Monday, August 31, 2015
I went to hear Christopher Moore speak about and sign copies of his latest book - Secondhand Souls - Friday night at the Tattered Cover Bookstore. I have browsed through some of his older books, which are extremely weird and filled with dark humor, but have never read one. In any case, there was a huge crowd Friday night - standing room only. Moore is indeed a very witty guy and gave a very enjoyable talk. I might even give one of his books a try. He came dressed wearing a San Francisco Giants ball cap and jersey, and explained that he does indeed live in San Francisco. That explains so much.
Sunday, August 30, 2015
I got back to Denver a few days ago from a short, but enjoyable trip to Stuart, Florida. In point of fact, I returned to Denver last Tuesday evening, but I had so many Florida photographs to use that I decided to extend my vacation in cyberspace for a few more days. I took the photographs above as I walked from Terminal A to Denver International Airport's main building. It is the one terminal where you can walk instead of take a train, and as you ride the moving sidewalk, Native American plays in the background, letting you know you are in the state where the Sand Creek Massacre took place. In any case, I am back in Denver now, enjoying the lack of humidity and the hubbub of a fairly large city. And two jobs. Let the good times roll!
Saturday, August 29, 2015
I was planning on using only one sunset photo this week, and had to choose between a photo of the pier just a short walk from the condo that has been in our family for 40 years now, or the scene above. My old photography professor hates sunset photos, and strongly advised us to avoid them like the plague. I decided to use the pier photo I featured yesterday, but today thought to myself "what the hell." It's MY Blog, and I can do what I want (within reason) on it. And so today I am featuring the view from the bar stool at the Jolly Sailor Pub - a Stuart, Florida institution - that I took this past Monday night. Deal with it, people.
Friday, August 28, 2015
I end the Blog Posts (for the time being) on beautiful Stuart, Florida the same way I began them - with a sunset photograph of the St. Lucie River, just a hundred yards or so from my sister and my condo. I took the above photograph just a few days ago, but comparing it to the one I published last week (which I took years ago), I noticed there was a major change - the palm trees are different. The old majestic palm tree in last week's photo has been replaced by two newer trees. And the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Exactly 10 years ago, Stuart was hit by 3 hurricanes in a row, two of which were direct hits. There were special assessments to repair all the damage, and replacing the ruined trees and piers along the St. Lucie was part of that repair work. Which brings up the big negative part of living in Florida - worrying about hurricanes for 6 or 7 months every year. Just today, the governor of Florida has declared a state of emergency because of a hurricane currently heading for the state. Talk about scary.
Thursday, August 27, 2015
I had to bring in a patio window to be repaired this past Monday morning, and as I crossed the Roosevelt Bridge over the St. Lucie River, heading to Jensen Beach Aluminum, I noticed the marina had an inordinate number of yachts docked there. In the spirit of adventure, I checked it out on the way home and found out the place was now a privately owned marina - owned by none other that Florida billionaire H. Wayne Huzinga - and was loaded with huge, million dollar yachts. I also noticed a pleasant little outside bar along the dock and decided to come back for happy hour, and did just that. As I sat there, I wondered why so many of the yachts in the harbor were from Michigan, Boston, Rhode Island, and even Portland, Oregon, but were all down here instead in the August heat. Of course, if you can afford a yacht that big, you can probably afford a second yacht up north. A new American phenomenon - the two yacht family. And by the way- one of these yachts' home port was Centennial, Colorado, just down the road from where I live. I would just love to see where they dock that thing when they are back in Centennial.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
I have spent 4 full days and parts of another two down here in Stuart, Florida, and I must say I had a really nice time, even if I did wind up having to do a few repairs and a fair amount of cleaning. The question for me, however, is whether I would be happy living down here year round, playing golf, spending time at the ocean, going to Florida State League Baseball games, and otherwise enjoying the good life. The sad thing is that there are only three people left that I still know down here, two of whom are now in their nineties. Everyone else is gone. Of course, you can always make new friends, meet new people, make a new life, but for now I think staying in Colorado, where I still have friends and family, is the best option. In a couple of years, if and when I retire, I can drive back and forth in my luxury Hyundai sedan whenever I want, but for now, I think it is time for our luxury condo to go back on the rental market. Some lucky person will be able to live in paradise for a song, at least compared to Denver. Plus, free golf. Probably not even heaven has that.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
I played golf at the 9 hole Monterey Golf Course that winds through our condo complex here in Stuart, Florida for the first time in 10 years. I checked in with the office first, because the last time I played here you had to have either a resident's badge or a guest pass. The lady at the desk told me I didn't need either, since it was August and I would be the only person out on the course. That still made me pretty nervous, since I have been thrown off this course in the past by Mr. Gagliartti, who used to patrol the grounds in a souped-up golf cart. He once threw me off the course for not wearing a shirt with a collar. A second time he raced after my mother, sister, and I on that golf cart from hell while we were teeing off on the third hole, claiming we did not leave half of each guest pass back at the starter's desk. I played the course three days in a row this past weekend, and although Mr.Gagliartti is long gone, I was convinced that his ghost would be racing at me any minute, demanding to see my pass. It didn't happen, though - at least not this time.
Monday, August 24, 2015
I decided to tour the House of Refuge Museum (seen in the photograph above) for the first time in 40 years this past Saturday. I first visited it with my mother and father and aunt and uncle back in 1975, when my parents were deciding whether to buy a condo here in Stuart. The place is only open weekends, and the admission charge is steep- $8.00 - but I finally decided what the heck. You only live once, and besides, they gave me the senior discount, once again without my even asking for it. What's the deal with that? In any case, they no longer keep turtles in the basement - that non-profit organization which tries to boost the survival rate for baby turtles has moved on to a new location, but everything else was the same. The House of Refuge was a lifesaving station for shipwrecked sailors, built back in 1876, and is furnished the way it looked back in 1904, which is even before I was born. The place is definitely worth a visit every 40 years or so. I can't wait to visit again when I am 102.
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Saturday, August 22, 2015
I went to see the Palm Beach Cardinals play the St. Lucie Mets at Roger Dean Stadium down in Jupiter, Florida last night and it was great fun. Not only do you get to sit in the front row right next to the "on deck" hitters, you only have to pay 7 bucks to get in (it would have been $9.00, but they gave me the senior discount without my even asking. They are SO sweet). In any case, it is kind of like going back to a simpler time. The crowd was small, but there were a lot of families there having a good time. Even the bat boys family was there. I know this because his father bent over the dugout to shout instructions at him. Granted, it was a little on the warm side, but after all, it is August in Florida, so let's play ball!
Friday, August 21, 2015
I first set eyes on Stuart, Florida a little over 40 years ago, on a trip with my parents to visit my Uncle Bill and Aunt Elsie and check out the place. The following year (the spring of 1976) my parents bought a condo and moved down there. At that time, the population was about 60% senior citizens and 40% rednecks. Over the years, the place began to change. While my mother was still living in Stuart, I noticed the place was starting to attract commuters from West Palm Beach and points south - lots more families were showing up downtown and on the beach. Now, it is truly hip. I went on a mini bar crawl last night which was a true eye opener. I first stopped at the Crafted Keg, a local brew pub that had a pretty good crowd, and even musical entertainment (see photograph above). On a Thursday night! In August! In Stuart, Florida! Of course, everybody in the place - even the guitar player - was far younger than me. And no smart-ass comments, please. I then went across the street with a group of guys to The Terra Fermata Bar Garden, which was absolutely packed. They had an outdoor stage, and a pretty good band playing, too. I asked
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Yes! It's true! I'm heading off to Stuart, Florida this weekend to check out my sister and my condo in Stuart, Florida, located just a stone's throw from the beautiful St. Lucie River (see photo above). And this Saturday night is Stuart's world famous Dancing in the Streets Festival (known as "Drinking in the Streets" to locals). I've missed it now for 39 years in a row, but I think this year I will finally attend. Golf, exciting Jupiter Hammerheads baseball, wide deserted beaches, drinking in the streets - talk about paradise! What more could you want? Eat your hearts out, all you working stiffs!
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
I hate to toot my own horn, but I took the above photograph with a gap in the center so I would be able to Photoshop myself in later on. And I did this over 35 years ago, before Photoshop - or for that matter personal computers - were even thought of. Talk about foresight! In any case, I took this photo of (from left to right) my sister Susan, father Nelson, the present day me, and my mother Mary at my cousin Betty's wedding back in the late 1970s. Betty's husband Tom - a really nice guy, I might add - passed away in his early 40s from a stroke, and Betty was getting remarried to a fellow named Frank, who also turned out to be a really nice guy. My parents drove up to Chicago from Stuart, Florida for this event, and stayed with my sister Susan and brother-in-law George at their Flossmoor, Illinois apartment. I myself was living in a studio apartment in Forest Park, just to the west of Oak Park and Chicago, directly across the street from both the "L" train barn and the Daisy Hill Meat Packing Plant. It was my favorite apartment, too - just 20 minutes away from the Walden Books I managed at the Yorktown Shopping Center and also 20 minutes away from the Loop via the elevated train. Oh to be able to buy a time machine and go back to that period in my life. I wonder if you can buy a Flux Capacitor on the internet these days?
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
I took the above photograph of Valarie - my friend and the former Operations Manager of the DU Bookstore - holding up one of the signs she made to help move the lines faster during the bookstore's "rush" periods at the start of each quarter. During rush it was often hard to get the student's attention when a register was free, and the cashiers tended to shout - often quite loudly - to get their attention. Valarie hoped these signs would help solve the problem. They did to an extent, but when I used them I tended not to speak at all. I was kind of like a mime during these periods, making hand gestures and trying to get my points across without a word. It was also probably because of all that white face paint they made us wear. That was just plain wrong. And by the way, Valarie is standing in front of the grotto in her backyard. Just why does someone have a grotto in their backyard these days, anyway?
Monday, August 17, 2015
Valarie - the former Operations Manager of the DU Bookstore - and her significant other Jake hosted a get-together in their back yard yesterday for a number of current and former DU Bookstore employees. Everyone had a great time getting together and catching up on what everybody has been doing. Two of the former DU Bookstore employees Darrel (the former Accounts Payable Manager for the store) and Bill (one of the two Operations Coordinators) are now retired and planning extended vacations this fall - Bill and his wife Renee to Western Canada and Darrel and his wife Linda to the West Coast. Chris, the former Accounts Payable Assistant at the bookstore, is currently working for the University of Denver's Chemistry Department. Jake, like myself, will continue working for the next 2 and a half years until Medicare kicks in. And then let the good times roll! In the photograph above are (from left to right), Darrel, Darrel's wife Linda, Valarie, Jake, myself ("he looks so young"), Linda, Bill's wife Renee, Bill, Chris, and Chris' husband Jim. Great to see all you guys!
Sunday, August 16, 2015
Yes! It's true! A cheese shop and cafe has just opened on East Colfax Avenue here in Denver, just two doors down from the bookstore where I work. This happens to be the first cheese store in the city of Denver, and most likely in the entire State of Colorado. While cheese stores are numerous in Paris and other European cities, it is a very rare thing here. I have to admire the owner's entrepreneurial spirit in starting this store, without even the safety net of wine and beer. Good Luck New World Cheese! And by the way - get a liquor license.
Saturday, August 15, 2015
A few days ago on this Blog I waxed nostalgic about life at Hatch's Bookstore at the University Hills Shopping Mall back in the early 1980s, and just by coincidence I ran across several more photos from that era that I felt I had to share. What amazes me the most is how little I have changed over the years. It is eerily similar to The Picture of Dorian Gray. I definitely need to take that sketch out of the closet that a street artist drew of me in Montmartre years ago and take a good look at it. In any case, the bottom photograph shows some of the old Hatch gang: in the back row - from left to right -Ingrid, Sue B. (partially hidden by a Dr. Ruth book), and my then wife Lisa. In the front row - again from left to right - are Lorrie and my sister Susan. Ingrid was, like Lisa, a graduate of the University of Denver's School of Music. Lisa is now living in San Francisco. Lorrie was a student at DU's School of Library Science. My sister Susan has been featured on this Blog many times. Sue B. moved back to Ohio and was never heard from again. Another reason never to go there.
Friday, August 14, 2015
I dropped my beloved Cannon G9 camera a few months ago, and when I brought it to be fixed at the camera shop, I was told that it was too old to be fixed. Too old? Talk about a throwaway society. A few adjustments and it would have been just fine. But instead, I had to buy a "new" used G9 from B&H Photo via the internet.. And I just cannot believe this: walking to the Union Station Light Rail stop in Lower Downtown Denver a few days ago, I dropped my camera AGAIN - on a brick street right in front of Jax Seafood House, which many years ago used to be a Jack Kerouac hangout called the Terminal Bar. I suspect it was the ghost of Kerouac trying to stop me from capturing a photograph of his ghostly image. In any case, the camera worked just fine for a short time, and then didn't. I road home on the light rail train, and as I was getting ready to jump off the balcony of my condo, I tried the camera one more time and it worked. And so far is still working. Another attempt by the spirit world to thwart me foiled again.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
I will soon be flying to Florida to check out my sister and my condo down in Stuart, Florida, and once again that puts me in a nostalgic mood. Therefore, I have decided to feature a couple of photographs I took of my father Nelson (above) and my sister Susan and mother Mary (left) on various boat cruises in and around Stuart, Florida. They have mostly been fun experiences, although one time we actually wound up shipwrecked. The Captain (Captain Bob was it?) was explaining how treacherous the waters were to maneuver around there and then went on to prove the point by running aground on a sandbar near the St. Lucie inlet. Try as he might, he couldn't get free. My mother, father, Uncle Bill, Aunt Elsie, Great Aunt Babe (my mother and uncle's aunt), and Babe's daughter-in-law Lorie were all on the boat. They dropped the price of beer to a nickel, and the piano player played old time songs non-stop, with my Uncle Bill, no less, singing along. The hours ticked by, the sun began to set, and it started to get damn chilly out there, even if it was Florida. It wasn't until well after sunset that a large charter fishing boat (part of the same cruise line) came back from it's day out on the Atlantic and took the passengers back to the marina. It was really not a fun day, but memorable. And a valuable lesson was learned - watch out for those sandbars.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
I was finishing up one of Timothy Hallinan's Poke Raffferty adventures - which takes place in Bangkok - and realized it had been a while since I read one of Steve Hamilton's mysteries, which take place in an even more exotic locale - Upper Michigan. Therefore, I stopped by the Denver Public Library and picked up a copy of The Stolen Season. It is an exciting story about tracking down murderous smugglers. The title has a double meaning, one being that they had only one day of summer that year in Upper Michigan. Which from my limited experience is pretty much the norm there. After reading this book, who wouldn't want to visit? Bring your parka.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
A least for this week, I am taking the bus to the Bookstore where I work each morning and then walking the 3 miles to the Union Station Light Rail Station in the evenings. The weather has been very pleasant here lately, and the walk provides great opportunities for people watching. Walking down Colfax Avenue (once called the longest, wickedest street in America), you can see homeless people, hipsters, and crazies on every block. Once you get to Union Station (seen in the photograph above), it is all hipsters, although just a couple of years ago, before the big remodel, it used to be all homeless people. The final leg of my trip to the Light Rail Station is through the new, underground bus station Denver's Regional Transportation District has constructed. Everyone says it is just like walking through an airport terminal. And they mean that as a complement. Evidently Denver's citizenry is easily pleased.
Monday, August 10, 2015
Saturday afternoon I took a photograph of my friend and former Hatch's Bookstore colleague Robin - along with her daughter Caitie, son Colin, and Colin's girlfriend Molly - at Caitie's poolside 28th birthday party. And that got me to thinking about the good old days back in the early 1980s, when I managed the Hatch's Bookstore at the University Hills Mall here in Southeast Denver. Because of this wave of nostalgia, I am today featuring the above photograph of Robin (on the left) and my then wife Lisa (on the right), taken when we all worked together at that store. This was long before Colin and Caitie (and for that matter Molly) were even thought of. This was a very happy time for all of us, although at the time I don't think we realized how happy we were. A sad but very human trait, I'm afraid.
Sunday, August 9, 2015
Caitie, the daughter of my friend and former Hatch's Bookstore co-worker Robin, celebrated her 28th birthday yesterday afternoon at their apartment complex's pool. When I asked Caitie how old she was, and she told me 28, she also mentioned that time seems to be moving very quickly these days. Tell me about it. Caitie was born three years after I left Hatch's to work at the University of Denver Bookstore, back when Robin and her then husband Tom were in exile down in Colorado Springs. Not that living in Colorado Springs is that bad. I suppose. In any case, in the photograph above, from right to left are Robin, Caitie, Robin's son Colin, and Colin's girlfriend Molly. Happy 28th Birthday Caitie!
Saturday, August 8, 2015
I went to see the movie Mr. Holmes at the Chez Artiste Theater this past Sunday night. The Chez Artiste, by the way, used to be called the U-Hills 3 back when I was young and went there on dates with my now ex-wife Lisa, and it still looks a hell of a lot like the U-Hills 3. But I digress. I went to see this particular film because it was recommended to me by one of my friends and former DU Bookstore colleagues, who goes out to a movie once every decade or so. Because of that, I knew I definitely needed to check it out. And it was very good. It takes place in Sussex, England, right after World War II, where Sherlock Holmes is now 93 years old and a beekeeper. He is also losing his memory and is desperately trying to find a cure for this. The scariest part of the movie is realizing that this could be you if you reach 93. And therefore the point to today's Blog - donate money for discovering a cure for Alzheimer's now, people!
Friday, August 7, 2015
The Bookstore where I work on East Evans Avenue here in Denver used to be the Bonfils Theater. In fact, I personally attended maybe a zillion rehearsals for the Mikado in this building when my then wife Lisa played one of the three little maids back in 1982. I also attended a lecture there by Henry Lowenstein, who ran the theater for many years and later had it renamed after him. It was at that lecture that I first learned that a river ran underneath the building. After a large amount of rain this past spring and a little bit of flooding, the covers over a number of cylindrical holes on the bottom level of the Bookstore were uncovered for a few days and water could be seen at the bottom of them. One of my fellow employees told me it was the Farmer's Canal, and if I dropped a fishing line down there, I might very well start catching fish. The big question is, why would anyone construct a building over a river? Back in Chicago, we built buildings next to rivers, but never actually over one. Must be a Colorado thing.
Thursday, August 6, 2015
When I went to the Rocky Mountain Book and Paper Fair last Sunday, I saw the above front page of the Chicago Tribune on sale (for a mere $750, by the way). It was journalism's biggest mistake (at least that we know of), proclaiming Thomas Dewey the winner of the 1948 presidential election, when in fact Harry Truman was elected. There is a famous photograph of Truman holding up this exact headline the day after the election. The Tribune was owned and published at that time by Robert R. "Colonel" McCormick, a staunch Republican. My mother told me that during World War II, when she and my sister went down to Abilene, Texas to visit my father, who was in training there, the first question a woman asked her at the boardinghouse was what newspaper she and my father read. My mother answered "The Chicago Tribune." The woman looked at her, said "Oh - Roosevelt haters," turned, and walked away. However, Colonel McCormick did leave behind a great estate / museum called Cantigny, located in the western Chicago suburb of Wheaton. Cantigny was dedicated to the remembrance of World War I. My parents took me there as a kid several times. It had - and still does have, I imagine - WWI tanks, re-creations of trench warfare, complete with sound effects, and displays of weapons, uniforms, etc. It was great fun for a kid. I can't remember if we even toured McCormick's house, which I imagine is quite nice. Something else for the bucket list, I guess. And no, I did not buy the $750 newspaper headline. Sometimes being a cheapskate is a good thing.
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
My old friend Bill Dorn, a Sherlock Holmes scholar and a retired University of Denver English professor, spoke on this favorite topic - Sherlock Holmes - at the Rocky Mountain Book and Paper Fair this past weekend. While at the University of Denver, Dorn would take classes on field trips to London to see all of the famous sites connected with the Sherlock Holmes stories. Back when I worked at the DU Bookstore, I was always tempted to take that class, but my tuition waiver did not cover travel expenses. Can you believe that? What a ripoff.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
I went out for burgers and beers with my friend Stuart in exotic Lakewood, Colorado (the Muncie, Indiana of the West) last night. I was feeling kind of down about missing the Denver County Fair last weekend, and found out that Stuart did not attend the event, either. I asked Stuart if he felt bad about missing "cat celebrity" Lil Bub and a ride on a genuine Clydesdale Unicorn (appropriately named Uniclyde), and Stuart replied "not at all." Can you believe that attitude? Missing Lil Bub? Missing a ride on a genuine unicorn? Stuart is indeed a true eccentric.
Monday, August 3, 2015
This past weekend I missed the Denver County Fair for the 4th year in a row. Denver County is completely urban, by the way, and so the fair does not feature animals like the baleful bovine in the photograph above, but other things that make it, according to The Denver Post, the "craziest county fair in the country." Last year there was a marijuana pavilion, which gave out free samples of what they claimed was not marijuana, but actually was, resulting in many people getting sick or high or both. This year the marijuana pavilion was replaced by a Kitten Pavilion - yes, a Kitten Pavilion - and featured daily appearances by "celebrity cat" Lil Bub, a "talk show host and published author." Really? Talk show host? Published author? Other attractions were the Geek Pavilion and rides on The Clydedale Unicorn (named Uniclyde). Now that does sound like a photo opportunity. Oh well - maybe next year.
Sunday, August 2, 2015
Yes, the Rocky Mountain Book and Paper Fair has been going on for 31 years here in Denver, but this is the first time I have attended. What I have been doing on this particular weekend for the past 30 years I have no idea. In any case, it was very interesting to visit all the book stalls and see what was on display and how much they were asking for everything. I was very excited to see that a number of books that I own were on sale at the fair for big bucks ( Hunter S. Thompson's Great Shark Hunt and Ernest Hemingway's Islands in the Stream, for example), but when I got home and looked, I realized that many of my copies were not 1st editions. You would be surprised how few books on the bookstore bargain tables turn out to be first editions. Someone should look into that. I was tempted to make an offer at one booth, where the complete set of Charles Dickens' original Pickwick Papers was for sale (see photograph above). This consisted of all the original booklets issued between 1836 and 1838. The price - six thousand dollars. If I had decided not to repair the hail damage to my new car last month, they would be sitting on my bookshelf today. That is, if I could have bargained the bookseller down a few bucks. Maybe to five hundred.
Saturday, August 1, 2015
Today is August 1st, and once again I am reminiscing about those annual vacations my family and I took in central Ontario each August. Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s we would spend two weeks at Torpitt Lodge, located on Sparrow Lake (about a hundred or so miles north of Toronto). My father Nelson and my Uncle Bill (my mother Mary's brother, whose family also vacationed there with us) would play golf for two weeks, while the rest of us did our own thing, as we used to say in the 1960s. To say the cabin we stayed in was rustic is an understatement. One day my Uncle Bill was sleeping (and snoring too, I might add) with his mouth open in a chair after eating some peanuts. A chipmunk came in, jumped up on him, and was sticking it's head into Uncle's Bill's mouth before being discovered. I wish I had a photograph of that. And speaking of photographs, before Torpitt, the two families went to a wonderful resort called Britannia, located on the Lake of Bays a ways to the north of there. That was where the above photograph was taken, most likely before I was born (although it is conceivable I might have taken it while still in diapers). Form left to right in the back row are my Aunt Elsie, Uncle Bill, mother Mary, and father Nelson. In the front row are my cousin Linda, cousin Judy and sister Susan (the terrors of the waitress staff), my Grandmother Louise, and Grandfather William. Oh to still be able to take a trip up there with all of them all today.