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Where tall tales, real and imagined, absurd and compelling, are served with a smile
The People’s Republic of Boulder
This morning my wife and I broke our fast in one of Boulder’s staple (if few) greasy spoons: The Village Coffee Shop. We were familiar with the place by way of Stephen White’s Boulder-set novels in which the protagonist and his Boulder PD friend/ally frequent the no-pretense artery clogging establishment. While waiting for two chocolate chip pancakes the size of manhole covers and a side of bacon (but of course) I noticed the t-shirts that the short order cooks uniformly wore. In the middle: Village Coffee Shop. Surrounding that was their slogan: 890 Sq. Ft. of Reality Surrounded by Boulder. This is a play on an informal slogan for the whole of Boulder: 25 Square Miles Surrounded by Reality. I think both are true.
The Village Coffee Shop is refreshingly non-p.c. (and the food is terrific). If you’re a first timer, be prepared for everything to be brought to a halt as the “Village Virgin!” call goes out and everybody goes bananas. You’re then given your ‘Village V-Card’ which gets stamped (with cherries no less) each time you bring in a new Village Virgin. In the mix is free stuff of some sort that we never really got to the bottom of. I think it starts with french fries and goes from there. I’d like to work my way up to a dozen or so of the giant pancakes to stitch together as an edible quilt for next winter. Shiver, shiver, chomp. Shiver, shiver, chomp.
Back to the slogans. The tie in is right on. Boulder is surreal in almost every way. Much of its unique-ti-tude (made up word) is derived from the absurd for sure. But bottom line: it’s a pretty remarkable place and if you had to choose, wouldn’t you like to live somewhere remarkable? That being said you can’t go a single day, or even half a day, without encountering a taste of the ridiculous. Case in point – The Boulder 420 Fest, an annual celebration of all things marijuana taking place on, you guessed it, April 20th. “420” holds great significance in pot smoking sub-culture. Being Rubiksian in my squaredom and a non-pot smoker, I never understood exactly why. Even last week on April 20th itself, my wife asked me about the significance. I took a stab in the dark that it had something to do with getting baked, extrapolating from that a culinary tie in. To wit: Bake at 420. With typical acuity for my b.s., Amber pointed out that never do you see cooking instructions calling for the oven to be set at an arbitrary 420 degrees. Bake at 350, sure. But we can’t very well have a big ol’ puff fest on March 50th, can we? That would really confuse the puffers whom may find themselves reading from some arcane Mayan calendar in an alternate dimension. I’ve since learned that the rite has roots in 1971, in San Rafael, California (if any place is goofier than Boulder, it’s California, generally). Something about a statue of Louis Pasteur and a group of teenage cats known as “The Waldos.” Whatever. The end result is that 420 carries very specific (to a pot-smoker which means very vague) meaning. And every year there is a celebration en masse on the campus of CU Boulder. This past Thursday: 10,000 partakers creating a cloud of tangy haze vast enough to give orbiting cosmonauts on the Russian Space Station a contact high accompanied by insatiable cosmo-munchies. Even my father, back in lush and bountiful New Jersey, caught wind of it (not literally which is fortunate). The story he had heard was via a reporter on scene amongst the throngs of weed fairies (see video), addlers (people who have used so many drugs they are not quite right in the head), vipers (old time hippies who hang out in after hours clubs and get smoked up – both definitions courtesy of 420dictionary.com), but mostly, really, really, really, REALLY high college students (ah, tuition dollars at work). According to the report my father caught, it was the “largest gathering of marijuana smokers on the CU campus since…yesterday.” Indeed. For a glimpse of what it was like, see the video below (note: author thinks pot smokers are dirty hippies and does not condone the following behavior; on the other hand, author likes people to make their own choices and therefore does condone reader ignoring what author thinks):
The following is a work of fresh fiction. I have no preconceived notions as to where this story will go or end up. It will be a collaborative piece based upon input from readers. There will be two or three questions at the end for consideration. Any other freeform suggestions/contributions are welcome as well.
SHE PLACED THE PHONE BACK IN its cradle softly as if in danger of cracking the hard plastic skin. Her eyes stayed focused on the relatively ancient piece of communications technology and her mind locked on a playback of the last thing she had been told.
The dilapidated motel room began to creep back into her circle of perception and slowly she turned towards the door, half expecting the spherical knob to begin a methodical rotation, set in motion from without. Again her vision began to pinpoint, drowning out everything around the knob and throughout the room like ocular background noise. The steady tick, tock of a 1970’s era bedside clock was her soundtrack. Fifteen minutes. Blinking, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes. When she opened them, nothing had changed except for her. She had decided.
The walk down to the shoreline from the motel had used up nearly all of the allotted time. Moving with fresh resolve she arrived at the sand and kicked off her sandals without breaking stride. A quick glance to the left and the right informed her that the beach was utterly deserted. Not surprising at three o’clock in the morning in the off season. Above her the stars were out but there was no moon. With virtually all of the oceanfront homes shuttered for the winter, very little ambient light penetrated the darkness near the waterline. What little there was seemed to be absorbed by the frothing white of the small breaking waves.
She shivered involuntarily and crossed her arms around her in an attempt to maintain body heat. The caller had instructed her to not wear a sweater or jacket, that something would be provided for her before they began their exodus. No shoes, he had also said. Walking the final steps to the solitary lifeguard tower, she checked her watch. Thirty seconds to spare. She scanned the sands on both sides of her, straining her eyes for any sign of him. Then she saw movement in the shadows to the north. She took a tentative step in that direction and searched for another sign. A figure materialized far closer than she would have suspected and walked towards her. It was him. He looked tense – grim even – as he neared. She raised a sandy foot to take another step in his direction and was about to speak when she was seized roughly from behind. Two sets of hands assailed her. One set secured her upper body as the other quickly wrapped a neoprene band around her mouth, cinching it tight. Her eyes went wide and connected with those of the caller. He had stopped walking and watched silently, clearly unalarmed by the development. She had been set up. Read more of this post
It is common for people to question the point in first desiring to do so and then accomplishing such a feat. To them I say that if life loses its mountains, it loses its pulse. Whatever the mountain in your existence may be, run up it like every step can take you backwards in time.
Thanks to my buddy Ernie for re-introducing me to this video.
Everyday would be a day of discovery had a different path been taken…
Starting Jangle: about $25,000 (but it’s really not about the money)
Jangle high: $70K +
Demand: low as of this writing; however…the price of gas will play a role. When suddenly you find yourself paying in excess of $200 to gas up your swagger wagon, you’re going to make a change. And forget public transportation (unless you’re a square or you live in Manhattan). The future is in personal blimp-craft. I’ve always said that most major metro highway systems have long since been rendered inadequate because they never thought to go up in construction. Well it doesn’t get much more “up” than floating to work in an oblong gas bag. Parking is also no longer a problem. You just throw a rope out the window with a couple of dumbbells tied to the end of it and shimmy on down to your destination. Don’t ask me how you get back in. This is the future we’re talking about, after all.
En español: piloto de dirigible pequeño
The Basics: You fly the blimp and do your best not to drift out to sea or into forests where it is really hard to land your blimp. If you’re an enterprising sort, you rent out your ample blimp-flank to advertisers and silly people that want you to fly in front of them and their spouses displaying a personal message like, Johnny, I’m Pregnant With Another Man’s Triplets. Easy there, Johnny. The blimp is just the messenger.
The Future: That has already been touched upon above though it is almost a certainty that one day blimps will come with horns and sliding doors on both sides that open at the touch of a button. Pile in, little blimpers! No sharp objects, please.
Upside: Naturally, you’re going to have the best seats at any event (except those that occur indoors). You also eliminate the need for air mattresses during the full-house holidays. The in-laws can sleep on top of the blimp (with tethers, of course).
Downside: People are sometimes said to take on the physical characteristics of their cars (or is that their dogs?). In a car-less world, it stands to reason that the blimp becomes the physical paradigm. Too many of us already look like blimps.
Offshoots: airborne Mardi Gras bead-tosser; airborne fashion critic – Hey! Nice pants, Chachi! Yeah? Whattaya gonna do about it? I’m in a freakin’ blimp! Burn.
In the wake of explosive accusations leveled at one of the most galvanizing pitchmen in the biz (see earlier post below), I was inspired to post a spot from one of my favorite campaigns: Vitamin Water featuring Steve Nash.
Taken at face value, individual headlines tell a singular story. Connecting the obvious dots amongst multiple headlines often tells a far more intriguing tale…
To me, this is all related (naturally)
Breaking: A former assistant to notorious ShamWow pitchman Vince Shlomi has sued the slinger of the velvety rag-mop citing “bizarre and inappropriate” behavior. The charges filed by the Oklahoma woman contend that circumstances reached the tipping point at ShamWow StudiWows when the pitchman challenged her to a fist fight. At stake: the claimant’s four-foot tall therapy kangaroo, Sigmund. According to insiders, Shlomi had plans for a ShamWow-esque full body suit, made from the supple roo-pelt of Sigmund, which he would then don at his monthly Hollywood Hills freak-fests. The insightful marsupial is quoted as saying, “I hop therefore I am,” before climbing into a children’s party bounce house and sending it airborne with his aggressive style. When asked by bruised and battered children why he would do such a thing, Sigmund the therapy kangaroo in typical fashion replied, “Why do you think such a thing would be possible for me to do in the first place?” confusing all in attendance. One onlooker was so perplexed by the profundity of the statement that he proceeded to remove all of his clothes before taking off at a run, heading south on the 405 freeway in West LA. In the spirit of Forrest Gump, the nude roo-runner kept those crazy legs a-pumping, ultimately finding himself on a highway in Colorado where he was tragically killed by huge boulders falling onto the road from above. Those huge boulders would later be moved and repurposed – one for use in a softball game in Kentucky where one player was overheard declaring, “We’re gonna need a bigger bat.”
In related news, a local man entered an upscale massage parlor claiming to be a massage parlor inspector, of all things. Flashing his “credentials” (an expired Disneyland season pass with his photo on it), he demanded a thorough rubdown, blackmailing a parlor attendant under threat of a failed inspection. The dubious masseuse, already put off by the “inspector’s” frenetic energy and whiny voice, fled the room and called police when the would-be con artist insisted that he be rubbed down with this:
Evian’s “Live Young” campaign is something of a hit in the world of viral video. The campaign features inhumanly talented babies (er, cgi-enhanced babies) dancing, rollerskating, moonwalking, swimming… Well, maybe not swimming.
This one takes a moment to develop, but the payoff is worth it.
Personally, I drink tap water…just because. But the notion of living young appeals to all. And the fact remains, drinking copious amounts of tap water has done nothing to stem my personal march of time. Nothing.