Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Change Of Heart About Joan Miro

The last time I viewed the later work of Joan Miro, currently on display at the Denver Art Museum, I didn't like it at all, and mentioned that on this Blog.  However, this past Friday night I stopped in to look at it again during the museum's monthly Last Friday event, and I actually liked it.  The colors of his paintings are bright and cheerful, and you can actually recognize the human forms and other objects in his abstract work. Much of his art seems to be quite whimsical and humorous.  Evidently, for me at least, whether I like a piece of contemporary artwork or not often depends on my mood, and even on the day of the week I look at it.  And that leads to an important piece of advice.  Do not buy an expensive piece of art on a Friday.  You might hate yourself for it by Monday morning.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Secret Room

I took the above photograph  on the 7th floor of the Denver Art Museum's Ponti building this past Friday. The building resembles the French castle featured in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and I have always been fascinated by the stairway that can be seen through the curtained window in the photo.  It seems to be guarded by a lone Indian and goes who knows where?  How do you get to it? The window itself seems to be sealed.  Perhaps it leads to the boardroom where the trustees meet, and can only be accessed via a secret door.  Is that where they approve purchases of some of the contemporary art pieces that you look at and scratch your head over?  No wonder they meet in a secret room.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Hail With It!

I am taking my car in tomorrow to repair the hail damage that I sustained three weeks ago, but the problem is that it is still hailing here in Denver.  I took the above photograph just last week, looking out the door of the store where I work part-time in the evenings.  It was still another significant rain and hail storm.  What if I get my car repaired and it is damaged again?  Will this be a monthly occurrence?  Will the insurance company keep paying?  The mind boggles.  On a completely different subject (my mind tends to wonder like that these days), the place where I work part-time in the evenings sells hula-hoops, Duncan yo-yos, kites, White Castle hamburgers, and even Brylcreem ("a little dab will do ya") for God's sake.   It is like going back to the South Side of Chicago in the early 1960s.  For better and for worse, I might add.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Untitled Final Friday

Last night was Untitled Final Friday at the Denver Art Museum, and photography curator Eric Paddock and historian Patty Limerick were there to discuss the new photography exhibit Alec Soth: Colorado Dispatch. The photos are mainly portraits taken in Colorado over a two week period, and were described by Paddock as a cross between Diane Arbus and Richard Avedon.  I enjoyed both the photos and the talk, but I do have one question.  Each month Untitled Last Friday has a title.  Last night it was Habitat.  What's  the deal with that?

Friday, June 26, 2015


The heat is on here is Denver, and summer has arrived at last.  However, the pool at my condo is still closed, I know not why.  Therefore I am featuring a photograph of my mother Mary (on the left in the photograph) and her lifelong friend Peggy, taken when they were both young and at the beach along Lake Michigan.  I don't know if the photo was taken at Rainbow Beach on the South Side of Chicago or at the Indiana  Dunes State Park, but regardless, it definitely conveys fun in the sun. And to my condo's Homeowner's Association, I say "Open the damn pool!"

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mystery Door

I walked through downtown Denver last Sunday looking for Summer Solstice celebrations, but found none.  I did spot the entrance to a building that looked like it might have some pagan possibilities, but there was no sige either on the door or the building itself saying what exactly what it was.  I did notice, however, that they took MasterCard, Visa, and Discover.  I suppose only the true in-crowd knows what the place is and what goes on there.  After careful consideration, I  decided it was a skip.  Perhaps next weekend.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Big Doings At DU

I walked across the University of Denver campus the other night, and the place was hopping.  Not only was a debutante ball going on in a tent on the Campus Green (see photograph above), but inside the Ritchie Center (the building in the photo with the lighted tower) some guy named Bernie was campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination in front of a packed audience. So many people showed up to hear him speak that the university had to open up the Lacrosse stadium for the overflow, and televise the speech on the outfield  screen.  I later found out that the candidate who was speaking was Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont.  I listened to his speech, and he seemed to have a lot of good ideas, but he did not explain how he would get his policies through Congress, given today's intensely partisan atmosphere, let alone pay for them.  I personally feel we need politicians that really care about the American people and who are willing to compromise to achieve their goals.  Lots of luck with that.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Highlands Street Fair

Last Saturday was the 33rd annual Highlands Street Fair, and I must say it was far larger and crowded than I expected.  The West Highlands is a very trendy neighborhood just to the northwest of downtown Denver. When I first moved to Denver in 1981, it was touted as the the "low cost" alternative to Washington Park, and I briefly thought of buying a house there, but sadly didn't.  Another lost opportunity.  And actually, my friend Valarie did buy a house in the Highlands - an old Victorian, no less - and lived there happily for many years, until the joys of maintaining a century old house lost it's charm.  The neighborhood looks great, and it is a fun and hip place to hang out.  Naturally I fit in there perfectly.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Summer Solstice

Yesterday was June 21st - the Summer Solstice - and I drove downtown in the afternoon to check out all the various Summer Solstice activities going on.  I have always considered Denver a big Druid town, and so I was very surprised when I couldn't find any Druid ceremonies taking place.  The closest I came was the scene in the photograph above.  As far as I'm concerned, it is close enough to a pagan Druid ceremony to be featured as one on this Blog.  So there.  Happy Summer Solstice everyone!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day!

Today is Father's Day, and in honor of that I am featuring a photograph that I took of my father Nelson back in November of 1969.  It was taken at my sister Susan and brother-in-law George's apartment at 1130 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago, just across the street from Grant Park and Lake Michigan.  My father was 60 years old when I took this photograph, two years younger than I am now, which I find pretty amazing.  How the years have flown by.  And how the times have changed, and in many ways not for the better.  Now to me, my father looks 60 years old.  The big question is, do I look like I am 62 years old  Please let me know. And lying about it is perfectly fine.   Happy Father's Day to all you fathers out there!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

From The Life Isn't Fair Department...

I attended a book signing and reading for the newly released comic mystery novel Pick Up at Union Station last night at The Tattered Cover Bookstore on East Colfax Avenue here in Denver.  It is the 10th book in a series about Denver cab driver Brendan Murphy (Murph) written by Gary Reilly.  However, Reilly passed away in 2011 and never had anything published during his lifetime. Running Meter Press publisher Mark Stevens started publishing the series after Reilly's death, and they are now a local success.  Stevens (top photo), as well as family friend and Denver politician Dennis Gallagher (bottom photograph) read from the works and sung their praises. It seems very unfair that Reilly never got to enjoy this new-found success during his lifetime.  It was the same with Stieg Larsson, author of the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series, and John Kennedy Toole, author of A Confederacy of Dunces.  Life can be so unfair.  Is it better to be a dead success or a live failure?  Ah, those philosophical questions can be tough to answer.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Is There A Ferrari In My Future?

I was walking past the Sushi Den On South Pearl Street here in Denver last Sunday and noticed the above Ferrari parked out front.  It looked like a pretty nice automobile, and since my brand new Hyundai Accent was damaged by hail a few weeks ago, I pondered the idea of purchasing one too.  After all, I will be retiring in just a few years (2 years, 11 months, 29 days, but who's counting), and a Ferrari would be perfect for tooling around town, picking up groceries, going to the ballgame, etc.  Plus, I'll bet they seat you right away at the Sushi Den if your drive up in one of those.  And how much could it possibly cost, anyway?  I could probably get the payment under $150 with a small down payment.  After all, it only seats 2 people.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Story Of Two Pearls

There is a Pearl Street in both Boulder, Colorado and here in Denver.  The Pearl Street up in Boulder is pretty famous both near and far as a hip, laid back, happening kind of place, filled with University of Colorado students, yuppies, millennials, and burned out hippies.  However, the Pearl Street here in South Central Denver is a pretty hip place too, with funky shops, plenty of 19th century homes, and lots of restaurants, such as Kaos, a pizza parlor/beer garden (seen in the photograph above), and Sushi Den, where people line up all the way down the block to get in and eat  - can you believe this? - raw fish. Ick!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Dancing In The Streets!

Today I am featuring a photograph of my sister Susan and mother Mary, taken in April of 1998 at the Pirate's Loft Restaurant in Port Salerno, not too far away from my mother's condo in Stuart, Florida.  I am planning to head down there this August to make sure everything is okay and that the place is ready to rent this coming January. I plan to arrange my trip so that I will be there for Stuart's annual "Dancing in the Streets Street Festival," nicknamed "Drinking In the Streets" by local wags. Last year the festival was moved to a local park, which I imagine was not a great success, since this year it will once again be held in downtown Stuart.  And I must admit that in the 40 years I have been visiting Stuart, I have never once attended this event.  The one time I was really serious about attending, it rained like hell all day and night and I said to hell with it.  But perhaps this is the year I will actually show up.  Get ready, people of Stuart!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Indian Dancers, But Where Is Carol?

Usually I feature my friend and former DU Bookstore colleague Carol when I attend the Art Student League of Denver's annual Summer Art Festival each year, but unfortunately Carol did not have a booth at this year's show.  And so, instead of Carol, I am featuring a photograph of a group performing Indian /Hindu dances at the festival. They definitely added an exotic touch to the event.  And by the way, my  friend Joe tells me that Carol is now working full-time on her art work, and doing very well.  Nice work if you can get it, Carol!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Catching Up With Joe At The Art Festival

I went to the Art Student League of Denver's Summer Art Festival yesterday afternoon and visited with Joe, my friend and former University of Denver Bookstore colleague, at his booth.  Joe is both an artist and an instructor at the Art Student League, in addition to working at the DU Bookstore during their rush periods, and I am happy to report that he is happy and doing well, working at what he truly loves to do.  To me that is the true sign of success.  Great to see you Joe!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

David McCullough Speaks At The Tattered Cover Bookstore!

David McCullough gave a great talk at the Tattered Cover Bookstore yesterday afternoon and afterwards signed copies of his new book, The Wright Brothers.  McCullough is a very good speaker, and the place was packed.  I leaned more about the Wright Brothers in 45 minutes than I have ever known before.  The Wright Brothers never even graduated from high school, but were both brilliant, and thanks to their father, surrounded by books their entire lifetimes.  McCullough says it was their constant reading and intellectual curiosity that paved the way for the invention of the airplane, and gave a strong endorsement of both books and the liberal arts curriculum.  Still another ringing endorsement of the need for bookstores!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Blue Heaven

I am currently reading Blue Heaven, a mystery novel (an Edgar Award Winner, no less) by C.J. Box, a Wyoming author who has become very popular in recent years.  Although I have heard him speak several times at the Tattered Cover Bookstore, and been impressed, I have never read one of his books.  My sister Susan is a big fan, and has suggested many times that I start reading his mysteries, but I figured she only liked him because he writes mainly about Wyoming, a mere 45 miles from her home in Fort Collins, Colorado. But in fact, Blue Heaven is an excellent book, and very exciting.  It takes place in northern Idaho, centers on the actions of 4 rogue ex-LA cops, and how the determined heros of the story bring them down.  And for God sakes don't tell me how it ends.  I'm a slow reader.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Me And Travis McGee

When I first got into the bookstore business at the Walden Book Store in North Riverside, Illinois, back in 1976, I became quite a fan of the Travis McGee adventure/mystery novels by John D. McDonald.  I was able to get the paperback copies of the series for free, and read them one after the other.  Travis McGee lived on a houseboat called the Busted Flush at the Bahia Mar Marina in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and spent his days helping people in desperate trouble, especially damsels in distress.  When I visited Fort Lauderdale many years after the series ended, I visited the Travis McGee Memorial at Bahia Mar, and took a self portrait next to it (see photo above).  You can even see the ghosts of Travis McGee and author John D. McDonald in the photograph.  Talk about miracles.  I have often considered reading the series again, but I'm afraid that today the stories might be a bit dated.  Or perhaps not.  Boodles gin, anyone?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Colorado Rockies Update

I was hoping to catch the Colorado Rockies baseball game against the Miami Marlins this past Sunday, but by the time I finished work and running errands, the game was over, as can be seen in the photograph above of fans exiting the stadium.  The Rockies lost in extra innings that day, but I must say they have been playing fairly good baseball lately. They are only 4 games under .500, which means they are very close to being mediocre, which is a big improvement over last year.  Plus, they are no longer in last place!  That honor now belongs to the Arizona Diamondbacks.  So enjoy this period of near respectability, Rockies fans, before the team implodes once again.  Not that I'm cynical or anything.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

People's Fair 2015

The People's Fair took place in Denver's Civic Center Park this past weekend, which means still another festival featuring giant turkey legs.  And tattoos.  And lots and lots of people.  This event has been going on ever since I have lived in Denver, although when I first moved here in 1981 it was held on the grounds of East High School, just across Colfax Avenue from the bookstore where I now work.  I myself enjoy walking up and down the streets and sidewalks people-watching, browsing at all the booths,  and listening to the musical acts. However, my sister Susan and brother-in-law George refuse to attend this event. Too many people, they say.  Spoken like true Fort Collins denizens.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Chalk Art Festival

The annual Chalk Art Festival took place this past weekend in Larimer Square here in Denver.  Unlike in past years, the weekend was marked by rain each day.  I'm not exactly sure how the artists protect their work from the downpours, or if they simply just start over again after the rain ends.  If it was me and it started raining, I would just sit down and sob.  But that's just me. After all, everything is gone by Monday morning anyway.  I guess there is some sort of life lesson in all of this, but I just don't want to think about it right now.  And that's me, too.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Is It Still Raining In Denver? Hell Yes!

Not only is it still raining every day in Denver, a major hail storm came through the area Thursday night and destroyed my new car.  Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating.  It is probably not destroyed.  After I stopped sobbing Friday morning, I called my insurance agent and will have it looked at by an insurance adjuster later this week.  But it is still frustrating.  Denver is one of the worst places in the world for hail, but you never hear that from the Chamber of Commerce.  Just the 300 days of sunshine line.  I bet we won't be having 300 days of sunshine this year. Time to start counting.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Downside of Oceanfront Property In Florida

I took the above photograph of my sister Susan and mother Mary in August of 1997 in front of the Henry Flagler Mansion in Palm Beach, which we toured that day.  Flagler owned the Florida and East Coast Railroad and developed Palm Beach as a tourist destination to attract riders for the railway.  I always wondered why Flagler built his mansion on the Indian River, facing west, instead of right on the ocean.  I myself always thought having a house right on the ocean, perhaps near Stuart Beach, would be the best thing since sliced bread.  I stopped wondering after 3 hurricanes (two within several weeks of each other) made a direct hit on Stuart, Florida.  Needless to say, properties right on the ocean were devastated.  I now realize that the dream of oceanfront property in Florida can quickly turn into a nightmare, unless you are rich enough to rebuild after each disaster, and I am not quite that rich.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

First Friday!

Last night was "First Friday" on Santa Fe Boulevard here in Denver, the monthly art walk that I feel impelled to say involves just as much eating and drinking as admiring the art.  Because of my part-time job in the evenings, this was the first First Friday I have been able to attend since January.  It was quite a bit warmer last night than in January, as I remember, and the food trucks on the side streets have multiplied like prairie dogs on the Colorado plains.  In any case, the streets were packed with happy art lovers, and the weather was very pleasant, at least until around 8:00 P.M.when the skies opened up (yes, it is still raining here every day, sports fans), and I had to seek shelter, against my wishes, at the Renegade Brewpub on the corner of 9th and Santa Fe and nurse a Righteous IPA until the rain let up.  A fun evening all around.  Not as fun as working a part-time job until midnight, but fun none-the-less.          

Friday, June 5, 2015

I'll Be Damned If I'll Die In Oakland

I picked up a copy of I'll be Damned If 'll Die in Oakland, a "sort of travel memoir" by Al Martinez, a former columnist for the Los Angeles Times, on the bargain self of the bookstore where I work a few weeks ago. When Martinez was young, his mother, angry about a shoplifting incident, told him he would never amount to anything, never see the world, and would die in his home town of Oakland.  Martinez eventually developed a love of travel and wrote this book about his adventures on the road and around the world with his wife and children.  Martinez is very witty and quite the curmudgeon, and this book is highly entertaining.  He gives a bit of very sage advice in it, too: "If you let everything else go to hell, you can travel on a modest income." Definitely words to live by.  Sadly, Martinez passed away at the age of 85 just a couple of months ago.  And no, he didn't die in Oakland, but in Santa Monica, California.  In any case, the book is definitely worth a read.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Seattle Residents - Warped By Wet Weather?

Although it is no longer raining 24/7 here in Denver like it did this past May, we are still getting thunderstorms in the afternoon each day.  However, that is pretty typical this time of year, and everyone seems much more cheerful now that the sun is making an appearance for at least part of the day.  During our month of rain, the only cheerful people were former residents of Seattle, where they have only 12 days of sunshine per year (you can look it up if you don't believe me).  I think the constant rain must have permanently warped their brains, since they seem to actually enjoy that kind of weather, but I mean that with all due respect. And after all, the reason we now have so many Starbucks Coffee Shops throughout the world - bringing joy to millions if not billions - is because the residents of Seattle needed a place to go each day, since the outdoors there is uninhabitable.  Thanks guys!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Final (Or Perhaps Not) Word On Fort Collins...

Fort Collins, Colorado is a great town - don't get me wrong.  It has a wonderful old downtown, great restaurants and shops, and a youthful atmosphere, thanks to the presence of Colorado State University.  But it is located in the middle of nowhere, 70 miles north of Denver.  If you want to go to a baseball game, the art museum, the zoo, or visit a variety of trendy Denver neighborhoods, it takes well over an hour, versus the 20 minutes it takes me now.  Plus, Fort Collins is only 45 miles away from Wyoming.  Granted, Wyoming is not at the edge of the known world, but you can definitely see the edge of the world from there.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Blue Agave - A Restaurant Review

My sister Susan, brother-in-law George, and I had dinner at Blue Agave, a popular Mexican restaurant in Fort Collins, Colorado, Sunday night.  As you can see from the photograph above, George was a bit uncertain on whether this was the right choice, but it turned out that the food was excellent.  The waitress told us that were smart to eat there on a Sunday night, because unless you have a reservation, Fridays and Saturdays it is impossible to get a table.  The place was a little more upscale than I am used to (by which I mean expensive), but of course, that doesn't take away from the quality of the food.  I suppose.  Maybe.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Fun Times Up At The Fort

I drove up to Fort Collins yesterday afternoon to have dinner with my sister Susan and brother-in-law George.  Fort Collins has become quite a happening place these days.  Old Town Fort Collins was hopping last night, even on a rainy Sunday evening.  It was hard to find a parking spot - the true sign of a successful neighborhood.  The old buildings have been restored, there are lots of trendy shops, boutiques, and restaurants, and plenty of public spaces.  They even have street musicians hanging out there now.  It is still only 45 miles from Wyoming, however, which is like saying 45 miles from nowhere.  I guess nobody can have it all.