Down and Out in Denver

This Weekend

Posted in art, bars, denver, design, entertainment, food, music by Alastair on April 8, 2011

Earthquake & Tsunami Relief Poster Show

There are some pretty amazing things happening this weekend. In addition to the suggestions of the dance/design variety provided by the folks at Fancy Tiger, you can Shake your Buddha this evening at MCA Denver from 7:30 – 9:30 pm. There are three openings on Saturday evening: The previously mentioned Grand Opening of the I Heart Denver Store, an Earthquake & Tsunami Relief Poster show to be held at Super Ordinary Gallery located in the RINO Art District, and a few blocks away the opening of Love Letters, “a graphic exploration of the duality of love through typography, symbolism and pop culture” at CREMA Coffee House.

These last two events are part of RiNo’s Second Saturday. And, according to Westword’s Susan Froyd, there will be live music, food trucks, and a number of other gallery open houses and openings in the area.

Get out, bring your checkbook, and have fun this weekend!


Design After Dark: Get Your Tickets!

Posted in bars, denver, design, fashion, food, gays, parties, wine by Blake on January 29, 2011

Ever since Alastair and I moved here we’ve gone to the Denver Art Museum Design Council’s annual fundraiser — and all-around great party — Design After Dark.  And this year will be no exception. It’s next Friday night, the 4th of February, and if previous years are any basis for judgment, it’s sure to be a great time. You don’t have to know anything about design to attend this thing: while Alastair fancies himself a design buff, I know absolutely nothing except that I like mid-century modern (but what self-respecting homo doesn’t?).  It’s fun no matter what you know. Yes, there are architects and designers competing for the best interpretation of the year’s theme — this year it’s “Light” — and yes, there is a silent auction of various designery accessories and pieces of art.  But the price of a ticket also includes some booze and a whole lot of food and lots of good conversation with, wait for it, stylish people in Denver.  I know you thought such people did not exist — aside from your DOD boys, of course — but if you’re going to find them anywhere, this is the place.  Plus, there’s an after party this year at Beauty Bar beginning at 11.  Gay, anyone?!

So head on over to their website and buy yourself some tickets (click on the ticket button on the bottom right corner).  We’ll see you there!

We ♥ Mondo Guerra Even More!

Posted in denver, design, gays, tv by Blake on October 1, 2010

Mondo and his Model

His third consecutive win.  The bold print and sleek little top.  His adorable mother.  His wry sense of humor.  His humility.  His coming out as HIV-positive on national television. His being our Denver neighbor.  In short, what’s not to love?

Let’s also have a moment here for Valerie Mayen, whose designs may have bored us toward the end a wee bit, but who gave us one of the best parting moments we’ve had on Project Runway.  As she talked about each designer, I kept expecting her to stumble and be less articulate in her description of the next one.  But stumble she did not.  Her comments were heartfelt, individualized, and moving. Dear reader, I am not ashamed to admit that between Mondo and Valerie and Tim, this DOD boy was sobbing like a small child.  And that was not such a bad place to be.

See our Season Finale Wrap-up Here.

Modernism and Beyond

Posted in architecture, bars, denver, design, entertainment, food, gays, parties by Alastair on August 28, 2010

Friday evening was quite the experience for your DOD boys. They did indeed go to the Denver Modernism Show, but they did so much else last night as well.

Free drinks, entertainment, and special guests were the rule of thumb at the Denver Modernism Show Early VIP Gala… and they use the term gala very loosely. Black Tie it was not. Blake and I had the pleasure of being some of the first to shop the show, alongside our fellow modernism enthusiasts: Mr. and Ms. B, and the fashionable, Ginger Snap. We were kindly greeted, on multiple occasions, by Charles Phoenix, the self-proclaimed “King of Retro.” Our VIP tickets got us two free cocktails: Your choice of Mai Tai, Blue Hawaiian, or some other rum cocktail at the fabulously decorated Tiki Bar. Blake don’t care for rum, but I’ll drink just about anything, especially if it comes free with admission and an umbrella. We were also treated to live music, heavily tattooed hula girls, and some unmemorable entertainment. Yours truly fell in love with some serious chartreuse colored champagne/sherbet cocktail glasses (see below) by the versatile Russel Wright, designed to complement his recently reissued American Modern dinnerware. At twenty dollars a piece, I had to painfully pass, but they would have been a spectacular addition to a mid-century modern themed New Year’s Eve party.

Keeping in line with the mid-century theme, Ms. B suggested dinner and drinks at Bastien’s Restaurant and Steakhouse, located on East Colfax Avenue, near the Bluebird Theater. Blake has visited Bastien’s before, but this was Alastair’s first visit. Let’s say my expectations were not high, but I was tremendously pleased with my entire experience.

Bastien’s is an old school steakhouse and bar with an interesting architectural design. Started by William Bastien in 1937 when he bought out the Moon Drive Inn, the present twelve-sided building was constructed in 1958 and has a sort of subtle Googie flair—an exaggerated modern architectural style seen in the coffee shops, bowling alleys, and motels of the 1950s and 1960s. After a drink at the bar lounge, Blake and I, alongside Mr. and Ms. B and Ginger Snap sat down for a wonderful dining experience. Now, Bastien’s is not inexpensive, but compared to the prices we pay at Potager, this was a bargain and we were well fed! We all started with salads. I had the Caesar, while everyone else had the Ice Berg wedge with Blue cheese dressing and bacon crumbles. My salad came with grilled romaine, a very nice touch, and plenty of shaved parmesan cheese and croutons, along with a tasty balsamic reduction and a DOD favorite, anchovies! Ms. B received something that looked more like half a head of lettuce, rather than a wedge. But who’s complaining!

Moving onto dinner, Blake ordered LaLa’s Steak, a ten ounce New York steak grilled with fresh lime and cracked pepper, served with fresh peppers and pico de gallo. Mr. and Ms. B went with a German theme. Mr. B enjoyed his Beef Liver sautéed with onions, “just like mom made,” and seasoned mashed potatoes. Ms. B seemed very pleased with her wiener schnitzel. Ginger had the pork chop special and I chose the ten ounce New York with Deep Fried Shrimp. It came with a reasonably sized baked potato with sour cream, butter, cheese, and chives, and the steak was perfectly cooked to a true medium rare. Delicious! We ended our meal with some apple pie sizzling skillet dessert with vanilla ice cream. The perfect ending to a perfect meal.

After going our separate ways, Blake and I enjoyed a brisk walk down Colfax to grab ourselves a night-cap at HER BAR located at Colfax and Washington. According to the website Fridays at HER BAR are FemmeBar with DJ Love, who seemed to be spinning an eclectic mix of 80s new wave and current hits by Usher, Gaga, and others. We grabbed ourselves a seat at the bar and a drink. Blake was intrigued by reruns of The Nanny projected onto an interior wall. Is Fran Drescher a lesbian?  Is there some lesbian connection that we DOD boys are unaware of? Clearly, the Nanny was a gay icon… I mean look at those highlight clips on YouTube. Just saying.

In any case, the DOD boys seemed to be a magnet for the more interesting ladies enjoying themselves last night. My friend, whose name I did not catch, was clearly a fan of the drink. Tired of waiting for a refill and patience running thin, she decided to continually stand then sit until finally waving her hands in the air as though she was directing a 747 from its final approach to the gate. Blake’s lady friend, Nila, was much cuter than mine… but perhaps just as drunk. I don’t know much about Nila, but the girl liked to dance… and apparently found the two of us very interesting. We later met her gal pal Fay, who had no idea “what was going on.” As the night went on, Nila became even more friendly. I think she may have slightly molested Blake as Fay and I chatted offline. I hope that Nila understood that she wasn’t going to get very far. In any case, we found HER (or HER, or HER, or HER) BAR lots of fun and an amusing way to end the evening. We’ll be back Nila, don’t you worry your pretty little big pocket shorts! And the DOD boys will have their dancing shoes with them next time!

Aspen Art Museum Moves Forward

Posted in architecture, art, design by Alastair on August 13, 2010

This week in the New York Times, Robin Pogrebin reported that The Aspen Art Museum is proceeding with the purchase of land in downtown Aspen for the construction of a new building designed by the architect Shigeru Ban, pictured above. They’ve made public the design concept and preliminary model of the 30,000-square-foot wood-and-glass structure. The museum also announced that the new building will include 12,500 square feet of exhibition space, a roof-deck sculpture garden, a classroom, museum shops, cafe, offices and storage.

The Aspen Art Museum has some less-than-inspiring images of the proposed project. For a visual arts institution you might expect something a little more sexy. In any case, I’m a little confused… the project was announced back in 2008 and when you head directly to Shigeru Ban’s site you see what must have been the original proposal (?) when the project began. Two similar but different looking designs, but no mention of the changes anywhere in the press.

Apolis Activism Market Bag

Posted in design, fashion by Alastair on August 13, 2010

Yes, it’s certainly more expensive than your average reusable bag… especially those stylish versions you’ll find convieniently located near the checkout counter of your local Safeway, King Soopers or Whole Foods. You know the bags: subtly branded with the grocery store’s name and logo. More is more.

Why settle for a bag designed for the “unwashed masses” when you can get your hands on some golden jute fiber harvested in Bangladesh. It’s way more distinctive. The Apolis Activism Market Bag ($60) features a waterproof lining, vegetable-dyed leather straps with antique nickel rivets, a 6×7 in.  interior pocket, and over 7.5 gallons of storage room.

Started by three brothers from Santa Barbara, Apolis Activism has re-designed the way fashion works from the ground up by connecting it with the global community. They anchored this vision in the word Apolis, which roughly translates as a cityless or countryless  — where there are no borders. Apolis started making garments in 2004 and began embroidering a trademark red stitch on each piece. The sign of relief and an icon for all global citizens committed to quality and change. Apolis Activism applies contemporary design, premium fabrics, and an opportunity to share the value of trade.

10 Essentials: The Men Behind Apolis Activism via

The Ace Hotel & Swim Club, Palm Springs

Posted in design, travel by Alastair on August 9, 2010

I’m quickly becoming a big, big fan of Palm Springs… And it has nothing to do with the clothing-optional resorts, Blake. I love the weather (even in the dead of summer…“it’s a dry heat”), the mid-century modern architecture, and the louche lifestyle. And my stays at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club have been a major factor in my Palm Springs good times.

The Portland-based hoteliers have really created a unique brand for themselves concentrating on understated design choices that feel comfortable and accessible while still maintaining a modern atmosphere. The sprawling complex—five barracks-like, two-story structures built on the site of a 1965 Howard Johnson hotel—features an indoor-outdoor spa, two Swim Club pools, and an old Denny’s restaurant, now King’s Highway and the Amigo Room.

Not least among the reasons I enjoy the Ace is their commitment to offering a number of rooms for under $100. I spent the first two nights with the Goldsteins in a King lounge that had a faux animal-skin rug on the dark cork floor… We swear it was a poodle in its previous life. The remaining days were spent in my own standard King that was somewhere around $55 a night (plus a $20 per day resort fee). The rooms were filled with vintage furniture, denim headboards, kaftans instead of bathrobes, and amenities from Rudy’s Barbershop. Off-white canvas covered one wall with French doors to an adjacent small private patio in the King lounge. Two additional walls of horizontal white wooden slats had pictures from old National Geographics hanging from S-hooks. In short, there was nothing to dislike.

The brightly lighted King’s Highway served up basic, but satisfying dishes, such as a chicken club sandwich with homemade mayo and roasted tomatoes on rustic bread. They have great weekday lunch specials for under $10, including a hearty BLT. I added avocado. They also make the food that’s served poolside, including a watermelon, heirloom tomato & burrata salad and a couscous salad with roasted pistachios, arugula, preserved lemon, carrots and chicken. The service poolside on the weekends is slow (understandably as the party atmosphere rises on Saturday and Sundays), otherwise no complaints.

What really creates the Ace-like charm in my eyes are the many interesting details: chalk board signs, pool lounge chairs constructed with flexible rope and beige furniture that perfectly blends with the surrounding mountains, hammocks, a giant macramé elephant head that adorned the wall above our brown leather booth one late morning in King’s Highway, and the field journal style menus written with old school typewriter font. Other guest perks include free bikes which we took out for a spin or two.

Brini Maxwell’s Craft for the Masses

Posted in denver, design, entertainment by Alastair on June 7, 2010

Brini Maxwell, author of Brini Maxwell’s Guide to Gracious Living and Style Network personality, will be hosting what may be Denver’s DIY event of the summer. Fresh City Life is teaming up with Fancy Tiger to host Brini Maxwell’s Crafts for the Masses: Tassel and Pom-Pom-athon, a workshop on making tassels and pom-poms and “implementing tassels and pom-poms in your decor and fashion.”

Not as blue-blooded as Martha Stewart or as innocent as Doris Day, Maxwell is her own entity: the star of her own TV show and the creator of podcasts, a book, and a line of home products. Maxwell, aka actor Ben Sander, is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology and a former fashion designer. She launched The Brini Maxwell Show on public-access cable television in 1998, shooting the show in her own retro apartment. Picked up for two seasons by the Style Network, the show was entertainingly ironic yet full of useful tips, from crafts to cocktails to cooking. Maxwell can now be heard on her NPR podcast, Hints for Gracious Living.

Ms. Maxwell will be demonstrating many techniques for tassel and pom-pom making on Saturday, June 19 at the Denver Public Library’s Central Branch. This four-hour class includes all materials for $25.

Watch highlights from The Brini Maxwell Show:

Just My Type

Posted in art, denver, design by Alastair on May 27, 2010

While I’m jealous that Blake gets to spend his Memorial Day weekend elsewhere, I am seriously looking forward to a bounty of happenings this weekend at the Denver Art Museum focused on the five-hundred-year old tradition of letterpress printing. The fun wraps up on the second level of the Denver Pavilions, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, with the opening of Pressed!, a special exhibit of works by letterpress typographers from across the country and beyond, including Hatch Show Print, that remains on view through July 4.

Rainbow Magic

Posted in art, denver, design by Alastair on May 24, 2010

Who doesn’t love rainbows? Seriously… I know I do. Optical and meteorological phenomena, rainbows are magical and beautiful. However, I don’t need to wear one on a necklace, wave it in the air, or sticker my rear window with them. Just saying.

Here are some pretty spectacular images of cypher13 design studio’s temporary sculptural installation Rainbow Magic, outside of David Adjaye’s MCA Denver and just across the street from Create Denver Week headquarters this past April. These are just the kind of rainbows I could spend some quality time with. But like any great rainbow they didn’t last long enough. To see more and read more, click here.