Down and Out in Denver

Wearable Foods

Posted in fashion, food by Alastair on March 30, 2011

We DOD boys love food… and fashion. So, you can only imagine the thoughts that ran through our heads when we came across these constructed art forms made with food. Wearable Foods is a series of works by Korean artist Yeonju Sung in which photographs depict exquisite models of clothing made from foodstuffs — aubergine, bubble gum, and bananas in these three examples. They triggered some of our fundamental senses: the desire to wear clothes and the desire to eat.


Wednesday’s Links

Posted in wednesday's links by Alastair on March 30, 2011

Firooz Zahedi's "Dressed as an Odalisque," 1976, is currently on view at LACMA in the show "Elizabeth Taylor in Iran." © Firooz Zahedi

The Cherry Cricket

Posted in denver, food by Blake on March 29, 2011

Look at the Size of that Diet Coke!

Alastair and I have lived in Colorado for a combined total of almost eight years now. And we’ve never been to the Cherry Cricket, that staple of Denver dining out in Cherry Creek.  Well, last week we were out shopping in preparation for Alastair’s upcoming very first cocktail party in his Denver apartment (which, by the way, was a blast) and we were in Cherry Creek to go to the Crate and Barrel and the Whole Foods (just for the seafood; otherwise we’re King Soopers boys).  So we decided to give it a whirl.

Caesar Salad with Chicken and a LOT of dressing

I have to say that I’m not sure what all the fuss is about.  The ambiance is more than questionable, kind of loud and crowded and cramped.  And the food was fine, but hardly exceptional.  What is it that makes the Cherry Cricket so desirable?  Is it that it remains a pretty traditional diner in the midst of all that overpriced fanciness that is Cherry Creek (we support that!)?  Or do people find the food better than we did?  Alastair had a burger and he liked it just fine, but wasn’t blown away.  I foolishly had — brace yourselves — a caesar salad (no anchovies, natch).  I’m on a wee bit of a diet and I’m pretty sure this didn’t really comply, because it was drenched in dressing.  We also split an order of fries (see below) and those were quite tasty, coated with some sort of flavorful seasoning. Perhaps my favorite part of the Cricket experience was my never-ending and thoroughly gigantic Diet Coke (see above; it dwarfs Alastair’s pint of beer).

Flavorful Fries

Let me say that I love a good diner as much as the next person and I definitely don’t believe that all restaurants need to be super fancy, but even as diners go, this one just didn’t stand out all that much to me.  I’ve been to Pete’s Kitchen and its neighbor Mama’s, both on Colfax, and preferred both of them.  So, what’s with all the love for the Cherry Cricket, Denverites?

Wednesday’s Links

Posted in wednesday's links by Alastair on March 16, 2011

Noah Haugen, 3, dances and sings while getting wet in his front yard near Arkansas Ave. and Gaylord St. in near record temperatures Wednesday afternoon. (Andy Cross, The Denver Post)

  • Denver ties the record high of 74 degrees this afternoon, for March 16th. It’s been a little taste of summer out there and I’m lovin’ it.
  • The synth-pop group OMD performs Tuesday, March 22 at Denver’s Bluebird Theater. Perhaps more noteworthy is the under recognized opening act, Danish popstress Nanna Fabricus, aka Oh Land. “Son of a Gun,” is the standout track on Oh Land’s debut EP. Watch the video, below.
  • The cows won’t be able to jump over the moon, but it might look like a possibility this Saturday, when the moon will be at its closest approach to Earth in 19 years. Some are calling it a supermoon.
  • Local chain Organic Pizza Co. has finally opened at the Spire, Downtown Denver’s LEED-certified high-rise located on 14th Street.
  • Due to pop anytime soon, Rachel Zoe rocks 6-inch leopard print heels at 38 weeks pregnant. I die. I’m looking forward to catching season 4 and a glimpse of that baby bump.

Go Ride A B-cycle

Posted in denver by Alastair on March 14, 2011

The bikes are back!

Today is Denver B-cycle’s  first day back on the streets. It’s a good day.

I rode B-cycle into work this morning and considering my slow start, thanks to the pesky time change, the ride got my blood pumping. Who knew that getting out of bed while it was still dark out would be such a problem?

Good new is that Denver B-cycle has been updating the system and overhauling their bikes over the winter. My ride this morning could not have been any smoother. I was a little worried my membership card would not work after the months off, but I had no trouble! I should mention that B-cycle is offering $49 annual memberships until April 22nd. There’s no better time to buy a new membership or renew your old one. Additionally, for every ride you take you will be entered to win one of five annual memberships they will be giving away today.

Lesbian Love on Glee

Posted in gays, tv by Blake on March 12, 2011

Santana and Brittany

While Glee has never been shy in tackling gay themes, mostly in the form of Kurt, his struggles to find love and avoid bullying, as well as cheesy Blaine’s antics, it has generally shied away from dealing with lesbianism.  Until Tuesday night’s show, which I only just watched last night.  Some critics have rightly noted that Brittany and Santana’s occasional messing around in previous episodes made it seem as if lesbianism was just something that girls might do until something better came along.  It wasn’t as serious as gay male identity, in other words.  It was passing and transient and inconsequential.  Exactly what many people think of lesbianism to begin with, in other words, especially if the two women involved are pretty and leggy and conventionally feminine.

But that changed with Santana’s confession to Brittany on Tuesday night’s show that she loves her, wants to be with her, and that her dalliances with Finn and Puckerman and Sam are only that: distractions.  I’m left torn by this. I can’t help thinking that the writers and producers recognized the rightful criticism lodged against them and decided to take women’s same-sex love as seriously as they have been taking male homosexuality.  All good on that count.  And I appreciate that Santana articulated a number of the concerns that many gay people have when thinking about coming out: ostracism, stereotyping, and the like.  It’s also demonstrably true that many young proto-gay men and women sleep around with people of the opposite sex in order to convince themselves and others that they are “really” straight.  And it’s perfectly fine that both Brittany and Santana are bisexual and not lesbian, if that’s what’s going on (it seems clear that that’s what Brittany is saying; she loves Artie and would be with Santana if she weren’t with him.  Santana, on the other hand, might be leaning more toward lesbianism?  I’m not sure).  But is it a good move, still, to portray male homosexuality as abiding and unchanging (witness Blaine trying to kiss Rachel; wasn’t going to happen.  Or Kurt’s unwavering gayness throughout the show, or even his closeted bully’s lack of romantic interaction with women) and women as bisexual?  Of course part of this is that the show has already boxed itself into a corner with Brittany and Santana’s past exploits with men.  Still, the message seems pretty clear: some boys are gay and some are straight; women, however, are “fluid” (Santana’s word for Brittany). Where is Glee’s butch baby dyke, the analogous character to Kurt?  I’m all for femme representation as well — in the form of Brittany and Santana — but the writers don’t seem totally willing to commit. Or maybe I’m just old and don’t understand how things are with the kids these days.

I’m still working through all this in my mind.  Thoughts?


Posted in denver, fashion by Alastair on March 11, 2011

Coming to a Denver?

Ever since Saks Fifth Avenue announced it was closing its Cherry Creek location, Denver fashionistas have been guessing what might take its place. I recently heard rumors at an Oscar Party that H&M, the popular Swedish retailer, was looking into the soon-to-be vacancy. I was hesitant to say anything, but it appears prospects are looking even better. The Denver Post’s Penny Parker reported yesterday that the fast-fashion chain — whose full name is Hennes & Mauritz — hasn’t revealed where the store (or stores) will be located, but both Cherry Creek and Park Meadows malls have been contacted.

In an April 2010 Denver Business Journal online reader survey, H&M was No. 3 on the list of national chains that readers would most like to see come to Colorado, after Trader Joe’s and In-N-Out Burger, two West Coast establishments I would actually love to see stake a claim in Colorado.

Down and Out

Posted in denver, gays by Blake on March 10, 2011

When Alastair and I started this blog a year and four months ago, it was because we disliked Denver and we wanted to have a forum to vent about it.  As you may recall, we did a lot of venting in the beginning: about outdoor sports, and gays, and gays’ clothing, and bars, and drivers, and the lack of a real downtown.  I could go on.  In the past year, however, we seem to have moved more into the realm of reporting on our adventures here in D-Town.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  I warn you right now, however; I’m about to take us right back to our origins.  The reason I’ve been so silent of late is because writing on this blog just serves to remind me that I do live in Denver, and that’s something I’ve been trying to forget. ‘Cause I really don’t like it here.  Lately I have not only been out, I have also been out of state.  I just checked: of the past 14 weekends (that is, the months of December, January, February and the beginning of March), I have spent a grand total of 4 of them here in Denver.  United and Frontier love me.  Where have I been?  Does it even matter?  So long as it hasn’t been the Centennial State, I almost haven’t cared.  I have decided that in order to get back to blogging, I must first get back to the reason that I blogged in the first place: my disdain for this state. So bear with me as I update you on my current malaise.

This blog was at least in part supposed to be Alastair’s and my attempt to make ourselves happier here.  We envisioned some sort of community forming around our mutual distaste for all things Mile High.  That is, admittedly, a ridiculous goal in some  ways, but we still thought we might make some new friends with whom to bitch about Denver.  While we have certainly made friends since November of 2009, we have officially met zero people directly through this blog. Alastair did meet Mondo Guerra (!!!), but not through the blog, and we’ve never actually gotten together with the ladies of the Denver Omelette (who have a new member!), despite many promises on both sides that we will.  Over the almost five years that I have lived here, I have done my utmost to like this state.  I joined a book club. I joined a gym.  I volunteered.  I went to museums and art galleries and parks.  I visited parts of the state that I’d never been to before.  As you know, Alastair and I have also drunk and dined at many a fine watering hole and restaurant (and restaurants remain the one thing about Colorado about which I will generally not complain).

But, dear reader, I still don’t like it here.  When asked what I think about Denver or the state more generally by people I meet in other places, I generally say: “It’s pretty and affordable, and it’s great if you like outdoor activities, though I don’t.”  That is about as much enthusiasm as I can muster. Because I then also say: “It’s Midwestern and provincial and conventional and it’s only pretty if you look at the mountains and it’s small and Denver is a city utterly without edge.” Let me be clear: as horrible as I am I do realize that Denver is great for some people.  I am just not among them.  I lived for ten years in a city whose population is double the size of the entire state of Colorado.  This was my own fault.  I should have approached my adult life by working my way up from small to mid-sized to truly metropolitan.  But I didn’t.  And it has ruined me for anything that does not feel distinctly urban.  And Denver just doesn’t cut it.  This “city” has no rail system that takes you anywhere but suburbs.  It is not very walkable.  It has little life not for tourists in its downtown. It is populated by people who seem fully satisfied by getting in their cars and driving to strip malls to do their shopping.  That is, when they’re not leaving the “city” to go skiing or snowboarding or hiking or rafting or some other snow-air-waterborne activity. And that, to this jaded coastal urbanite, is just not really a city.  If Chicago is forever relegated to “Second City” status, I don’t even want to venture a guess as to how far down that numerical ranking Denver might be.  And the thing is this: no amount of defending or “we have X number of parks or restaurants or buses” can possibly redeem it. Because desirable places don’t constantly have to defend themselves, precisely because everyone knows how wonderful they are.

All of this begs the obvious question: if you hate it here so much, why on earth don’t you leave?  Dear reader, I have tried. I work in a field that required far too much education and that is specialized enough that one cannot simply move to a new place and expect to find employment in that field.  So does Alastair.  That’s why we’re here and why we stay here.  I am surprised by how many people there are who work in these sorts of fields, and how different the fields are from one another.  Alastair and I do not, for instance, do anything similar in our work, but both of us in our own ways have found ourselves here and unable to leave if we want to continue to practice what we’re trained to do.  If we want, in essence, to continue to be ourselves.

Another reason for my current bitterness — which I recently described to a friend as a “seething cauldron of resentment”; fun, huh? — is that I was recently a finalist for a job that I can only describe as The Job To End All Jobs (TJTEAJ, henceforth).  Not only was it a fantastic position, it was also in the Bay Area, where, you might recall, my Gentleman Friend resides.  At each step of the process of applying and interviewing for TJTEAJ I did not believe that I could possibly make it to the next round, so good was this job, and each time I did.  Until, dear reader, that final time.  I did not get the job.  And I am heartbroken.  (If there is anyone reading this right now who is thinking, let alone saying, to him or herself, “I guess it wasn’t meant to be,” I swear to you right now that I will track you down and throttle you with my bare hands.  By whom was it not meant to be?  Seriously?  Who figured out that I was not meant to get this job, aside from the people doing the hiring, who basically just preferred the qualifications of someone else?  ‘Cause if there was any sort of “meant to be justice” in this world, that job was clearly labeled “Blake.”)

All of the buildup to the possibility of TJTEAJ just meant that I spent an inordinate amount of time fantasizing about what my life would be like in San Francisco and how wonderful it would be.  You can imagine how Denver is now faring in comparison to all that kind of thought.  Not well.  I’m not at all sure that telling you all this has done anything to convince me that I’m going to be any happier here, but I will say that it’s allowed me to feel like I can return to contributing to our little blog, thus relieving Alastair of all the responsibility.  Besides, I’ve got a restaurant to review, and a PBS series that is my new best friend, and an HGTV program that delights me, and an installment of Blake’s Book Nook that’s been percolating for months now.  And how could I not share all of that with you, dear reader?

Wednesday’s Links

Posted in wednesday's links by Alastair on March 9, 2011

Stills from Jeremy Blake's "Winchester" series, 2003.

  • I thought I noticed a rather large number of 7-Elevens poping up around Denver. Seems I wasn’t imaging things. The Denver Post’s Ray Mark Rinaldi offers an architectural glimpse into the 24 new convenience stores that opened in Colorado over the last two years. I could have done without the “retro” Hipstamatic photos, especially given the pared-down, brightly lit, white interiors of Rinaldi’s subject matter.
  • Sputnik, home of hipsters and the Doughnut Sandwich, violates Colorado liquor/beer code and goes dark. Reopens today.
  • The Civil union bill expanding the rights of same-sex couples cleared its first hurdle in the Colorado Senate on Monday. The Post’s disappointingly brief, but front page coverage, here.
  • Adam Lambert spotted at JR’s last Thursday… Of course, on the ONE night Blake and I aren’t belly up at the bar. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
  • Blink! Light, Sound & the Moving Imagea new exhibit at the Denver Art Museum that opens March 13, has artists “re-contextualizing everyday technology to create an active experience that brings static objects to life.” I’m looking forward to catching the hallucinagenic work of digital artist and painter Jeremy Blake, who sadly took his own life in 2007. If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s stunning. 
  • Bill Cunningham is interested in only one thing–the pictures he takes that document the way people dress. “Bill Cunningham New York,” a new 88-minute documentary about the photographer, known for his New York Times columns “On the Street” and “Evening Hours,” is scheduled for release on March 16. A one week engagement in Denver begins April 22.


Grill a Hot Dog Almost Anywhere

Posted in food, outdoors by Alastair on March 5, 2011

The Portable swings into action at a moment's notice. Attach the adjustable canvas shoulder strap to the sides of the grill, fling it over your shoulder and hit the road.

Yes, I’ve been thinking about hot dogs, again. But, I’m craving more than just a great dawg. I’m ready for summer… More specifically, weekend picnics in the park. This is something I have not fully embraced in Menver. My Oklahoma gal pal and I talked the big talk last spring, but we spent most of our time on our bikes. I’m convinced the Element Portable gas grill is going to change that. Targeted at apartment dwellers like me, who have limited or no outdoor space, the Element Portable is intended to be as attractive during storage and transportation as it is when set up. What I like most is that it looks like a messenger bag when you’re transporting it. I can picture it already… a bottle of rosé, some of my best gal pals, and a couple of steaks on the grill. Who could ask for anything more?

The Portable becomes available late March for about $150.