Yesterday, on the way back from the Boulder Creek Festival, Marla and I walked past the former site of Tom's Tavern. The windows were all boarded up. Curious about the building's fate we read the notices and peeked into the windows. Then I noticed the back door was open, so I went inside and we ended up chatting with the buildings new owners. There is a massive restoration project going on and they plan to make it a slightly more upscale establishment. I have no information about what it will be called, but they plan to open in August and were thrilled to tell us about the process and project.

I have been much nosier lately than I have been in the past. I love chatting up people about what they do, especially when they enjoy it. I've found that this kind of nosiness and gossip is in fact at the essence of creating a neighborly community. This experience along with the unexpected meeting of the puppy adventure couple at the brewery (who are also friends, it turns out, of my teachers) make me feel like I am a part of a web: not just with regard to similar interests, but geography.

You will also be amused to know, if I did not mention it earlier, that the puppies owner ended up being one of the rescuers former students. Go figure.
Last night I encountered a fire at the abandoned mill by Squaresville's Pratt Parkway overpass. The fire was unbelievable, I could still see it, and the spray from the fire hoses, when I got back to my house.

See the local newspaper for a story about the fire and lots of pictures. Note: one of the reporters on the story is one of my friend Leila's brother.
I thought I should put these thoughts down before Camille Paglia's next column arrives, tomorrow.

What started the chain of thought was this op-ed by Gail Collins on Sarah Palin's debate performance:

The 'gender card' in the 2008 election... )

My favorite commentary on the 'gender card' has been comedic. The Daily Show featured two skits on the subject:

* Don't vote with the big head, vote with the little hood, skit which aired shortly after McCain announced his running mate, and

* Squareville's own Kristin Schall brief stint hosting. [Schaal also appears in this month's issue of BUST Magazine, though I must correct her claim that Squaresville had the highest teen pregnancy rate in the country. It was actually the highest teen pregnancy rate in the county... which makes sense, since Squaresville is the trashy step-sister to the more affluent Boulder.]
You can tell its autumn because the Saturday weddings/engagements/anniversary section has shrunk to a single page.

There are some interesting developments in the teen murder case I've been following. A teenage girl is suspected of killing her mother with the help of her boyfriend, a male friend, and a chumpy accomplice. The chumpy accomplice has pled guilty as an accessory to hide evidence and has a light sentance that includes three years of probation and six months of community service. The daughter has just pled not guilty. The mother's body was found in the back of a Subaru where it had been for apparently a month. The neighbors finally called the police after they noticed the three teens appeared to be living at the house and they hadn't seen the mom for a while.

In other local news: there has been a lot more ire about school funding issues in Weld county. I live in Boulder county, which is probably one of the most liberal counties in the state. Home of the notoriously fruity Boulder, CO (which is not the same hippie haven it used to be, but that's another story). It is right next to Weld county, which is notoriously libertarian. Because Weld county has relatively no rules, next to Boulder's extremely rigid rules (such as the city of Boulder's 'no growth' policy) a lot of the developments in the area have built in Weld. There are fewer taxes and rules to get around. But now these developments are large enough to start developing civic problems. Such as mail delivery, trash removal, and the need for schools.

Read more... )
Driving home from the videostore tonight, I noticed the model lighthouse at 21st & Grant was dark. I kept thinking to myself, "It'd be a terrible night for an accident," then laughing about how few of you readers would get the joke.*

The Seven Wonders of Squaresville )

* I showed Allison the lighthouse, because I think it's hilarious. She showed John, who has since been dreaming up practical jokes. My favorite is crashing something into it on a stormy night when it's turned off. He seems to favor something involving a beached whale in their front yard. I also like the idea of littering their yard with a bunch of toy boats, or leaving 'lighthouse' themed literature in their front yard. Moby Dick. To the Lighthouse. Etc. Please note the lighthouse pranks are primarily his ideas and not mine.
An obituary for George Keith appeared in today's newspaper. George Keith was a sort of "Bleeding Gums Murphy" for Squaresville. He was a jazz musician, teacher, and composer. He was also one of Squaresville's old-timers, a link to living history.

Though he was born in Denver, George Keith travelled the country and the world as a musician. He knew a lot of the great jazz musicians of the 20C. He loved meeting people and his home and studio were always open to strangers. As one of Squaresville's few African-American citizens, he remembers when Squaresville did not allow black people to stay in town past sunset.

He owned various businesses in Squaresville, including the Mister Pawnshop, but his true vocation was as a teacher of music, composition, music theory, and life. He was one of my mother's very good friends, and someone I will always remember.
Java Stop - one of Turkey Town's first coffee shops. We hung out a lot there in high school. They also supported the local music scene. It's changed ownership several times over the years, but it is still open, and thriving, on the ground-level of what used to be the Dickens' Hotel on 3rd & Main. The owners are very friendly and community minded. At anytime you can find people of all ages and walks of life gathering there. The coffee is fabulous. The chai stinks.

Cafe Luna - another one of Squareville's older coffee shops located in a funky old house on the corner of 8th & Coffman. It has good chai (it's also the cheapest in town!), nice owners, and best of all, is open more hours than any other coffee shop in town. My favorite thing about Cafe Luna is that they welcome youth. This means there are often surly, tattooed teens smoking in the front yard; I wouldn't have it any other way. Controversy surrounding a local military recruiter trying to recruit teens at the coffee shop seems to have disippated, along with the recruiter.

Small Circle Imports - on Francis between 11th & 12th, this shop is run by an amazing woman who genuinely saw a need in the community and filled it. Small Circle has the best chai in town. It's homemade. When she heard I couldn't find good chai in New York, she sent me a packet of her spices and instructions on how to make it. I am forever in debt to her generosity. The store has lots of imported crap, including candles, incense, jewelry, and clothes that look like a blend of Polynesia and mid-Western mom. It appeals more to people of my mother's generation than teen shoppers, but young people are also welcome at Small Circle and are often found there as it is two blocks from the high school. NOTE: Small Circle is now under new ownership and has gone downhill.

Daily Bean - good coffee, terrible location at Main & 15th. My loyalties to the first four shops on the list, in addition to it's being at an inconvenient location, means that I rarely go to this shop. It is near a Christian bookstore, which influences it's clientelle. It is also next door to Squareville's only independant icecream shop. If they were smart they would expand their hours to match those of the icecream shop, and continue them into winter, long after the need for icecream has expired.

All Mirth and No Matter - this coffee shop is an extension of the California Actor's Studio, which has taken residence in a warehouse near the overpass by the post office. This shop is in nearest physical proximity to my house, but is almost never open. They have indifferent chai, and the owner didn't get my Shakespeare pun, almost guaranteeing that I will never go there again. Their company has offended an enormous percentage of the local arts community by claiming to be "Squareville's First Professional Theatre." That and the word "California" have almost destined it for failure, which is sad, because Squaresville needs more arts, not less, as a part of its community.

August Morning - on the corner of 4th & Main in a location that used to be Barro's, a coffee/sandwich shop that had the best pannini on the planet. (It also was a transvestite wig shop many years ago. The business, of course, sold wigs of all types to anyone who needed them, but they had a vibrant side business selling very large women's shoes, and enormous sequined gowns. Many people do not know that Squaresville has a rather large trans community, due in large part because people here are so conservative they will accept people as whatever gender they appear to be.) Sadly, the shop's current incarnation as a rather precious coffee emporium is not one of its better ones. This is a good place to take parents for lunch as it is the least funky and has the widest food offerings of all of Squareville's independant coffee shops. But it is not a place one would want to hang out with friends, play chess, or even read. It doesn't welcome loitering, the management is rather unfriendly, and the place gives off a cold, unwelcoming, vibe.

Gizzi's - Diagonally across the street from August Morning is Gizzi's, another independently owned coffee shop. I want to like Gizzi's, but I can't stand it. The coffee is indifferent and overpriced. The chairs are uncomfortable, the pastries are stale, and they are always playing horrible muzaky jazz. For some reason I also seem to run into truly unsavory types there. Despite it's definite yuppy vibe, the last time I was there we ended up sitting next to a guy who had white supremacist prison tatts all over his arms. Yuppies and Neo-Nazis attending the same coffee shop does not give me a good feeling about the place. However, whenever I have to have "coffee" with a grownup and want to ensure the meeting does not last long, Gizzi's is the place to go. NOTE: 'Gizzi's' is now known as 'Ziggi's'.

There are several other independent coffee locations in Squaresville, but they will have to wait for another time as they are in locations inconvenient to me. It seems amazing to me that a town our size can have so much great coffee, and so few good restaurants, but that is a subject for another day.
Yesterday turned out to be a Red Letter Day, of course I didn't know it until late last night. I had some much needed R&R with a friend, and when I got home, I found a book in the mail from a NY friend. I am constantly sending people books, and although I have very good book karma (books come into my life without much expense or effort - for instance Ash's crazy book salvage) individuals very rarely send me a book saying, "This one's especially for you." (Of course, nothing's worse than a book you don't really want to read and you know you're expected to... I've been putting off Katherine Graham's Personal History all year because one of my nearest and dearest friends sent it, and I know she wants to talk about it.)

And I'm still feeling good this morning despite the fact there was a nasty story in the paper about a murder of a local transient woman, whose body was dumped a block from my home. They've already apprehended the suspect, but did not say who the woman was. I wonder if it's the woman who pushes an enormous teddy bear around in a stroller. I see her everywhere.

Squaresville has some really bizarre crime. We have a comparatively high violent crime rate compared to neighboring towns, but generally these crimes involve either drugs, or "crimes of passion," which mean if you're not involved with unstable people, you'll probably be okay. Whereas neighboring towns usually involve random acts of violence from strangers, and a lot more stolen property. Demographically, it's because Squaresville is poorer. It's horrible to think of crime as related to demographics about race and prosperity, but there is an inextricable link between desperate people and desperate acts.

My neighborhood usually tends to be pretty crime free, mostly because it's an industrial. We have a fair amount of domestic violence, and drug-related charges, but generally I feel safe. People aren't generally murdered in my neighborhood, but because it's industrial, it's often the place bodies turn up. (This woman was transported.)

I am totally swamped at my new job. Not only do I have my regular duties, but word has gotten 'round of my experience with art programs. I now have five art projects that need to be sorted, all of extreme urgency. No one seems to know what they're doing on this subject. Apparently they got smacked last year for not getting permissions for cover art, which has made them a lot more cautious, although they remain clueless. Thankfully my boss is out for a few days, which means I have time to sift and sort.
Despite the fact it hasn't rained all week, the river is in flood from the runoff. The walkways beneath the bridges are covered with fast running water, and looking from the top of the bridge, you can see crawdads, dark splotches, against the pale gray cement.

I've always thought of the bridge nearest my house as the "Billy Goats' Gruff," (Gruff obviously being some kind of bridge?) mostly because before there was a footbridge, someone slept beneath the railroad bridge. Everytime I walked over the old railbridge I thought of someone shouting, "Whose that walking over my bridge?" Squaresville doesn't have a large percentage of highly visible homeless people, (most live out of their cars, in and out of shelters and marginal housing,) but there was definitely someone who lived beneath my bridge. I actually accidentally ran into him one day. It made me feel desperately uncomfortable. We are neighbors afterall, and I would never call the police on someone living beneath a bridge, (unless there was obvious danger,) they are obviously in a hard spot or they wouldn't be sleeping under a bridge in the first place.

When they built the footbridge parallel to the railbridge, it seemed my neighbor had moved on. I suspected he was living further up the river in a shelter on the otherside of the stream, reachable only by balancing over a set of corrugated drainage pipes that cross the river. Still, I always feel uncomfortable crossing the new footbridge, because it looks down under the old railroad bridge to where the man used to sleep. I always watch and feel watched. Before, I could blithely cross over the railroad bridge not knowing whether or not someone was beneath it. Now it's like looking into what used to be someone's living room.

Today, late after my brother (finally) went home, I went out for a stroll, desperately needing some time outdoors. I noticed the river was in flood. Then I noticed him, sleeping on the ledge under the railbridge where the path usually runs by, now flooded several feet deep in swiftly running water. He is just a few feet above the water, sleeping on his side. If the river rises, he will surely get wet, but as far as a safe place to sleep... well no one can reach him unless they want to get wet, and he will surely be able to hear them first.

I think it is my old neighbor (he always wore red cowboy boots) and I think he is habitating the shelter on the opposite side of the river, but cannot reach it due to the floods. So, he sleeps, precariously, on a ledge in the river. I didn't know what to do. So I left him alone, I turned around and went home.

I've often noticed food offerings left by the bridge for days on end. Usually canned food, which confused me, as canned food is useless unless a person has someway to open it. But I never touched it. And now I wonder if it's for him. What does one leave someone who sleeps in the river? I left him one of the only things I currently have to give; I left him in peace.



June 2015

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