Friday, June 30, 2017
Yes! It's true! The White Sox - the pride of Chicago's South Side - will be coming here to Denver to play the Colorado Rockies in exactly one week. How wonderful is that? The team that represented my side of the city of Chicago when I was growing up is coming to my current home here in Denver. And to celebrate this, I am featuring a photograph of the late Chicago White Sox ( and later North Side Chicago Cubs) television broadcaster Harry Carey, which I took at Comiskey Park in Chicago back in 1980. I have used it several times before on this Blog, but as I get older, I realize that I simply just don't care anymore. Deal with it.
Thursday, June 29, 2017
I drove out to beautiful, exotic Lakewood, Colorado yesterday evening to celebrate my friend Stuart's birthday at the Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom. Stuart (seen in the photograph above) claims this is his 40th birthday. Now, perhaps I am just experiencing early Alzheimer's, but I seem to remember hiring Stuart to work at the Hatch's Bookstore at the long gone University Hills Mall ( located on the site of the King Sooper's Grocery Store where I recently worked) back in 1981. That was 36 years ago for all you non-math majors, which means Stuart was 4 years old when I hired him. For the life of me he seemed older than that. But that's probably my faulty memory playing tricks with me.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Yesterday was my last day at the local King Sooper's Grocery Store where I have worked for the past 5 months or so, taking orders from customers off the web, filling them, and delivering the groceries to the customer's car when they arrive at the store. It was an easy job, and the people I worked with were nice, but the main reason I started there was to help pay the expenses for my sister and my condo in Stuart, Florida. We finally rented it on the first of March, but I hated to quit right away after what seemed like 30,000 hours of training videos. However, working 7 days a week, some days over 12 hours, began to get old. I gave a month's notice (I am, after all, almost impossible to replace), and yesterday was my last day. Ironically, the man who is renting our condo in Stuart called me earlier in the afternoon and told me he bought a unit in the next building, and that he would be gone by August 1st. Perfect. If he let me know a month earlier, I probably would not have quit, so it is a good thing he called today. The more I think about it, the more I think I should only rent the place during the season (January through March), and use the place myself the rest of the time. Time to spend a little bit of that retirement savings now, and take a break from the 7 day, 12 hour work schedule. And no crying about it- not too much, anyway.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
This past Saturday afternoon I visited the Denver Zoo's Toyota Elephant Passage (the elephant exhibit), where in addition to elephants and Malayan tapirs, they have lots of props that can be used in photographs, including an old tuk tuk, a safari jeep, and the flower surrounded bicycle in the photograph above. I always thought these flowers were real, until I realized that the flowers seem to be there all year round. I guess I am not as observant as I thought I was. But I still think they are very pretty. Now I just have to find someone to take my photograph driving a tuk tuk. Any volunteers?
Monday, June 26, 2017
I went to the Denver Zoo for a few hours Saturday afternoon, and decided to make a stop at "The Edge," the new tiger exhibit. It has been hyped for over a year now, but I don't see that it is all that better than where the tigers were located before. The large sign asking if your are being watched in the photograph on the left refers to the ability of the tigers to jump up to the second level of the compound and watch zoo patrons from above. Of course, it also has a dual meaning, highlighting modern concerns about privacy. So many people are worried now - without any justification - about their image being captured and put on the internet. Pure paranoia, I say..
As for the tigers, once you get into the exhibit you see that the tigers do not seem to want to go up to the second level and watch the zoo patrons. What they want to do is just sit down as far away as possible from the crowds and watch from a distance, like the tiger in the photograph on the right. Or else lie down and sleep in a corner of the cage, like the tiger on the other side of The Edge. I still say they need to send in an intern with a stick to poke them and get them to move about and get some exercise. But nobody listens. What can I say?
Sunday, June 25, 2017
I didn't have to start work at my part-time job yesterday until 3:30, and so was able to spend the early afternoon at the Denver Zoo, where I spotted this orangutan just hanging around it's compound. And I must say, it was not easy getting into the zoo yesterday. The weather was nice - sunny and not too hot or cold - and so every parking space at the zoo was taken. You had to drive around and around looking for a spot, hoping someone was pulling out just as you approached. If someone was, and you were not the first car, long lines would develop behind the car waiting for the spot. Still another sign that Denver is growing way too fast. As I was leaving, I looked at the license plates of the various cars: Texas, Arkansas, Nebraska, Montana, and, of course, my favorite - California. And inside the zoo, everyone in Denver seemed to be there. No wonder it was so slow at my part-time job when I got there.
Saturday, June 24, 2017
I just finished reading Robert Parker's Little White Lies, the latest Spenser mystery by Ace Atkins. Atkins was hired by Robert Parker's heirs to continue the series after Parker passed away, and he has done a great job of duplicating Parker's style and humor. Little White Lies is a fun read, both funny and exciting, and in many ways surpases even Parker's storytelling skills. I strongly recommend that you request a copy from your local library immediately. I myself seem to have requestd the large print edition, which probably meant I got the book faster, and it was much easier for me to read. Not that I need the larger print edition. After all, I'm still just a kid with young eyes. And if you believe that,...
Friday, June 23, 2017
One of my favorite neighborhoods here in Denver is the Pearl Street area, and not just because Kaos, my favorite beer garden/pizza parlor (seen in the photograph above), is located in the center of it. Pearl Street is a mixture of businesses and Victorian residences, with a few million dollar duplexes thrown in for good measure. In addition to Kaos and a number of other restaurants and shops, there is a sushi place on the corner that has a line to get in that goes around the block. It is one of the few places here where I have seen Ferrari and Maserati automobiles being dropped off on a regular basis with the valet. All just wanting to get a taste of dead, raw fish. Enjoy, guys!
Thursday, June 22, 2017
I spent a rare evening at home yesterday - the first day of summer - which I believe is the longest day of the year. And as long as I was home, I decided to take the above photograph of the University of Denver's Ritchie Center from the balcony of my condo. Once again (Yes! Again!) it shows a beautiful Colorado sunset coming just after a day when the temperature reached 98 degrees. It seems everybody in Denver is complaining about the heat. The only person I met who wasn't complaining was a lady I delivered groceries to this week who recently moved here from New Orleans. She likes the weather here just fine, especially compared to the humidity hell that is New Orleans. At least in Stuart, Florida you have the ocean breezes. New Orleans just has alligator filled swamps. Which is not to say it isn't lovely there, especially if you happen to like humidity.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Today is June 21st, the first day of summer, and to celebrate this wonderful event, I stopped at Washington Park after work yesterday to enjoy the late afternoon atmosphere at that Denver landmark. Everyone was jogging, walking their dogs, just hanging out, and even canoeing (see photograph above), taking advantage of the nice warm weather. It has turned hot here in Denver, and is predicted to reach 97 today. Of course, it is predicted to hit 120 degrees in Phoenix, so I guess we can't complain. I can just imagine what the temperature will be in Phoenix in August. Of course, it is a dry heat, so 150 degrees in Phoenix is like 70 degrees in New Orleans. So no problem.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
As I mentioned in yesterday's Blog, I decided on the spur of the moment to go to the Colorado Rockies - San Francisco Giants game this past Friday night. I arrived fairly early, early enough to get the free promotional hat being given out. For the life of me, I could not figure out what the hell the hat was supposed to be. It came with it's own blond hair, as you can see from me modeling it in the above photograph. Was the Coca Cola Company just playing a joke on the fans, seeing what ridiculous thing they could get them to wear? I looked it up later, and I found it was Jon Gray hair hat night. Jon Gray is a Rockies pitcher, and he evidently has hair like that attached to the baseball cap. And so what I want to know is, is this a good look for me? Should I wear this cap to work every day? Or do I just look like a nerd - a super nerd? Don't answer that.
Monday, June 19, 2017
On the spur of the moment, I decided to go to the Colorado Rockies - San Francisco Giants game at Coors Field in Lower Downtown Denver Friday night, and found that the cheapest seat was a "general admission" seat on the party deck for $22. It was more than I wanted to pay, but you got a food credit of $6 with the ticket, so in effect it came with a free beer. You were allowed to sit in sections 310 to 314. I chose 314, which was a big mistake. The section was filled with 20 somethings, and they either did not understand or did not care where they were allowed to sit. I spent most of the evening trying to watch the game as hundreds of fans walked past me, forced to move to different seats or else going down to get food, beer, more food, more beer, etc.
It really wasn't all that awful, however. The view of the game wasn't bad, and the view of the sunset was great (see photograph on the left). And the Colorado Rockies, who are in first place and are already thinking playoffs, won the game against San Francisco. It wasn't easy, however. The closing pitcher gave up a couple of runs in the 9th inning, and the Rockies won the game by a score of 10 to 8, by the skin of their teeth. Pennant fever has taken hold in Denver, but will the pitching hold up through September? I'm afraid my crystal ball is out of order, but if recent history is taken into account, don't bet the farm.
Sunday, June 18, 2017
I uploaded the above photograph of my father Nelson and myself in the backyard of our house in the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Brainerd a few years ago, but as far as I can tell, never used it. It brings back many happy memories of living in that house and that neighborhood. I really admired and loved my father, a decent, kind man who did his very best for his family, and who worked for most of his life as a dentist, a job he detested. He passed away at the early (to me) age of 74, but was able to live for 7 years down in Stuart, Florida, where he could play golf every day and finally enjoy life. I am very happy that he was able to do that. Happy Father's Day everyone!
Saturday, June 17, 2017
I took the above photograph of The Esplanade - which runs between City Park and Colfax Avenue - the other morning after I parked my car at the garage next to the local Denver Bookstore where I work as the bookkeeper. East High School can be seen on the right, quiet now that school is out and summer is just over the horizon. Denver is a very pretty city, with many parks and greenspaces and parkways, not to mention old, tree-lined neighborhoods throughout the city. In recent years it has also become quite unaffordable, and I read somewhere it had become the most expensive city in the country between the two coasts. The good with the bad, I guess. And we can't send all those Californians back at this point. Or can we?
Friday, June 16, 2017
The Action Center in Lakewood, Colorado holds the "Beautiful Junk" sale every March and October at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, and I make a point of showing up for the last hour of the sale, when you can buy a shopping bag full of books for $10. There always seems to be a lot of Stuart Woods paperback mysteries available, and so after I grab everything I really want, I grab some of these to round out the bag. I was waiting to get some books from the library that I had requested, and so in the meantime decided to give Unnatural Acts, a Stone Barrington mystery, a try. I have read other Stuart Woods mysteries before and I must say they are nothing extra - not horrible, but nothing you would put a request into the library for. Unnatural Acts was okay - it passed the time, and was a quick read, but once again nothing extra. And happily, the Denver Public Library called yesterday to tell me that Little White Lies, the new Spenser mystery by Ace Atkins (picking up where Robert Parker left off after passing away) is ready to pick up. Now that is something to look forward to.
Thursday, June 15, 2017
The Colorado Rockies are in first place and pennant fever is strong in Denver. That is all well and good, but these days I think I prefer minor league baseball to the major leagues. The seats are much cheaper, you are much closer to the action, you can park right next to the stadium, and they always have a lot of fun promotions every inning. One of my favorite minor league ballparks is Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida, home of the single A Jupiter Hammerheads and Palm Beach Cardinals. I took the above photograph of my mother Mary one summer evening when I was visiting my mother down in Stuart, Florida. She wasn't all that crazy about baseball, but was always a good sport and would go to the game with me when I was down there. A great way to spent a pleasant Florida evening.
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
I was walking back to my car after visiting the Art Student's League of Denver's Summer Art Market this past Sunday afternoon and took the above photograph of The Rosebud Cafe (must be some kind of Citizen Kane reference). The Rosebud is located in a tree-lined neighborhood of old Victorians and trendy new apartments. The population seems to be on the young side, and you can feel the vibrancy of the place. It reminded me a lot of those little neighborhoods in San Francisco with all the inviting Victorian homes and fun little business districts. It is certainly much cheaper to live here than in San Francisco, but unfortunately I recently read that Denver is the most expensive city in the country between the two coasts. More than Santa Fe, New Mexico? Unbelievable. Who would have thunk it? But I must say, I have lived in Denver for 36 years now, and while real estate prices have gone up like this in the past, they have always come down again. Always. So my advice to prospective buyers is to wait a while, buy low, and then sell high, instead of the other way around. Just call me a financial genius.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
This past weekend, for the first time in several years, I was able to attend the Art Student League of Denver's annual Summer Art Market. It.is one of the first big art festivals of the season here in Denver, and it is one of my favorites. The art is very good, the prices are reasonable, and it takes place at 2nd and Grant Streets in one of Denver's nicest neighborhood. The streets are tree-lined and filled with old Victorians, and there are nice little cafes and coffee shops scattered around the area. It is also only a short distance from downtown. How great is that? And no, despite the reasonable prices, I did not buy any artwork. Not only do I not have a place to hang any more paintings, I am on a tight budget these days, and art is not on it. Plus I am a cheapskate. What more can I say? In any case, be sure to check out the Art Student's League of Denver's website at http://asld.org/.
Monday, June 12, 2017
This weekend was the Art Student's League of Denver's Summer Art Market, and through a lucky scheduling break at my part-time job at a local grocery store, I was able to attend. And a mainstay at the festival is Joe, my friend and former University of Denver Bookstore colleague, who once again had a booth displaying his artwork. Joe teaches printmaking at the Art Student's League of Denver two days a week, works at the DU Bookstore another two days a week, and spends the rest of his time working on his artwork. The photograph on the left is the photograph I was originally going to use for this Blog, since it shows a bit of Joe's artwork. Joe wanted to make sure, however, that I included the plaque on the right side of the photo.
The plaque has his name on it, and I thought that was the only reason he wanted it in the photograph. It wasn't until I uploaded the photo that I actually read it. And what it says is "Best of Show, Joe Higgins, Summer Art Market 2017." Wow! Congratulations Joe! What a great honor! If I had known he had received this honor from the beginning, I would have cropped the photograph as it is on the right.instead. Joe is, of course, a great artist, but I have to wonder if the artistic atmosphere of the University of Denver Bookstore had a great deal to do with inspiring his art? After all, look at me. In any case, I'll have to ask him about that the next time I see him. And be sure to check out Joe's website at http://www.joehigginsmonotypes.com/.
Sunday, June 11, 2017
I ran into my old University of Denver Bookstore colleague Barry and his wife Mary at the local Denver grocery store where I work part-time the other night. We caught up on what we have been doing as I packed their groceries into shopping bags. Barry mentioned that Donovan, who left the DU Bookstore to become head of computer sales at the Auraria Bookstore (which serves the University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University, and the Community College of Denver) had been laid off. He evidently moved up the ladder at the university, and soon after he was hired, his department was eliminated. I know I tend to whine a bit about the treatment of the DU Bookstore employees by the University of Denver when we were outsourced, but I guess many if not most universities are just the same - trying to cut costs and eliminate staff to increase revenue. It seems a shame universities feel they have to operate the same way a major corporation does, but when the Board of Trustees are made up of business executives, what can you expect? In any case, I took the above photograph of Donovan and Tristy, the DU Bookstore's former Director, back when we still all worked there. Donovan is wearing his "interview" suit, and I believe this was one of the rare times when Tristy was not wearing makeup. Good luck Donovan.
Saturday, June 10, 2017
The City of Denver is building a new recreation center at the northeast corner of Colfax and Josephine, just a block away from the local bookstore where I work as the bookkeeper. As I was walking past the construction site, I couldn't help but notice that a large poster advertising the movie The Mummy has been placed on the construction barrier along Colfax.Avenue. Just what "the longest, wicked street in America" needs - an infestation of mummies. When all those damn zombie movies and television shows become popular, Denver was soon overrun with zombies. They even have their own day every October. Now, in addition to zombies, we will probably be seeing all kinds of mummies running up and down Colfax, inspired by that new Tom Cruise film. Perfect. We already have street people using the bathroom at the bookstore to shave and groom themselves. Now we will have mummies in there re-wrapping themselves every day. Such is life in Denver.
Friday, June 9, 2017
I took the above sunset photograph after I finished delivering the final grocery order of the evening to a car in the parking lot of the local Denver grocery store where I work part-time. It reminds me of the sunsets we used to see out of the windows of Hatch's Bookstore at the University Hills Mall, which was located on this very spot back when I first came to Denver from Chicago in 1981. I was manager of that store from March of 1981 through the summer of 1984, when I started working for the University of Denver Bookstore. And yes - sunset photographs are a cliche, but I like cliches. So there.
Thursday, June 8, 2017
I was sent several photographs from my grocery store co-worker Barb of her and another co-worker, Marty, wearing yellow rain slickers and soaked to the gills, taken after making grocery deliveries to customers in the parking lot on a particularly rainy night. Marty says they look like drowned rats. I personally feel they look like extras in the Italian opera Pagliacci, but that's just me. I was just dying to post it, but the grocery store I work at part-time frowns on photographs taken at the store and then posted on social media. Corporations have no sense of humor these days. Since I will be leaving that job June 30th, it wouldn't effect me, but I was worried about Marty and Barb getting into trouble.. I have vivid memories of the grief a previous employer gave me over my Blog. In any case, I decided to not post the photo, and to just use still another self-portrait of me instead. Bummer.
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
I just finished reading an advanced copy of Exit Strategy, the second Nick Mason adventure novel by Steve Hamilton. To be honest, I was not all that crazy about the first one, titled The Second Life of Nick Mason. Mason was a prisoner at a high level security prison in Terre Haute, Indiana who made an agreement with a incarcerated criminal mastermind to work for him on the outside if he arranged Mason's freedom from prison. He wound up back home in Chicago, having to murder whoever the mob boss told him to. I frankly found it a bit depressing, although the story did take place in Chicago, including the south side, where I grew up. I liked Exit Strategy much better, although I must point out that Hamilton either didn't know the south side neighborhood of Beverly, which is two miles from where I grew up, or else purposely altered it to suit his own purposes. In the book, it was where an IRA terrorist and killer lived above a bar, and Hamilton describes Beverly as an Irish working class neighborhood. It is heavily Irish, but it a community with huge mansion along Longwood Drive, and very upscale housing everywhere else. What's the deal, Steve? Slacking off on your research?
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
As I mentioned in yesterday's Blog, I have never been impressed with Denver's skyline. Since I originally came from Chicago, I naturally compare Denver with Chicago's skyline. I know that Chicago is the third largest metropolitan area in the country, and that it is unfair to compare it with a medium sized city like Denver, but I don't care. This line of thought led me to dig out the above photograph I took back when I lived in Chicago. It was taken in the early 1970s, during a bike ride along Chicago's lakefront with my sister Susan and brother-in-law George. Now THAT's a skyline. And I also know it is unfair to compare Denver's cityscape with the Chicago lakefront, but once again I don't care. Nothing can compare to that vista. Now if you will excuse me, I am going to play the song "Running Lake Shore Drive" a few hundred times. Here it is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOrdtmG2IMM.
Monday, June 5, 2017
I have never been too impressed with Denver's skyline, even today, when there seems to be a construction crane on every block downtown. I am especially not impressed by the view of the skyline from the Santa Fe Arts District, where I took the above photograph. Denver is, after all, a medium sized city, and so it is unfair to compare it to cities like Chicago, San Francisco, or New York, but I don't care. However, I did see a really great photograph of the city on a postcard once. It was taken just after sunrise from City Park, showing the city skyline against the mountains. It was really spectacular, and I have always wanted to replicate it. However, it would require getting up before dawn, and since I am currently working four nights a week at my part-time grocery store job, in addition to my full-time job as a bookkeeper at a local Denver bookstore, taking that shot in the near future is not going to happen. I will just add that goal to my "bucket list, " along with flying to Mars and back. It will happen
Sunday, June 4, 2017
There was a time when art that you plugged into the wall was considered low brow. I remember walking down Milwaukee Avenue on the near northwest side of Chicago many years ago and looking into the window of a shop with a plug-in objet d'art and later describing it to fellow workers at the Walden Books where I worked at the time. They all laughed about it. And now these days it is all the rage, with an entire exhibit dedicated to that form of expression a few years ago at the Denver Art Museum. I was thinking about all this when I took the above photograph at an art gallery during Denver's Santa Fe Arts District First Friday Art Walk last week. And I must say, I still have a bit of a prejudice against plug-in art. And no, I did not buy one of the above pieces. Hell, I won't even buy art that I like.
Saturday, June 3, 2017
Yesterday was the first Friday of June, and since I had the night off, I drove to Denver's Santa Fe Arts District after work for their First Friday Art Walk. There were not a lot of people there yet, but it was still early, and so perhaps all the hipsters showed up after I left. The first art gallery I hit was Metropolitan State University's Center for Visual Art (seen in the photo on the left), where they had on display a juried printmaking exhibition. A lot of the prints were very good, especially the ones that incorporated photographs into their design. I even ran across two prints by my old University of Denver Bookstore co-worker Carol, which were also quite nice. Carol is now working as an artist full time, as is Joe, another DU Bookstore alumni. Check out their websites at http://www.caroltill.com/index.html and http://www.joehigginsmonotypes.com/.
Friday, June 2, 2017
I am wasting no time in featuring June's dog of the month, which was tied up in front of the grocery store where I work the other night as I was leaving the store. If I was going to own a dog, it would be either be a golden lab like the one in the photograph above, or a beagle like Irma, the dog I had when I was a child. In any case, you can see some of the flowers the store has been selling in the background. A week or so ago the temperature dropped below freezing and they had to take all of the plants indoors for the evening. Tables of them were placed in the aisles, in the Starbucks seating area, and everywhere else. It was like having to walk through the Brazilian jungle to pick up a can of peas. Kind of fun, but store management was not pleased
Thursday, June 1, 2017
When I started working as the Assistant Manager of the Walden Book Store in the near west Chicago suburb of North Riverside back in 1976, I found out that one of the benefits of the job was that I could rip the cover off any paperback book I wanted and take it home to read. My father recommended the Travis McGee mystery novels by John D. McDonald, a series which took place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and after reading just one, I was hooked, and read every one of them. I then waited until each new Travis McGee mystery came out,.and immediately bought and devoured it. That is why I was so thrilled to have my picture taken by my sister Susan at the Travis McGee memorial plaque next to Slip F18 at Fort Lauderdale's Bahia Mar Marina. This was the fictional location of Travis McGee's houseboat, and I searched it out after Susan, my mother Mary, and I finished a cruise on The Jungle Queen, a well known local tourist boat that cruises the New River. When I retire, perhaps I'll give in to my fantasy and imitate Travis McGee's lifestyle - living on a houseboat by the beach, going out on various adventures in South Florida, and saving various damsels in distress. That sounds like a reasonable retirement goal, right? Right?