Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Good times and good tunes in Denver

Denver was awesome. I will sum it up for you in the usual photo-essay blog style. In fact this one will be even better than usual because there will be a video involved!

I went to Denver to visit my dear friend Eryn, who is basically like my twin except born 3 years later. She is one of the people I am most comfortable being my truly weird self around. This may come out in the photos... I’d never been to Denver to visit her before. I’d visited her in Detroit when she had the misfortune to live there for awhile and she’s visited me in Chicago a couple times, but mostly we just travel together. I was excited to see her hometown and meet her adorable, troublemaking puppy, Ballard.
Yes, he only has one eye. He had a problem where one eye grew abnormally large and the people who initially adopted him, returned him to the shelter (Bastards! They wouldn’t have done that if he were a baby.) He was "at the end of his stay" at the shelter-- and we all know what that means-- when Eryn found out about him. She is a good, unsuperficial person so she gave him a loving home. The eye was removed, and, no, another eye will not be put in. Some woman in the dog training class actually thought it would be...

The plane ride there was smooth despite leaving late because the crew was stuck in fabulous Chicago traffic. I read the rest of Ink Exchange on the plane. *Big sigh* totally gorgeous book, though I will probably elaborate on that in another blog. I arrived, took the little tram to baggage claim, hugged Eryn, and waited for my bag. And waited. And waited until finally we figured out it was set aside with the "priority" bags. Not sure why. Eryn felt they must have known that I was in Denver to do a Very Important Event on Sunday. (You know all about the event because I blogged about it like 3 times, right?)

When we finally got to Eryn's car, she informed me that like I had made her a Welcome to Chicago mix CD, she'd made a Denver mix for me. (It's called Breakin' the Law in Denver!) I happily enjoyed songs by the Fluid , who I already knew and liked, and discovered two fabulous Denver bands, Dressy Bessy and Le Boom, among others.

The lunch place Eryn planned for us had no vegan options so we drove around at random until we stumbled upon an Ethiopian place and I introduced Eryn to that cuisine for the first time. Then it was off to Eryn's to collect Ballard and go to the Riverfront (Denver's only body of water, I feel bad for them):
And Ballard shows off his rebellious streak:
Later that night we went for Mexican food. The first of many Mexican food meals. Sadly this place did not have vegetarian green chile (lots and lots of fabulous green chile is one of the best things about Colorado), but they did have massive margaritas... Before:
Just kidding, I'm more hardcore than that!

Thursday involved massive quantities of thrift store shopping, which was one of the other wonderful things about Denver. Unlike Chicago, stuff in thrift stores is still cheap! Umm, but I still spent way too much money.

That I also got to see Eryn and Nick rehearse as A River Rise, the acoustic band that would be playing with me during my reading on Sunday. I was hugged by both of Eryn's parents when I entered their house (where Eryn and Nick rehearse) because they felt they knew me so well. They are both extremely sweet people. Eryn's mom insisted on making Nick a grilled cheese sandwich when he mentioned he was hungry. And Eryn's dad heard me practice my reading and expounded on how awesome my adjectives are. But by far the most impressive thing that day was seeing Eryn sing and play for the first time. I mean, I'd heard her fuck around before on my guitar, but we were drunk and she was doing covers. To hear her and Nick do a song they had written called "The Pretty Girls You Meet," I seriously almost cried because she amazed me so much. She's just that good. And the song kept getting stuck in my head so the last night I was there, I drunkenly made her and Nick play it for me so I could record it. Please note that Eryn was drunk while playing this and she still totally rocked it. Nick was the sober one that night (thank you for being the DD, Nick!). I wish I could have recorded the first time I heard it to capture that moment and share it with you, but this will do:

The next day involved more shopping and an unfortunate incident where a parking garage was clearly labeled 6 dollars for the whole day and we were charged 18. Grrr. But all was forgotten after adventures in the dog park, discovery of fabulous cheap Mexican food with vegetarian green chile, and then seeing the absolutely fucking amazing Mike Ness at the Gothic Theater. Oh how I adore seeing concerts in classic old theaters like this. And it was set up so that we could be a mere 6 or so rows back, but still stand up on a riser to see clearly.
I wish I had pictures of the actual show, but they were being total nazis about photos. You will just have to trust me that it was amazing. Mike Ness/Social D put on the best live shows around in my opinion. Every song triggered these little flashes of story. I wished I could scrawl in my journal and listen and watch and avoid having beer dumped on me from the balcony all at the same time, but I had to stick to the listening, watching, and avoiding beer. Despite the rain of beer, it was awesome. I seriously can't even sum up how awesome. And I loved seeing all the rockabilly types in the crowd. I wish I was cool enough to be a rockabilly girl. I think that those girls and roller derby girls (going to roller derby this weekend!) have the absolute coolest look and often the best tattoos and they all seem so confident. Yeah, lots of admiration for them.

Saturday morning, Eryn took me to Red Rocks, where she has had the opportunity to see Social D among other bands. It's this gorgeous natural amphitheater.

As you can see there were chairs on stage because when we first got there there was a graduation going on. But eventually it cleared out and we got to go down there and pretend to rock out:

After that came more shopping. Sigh. I really did spend too much money, but I got so much cool stuff! Vintage dress, handmade necklace, incredibly marked down designer handbag, cure shoes, loads of CDs and other clothing items, and a few books. I did resist purchasing another vintage dress, which was a bit overpriced and I would have had to find a slip to go underneath. I kind of regret it though. But mostly I just think the prices at that place were totally outrageous. There was another gorgeous black vintage dress, that was like my dream dress, but was 88$. I had no clue why since the dressmaker didn't seem to be anyone important and the era the dress was from was not noted. I don't think the dress would have even sold for that much in Chicago. In a break from shopping we had a fabulous (but expensive, they even charged for chips and salsa, it really must have been the neighborhood) lunch at a New Mexican restaurant. I had some great Navajo stew that involved more vegetarian green chile. While we were out, we came across a flyer for our gig the next day!
That evening we briefly saw my friend Becky from high school and oddly enough this old friend of my brother's who lives below Becky. Then Eryn took me to her favorite dive-y music venue, the Larimer Lounge. Not only did I immediately love the place, thinking it the perfect small venue to see bands and just hangout, but when we walked in, the music was actually really good. Instead of sticking to our plan to sit on the patio where Eryn could smoke, we wandered over to the stage and observed the rest of the set by a band called Sybris. I thought I was discovering another cool Denver band, but it became clear during their onstage banter that they were not locals. I decided I absolutely had to purchase their CD so we visited them at the merch table after they played. Eryn asked the singer, Angela, where they were from and she answered Chicago. Whoa, holy shit, who would have known I had to go all the way to Denver to find my new favorite local band (besides my friend Tom's band Office of course). The band was equally as excited to meet a fellow Chicagoan and even gave me a discount on their CD. We conversed for awhile outside. I told them about my book. Angela and Eryn discussed gear, happy to have a fellow rock chick to discuss it with. Eventually we decided we had to leave because it was our gig the next day and we needed rest.

However we stopped for a photo op at this storefront near Eryn's house that both horrified and amused me. (Horrified because I'm not a gun fan, amused because I don't understand why you would need a class to learn how to conceal a gun... Oh and the stop, unload weapon sign... Umm) Apparently I looked pretty hot because a man across the street kept loudly whistling at us...

Though we were suffering from a lack of sleep thanks to crazed puppy Ballard, we got up early on Sunday to bring the raffle box to the Mercury Café. I was raffling off a signed ARC of my book and I’m very proud of the box we created from a leopard print hat box we found for 2$ at the thrift store. Eryn had the idea to mod podge (a technique I was completely unfamiliar with, but now am highly excited to know about) all the bits of flyer and guitar picks and fun stuff to the box. I took many pictures, but will remain calm and share just one:

The gathering at the café was small, but spirited, basically made up of Eryn’s friends and family. *Shrugs* We put it together at short notice so didn’t get the word out in media very well and unlike other locations I’ve worked with, the owner didn’t seem very enthusiastic about the event so she didn’t spread the word about it to her customers the way, for example the fabulous people at the Tamale Hut Café at home do. But like I said, regardless it was a good time and my brunch before the event involved even more vegetarian green chile. A River Rise played a song, I read a section from the first chapter, they played another song , I did a section for the second chapter (this way everyone got a taste of both Emily’s and Louisa’s stories), they played another song, and we finished off with the raffle. Eryn’s brother won the raffle, but it wasn’t fixed, I swear!

There is a video of the reading, but it is on actual VHS video tape, so until we find someone who convert it to DVD and then put it on YouTube, I’m afraid, I have nothing to share but still photos. (If you can do this kind of conversion please let me know though!) So here is me reading (note the cute shoes that I bought in Denver):

And here is A River Rise (note Nick’s boot. He got a stress fracture from running and has to wear that for awhile, not fun for him.):

After our gig, we had another momentous occasion: Ballard’s puppy training graduation! At first he seemed too excited to take his final exams and we weren’t too sure he was gonna make it:

But the trainer let Eryn take him outside the ring to demonstrate his mad sit, down, wait, come, and leave it skillz and he graduated without any conditions (his buddy Hamlet has to do the doggie equivalent of summer school). Ballard also didn’t pee all over the place like this other dog Tucker. Here’s the happy diploma ceremony:

Unfortunately dogs were not allowed at the restaurant that we were going to that night so Ballard had to celebrate his graduation alone. But I had my finest Denver eats at Watercourse, this absolutely mouthwatering vegan restaurant. I had blackened tofu and sampled some of Becky’s seitan buffalo wings. I might have to make Eryn ship me meals from there it was so good. They also had 2 for 1 mimosas, so we started drinking. Over dinner Becky and I caught up on each other’s post-high school lives (we both had “lost years,” but are doing awesome now) and the gossip about people we grew up with (some of them are doing great, others are most likely in jail…). Eryn took this picture of us and her cigarette smoke got in the way which made for a cool effect.

Then massive quantities of drinking ensued with Eryn and her friends Mikey and Elise. Nick was the responsible DD (actually Elise was too) and Becky met up with us again toward the end. Here’s Mikey making the first bar we went to look way more happening than it actually was:

And here is what might be the best picture of the trip, me, Eryn, and Elise posing with hot guys in a painting:

I didn’t sleep well that night, nervous about flying after my not–so-fun flight home from Florida a couple weeks earlier and because I was at the point where I missed Scott severely. I only got in like 10 minutes late or so though and read the whole way through the flight. Had that whole absence makes the heart grow fonder thing with Scott, which is part of my love-hate thing with leaving him behind. Sometimes I need to go off with my girls and we both accept this and I love the happy reunions, but missing him sucks.

Happily Chicago was insanely humid when I got back. Wasn’t so fond of the dry Denver air and the allergy situation it created. But I miss Eryn, Ballard, and that green chile pretty damn bad. At least I came back with a ton of great music to remember the trip by. That is definitely a very good thing.

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