Sunday, August 31, 2014
It's actually A Taste of Colorado, and it started Friday night with a big fireworks display over Denver's City and County Building, but I call it a Taste of Tattoos because of the large number of people - mostly younger people - who sport tattoos at the event. And I still don't get it. What are all these kids going to do when they try to get an actual job? Do they think that someone is going to want to have a surgeon or a trial lawyer with tattoos up and down both arms proclaiming "Road to Hell" or similar such words or graphics? If I was starting over in life, I would definitely go into the tattoo removal business. A tremendous career opportunity to explore for all you young people out there!
Saturday, August 30, 2014
I went to the Final Friday event at the Denver Art Museum (The DAM) last night and as usual had a really nice time, although I must say I was a bit disappointed in the buffet, which consisted only of light snacks instead of the rather substantial hors d'oeuvres (and yes, I did have to look up the spelling on that one) served last time. But beggars can't be choosers, as it says on the Hoyt Family Crest. In any case, the museum is featuring an exhibition of 20th century Japanese prints and a retrospective of pop artist Tom Wesselmann's work, so it was well worth the price of admission (free for members). In addition, Denver artist Tracy Weil gave several talks about his work. Weil seems like a pretty nice guy, and was very enthusiastic about exhibiting his work at the museum. He is the founder of both the RiNo Art District here in Denver and the Denver County Fair, and exhibited Plexiglas chickens and a hen house (see photograph above) to fit in with the night's theme ("Roost"). The only negative part of the evening was that to take the photo, I steadied the camera on a shelf which turned out to be an important piece of modern art by Tucker Nichols. To me it just looked like a wooden shelf with a few odd objects on it, but what do I know? A security person rushed up to me and said that I couldn't lean on the art, and she would be happy to get me a chair, thinking to herself that the poor old guy is about to collapse. No problem, miss. I can still stand upright for many minutes at a time these days.
Friday, August 29, 2014
Denver is usually a pretty dry place in the summer months, but we have had quite a lot of rain here over the past few months, and when your car has a leaky windshield, that can be quite disconcerting. This wet period coincided with my return from Oregon, where it is supposed to rain all the time but was hot and sunny all the time I was there. This environmental turnabout is no doubt due to some voodoo curse I brought down upon Denver because of my negative Blogs about Portland. Sorry about that, Denver. Better keep those umbrellas handy for a while.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Ken, a sales rep for a number of book publishers, passed by my office at the bookstore where I currently work and was very surprised to see me sitting there. The last time I saw him was when I worked at the University of Denver Bookstore, and he assumed I was still there. I tried to convince Ken that he was losing his mind, and that I had never worked at DU, but he didn't fall for it. Of course, that doesn't mean you're not losing your mind, Ken - only that you were right on this one issue. Great to see you again, by the way.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
As long as we are on the subject of Voodoo, Voodoo Donuts on Colfax Avenue here in Denver is still doing a land office business. The lines often extend out onto the street and amongst the crazies. When I was in Portland, I actually walked past the original Voodoo Donuts location, and if anything, the lines were even longer. It does make me wonder why Voodoo Donuts is located only in Portland and Denver. Do those two cities both have unusually large Zombie populations? Do large numbers of young people in these two cities have an unusual obsession with Voodoo? I definitely intend to find out at the big Zombie Crawl here in Denver - which will take place Saturday, October 18th - and get these questions answered when I participate in the event as one of the Zombie paparazzi. Talk an honor and a privilege. I'll even wear my forged Chicago Daily News Press credentials for the occasion..
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
I ran across Club Voodoo the other night while looking for a place to park on my way to see the Colorado Rockies play the Miami Marlins this past Saturday night. I have walked past Voodoo on East Colfax here in Denver many times, but I had no idea Club Voodoo even existed. I took a peak inside the place and it was filled to the rafters with Zombies. Surprise! As almost everyone knows, Denver has a serious Zombie problem. In fact, Zombies have their own holiday here, and the annual Zombie Crawl on Denver's 16th Street Mall will be taking place Saturday, October 18th. If you happen to be in town, be sure to wear your garlic. Or is that only for vampires? I better look that up pretty damn soon.
Monday, August 25, 2014
This month I missed two of my favorite August events - the Golden Fine Arts Festival in Golden, Colorado, and Dancing in the Streets (known locally as Drinking in the Streets) in Stuart, Florida. The Golden Fine Arts Festival was held last weekend, when my sister Susan and I were in Stuart, Florida, getting our condo there ready to re-rent, and Stuart's Dancing in the Streets festival was held this past weekend, after we had returned to Denver. Here in Denver the only event I wanted to attend was AARP Day at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and since it ended at 5:00 P.M. on Friday, I missed it. Plus, I'll be damned if it wasn't raining, too. If we had only traveled to Florida this past weekend instead of the weekend before, we would have been able to attend both events, but it was my sister Susan and brother-in-law George's 45th wedding anniversary, and they wanted to spend it together. They are evidently pretty sentimental about things like that. I myself am not, which is probably why I have been divorced for all these years.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
I went down to Coors Field on my lunch break yesterday to buy a "Rockpile" ticket (the outfield bleacher seats) for that night's game between the Colorado Rockies and the Miami Marlins. Since it was the day of the game, I was eligible for the $1.00 over 55 price. Plus, as an added bonus, the ticket agent actually asked if I was over 55, God bless her. She did think it was funny that I had to pay with a credit card, but that's okay. We frugal people are used to that kind of reaction. In any case, because I need to catch up at work, I didn't arrive until the end of the 7th inning, but the game went until the bottom of the 13th inning, so I was able to get my dollar's worth of baseball for the evening. And by the way, the Rockies, the 2nd worst team in baseball this year, actually won the game. Talk about "win win."
Saturday, August 23, 2014
It is hard to believe, but Cheyanne's Peace Corps assignment will be up in just 3 months. Cheyanne (on the left in the photograph above along with her friend Teagan) will actually be home for the holidays, as they say, which I am sure will please her mother - my friend and former DU Bookstore co-worker Valarie. Enjoy those beaches while you can, Cheyanne. It will be back to land-locked Denver soon. Check out Cheyanne's Blog at www.timeinmozambique.blogspot.com
Friday, August 22, 2014
Cheyanne - daughter of my friend Valarie and a "teacher of teachers" with the Peace Corps in Mozambique, has just added a new post on her Blog about keeping a pet in Africa. Basically, the locals think that keeping a pet is a crazy thing to do - animals are there to perform chores or to provide food, not for the owner's amusement. They especially thought Cheyanne was a bit eccentric (i.e. crazy) for letting her cat sleep on top of her head each night. Be sure to check out Cheyanne's adventures at www.timeinmozambique.blogspot.com.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
My sister Susan and I had to return our Hertz rental car before heading back to the airport and Denver, and needed to find a gas station to fill up the tank so we would avoid paying the $20 per gallon penalty. Happily, we found a gas station in Dania Beach, Florida, and I took the above photograph as I pulled out after filling up. The sign says "Tropical Acres, Established 1949," and I assumed it was an historic settlement of tough old Florida Crackers, picturesquely located just under the main runways of Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport. In point of fact, Tropical Acres turned out to be a steakhouse - an expensive one at that. Obviously not a place I will ever visit or feature on this Blog. Not that I am a cheapskate - just frugal.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Yesterday afternoon my sister Susan and I headed back to Denver after fixing up our Stuart, Florida, condo to re-rent. It was a lot of work - not nearly as much fun as in previous trips - and I saw far more furniture stores than beaches on this visit. However, I was able to snap a final photograph of Stuart Beach (above) before I left. Hopefully I will be able to return as a retiree in 4 years or so, but in the meantime, there are always the bright lights and fun times of Denver. Let the good times roll.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
My sister Susan and I have been working so hard getting our Stuart, Florida condo back in shape to re-rent that we have not, except for a few quick stops at the beach, done anything fun on this trip. However, after dinner the other night I was able to walk down to the river and catch the afterglow of the sunset over the the St. Lucie River. That is probably one of the most enjoyable experiences you can have down in Stuart. The last time I visited, a group of people gathered in the park down the street every night, banging away on their drums, waiting for the sun to set, at which point I imagine they would applaud, a la Key West. The New Age comes to Stuart. Wow!
Monday, August 18, 2014
My sister Susan and I visited the House of Refuge here in Stuart the other day, and I must say it felt very much like coming home. I have been coming to this spot of since 1976 (back when I was 3) and it is truly a wonderful, almost spiritual place. It was built in 1876 to care for shipwrecked sailors, and is the most important historical site in Martin County, Florida. These days it mainly saves only lost party-goers, but hey, that's important too. Right? Right?
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Does it seem to you like this Blog is turning into a restaurant column? Probably just my imagination. In any case, in the evenings the main - and possibly only- thing to do here in Stuart, Florida is have dinner, and my sister Susan and I have gone loco - I mean local - in a big way. We had dinner last night at Rancho Chico. It is located in the Monterey Shopping Plaza, just a hop, skip, and jump away from our condo, and the food there is great! I can see myself walking to the bar there during my golden years, drinking Modelo beer and eating Mexican food, and then heading back to the condo each night in time for Rick Steves nightly program (if Rick is still spry enough to keep traveling, of course). But that is years away! Right now I am still a youngster, as everyone can plainly see.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
My sister and I had dinner in Old Town Stuart last night at a local chain called Mulligans. The place recently (by which I mean within the past 5 years) moved into the location formerly occupied by a well known local restaurant called The Ashley. It was called The Ashley because the building used to be the local bank and was robbed by the Ashley gang back in the 1930s. Old Town Stuart has been reborn as a really quaint dining and shopping destination, and like a lot of similar places, success has raised rents and driven out all the mom and pop shops. In any case, last night was pretty rainy. The rain usually starts around 2:00 in the afternoon here in Florida in August and stops by 5:00, but not last night. First we checked out a really nice looking restaurant in an old house with a great view of the river, which looked expensive, but it was closed (and thank God, too, if you happen to be picking up the check). We then walked in the rain to another riverside restaurant that used to be called Huckleberry's and featured a wonderful Sunday brunch years ago that we used to go to with our parents. The place looked even more expensive than the other and was called The Oyster House or something. My sister hates oysters, so another bullet dodged, and we walked back to Mulligans and had dinner. It was pretty good, too, and my sister actually picked up the check. Wow! Another first! What a pity we couldn't have found a steakhouse.
Friday, August 15, 2014
My sister Susan and I flew down to Stuart, Florida on the "red eye"special last night with what my sister described as a planeload of zombies (zombies have to fly too, after all). Before starting to make the hard decisions about the family condo, I decided to put them off (as usual) and head immediately to Stuart Beach to see if was still there after 5 years. And it was. Surprise! In any case, the town looks exactly the same as before, which is a good thing. It has always had a pleasant small town atmosphere, and still does. In any case, after the beach I drove straight to Starbucks (yes, Stuart does have one) to post this Blog. While sitting out in front, a woman started screaming that a lizard fell off the table umbrella onto her head. She seemed truly shocked at this. Probably from the north. I guess Florida hasn't changed either.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Helen Thorpe appeared at the Tattered Cover Bookstore last night to be interviewed by NPR and to read from and autograph copies of her new book Soldier Girls. The place was packed, and a number of Denver's movers and shakers were in the audience, including Governor John Hickenlooper (Thorpe's husband). I also noticed former Denver Post columnist and author Dick Kreck (aka Mr. Beer) in the crowd, too. The previous night author Deborah Harkness signed copies of her new novel, The Book of Life, the finale of her series featuring witch Diana Bishop. She also attracted a huge audience, which some wags unjustly referred to as a coven instead of a crowd. How unfair.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Colfax Avenue here in Denver is famous for its neon signs, and recently Colorado Preservation, Inc. named these signs one of the states most endangered landmarks. The group hopes to get the public's attention and support in order to preserve these landmarks. But I say why stop there? Colfax is being gentrified, and even though the Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Cafe proudly proclaims on its marquee that Colfax is "America's longest, wickedest street," I am afraid that is no longer true. The strip clubs are long gone, the dive bars are being replaced by trendy bistros, and the old Victorian houses in the adjoining neighborhoods are being renovated by young urban professionals. Where will it all end? Perhaps some of the street's seedy dives should be preserved before Colfax's reputation is completely destroyed. I strongly suggest everyone call Colorado Preservation now and demand action. Save Colfax from being saved!
Monday, August 11, 2014
I went to see Woody Allen's latest movie Magic in the Moonlight last night at the Esquire Theater here in Denver. The last Woody Allen movie (To Rome With Love) I went to see got rave reviews, and it really stunk. This time a read a review that panned the film, so I knew I would love it, and I did. It was a wonderful film. Plus, I went to My Other Bar across the street before the movie to have dinner and they had $5 spaghetti and meatballs and $3 happy hour beer. On a Sunday, no less. Life is truly good, and movie critics - except for Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, who are both deceased - stink. So what else is new?
Sunday, August 10, 2014
Detroit City is indeed the place to be. I picked up a copy of this book at the bookstore where I work (it was on the bargain table, naturally). I predict that Detroit will be making a tremendous comeback very soon. Not only has it been featured in recent books such as Mark Benelli's Detroit City is the Place to Be and Charlie LeDuff's Detroit: An Autopsy, it has also been the locale for some major motion pictures, including Jim Jarmusch's latest film, Only Lovers Left Alive. The city looked great in that movie, by the way. Not only does Detroit have plenty of land ready to be redeveloped (think of Chicago after the Great Fire), it is also just across the river from Canada, giving it a feeling of international intrigue, a la Tangiers. Not only that, but it also has non-stop air service to Paris. Evidently the place is very popular with French tourists. I definitely want to visit there soon. As for the rest of you, I advise buying property there immediately.
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Denver Police are searching everywhere for the person or persons who stole my Honda Civic. I just got the car back from the repair shop a few days ago, and I do believe I have found the "smoking gun," the piece of evidence that will solve the case. It is a plastic bottle left on the floor of the back seat by the perpetrators. I know the Denver Police Department is pretty busy these days solving murders and shooting people, but I am sure that the theft of a man's classic 1987 Honda Civic is one of their top priorities. All they would have to do is send the bottle to the CSI crime lab, get the fingerprints, and match them with a known car thief. I have a postcard from the police asking me to call with any evidence I uncover weekdays between 8:00 and 3:00 (investigators evidently have pretty good hours), and that is exactly what I am going to do. Evildoers everywhere beware!
Friday, August 8, 2014
Cheyanne - daughter of my friend Valarie and a teacher of teachers with the Peace Corps in Mozambique - is touring South Africa with her friend Teagan this month. As you can see from the above photograph (Cheyanne is on the left, Teagan on the right), they appear to be having a pretty good time. I would bet the farm that Cheyanne isn't even thinking about posting anything on her Blog (www.timeinmozambique.blogspot.com) right now, which she last updated almost three months ago. Yes! Three months! Definitely time to have her mother talk to her again. That always seems to work.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
I went to see the Colorado Rockies play the Chicago Cubs last night at Coors Field, despite the rather boring game I witnessed the night before. The Rockies actually came out swinging, and won the game 13 to 4. Does that mean the Rockies are a really good team, or that the Cubs are really bad? As every baseball fan knows, even truly horrible teams can win a game now and then, especially against the dregs of the National League, and the Rockies are no exception. When you attend a Colorado Rockies game and they actually win, it is an added bonus, because these days you really only go for the Coors Field experience. It is the same with the Cubs. Cubs fans go to Wrigley Field to enjoy the setting, not the baseball. Until that changes, the owners of these respective clubs have no incentive to put a truly competitive team on the field. It is all about the bottom line these days. Sad, but true. Say it ain't so, Joe!
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
I went to see the Colorado Rockies play the Chicago Cubs at Coors Field last night. It was a contest between two of the worst teams in baseball, and it appeared that neither team wanted to win the game. The Rockies walked 6 men during the 7th inning and in the process walked in two runs. The manager, Walt Weiss, went through four pitchers during the inning before he could find one who could throw strikes. On the bright side, it was Cap Night. It reminded me of that cartoon in the Denver Post a few weeks ago where the baseball team's promotion department made a mistake and had "Cat Night" - free cats to the first 10,000 fans - instead of Cap Night." I think Cat Night would have really helped to liven up the proceedings yesterday. The game dragged on until the bottom of the 12th inning, by the way, with the Cubs finally winning the game 6 to 5.
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
The Bookstore where I work as a bookkeeper is located in an old Art Deco theater on Colfax Avenue here in Denver. I never realized how beautiful a building it was until I started working late some evenings. Walking up the stairway and seeing all that ornamentation lite up every night makes working late actually worthwhile. Combine that decor with books and a coffee shop and you have a great people-space. You don't get that experience buying books on Amazon. This endorsement of independent bookstores brought to you a a public service announcement by this Blog. I don't get any money for it, so please feel free to send in what you like.
Monday, August 4, 2014
I ran into my former DU Bookstore colleague Noah while riding the bus to work yesterday afternoon. Noah - the DU Bookstore's stockroom manager - says things are going relatively well there these days, and was kind enough to let me take his photograph for this Blog. All my previous photos of Noah were taken in the bookstore's stockroom with a flash, making Noah blink and giving the incorrect impression that Noah spends much of his life with his eyes closed. Since I was able to take the above photograph without a flash, it proves that Noah does keep his eyes wide open much of the time. A wise policy. Good to see you again Noah!
Sunday, August 3, 2014
I stopped to take a photograph of an especially colorful bistro at the corner of 10th and Santa Fe on my way to the Light Rail Station last Friday night as I was going home from First Friday. The patrons on the patio seemed very enthusiastic about the idea. The fellow above insisted that I take his photograph, and so I did. I told him I would put the photo on my Blog, and he was pretty excited about that, too. His girlfriend also seemed pretty enthusiastic about the idea, too. New fans who drink Hamms! Great!
Saturday, August 2, 2014
I attended First Friday on Santa Fe Drive here in Denver last night, and as usual the place was hopping with art lovers. I even broke down and had a beef burrito for dinner, since food seems to be just as important, if not more so, than the art. I checked out all the photography - some of it good and some of it not so much - but think the best part of the evening was people-watching and checking out the cool spaces where the art is displayed. In point of fact, a lot of the artwork on display there is downright weird, and take it from me, we Southside Chicagoans know both art and weird very well.
Friday, August 1, 2014
I have to admit I have been pretty slow getting started on my next "Blurb Book" project, which will feature the Hoyt family, seen in the photograph above at the family reunion in Cannon Beach, Oregon several years ago. Back in 1966 or so, I found a scrapbook and photo album under the stairs of my grandparent's home that belonged to my Great Aunt Violet Thayer, who passed away in 1910 at the age of 17. The scrapbook contained dozens of picture postcards, filled with long ago correspondence between long gone relatives. The album also contained childhood artwork by Adam Boysen, my cousin, who was killed during WWII. My goal is to put together a photo essay very similar to my international bestseller The Journey Home: Returning to Chicago (http://www.blurb.com/b/1361398-the-journey-home-returning-to-chicago). I finally was inspired to "get cracking" on this project after attending another family reunion in Cannon Beach this past 4th of July weekend. I visited with all the relatives, took a lot of photographs, and had a lot of good talks with my Uncle Jack (third from the left in the above photograph) about the Hoyt family history. Plus, all my cousins were really fascinated by the album and encouraged me to go ahead with the idea. Best of all, I'll need to visit Chicago again to take more photographs for the book, not to mention Clear Lake, Iowa, which I hear is the "French Rivera" of Iowa and even more beautiful than the one in France. It doesn't get any better than that.