Monday, August 31, 2009

Things to do in Denver when you're not dead

On the road again with the Dodgers. This time Denver and Cincinnati – two cities that are incredibly similar in that neither is near an ocean. The most absurd moment happened even before we boarded the plane in Los Angeles. An overzealous TSA agent was patting down Vin Scully. Yeah, it’s common knowledge terrorists like to hide explosives in World Series rings.

Stayed at the Ritz-Carlton hotel downtown (or, as they call it – “LoDo”). I had a beautifully appointed room with a spectacular view of the Greyhound Bus Terminal. (How convenient for all the bus travelers that there is a Ritz-Carlton across the street so they have somewhere to crash before moving on to Utah.)

Was walking distance to the 16th Street Mall, where red oak trees and fountains line this showpiece pedestrian mall featuring a thousand Verizon and AT&T stores and great local dining from Chili’s to the Cheesecake Factory.

Also walking distance is the ballpark, Coors Field. It’s a Camden Yards clone combining modern conveniences (luxury boxes, stadium clubs, lights) and retro features (brick exterior, and uh… brick exterior). But because of the thin air baseballs travel farther there. So to compensate they moved the fences back to where they’re now beyond the horizon.

In early July Vegas oddsmakers estimated the chances of the Rockies winning the pennant were the same as DONKEY PUNCH winning an Oscar. And yet there the Rox were, fighting with the Dodgers in a crucial series for first place. You’d think the whole town would be abuzz and they would were it not for the more important Denver Broncos pre-season game on Sunday.

John Elway is to Denver what Andy Taylor is to Mayberry and Jesus is to Rome.

Nearby is Red Rocks, an outdoor amphitheater cut into a mountain. It’s a breathtaking setting. If John Denver were still alive this is where he’d be playing every week, sharing the bill with Harry Chapin if he were still alive. Red Rocks also has the distinction of being the only U.S. venue in which the Beatles didn’t sell out.

There is new meaning to “Rocky Mountain High”. Authorities have seized nearly 20,000 marijuana plants from Colorado national forests. It’s bad enough rangers have to deal with bears stealing pic-i-nic baskets, now they have to contend with international drug cartels. I bet if those plants were there in the 60s that Beatles concert would have sold out.

Denver is the most sexually active city in America. Contraceptive sales are 189% higher within the city limits than the national average (sales of female contraceptives are a whopping 278% higher). Coincidentally, Denver also has the world’s largest brewery (Coors).

And easily the best, most dramatic thunderstorms! Huge bolts of lightening create a thrilling panorama, and what better place to view them than a radio booth at a baseball stadium surrounded by electronic equipment and light towers?

Locals say the best way to prepare is to take note of the wind kicking up and the first cow blowing across the sky.

There is now only one newspaper in town, THE POST. THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS (my favorite of the two because it once gave ALMOST PERFECT a decent review) folded in February after 150 years of service. And it’s now an all-too-familiar scenario in most major cities. Did Al Gore have any idea of this when he invented the internet?

Traffic is still backed up from last year’s Democratic convention. And there are still people walking to their cars after attending Obama’s acceptance speech.

And if you’re driving from “LoDo” to the I-70 with kids and you’re looking for a fun thing for them to do, have them count the number of gun shops they see. The kinder will be occupied the entire trip!

You gotta love the name of Denver’s mayor – Hizzonor John Wright Hickenlooper.

Things not to miss: The Butterfly Pavilion insect zoo, the “Mind Eraser” rollercoaster at Elitch Gardens, the giant cement slide at Bear Valley Park that looks like a vagina, the Buckhorn Exchange restaurant with 500 stuffed animals (it’s how I imagine Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s bedroom), the stone marker that claims to be the birthplace of the cheeseburger, the Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, and any CVS pharmacy for contraceptives.

The Dodgers won two out of three and we beat a hasty retreat to the Queen City.

Tomorrow: Cincinnati

24 comments:

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Ahh, Denver. The city has four distinct seasons. Per day. And if you have an addiction to breathing you'd better supply your own oxygen.

And Elway is still a crybaby jerk.

Mary Stella said...

Ken, when you imagine Elizabeth Hasselbeck's bedroom, what do you think she's doing with all of those stuffed animals? I'm thinking she stages mock View panels where the toys are actually interested in what she says.

Anonymous said...

So you're saying you like Denver...

Nic j said...

"Yeah, it’s common knowledge terrorists like to hide explosives in World Series rings."

Im guessing they arent searching too many members of the Giants then.

Daniel said...

"what Jesus is to Rome"

An upstart ethnic cult leader?

(And my verification is "jewas". Make of that what you will.)

D. McEwan said...

According to Christian Myth, Jesus never set foot in Rome.

Hizzonor John Wright Hickenlooper is a distant cousin of mine. We share a great-great grandfather, William Haney Hickenlooper, who up to the moment of his death in 1888 was the oldest living Mormon Bishop, a close personal friend of Brigham Young, and personally seduced, I mean converted into Mormonism by rascally old Joe Smith himself, who died owing Great-great-grandpappy about $200.

However, it is doubtlful we share a great-great-grandmother, as Old Bishop Bill Hickenlooper was a polygamist with three wives. My Great-great-granny was wife #2 of 3.

So naturally, the Mayor and I are very close, except for our never having met.

Willy B. Good said...

Al Gore didn't invent the internet to save newspapers, he invented it to spread the word on hot air so one day he could eventually save the world and win a Webby, an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and Nobel Piece Prize, thank God for Al, he's my new Messiah! All hail Big Al!

Anonymous said...

Could patting down Vin Scully be one of the perks of working for TSA? How often do you suppose Cameron Diaz gets patted down going through security? And how often do you suppose it just happens to be when no female TSA employee is available?

Dana King said...

I actually saw John Denver in concert at Red Rocks in 1989. (He played for a corporate function.) The warm-up act was Riders in the Sky, and they were great.

The Curmudgeon said...

Your Dodgers are to be congratulated on the acquisition of Jim Thome from my fast-fading White Sox. I now have a rooting interest in the playoffs.

This guy is 38, and has had his injury issues, but Torre will want him as DH in the World Series if the Dodgers can get there -- and then Thome will earn his ring. He seems like a genuine nice guy -- and, as much as Sox fans hated him in Cleveland (because he killed us), we loved him in Chicago.

Max Clarke said...

Going back to your nice post about Ellie Greenwich, Ken, Terry Gross replayed an interview she did on Fresh Air with Ellie in the 80s. Worth the time.

I used to live in Denver, and the worst city thunderstorms I've ever experienced were there and in nearby Boulder. You could see the dark fronts blowing over the Rocky Mountains, and then they'd dump thick cold rain and hail across the region. They didn't last too long, though, maybe 45 minutes.

Tom Quigley said...

RE: "... the Buckhorn Exchange restaurant with 500 stuffed animals (it’s how I imagine Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s bedroom), ...

Sounds like those would be a nice complement to her collection of little tin soldiers and the autographed poster of Dick Cheney that says "To Elizabeth -- All my best -- And don't forget to keep the bastards wet and drownin'! -- Love, Dick" that she's got tacked up on her wall...

Baylink said...

Were you at last night's game, where the traded pitcher apparently *walked from one dugout to the other* when he heard?

jbryant said...

Now that Oscar is allowing ten Best Picture nominees, DONKEY PUNCH has a fighting chance.

John said...

Hey, I just want to see the 10-camera split screen next February for the reaction of the other nine nominees when DONKEY PUNCH wins the Best Picture Oscar.

Inorganik said...

There might be a chuckle in there somehwere, but I'd like to point out a few things...

For one thing, we don't shoot our guns at people in Denver, and another, the 16th st mall is a pretty bad litmus test.
Lastly, our traffic is BEAUTIFUL compared to LA, lets be honest.

Shap said...

Wow, traffic, natural disasters, low oxygen content, and a mayor with a long and funny-sounding name.

Good thing L.A. doesn't have any of those things.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, estrogen pill sales in Chavez Ravine over the past two years have been at nearly 200% the national average. I am pretty sure most Angelenos know how to find "the" I-70 as it connects DIA with the Eagle County Courthouse.

Anonymous said...

LA's 3 Hour Traffic vs. Colorado's 30 minute Traffic
LA's Smog vs. Colorado Fresh Air
LA's Natural Disasters (I am sure home owners insurance companies make a killing there.) vs. Colorado Natural Disasters?
LA's Drug Problem (White capped mountains and powdering your nose have whole new meaning.) vs. Colorado's Drug Problem if you can call it one.

DodgerGirl said...

Hey you forgot to mention Casa Bonita!

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Hey, Anonymous, didn't you know Denver's smog rivals L.A.'s? Something about the air being trapped in the bowl in which Denver is built.

Not that I'm a fan of L.A.

Heidi K. said...

Hey Ken, In order...The rooms at the Ritz with the good views are reserved for actual celebrities (i.e., not you). Not sure where we'd walk around in downtown L.A., Pershing Square maybe? I'd rather eat at the Cheesecake Factory than get chased by a rat the size of a poodle. And knocking our baseball field? Hey, Chavez RAVINE is such a great place, I still have heartburn from the famous "Dodger Dog" I ate there in 1985. And someone from L.A. bitching about the traffic in Denver? Get the tint on your town car windows reduced and look around next time you're trying to get to a beach in the summer. I could go on, but I've found it's pointless when your dealing with a moron whose only talent is sarcasm and a big vocabulary.

Anonymous said...

There's the pot calling the kettle black. Where exactly were you where the traffic was worse and guns more prevalent than in LA? Maybe next time, instead of wasting time coming up with all of your little quips, you should get out and explore what this city is all about and why people from all over, including California, choose to move here.

Anonymous said...

Is this supposed to be funny?