Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Up here in the Rockies we worship the coming of Independence day much like prehistoric Brits worshipped the summer solstice at Stonehenge. That day is not July 4th. It is the day after Labor Day - the day when the tourists leave town and we can once again reclaim our small mountain hamlet that we call home. It will be ours again for nearly nine months until Memorial Day arrives and, with it, the cars full of tourists lugging bikes, hula hoops, rubber rafts and other weapons of mass destruction. But, that's too far off to think about right now...let's just appreciate the next nine months and deal with the rest later.

When I got up this morning all I could think about was how nice it would be if all of the townies would gather on the river bridge that spans I-70. There we could join hands and sing to the tourists as they exit town. An appropriate song comes to mind - the farewell song from Dirty Dancing. If you've not seen Dirty Dancing.....what the hell am I talking about - everyone has seen it at least fifty times. I'm sure you know the song - it goes like this:

Kellermans we come together singing all as one
We have shared another seasons talent, play and fun
Summer days will soon be over, soonly autumn starts
And tonight our memories whisper softly in our hearts

Join hands and hearts and voices
Voices, hearts and hands
At Kellermans the friendships last long
As the mountains stand.

Truthfully, I do miss the tourist season in that there are many interesting people who come to town. The ones from Florida are the most inquisitive. They like to walk around the neighborhoods and often ask questions of the townies. They intimate that they would love to live here and, oh, by the way, "how are the winters here?"

"Miserable - cold, snow, rain, wind - and that's just September".

"What about January?"

"Frozen pipes, boredom, misery."

So, with hopes dashed of moving from Florida to our quaint little mountain town, they head back east.

In many ways, the winter months keep us from becoming another warm weather metropolis.

Three cheers for winter!

Readers, enjoy your day.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Myron Floren
Arthur Duncan
Henry Questa
Norma Zimmer
Bobby Burgess
Sissy King
The Semonski Sisters

Ever heard any of these names? I didn't think so. They were musicians and performers and were household names among those of us who watched the Lawrence Welk Show. To clarify: I was never a fan of the show and never willingly watched it. However, my grandmother who was regularly over at our house for Saturday night dinner was absolutely in love with Lawrence Welk. I've always suspected that it was a "fatal attraction" type of thing, however hard to visualize, given the fact that we're talking about my beloved grandmother here.

So, on Saturday evenings we were forced, kicking and screaming, to watch an hour of Mr. Welk and his "champagne music makers".

I never did figure out why they called it "champagne music", but I must agree that the terminology fits better than if it were called "shot and a beer music".

My brother and I would watch and were quietly amused over the music and dancing, always hoping that Mr. Welk would slip in a medley of songs that were more to our liking. Somehow, we never felt that he would be inclined to have his band play the music of Little Richard or Chuck Berry but we were always foolishly hopeful. Admittedly, while being the antithesis of "hip", the Lawrence Welk show, if nothing else, was wholesome.

The best part of the show (for numerous reasons) was the last few minutes, when Lawrence Welk went into the audience and danced with the women who were eagerly awaiting this climactic moment. We would look over at Grandma who was sneering at the women who were lucky enough to dance with Mr. Welk. In her aging eyes you could see the burning jealousy of a woman scorned. I could imagine her saying "if I were there you other old bitches wouldn't stand a chance - Lawrence would be mine!"

Alas, both Grandma and Lawrence Welk have gone to that great ballroom in the sky. There is little doubt in my mind that she looked him up in heaven's directory if there is such a thing in the afterlife. She no doubt invited him over for a bowl of clam chowder and a cup of tea.

And, of course, for the dance that she so longed for in her previous life.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Friday, September 20, 2013


The ruination of society began with The Beach Boys, followed by John Denver and, lastly by Jimmy Buffett. In fact, the last of these singers has forced me to endure a five-hour drive through questionable geography in Mexico.

More about that later.

In the early to mid-sixties The Beach Boys released a whole slug of songs celebrating the California lifestyle. You know, surfing, driving around in your Corvette as well as "miniature golf and Hondas in the hills." These songs single handedly caused Beach Boy wanna-be's to flock from Buffalo, New York to Malibu to chase the California Dream. And they the millions. Admittedly, it was bound to happen at some point given the fact that Southern California is pretty hard to beat for weather. Just the same, play along with me so that I may bitch some more.

California was hit by a double-whammy when, in 1967 Scott McKenzie released the song "San Francisco" which became the quasi-national anthem of hippies coast-to-coast. And yes, once again people flocked to California.

Fast forward to 1972.

John Denver released the song "Rocky Mountain High" which caused a similar population influx in Colorado. Puffy down jackets were all the rage and it became "in" to walk into a swanky restaurant looking like Grizzly Adams. Colorado became hip. Luckily, those newcomers who settled in the mountains got tired of falling on their asses on the icy sidewalks and decided to move to Denver where the winters are somewhat more bearable. Even Christie Brinkley moved to the Rockies, settling in to the mountain lifestyle of Telluride. As many predicted, the "uptown girl" lasted only a short time in the Rockies. I think that her undoing came when, during a blizzard in Telluride, she stood on a street corner yelling "taxi, taxi".

Then, in 1977 it happened.

A virtually unknown guy named Jimmy Buffett who is an excellent marketer and a marginal singer released a song called "Margaritaville". He followed this song with a flurry of tunes promoting a life of drinking, warm sun and cheeseburgers in paradise. He even gave this a clever name, calling it the "Margaritaville Lifestyle". To ensure that we never forget what this is, he opened up a chain of bar/restaurants in various warm locales throughout Mexico and the Caribbean. I've been to one and must say that I enjoyed myself. The $18 margarita was pretty good also.

The cruel joke played on all of us who love Mexico and the Caribbean is that, unlike California or Colorado, Margaritaville is not a physical place that could be invaded (à la California and Colorado) but rather a state of mind. As a result, anyplace warm with an ocean became Margaritaville.

The tropics have never been the same.

When we first went to Cozumel, non-divers were in the minority. Now as many as twelve cruise ships are parked there daily. In Playa Del Carmen there was one phone booth in town. Where that phone booth used to be now sits a McDonald's. Our favorite place to stay in Puerto Morales changed from a funky little hotel to a "spa". We used to walk the six miles along the deserted beach from Puerto Morales to Playa Del Carmen. Now it is littered with hotels and spas. Three hundred dollars a night, anyone?

Welcome to Margaritaville.

Since that time we have worked diligently to escape the forces of Margaritaville that have taken over the warm weather locales. It's getting tougher every year as the Parrot Head Mafia has invaded nearly every desirable tropical destination in the world.

Thus the reason why we must drive five hours along the back roads of Mexico to escape back to a true tropical experience, complete with mosquitoes, sand flies, beach mutts, cheap beer and not a Parrot Head in sight.

Thanks, Jimmy.


The wife announced to me the other day that she wanted to do something that's on her "bucket list". My mind immediately jumped to some of the possibilities:

A torrid affair with George Clooney?
A tattoo?

No to all three.

She told me that Jimmy Buffett is playing in Denver on October 22nd and she wants to go.


Readers, enjoy your day

Thursday, September 19, 2013


When I lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin there was a phenomenon there known as the Fishing Car. Every guy in either state has both a "car" and a Fishing Car. The "car" is normally a  reliable late model sedan; the fishing car is an old beater that runs occasionally. Fishing cars are also used for winter driving so as not to get the "car" covered in slush and road salt. I must confess that I've never had a fishing car...until now.

I bought it as a favor to the local community. It had been parked, literally for years, in front of a buddy's house three blocks from our house. It was an eyesore of enormous proportion. I asked my friend if he was interested in selling it, not so much to get rid of it but as his own urban renewal and beautification project. He wasted little time in deciding that this twisted wreckage would look much better parked in front of my house than his. We looked up the book value, dickered a bit and set the price. I ended up paying $11 less than book value for the car. I immediately invested the $11 dividend in the purchase of several of those little pine tree shaped thingys that hang from the mirror and make your car smell springtime fresh.

In purchasing used cars in the past, I have always taken a few minutes to peruse the numerous things that one may find beneath the seat cushions of a newly acquired used automobile. I'm not particularly interested in the Wal-Mart receipts or the dried up Gummy Bears. It's the loose change that is the object of my quest. True to form, I found loose change totaling nearly $1.75 scattered throughout the car. I proudly spent this princely sum on a PBR draft at the local bar's happy hour. I didn't find enough money in the cushions to leave a tip...sorry.

Fueled by a free beer, I proceeded to fix the critical issues that plagued my Fishing Car. A new battery was installed, thus lessening the need for the jumper cables that every Fishing Car owner keeps in the trunk. The oil, two quarts short and black as the night, was drained and replaced with Wal-Mart quality crude oil. New tires replaced the bald ones and all filters were lovingly changed.

There were some items that were purposely ignored. The AC doesn't work, the driver's side window won't open or close, the rear window wash device is inoperative and the interior light won't come on when you open a door. It has a snazzy stereo system...probably the best in the hasn't worked for years. Lastly, there's an ever-present dashboard light that remains illuminated. It says something about "maintenance required - see dealer". Yeah, right. I took care of that one myself - I stuck some electric tape over the annoying notice.

My goal in life is to drive this car until it needs maintenance of any consequence. Sure, I'll add oil and wiper fluid but that's about as far as I'm willing to go. In the event of the need for more significant maintenance, I plan to park it by the side of the road with the keys in it with the signed ownership title taped to the steering wheel. On the rear window will be a sign that states "FREE CAR". 

To whoever finds the free car, I wish you happy motoring.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


I used to work for a guy named Rick. Hardest working guy I've ever known. He was at work every day at five a.m. I never knew how long he worked each day because I was home with my family well before he called it quits for the day. Some said that he would often work past midnight, go home for a few hours sleep and then return. I never doubted that that was true.

There was no assignment that he wouldn't tackle and senior management was never concerned that he would not deliver, even with an impossibly tight timeline. He was the model employee.

He was the go-to guy.

I never knew him on a personal basis because, as far as I was concerned, he had no other interests besides work. I knew that he had a beautiful wife and three lovely daughters only because their pictures were on a table in the corner of his office. He spoke of them only jokingly, saying that he rarely saw them, except on weekends. That family time became even more limited in that he decided to study for his MBA on a weekend program at the University of Denver. He didn't feel that that would be a problem.

After all, he was the go-to guy.

Many people, especially his subordinates, envied him and were in awe of the many awards that he had won over the years. There were trophies in a cabinet and pictures on the wall - one with Donald Trump, one with Bill Clinton, one with Colin Powell and one with Jack Nicklaus. Looking at his office it was easy to see that this man had it all. A strong work ethic truly had its rewards.

He only had one vice and it was a powerful one. He lived on a daily diet of fast food fried chicken. Every day for lunch he would venture out to the local chicken joint and pick himself up a box of chicken, mashers and whatever else looked tempting that day. One could see him walking back to his office at about 12:15, greasy bag in hand, heading back to an encounter with this gastronomic delight.

I lost touch with him when I accepted another assignment at the company but continued to read about his many achievements in the weekly company newspaper. Then, one day while I was driving to work, the radio announced that a man had taken his own life by jumping off a bridge. I felt sorry for this unknown soul, thinking about how desperate the man must have been, perhaps down to his last dollar with no family to support him. Perhaps he had just lost his job and had nowhere to turn. I pictured a homeless man, maybe a mentally ill veteran who had taken his life in drunken confusion.

Later on that day I learned that Rick was dead.

The company stood still momentarily. "How could it happen?" asked senior management. He was so tough, so dedicated, so eager to work.

And, he was the go-to guy.

Everyone from senior management to the janitor showed up for the funeral and celebration of his life. His loving family stoically listened to the many speeches, carefully written and delivered perfectly by his superiors. They all spoke of his dedication, work ethic and can-do attitude. About how much he had done for the company.

All of Rick's fellow workers knew how he died but his wife refused to believe it. Ignoring common sense, she ordered an autopsy. The coroner's report of his death was as most of us had suspected. Despite the facts of the horrible ending to his life, his wife continued to be in total denial, not accepting that he could go in such a manner.

Rick had died of food poisoning from a bad batch of coleslaw from the chicken joint.

The guy that jumped from the bridge? He was some other guy.

Readers, enjoy your day.