I’ve rounded year one of my time in Denver, CO. Admittedly, I’ve been a little sour on the place. I was in DC recently for work, and catching up with my friend Jerry and his GF Marjorie. They’d been toying with the idea of moving out here, and seemed surprised that I was lukewarm on the city. It occurred to me that I maybe I haven’t been giving Denver a fair shake. It is an undeniably nice place to live. My problems with living here largely boil down to the fact that it’s kind of one-dimensional, and people really only live here because they like skiing. But honestly, one year is only enough time to get your apartment furniture set up the way you like it, and pick out a few favorite places around town.
So I’ll take this one-year mark as a way to catalog exactly what my Denver existence, present and future, has going for it:
1. Gabor’s. A wise man once said that all you really need in a home is good bar and a good coffee shop within walking distance. Well I got good old Garbo’s. Many a night I’ve spent with Danni and the big red booths and the free jukebox. If only they didn’t have all that shit on the walls. It’s like a TGI Friday’s. Dammit, positive. I love G’bos. My home away from home.
2. The New Argonaut. The original Args was a beauty of a liquor store, and it had that welcoming smell of stale booze. Like opening a bar the morning after a big night. But when the new crown jewel of Colfax opened up in November, oh boy, it was a whole new world. Two stories, two walls of cold cases. Every beer and wine you could want.
3.The Denver Library. I’m not going to compare it to Multnomah County’s library, I’m really not. The Denver central library is a fine public establishment. Decent internet ordering service, good-looking building. But best of all, it’s heavily used. Nothing like seeing a good crowd in a library on a Saturday afternoon.
4. St. Mark’s Coffee, but only when the cool girl is working. Most of the people who work at St. Mark’s, let’s face it, are assholes. But when that one great representative of the best coffee shop in city is on duty, the coffee is affordable and the smiles are free. She plays great music, she’s talkative but not nosy. It’s a lottery to walk into that place, you might not get a table, you might get a big fuck you from the barista. But on the right day, it’s perfect, and there’s nowhere I’d rather type away the day.
5. The Thin Man. St. Mark’s swarthy brother. The lighting, the beautiful staff and clientele, the infused vodkas, the beer selection. There’s not a damn thing wrong with this bar, except the fact that some nights it’s a little too popular.
6. Hi-Dive. This is a new discovery, I’m embarrassed to say. One look at their calendar, and it’s clear this is nexus of cool in an otherwise jam band and juggalo town. In April, we’re going to see Mirah, Clem Snide and maybe Laura Gibson w/ Damien Jurado.
7. The sky:
8. Tattered Cover. Wood floors, good coffee, readings, and maybe the nicest staff in any bookstore.
9. And finally, it kills me to even type this as a positive aspect of Denver. But here it is: Colfax Avenue. It’s filthy, teeming with malnourished, drug addicts. Storefronts with cracked windows and dried vomit on the stoops. Is it hell on earth? Little bit. But Colfax is the exact opposite of all the stuff that’s lame about Denver. Denver at its worst is an over-polished, new money, Escalade-driving, tinted sunglasses-wearing Cheesecake Factory. Colfax likes to chuck eggs at that city and then go to the nearest bar to celebrate with beer from a dirty glass.