Summer Road Trip: Two Sides to the Mile-High City

The subject is Denver. I was in town for a writer’s conference this past week, and a panel of authors from Colorado talked about creating stories and characters about this region. The topic kept drifting to the contrasts in Denver, to the clash of cultures and histories. Like many cities in America, it seems to be under vigorous construction at the moment, but perhaps Denver has always been remaking itself.

This is a city not quite in the center of either the Lower 48 or the entire U.S., but it’s near those locations, which maybe makes it the perfect site for the meeting of two sides. Rural/Urban. Conservative/Progressive. West/East. Mountains and … Fewer Mountains. Hot/Snow. Pure Air/Inversion Smog Layer. Simple/Sophisticated.

Is it the proximity to the Continental Divide? Or does the Continental Divide go through a diverse Colorado, and split these things in two? Whichever is the case, it heightens the contrasts.

Photo from Brown Palace WordPress.
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Grandpa Didn’t Recognize Led Zeppelin Either

Chris Stapleton (45) admiring Stevie Wonder (72): 2023 Grammys (photo from Yahoo!Sports)

There was a lot of kvetching last week about the Grammys this year, on the Facebook and the Interwebs. As in, who are these people?

Our blogging friend Fandango wondered about it in his Wednesday question of the week. After wondering why so many people on the Grammys seem strange, his question was What’s your favorite music, but I decline to answer that, since my list is long, and I like individual songs rather than the style (though I will answer, at the end of the post). I’m still considering the other question: Who are these people?

I’ve seen my contemporaries, my sexagenarian friends, ask that question too, with a lot of grumpiness. And yet, I say to them, when you were a kid and watched Frank Sinatra or Perry Como sing year after year at the Grammys or the Oscars, didn’t you feel like they ought to shuffle aside for someone a little hipper?

Let’s keep the Grammys in perspective.

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Eat, Learn & Be Mellow on Route 66

The answer to NYT themed puzzle, which we solved yesterday. Photo by kajmeister.

We had our feet up, on the George RR Martin train yesterday, watching the Santa Fe scrub chug by and sipping beverages. The guitarist was covering train songs, and we got out a crossword which had a themed answer (Hint: Starts at Grant ____ in the northeast, ends at Santa Monica ____ in the Southwest, John Steinbeck called it the Mother ____). I almost fell out of my chair when I saw the answer was WHERE WE ARE.

Through Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico, Flagstaff, Arizona, don’t forget Winona, Kingman, Barstow, San Bernadino….

Of the many versions, I do like the Manhattan Transfer cover of “Route 66,” as well as John Mayer’s leisurely version from the soundtrack to Cars. We’ve been zipping along what Steinbeck called the Mother Road for a week, and aside from soaking up all the writing advice, we’ve had time to tour, eat, admire the clouds, eat, learn a little history, and eat some more. If you’re bombing through on the Interstate, you might only see asphalt and Applebee’s, but if you meander through the towns, you can hardly help but stumble over one kernel of beauty after another and if you eat a bad meal, you’re not really trying.

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