Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fetish Lovers of Clayton Street

The letter finally came. It wasn't too late. And the picnic we were supposed to have in 1962, we enjoyed on the same date exactly 40 years later.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Cultural Rubicon during the Drought of 2001


The neighborhood was old, even in the summer of 2001. The stoic brick Victorians and fabled Denver Squares of Denver's Congress Park neighborhood stood like sentries of time, courageously holding the waning days of the 19th century on the asphalt streets and automobiles of a now past 20th century. Underneath 12th Avenue's asphalt from Josephine Street all the way to Colorado Blvd the rails of the tram are still buried, just like they were in 2001. In this fashionable neighborhood stretching sixteen blocks west to east and seven blocks from Colfax on the north to 7th on the south, things change very slowly. The old homes stand much the same as they were when built, only the trees seem to get taller. The people seem to change just as slowly. Some age, move and die while others move in from Midwestern cities, California or Texas. The ages tend to stay the same. The neighborhood remains the same. This is true now as it always has been and as it perhaps always will be. This is Congress Park. Congress Park is protected by boundaries on all sides: York and Josephine on the west, Colfax on the north, Colorado Blvd on the east and 7th and 8th on the south. The adjoining neighborhoods: Capitol Hill\Cheesmen Park, City Park South, 7th Ave Historical/Cherry Creek and Mayfair look and feel very different from Congress Park.

On any given day, a Congress Park dweller may investigate the noble plant life of the Botanical Gardens at 11th and York after breakfast at any number of Greek diners at 12th or the south banks of Colfax. The afternoons in summer may be spent at the pool at 8th and Josephine or in a coffeehouse along 12th. By night? The seedy side of Colfax emerges from the Tattered Cover Bookstore (present now at the Lowenstein Theater) all the way east to National Jewish Hospital. Any number of bars, restaurants, porn shops, tattoo parlors or slightly suspect establishments pedaling clothing, pot, smokes or musical instruments lie in wait for the last wandering Colfax Ave dollar. This is certainly the case today as it was in 2001 or as it was long before that.

In 2001, things were moving. Colfax had flavor: Greek restaurants, Ethiopian restaurants and Afghan smoke shops and coffeehouses. The latter were very fun shops: hookahs and rugs, smokes and ornate coffee pots made in Afghanistan and sold by smiling Afghans who cracked funny jokes or commented on the weather.

The summer of 2001 was hot. The Denver sun, one mile more potent, was relentlessly burning up any wandering cloud. The last of the glaciers were evaporating and reservoirs at Dillon and Boulder were shrinking by the minute. George W. Bush, and his administration, sent all of us a stimulus of $600. I lived in an attic apartment of a 1901 built brink Victorian house on Josephine Street. I spent my days hiding in the shade of umbrellas at Diedrich Coffee at 12th and Clayton. I spent those sultry nights working the bar. I wrote endless words in endless notebooks, and visually watched the ink run out of cheap pens. I still had my run of the town from 14th and Market Streets downtown all the way out to Glendale past the Cherry Creek Mall. But, my world was shrinking, my world was drying up in the sun. What had been my vast Denver empire at the onset of the summer had become a small hamlet of Congress Park by summer's end.

But it was not just me with a shrinking world. If I was going smaller geographically, my countrymen were shrinking in world view. The summer just got hotter and for us in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and California, the summer was on fire. But we did have $600 each to go out and spend.

September brought no relief.

September began very differently than it ended. We all know that.

Only in retrospect do we see that we met the Rubicon on September 10th 2001. We only know the point of no return happened then because of our memory.

The war in Afghanistan began the next month, October 2001. It's still going on today, some eleven years later. Those smiling and joking fellows who once owned the smoke shop and coffeehouse on Colfax called Kabul vanished before the end of the year 2001. And my neighborhood somehow grew smaller because of it.

Perhaps everyone's world grew smaller too, perhaps more fractured.

What if on the eve of the Rubicon, I spent my $600 stimulus in the shops along Colfax, and one set of shops specifically? Do you think I would have kept my neighborhood intact, or do you suppose I would be tried for funding terror?  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Reading list for Miranda

The following is a project for my friend Miranda. As an experiment, I thought I'd see if I could make a download button for this pdf.