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!


Baby, I Was Born This Way

Posted in entertainment, music by Alastair on April 5, 2011

Walt and Wendy Do Denver (Part Two)

Posted in bars, denver, entertainment, food, gays by Alastair on October 25, 2010

On Thursday, Blake and I accompanied Walt, Wendy, and a small band of Walt’s conference gal pals for our second (and big) night on the town.  And dear DOD readers, it was a bigger night for some, than it was for others. I was feeling like your friendly Cruise Director, Julie McCoy by the end of the night, and one of my passengers would unfortunately experience a case of seasickness. No. Lie.

Alastair, your friendly Cruise Director

Feeling lightly lubricated, thanks to a conference-related gathering at the DAM (and the higher altitude), our out-of-town guests were looking to start their evening out in the world on the right foot. I was confident they would enjoy the legendary Cruise Room just off the lobby of The Oxford Hotel, based on my past experience. The Art Deco décor, the neon-lighted wall panels depicting different toasts from around the world, and the classic cocktail menu did not disappoint our sophisticated visitors. After some lively conversation and a few cocktails some of Walt’s gal pals ordered food from the McCormick’s Fish House menu and I quickly began to plan our next move.

Given the night of the week, the size of our group, and the growing intoxication of some, I knew JR.’s, “Denver’s favorite, award-winning GLBT bar” was the right choice.  We grabbed our taxicabs and headed to JR.’s, but not before Blake and I stopped by Steuben’s for a quick bite that did not require us to rub shoulders with six other guests.

The Cruise Room at The Oxford Hotel

By the time we arrived at JR’s it was clear that one member of Walt’s conference posse, let’s call her Whitney, was letting the booze get the best of her. At one moment, while everyone was seated outside and I was waiting in line to grab a round of drinks, I look over to one corner of the bar to spot Whitney, sitting by herself, drink in hand, and phone on the bar. Despite her intoxication, and frequent declaration of said inebriation, Whitney continued to throw back one cocktail after the next, and to the surprise of many.

After spotting Mondo Guerra from afar, Wendy decided that he had seen all that JR.’s had to offer and yours truly was feeling the pressure to come up with a solution. Charlie’s, the country western themed bar on East Colfax and home to the infamous disco boots! “No matter who you are, you always know that there’s ALWAYS A PARTY AT CHARLIE’S!!!” But, seriously, Wendy could not have been more excited. Walt was beside himself. I could not tear my eyes away from the somewhat hipster hottie in the torn flannel shirt that was tearing up the dance floor. The same excitement was shared by the rest of our guests, except Whitney, who in our excitement realized that she had disappeared, having taken a cab back to her hotel. I think this realization came to us after Blake headed back home. He had an early flight the next morning to the East Coast. So, unfortunately he would miss out on something that would keep Walt, Wendy, and me endlessly entertained for the remaining weekend.

Whitney's first text message

Whitney’s gal pal, who was sharing a room with her during the conference, received a text from Whitney, which she immediately shared with us. “I just vommmmmmed.” Not long after, another text would arrive. “I so siiick.” Seriously. I still laugh out loud when I say that. Maybe you had to be there… We all felt terrible, especially for the woman sharing a room with Whitney. But, what a journey, and what a way to end the night.

NPR Pledge Drive: Let it End!

Posted in denver, entertainment by Blake on October 13, 2010

If you’re like me, you listen to NPR in the car.  I have some exceptions to this general rule: “Car Talk” and “A Prairie Home Companion.”  I can abide neither of those.  Otherwise NPR is my constant companion when I’m tooling about in my automobile, especially on my morning and afternoon commutes.  I love Steve and Renée  in the morning (and like it when Linda Wertheimer subs in for either of them, really anyone but Ari; ugh) and Melissa and Robert in the afternoon (I go back and forth about Michele).  I am one of those NPR geeks who likes to talk about their favorite newscasters and reporters and the ones they can’t stand.  (Perhaps the subject of another post?  All I can say is that Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, aside from having the most amazing name, pronounces Dakar in a way that thrills me every single time.)

All of this is just a roundabout way of talking about the fact that I cannot stand pledge week, which I understand ends tomorrow. I get why they do it and I contribute my annual pledge.  (I now have a radio bookmark, which I have never used, and at least two tote bags, which I take to the grocery store.)  But it bores me to tears. Not just because they take away the programming, though that is part of it, but because the poor people at Colorado Public Radio have to pretend that they are having fun in their silly conversations all day long.  I believe that two days ago — at 6:30 AM, no less! — I heard Mike Lamp tell David Rutherford, one of the KVOD classical announcers, that he was “having a blast” chatting that morning about some CD of adagios they were giving away.  First of all, I don’t believe them. Lies!  Second, even if they are having a blast, I most certainly am not.  I’m in pain.

So here’s what I propose for the gift that I receive the next time I make my pledge: a little device (or maybe a special code?) that I can put into my car radio that bypasses pledge drive and takes me straight to regular programming. The earlier you pledge, the quicker you get said device or code.  I guarantee that if such a thing could be invented, donations would go through the roof. Until then I encourage everyone else to make their pledges and join me in prayer that tomorrow really is the last day.


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!

Wednesday Links

Posted in denver, entertainment, fashion, food, music, outdoors by Alastair on June 16, 2010


Neon Indian performing at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

  • Cafe Society’s Jonathan Shikes reports on the Civic Center Eats Outdoor Cafe which returned to Civic Center Park yesterday for its weekly run through the summer. Here is some of what was available.
  • Adam Richman tackles Boulder, kicking off a new season of the Travel Channel’s Man v. Food tonight at 7:30 p.m. MST.
  • The Westword Music Showcase, Denver’s biggest one-day music festival, takes place this Saturday. Neon Indian, a major player in bringing the country’s attention to the chillwave movement of 2009, performs on the Mainstage at 4:30 p.m.
  • The 28th annual Highlands Street Fair takes place this Saturday. Held on the Saturday of Father’s Day weekend, the street party features live music, tasty food, beer, and much more.
  • J.W. Anderson, the 26-year-old menswear designer out of London (and Alastair’s professed pretend boyfriend) is one to watch. The NYTs T Magazine talks to the 26-year-old about his protogrunge-adventurer collection.
  • Cougars on the prowl in Colorado nightclubs AND at Elway’s? I can’t imagine… 
  • Have you run out of ideas for Father’s Day? KI.D Collective offers up her own idea… and presents some handsome bags for the guys.

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:

Sharon Stone

Posted in entertainment, tv, Uncategorized by Blake on May 13, 2010

Ms. Stone has officially risen to the top of the heap amongst searched terms that end up with a click on Down and Out in Denver.  Giving her a run for her money are Sarah Richardson, host of the HGTV show “Sarah’s House,” and Sandra Rinomato of HGTV’s “Property Virgins” (Rinomato is often combined with the words “hate,” “teeth,” or “breasts”); Alastair and I posted on Richardson and Rinomato, respectively.  While we here at DOD think we’re writing a little blog about all things gay and Denver, people arrive here for all sorts of other reasons.  (I was right, by the way: the possibility of Emilio Sosa’s gayness has resulted in a number of hits every day since I posted on his PR win.)

Stone and SVU co-star Mariska Hargitay on set

Those who have blogs of their own will not find this at all surprising as they probably check what WordPress calls a “Dashboard” to see how many hits they have, whether others have linked to them, which links those visitors themselves have clicked, and so forth.  Alastair and I do all those things as well.  But what has surprised me in the last month is just how little I said about Sharon Stone (I mentioned that she was set to become a guest star on “Law and Order: SVU”) and how that has generated more traffic than just about anything else over that month.  And not just in English. Other alphabets have started to grace the DOD Dashboard: شارون استون  and Шэрон Стоун.  Apparently Czechs and Russians are using DOD to learn more about Ms. Stone.  Even just typing in “Stone” gets you to DOD.

My biggest question is this: is there really no better place to find out more on the wonders of la Stone?  I googled Sharon Stone (no quotation marks) and made it through the first ten pages without coming upon lil’ ol’ DOD.  Who has the time to keep going, I ask you.  And why?

Oscar Feast!

Posted in denver, entertainment, fashion, food, movies, parties by Blake on March 8, 2010

My friend Nancy is visiting from out of town for the weekend and so on Saturday night Alastair and I decided to take her to our very favorite Denver restaurant, Potager (see Alastair’s very favorable review here).  It was, and it pains me to say this, a little disappointing. The appetizers — wilted savory greens, spinach and mushroom toast — were both fantastic.  The main courses, however, not so much.  The shellfish stew was more broth with scallops and mussels than it was stew as I understand the term, all topped off with a saffron aioli, which proceeded to disintegrate into unappetizing floating clumps in the broth.  I like mayonnaise in pretty much any form but this was distinctly unappetizing.  Nancy and Alastair both got the roast chicken and while the bird itself was well cooked, the jumble of accompaniments just didn’t work that well, and seemed to be different from what usually comes with the chicken.  This time: arugula, dried apples(?), pine nuts, olives, and about fifteen other things. One got the impression that Potager might have been trying to clean out its fridge.  The flourless chocolate cake, however, was divine.  And the service, as always, was fantastic.

Alastair's Sardine Toast with my Canadian Flag Cocktail Napkins and Grandmother's Monogram Plates

But after a disappointing dinner Alastair and I felt duty-bound  to prepare something pretty fantastic for the out-of-towner, especially as we were going to be settling in for a long night of Oscar-watching chez moi. And a veritable feast it was!  We began with Alastair’s signature sardine toast: sardines, lemon, mustard, minced onion, oil, and butter, all combined and then toasted on a baguette. Delicious.

Caesar Salad with PLENTY of Anchovies

Loyal DOD readers may recall that Alastair and I have ordered a number of disappointing Caesar salads of late, so I decided it was time to make it right.  I used my grandmother’s recipe for the dressing (as well as her bowl), fried my own croutons (pictured below) and Alastair brought over plenty of anchovies.  It was all topped off by some grated parmesan, and I have to say it was pretty amazing.  Tangy and salty and crunchy and thoroughly unhealthy, the croutons particularly.  I think it was seeing the amount of butter and oil I used that might have given Nancy a heart attack, not the croutons themselves.

Homemade Croutons cooked in a gallon of oil and pound of butter

English Cucumber

We finished the meal with a delicious pasta salad prepared by Alastair: shrimp, dill, and English cucumbers, all tossed with perfectly cooked shell pasta and a tangy lemony dressing.  Unfortunately my pictures of this scrumptious concoction all came out blurry.  Maybe a consequence of all the wine we had consumed by that point?

On to the Oscars:  We began eating and drinking and watching at 4:00 as E! began its red carpet coverage.  I always find these things a little bit painful as the hosts bend over backwards to ingratiate themselves with the celebrities.  Though we were grateful it wasn’t Joan and Melissa Rivers, Ryan Seacrest wasn’t much of an improvement.  I just felt embarrassed for him.  That said, he was leagues better than the horrendous Kathy Ireland, Sherri Shepherd, and Jess Cagle, who were hosting ABC’s half-hour coverage before the show actually began.  Ireland, looking far too skinny, was, in a word, wooden.  And yet absurdly peppy at the same time!!!!  All inflection seemed to be thoroughly rehearsed. Please take her away and never let her do this again!

The awards went to the predicted winners.  There weren’t really any surprises.  We all cheered for Kathryn Bigelow as much for the fact that she beat out her ex-husband, James Cameron as for her being the first woman to win an Oscar for directing.  Suck it, Jimmy!  And I loved Sandra Bullock’s remarkably gracious acceptance speech, as she wittily acknowledged the other actresses in her category, gave a shout-out to mothers, and spoke about her own mother’s influence, particularly her insistence that no person, regardless of race, religion, color, class, or sexual orientation, is better than anyone else.  I am also very much a fan of the format where each best actor/actress nominee gets a little speech delivered by someone who knows them.  Many were quite touching.

As for dress, the real reason to watch, it was the general consensus of the room that the following looked horrible: Vera Farmiga (even though we love her); SJP (who fiddled with her neckline the whole night and seemed to have bathed in bronzer); Charlize Theron (who has to really work to look bad); Zoe Saldana (were those ornamental cabbages on her dress?); Kate Winslet (great from the waist up but otherwise seemed to be wearing separates, not a dress; maybe a twinset?); and Miley Cyrus.  We were fans of the sartorial choices of Sandra Bullock, Rachel McAdams (Canadian!), Queen Latifah (all hail the Queen!), Carey Mulligan (hair, not dress), Julianne Moore, Helen Mirren, and Oprah Winfrey. George Clooney’s hair was horrendous and his attitude even worse.  And finally, James Cameron’s wife needs to investigate the power of food; not only is it tasty, it also covers up your jutting collar bone!

An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin

Posted in entertainment by Alastair on March 3, 2010

The legendary Lily Tomlin is coming to Denver.