Sunday, May 31, 2015
I am used to people not wanting their photograph taken, and have even been chased out of a room by my knife-wielding sister when I tried to get a candid snapshot. However, I was very surprised when I tried to take a photograph of the orangutan seen above, and he grabbed a sheet and hid himself under it. Occasionally he would peek out to see if I was still there, and I was. What is the deal with this? Am I just too sensitive or what? The trials and tribulations of a photographer, I guess
Saturday, May 30, 2015
! went to hear Ronda Rousey - Olympic medalist, reigning Woman's Bantamweight Champion, and Hollywood Star - speak at the Aspen Grove Tattered Cover Bookstore in beautiful Littleton, Colorado last night, but unfortunately she wasn't speaking, only signing her book for her many fans. The place was packed - almost 500 tickets were sold - and the Littleton Police were on hand to prevent any stalkers from getting too close. Fortunately I was able to take the top photograph before they grabbed me. It is blurry but I was able to get it. And no - I am NOT a stalker - just once again risking jail and a police record for the sake of this Blog. And no thanks necessary, people.
Friday, May 29, 2015
As I was walking though the Denver Zoo last Sunday, I couldn't help but notice the gorilla in the photograph above stopping to smell the roses, or lettuce, or whatever the hell it was, just before he ate it. No doubt a reminder to all of us to take time out and just enjoy the moment. If a gorilla, sentenced to life without parole in a compound at the Denver Zoo can do it, so can we. And I still say these creatures should be allowed to roam throughout the zoo grounds, interact with the zoo patrons, and help themselves to whatever food they can forage. Now that would make for some great photographs.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
I went to the Denver Zoo Sunday afternoon just in time to see zoo personal trying to get two obstinate giraffes into the Giraffe House. They simply did not want to go inside, and I must say, I couldn't blame them - it was the nicest day we have had here in weeks. As the zoo workers tried to get the two renegades inside, two more giraffes escaped, and as I left the grounds at closing time, the 4 giraffes were still refusing to budge. Perhaps this was the beginning of a major animal uprising. Be sure to keep an eye on your pet pit-bull for the next few weeks just in case.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
I missed two art festivals this past weekend - one featuring all Colorado artists, and one featuring artists from all over the country. I only had one free day - Memorial Day Monday - but both festivals were held only on Saturday and Sunday. As I walked back to my car, however, I noticed that a lot of people were walking around in costumes - pirate outfits, top hats, Viking helmets with a full set of horns, etc. - which is unusual even for Denver. Then I remembered that Comic Con 2015 was still going on at the convention center. I turned around and headed straight there, where I took the photographs you see on the left. It was not exactly an art festival - more like Halloween, what with everyone in costume - but what the heck. Beggars can't be choosers.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
I mentioned in yesterday's blog about our once annual Memorial Day hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. I haven't been up there in quite some time now, but years ago we used to go there all the time, year round. Since my sister Susan and brother-in-law George live in Fort Collins, Colorado, Rocky Mountain Park was just a short drive away. We would hike in the summer, cross country ski in the winter, and test the limits of our nerve every Memorial Day when hiking up mountain trails through heavy fog and deep snow. Those were great times, and I have made a resolution to start hiking up there once again on a regular basis starting this summer - if it ever stops raining, that is. At this point, I would say the odds of the rain ever stopping here in Colorado are virtually nil. In any case, the above photograph was taken back in the early 1980s. From left to right are my then wife Lisa, sister Susan, and brother-in-law George. The photographer was, of course, moi!
Monday, May 25, 2015
Today is Memorial Day, which always makes me remember the annual Memorial Day hike my then wife Lisa, sister Susan, and brother-in-law George used to take in Rocky Mountain National Park. Although it was springlike down in Denver, up in the mountains it was often still cold and snow-covered. George had read a book called Staying Found, and always wanted to try out his orienteering skills. It seems like virtually every year we would hike up a fog enshrouded trail where the snow got deeper and deeper the higher we went. We continued onward until Lisa would start crying and tell us we were all going to die if we didn't turn back right now. Then we would drive back down to the resort town of Estes Park and drink beer. Ah, the good old days! Featured in the photo above are my then wife Lisa and brother-in-law George (my sister Susan's husband) on one of those hikes, before the tears began to fall.
Sunday, May 24, 2015
It has been raining here in Denver all month now. People who are originally from Seattle are getting all nostalgic and weepy-eyed about it. The rest of us just try and deal with it. I myself have worked what I believe is my first 80 hour work week, counting both my regular and part-time jobs, and so the only time I have had to deal with the weather is when I commute back and forth. Since I have only a short period between jobs, I have to drive instead of take the bus these days. Instead of listening to the numskulls on the bus, I have been listening to the numskulls on the morning radio shows. Entertainment no matter what. In any case, the weather scientists said it would be sunny today, and I did in fact see the sun at least twice. Now the clouds have formed in the southwest and it looks like another storm is imminent. No matter. Off to work - that always sunny happy place.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
My sister Susan and brother-in-law George - no spring chickens - have always been proud of the fact that their city - Fort Collins, Colorado - has always been considered a retirement paradise. However, as befits my position as a senior citizen (a youngish 62), I get the AARP Bulletin, and this month's issue features "where to live at 50+" and doesn't mention Fort Collins at all. San Francisco is the top large city (Denver is number 8), Madison, Wisconsin is the top medium city, and La Crosse, Wisconsin is the top small city. Of course, a lot of places I personally consider hellholes are on the list, but no matter. Fort Collins is not on it. What has happened to bring Fort Collins down? Will there be a mass exodus to greener pastures? In any case, the cover of AARP features an old timer walking his dog in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, a fitting location for the baby boomers now retiring. Of course, if you are not a millionaire, living in San Francisco might be tough. Better start putting more dollars into that 401K, people.
Friday, May 22, 2015
It has been another week of rain here in Denver. We might as well be living in Seattle. It makes me long for the good old days, when my sister Susan and I would head down to Florida every August to visit my mother and enjoy the sunshine, along with a little bit of heat and humidity, I might add. When I was up in Fort Collins this past Sunday, my sister Susan showed me a bunch of old photographs she came across in a drawer, including the one above of her looking adoringly at our mother Mary, taken after dinner at the Pirate's Loft, a popular restaurant in the town of Port Salerno, Florida. Port Salerno used to have a dinner theater owned by Burt Reynolds back in the day. Burt got Sally Field to perform there once, and afterwards she wound up criticizing both the town and the theater on a late night talk show. She referred to the place as Port Saleerno, and described how trains would come by and drown out her lines every half hour or so. You can't please everyone, I guess. No matter. The shrimp and crab cakes are pretty good there, and that's what counts.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
I have been working at my regular job starting at 8:30 each morning and then working until midnight at my "part-time" job all this week, and so once again this Blog is going to the dogs - literally. I have reached the point where, having run out of time and ideas, I need to feature my sister Susan and brother-in-law George's dogs TuTu and Blackberry. They are, of course, very willing subjects and don't come after you with a knife if you take their photograph. Always a plus. Of course, they might lick you to death, but that's a risk all photographers must take.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
I took the above photograph of my sister Susan in front of 900 Degrees Pizza up in Fort Collins last Sunday, as she was telling me how great their pizzas are. I had treated Susan and my brother-in-law George for drinks and appetizers at William Oliver's Publick House earlier, and Susan treated for wood-fired pizzas from 900 Degrees afterwards. The pizzas were good, but I still prefer the pizzas we used to get in Chicago, such as Vito and Nicks on the South Side of the city and Aurelio's, originally starting in the southern Chicago suburb of Homewood and now in many locations across that city. Those pizzas were - and I am sure still are - loaded with cheese, tomato sauce, sausage, and other tasty ingredients, and made you happy to live in Chicago. The wood-fired pizzas out here are just too - how shall I put it? - healthy.
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
I drove up to Fort Collins last Sunday afternoon to have dinner with my sister Susan and brother-in law George (be sure to check out the photograph I posted last Tuesday of them, along with my parents, back in 1970. They haven't changed a bit). In any case, before picking up a couple of takeout pizzas, we stopped in for a beer at William Oliver's Publick House, a small, cozy bar and restaurant in the eastern part of the city. William Oliver's Publick House is named after William Oliver Collins, the founder of the city. As I understand it, Collins was looking for a place to start a brewpub back in the 1800s, and decided on a location next to the Cache La Poudre River. He convinced the army to build a fort nearby for protection, and Fort Collins went on to become the micro-brewing powerhouse that it is today. And in the unlikely event that I got any of the facts wrong, please be sure to let me know.
Monday, May 18, 2015
I had brunch with the usual suspects (ex-DU Bookstore employees, along with their spouses and significant others) yesterday morning at Benny's, a well known Central Denver Mexican restaurant that has been around forever. It was the first time I have ever eaten there, and I must say the food is excellent. We haven't gotten together since last fall, and so there was a lot of catching up to do. I was able to relate my tales of woe (car breakdown, condo flooding, a part-time job to help pay expenses) and still leave a few minutes for everyone else to talk about what they have been up to lately. In the photograph above (from left to right) are me, Jim, Jim's wife Chris (formerly the Accounting Assistant at the DU Bookstore), Linda, Linda's husband Darrel (formerly the Accounts Payable Manager at the DU Bookstore), Jake, and Jake's significant other Valarie (the former Operations Manager of the DU Bookstore). It was great fun getting together and chatting. Hopefully next time we will get together sooner, and I will try to limit my tales of woe to just half the meal.
Sunday, May 17, 2015
I took the above photograph driving past the corner of 11th and Clarkson in the Capital Hill neighborhood of Denver a few days ago. To me it looks a bit like a scene you might see in San Francisco, what with the bright colors the buildings are painted and the highly visible telephone poles, which are also so numerous in some San Francisco districts. Am I just crazy or what? Don't answer that.
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Exactly one week ago Denver was having a fairly major spring snowstorm. The heavy wet snow caused a power outage, and as a result, I was able to get home early from my part-time job. Today the weather is very springlike, and we are getting thunderstorms instead of snow. And in the spirit of that, I am featuring a photograph of lightning that I took from the living room of my condo the other night. As I watched the light show, I heard the ooing and ahhing of the people in the condo above me, watching the lightning from their balcony. I know it is becoming a Colorado stereotype, but it truly sounded like they were all sitting there on the balcony, high on legalized marijuana, getting an extra thrill from the light show. As for my own opinion, the lightning was truly groovy, man.
Friday, May 15, 2015
Last night I went to the Victoria Myhren Gallery, located in the University of Denver's School of Art and Art History building, to see Threshold, the 2015 BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) Exhibition of graduating seniors (seniors graduating from college, not seniors like me). One of the artists exhibiting their work was none other than Maeve, my friend and former DU Bookstore colleague. Maeve exhibited a series of lighted, pinhole camera portraits, framed in wood and superimposed with growth rings of trees, symbolizing the passage of time, and I must say they were very impressive. Maeve hopes to pursue a career in photography, although she will have to work at a "real" job too, in order to support her art work. Congratulations Maeve! Good luck with your career!
Thursday, May 14, 2015
At least that is what my old friend Stuart said after he ordered the "Veggie Bites Platter" at the Old Chicago Restaurant in Lakewood the other night. I myself had the "Meat Me Stromboli," french fries, and two Firestone IPA beers, and so I guess you can't consider me a really hard core health food fanatic. Stuart claims his dinner was absolutely wonderful, but personally, I think he was lying. It sounded to me like he was trying to convince himself a little too hard just how wonderful his dinner was. Frankly, I was just glad he didn't lunge across the table, grab the other half of my Stromboli, and wolf it down. If the situation were reversed, that's what I would have done.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
I had dinner and beers last night with my old friend Stuart, whom I have known since we worked together at Hatch's Bookstore in Denver back in the early 1980s. Stuart has lived in Lakewood, Colorado - just to the west of Denver - for a number of years now. When I mentioned that none other than Jack Kerouac had bought a house in Lakewood for a brief time and moved his entire family there, Stuart was not surprised. Kerouac also used to hang out in San Francisco, but Stuart claims that San Francisco, although a nice enough place, does not have the panache, the elan, the exotic quality of Lakewood. Lakewood, according to Stuart, has an understated elegance. I definitely agree with you there, Stuart. It is definitely understated. In my opinion - to quote Gertrude Stein describing Oakland - "there is no there there." I'm not saying that is a negative thing. I'm just sayin'.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
I recently found the above photograph in one of the many photo albums I have collected over the years. It features (from left to right) my mother Mary, my brother-in-law George, my sister Susan, and my father Nelson, taken sometime around 1970 in Susan and George's apartment at 1130 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago. That apartment was on the 24th floor and looked out over Grant Park and Lake Michigan, not to mention a huge Pepsi sign that gave you the time and temperature 24 hours a day. As you can see from her expression, my sister did not like me taking her photograph even back then, and her attitude has not softened over the years. In point of fact, she chased me out of her kitchen with a knife a few months ago when I tried to take a candid portrait of her, and so the stakes are much higher taking family portraits these days. Oh for the good old, care-free, simpler days back in Chicago.
Monday, May 11, 2015
I visited with my friend Mark and his parents, along with several other former and current University of Denver employees, Friday night at the Bonnie Brae Tavern here in Denver (Mark is on the left in the photograph above, posing with his mother and father). Mark works at the University of Denver's Anderson Academic Commons, formerly Penrose Library, which was renamed after it underwent a 30 million dollar renovation a few years ago. DU's Board of Trustees originally planned on eliminating most of the books in the library after the remodel - pesky, dusty, dull old things that they are - but when the faculty found out through some sort of security breach, the university was forced to put half of the original number of books back. Good to see you Mark!
Sunday, May 10, 2015
Today is Mother's Day, and judging from how busy it was last night at the store where I have a part-time job in the evenings, it has become quite a major holiday. My own mother, Mary, passed away almost 6 years ago at the age of 93, and so today is a day of remembrance for both myself and my sister. Mother lived in Stuart, Florida for almost 30 years and was very happy there, playing golf and in the process gaining many friends. My sister and I visited her often down there, and have many fond memories, not to mentions boxes and boxes of photographs. Today I am featuring my mother's favorite photograph of herself during that period, posing in front of one of the bushes near the front door of her condo. Of course, the grounds crew removed it several years later, for what reason I don't know, but that's the way condo associations are. Their motives and operations are as mysterious as the National Security Agency's. And for your own well-being, don't cross them! But I digress. Happy Mother's Day everyone!
Saturday, May 9, 2015
I met a number of my friends and former University of Denver co-workers, along with their spouses and family, at the Bonnie Brae Tavern here in Denver last night for food and drinks, including Bill, one of the former Operations Managers at the DU Bookstore, along with his wife Renee (in the photograph above), as well as Mark, a current DU Library employee, and his parents, who I will feature Monday. Bill retired from the DU Bookstore a few years ago, and I mean actually gave notice and retired, unlike some of us who were told we were going to "retire." But I digress. It was a nice evening, and at one point Bill wondered aloud if I blamed him for the fall of the institutionally owned DU Bookstore because of his "Whatever, man, Surf's up! Southern California attitude. Certainly not, Bill! At least not publicly.
Friday, May 8, 2015
I went to my part-time job near the University of Denver campus (seen at twilight in the photograph above) last night and was told that two armed gunmen (one with a rifle and one with a handgun) were wandering the campus and headed this way. But don't alarm the customers. A short time later one of the managers told us it was all a hoax. I watched a re-broadcast of the news when I got home late that night, and the film footage was from in front of the Ritchie Center - directly across the street from my condo - where the gunman with the rifle had allegedly entered the building. The spokesperson being interviewed didn't say if it was a hoax or not, simply that it was important to take all necessary precautions. If it was a hoax, was it an end of quarter prank by one of the students? The act of a disgruntled employee? One of the many still bitter ex-employees laid off by the university? In any case, if the culprit is caught, I think that a day locked in stocks in the middle of the Campus Green would be a very suitable kind of punishment. Sometimes the old ways really are best. Just call me a traditionalist.
Thursday, May 7, 2015
Yes! It's true! Tim Dorsey has a new book out called Shark Skin Suite. It continues the adventures of Serge, the serial killer with a heart of gold. Serge might be a serial killer, but only for the greater good. He is also a Florida history and trivia buff and a committed environmentalist. I must admit that the series is a bit on the strange side. In one book he actually runs down a ticket scalper with his car. That is, of course, wrong, but after experiencing incredible frustration when trying to buy World Series tickets the only time the Colorado Rockies made it there, I can understand. Dorsey himself is a big Florida trivia fan - no surprise there - and has a web site with all kinds of links to interesting and weird Florida web sites. Be sure to check it out at http://timdorsey.com/links.htm.
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
May is Denver's rainiest month, and it definitely starting out that way. We have had two days of continuous downpours, and the forecast is for much of the same through the end of the week, with possibly some snow on Sunday. They even had to postpone two Colorado Rockies games in a row, which I think is a record. Most people here seem to like it, though, since most of the time it is sunny here (according to the Chamber of Commerce, we get over 300 days of sunshine a year, but nobody can say who came up with that figure). In any case, although I have a good view of downtown Denver from the roof of the parking garage (see photograph above), my office at work is in a windowless basement, and so I can imagine the weather outside to be whatever I want it to be. As Kris Kringle told little Natalie Wood in A Miracle on 34th Street, there is the British Nation, the French Nation, and the Imagine Nation, and I live in that one.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
I visited with Dee, my friend and former DU Bookstore co-worker, the other evening at The Pioneer, a local watering hole near the University of Denver. Dee was recently laid off by her long-time employer, The Spirituals Project, due to a shortfall in their fundraising, but she still has a lot of irons in the fire. Dee is both a web designer and a poet, and often visits elementary schools to give presentations to students about poetry. It was at such a presentation that she attended back when she was a young student in Omaha that she was inspired to purse poetry as both a career and a passion. Dee is taking the summer off to relax and map out her next career move. Sounds like a plan to me. Great seeing you Dee! Good luck on your quest!
Monday, May 4, 2015
Actually, tomorrow is the real Cinco De Mayo (5th of May), but the big celebration here in Denver was this past weekend down in Civic Center Park. Denver has a very large Latino population, and so celebrations like these are especially well-attended. I always thought you could never have too much fun at a Cinco de Mayo celebration, but in the bottom of the triptych to the left it is obvious that the fellow in the handcuffs did figure out a way. Probably tried to swipe a turkey leg without paying. In any case, the crowds were especially heavy at the music venues. I don't know the name of the group in the center photograph, but I am pretty sure I took almost the exact same photograph of the exact same group last year, too. Don't blame me. Blame the Cinco de Mayo organizers. It is they who need to shake things up so I don't keep taking the same damn photographs. And I am sticking to that story.
Sunday, May 3, 2015
Yesterday was the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby and was won by American Pharaoh. This was the 2nd Kentucky Derby win in a row for the jockey, Victor Espinoza, which is quite an achievement. Last year, I drove down to Red and Jerry's, a bar and betting parlor on South Santa Fe Boulevard, to watch the race, but found out that the restaurant had a cover charge and was sold out. An auditorium was available next door where you could watch the race, but it still had a cover charge and did not look very appealing, and so I went home and watched the race on television, which I did this year as well. Years ago my parents would have Kentucky Derby parties, where everyone would throw money in a pot and draw the names of two horses out of a hat, with the person with the winning horse getting the money. As I recall, that was a lot of fun, which is probably why I have a special place in my heart for the Derby. That and seeing so many women around town wearing hats and bonnets, which is such an unusual sight in this day and age. Of course, the Kentucky Derby is the class of the horse world. Alistair Cooke once wrote about how horse people would always talk about the lineage of the winning horses - out of April Dancer, by Geronimo, out of Miss Daisy, by Citation, etc. He often wished that some day the winner would turn out to be "out of Texas, by truck." One can always hope.
Saturday, May 2, 2015
At my part-time job, I often work until midnight, and as it gets later in the evening, I have time to glance at the covers of the magazines near the checkout counter. I couldn't help noticing a strange contradiction in the headlines of two of the magazines on display on the the second row of the rack in the photograph above. OK Magazine - which must be OK because of its title - features a smiling George Clooney announcing that he is going to be a dad, and that he definitely waited for the perfect woman. On the opposite side of that same row, the National Enquirer - a bastion of journalistic integrity for many, many years - claims the couple is headed for a $200 million divorce settlement, and claims it knows the man who drove them apart. What's the deal with that? Long time Blog readers will recall that I was trying to get a movie made about the University of Denver Bookstore several years ago, and was going to have George Clooney play me, Sandra Bullock play my friend Valarie, the store's Operations Manager, and the guy who used to play Mr.Carlin on the old Bob Newhart Show play Doug, the Textbook Manager. Of course, then the Bookstore was outsourced to Follett Higher Education Group, I lost touch with George, and now I don't know what the truth is. Perhaps if Clooney buys an estate in Clear Lake, Iowa, as is rumored (in fact, I'm spreading that rumor), I can ask him what the real deal is when I drive out there this summer.
Friday, May 1, 2015
Today is May Day, the 1st of May, and a holiday for workers in many pas of the world. It is also the anniversary of a Buddhist meeting many of the employees of Hatch's Bookstore in University Hills Shopping Mall attended back in the early 1980s. Why is this so memorable? Because it was at the invitation of Robin, my friend and a Hatch's Bookstore employee at the time (seen along with her daughter Caitie in the much more recent photograph), and took place at the Soka Gakki International Buddhist Center, then located in a church basement in Lakewood, Colorado. Robin, my friend Stuart, my sister Susan, my then wife Lisa, and a few others - all Hatch's Bookstore employees - attended this meeting. We sat in what seemed like 100 degree temperatures in front of a television, watching some sort of Buddhist pageant in a stadium in Japan. The announcer would speak for about 10 minutes in Japanese, and then a 10 word English translation would follow. Really? That was all the announcer actually said? I didn't believe it then, and I don't believe it now. What did they leave out? In any case, this went on for what seemed like three hours, not that I'm complaining. Kind of like watching the Ice Capades, but at least we didn't have to pay for the ticket.