned to the hospital with pneumonia after an incredibly  heroic struggle and told his wife that he had lived a wonderful life and that it was time to let him go, I must say it was an emotional moment.  May we all be able to say the same thing at the end of our lives.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dinner And A Movie With Valarie

I went to the movie Life Itself with my friend and former DU Bookstore co-worker Valarie last night at the Mayan Theater on Broadway here in Denver.  Before the film, we had dinner at The Hornet, a restaurant right across from the theater.  It was good to catch up with Val on everything, but I was a little put out by the fact that she does not consider the theft of my car the tragedy that I do.  In point of fact, she said it was "way past" the time for it to go and was in all likelihood an "act of God" to let me know it was time for a new (or newer) car.  Evidently Valarie is not a lover of vintage automobiles.  And she wants to visit Cuba, land of the vintage automobile?  She would definitely freak out down there if she can't handle an '87 Honda Civic.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Spenser Lives!

I picked up the latest Spenser mystery the other day at the Denver Public Library.  Robert Parker, the creator of the series, which chronicles the adventures of a Boston private eye, died several years ago. Instead of letting the character die with him, Parker's widow choose another writer, Ace Atkins, to continue the series. And I must say, he does a pretty good job, too.  If you don't over-scrutinize, the stories are almost as good as the originals.  And a much more honest way to do it, too.  I still remember the husband of author Jacquelyn Suzanne finding an "unpublished manuscript" in a desk drawer almost every year for about a decade. Talk about blind luck!  I'm surprised no one has held seances in order to take dictation from famous deceased authors.  You never know - you might still see a new Harold Robbins novel published.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Meanwhile, Back In Mozambique...

Cheyanne - daughter of my friend Valarie and a "teacher of teachers" with the Peace Corps in Mozambique - traveled to Capetown, South Africa this week to meet up with her friend Teagan, who is visiting from Denver.  The photograph above shows Cheyanne (on the left) and Teagan (on the right) relaxing at a place in Capetown  called The Beer House.  Sounds like a really nice spot to me.  Valarie tells me the two of them will be going on a safari while in South Africa.  I assume it will be a photo safari, with the purpose being to provide Cheyanne with enough material for daily Blog posts for the rest of her stay in Mozambique.  In point of fact, I expect nothing less.  Have fun guys! Be sure to check out Cheyanne's Blog at

Friday, July 18, 2014

Portland Versus Denver

I took the above photograph yesterday afternoon while walking downtown to Denver's Union Station Light Rail Stop, and it inspired me to make comparisons between Portland, Oregon, and Denver.  Portland has lots of fun, funky neighborhoods, and so does Denver.  Portland has a young, hip population, and Denver does also.  Portland has lots of Brewpubs, and Denver has lots of Brewpubs (like the one in the photo above) too.  Portland is close to the ocean, and Denver is close to the Cherry Creek Reservoir.  So okay -   lets just call it a draw.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


I went to see the film Snowpiercer the other night at Denver's Sie Film Center, just across the walkway from the bookstore where I work.  I read a very favorable review of the movie in one of the Portland, Oregon free newspapers, and thought I would give it a try.  Especially since I only had to walk across the sidewalk to see it.  And I must say, I was not disappointed.  It was exciting, but violent, and very thought provoking. The film made me realize that traveling by train may not be all it is cracked up to be.  Plus, I could swear many of the extras in that film were hired directly off the East Colfax bus.  They work cheap, after all.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I Don't Believe It! My Beloved Honda Civic! Stolen!

As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for - it might come true. I wasn't very happy with the Blog I had written for today and was hoping for a more exciting topic to replace it with.  However, I now realize that exciting is WAY overrated.  I walked out of my condo building yesterday morning on my way to the bus stop and to work and was shocked to find that my classic, mint condition 1987 Honda Civic 4-door Sedan was not in its parking spot.  I didn't want to miss work, and so I rushed off to catch the bus and called the Denver police from there.  The dispatcher said they needed to send an officer out to take my statement, and he could either come to my place of work or to my residence after I returned home.  I took the after work option.  All I needed was to have two Denver police officers coming to the bookstore where I work, asking to see me.  It would immediately confirm everyone's suspicions.  Even now my co-worker Peter suspects I must have been celebrating the World Cup finale or partying with my World Lacrosse Championship pals and just left my car somewhere around town.  Let's face it - I am definitely the Rodney Dangerfield of the book business.  In any case, I hope to get the car back, but I assume by now it is being shipped off to a classic car collector in Europe or the Middle East, or possibly even the Orient.  And I have definitely learned my lesson. My next car will be something more prosaic and common, a car nobody would want to own. Perhaps an Audi.  I wonder if my friend and former co-worker Bill will sell me his (at a steep discount)?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Le Tour de France

Keeping the French flavored theme from yesterday's Blog, the 2014 Tour de France is taking place this month, and will conclude July 27th in Paris.  And no, I did not take the above photograph while participating in the race, but in Portland, Oregon, where I briefly joined a group of cyclists biking up into the hills above Portland. Of course, shortly after I took this photograph, the group zoomed on ahead, while I threw myself off the bike into a ditch to rest awhile before continuing my uphill trek.  Does that mean I am seriously out of shape?  Nah.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Happy Bastille Day!

I wanted to feature something French for Bastille Day, and so I decided to feature my Great Grandfather (my mother Mary's maternal Grandfather), Charles St. Pierre (a.k.a. Pa, a.k.a. "The Old Man").  Pa St. Pierre was born in 1853, witnessed the Chicago Fire from the safety of the South Side, and passed away in 1952 at the ripe old age of 99.  My mother always wished I could have known him, telling me that he was quite a character.  Pa, along with my Great Grandmother Mary and their children, would spend summers on their farm in Saint-Eustache, Quebec, and winters in Chicago, where Pa worked as a carpenter.  He may have been a character, but not necessarily a nice character.  He would get into fights at the local tavern well into his 90s, after which the police would drive him home to my Aunt Babe's house at 85th and May on Chicago's South Side, where he lived in the basement.  When someone asked my Grandmother Louise why she thought he lived so long, she replied that you can't kill the devil.  Pa was a strong union supporter, an "everything for the worker" kind of guy, and I have no doubt that if were alive back then, he would have been storming the Bastille along with the rest of those revolutionaries.  Which brings us full circle to where we started. Happy Bastille Day Everyone!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chinatown, My Chinatown...

I biked through Portland, Oregon's Chinatown last Monday, and I must say I was pretty underwhelmed with the place.  Few of the buildings looked Chinese, and fewer still had any Chinese lettering.  Except for the Chinese Gate at the entrance to the district, the convenience store in the photograph above was the most oriental looking building I saw.  Not only that, but it also had both beer AND gifts.  Talk about a winning combination.  And calm down everyone.  I didn't buy anybody anything.  I am a confirmed cheapskate, after all.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Portland Impressions

Last Monday, before flying home to Denver after the Hoyt Family Reunion, I rented a bike and rode around the City of Portland, Oregon.  I must say, I am still not sure what to make of the place.  I started out by biking up into the hills overlooking the city, which was a very pleasant experience.  Besides lots of beautiful homes up there, they also have a lot of parks, and in some places it seems like you are biking in a forest instead of a major city.  After that, I rode along the river for a while, and then checked out the downtown and some of the neighborhoods.  The river area is nice, and the downtown seems okay, but I think it is the neighborhoods that make Portland so popular.  There seem to be a great number of places there where people can live and work and walk to the local coffee shops, bars, and markets, and live a relaxed, laid back, granola-based lifestyle.  And while that may not be what international jet-setters such as myself would choose, it certainly seems like a pleasant enough lifestyle.  And so here's to you, Portland!

Friday, July 11, 2014

The 2014 World Lacrosse Championship

Denver is hosting the 2014 World Lacrosse Championship this year.  The event will be held at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in beautiful Commerce City (motto: not just suburban, but industrial, too), although many if not most of the participants will be staying at the University of Denver.  I stopped by the Urban Roadhouse Cafe, just to the west of the campus, the other night and almost everyone there seemed to be connected with the tournament.  I did a bit of eavesdropping on the group above, consisting of an off-duty Urban Roadhouse waitress (on the left), two Brits (in the center), and a Frenchman (on the right).  I learned that the British guy somehow got to talking with a local about handguns, and the local immediately produced a truly scary automatic pistol to show him.  The British guy was shocked, and wanted to know if it was typical for people here to carry around weapons like that.  The waitress told the group that she was from the South and that yes, that is perfectly normal.  Great - now they are all going to go back home and tell everyone we really are all maniacs here in the United States. And just maybe we are.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

World Cup Fever!

I thought I was coming down with the flu yesterday, but fortunately it was just a slight case of World Cup Fever.  To cure it I watched the game (match?) between Argentina and Holland last night with Mark and Wally.  Both Mark and Wally are rabid fans of the Netherlands.  Mark even has a Holland Soccer shirt (see photograph above).  Their hopes were quickly dashed, however, when Argentina won in a "shoot-out" finale.  Wait until next year - or in the case of soccer - another 4 years, guys.  As I've said before, I'm just glad that I am a baseball fan.  I only have to wait a single year to start watching the losses pile up again.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Back To Reality...

I took a final walk along Cannon Beach to the Midtown Bus Station Monday morning, where I caught the bus into Portland and spent the afternoon biking throughout the city, before flying back to Denver Monday night.  Yesterday it was back to reality, catching up on 4 or 5 days of work.  And why can't reality consist of walking along and/or sitting by the beach all day and then having relatives cook up wonderful meals in the evenings?  In my opinion, reality is just not as great as it's cracked up to be.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Hoyt Family Patriarch

I bid farewell to Cannon Beach, Oregon Monday morning with one final walk across the beach to the midtown bus stop. I was off to check out Portland by bicycle and to fly out on the 7:30 P.M. flight.  I took the above photograph of my cousin Denise and her father, my Uncle Jack, who is the patriarch of the Hoyt Family, the evening before.  Uncle Jack will be heading for Hawaii for three months next Sunday, while Denise and her husband Paul will be keeping the home fires burning back in San Diego, which I also hear is by the sea.  Meanwhile, I will be toiling back in landlocked Denver.  How fair is that?

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Reunion Winds Down

Yesterday was Sunday, and the Hoyt Family Reunion in Cannon Beach, Oregon, was starting to wind down. My cousin Jason and his fiancee, Lindsey (also know as Lorrie to cousin John) had to head back to Chicago to get to work Monday morning, and gave his mother - my cousin Annette - and cousin Greg a ride to the Portland airport to start their long trek back to Dallas and it's lovely 110 degree temperatures.  I made a special point of getting up before dawn (6:30 A.M.) to get the above photograph of all the cousins together.  In the photograph (from left to right) are cousins Greg, John, Annette, Denise, John's bride Barb, Jason's fiancee Lindsey, and cousin Jason himself.  Don't go to the dark side and root for the Cubs, Jason.  Suffer along with the rest of us Southsiders and root for the White Sox.   The best and only advice I can give.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Cannon Beach Hoyt Family Reunion Continues!

The Hoyt Family Reunion is now entering day three, and so far it has been a great success.  Cousin John loves to cook, younger cousins Jason and Greg love to clean up and wash dishes, and I love to drink beer, so things are balancing out perfectly.  In the photograph above are my cousins Denise (on the right), who formerly lived here in Oregon and now lives in San Diego with her husband Paul and her father, my Uncle Jack;  Annette (in the center), who lives in Dallas with her husband Chip and is department head at a Catholic high school, and on her left, her son Jason, who works for United Airlines and lives in my old home town of Chicago.  Jason is fairly new to the Windy City and actually went to a Cubs game, instead of a White Sox game, this year.  Thank goodness his fiancee, Lindsey, has gone to two or three White Sox games (she lives on Chicago's near South Side), and hopefully can convert him.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Founders Of The Feast!

I took the above photograph of John and Barb in front of Cannon Beach's famous Haystack Rock yesterday afternoon near Barb's family beach house.  My cousin John and Barb were gracious enough to invite me to the family reunion, even though my sister and myself are from the "black sheep" side of the Hoyt family.  I felt duty-bound to let them know that their photographs would be appearing on this blog, which they did not know existed before yesterday.  Of course, once they take a look at it, there goes the invitation for next year, but I do have to maintain my journalistic integrity.   This time, anyway.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth Of July From Cannon Beach!

Yes, after a two year hiatus, there is once again a Hoyt Family Reunion on 4th of July weekend at Cannon Beach, Oregon.  Last time I was unable to stay until the 4th, but this year I arrived just in time for the official Cannon Beach 4th of July Parade.  I was hoping there would be a Hoyt Family Float in the parade, but alas, no. I found all my relatives sitting along the street, mere spectators once again.  On the bright side, I was able to take the above photograph of a man in a pink leather mask giving his personal interpretation of the founding of our country.  This is Oregon, after all.  Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Checking In With Cheyanne

Cheyanne - daughter of my friend Valarie and a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mozambique - is beginning her final 5 months as a "teacher of teachers" in Mozambique.  She reports on her Facebook page that her cat - which was attacked and severely injured by an unknown animal one night - passed away a few days ago. Her friend Teegan plans to travel to Mozambique to visit and cheer her up.  The general consensus is that Africa will never be the same.  Unfortunately, Cheyanne hasn't updated her Blog ( since mid-May, but no problem - I'll just tell her mother to make her update it soon.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Damien Echols And Lorri Davis Visit The Tattered Cover

Damien Echols, the author of Life After Death , and wife Lorri Davis, spoke and signed copies of their new book, Yours For Eternity, at the Tattered Cover Bookstore Monday night.  Echols spent almost 20 years on death row in Arkansas before DNA tests proved him and two co-defendants innocent of the murders of three 8 year-olds in West Memphis, Arkansas.  I had never head of the case, even though several documentaries were made about it and many celebrities, including Johnny Depp, campaigned for his release. Echols said the publicity was essential in obtaining his release.  He cited another death row inmate in Arkansas, who did not get any publicity, and who was executed even though DNA evidence appeared to clear him.  Now I know that Arkansas is the home state of our beloved ex-President Bill Clinton, but after hearing Echols discuss the place, I think I might just cross it off my "must visit" list.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Peter Discovers My Blog

Peter, my office-mate at the bookstore where I work and the store's A/P guy (seen in the photograph above), has discovered - through cunning and guile - the existence of this Blog.  To keep him from spreading the word among my co-workers, I'm afraid I've had to resort to blackmail and tell him that if he breaths a single word, I will Photoshop his photograph into a prison cell for all to see.  Also, he damn well better not reveal my plans to make my upcoming trip to Oregon entirely tax deductible by paying a brief visit to Powell's Bookstore in Portland, either.  Although I am sure it is perfectly legal.