Archive for October, 2006

C-Pass inflation

In the unlikely event that you’re wondering, the Colorado Pass: Keystone, A-Basin, Breckenridge with 10 days at Vail and Copper has gone up $100 in three years to its current price of $419.00

I’m just sayin… Actually, for those looking to get up on the cheap I heartily endorse the tickets section of Craigslist come, say, mid February. People can’t get rid of their passes — and it’s mostly those 4 packs from Copper and Winter Pk — fast enough. I remeber in early March paying all of $40 for three days at WP.

Speaking of the ski industry, I’d like to plug a book by Hal Clifford called Downhill Slide. It’s like the Fast Food Nation of skiing.

The analysis might not shock a lot of you –namely that the industry is quite similar to the movie business with mountain real estate serving as the conscession stand and the actual sport serving as the movie. The latter is a loss leader, the former a profit center. Also talks about some mom & pop resorts that have no real estate developement, lowered the lift ticket prices and witnessed a huge boom in numbers (and sales) as a result. I read it three years ago so it’s not like I can quote it verbatim, but it’s worth a read.

What to do for Halloween

Depending on this snow situation, Halloween could be a bit ‘tricky’ this year. I’ve been trying to find fun adult activities and safe ‘Trick-or-Treat’ events for the nieces and nephews. I’ve found some good options, so I thought I’d share them with all you Denver folks.

If you’re in the Boulder area, on Tuesday, take the kiddies down to Pearl Street for the Munchkin Masquerade. I’ve not been before, but have heard it’s quite fun (and cute to see all the kids). A bunch of shops along Pearl Street will be open for kids ‘Trick-or-Treating’ – check out the website for a list of the open shops and event times.

Need to find someplace take the kids, that’s free? Try the Downtown Aquarium; they tout a ‘non-scary, safe place’ for scoring some candy.

You could always check out ‘Boo at the Zoo’ at the Denver Zoo. Do they dress up the animals? Humm …

The Ghost Train sounds like it could be quite fun, as well. The Ghost Train will be running October 29th from 10am to 4pm. It’s the regular admission price, but the kids will get to ‘Trick-or-Treat’ through the train cars and participate in various other activities setup by the Colorado Railroad Museum.

Fancy flying through the scary Halloween night? You’ve got the Six Flags – Elitch Gardens Fright Fest. Spooky!
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Signs of the Season

BoulderCorkLanterns.jpgEvery year around this time, the Boulder Cork puts autumn-orange bag-like lights up all around the edge of the roof. They look like jack-o-lanterns, only without the grin.

Apparently today’s the day.

(Unless, of course, I’ve been horribly inattentive, and the orange things have been up year round, and the guy on the roof just happens to be doing something else? Suddenly I’m not sure… Look! I distract you with pretty orange fall leaves!)

One Argus-eye at a time, 29th Street awakens

I had occasion to walk though Boulder’s new 29th Street mall at 10:00 PM last night. I was leaving home for the IHOP (I know, I know, but I was walking, it’s closer, and it stays open later) because I can’t get work done at home sometimes. 29th Street was on the way, so I walked through it.

Some things are open now! Not at 10:00 PM, sure, but there are “Now Open” signs here and there. Peet’s Coffee: Now Open! The two Mac shops–the one that’s computers and the one that’s an acronym for make-up–they look open. Laudisio’s appears to have move there, and Fettucini Funghi is still on the menu. An Asian food restaurant called Pei Wei is down there, and I’ve already received their “free chicken lettuce wraps with your order” coupon in the mail. And there’s a bunch of department stores I’ll probably never set foot in, what with not being as girly as all that, but they look open too.

(I hear that Boulder pedestrians are a little puzzled by the yellow and white lines running down the middle of 29th Street. “It’s a paved street that runs between shops; it’s a mall named after the street it’s on; surely it’s a pedestrian-only mall? A la Pearl Street?” “Well, in fact no, cars drive down there, and you need to look both ways before jaywalking.” What I hear is, this misunderstanding makes driving in the area somewhat touch-and-go.)

The thing that is operational at 10:00 PM? The PA system. As I got to the top of the new parking lot stairs, climbing up there from 30th Street, the Doors suddenly came into earshot. They play classic rock at 10:00 PM on 29th Street.

They do not, however, play it at 4:15 AM.

Parking Key

After too many tickets due to not carrying enough (or any) cash and coin on my person, I decided to use Denver’s Cash Key Program. Check it out. You’ll love it. A refillable key (with $20 to start on it) costs $30, including the $10 deposit. They work in every downtown meter, which means not Cherry Creek, where you still have to pay at the kiosk (but, alas, they take cards) and the small section in Larimer Square which uses the same kiosk system.

Try it. You’ll love it. And when multiple cars of your friends pull into a slot, like I did yesterday, we used the key on all of our meters.

Check it out.

Oh, by the way, this is my last post, for multiple reasons I won’t go into for fear of insulting some folks. Good luck, Denver.

A reason not to throw yourself out of a tree

This isn’t local, but it’s good news so who cares? This American Life is now a free podcast. I

Of the few things in life that manage to live up to their hype (The New Yorker magazine, The Muppet Movie, fellatio) this show is high up on the list. My wife and I drove to Albuquerque this summer and took in eight episodes and while some were definitely better than others, none of them were bad.

Anyway, just thought I’d help spread the Gospel of Ira Glass.

And if anyone wants to share their podcast recommendations in the comments, that’d be great too.

Our Chipotle Problem

I was disappointed, but not surprised, to find the new East Colfax Tattered Cover location complete with a “Coming Soon… Chipotle” sign.

chipotle-ad.jpg
The Enemy

America’s new Starbucks is shrouded in foil. I’ll take the Mermaid any day, my friend, any day…

Even with the infinite word counts offered by The Internets, there’s still not enough space to catalogue my contempt for this, our absurdly overrated homegrown chain.

Let’s not dance around what I hope is a more nuanced analysis than what follows, but I gotta just spit it: I. Hate. Chipotle. I hate the food, I hate the branding, and I hate what it represents, both for Denver and the greater American palate.

But… but… I’m hoping beyond hope that all is not lost in the greater burrito landscape.

I realize, of course, that hating on Chipotle is not as contrarian as I’m making it out to be. I’m quite certain I’m not alone on this. And yet, the chain has a bizarre following of fan websites.

And let’s not forget the embarrassing gushfest Westword published two years ago that, quite frankly, could’ve been penned by the company’s PR staff.

Let me rattle off a few of the reasons I can’t stand the place: Their beans taste like ass; I’ve had matzo with more moisture than their tortillas; they even fuck up the rice. The rice! It’s always dry and lackluster, even with that lime cilantro non-action.

If you’re a vegetarian, there’s a pepper & onion combination and that’s IT. Forever.

If you’ve ever been to any of the tacquerias in San Fran’s Mission district it’s easy to understand how far off the mark Chipotle is in the greater burrito milieu. It’s like when you peel back the foil and bite in you taste less the rice or the meat than the branding team’s brow sweat.

My larger point here is the specter of specialized, semi-upscale chains of the Chipotle, Noodles – yeah, that place sucks too — genre and what they’re doing to our cuisine. Or for that matter, the sitdown chain restaurants, which aren’t even close to a bargain.

Every income bracket, almost every ethnic niche now has a chain component. Sometimes two or three. The bougie bakery, Panera? Steakhouses? Take. Your. Pick. Italian? There’s dumb and dumber. Don’t get me started on P.F. Chang’s.

I’m just waiting for Thai and Indian food to get an Applebee’s of their own and then, what’s left? Ethiopian?

It’ll happen, oh, it will. All these places are growing, pitting the greater American yearning for predictability against the risktaking inherent in the unknown. The restaurant business is cutthroat under the best of circumstances, but the chains are in the process of making the job of a midlevel indy restauratuer that much harder. Just like the larger world of retail, food is getting cleaved into a disturbing high end v. low end continuum that mirrors the income trends across the country. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, but it’s still depressing.

For a really interesting overview of this phenomenon, listen to Chowhound.com founder Jim Leff on Radio Open Source, an excellent NPR show out of Boston.

But back to Chipotle, since it’s, like, local. Let me make one thing clear; Being better than Taco Bell is not a virtue. That’s like getting honorable mention at a grade school field day and bragging about it past the age of 15.
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Time to Ski

It’s hard to believe that the ski season is here, already. Arapahoe Basin is opening today – beating Loveland, finally, in being the ski resort in North America to open first, for the 06-07 season. Reports are that A-Basin has an 18-inch base and is open for intermediate skiing.

Although, there has not been any new ‘real’ snow, in the last few days, it’s still snow people! With 2 trails open and 1 lift operating, I imagine it could be fairly busy. So, if you’ve nothing better to do today and feel like hauling out your ski gear, it could be a fun day up on the slope(s). It’s a shame I have to work today; otherwise I’d head up and do a few runs.

Ticket prices for today, Friday the 13th, are $43 for adults. Get ‘em while they’re cheap.

Breathing Again

It’s been a few months now, since the Denver smoking ban went into effect. I realize now, it’s saving me money. No longer do I have to take some sort of allergy medication before going out, nor do I have to immediately shower off, when arriving home (who wants to go to bed smelling like smoke, if you’re a non-smoker?) and no longer is my first task, that next morning, to wash everything worn that night.

Despite all this, me being a non-smoker, I still am not sure how I feel about this ban. I mean, this really sucks for the smokers. Should they have to suffer just because non-smokers put up a better argument? After speaking to some random smokers and non-smokers, I can’t really get a good handle on the overall opinion of this ban. A few out-of-state friends have asked about it and how ‘we’ like it. I’m not really sure?

But, I’ll tell you what, I like being able to go anywhere in Denver and not smell like an ashtray at the end of the night. Sorry, smokers.

Art, art, art.

Many art-related things happening this weekend in town, namely:

1). First Friday. 6 – 9 p.m. Again the free art walk and gallery show comes to Santa Fe, the Golden Triangle (with its old people and free art bus!), Tennyson, Platte and more (I’m hitting Santa Fe). The weather is brisk and cool this evening and nothing goes better with a cool fall day than a bit of merlot and some oil paintings. Free shuttle from lightrail is provided.

2). Speaking of oil paintings, I posted earlier about Kyle Goodrich, the new painter I met a First Friday in August. One of his paintings is hanging in my office and my wallet feeling a bit stressed knowing that Goodrich is currently painting 30 paintings in 30 days for 3 shows he’s having in town. As of today, he has completed two paintings, but as of tonight, they’ll be three (941 Santa Fe). After 30 days, he’ll show off all 30 on First Friday November on Tennyson.

3). Tomorrow marks the general public grand opening for the new wing of the Denver Art Museum. 35 hours of exhibits, etc. Tickets are available tomorrow morning at the box office. Thankfully! If I saw one more clay pot I was going to kill myself.

More art stuff? Post them in the comments.

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