Saturday, February 28, 2015

Speaking Of Real Estate

Since on yesterday's Blog I mentioned the condo in Florida my sister and I  inherited from my mother Mary, today I am featuring a photograph of her (on the right) and her friend Marion (on the left) posing on the 5th hold of the golf course that winds around the complex in Stuart, Florida.  Both are sadly gone now, but the condo - and its taxes, insurance, maintenance payments, etc.) is still there.  Call me sentimental but still a cheapskate.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Trials And Tribulations Of A Real Estate Mogul

I took the above self portrait at my desk at the bookstore where I work as the Bookkeeper.  As I have mentioned on previous Blog posts, I have taken on a second job in the evenings to pay for the insurance on my car and the taxes on my vast holdings of unprofitable real estate (my condo in Denver, the condo in Stuart, Florida I inherited from my mother, and 40 acres of land in northern Wisconsin I inherited from my father).  Of course, even Donald Trump, a fellow real estarte mogul, has had to take on a second job ( as host of the television show The Apprentice) to help pay for his real estate holdings, so I feel I am in good company.  Although if someone wants to trade for a tax free villa in Provence, I will certainly listen to any and all offers.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Position Players Report!

Position players report to baseball spring training camps in Florida and Arizona today, meaning that spring training games are not far behind.  To celebrate, I am featuring a photograph I made in the first Photoshop class I ever took at the University of Denver.  It features Coors Field under construction, with the ghosts of (from left to right), Babe Ruth giving his farewell address, Honus Wagner - Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer - and Andres Gallaraga, who was the Colorado Rockies first superstar.  Of course, Andres Gallaraga is not dead, but I'm sure he won't mind being included.  Right Andres? Right?  Actually, Andres is back in Venezuela, so who cares.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Pizza And Beers At Old Chicago

I journeyed out to Lakewood, Colorado last night to have pizza and beers with my friend Stuart at Old Chicago, a local restaurant chain celebrating all things Chicago.  Stuart was indeed in a celebratory mood, and why not?  Spring training has begun, the beer was cold and locally brewed, and the snow has finally stopped - at least for now.  Of course, a new storm is forecast to hit Denver tonight, but it definitely won't total 8 feet, like in Boston, and so we are way ahead of the game.  We call that "win-win" here in the Wild West.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Death Of The Newspaper?

Everyone was shocked in Chicago back in 1978 when the Chicago Daily News went out of business after 102 years in operation.   Television news killed off the evening newspapers, and now it appears the internet is killing off the rest of the papers, one by one.  You have to wonder how long newspapers like the Denver Post can survive.  On the other hand, there are a lot of positives with the internet, one of them being that I was able to download a press pass, which I modified to appear to be from the late lamented Chicago Daily News.  Hopefully I can use it to gain entry to the presidential debates next year, or at least the Press Box of the Colorado Rockies.  With change comes opportunity, after all.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Long Live Cowboys

I took the above photograph of the ghost of Buffalo Bill Cody at the National Western Stock Show here in Denver last month.  It is during this 3 week extravaganza each year that Denver celebrates both cowboys and  its western roots. And this is nothing new.  At the beginning of the 20th century, Denver was involved in quite the struggle to be the final resting place of Buffalo Bill Cody.  After much controversy, he was buried on Lookout Mountain just to the west of Denver, looking east towards Denver and the Great Plains, with Denver winning out over North Platte, Nebraska.  North Platte felt that it should be Buffalo Bill's final resting place, since that was his home when he was alive, but they ultimately lost the fight.  Take that Nebraska!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Big Storm

This weekend we were supposed to have The Big Snowstorm of 2015.  And it was a very exciting 15 minutes, I must say.  I am exaggerating, of course, as usual.  Some parts of the metropolitan area did get a lot of snow, and it came down pretty hard on the drive from the library to my part-time job Saturday night, but on the whole, here in central Denver, the snow stopped pretty early, and when the second round of the storm came, it was just light flurries.  We have so seldom gotten any major snowstorms the past few years, I think the weather forecasters go crazy with excitement when even the mere possibility of a big storm occurs. Which is great news for the grocery stores, which due a huge business from Denverites preparing for the worst.  Do you think there might be payoffs involved?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Revisiting Okinawa...

I still can't get over the fact that there is a restaurant - a very trendy restaurant - named Okinawa at the corner of Colfax Avenue and York Street here in Denver, just a few blocks away from the bookstore where I work. My father Nelson, who would have been 106 years old next month, served on Okinawa as a dentist during World War II, and was not crazy about the place.  It would have been fun to bring him to this restaurant on his birthday to see his reaction.  In any case, his favorite television show was MASH, because he said that program showed exactly what it was like back on Okinawa at his medical unit.  In any case, I am featuring a photograph of my father as a major, just before he got out of the service, on the left, and Okinawa the restaurant above.  And they are still taking reservations, by the way.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Ain't That A Shames?

Laurence Shames, who wrote a series of very amusing Key West, Florida based mystery novels many years ago has finally written another book in the series.  For some inexplicable reason, Shames decided to move from Key West to Southern California and write a new series of books taking place in L.A.  They were not well received.  In fact, I remember attending an author event featuring Shames at the Tattered Cover Bookstore with my mother, sister and brother-in-law.  As I recall, was attended by a total of 7 people.  In other words, our family made up the majority of the audience.  Since none of us intended on buying the book, it was pretty tricky getting away unnoticed, let me tell you.  In any case, I started reading his new book, Shot on Location, and it seems to be just as good as the others in the series.  Hopefully it does well and Shames will continue writing more Key West based mysteries.  And maybe, down the road, I might actually purchase a copy and have it autographed.  Be-still your heart, Shames.  I said maybe.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Happy First Day Of Spring Training!

Today is the first day of spring training, one of the most auspicious days of the year.  In honor of that great occasion, I am featuring a photograph of Shoeless Joe Jackson, one of the infamous players from the 1919 Chicago White Sox team that threw the World Series in order to get back at their cheapskate owner, Charles Comiskey.  Jackson still played like a champion during that series, and is still considered a hero, despite being banned from baseball for life.  In any case, last year the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Colorado Rockies all finished in or close to last place, but hope springs eternal.  See you all at the ballpark Opening Day!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fat Tuesday In The Snow

Yesterday was Fat Tuesday, the traditional day of celebration before the start of Lent, which of course begins today on Ash Wednesday.  In New Orleans, the epicenter of the celebration, I imagine it was warm and sunny, while here in Denver it was cold and snowy.  However, in Colorado most snowy days are followed by sunshine, and the temperatures invariably warm up, as opposed to places like Boston, where snowy days are followed by even snowier and far colder days.  And so I am not going to complain.  Plus, spring begins in just over 4 weeks.  Hallelujah!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Dogged Tradition

As usual, following yesterday's Blog post featuring my sister Susan and brother-in-law George, I am today posting a photograph of one of their dogs, in this case TuTu.  I am doing this because it has become a family tradition, and not because I am running out of Blog ideas.  Plus, it encourages me to follow my ambition of becoming a pet photographer.  As far as I cam tell, all you need is a beret, a camera, and a few pet toys and you are in business.  Of course, for me this would be a third job, so I still have to work out the logistics. Get ready to fork over the big bucks, pet owners!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fort Collins Or Bust!

I drove up to Fort Collins to have pizza and beer with my sister Susan and brother-in-law George Sunday afternoon, despite the fact that my sister said a blizzard was raging up there.  In addition to the importance of visiting with family whenever possible, I felt that loyal Blog Readers wanted to know what was happening with Susan and George lately, and it was important for me to drive up there, no matter the risk.  And, to answer the question of what's new with Susan and George these days, the answer is: nothing.  And I am proud and happy to deliver this report to you.  No thanks necessary.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Family Tradition Continues

I have taken a part-time job as a cashier in the evenings to help pay for my new car and the property taxes on my extensive but unprofitable real estate holdings.  I won't name the company, but I will say that my father worked for the founder of the firm many years ago as a caddie back on the South Side of Chicago.  This wealthy and prominent Chicagoan was an especial favorite of the caddies at the Beverly Country Club due to his habit of never giving them a monetary tip, only his autograph on their caddie card. According to my father, he did tell interesting stories, however.  He said his one big mistake in business was loaning his brother-in-law money, which the brother-in-law then used to start a competing business.  Learning from this example, I definitely never intend on making the same mistake. Another valuable life lesson!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today is Valentines Day, and in honor of that auspicious occasion, I am featuring a photograph of my ex-wife Lisa and myself on our honeymoon, taken back in 1982 on Independence Pass here in Colorado.  I took a trip to San Francisco a few years ago and had dinner with Lisa, who now lives in that wonderful city. Lisa amazingly still looks just as young as she does in the photograph above, as opposed to me - who, if you look at some of my self portraits on this Blog, looks a few years older now.  Time marches on for some of us, evidently. How fair is that?

Friday, February 13, 2015

My Life In The Middle Ages

I definitely must have more time to read these days.  Last week I finished Holidays in Hell by P.J. O'Rourke, which I picked up about 20 years ago, and this week I am reading My Life in the Middle Ages by James Atlas, which my sister gave me as a gift a mere 10 years ago.  Atlas reminds me a lot of Bill Bryson, what with his chapters about living in Vermont, travels in England, and home life.  His piece on his vacation home in Vermont and his fight against transience makes me want to hang on to our condo in Stuart, Florida, which has been in the family for almost 40 years, despite the high expense it entails.  Now THAT is powerful writing, considering what a cheapskate I am.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Giraffe Photograph? Yes! Deal With It!

I spent a great deal of money ($55 tax deductible) to become a member in good standing of the Denver Zoo, and one of the main reasons I did this was to be able to take photographs for this Blog of the various animals (who felt like posing, of course) whenever I was out of other ideas.  In addition to providing cute animal portraits to my loyal fans, it also allows them to see when I have a case of Blogger's Block.  And so get used to it. You will definitely see a lot more Denver Zoo photographs

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Who Let The Bears Out?

In just over a month or so, it will be springtime in the Rockies, and the bears here in Colorado will be waking up from hibernation and starting to roam the high country.  This past fall, the television newscasters made it sound like Colorado was overrun with bears, and that you couldn't step out the door without running into one, even in the City of Denver proper.  However, I must point out that I have been living in Colorado for almost 35 years now, and have never - and I mean never - seen a bear outside of the Denver Zoo.  I am not even convinced that bears exist in this state.  Could the news people be exaggerating?  Of course not! Journalistic integrity still lives.  Right?  Right?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Just The Fax

Over the past few days, it has been almost summerlike here in Denver, and so I decided to take full advantage and walk down Colfax to the train station after work the other evening .  The weather was warm, and everybody seemed to be out and about and in a great mood.  It was fun just to get some exercise and to mingle with my fellow hipsters and the assorted crazies on the street.  Or is it the other way around?

Monday, February 9, 2015

My Other Bar...

I stopped by My Other Bar, located here in Denver at the corner of 6th and Downing, last night after a long day at work.  It is a great neighborhood tavern and restaurant.  It has a fine old wood bar, the owner is from Chicago and used to live a block away from Wrigley Field, and they play Blues music at a respectably moderate sound level.  Plus, they have $5.00 dinner specials and a Happy Hour that lasts until 7:00 every night of the week.  What more can a dyed in the wool cheapskate ask for?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Santa Fe Drive Arts District

Santa Fe Drive used to be the business district for one of Denver's largest Hispanic communities.  It was a low income area with cheap rents, which I imagine is why it attracted so many artists and art galleries.  Now it is Denver's biggest arts district, attracting thousands of art lovers on the first Friday of every month, not to mention the rest of the time.  Hispanic art is represented here by the Museo de las Americas, as well as art galleries such as in the photograph above (which has a nifty little beer garden in the back, by the way). However, upscale apartments and condos are encroaching on the neighborhood, and so can gentrification be far behind, especially since the area is a mere 7 blocks from downtown Denver?  Progress or paradise lost? You decide.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Great First Friday!

Yesterday was the first Friday of the month, and so I walked over to Santa Fe Boulevard here in Denver after work for the monthly Art Walk.  Not only was it nice and warm outside (70 degrees, the same temperature as in Miami), but it appears that many of the galleries decided to get a jump on The Month of Photography (which is March here in Denver), and started featuring some great photography exhibitions a month early.  Metropolitan State University's Center for the Visual Arts showcased an exhibition titled "Spatial Stories," which features works by some great African photographers, including Pieter Hugo, whose photographs of people living over a dump filled with discarded computer equipment are spectacular.  At the Artwork Network Gallery, Bruce Zander's "Reinterpretations:  Photographs in Intaglio" is also pretty impressive.  Even the photographs on display at John Fielder's Gallery  at 833 Santa Fe were pretty damn good.  On the other hand, perhaps everything looked so wonderful to me only because I was actually warm, even though it was after dark. I'll have to think about that and let you know.  Stay tuned.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Nostalgia Corner

Wednesday was a very cold, snowy day here in Denver, which reminded me in a major way that my sister and I actually own a condo in Stuart, Florida, where it is warm and sunny, but which we are renting out to "snowbirds" for the season.  Meanwhile, here we are in Denver, shivering through still another winter.  Just what is wrong with this picture?  My father and mother (seen posing above in full 1970s regalia) would not have thought twice about this issue.  They moved to Stuart, Florida in 1976 and never looked back.  The older I get, the more sense that makes to me.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Groundhog Was Right...

A snowstorm hit Denver just as the rush hour began yesterday morning, and so I decided to take the bus to work instead of risking my new luxury Hyundai Accent on dangerous roads.  The bus was, however, 30 minutes late, and the driver said the roads were like a skating rink.  Of course, the bus was coming from the South Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch, which I believe is the locale that inspired the phrase "hell frozen over, " thus putting everything in perspective.  And by no means do I mean that in a negative way.  I just saying.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Holidays in Hell

I have a bad habit of buying books and then not reading them for the next 25 years or so, and when I do, they are hopelessly out of date.  This is certainly true of Holidays in Hell by P.J. O'Rourke, in which he reports his visits to various troublespots throughout the world.  It is now more history than current affairs, but it is fun to see how his predictions for the places he writes about turned out.  Most of Latin America and Lebanon are still hellholes, but his prediction about South Africa's future was dead wrong.  In any case, I strongly recommend that if you buy a current affairs book at your local bookstore, you read it within 10 years or so.  I myself definitely intend to get to that signed Hillary Clinton book read before the 2016 general election.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

6 More Weeks Of Winter

Yesterday was Groundhog Day, and Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, which means 6 more weeks of winter.  That is how they do things in Pennsylvania, anyway.  Here in Denver we just look out the window and realize there will be 6 more weeks of winter.  And David Letterman, on his show the other night, said that in New York they simply see if the rats poke their heads out of the sewers to see if it will be an early spring.  Regional differences.  It is what makes America great!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Going Ape At The Zoo

As I mentioned in yesterday's Blog, I went to the Denver Zoo Saturday afternoon to take some animal portraits, despite the cold and snow.  A lot of the animals were out and about, despite the conditions, but the Great Apes were hunkered down in their warm cages.  I can't say I blame them, either, which probably confirms the fact that they are one of the most intelligent creatures besides man.  And looking at their expressions in the photographs above, they do indeed seem to be almost human.  Which probably means that they also realize they are locked up for life.  And just how sad is that?  I say it is time to plan the Great Escape for the Great Apes.  Wait for my signal, guys!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Tasha Strikes A Pose

I went to the Denver Zoo yesterday afternoon to take some animal portraits, even though it was rather cold and snowing (although only lightly).  As usual, most of the big cats turned their backs on me as soon as they saw the camera, including Tasha, one of the Denver Zoo's tigers.  However, a nice young lady who works at the zoo (possibly as an animal handler) told Tasha to turn around and pose for me.  Amazingly enough, she did just that, which is why I was able to take the above tiger portrait.  Thanks for the  help, kind zoo person!