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

Happy Birthday Dolly!

Posted in movies, music by Blake on January 19, 2011

The One and Only Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton, Kennedy Center honoree, multi-Grammy winner, Platinum-record singer-songwriter, actress, native of Sevier County, Tennessee, Ms. Magazine woman of the year (1986), crusader for child literacy, founder of Dollywood, and Queen of Country Music, is 65 today.  The woman is both a flat-out musical genius and a sheer delight of a human being.  I’m also pretty sure that she’s my favorite singer of all time: the early classics, the ’80s over-produced schmaltz, and the recent haunting bluegrass.  All of it.

Happy 65th, Dolly!

Birthday Dinner at Grant Family Farms

Posted in food, music, outdoors, wine by Blake on August 29, 2010

Flowers and Wine at GFF

Every year to celebrate our birthdays, which are quite close to each other, my gal pals Historiann and ej and I go out to dinner. Alas, ej has moved out of state recently so she was unable to accompany us, but we toasted her repeatedly.  (Were your ears ringing last night, ej?)  This year Historiann suggested that we have dinner at Grant Family Farms.  Dinner at a farm, you ask?  Why yes, indeed. Grant Family Farms of Wellington (just north of Fort Collins) is both a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm with members and a supplier to restaurants and, one presumes, grocery stores and the like.  And they have begun a series of dinners on the farm that include music, entertainment and tours.  So last night Historiann, Dr. Mr. Historiann, and I got back to the land.  And what an adventure we had.

We decided to live it up — as well as avoid driving — by spending the night at the lovely Armstrong Hotel in downtown Fort Collins.  The Armstrong offers a discount to those participating in the Grant Farm dinners.  And one can take a shuttle bus — a brightly painted former school bus — from the Sports Authority parking lot, just a few blocks away.  The bus, driven by the friendly Maria, dropped us off at the Farm around 4:00.  And we were immediately treated to a delicious selection of hors d’oeuvres: dates wrapped in bacon; fresh vegetables; MouCo ColoRouge and Camembert cheeses; Il Mondo Vecchio cured meats. And wine and cocktails, too.  We were particularly fond of a very refreshing cucumber and mint gin and tonic.  I am a huge fan of the G&T and I usually don’t like it messed with, but this was very tasty and something I might just have to try at home.

Bus as Chicken Coop

Grant Family Farms is not just a family business, it’s also a family business, if you know what I mean, not at all what I was expecting in northern Colorado.  I was very much at home.  After a walk around the beautiful grounds we all hopped back on the bus — cocktails in hand — for a tour of the farm.  We bumped down the lane as farmer Chelsea explained how the farm works.  They farm about 2,000 acres, 600 of which they own; the rest they lease.  They harvest an astounding array of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and trees: eggplants, tomatoes, parsley, onions, raspberries, basil, sunflowers, and so much more.  They grow more cilantro than anywhere in the nation outside of Arizona and California.  Everything — including all the chicken, ducks, geese, and pigs — are raised organically and many of the chickens live in roving coops fashioned out of old school buses.

Before the Feast Commenced

Following the tour it was time for our four-course meal.  We began with a Romaine and butter lettuce salad, topped with poblano vinaigrette, wax beans, carrots, and tomatoes. Then came a very tasty green pepper stuffed with Lebanese zucchini, corn, Anaheim peppers, and cherry tomatoes.  It was served with goat cheese and a cabbage slaw.  I had just eaten two courses without meat and I was satisfied; who knew?  Following a brief interlude of dancing and hula hooping — music courtesy of Cowboy Jazz — we were served our main course: oven roasted duck with wilted spinach, cauliflower, and spicy pico de gallo. This was definitely my favorite of the four courses.  Dessert was a peach cobbler with a biscuit and a surprise flavored ice cream (it was Cap’n Crunch!). Food was prepared by the staff of Café Vino and the wines were courtesy of Vintages. Dinner is served at a very long table, set with beautiful flowers from the farm.  After a couple glasses of wine had loosened everyone up we were chatting with our table neighbors from Fort Collins, Boulder, and Denver, many of whom are members of the farm and regularly partake of their eggs, vegetables, or milk.

Fire Dancers Perform Mid-Meal. It was even more dramatic in the dark.

But the fun was just beginning!  After dinner and in between sets by Cowboy Jazz, fire dancers performed in the dark.  Two dancers had ropes that were lit at each end and then swung round rhythmically in a coordinated routine.  As we lounged on blankets spread out on the lawn, the fire dancers lit up the night sky.  And then there were fireworks! One must say this for the staff of Grant Family Farms: they pull out all the stops to insure that their guests have a good time.  I was expecting fresh and tasty food, maybe even a tour, but the cocktails, the music, the performers, and the fireworks made this so much more than just a dinner out; it was an extravaganza.  For those interested, GFF will be hosting a two-day Harvestival on September 11th and 12th: tours, activities for kids, a farmer’s market, and live music (featuring the one and only Judy Collins!).  If Harvestival is anything like their dinners, it’s sure to be a good (and tasty!) time.

Happy Birthday ej!  Happy Birthday Historiann!

El Diablo

Posted in bars, denver, food, music, wine by Blake on August 22, 2010

Your DOD boys did indeed go to the newly opened El Diablo last night, but they did so much else last night as well.  Read on…

Alastair was an early convert to Denver B-Cycle.  It took me longer, largely because I don’t mind walking everywhere.  But I just joined, and last night was to be my very first night using a B-Cycle.  I signed up Friday online and was told that while my membership card would not arrive for a little while (understandably) I could use the credit card that I’d registered with in order to take out a bike. It was not to be.  I inserted said card at the B-Cycle station at Boulder and 16th in the Highlands: not recognized, no membership.  As I waited on hold with B-Cycle headquarters I walked over the Highland Bridge to the station at 16th and Platte.  The nice gentleman on the other end of the phone told me there was a glitch in the system and that it wasn’t fixable right now.  However, I could sign up for a $5 one-day membership that he would reimburse to my credit card.  Done. Except that when I tried to take out a bike the system froze.  No luck.  Alastair advised me there was a station across the park at 16th and Little Raven.  There I finally met with success.  I sailed off down the Cherry Creek Trail (on the pedestrian side; I’m still getting acquainted with bicycling etiquette) to meet Alastair at Sketch Wine Bar for a glass of vinho verde, served up by the ever-friendly J.D.

Update: Denver B-Cycle called me on Monday and has straightened out the entire problem with the credit card.  Seems like they run a pretty tight ship!

Red Lights over the bar at El Diablo

Alastair had arrived at El Diablo before me and put our names on the waiting list before heading over to Sketch (located next door and also run by Jesse Morreale, who brought us Tambien, Mezcal, and La Rumba).  Midway through our second glass of wine at Sketch, we were approached by one of the hosts at El Diablo: had we put our names on the list?  Indeed we had.  Now that’s service! While the host and hostess were indeed very accommodating, the table service left a little to be desired.  Granted, it was their second night in action, but we waited a long time to have our order taken, and even longer to have it actually appear. While some of the waitstaff seemed to be wandering around aimlessly, ours was often nowhere to be found or rushed by our table without looking at us.  The food and drinks were tasty, though nothing remarkably special.  We started with chips y tres salsas and two very tall glasses of sangria.  The salsas were good, if a little runny, and the sangria — perhaps because so plentiful — was pretty watery and devoid of much fruit flavor. (The pricier sangria made with more fruit was unavailable last night.)  Our tacos — one order of carne asada y papas and one order of carnitas with salsa — were very tasty, though the tortillas had become hardened and brittle. And our very small sides of rice and beans — at $4.95 each — were overpriced and underwhelming.  It was opening weekend so Alastair and I agreed we’d give it another chance. The place is packed and the atmosphere is fun.  It’s dark and the tacky red lights worked well with the bad plasticized tabletops.  It reminded both of us of a place in the Mission in San Francisco called Velvet Cantina: hipster Mexican.

And we were off!  A night of karaoke awaited us at Armida’s, site of a wild night in early May that I documented here. This was actually our gal pal’s Whitney’s birthday party and she once again delivered some stellar performances, even joining Alastair for a rendition of Estelle and Kanye’s “American Boy.” Alastair took Estelle’s part, natch.  And they were not the only enthusiastic singers.  A gang of six thirty-something straight guys got up to deliver a somewhat too rousing rendition of Bon Jovi’s “Blaze of Glory.” One couldn’t help but wonder if they were mourning their own youth, gone in the aforementioned blaze. And there was even a lady fight!  Involving actual punches. One very drunken young woman (part of an entourage of mid-20s women in strappy dresses and large engagement rings; is this Denver?) took a swing at another young woman who had spent most of her awful rendition of Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” trying to show off her quads to the audience. Oh my. It was not pretty.

Stay tuned for Alastair’s report on our delicious (and boozy) Sunday brunch at Root Down…

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.

All The Lovers

Posted in music by Alastair on June 4, 2010

A little something fun for the weekend.

Kylie Minogue, the seriously pint-sized pop messiah who’s just Kylie to fans like me, recently released a riotously sexy street orgy of a new video for “All the Lovers,” the first single off her eleventh studio album, “Aphrodite,” which drops on July 6.

Can someone tell me what’s up with the giant white elephant floating above the street? I’m sure there’s a wealth of symbolism in there, but I was too busy watching the part where one lucky guy gets to grab Kylie’s rear over and over again. Watch here.

JR’s Music Silliness

Posted in bars, gays, music by Blake on May 30, 2010

One of the many things that Alastair and I have noticed and made fun of at JR’s over the years (that could really be a series of ten linked posts, but let’s start here) is the music.  Yes, they play the usual suspects for a gay bar: Madonna, Beyoncé, Gaga.  But they also have a tendency to play videos (because JR’s is that unfortunate breed of establishment, the video bar) for songs that you did not know existed until you heard them at JR’s.  Songs that were never popular in their own time, but that seem to be on a 24-hour loop at the corner of 17th and Clarkson.  I give you two of those below.

This is Charlotte Church singing “Call My Name.”  Remember Charlotte Church?  The Welsh “voice of an angel.”  Well, she’s no angel anymore.  Clearly trying to shed her good girl image, Church sexes it up in this backstage romp.  I have no recollection of ever hearing this song before or outside of JR’s but it got to be that I did not consider the evening truly complete until I got to hear Charlotte. I became addicted, so much so that Alastair searched around online and downloaded a copy that I added to a couple of my running mixes. She may no longer be the voice of an angel, but she can definitely still sing.

This is Paul Oakenfold featuring Brittany Murphy.  Long before she would posthumously take back the limelight, this dreadful number was playing on the video screens at JR’s.  Murphy may not have been the most talented of actresses (she will forever be Tai in “Clueless” for me) but she was a much worse singer.  R.I.P. Brittany.

What Would Madonna Do?

Posted in gays, music, tv by Alastair on April 21, 2010

Usually, date a younger man. 

I’ve become a recent fan of Glee. I know. I’m a little behind the times… and maybe that’s one reason why I need to date a younger man. I’m not sure how I missed the show boat, but I finally jumped on board during a recent stop in Natchez, Mississippi and I’m along for the ride… all the way to New Orleans. I really can’t help loving that man of mine. 

And my timing could not have been better. Glee’s “Power of Madonna” episode–its best-reviewed and most eagerly anticipated segment to date–aired last night. After all the hype, Glee delivered the goods. Not only were the musical numbers fun and creative, but the storylines about sex, strength, confidence, independence, and individuality all worked well with the theme. I must admit, I’m a Madonna fan, but certainly not her biggest. However, watching her Rejuvination Re-Invention Tour from the front row with my best gal pal Leona back in 2004 was a life changing experience. 

In last night’s episode several of the pop idol’s hits such as “Ray of Light,” “Express Yourself,” “4 Minutes,” “What It Feels Like for a Girl,” and “Like a Prayer” were strewn throughout the story. Sue Sylvester’s spin on Madonna’s “Vogue” was a highlight. You can watch it here

After this, what can we expect for the rest of the season? I don’t know, but I’m going to be watching to find out.

Everybody Loves The Sunshine

Posted in denver, music by Alastair on March 30, 2010

Really, Denver? Last week it was this. Today:

Oh, I’m not upset. If anything, it makes me want to throw on a pair of shorts… and I don’t even like wearing shorts. However, I’m so ready for the warmer weather and looking forward to leaving any sign of winter behind me. SERIOUSLY.

Along those lines, I thought I’d share some summertime favorites making their way onto the iPhone and into heavy rotation. Enjoy the sunshine.

Roy Ayers – Everybody Loves The Sunshine 

De La Soul – Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)

Kool & The Gang – Summer Madness

 Will Smith – Summertime

ESG – Moody

Massively influential, ESG has been sampled by everyone from TLC to the Wu Tang Clan – so much so that they released an EP in 1995 called “Sample Credits Don’t Pay Our Bills.”