Friday, March 31, 2017
As long-time readers of my Blog will remember, I used to take photographs holding various books using the pool at my condo as a backdrop. Perhaps I did it a bit too much, but that photo opportunity was lost when the pool started leaking, and the HOA closed it. And it has stayed closed for 3 summers in a row. The condo association thought it would cost too much to repair, and were planning to have it removed. A number of tenants wanted to pave it over (the only green space in the entire complex) and add more parking spaces. Perfect. The down side of living in a condo - having to deal with strange rangers. But when you grab them and try to shake some sense into them, they get all huffy. In any case, the HOA took the radical step of getting an estimate of how much it would cost to repair the pool, and found it cost far less than believed, and was much cheaper than turning it into a parking lot. And so the pool will be back. As will the overused pool background in my photographs. Hurrah!
Thursday, March 30, 2017
It's almost April. And even on Denver's Colfax Avenue (once called America's longest, wicked street) spring is in full swing. The trees are blooming with pretty white flowers and the homeless people who survived the winter are coming out of hibernation. As you can see from the photograph on the left, the trees make even this particularly ugly stretch of Colfax actually look pretty.
The trees in the gentrified neighborhoods just off Colfax are also in bloom. These neighborhoods used to be considered very iffy, but over the years people realized those old Victorian houses were selling for a bargain, and gentrification began to change the area into a yuppie paradise. As I have mentioned before, the prices have gone sky high for these "painted ladies" over the last few years, but they are still far cheaper than the Victorians in California - hence all the California transplants you see here in Denver these days. And that probably explains why the restaurant next door to the bookstore where I work specializes in vegetarian entrees. Still another reason to resent Californians, if we didn't have enough already.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
As part of my part-time job at a local Denver grocery store, I stock groceries on the weekends from 9:00 P.M. until midnight. On Friday nights I get to take all the so-called "U-Boats" out to the sales floor. U-Boats are what the overnight grocery stockers put the remaining grocery items on when they don't fit on the shelf. Then people like me take those U-Boats and try to fit those items on the shelves in the following days, as I am about to do in the photograph on the left. Most of the time this is what I do there in that 9:00 P.M. to midnight period, but on Fridays, when the overnight stock people also work on the U-Boats, it is I who gets to launch the "fleet," so to speak. Far out.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
I went to the Beautiful Junk Sale at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Lakewood, Colorado Saturday afternoon, and as I was leaving I noticed a bunch of horse trailers on the other side of the complex. I walked over there and found out it was the Westernaires Equestrian Center. You can evidently bring your own horse in a trailer - or rent a horse at the center - and take the trails into the foothills to the west. I took the photograph on the left of a horse tied up to it's trailer after an afternoon ride. He was quite a willing model, I might add.
I took the photograph on the right close to where the riding trail into the foothills and mountains begins. I assume that the horses in the corral are available for rent. Most of the horses were just eating hay off the ground, but the white horse in the photograph kept starring at me the entire time. He was probably afraid I was planning on renting him for a ride, and suspected I did not have a high level of equestrian skills. Good guess - we had very few horses back on the South Side of Chicago, where I grew up. And I have to say it - I always thought Lakewood, Colorado was a one horse town, and now I have photographic proof.
Monday, March 27, 2017
I went to the Beautiful Junk Sale at the Jefferson County, Colorado Fairgrounds Saturday afternoon and while there took the above photograph of my friend Valarie. Valarie works for The Action Center, a non-profit organization that assists people on hard times, and was formerly the Operations Manager of the University of Denver Bookstore, where I was the Finance Manager for 30 years. Valarie also once owned Capitol Hill Books, a used book store just across the street from the Colorado State Capitol, and takes care of the used book part of the Beautiful Junk sale. I usually arrive in the last hour of the sale, when you can buy a shopping bag full of books for $10, and fill it indiscriminately, mostly with out of date travel books with lots of photographs. Nobody else seems to want them, but I do. The best sites never go out of date, after all. Just ask travel guru Rick Steves. He knows, even if he does update his travel guides every year.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Yes - it is true. One week from today the major league baseball season begins. In honor of this, I am featuring the photograph I took of legendary baseball broadcaster Harry Caray at Comiskey Park back in 1980, when he was the announcer for the Southside Chicago White Sox. As everyone knows, he later moved to the Northside Chicago Cubs and developed a nationwide following. Here in Denver, the Rockies have a new manager, Bud Black, and a few new players, but have already been hit by a series of injuries. It looks like another long season for them, and the season is still a week away. In other words, the same old story.
Saturday, March 25, 2017
These days when I go to the break room at the local grocery store where I work, the television screen on the wall is tuned to basketball. It is March Madness, after all, and everyone here in Denver is really into these games. Woe to anyone who tries to change the program to Rick Steve's' Europe (I did survive, however). In any case, last week Northwestern was playing Gonzaga, and I was able to watch the end of the game. I am not interested in basketball, but my father Nelson graduated from the Northwestern Dental School and always rooted for their teams, and so I always have, too. An old joke revolving around Northwestern's reputation for losing goes "Interstate 94, Northwestern nothing, a play on the interstate that goes near that Evanston, Illinois campus. But I must say, Northwestern held it's own against Gonzaga, the top rated college baslketball team in the country, and lost by only a few points. Wait until next year, boys.
Friday, March 24, 2017
No - this was not a Robin Hood movie, but a soccer match between fierce rivals Nottingham Forest and Derby County. I brought over a pizza and watched the game at Mark's house, which he shares with his twin brother Mike. I haven't seen Mike in a while, and last night I noticed an astounding thing - they look exactly alike! Amazing. In any case, Mark (seen in the photo above) and I caught up on all the University of Denver gossip as we watched the game (Mark works at DU's Anderson Academic Commons - i.e. the library). It was a pretty good soccer match, as soccer matches go, and Nottingham Forest tied the game 2 - 2 at the last minute. And I have to add that Robin Hood and his Merry Men did make an appearance - to the cheers of thousands - during half-time. They must be pretty damn old by now, but seemed very spry nonetheless.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
I worked this past Sunday at my part-time job at a local Denver grocery store picking groceries ordered via the internet, and took a brief moment to take the above "action" photo. Early afternoon I push a trolley around the store grabbing the items ordered, spend late afternoon taking the groceries to the customers when they arrive at the parking lot, bag groceries after that, and from 9:00 until midnight do stock work. In other words, I am a "jack of all trades" at the store. It is fun out on the floor on busy days - a great people watching opportunity - but at the end of the day, just standing there waiting for the final customers to arrive, it is probably the most boring experience ever. But hey, after all, I'm not paying them. For that you have to go to Disney World.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
I picked up a copy of the Seventh Plague by James Rollins a few weeks ago, after being on a waiting list at the Denver Public Library for several months, but was in the middle of a Daniel Silva novel and couldn't start reading it right away. When I finally did start reading it, I didn't have much time left, and it is now overdue. Back in medieval times, if you borrowed a book and didn't return it on time, the penalty was eternal damnation. At the Denver Public library it is just a small monetary amount, which I think is a better system. In any case, the Seventh plague is a fairly decent adventure novel / mystery. If you have read James Rollins before, the story line is much like his previous books, and you will enjoy it. It involves an ancient plague that returns to the world and the search for a cure, leading the "Sigma Team" to England, Africa, and the Arctic Circle. One thing I did learn - it is chilly up there.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
It has been almost two years since I have posted the photograph on the left on this Blog (I think), and so I am betting nobody will remember it and I can use it again. It shows my sister Susan, myself, and my mother Mary boarding The Jungle Queen, which leaves from the Bahia Mar Marina in Fort Lauderdale and cruises up the New River, past huge mansions, large yachts, the Riverwalk area of Fort Lauderdale, and into what remains of wilderness in that city to a kitchie tourist island. I recommended to my friends Jake and Valarie, who are planning to visit Stuart, Florida and environs, to make sure they take that cruise. As an added bonus, Bahia Mar Marina, as all you John D. McDonald mystery fans know, was the location of literary hero Travis McGee's houseboat, the Busted Flush. They even have a plaque there marking the spot where it was supposedly moored. I have a photograph of myself standing in front of it. I might even share it on this blog someday. Until then, you'll just have to be patient. Deal with it.
Monday, March 20, 2017
My friends Valarie and Jake will soon be visiting Stuart, Florida, to check out what my father used to refer to as Camelot. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, of course, but I do hope that Valarie and Jake like the place. I had dinner with them last week, and gave them maps and sightseeing tips, but I'll be damned if I didn't forget to take a photograph of them for the Blog (I guess I was too wrapped up in the subject) and so decided to Photoshop their faces onto to a photograph of Stuart's House of Refuge Museum, built in 1876 as a lifesaving station. Valarie and Jake were originally going to stay in my sister and my condo in Stuart, but since I rented the place March 1st, they made reservations at a bed and breakfast not too far away. I don't think the fellow I rented the condo to would have been crazy about letting them stay in the spare bedroom. Hope you have a great time, guys!
Sunday, March 19, 2017
It was 80 degrees in Denver yesterday, warmer than even Miami. We have gone from winter straight into summer - for the moment, anyway. Usually when it gets this nice in March or April, we have a massive snowstorm the following week, if not the following day. I took the above photograph of University Boulvard near the DU campus from my car window on the way to my part-time job at a local grocery store. The University of Denver will be pretty quiet this week, since it is spring break. All the little rich kids will be off to Europe or the Caribbean - or perhaps even one of those skull-filled castles mentioned in that Atlas Obscura book - making for a week of peace and quiet at my condo building as well. In that respect, it is spring break for me, too. Cheers!
Saturday, March 18, 2017
The best thing about working at Hatch's Bookstore back in the early 1980s was being able to look at the sunset from the large windows at the front of the store. I am currently working a part time job at a local Denver grocery store on the site of that bookstore (the mall it was in was torn down years ago), and once again have a west looking window that allows me to see those sunsets. However, to take some of the sunset photographs like the one on the left, I had to open the door, walk out, and move to the right a bit to get the tree in. The problem is that the door closes automatically after just a few seconds, and once it is shut you can't get back in. I snapped the photo and then ran to the door, sticking my arm in the small remaining space to keep the door open. Made it by the skin of my teeth. Good exercise, though, and that's the most important thing.
And in the photograph on the right are the actual ghosts of Hatch's Bookstore. Clockwise from the top left are Bruce, who went to work as an archaeologist for the Wyoming State Highway Department and was never heard from again (warning: that happens a lot to people who move to Wyoming), my friend Stuart, with whom we both still haunt the Old Chicago Restaurant and Bars in Denver and Lakewood, Colorado (see last Thursday's Blog); Carrie, who was - as you can see from the photo - always a bit of a little snot, and last I heard was an editor for a book publisher in New York; my ex-wife Lisa, who now lives in San Francisco, and Maggie, who now runs the Colorado Center for the Book. Those were the days, my friends, I thought they'd never end. Now I will launch into that Mary Hopkin song. Be glad there is no audio or video.
Friday, March 17, 2017
Today is St. Patrick's Day, my Aunt Helen's favorite holiday. Aunt Helen was Irish to the core, and I believe her parent's - or possibly grandparents - immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland. My Uncle Jack (my mother Mary's brother) and Aunt Helen got married right here in Denver, at Lowry Air Force Base (which still existed when I moved here, but is now an upscale real estate development), just before Uncle Jack was sent overseas during WWII. Helen was a really nice person, as was her sister Mildred, but their sister Gert was something else - the matriarch of the family - and ruled with an iron fist. She collected all the paychecks from her husband and her children, and controlled their lives to the nth degree. One Christmas Eve, when they all came over to our house in the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Braineerd, we asked where her daughter Madonna was. We were told that Madonna was doing her chores, cleaning the house, and could not come. On Christmas Eve, no less. When Madonna announced she was going to marry a Protestant, Gert was furious, and everybody from that family was afraid to attend the wedding, except for my Uncle Jack (Jack and Helen are seen in the above diptych, by the way). Once Madonna had a baby, all was forgiven. I thought that Gert had finally mellowed, but when I told this story to a friend, he suggested that Gert probably just wanted to make sure the children were raised Catholic. Makes sense to me. Hopefully the Irish (by which I mean the Gert types) have changed by now. God willing.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Yesterday was the Ides of March, made famous by the warning given to Julius Caesar just before his assassination. To celebrate this momentous occasion, my friend Stuart (seen in the photo above) and I had burgers and beers at the Old Chicago Restaurant and Bar on South Colorado Boulevard here in Denver. Stuart talked the entire evening about the first couple of months of the Trump administration, and I must say he was not a happy camper about it. I suspect Trump has lost his chance of winning Stuart over with his charming personality. Stuart is not crazy about Caesar - I mean Trump. Et tu, Brute?
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
I have visited the Denver Art Museum many times, and up on the 6th floor , in a kind of library-like room, is displayed a mummy case and several small Egyptian statuettes. However, there are no plaques or anything else to tell you anything about them. I have often wondered if they were real, or just copies. Perhaps the museum smuggled them out of Egypt and doesn't want to draw attention to them. In any case, I finally looked the mummy case up on the internet, and it is indeed real, and dates from around 302 B.C. This is also the room, by the way, where one Halloween a museum employee told of her many experiences with the supernatural. I suppose the mummy case could be cursed, and the museum does not want to not spread panic throughout Denver. Makes sense to me.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
I was only scheduled until 12:30 P.M. this past Saturday at my part-time job at a local grocery store, and so I decided to visit the Denver Art Museum to see if they had any new exhibits up. I was especially interested in whether there was a new exhibit in the photography gallery. As it turns out, the answer was no. In fact, the entire 7th floor of the museum was closed, just as it had been when I attended the Final Friday event last month. And so I wandered about looking at the regular exhibits. I went down one floor to the European Gallery and looked at the few impressionist paintings the museum had on display. I spent a long time looking at Claude Monet's "The Customs House," pondering what life would be like if I owned it (see photograph above). Many versions of this painting exist, by the way - Monet liked to paint the same subject over and over again at different times of the year, in different weather conditions, during different political administrations, etc. Despite so many versions of this painting, it is still worth millions. All I need to do is find one of these babies at a pawn shop or antique store. Dream on, McDuff.
Monday, March 13, 2017
Yes, it's true - after being vacant for almost a year - not counting periodic visits from me - the Stuart, Florida condo my sister Susan and I inherited from my mother Mary has been rented for a year. Coincidentally, the lease expires on February 28th, 2018, the day before I plan to retire. How perfect is that? And in honor of this great event, I am posting a photograph of my mother Mary and father Nelson posing in front of the condo right after they moved into the place back in 1976. And yes - I have used this photograph more than once on this blog, but I like it, and therefore intend to use it any time I want. So there.
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Today would have been my father Nelson's 108th birthday if he were alive today. I have to admit that sounds pretty damn old. Even my father would admit that if he were still around. I remember him telling me once when I was a kid about the time he and his parents lived in a cabin on our property 5 miles south of Herbster, Wisconsin (which is on Lake Superior) until Thanksgiving. He said he got so cold he would get out and jog along the horse-drawn school wagon to keep warm. It truly amazed me that he went to school on a horse drawn wagon and I guess I implied to him that he must be pretty ancient to have done that. He seemed to take that the wrong way. But now, let's face it. One hundred and eight is no kid. And by the way, the photograph above was taken of my father and myself in the backyard of our house in the south side Chicago neighborhood of Brainerd. Those were the days, back when I was at my most charmfull, instead of an old curmudgeon.
Saturday, March 11, 2017
As I have mentioned before, I have a part time job in the evenings at a local grocery store. I work in the department that takes orders for groceries via the internet, picks them out, and then delivers them to the customer when they pull into the parking lot. However, they can only place orders until 4:00 in the afternoon, and so after that you just wait until the last customer has picked up their groceries. There is cleaning to do, but after that is done you just have to stand around and wait. Once that last customer is taken car of, you can go out and bag groceries, and at 9:00 P.M., if you are scheduled until midnight, you can stock groceries. But waiting for that last customer can be hard, and often I look at the real work out the window in the door, where people shop and clerks bag groceries, and long to be out there.
Friday, March 10, 2017
The local bookstore where I work is located in Denver's Congress Park neighborhood, and it is filled with old Victorians. Many are still divided up into apartments, but many more have been restored, and the neighborhood is now a model of gentrification. In the past, the area had a bit of a seedy reputation, at least the part close to Colfax Avenue, but those days are long gone. People snap up these houses whenever they come on the market, and pay top dollar, although much less than, for example, a Victorian in San Francisco. Which probably explains all the Californians living here now.
Some people still have a negative image of the area, however. When I mention to someone that in the summer I sometimes walk from the store to the Light Rail Train at Union Station, they often ask how safe it is. Perfectly safe unless a gang of yuppies decides to attack you so they can pay their bill at Whole Foods. And by the way, I once stayed in a Victorian house here in Denver overnight. It was cold as hell, and the tub was in the center of the bathroom, surrounded by a circular shower curtain, with a hose you held to wash yourself off. So I say to hell with charm. Give me a condo to live in with all the conveniences any day.
Thursday, March 9, 2017
As I was heading upstairs on my lunch break yesterday at the local Denver bookstore where I work, I noticed a book for kids on display about Che Guevara, Fidel Castro's fellow Cuban revolutionary. Perhaps it's just me, but I think that is a strange topic for a children's book. I mentioned this to co-workers at the bookstore and at my part-time evening job, and nobody thought it was out of the ordinary. I suppose it is just me. I am all for normalizing relations with Cuba, and long for the day that the car ferry between Key West, Florida and Havana starts up again. I will be the first car in line. But seriously, what kind of parents would buy this book for their kids? The children of former Cuban revolutionaries? Did a lot of them settle in Denver? The mind boggles.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
The Very Hungry Caterpillar - as opposed to a hookah smoking caterpillar - came to "Story Hour" at the local Denver bookstore where I work yesterday morning, and so I decided to come out of my office and risk scaring all the children in order to take the photograph on the left. Story hour is very popular at the store, and takes place every Tuesday morning. All the young mothers bring their children and babies, and it is a fun thing to watch. And guest appearance by such things as a hungry caterpillar are perfectly welcome. I have often suggested that my office-mate Peter appear as The Grinch, a very fitting role, but he always nixes the idea - fitting enough for a true Grinch, I guess.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
I originally thought it was a gander, but is indeed a gaggle of geese in the photograph, eating God know's what. These geese stay in Denver all year long, despite the occasional sub-zero temperatures. I took this photo the Sunday afternoon before last in Denver's Washington Park, on my way home from grocery shopping and before I went to my part-time evening job at a local grocery store. It is a great place to walk around, even if only for a short time, and get a bit of nature and fresh air. Plus, if you are fond of a nice goose dinner (which was a popular choice for Christmas dinner in Victorian England), you have a wide choice of geese there to chose from, as long as you don't mind an entirely do-it-yourself kind of meal. Although I must say, plucking feathers might get a bit tedious.
Monday, March 6, 2017
Mount Evans is a mere 30 miles or so west of Denver, and at over 14,000 feet in elevation is an impressive sight from almost anywhere in the city, although unfortunately not from my condo. Although I can look west out my windows, there are two high rise University of Denver dorms (Centennial Hall and Centennial Tower) that block my view of the peak. Which is why I had to go to nearby Washington Park to snap the above photograph of that landmark. I have driven up Mount Evans a number of times. Once I drove my parents and sister up to the top of the peak (a road goes all the way up). At the halfway point there is a little lodge by a lake, and we stopped to take a look at it. My father said he was having trouble breathing, and said he couldn't go any higher. He decided to wait at the bar in the lodge and admire the view, while my mother and sister and I drove the scary, hairpin turns up to the very top. It was a grand view, although my father always said that if you've seen one mountain, you've seen them all. The older I get, the more I agree with him.
Sunday, March 5, 2017
I took the above photograph outside John Fielder's Denver Photo Art Gallery Friday night, trying to show both the inside of the gallery and the outside, too. I wrestled between a photograph without people walking down the street, and with. Is it any good, or just a too complicated jumble? I really don't care all that much, because for me photography is a way to get out and about, and I just enjoy the act of walking around and taking photos. Roddy, my old University of Denver photography professor, once told me about a friend who would go out and take photographs, take the film out of the camera (this was before the digital age), throw it in a box, and then never have it developed. I would never have gone that far, but I definitely know where he is coming from. Plus, having film developed costs money, as fellow cheapskates certainly know.
Saturday, March 4, 2017
Last night was the first Friday in March, and so I naturally headed over to Denver's Santa Fe Boulevard for the monthly art walk. I was a little late getting there, and so it was a bit of a struggle finding a parking place, but I finally did. The street was packed with art lovers when I got there, and since the temperatures were much warmer than last month, the food trucks were back, doing a brisk business. I snapped the photograph on the left at the Michael Warren Gallery, which at one time was the gallery for the Art Students League of Denver, before it was sold to Michael Warren. The Art Students League of Denver, by the way, has a fabulous Summer Art Market each June that I missed last year, due to a senior moment, as they say. I am writing down the date this year to avoid making that mistake twice in a row.
I did the usual rounds, visiting various galleries looking for photographic works, but also checking out the paintings, too. I finished up at the Artwork Network, where they had an exhibit of abstract painting going on. It was very colorful and interesting, and I enjoyed looking at it. They had some photographs on display, too, which were also pretty good, and just to the left of the entrance was the artist who paints his paintings in the gallery itself, as seen in the photograph on the right. I can't remember his name, and looked to see a name plate or other information, but saw none. He has been there forever, too. I remember that in the past he had books of his work on display and brochures, too. Perhaps he is getting surly in his old age, just like me.
Friday, March 3, 2017
I ran across the above photograph while looking for a more recent one to post on this Blog. I think I took it last winter. I was parked on the top floor of the parking garage of the local bookstore where I work as bookkeeper, and as I was leaving for the day, saw the sunset view, stopped the car, and took the photo. As Roddy - my old University of Denver photography professor - says, sunset photographs are a cliche, but as I get older, I feel I can bend the rules. And besides, I like sunset photographs, even if they are taken from the roof of a parking garage.
Thursday, March 2, 2017
My friend Mark - who works at the University of Denver's Anderson Academic Commons (the library) - told me there was a poster on display on the second floor of building concerning the relocation of the University of Denver Light Rail Station. I am very interested in that particular project, since the University of Denver is hellbent on moving the station to the corner of University and Buchtel Boulevards, which is where my condo building sits. I took a look at the poster (seen in the photograph on the left) Friday night. It wasn't much to see - just a couple of Google photos of the station and some renderings of a generic idealized station, but it did mention the City of Denver's Transportation Department has provided $200,000 to fund a study of the project. Please guys - at least put it on the other side of the street, not where my condo sits. If this were Chicago, I would get the building's residents to come up with an envelope of cash to pay off an official, but I'm not sure it would were here. Or am I just being naive?
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
I decided to get a part-time job in the evenings for a while at a local grocery store to help with the bills - mainly the ones associated with my sister and my condo down in Stuart, Florida. I intend to review things in a few months to see if I still need to work two jobs, especially since I am being scheduled until midnight two or three nights a week. In any case, the grocery store is located where the University Hills Mall used to sit, where I was the manager of the Hatch's Bookstore, a long gone local Denver bookstore chain. I took the photograph on the left at the exact spot where the store used to sit.
Hatch's Bookstore was the first place I worked in Denver, from 1981 until 1984, when I started working at the University of Denver Bookstore. The photograph of me on the right was taken of me at the front doors of the store, and as you can plainly see, I have not aged a bit over that period of time. I do have a sketch of myself (done by a street artist in the Montmartre section of Paris), and it is sitting in the closet. I better take it out and see if it is growing older and more evil looking in place of me. And my apologies to Oscar Wilde.