Friday, September 30, 2016

730 South

I stopped at 730 South - a rather upscale bistro in the Bonnie Brae neighborhood of Denver - last night for a  libation.  My friend and former DU Bookstore co-worker Wally told me about the place, which has a very reasonable (i.e. cheap) happy hour menu and no music or any other extraneous sounds to listen to.  In other words, peace and quiet when you need it most, after work and before heading home to cook dinner. However, the clientele is a bit on the older and rather affluent side, and I suddenly realized that I was sitting in the midst of a bunch of Trump supporters.  The woman sitting next to me said she was very angry because her brother was strongly supporting "that woman."  It was all I could do to keep my opinions to myself. Otherwise  I would have been beaten to an inch of my life with their canes.  Scary.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Another Dog Has It's Day!

My choice for Dog of the Week was tied up outside The Green Door Fitness Center, a few blocks from the bookstore where I work as the bookkeeper.  Considering how long people spend on their workouts these days, I'm afraid this dog had a long wait until his or her owner came back outside.   The Green Door Fitness Center is a very small operation right on the corner of Josephine and Colfax Avenues, and has been featured in several very positive stories on the local television news.  Unfortunately, the City of Denver is building a huge recreation center right across the street.  Will the Green Door survive?  Hopefully the personal attention they give each client will convince their clientele to stay put.  And maybe the Green Door staff can incorporate the dogs into the training regimen, to give their client's pets a little exercise, too.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Gorilla Encounter

I was at the Denver Zoo this past Sunday and took the above photograph of a little girl and a gorilla having a stare-down.  What a shame it is that the zoo insists on glass partitions to separate the wildlife from zoo patrons.  How wonderful it would be if the zoo had a "Gorilla Encounter," similar to it's "Giraffe Encounter." You can just tell that the little girl would like to give that gorilla a great big hug.  Think of the childhood memories it would create.  After all, gorillas are vegetarians, so what could possibly go wrong?  I suggest you e-mail the Denver Zoo today and ask them to make those kind of childhood experiences a reality.  It will be a memory that will last their entire lives.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Wildlife Tips From An Ex-Chicagoan

I have to admit that I am originally from Chicago, and have never seen a bear in the wild.  But I have lived in Colorado for 35 years, and that gives me some credibility on the topic, right?  And at this time of year, when the bear population in Colorado - not to mention the rest of the Northern Hemisphere - is desperately searching for food before hibernating, it is time to offer some valuable tips.  First of all, if you are heading up a mountain trail and see a grizzly bear like the one in the photograph above directly in front of you, I would advise you stop and start backing  up.  If you happen to bounce against one of it's cubs while doing this, you are truly screwed.  Sorry about that.  However, if you don't back into one of it's cubs, continue to keep backing down the trail until you get to your car, and then hop the hell in it.  I would then  - if you happen to be hiking in the mountains west of Denver - drive to the town of Breckenridge and stop at the first bar you see.  If you happen to be hiking in Uzbekistan, the principles are the same - only the word for beer when you get to the local taverna will be different.  And that's today's wildlife tip.  No thanks necessary.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Difference Between Cubs and White Sox Fans...

My friend Stuart and I went to the Old Chicago in exciting Lakewood, Colorado last night for pizza and beers.  The most emotional topic we discussed was the fact that a large Chicago Seven pizza now cost $23.75, which we both agreed was an outrage.  And we also both agreed that neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton would do anything about it.  The other major topic was how the Chicago Cubs would do in baseball's upcoming playoffs.  I asked Stuart if he was excited about the Cubs being in the playoffs for the second year in a row, and he gave me a very unenthusiastic yes.  I questioned him further, and he replied that he knew the Cubs had the best record in baseball, but he worried about how they would do in a short series against a team like the Washington Nationals.  Of course, now that my team, the South Side Chicago White Sox, are long out of contention, I will root for the Cubs.  However, White Sox fans are always fatalistic.  If something can go wrong, it will. And so my feeling is that since the Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908 (at first I said 1906, and Stuart was highly upset that I dared to take those two years away from the Cubs), they are indeed doomed.  They also have the curse of the Billy Goat to contend with (which I have mentioned several times on the Blog).  However, despite this hopeless situation, we still need to enjoy every victory that they win during these playoffs.  And so Go Cubs!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Just The (Col)Fax

Last week - I think it was a Friday night - I was doing my walk from the bookstore where I work to Denver's Union Station, and couldn't help but notice the number of homeless people lying on the sidewalk, on bus benches, and in doorways.  Maybe it was the time of day or day of the week, but I didn't think Colfax was like that anymore.  Maybe it was because the city dismantled their shacks along the Platte River, or forced them from the 16th Street Mall, but it seemed the homeless were everywhere.  Sometimes they hang out right on the street, and sometime they hang out in nearby alleys, such as the fellow in the photograph on the left.  And is that a person lying in the alley behind him, or just his bedding? The city is trying to help them, building more shelters, but many of the homeless absolutely refuse to go - the alcoholics, the insane, the hard core individualists, etc.

There are a lot of poor, but not homeless people, who also hang out on Colfax, like the ones waiting for the bus in the photo on the right.  Maybe they work around here, maybe they don't, but at the end of the day they take the East Colfax bus to Aurora, where the cost of living is substantially less. Because even though they hang out here, the neighborhood around Colfax is actually pretty pricey.  Many if not most of the bars and restaurants are pretty upscale, catering to an affluent young population that lives in the area. They wander from bar to bar and share the streets with the homeless and poor, not even noticing them.  A sad commentary on today's world. Colfax used to be called "America's longest, wicked street" in the days Jack Kerouac hung out here, but it is no longer wicked, just sad - Denver's own little India.

The houses off Colfax are large Victorians, and many were once rooming houses for the poor.  Now most have been restored to single family residences and are quite expensive.  The houses that are still multi-tenant units are now occupied by the trendy young people who populate the area, or people who work in the stores and bars in the area.  Not too long ago the middle and upper middle classes abandoned the city for the suburbs, where they could raise their children in safety and get away from the poor.  At some point they began to realize that the poor were occupying the most desirable real estate in the metro area, and gentrification began.  Now, everywhere in the country, the middle and upper middle classes are beginning to reoccupy the city and the poor are being driven off to the suburbs.  I took the photograph on the left of the sun-dappled Victorian just around the corner from where I took the previous photo.  What a contrast.

As I have mentioned ad nauseam on this blog, if you walk downtown on Colfax (also known as 15th Street), you see both the upscale and the downtrodden, often having to step over the homeless as they lay on the sidewalk.  If you take the same walk down 17th Street (a mere two blocks north), you see nothing but fancy bars, restaurants, and both new housing and restored Victorian era apartments and homes for the affluent. And you only see the affluent on 17th Street, walking between trendy bars and dining outside on the patios,  enjoying the fall weather.  And what it the solution to this problem?  I myself blame the Reagan Administration, which eliminated funding for the institutions that housed the insane and treated the others who currently live on the streets, and now the country doesn't have the money and its citizens the desire for the increased taxes needed to bring them back.  And so I have no solution.  Sad.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Not Another Oktoberfest?

Yes!  Just two weeks after I attended Oktoberfest in the Colorado mountain town of Breckenridge, I walked to Lower Downtown Denver after work last night and attended Denver's version of Oktoberfest. And I immediately noticed very striking differences between the two festivals.  For one thing, it seems to be all about the beer here.  The festival features steins for sale at $35 each empty and $40 filled (I assume with beer, but the sign didn't specifically say that).  You can, of course, just buy a regular pint in a plastic cup.  It was Happy Hour when I got there (two pints for $6.00), and the crowd was electric over that - happy hour was on the lips of everyone.  However, as you can see in the photo on the left, a lot of people were going for the Full Monty.

There are other differences between this Oktoberfest and the one in Breckenridge.  The crowd in Denver is decidedly younger.  And the biggest difference of all was that the only people wearing lederhosen and Bavarian peasant dresses were the people in the booths trying to sell you something, like the young lady in the photograph on the right doing the cooking at Das Turkey Leg, which by the way was also up in Breckenridge. Up there, a great deal of the visitors were in Bavarian garb - not just the vendors.  It definitely felt a lot more like Oktoberfest up there.  And whereas the band was a German one up in Breckenridge, the one in Denver was a local rock band.  Dare I say it, the Denver Oktoberfest felt a bit like A Taste of Colorado.  De je vu all over again.
Oktoberfest used to take place at Larimer Square, between 14th and 15th Streets on Larimer Street, a one block area where the old buildings were saved from the wrecking ball by a woman named Dana Crawford and was the place to go back when I first moved to Denver.  I really enjoyed going to the festival back then, and have fond memories of going there with my sister Susan, brother-in-law George, and then wife Lisa.  The event became so popular that the merchants decided it was more of a detriment to business than a help, and so the festival moved to what is called the Ballpark  Neighborhood, between 20th and 22nd on Larimer Street.  This neighborhood used to be considered run down and dangerous before Coors Field was built to house baseball's Colorado Rockies, but now is a hip locale to hang out.  Some vestiges of the neighborhood's past still survive, however, like The Star Bar, once an infamous dive bar (see photo on the left) and is now who knows what?  I have never been in there - honest!  In any case, Oktoberfest in Denver runs both this weekend and next, so head on down and buy your $40 stein now!  Sound like a bargain to me.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Wrong Side Of Goodbye

I just finished an advance reading copy of Michael Connelly's new book "The Wrong Side of Goodbye," which I received form Randy, the Hachette Book rep here in Denver.  The book will not be released to bookstore's for another month, but I advise you to reserve a copy at your local bookstore or public library now.  It is a great read, and features the further adventures of Harry Bosch, former Los Angeles police detective, as he works on both a case as a private investigator and also on a case as a volunteer with a small city police department.  The only downside is that I read the book in less than a week, which is pretty fast for me.  Now I will have to wait another 6 months or so to read the next installment.  Bummer.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Costume Or Not A Costume?

I walked from my workplace on East Colfax in Denver to the 16th Street Mall a few weeks ago, and noticed that a lot of people were - I think - in costume.  People in Denver just love to dress up in these outfits, and there are a lot of events that encourage this, such as Comic Con, the Zombie Crawl, Oktoberfest, and many others.  I assume it was some such event or convention that was the reason for the costumes that day, but perhaps not - maybe they were just starting their Halloween parties early this year.  In this town I wouldn't doubt it.  And you have to be very careful about complementing people on their outfits here.  If they are not wearing a costume and that is their usual attire, you can get slapped.  Best just to walk on by, as the song says.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Catching The Cardinals With Mark

Monday night I went with my friend Mark, who works at the University of Denver's Anderson Academic Commons (the library), to see  the Colorado Rockies play the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field in Lower Downtown Denver.  The Rockies are much better than last year, but have no shot at the playoffs, while St. Louis is battling for a wildcard slot.  Mark (seen in the photograph on the left) is a Cardinals fan, as were a substantial number of the other fans in attendance.

I myself like the Cardinals, too.  My favorite broadcaster, Harry Carey, was the television announcer for the team for 25 years (and then got fired), and Tony La Russa, who managed them for many years, got his start as a manager with the Iowa Oaks, the Chicago White Sox AAA affiliate at the time. He was later brought up by Bill Veeck to manage the White Sox.  Being from Chicago, I would have to root for the White Sox or Cubs (or for that matter, the Colorado Rockies) first, but I wouldn't mind seeing the Cardinals in the playoffs, too.  As as you can see from the photograph on the right, the Cardinals did indeed win the game, although the Rockies gave them a run for their money in the bottom of the 9th.  And as Cubs fans always used to say (although not this year, since they have already won their division), wait until next year, White Sox and Rockies fans.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Back To The Usual Routine

After needing to arrive at work early for training a couple of days last week and therefore having to drive my car, I am now back to my usual daily commute.  As I have mentioned previously, I like to take the bus to work in the mornings and then walk the 3 miles each evening to Denver's Union Station, where I catch the light rail train home.  It took me a couple of months to recover from working the midnight shift at Walgreen's before I could get back to a normal sleep pattern, but now I seem to be back in the groove, mingling with my fellow hipsters as I walk down 17th Street (a true hipster's restaurant row), shouting out greetings to one and all: Dude! Dudette! What's the haps?  Mr. Cool, that's me.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Further Thoughts On Soviet Style Architecture...

As I have mentioned in previous Blogs, when my apartment building was sold to a condo developer back in 1999, the Rocky Mountain News - which no longer exists, I might add - described the building as an example of  "Soviet style architecture."  And I have always suspected that they didn't mean that as a complement.  A resident of the building for 12 years, I got an eviction notice telling me to be out of my apartment in 30 days.  I raised so much hell with the poor lady in the office that she relocated me to a south facing apartment on the 11th floor, which she told me would be the last floor to be remodeled.  In less than a year I bought a 2 bedroom, 2 bath south facing unit on a lower floor.

Before the building went condo, Dan Ritchie, then chancellor of the University of Denver, wanted to buy it and tear it down, since it was an eyesore and distracted from the new Ritchie Center just across the street (and seen in the photo taken from my balcony on the right).  As recently as two months ago, the new DU Chancellor wanted to tear the building down and move the light rail station to our corner, until technical realities foiled that plan. But my point is - and I do have one - is that it is a great place to live.  By accident or design, the huge balconies keep the sun out of the apartment all summer, and right before the autumnal equinox the sun starts to seep in, filling the apartment with light and warmth by mid-winter.  Plus, the views and location are great.  Clever those Soviets.  And another DU plan thwarted.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

An Evening At Bill And Renee's...

My friends Bill and Renee (seen in the photograph on the left) held a nice gathering yesterday evening at their home up in Northglenn, Colorado. Bill was one of the two Operations Coordinators at the DU Bookstore back when I was the Finance Manager there, before the University of Denver outsourced us to Follett Higher Education Group.  The gathering  was originally going to include a lot of the old University of Denver Bookstore gang, but since so many could not attend, they postponed that event and hosted a smaller group - my friend Mark, who works at the DU Library, his parents, and me. Bill and Renee served New York steaks and we dined in their very pleasant backyard, at the home where Renee grew up.

Everyone there was excited about their upcoming plans for traveling this fall. Bill and Renee will be visiting Seattle and Vancouver, British, Columbia, Mark's parents, Dale and Kay (seen in the photograph on the right sitting on either side of Mark) will be cruising from Bucharest, Romania to Budapest, Hungry (I told them to wear wreaths of garlic on the cruise, but they thought I was just kidding. I'm not), and Mark will be visiting England.  I myself will be traveling with my sister Susan to work on the condo in Stuart, Florida, getting it ready to rent for the season, and so I will be travelling, too, although fixing  up bathrooms, painting, and buying new curtains for the bedroom windows does not sound nearly as exciting as a jaunt through Transylvania.  But that's just me.  Fun is all relative, after all.  Or something like that.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Millennial Generation Moment

The bookstore where I work on East Colfax Avenue is across the street from East High School, just as cleverly named as Denver's South and West High Schools.  Now that classes are back in session, about 4,000 or so of these students buy their lunch at the store's coffee shop each day and hang out at the store for a few hours during their lunch hour.  I myself take a seat on the patio outside the main door of the store so that I can eat and read for a while.  A few days ago I couldn't help but look up and notice a young woman in the middle of the school's water fountain, posing for a photographer. It looked like she was supposed to be a mermaid or something, and one of her fellow students was taking a very occasional photograph.  On further examination, the model seems to be posing while the photographer is checking his cell phone - possibly even texting. That's the millennial generation for you.  I suppose he could have been using both both his cell phone and the camera in his hand to take photos and was checking the results, but I always like to assume the worst, which is the phrase one of Carl Hiassen's book characters says he wants to put on his gravestone - but I digress. If it were me posing up there, and the photographer truly was texting, I would have gotten down from the fountain and given him a good kick in his backside.  And so I feel the need to tell you millennials out there that sometimes you just need to hang the hell up.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Black House

I am currently reading The Black House by Peter May, a detective novel that takes place on the Isle of Lewis, in Scotland's Outer Hebrides.  I got a copy from Randy, the local Hachette Book Group rep, who thought I would like it, since I am such a big fan of Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch detective series, which Hachette also publishes.   The book is very good, and is the story of an Edinburgh police detective who is sent to investigate a murder on the island where he grew up.  I like the story, but find the frequent flashbacks to his horrific youth on the island kind of depressing.  No doubt these these flashbacks will be the key to the murder, but still... The Black House is the first book in a trilogy.  I bought the other two books in the series, plus a coffee table book by May about the Herbrides, off the bargain shelf at the local Denver bookstore where I work.  Hopefully the other two books will not have the depressing backstories in them.  And by the way, May waxes very nostalgically in the coffee table book about the beauty of the Hebrides, but he lives and writes in France.  It seems to me that a significant number of Scots just love Scotland, but choose not to live there anymore.  Just like those Iowans.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Dog Of The Week - Tutu!

I decided that this week's Dog of the Week ( a Blog feature created by default rather than design) would be Tutu, my sister Susan and brother-in-law George's Yorkshire Terrier.  Susan is convinced Tutu is the most beautiful dog in the world, but I would guess that a lot of other pet owners would disagree, including every participant in the Westminster Dog Show.  But that is Susan's opinion, and I won't even mention Tutu's habit of continuously barking next to the dining room table all during dinner, looking for handouts.  You have to expect divas to behave like that, with Exhibit A being Kim Kardashian.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Nostalgia Time - Hatch's Bookstore

When I first came to Denver in 1981, I worked for Hatch's Bookstore, a local bookstore chain owned by Bob Hatch.  I managed the store at the University Hills Mall, which started out as a small bookstore, but then expanded next door into a space with an outside entrance (see photograph of me above), instantly making it the largest store in the chain.  Those were probably the happiest days of my life, although I didn't know it at the time.  Why can't someone take you aside when you are young and let you know that? They would be doing us all a big favor.  Or perhaps they do tell us, but we are too young to listen.  In any case, the Hatch's Bookstore chain, as well as the Hatch's Card Store chain - not to mention the mall itself - is long gone, and I am finishing my working life at the last and only local bookstore chain in Denver.  So I am very lucky there are still people around who still like books.  Let's hope that continues.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

How Many Aspen Photos Are Too Many?

I drove up to the mountains Sunday afternoon to photograph the Aspens on Boreas Pass,  just outside of Breckenridge, Colorado.  Even though it is not even mid-September, the colors are beginning to change up there.  Now, my old photograph professor does not like Aspen photographs at all, because he feels they all look the same, more or less. And my father once said, after a visit to Colorado, that if you've seen one mountain, you've seen them all.  Of course, he was from Chicago, and later on Florida, where mountains have never been a big thing.

But still, it is fun just to get out in the fresh mountain air and enjoy the day, which taking these photographs allows you to do.  And I was not alone up there on Boreas Pass - there were bicyclists, hunters, campers, and - strangely enough - a couple in lederhosen and Bavarian peasant dress, no doubt escapees from Breckenridge's annual Oktoberfest. And yes, now that I think about, my Aspen photographs do all look the same. Tough.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Oktoberfest In Breckenridge

I drove up into the Colorado mountains yesterday for the first time in several years.  Ironically, I have been to the beach far more often during this period. You tend to take for granted that the mountains are always there, and wind up never going there.  On the other hand, at the complex in Stuart, Florida, where my sister and I have a condo inherited from my mother, many of the residents haven't been to the beach in many years, even though it is only five miles away.  Go figure.  In any case, I stopped in Breckenridge to check out the Oktoberfest festival on my way to take photographs of the Aspens on Boreas Pass.  The street was crowded with revelers, many of the men actually wearing lederhosen and the women Bavarian peasant dresses.  As at all these festivals, there was a German band playing and dancing in the streets.  They were also selling "Das Turkey Legs," and even the Screamin' Sicilian (mentioned in last week's Taste of Colorado Blog) was there for this event.

And as usual, people were wearing chicken hats.  Really. Actually, a lot of people.  I can't tell you why, but they were. I arrived in Breckenridge about an hour and a half before the festival ended, which was more than enough time.  After 40 minutes of revelry,  I was on my way up to take photographs of the aspens, which even before the middle of September are changing color.  But what I want to know is why Oktoberfest always takes place in September, both here and in Munich?  If it is held in September, shouldn't it be called Septemberfest?  It would be far less confusing.  And one final thought - I think chicken hats should be banned.  Perhaps the ASPCA could get involved in this.  No harm in asking.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Dave Barry Appears At The Tattered Cover Bookstore!

It must be Florida Week at the Tattered Cover Bookstore.  Friday night Miami Herald columnist and author Carl Hiaasen appeared at the Tattered Cover in Aspen Grove, and then last night humorist and writer Dave Barry appeared at the Tattered Cover Bookstore on Colfax Avenue here in Denver.  Barry was his usual funny self, and told humorous stories from his new book Best State Ever:  A Florida Man Defends His Homeland.  After telling tales of many strange events that have gone on in his state, he needed to add that that are many great things about Florida, such as the weather - except for hurricane season, which lasts roughly from June until the following June.  Barry said that hurricanes are definitely not funny, and that he went through Hurricane Andrew.  I myself was also in Florida during Hurricane Andrew.  My mother and I would sit in front of the television set in her condo in Stuart, Florida each night watching the news to see if the damn thing was going to hit us.  It wound up hitting South Miami and leveling the place.  My brother-in-law's brother Willie's house was completely flattened, as was the rest of the neighborhood, and he and his family spent the next two years living in a trailer parked in their driveway while the house was rebuilt.  In any case, Barry says one funny story did come out of Hurricane Andrew.  The house where he lived had a patio enclosed by a screen, to keep the mosquitoes from carrying off the lawn furniture, and each morning he would let his two dogs, Ernest and Zippy,  into the yard.  First he would open up the kitchen door, and then the screen door on the patio. After Hurricane Andrew, the patio's screens and contents blew away, except for the screen door.  The morning after the hurricane, he let the dogs out of the kitchen door as usual, but both dogs stopped in front of the screen door, even though there was nothing stopping them from just going around it into the yard, waiting for Barry to open it up for them.  His dogs, as well as most dogs in his opinion, are not very smart.  After speaking, Barry signed copies of his book and posed for pictures.  He was kind enough inscribe my book and also pose for the above photo.  Thanks Dave!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Carl Hiaasen Appears At The Tattered Cover...

Carl Hiaasen appeared at the Aspen Grove branch of the Tattered Cover Bookstore last night, and really packed them in.   The Aspen Grove store is in Littleton, Colorado and is a very nice store, but much smaller than the downtown or Colfax Avenue stores.  When I arrived at the store after walking from the light rail station, every chair was filled, and every nook and cranny within Hiaasen's view was crammed with people listening to him discuss his new book, Razor Girl.  Plus, since the last time he spoke here, he has written a series of children's books, and so there were a lot of kids in the audience listening to him talk, too.  He kept having to correct his language during his talk because of this.  As usual, Carl was very witty.  I read an advance reading copy (an ARC) of this book, and thought it was great - very funny, filled with his typical wacky Florida characters, and lots of Key West Florida color.  I strongly recommend you run out to your local bookseller right now and buy a copy.  And I mean Right Now!

Friday, September 9, 2016

People Are Strange (i.e.Crazy) Here...

Denverites are obsessed about football.  The Denver Broncos won the Superbowl last year, and afterwards there was a parade, a big celebration downtown, and general craziness.  And when the season was over, was that the end of it?  No way.  Next the news media obsessed about whether Peyton Manning would retire (he did).  Then the heir apparent to the quarterback position signed with another team, and weeks and months went by with everyone obsessing about who would replace him.  Then their star player, Von Miller, was a contract holdout.  The local television stations would start off their local news programs with leads like "St. Louis destroyed by earthquake, but first we go to Broncos headquarters to find out the latest on Von Miller's contract negotiations."  Then Broncos training camp opened, and it was Broncos 24/7 after that.   Yesterday evening - finally - the season started (you mean it actually ended?).  Virtually everybody in town was wearing orange Bronco jerseys.  Some were wearing Bronco tutus, and even the ballet dancer statues on the 16th Street Mall were wearing Broncos appropriate dresses.  There was a big kickoff rally and concert with One Republic at Civic Center Park.  I tried to go, but they wouldn't let me in with my  backpack for security reasons, no doubt due to a credible ISIS threat to Broncos fans.  And in this case, I can see their point (just kidding!).What drives this obsession I don't know.  My office-mate Peter says it is because there is nothing else to do here.  I find that hard to believe.  More likely is some sort of mass psychosis driven by the media.  In any case, coming from Chicago, I am fortunately immune, but it still drives me crazy (or crazier, if you prefer).  And by the way, the Broncos squeaked by 21 to 20 against the Carolina Panthers.  Thank God - I wouldn't be able to stand the mass depression today otherwise.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Dog Of The Week

Yes - this has indeed become a regular feature.  Now that I am taking the bus to work each morning and then walking the 3 miles to Denver's Union Station to the light rail stop in the evenings, I am seeing a lot of dogs tied up in front of stores, bars, and restaurants, while their hipster owners are inside living the good life.  I took the above photograph in front of or close to Dos Santos, a relatively new taco bar on 17th Street.  I perused one of the menus that was on an outside table, and a young woman sitting nearby told me the food was really good.  Although Taco Bell is much cheaper, a hipster like me needs to be with his fellow hipsters, right?  I'll definitely give the place a try one of these days.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Colorado Rockies Update

I attended two Colorado Rockies games this past weekend.  On Saturday they played the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks and got beat badly. Monday afternoon, however, they played the San Francisco Giants, a team only 4 games out of first place, and won 6 to 0.  It was Labor Day, and they had a group from the Air Force Academy singing the national anthem.  All the Rockies players and coaches lined up along the 1st base line for this, but strangely enough, the Giants players and coaches did not (as seen in the photograph on the left). San Francisco, of course, is famous for it's anti-establishment politics and so maybe the team was just reflecting this attitude.  Or perhaps they were just hung over from the night before. They certainly played like it.

Besides the convincing Rockies victory, another feel good story was the major league debut of San Francisco Giants pitcher Ty Blach. Blach grew up in Denver, and his family, who still lives here, was at the game to see him throw 3 innings of one hit baseball.  Blach (seen in his windup in the photograph on the right) attended Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado and was actually coached by Rockies Manager Walt Weiss.  Weiss was very happy to see his former high school player pitch so well, especially since the Rockies had an insurmountable lead at that point.  And by the way, the Rockies are only 11 games out of first at the beginning of September, far better than last year.  Mediocre at last!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Fort Collins - Hipster Haven, Retirement Mecca Or Both?

Actually, it really does seem to be both.  Fort Collins is the home of Colorado State University, numerous microbreweries, and a vibrant "old town" filled with shops, brew pubs, and restaurants.  I have been downtown on a Saturday night there and every bar and restaurant seems to be packed.  It has also been listed in many magazines as the top retirement spot in the country.  I was thinking about this yesterday when I attended the neighborhood Labor Day picnic at my brother-in-law George and sister Susan's townhouse complex.  Somehow their cul-de-sac is now occupied entirely by the over 70 set, and they all seem to absolutely love Fort Collins.  The weather is nice, it a beautiful town with all the amenities, a quaint downtown, less than an hour's drive from Rocky Mountain National Park, and it is only 45 miles from Cheyenne, Wyoming, if you ever decide you want to go off the grid big-time  And yes, that is my sister Susan in the photograph on the left - the youngster of the group, no less, which makes her very happy.

Monday, September 5, 2016

If This Is Labor Day, It Must Be The Taste Of Colorado

Denver has two major festivals each year in downtown's Civic Center Park - The People's Fair over the Memorial Day Holiday and The Taste of Colorado over Labor Day Weekend.  If you ask me, they are almost completely interchangeable.  It is also damn confusing, but that's just me.  As usual this year, it is all about food - the streets circling the park are lined with food booths.  Most popular are the huge fried turkey legs and corn on the cob soaked in butter on a stick.  This is not a health food type of fair by any means.  The Screamin' Sicilian was doing box office business, but it wasn't until I looked at the photograph that I saw they were giving away free samples, and I missed it.  Every cheapskate's nightmare.

And as usual, they had a ride for children where they would bounce way up in the air and then come back down again, with gleeful parents taking photos of them mid-air.  Years from now these same children will be lying on a psychiatrist's couch, of course: "I keep having this recurring nightmare of falling through the air, and wake up screaming.  For God's sake help me doctor."  The stately Colorado State Capitol stands quietly across the street, as it has since 1894, watching over the action.  Back then there was a similar festival around Labor Day called The Festival of Mountain and Plain, but I think they had different ways of torturing their children back then.

Music is a big part of the festival, too.  The big acts are in the evening, of course, but other groups play on the various stages throughout the day.  The group in the photograph on the left is called The Afters.  They are evidently a Christian rock group and they are VERY loud.  You could hear them playing throughout the festival.  If they were trying to reach heaven with their music, I think they probably succeeded.  But hey - I'm a curmudgeon, so what do I know?  A hip curmudgeon, but a curmudgeon none the less.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

College Football Season Begins

I knew something was up when I went to buy a Rockpile seat (the cheapest in the house) for Saturday night's Colorado Rockies baseball game.  I was surrounded by a sea of people wearing blue University of Wisconsin t-shirts.  It was hours before the game started, and so I walked over to the Taste of Colorado Festival in Denver's Civic Center Park   After an hour or so there, I walked back to Coor's Field, but it was still an hour before the gates opened.  I decided to stop into the Sports Column down the street for a beer to pass the time.  The ground floor had the music turned up to about the level of a 747 taking off, and so I went up to the rooftop bar.  I was surprised to find that it was filled to the rafters with Iowa Hawkeye football fans, probably most of the population of Iowa between 21 and 30. Most wore yellow University of Iowa t-shirts with black lettering, although there were a few "I Miss Iowa City" (Really?) t-shirts scattered around.  Everyone was very enthusiastic, to say the least.

I miraculously found a seat at the bar, and tried to get the attention of the young woman tending it so I could order a beer.  This was not easy, considering there were roughly 2,000 Hawkeyes fans demanding service and only two bartenders.  She looked like she was about to have her 19th nervous breakdown, and it was only half-time.  College football is serious business to Iowans, as you can tell from the photograph on the right. Sitting there made me think about the State of Iowa, of all things. My friends Darrel and his wife Linda grew up in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and make frequent trips back there (at least Darrel, anyway).  My Grandfather and Grandmother Hoyt grew up in Clear Lake, Iowa, and moved to Chicago from there.  My Great Aunt Gladys also lived in Cedar Falls, Iowa before moving to Chicago and then California, where my grandparents and my Uncle Jack and Aunt Helen eventually moved.  My father Nelson told me once that everyone who comes from Iowa just loves the place, but mostly move to California (like most of our family did) as soon as they can.  They then hold annual Iowa reunions where they talk about how great the place is, but never move back.  Even I spent a year going to Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, and so I felt I had every right to be sitting at that bar, too.  I started to explain all of this in detail to the woman sitting next to me, but suddenly she and her friend remembered that they needed to be somewhere else right away and left. Go figure. Iowa beat Miami of Ohio (Yes!  They still have a team!) 45 to 21, by the way.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The First Friday Of September

I attended the First Friday Art Walk on Santa Fe Boulevard here in Denver last night, and as usual the street was packed with art lovers.  Or to be more accurate, party lovers.  The food trucks were doing a booming business, and where once a Japanese artist worked on his paintings in the window of Artwork Network, there is now a cash bar doing a steady business (as seen in the photograph on the left). And the most crowded place in the neighborhood?  The Renegade Brewpub.

Music also seemed to be a big part of the evening, as can be seen in the photograph on the right, where art lovers, looking for just the right painting, are serenaded, if you can call it that, by local musicians.  There were also a lot of street musicians out and about, including a group banging away on their drums, which after a while got to be pretty damn annoying.  I did see some nice photographs on display last night, but a lot of the galleries were still showing the same art they had up last month.  I personally feel you should change out your artwork every month, just like your underwear, but that's just me.

Friday, September 2, 2016

DeBrazza's Monkey

When I go to the Denver Zoo, I always look to see if the Mandrill is out and about.  This past Saturday, as usual, it was nowhere to be seen.  That damn monkey always seems to be hiding in the trees or in it's cage. Sometimes it stands just out of sight behind a bush, taunting all the photographers waiting for it to make an appearance.  Right next door, however, is DeBrazza's Monkey, seen in the photograph above, who is not shy at all.  Although not as dramatic in appearance as the Mandrill, it still is very interesting to look at. But what I want to know is who is DeBrazza, and why are these considered his monkeys? I know he was the first European to see them, but did he obtain some kind of copyright on them, or what? Wikipedia does not explain this issue (  Zoology is so confusing.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Lighting A Fire Under The Lions

I went to the Denver Zoo Saturday afternoon to check out what was happening, and all four of the new teenage lions (each one 19 months old) were just lying around in a glass fronted enclosure, sleeping.  Like teenagers everywhere, all they seem to do is eat and sleep.  They definitely need to be livened up.  In contrast, the tigers will soon be getting a new one acre compound called The Edge that the zoo promises will "offer several unique ways to safely connect with these magnificent creatures."  I assume that means you will be able to feed, pet, and maybe even have your photograph taken next to one of them. Why can't they do the same thing with the lions?  A least have some young intern go into the compound every hour or so and give them each a poke with a long pole to get them moving about.  Is that too much to ask?