Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Memorial Day marks the return of Denver's summer street festivals, and this past weekend was the Colorado Artists Market and the Denver Day of Rock, both held along downtown's 16th Street Mall . The weather was pretty nice, and so there was a large crowd for both events. I was disappointed to see, however, that the Colorado Artist's Market was about half what it was in previous years. The past two years the festival was held in a grassy area in front of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, with the result that due to the rain it was more like a mud festival than an arts festival. This year marked the return of the fair to the16th Street Mall, but evidently a lot of the artists must have stayed away after last year's fiasco.
The Denver Day of Rock was held on 3 separate stages on three cross streets along the mall. I'm afraid that I wasn't particularly crazy about any of the bands playing at the time I was there. I did take a picture of the Dirty Magnolias (really - that's their name), seen in the photograph on the right, but I wasn't all that crazy about them, either, despite their being introduced as a nationally recognized band. In point of fact, I have never heard of any of the bands playing that day. And I am a hipster! That tells you something right there.
Monday, May 30, 2016
I know I wrote about this last year, but in point of fact, I don't care - just call me sentimental. Years ago it was a tradition for my sister Susan, my brother-in-law George, and my then wife Lisa and I to go on a Memorial Day hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. George had purchased a copy of the book Staying Found and always wanted to go off the trail to test his orienteering skills. Of course, Memorial Day is still pretty early to go hiking in the mountains of Colorado, and so we would be walking uphill though the fog through deeper and deeper snow drifts. Eventually Lisa (seen in the photograph above contemplating her fate) would start crying and demand that we turn back. George would eventually acquiescence, and we would head back to Estes Park, find a local bistro, and drink beer, which I think was my brother-in-law George's plan all along. My sister Susan called me the other day and told me she wanted to restart that tradition this year, and to be sure to invite Lisa - now living in San Francisco - along. I did just that, but Lisa said she wishes she could come along, but wasn't able to jet in. George said he had to work. Party poopers. I can envision that fog shrouded trail right now.
Sunday, May 29, 2016
And as usual, Joan and Charlie (named after the iconic Denver Art Museum painting with the same name) put on another amusing show, using the 3rd floor freight elevator as their stage (seen in the photo on the right). Although dressed for a swimming lesson from swim coach Charlie, Joan has has never yet gone in the water.
However, the piece de resistance of the evening was at the end, in the North Building Pavilion, where anyone who wanted could have their photograph taken with Hello Kitty, who seemed to be the master of ceremonies for the evening. And just who arranged that, Andrew?
Saturday, May 28, 2016
The Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, signed copies of his just released autobiography, The Opposite of Woe, this past Thursday night (in conjunction with Denver's Tattered Cover Bookstore) at the Wynkoop Brew Pub, which he started up many years ago when he was an unemployed geologist. I was tempted to go, but would have had to buy the book - which I would probably never read - in order to get a ticket to the event. The clincher was when I found out there would be no open bar. No open bar? Forget about it. Perhaps if Hickenlooper winds up as Hillary Clinton's running mate this November, I might reconsider. Will I still be able to buy the book and attend the inauguration ball?
Friday, May 27, 2016
Yesterday was Red Nose Day, the day a telethon takes place on network television to benefit a variety of children's charities. In celebration of that, my office-mate Peter actually allowed me to take his photograph. Peter seems to be really into this event, and had me purchase one of the red noses at Walgreen's - one of Red Nose Day's major sponsors - while I still worked there. He drew the line at actually putting the red nose on his nose, but did put it on his finger, as the photograph above shows. I'll take what I can get, especially where Peter is concerned. Enjoy the photograph, since it could be months, years, or even decades before he lets me take another. Thanks for the photo op, Peter. Same time next year?
Thursday, May 26, 2016
I am happy to report that both the North Side Chicago Cubs and South Side Chicago White Sox are still in first place in their respective divisions. The Cubs have the best record in baseball, while the White Sox are hanging in there - barely. The White Sox have lost 7 out of their last 10 games, and so while I can still do it, I want to celebrate both teams being in first place by featuring one of the most famous White Sox players of all time, Shoeless Joe Jackson. Jackson was banned from baseball for life for being implicated in the Black Sox scandal back in 1919, when White Sox players threw the World Series after tasking money from gamblers. Many feel that Jackson got a raw deal, having played flawlessly in the series. Therefore, I am featuring him in the above photograph with Denver's Coors Field in the background. I understand he appeared in a Iowa cornfield once in a long ago baseball movie, so I don't see why I can't feature him at Coor's Field. Say it ain't so, Joe!
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Author Steve Hamilton appeared at the LoDo branch of the Denver bookstore chain where I work, promoting his new book The Second Life of Nick Mason (which is very good, by the way). I drove downtown after work, and took the above photograph just before he began to speak. Hamilton seemed a bit discombobulated when I took the photograph. I was sitting dead center and it was impossible to take a shot without being noticed. Hamilton was probably worried the photograph might wind up on the web. Why are people so paranoid these days? In any case, Hamilton, the author of the Alex McKnight mystery series (one of my favorites), was really excited about his new book, which will soon be made into a major motion picture. The story takes place in Chicago, where he has spent a lot of time, and I am happy to report that the hero of the story is a Chicago White Sox fan, and champions the Sox over the Cubs.
Hamilton was able to see a bit of Denver today, and was very impressed with the city. He remarked on the city's energy and youthful spirit (hipster central in Denver is the remodeled Union Station, seen in the photo on the right), and was very impressed with all the construction going on ,especially in the RINO (River North) neighborhood. Driving around town today, it appears there is construction going on on ever block, which is both a good and a bad thing. Hamilton was late to last night's signing because he and the book rep could not find a parking space, and so I think he now knows the negatives quite well. Good luck with the book, Steve
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
In yesterday's Blog I mentioned that I stopped in at Governor's Park Tavern for the first time in 30 years. As long as I am on the subject, I thought I would put in a plug for The Good Son, located right next door to the bookstore where I work on East Colfax Avenue here in Denver. The idea came to me as I was getting into my car on the top floor of the parking garage last night. Who knows why? I have eaten at The Good Son several times, and the food is excellent. It is most famous for it's Detroit style pizza, which got rave reviews from The Denver Post's food critic when the place first opened. I have not tried it yet, but I assume Detroit style pizza is pizza made by local Detroit pizza joints utilizing unrefusable suggestions from the Detroit mob. And who would know pizza better than them? It gives a whole new meaning to "Godfather" pizza. And so give The Good Son a try. As that old commercial said: "Try it, you'll like it."
Monday, May 23, 2016
I stopped by Governor's Park Tavern (in the photograph on the left) yesterday evening after working a bit of overtime as the bookkeeper for a local bookstore chain here in Denver. The last time I was at Governor's Park Tavern was with my then wife Lisa, over 30 years ago. After 30 years, I can't remember what was just to the west of the place, but today a Trader Joe's is located there. I don't think Trader Joe's even existed then. Trader Vic's yes, but that is a whole different story.
In any case, the neighborhood is still pretty nice , and just to the north from Governor's Park Tavern is the actual Governor's Park (with trees and grass and everything) and the Colorado's Governor's Mansion (in the photograph on the right). And walking past the Governor's Mansion reminded me of a very hard decision I have to make this week. Governor Hickenlooper, founder of the Wynkoop Brew Pub, has written an autobiography titled The Opposite of Woe, and will be signing copies of the book in conjunction with our bookstore this coming Thursday night. But you have to buy the book to get a ticket. Do I buy the book, and thus be able to take a photo of the event, or skip it, for reasons of being a cheapskate. Decisions decisions.
Sunday, May 22, 2016
I watched the cricket match between the Gujahar Lions and the Mumbai Indians on the computer with my friend Mark yesterday afternoon. This India Premier League match took place at Green Park Stadium in Kanpur, India. The temperature was around 100 degrees, but the heat didn't seem to bother anyone. I guess they are used to it there, kind of like the citizens of St. Louis. In any case, I noticed several interesting things while watching the game. One is that each team has cheerleaders, which I assume is an old cricket tradition. I imagine they even had cheerleaders back in Victorian times in England. I wonder why Charles Dickens never mentioned this in his novels? Also, even more shocking, after watching several games with Mark, I actually understand the game. And even like it. No one is more shocked at this than me. To commemorate the day, I took the above photograph of Mark wearing his Chennai Super Kings cricket jersey. Chennai, for all you Indiaphiles, is the new name for Madras, and is located on the Bay of Bengal. And for all you cricket fans, the Gujahar Lions won the match and are in the tournament playoffs. Mumbai is out of it. As Cubs fans like to say, wait till next year.
Saturday, May 21, 2016
Today is Armed Forces Day - which I must admit I never knew existed before this week. But to make up for this, I am today featuring a photograph of my father Nelson, taken when he was in the army during World War II. It was quite a shock to him when he was drafted, since he was in his mid thirties at the time, but he was a dentist, and I guess the army needed dentists. He was sent to Okinawa , while his friend Ed, also a dentist and drafted at the same time, was sent to Paris. Ed led the good life in Paris, while my father experienced typhoons in Okinawa. Another example of life not being fair. And just a side note: my father loved the television show MASH, and said that it actually showed what it was really like to be in one of those units. How bout that?
Friday, May 20, 2016
I took a speed reading course a few months after graduating from the Illinois Institute of Technology back in December of 1974. I still remember some of the principles that the instructor stressed: reading by groupings instead of word by word, eliminating internal vocalizations, keeping a quick, constant pace - but what I remember most is driving to class each week. The speed reading course was held at Northwestern University in Evanston, and to get there from the Southern Suburbs of Chicago I would take the Dan Ryan Expressway downtown and then get on Lake Shore Drive, driving along that beautiful lakefront up to Evanston, and then walking across that wonderful campus.
Around the same time, my father was hospitalized on the near north side of Chicago after a bad reaction to his blood pressure medicine. I remember stopping to visit him one time on my way to class. My mother told me my father never shared the results of his tests, and thought he might have received some news that made him want to retire to Florida and enjoy the rest of his life while he still could. That spring we all drove down to Stuart, Florida to visit with my Uncle Bill and Aunt Elsie and to check out the area. My parents wound up moving down there the very next year. They both loved Stuart, and although my father was only able to enjoy 7 years there before he passed away, I am glad that those were such happy years for him. As for the speed reading, I was able to master it, but it just wasn't fun, and I decided I would rather take my time and enjoy what I was reading. The moral of today's Blog, courtesy of an old song: "enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it's later than you think."
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Once again I had planned to visit the Denver Zoo this past weekend, but wound up not having enough time to get there. Instead I am using an "oldie but goodie" of a jaguar (or is it a cheetah? Back on the South Side of Chicago we could never tell the difference) that I took at the zoo some time in the past 5 years or so. As you can see from the above photograph, jaguars (or cheetahs) are friendly little animals that make great pets. Feel free to call the Denver Zoo and ask if they have any that are up for adoption.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Alex Grecian, the author of the Scotland Yard Murder Squad novels, gave a talk and signed copies of his new book Lost and Gone Forever at the Tattered Cover Bookstore on East Colfax Avenue in Denver last night. The books are set in Victorian London, and Grecian told his audience that growing up in Kansas, he was a voracious reader, and that much of what he read took place in Victorian England. Thus his fascination with the period. I have never read any of his books, although my office mate Peter is a big fan. I was very surprised to see how young Grecian is, especially considering he has written five books in the series. Living in Kansas, he must have started writing very early out of sheer boredom.
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
They say Colorado has over 300 days of sunshine a year, but nobody knows who came up with that figure. Considering the rainy, wet, miserable weather we have had here the past few days, with more of the same predicted, and you begin to think the sun will never shine in Denver again. It is damn depressing. I took the photograph on the left of a mist shrouded East High School, across the street from the bookstore where I work, yesterday morning. It is the kind of weather you would expect in Seattle or Portland, Oregon, but not here.
On the bright side, the bookstore where I work (the entrance of which is seen in the photograph on the right) is a lot more crowded and does a lot more business when the weather is like this, especially on the weekends. This is probably why Powell's Bookstore - occupying an entire square block in downtown Portland, Oregon - is such a success. After all, as far as I can tell, if Denver has 300 days of annual sunshine, Portland must have 300 days of rain a year. I imagine the choice for residents there is to either throw yourself off a cliff or spend the day at the bookstore. And I think they made the right choice.
Monday, May 16, 2016
As regular Blog Readers know, I live just across the street from the University of Denver and just two doors down from the Light Rail Station. In addition to that, because of an apartment shortage, there is a lot of apartment construction going on here. This has resulted in a huge parking spot shortage. The students who live around here usually have five to ten roommates - all with cars - with one available parking space at their building. Plus, since there is a nearby light rail station, the city is allowing higher density developments to be built in the area, furthering their goal of more "transit oriented development." The theory is that people will walk to the Light Rail Station and take the train to work. They do indeed do this, but all of them have cars, allowing them to hop right into them when needed. The result is that finding a parking space in this neighborhood can be hellish. And why do I care, if my condo comes with it's own parking space? Because whenever an event takes place across the street at DU, or there is a big party in my building, someone often parks in my spot. I could have them towed, but am afraid that if I do, the offenders will take revenge on my car when they come back and find my car in that spot instead of theirs. Which results in my circling the neighborhood all night looking for a place for my car. There is nothing like an experience like this to make a curmudgeon even more curmudgeonly.
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Some of the old University of Denver Bookstore gang got together last night for a potluck dinner. It was fun to catch up with everyone and find out what everyone has been up to. Chris, the former Accounts Payable Assistant at the DU Bookstore, and her husband Jim (the couple on the left), have just been working working working, kind of like me. Darrel, the former Accounts Payable Supervisor at the store, and his wife Linda (the couple on the right), spent a month in Oceanside, California, and explored Southern California. Their grandson Joel, upon seeing the Pacific Ocean at their doorstep, wanted to know why they just didn't live there all the time. Darrel thought Joel had a good point. Valarie and her significant other Jake, the couple in the center, spent 8 days in Cuba and thoroughly enjoyed it. They stayed at the original Copacabana, right on the ocean, while in Havana, and had some fascinating stories to tell. The one downside was that they were there the same time President Obama was, and because of that were not able to visit Hemingway's house. What a bummer. I say never vote for the guy again.
Saturday, May 14, 2016
And I mean that both literally and figuratively. My friend Stuart and I went to see the Colorado Rockies play the defending National League Champion New York Mets last night. It was good to relax on a Friday night after a long week, but I have to admit it was a little chilly in the upper deck - it still is a little nippy in the evenings here in Denver this time of year. But in any case, it was a pretty good game and the Rockies actually won, 5 to 2. Not only was it pitcher Jon Gray's first major league victory, but it was also the Rockies' 1000th victory here in Denver. And I have the scorecard from that game. My retirement is at now assured - I can sell that scorecard for a fortune.
Friday, May 13, 2016
I know it's not a great name, but I don't know what else to call the neighborhood surrounding the bookstore where I work as the bookkeeper. The Wyman Historic District is located both north and south of Colfax Avenue here in Denver, starting just a few blocks to the West of the bookstore. The houses there are really nice, but the neighborhood the store is located in has some great Victorian houses, not to mention some funky apartment buildings, too.
Just to the north of the bookstore is East High School and City Park, one of the first and largest parks in Denver. Of course, if you are looking for a bargain in this neighborhood, you have already missed the boat. It has been gentrified, yuppified, and every other kind of "fied." But urban homesteaders take heart - word on the street is that the Globeville neighborhood, just north and east of downtown and near the old stock yards, is the next big up and coming neighborhood. Make sure you bring your toolbox, though.
Thursday, May 12, 2016
I took my lunch outside the other day, since the weather has been so nice lately, and there were two dogs tied up outside, waiting for their owners to come out of the bookstore where I work. One of the dogs - a tiny little thing - was barking its head off, straining at the leash to get at whoever was walking past. The other was the dog above, laying down and just taking it easy, enjoying the day. And no problem if you want to take his or her photograph. If only my office mate Peter was like that. I have been trying to get his photograph wearing his "Red Nose," in honor of the Red Nose Day Telethon that will take place in a couple of weeks. No luck there. But I will definitely keep trying. I am nothing if not persistent (i.e. annoying).
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
The night I went to the Colorado Rockies game with my friend Mark, his cousin, and a co-worker, we all got free "hipster" hats, which I am modeling in the photograph above. They were given to the first 5,000 fans. Of course, we weren't one of the first 5,000 fans, or for that matter, one of the first 10,000, but Mark's cousin found the hats stashed under the seats in the aisle behind us after the game. How anyone could throw away such a stylish hat is beyond me. It is like a symbol of your hipsterness. It is especially appealing to the follicularly challenged among us. Plus, wearing it, you will be able to recognize your fellow hipsters. I know for a fact there are at least 5,000 of them in the Denver area.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
I attended the First Friday Art Walk last week on Santa Fe Drive here in Denver and had a reslly nice time. The weather was mild, and so the streets were packed with art lovers. I enjoyed the people watching and going from gallery to gallery to see what was on display, but to be quite honest, much of the art is just not very good, or too weird for home display.
For example, would you have a place in your home where the painting on the right would fit perfectly? Or even imperfectly. If I invited people over for dinner and they saw this work of art on display in the living room, I suspect they would be looking at me rather strangely the rest of the night - even more so than usual. Although I must say, the basket of owls adds a nice touch.
Monday, May 9, 2016
I had burgers and beers on the rooftop deck of the Historians Ale House on South Broadway here in Denver last night with my friend Stuart. The hamburgers are especially good here, and there is a nice view from the rooftop deck, which is why we choose to dine there instead of with our fellow hipsters downstairs. Stuart did a little research before getting together, and reported that the top two teams in all of baseball as of this morning are, in order, the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox. The dream of a "subway" World Series in Chicago is alive and well. But who will do the driving back to Chicago this October? Maybe we can flip a coin for it. Buy those World Series tickets now, people!
Sunday, May 8, 2016
Today is Mother's Day, and the forecast is for a pretty soggy one, if you happen to live in Denver. But of course that doesn't matter - the point is to honor and celebrate your mother, and you can do that just as well indoors. And in honor of this occasion, I am featuring a photograph of my mother Mary, taken on the 4th of July at the Cherry Creek Arts Festivals many years ago. If she were still alive today, she would be 100 years old this year. I wish I was still able to spend this day with her. Hopefully everyone out there who is still able to celebrate this day with their mother will do so. Happy Mother's Day Everyone!
Saturday, May 7, 2016
Today was the running of the Kentucky Derby, and I watched it at The View House, in the Ballpark neighborhood of Denver, just a stone's throw from Coors Field. This has always been a big event for my family. I remember the family getting together, the names of each horse put in a hat, and then everyone selecting two horses out of the hat and throwing a few bucks in, the winner getting the pot. When my mother and father moved to Florida, a neighbor - Jane Hoy - was a big Kentucky Derby fan too, and they had Derby parties down there, too.
I must have been influenced by all this, since I can't remember what I did yesterday, but I can remember what I did the last two Derby days. Two years ago I went to an off track betting restaurant and bar called Red and Jerry's. The place was packed and closed to additional people, and the only alternative was a depressing looking auditorium next door with a $10 cover. I passed and watched the race on TV. Last year I had to work at Walgreen's, and needed to get to work before the race was run.
This year I checked out where the best Kentucky Derby parties were in Denver, and was surprised to read that Denver was second only to Louisville, Kentucky in Derby parties. Do people in Denver love horses? No - the city has a young population and they love parties. I decided to head to The View House, which had a pretty decent, upbeat crowd. All the men were dressed in suits - one even wore a top hat - and most of the women wore dresses and fancy hats. It was a fun time for all. And by the way, the winner was Nyquist, who is evidently named after some sort of cough medicine. Go figure.
Friday, May 6, 2016
Denver reached 81 degrees yesterday for the first time this year, and so it is now officially spring in the Mile High City. Springtime in the Rockies is usually a mind bending experience of sunny 70 degree days followed by wet, heavy snowstorms, but once the city hits 80 degrees, it means summer is on the way. Plus, this weekend Denver celebrates Cinco de Mayo in Civic Center Park, a truly big deal here. I myself celebrated by going through the drive through at Taco Bell last night and getting 4 crunchy tacos with hot sauce. Who says I don't celebrate ethnic diversity? Let the good times roll!
Thursday, May 5, 2016
It is now May, and so if you haven't downloaded the Chicago Transit Authority's 2016 CTA Historical Calendar, you are missing out big time. It has historic photos of Chicago (see the sample on the left) and various CTA trains and buses from the past every month, and makes you feel nostalgic for the good old days back in Chicago, even if you have never lived there (I am assuming this, but how can it not be true?) Download the calendar now at http://www.transitchicago.com/historicalcalendar/ .
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Since yesterday was my last day working the midnight shift at the Walgreen's, I feel impelled to relate once again my father Nelson's story about the founder of the company, Charles Rudolph Walgreen. Walgreen started his chain on the South Side of Chicago, and he belonged to the Beverly Country Club, located at 87th and Western on the South Side. My father (seen in the photograph above) was a caddy at Beverly, and often caddied for who he used to call "old man Walgreen." Walgreen never tipped his caddies, signing their caddy tickets instead. I guess he believed his autograph was worth far more than a mere monetary reward. The caddies must have loved him for that. However, my father did say that Walgreen told interesting stories while golfing. One time he related to his golfing partners that the biggest mistake he ever made in business was loaning money to his brother-in-law. "Did he lose it all?" one of the foursome wanted to know. No, Walgreen replied - he went into competition against him via the Rexall Drug chain. Life lessons for us all.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Yes - it is true. For the past year or so I have been working part-time in the evenings at the local Walgreen's Drugstore, just down the street from my condo here in Denver. And today is my last day. My finances are now stabilized, at least until the start of the new year, and working until 12:00 or 12:30 A.M. after a long day at my full time job is starting to wear on me. My co-workers and the management have all been great, and it was fun to interact with all the neighbors, and DU Students, who frequent the store. The store manager, Laura, has even stated she would welcome me back if (or when) my finances run thin again. Hopefully, the store will start closing at 10:00 P.M. by then, instead of midnight, which is many hours after my bedtime. Thanks for the memories, guys!
Monday, May 2, 2016
Steve Hamilton writes the excellent Alex McKnight mystery series that takes place in the Upper Michigan town of Paradise, right on Lake Superior. Now Hamilton has written a new, stand alone novel called the Second Life of Nick Mason, which takes place in my old hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Plus, the main character is from the South Side of Chicago, just like me, and winds up being sprung from a 20 year sentence in Federal Prison through the influence of a criminal mastermind. This criminal mastermind, serving two life sentences in prison, sets up Mason in a 3 story North Side townhouse, just across the street from Lincoln Park and Lake Michigan, and in return expects Mason to carry out crimes in his behalf. I have just started reading it, but mystery writers everywhere - including my favorite, Michael Connelly - have given it rave reviews. I just hope Hamilton sticks with the Alex McKnight series, too. If not there will be trouble.
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Yesterday was a truly miserable day. It started around midnight as a snowstorm, as I got off work from my part-time job. As the day worn on, the snow turned to rain, and continued for the entire day. Around 8:00 in the evening, I decided to get out and head to Spanky's Urban Roadhouse (where everybody, or at least the bartender, knows your name), just down the block from where I live and next door to the University of Denver. It was good to just sit and watch the Colorado Rockies play the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix, where it was warm and dry, a condition I hope will exist here in the next few days. Plus, the Rockies actually won. Go figure.