Monday, October 31, 2016
I know I use this photograph every year, but what the hell - I like it. I took it at an arts and crafts festival one August in Riverside Park up in Vero Beach, Florida. My mother Mary is on the left and my sister Susan on the right, gearing up for another scary Halloween. I probably took the photograph at least 20 years ago, more years than I care to think about. Susan, my brother-in-law George, and I have lived in condos and apartments for many years now, and I don't think any of us has seen an actual trick or treater since 1975. However, George always buys candy to give out each year, and each year he eats it himself. Is that just optimism or the creation of an excuse to indulge? No matter. It's Halloween! And so time to celebrate, at least for the day.
Sunday, October 30, 2016
On the eve of Halloween, I have to wonder why there are so many ghosts rumored to inhabit Denver. Is it because the city's cemeteries were emptied (but only partially and in a very unrespectful way) to make room for parks, or is because of all the Victorian houses located in the city? Denver grew by leaps and bounds in the1880s and 1890s, and thus the city is filled with houses from that era. Nothing makes for a good ghost story like a Victorian mansion. I took the above photograph of the Grant Humphries Mansion during a recent bike ride Not only does it sit on the site of a former cemetery, but Mr. Humphries was killed there around the early 20h century. The death was ruled either a suicide or an accident, but many believed it was murder. His personal nurse disappeared right after the shooting, which is of course very suspicious. The house is now owned by a non-profit group that rents it out for weddings and other events. A number of brides have reported primping in the mansion's mirrors and finding Mr. Humphries starring right back at them. Scary. Or perhaps just pre-wedding jitters.
Saturday, October 29, 2016
Hey - I'm not a snobby person. I am not particularly fond of old bulldogs (which I think the above photograph is of), but I will feature him (or possibly her) anyway if it wants to pose. I took the photo during my bicycle ride last Sunday. It's owner's were having lunch on an outdoor patio, and they didn't seem to object either. I suspect this was the first time anybody has ever wanted to photograph their pooch. In any case, could so many people in Denver own dogs just because it gives them an excuse to walk it to the nearest bistro, hang out on the patio, and have lunch, while the poor dog is tied up to the railing next to them? "We only stopped for lunch because we were out walking the dog." Pretty sneaky.
Friday, October 28, 2016
It has been a long time between bicycle rides, and each time I finally get out there I wonder why I don't do it more often. Last Sunday afternoon I rode from my condo in south central Denver to downtown, and from there up Market Street to the ballpark neighborhood, so named because it is directly north of Coor's Field. It was a factory district for a long time, but now it is filling up with trendy apartment buildings, brewpubs, and restaurants. It is very popular with the hipsters, but I must say you are hard pressed to find a tree in that neighborhood. Plus, there are still a significant number of warehouses and businesses around. I much prefer my own neighborhood near the University of Denver. It is still only 5 miles away from downtown, but is an old and established area. Plus, on the way home from my bike rides, I get to go through Washington Park, which is always a treat and can be seen in the photograph above. What could be nicer?
Thursday, October 27, 2016
I am paraphrasing a biblical quotation here, and it is one that can't be disputed. The poor have always been with us, and it appears that will always be the case. When you see the poor and handicapped walking down the street, it reminds you just how lucky you are, and how small your troubles are compared to so many others in this world. Denver seems to be especially hard hit by homelessness - there are panhandlers holding up cardboard signs on every street corner, homeless camps all along the Cherry Creek Parkway (the road leading into downtown), and many people (both men and women) sleeping in the parks every night. If I was homeless, I would be heading to a warmer climate by now, and so who knows why there are so many homeless here. Perhaps it is the same all over the country. And what is the solution to all this? I wish I knew.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
I had dinner and beers with my friend Stuart at the Old Chicago Restaurant on South Colorado Boulevard here in Denver last night to watch the first World Series game between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians. This was an historic game, since it was the first time the Cubs have played in a World Series since 1945, and they haven't won one since 1908. And sadly, this return to the World Series after 71 years did not go exactly as planned, as the Cubs lost to the Indians 6 to 0. Could the curse of the Billy Goat still be working? Nonsense. It is just one game, and the Cubs will return to the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, where they play very well indeed, after today's game in Cleveland. No need to panic - yet.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Hall of Fame Quarterback Steve Young appeared at the local Denver bookstore where I work for a book-signing for his new book QB: My Life Behind the Spiral. yesterday afternoon. I was thinking that he would be appearing in the evening, and that I would miss getting his photograph, but it turns out he did the book-signing at noon. Always a good idea to read your e-mails all the way through - another lesson learned. In any case, Young seems to be a pretty nice guy. He let each person in line pose for a photograph with him, and took time to talk with each fan.
After taking the photograph on the right, I heated up my lunch in the store's microwave and brought it outside to a table near the door. A short while later Steve Young walked out of the store with the publisher rep, met a family fried and her young son, and took a bunch of photographs with them, too. Like I said, a really nice guy. When he first walked out of the store, I overheard him commenting on how nice the weather was here in Denver. Of course, Young played football for the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park for most of his career. And as Mark Twain once put it, "the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." Nuff said.
Monday, October 24, 2016
I took the light rail train down to Denver's 16th Street Mall this past Saturday afternoon to check out the annual Zombie Crawl. It is the day when Denver's sizable zombie population is allowed to freely roam the mall and "do their thing." On the train downtown a number of my fellow passengers were zombies, including a very excited 2 year old zombie being taken to the 16th Street Mall by his mother and grandmother to mix with his own kind. When I got off the train, I was suddenly surrounded by these creatures. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of them, parading around. It makes you realize just how serious Denver's Zombie problem really is.
I must say many of the zombies do not seem like a happy lot. Many of them turned and growled in my face as I walked down the mall. Probably just letting off steam, since the rest of the year they are forced to cover up and hide their zombieness. I suspect that's why you see so many people in Denver wearing hoodies and sunglasses - regular people get unnerved seeing seeing zombies out on the street. In fact, a lot of my fellow passengers on the light rail train were giving the zombie passengers strange looks. They were probably unaware that this was the zombies's special day.
And I suspect that many of people parading down the mall were not true zombies, but simply Denverites who just love dressing up in costume. I have mentioned before that people in Denver just go crazy at Halloween, often wearing elaborate and expensive costumes. Not only do people here wear costumes and attend parties all Halloween weekend, but the entire month of October. Personally, I blame all the Californians who have moved here in recent years. They buy older homes all over town, including my neighborhood, tear the place down, and then put up McMansions. I suspect they wander the rooms of these huge places wearing zombie and Halloween costumes all year round. It is like having an Adams's Family on every block. A truly scary thing.
Sunday, October 23, 2016
My friend Mark invited me over to his home to watch the Chicago Cubs play Game 5 of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday night. And the Cubs actually won, and now move on to the World Series for the 1st time since 1945. Holy Cow! The Cubs will meet the Cleveland Indians for the 1st game of the World Series this coming Tuesday night. And even though I am from the South Side of Chicago and a Chicago White Sox fan, I am very happy for the Cubs and their North Side fans. In celebration of this historic occasion, I took a photograph of Mark next to the television as we watched the game, with a photograph of long time Chicago Cubs (and Chicago White Sox too, I might add) announcer Harry Caray looking down at the Cubs winning that historic victory. Of course, this photograph is not really on the wall of Mark's house. But it damn well should be. Go Cubs!
Saturday, October 22, 2016
This week I am featuring a dog that was hanging out with it's owner by the outside patio at Dos Santos, the taco bar on 17th Street, which was once - and possibly still is - known as Denver's "Restaurant Row." As you can see, this pooch was more than happy to pose for the camera. None of this turning your back and trying to avoid being photographed like some people who shall remain nameless (i.e.my friend Valarie). It makes me think that I should become a professional dog photographer. Just print up some business cards, put an ad in the local weekly entertainment paper, and you've got yourself a profession. What could possibly go wrong? And please don't tell me.
Friday, October 21, 2016
I just finished Devil's Night, the eighth novel in the Asphalt Warrior series featuring Denver cab driver Brendan "Murf" Murphy. I attended a reading and book signing for the previous book in the series, but this is the first one I have read. The author was Gary Reilly, who passed away in 2011, and never saw any of his books published. They are now being published posthumously by Mark Stevens. I must say, it took me a while to get into the book, but I eventually warmed up to the main character and found the book kind of fun, especially since the story takes place in the city where I live. I definitely intend to read a few others in the series. I suggest you check them out, even if you don't live in Denver.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
As I mentioned in yesterday's Blog, I went to the Denver Zoo Sunday afternoon to walk around, take a few photos, and generally just enjoy the nice fall weather. Eventually I walked over to the feline area and took photographs of some of the big cats on exhibit. Of all the animals at the zoo Sunday afternoon, they were the ones who seemed most willing to pose for the camera, or at least glare at it. The photo on the left is of a "leopard of the north." The Denver Zoo distinguishes it from the "leopard of the south" by putting sun glasses on those southern leopards.
Both the "leopard of the north" and the snow leopard in the photograph on the right (also looking none too happy, I might add), are in tiny cages, and spend their days pacing up and down. Animals like this need room to run, and in my opinion, if the Denver Zoo doesn't have the space to allow them to do this, they should send them to a zoo that does. Or at least let them run freely throughout the zoo grounds, like they do with the peacocks, although zoo officials don't seem to be too keen on the idea, for some reason. I get the feeling that these animals blame me for their incarceration, which explains the hostile looks. Or am I just paranoid?
To prove my point, I took a photograph of one of the four "teenage" lions ( now 17 months old) that the zoo recently acquired. The compound for these animals is fairly large, and as a result, they appear very serene. They have a lot of space, and can run up and down the compound at will. Of course, all 4 of them seem to just lie around all day, barely moving at all, but at least they have the option of going for a little run. Kind of like Denverites who never go to the mountains, since they know they can always go if they ever want to. Or suburban Chicagoans who never go into the Loop. I still say the zoo should have some trainee poke the lions with a stick to get them moving, but nobody ever listens to me. I wonder why?
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
It was such a pleasant fall day (sunny and 85 degrees, no less) that I went to the Denver Zoo Sunday afternoon, taking a few photographs and just enjoying the day. Eventually, I took the photograph above of a mother and child having a very close encounter with one of the giraffes. However, when I first arrived, the giraffes did not to seem to want to have any encounters whatsoever, and I began to hear complaints from zoo guests about having paid $5.00 on giraffe food for nothing. And the giraffe food, by the way, seems to be pieces of grass. No wonder the giraffes aren't all that interested in strolling over for a taste. I say give them something a bit more appetizing, such as chocolate. In any case, finally one of the giraffes - obviously feeling sorry for all the disappointed children - came over and visited, munching on each one's grass blades one by one. What a trooper!
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
As I have mentioned frequently on this Blog, Denver is beset by a very serious Zombie problem. It is so bad, in fact, that the City of Denver has set aside a special day where Zombies can parade up and down the 16th Street Mall with their own kind, such as the typical Zombie family in the above photo that I took the year before last, and not feel the disapproving stares they receive the rest of the year. And so this coming Saturday they will once again gather along the 16th Street Mall between 1:00 and 5:00 P.M. And then after that they will start to riot. At least that is what they did last year. I missed that particular event because I was working part-time at Walgreen's, but this year I have no such excuse. Be there or be square, as we used to say back in the 1960s. Or was it the 50s?
Monday, October 17, 2016
Sunday was also a beautiful day, and I spent the afternoon at the Denver Zoo. The trees at the zoo are also changing color, as can be seen in the photograph on the right of the zoo train making its final round of the afternoon. And what is happening at the Denver Zoo these days? Despite Simon and Garfunkel 's song saying that it is all happening at the zoo, that didn't seem to be the case Sunday. Unless you count dodging the thousands of baby strollers and wagons that seem to be coming at you from all directions. Not that I am complaining. I am fully insured, after all, and I can always call injury lawyer Frank Azar - The Strong Arm - to sue the little darlings. Just kidding. Really.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
If we hadn't gotten divorced back in 1987 (or was it 1988?), today would have been my ex-wife Lisa and my 34th wedding anniversary. Not only a long time to be married, but also a long time to be divorced. We got married at a church in Golden, Colorado by both a protestant minister and a catholic priest (Father Bob, who was quite the character, I might add). The church was where Lisa was the choir director, and the priest was a family friend. We thought we had all the bases covered, but evidently not. In any case, the above photograph was taken courtesy of a tripod up in Golden Gate Canyon State Park, just to the west of Golden, where we had gone to write our wedding vows. I had never been there before, and for no particular reason, I have never been there since. Just call me a sentimental fool. Or even a fool, if you wish.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Friday, October 14, 2016
I recently read the book Hemingway's Boat, a history of writer Ernest Hemingway's life in Key West and Cuba from the 1930s thru the 1950s. It made me remember the last time I visited Key West, which was in the late 1970s (I think), when my mother Mary, father Nelson, sister Susan and I took a road trip from our parent's condo in Stuart, Florida to Key West. I took the above photograph of my mother and sister in front of Captain Tony's Saloon, which was actually the original location of the famous Sloppy Joe's bar, where Hemingway was a regular. When the landlord raised the rent one dollar a week in 1938, the enraged bar owner moved Sloppy Joe's down the street to it's current location. I know just how he felt - I can feel his pain even today. In any case, Captain Tony's came about in 1958, and was the place where none other than Jimmy Buffet got his start. And why didn't I take the photograph in front of the more historic Sloppy Joe's? Because it wasn't yellow. Makes perfect sense to me.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
There is a restaurant next door to the bookstore where I work that until recently was called The Good Son. It closed for remodeling for a few weeks and changed it's name to "The Goods." Which of course means they can just remove a few letters and use the same signs. A money saving idea that I can certainly appreciate. They have also uncovered a door that provides direct access to their restaurant from the bookstore, which was covered up years ago when a previous restaurant moved into the space. The restaurant was all set to reopen when the oven blew up, setting off the sprinklers in the bookstore's offices - located directly beneath the restaurant - and causing over $3,000 in damages. Since then the restaurant has been cleaning things up, and is now back open. As I was walking past the place the other day, checking on the progress, I took the above photograph of a dog looking out of the main entrance, evidently there to help with the cleanup. And goofing off instead. You just can't find good help these days. In any case, the bottom line is you better take a close look at your oven. They can be deadly.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Halloween decorations are going up, and the parties beginning, even though Halloween is still a little less than 3 weeks away. People are crazy about Halloween here in Denver, and seem to dress up long before the actual day arrives. At least I think they are in costume. And since Halloween arrives on a Monday this year, I imagine it will be an entire weekend filled with tricks and treats. Because it is an election year, I have to wonder just how many Donald Trumps and Hillary Clintons we will see roaming the streets this year. Can you imagine anything else more frightening than that? Didn't think so.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
I recently finished reading The Lewis Man, and have just started The Chess Men, the second and third books in Peter May's Outer Hebrides trilogy, which I believe are just as good as the first book, The Black House. All of the stories involve the investigation of a murder by (now former) police detective Fin Macleod, and the solution in each case involves a horrific incident from the past. The stories are very absorbing, but also show the hardships that the residents of the Isle of Lewis, the largest of Scotland's Outer Hebrides, have to constantly endure. It appears to be a beautiful, but very unforgiving landscape. And I am not too sure I want to put visiting there on my bucket list. Even the author of the series, Peter May, lives not on the Isle of Lewis, where the stories are set, but in France. Not hard to figure out why.
Monday, October 10, 2016
My friend Stuart (seen in the photograph on the left) and I went for a hike along Golden's Clear Creek Trail Saturday afternoon before catching the Cubs-Giants game. It was a really pleasant day, and the trail was crowded with people. The colors are beginning to turn in the lower elevations now, which of course means the first snowfall is near. We walked all along Clear Creek to the end of the trail, and then back again. Clear Creek, in case you don't know, is the water used to make Coors Beer, but don't blame the poor river for that.
Sunday, October 9, 2016
My friend Stuart (seen in the photograph above) and I caught the second game of the National League Division Playoffs between the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants at Manny & Bo's last night, a neighborhood pizzeria on South Golden Road in Golden, Colorado. It is a really nice, homey sort of place with checkered tablecloths, good pizza at a reasonable price, and a staff that seems to be made up entirely of college students from the nearby Colorado School of Mines. The Cubs won the game 5 to 2, and are one game away from going to the National League Championship Series. This could be the Cubs year. Coming from the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Brainerd, I am of course first and foremost a Chicago White Sox fan, but the White Sox are long out of it, and so I too am now rooting for the Cubs. Stuart, a Northsider originally from the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago and later Lincolnwood, Illinois, is a died in the wool Cubs fan, and this year he is in his glory. However, I was recently told by a Blog reader - also a Chicago White Sox fan - to tell Stuart that if this is indeed the year the Cubs go all the way, to enjoy it, because it will probably not happen again for a long long time. Just ask any White Sox fan - they know.
Saturday, October 8, 2016
I got home to my condo, across the street from the University of Denver's Ritchie Center (seen in the above photo), last night and the carillon - a rather fancy name for the bells, I think - was playing the theme song from The Exorcist. What this means, I have no idea, but this is the organization which outsourced the DU Bookstore, where I worked for 30 years, and laid off all the employees without offering them alternative employment. Recently, the new chancellor proposed tearing down my condo building and moving the light rail station to the corner my building now sits on. I found out that this is not technically feasible, since the station where trains stop cannot be on an incline. However, in the fall issue of University of Denver Magazine (I get it because I am also an alumni), there is an article still proposing that idea. "We're DU - the laws of physics don't apply to us" seems to be the message here. Lucky thing I am not a bitter person, just quietly amused. And I now think I know why they were playing the theme song from The Exorcist.
Friday, October 7, 2016
I spent last night watching WPTV TV in West Palm Beach (via the internet, of course), tracking the course of Hurricane Matthew. Matthew came very close to Stuart, Florida, where the condo my sister Susan and I inherited from my mother is located, but through some sort of miracle it stayed out at sea. I still have to find out if there was any minor damage from the tropical force winds, but fortunately Matthew was not the disaster that was predicted. The photograph above, by the way, is of my mother Mary and father Nelson posing in front of the condo (it is the end unit on the first floor) shortly after they moved to Stuart in 1976. They both loved it in Stuart and spent their happiest years there. After my father passed away in 1983, my mother continued to live there, and it remained her home for 30 years. Lots of happy memories there, and hopefully still in one piece.
Thursday, October 6, 2016
Hurricane Matthew is bearing down on the Treasure Coast of Florida, which includes Stuart, Florida, where the condo my sister and I inherited from our mother is located. Matthew is a really bad storm, and I can only hope and pray that it stays out to sea and doesn't strike land. Back in 2005, three hurricanes hit Stuart and did tremendous damage, including to Stuart's Bathtub Beach, where the photograph above of my mother and I was taken. It was called Bathtub Beach because it was ringed by reefs that protected the area from the ocean waves, thus making it popular for families with young children. Those hurricanes completely destroyed the reefs. My mother was down there for two of those three hurricanes, which made it a tremendous worry for us. My heart is with the people down there and their friends and relatives who are concerned about them Let's hope for the best.
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Yesterday I mentioned my father Nelson's habit of checking out huge stacks of books each week from the Morgan Park Library (located near our house in the South Side Brainerd neighborhood of Chicago), stacking them next to his chair, and then going through them one by one, along with a line of Fannie May candies stacked around his circular smoking stand. And just today I found a photograph of him doing exactly that from 1970 that I have decided to feature on today's Blog
As long as I am at it, I also decided to feature a photograph of my father (who is on the right) looking at a book celebrating the NFL's 50th anniversary with my Uncle Bill (my mother Mary's brother), who was visiting at the time from Cleveland. This photograph, also from 1970, was taken at my sister Susan and brother-in-law George's apartment at 1130 South Michigan in Chicago, just across the street from Grant Park. Our whole family thought they were paying a fortune for this place, located on the 24th floor with a lake view, but today you pay four times that amount for a modest two bedroom apartment in Denver, or for that matter, Chicago too. Times have definitely changed.
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
I just finished reading After The Crash, a murder mystery by French writer Michel Bussi, and enjoyed it thoroughly. The story takes place in France, and tells what happens when a 3 month old baby is the only survivor of a plane crash, but it cannot be determined which of two families it belongs to. The story has lots of local color and an exciting, surprise ending. The book was an advance reading copy that I picked up at the Denver bookstore where I work. It has already been released, so you can pick up a copy at your local bookstore today. In fact, I was thinking that it probably wasn't out yet, but when I looked, I saw it was released this past January. Which tells me I am picking up way to many of these "ARCs." I now have huge stacks of them in my den. It reminds me of my father, who would go to the library each week and return with a huge stack of books, which he would put in a pile next to his chair and then go through them, one by one. He would also open a box of Fannie May candies and put them in a circle on the smoking stand by his chair, going through them one by one, too. Am I turning into my father? Of course not - we don't have Fannie May candies in Denver.
Monday, October 3, 2016
I went to the final Colorado Rockies game of the year yesterday afternoon at Coors Field in Lower Downtown Denver (LoDo), and for the second day in a row the Rockies lost to the Milwaukee Brewers in 10 innings of play. In what has become a yearly tradition, the Rockies players walked around the field after the game greeting fans and throwing souvenirs into the stands. And as usual, center fielder Charlie Blackmon - a fan favorite - spent the most time greeting fans and was the last player into the dugout. He is one baseball star who realizes just how lucky he is. Thanks Charlie!
Sunday, October 2, 2016
I went with my friends Mark and Stuart to the final Colorado Rockies night game of the year last night against the Milwaukee Brewers at Coors Field. The Rockies are 16 games out of 1st place, and the Brewers 30, and so it wasn't exactly a critical contest. The heros of my south side Chicago youth - the Chicago White Sox - are 15 games back. In other words, just as bad as the Rockies. Of these three teams, the worst is by far Milwaukee, but they still managed to beat the Rockies 4 to 3. There is one bright spot in the baseball world, however, which Stuart, from the north side of Chicago, demanded - yes, demanded - that I bring up. The Chicago Cubs, the darlings of Chicago's north side, have the best record in baseball, and are 17 games ahead of their nearest rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, who are no slouches, either. They go into the playoffs this week hoping to finally win it all this year. Which would be their first World Series win since 1908. And so Go Cubs!
Saturday, October 1, 2016
Still another "Final Friday" has come and gone, and once again I attended the Denver Art Museum's "Untitled Final Fridays" event, this month titled "Stop Motion." Not to be too critical, but the exhibits were all unchanged from last month and the month before that. And the 4th floor of the contemporary art wing was closed down completely for an art installation. I therefore had to contend myself looking at a few oldies but goodies, including the Baining artist face mask I am posing next to in the photograph on the left. It amazes me every time I look at it how an artist from New Britain, New Guinea, working around 1900, could capture the look of my inner soul so completely. It is truly astonishing.