The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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City Park and Zoo

Thatcher Monument

Today I walked to City Park and the Zoo. It was farther than I imagined, but since Denver was having 70 degree temperatures, the walk was pleasant enough. The park is very flat and plain, though it contains two lakes, the natural history museum, a golf course, and the zoo. The first thing I encountered was the Thatcher monument, an 18-foot figure representing the state of Colorado, surrounded by the virtues of loyalty, learning, and love. The allegory seems quaint today, though I’m sure Thatcher’s gift was well received in 1918 when it was made. Not far from the monument is Ferril Lake, a round, manufactured body of water, where some guy offered to take my picture with the museum in the background. I told him I appreciated the offer but the last thing I wanted was a picture of myself, and he seemed to understand. Next, I checked out Duck Lake, which true to its name was home for ducks and two species of geese. Finally, I walked about a mile to the entrance of the zoo, but quickly had doubts about whether I wanted to go inside. The parking ramp and adjacent lots were full of cars and yellow school buses. Every young woman in Denver seemed to have chosen this day to bring her toddlers to see the sights at the zoo. So, instead, I caught a bus downtown, stopped at my local Mexican diner, and had a burrito so big it would give a normal man a heart attack.

November 5, 2009   1 Comment

Larimer Street

Because there is a convention in town, I had trouble finding a spot to eat last night. It was like being in Paris. Larimer Street, which has overarching lights that sparkle like a fairyland, has several good restaurants, including a trattoria, a Mediterranean-themed restaurant, a high-end Mexican restaurant, a French bistro, and an enoteca. I didn’t even bother at the trattoria which had people milling down the steps and into the sidewalk. The hostess at the Mexican restaurant said they were full (although every time I passed they had several tables open). At the Mediterranean restaurant, the hostess said I could sit at the bar when a group of women left. After waiting several minutes, I noticed that one of the seats had a purse and scarf sitting on top of it and enquired about it. The hostess asked the bartender if the seat were open and he said he didn’t know. The hostess then told me I could ask the woman if the seat were open. I wondered why this was my job, but no longer cared. At the French bistro I was told by the hostess that the restaurant was full, although I could see that the tables in the atrium were open except one, but she said she’d check. She came back and said I was permitted to sit there. After several minutes, during which the waiter walked by and ignored me, I simply got up and left without fanfare. At the wine-tasting place I was shown a spot at the end of the bar. A few minutes later the bartender tossed two menus in front of me, but didn’t say a word. I had finally had enough.

From the enoteca I walked several blocks to the theater district where there is a coffee shop that has sandwiches. For dinner, I had a stale egg salad sandwich, which I eased down my throat with a half bottle of very nice Saint-Émilion. It was delicious, as good as anything I could have had on Larimer Street.

November 5, 2009   Comments Off on Larimer Street

John Denver’s Denver

When I visited Denver a decade ago, I walked from one end of the mall to the other. At every corner I encountered homeless men with beards and bloodshot eyes, looking as if they had just come down from the Rockies, who importuned me for spare change. They were very much at home in what I assumed was a typically run-down American city.

Theater Goer

A decade later, I cannot believe the changes I see here in Denver. A series of modern buses traverse the mall from one end to the other. They’re free and intersect with the new light rail lines that take passengers to and from the suburbs. The downtown businesses are thriving. New buildings are going up. There’s a new university center. Even the River Platte has been developed into miles of trails and parks for running, biking, and walking. There’s a new convention center, a Six Flags amusement park, and a theater district enclosed like a Milan gallery. It’s all safe, clean, and modern. And there’s narry a panhandler, though I do miss them in a way. I almost stopped and chatted with an old man with spittle hanging down his lip, wheeling his grocery cart full of possessions, though I thought better of it when I realized he barely had enough mind and strength left to walk without the aid of his cart. He needed to be in a home somewhere.

John Denver would be proud of the city he choose for his name, though it’s not the city he knew, but a new, modern one. Perhaps he’d even write a song about it if he were still alive to do so. The changes are inspiring and give me hope. If Denver can turn itself into convenient, livable place, then any American city can.

November 4, 2009   Comments Off on John Denver’s Denver