Things what I writ

I sometimes write nonsense about things to try and sound clever

barking at the flatiron crossing

denver was a last minute thing. before that, I’d planned for, ooh, a couple of hours, to go back to the flatiron crossing and visit those nice people in PacSun to see if they’d had a delivery of large tshirts with skatetractors on that I could get my hands on. I figured I could probably get all that stuff with ‘Colorado’ or ‘Boulder’ or ‘Flatiron’ printed on it while I was there as well and so I’d only have to take one evening out of the social calendar to visit the mall, eat alone at the Renaissance and actually get to bed before 2 am. so wednesday evening was dedicated to’ project taxable items’ and if I got away from the globalization meetings we had arranged that afternoon which I’d arranged myself but completely forgotten about and had left my UK/US travel adaptor behind and couldn’t plug in the laptop and had the wrong phone and it felt like the wrong head which I had found under a bucket, then I figured I’d probably have a couple of hours and anyway the flatiron’s pretty small except for the enormous empty department sotres at each end/corner/whatever where dirk and sarah are just kind of unloading ties and arranging them in a spiral on a shiny tabel in menswear, because they’ve run out of shoes to arrange and they haven’t actually sold anything for an hour.

so I extricate myself from broomfield 5, turn the wrong way onto interlocken loop, end up at the airfield where a couple of light aircraft spray the car with nerve gas or something and then I take a left and look back over the crest of the hill where broomfield sprawls out beneath me, and I can see foleys and nordstrum about a mile away and so I set off in a straight line, keeping them in my sights all the time. across parking lots, central reservations, golf courses, 4-ways, 3-ways, and anything else the rental fucos can negotiate and in 5 minutes I’ve slammed through a hedge into the empty parking lot and I’m wondering if the flatiron actually closes at 6pm on wednesdays, until I see a middle aged couple with a foleys bag fall through the doors and I realize that I’ve jumped the first hurdle and at least I’m at the mall and its open. I stick the dead laptop in the boot/trunk lock my wallet in the car and set off on my pathetic little quest.

cookie smell. its there. good. right. being a veteran of the flatiron having been here once before, I know where I’m headed and stride confidently through foleys, which looks like the kind of place I might come back to one day when I’ve passed 60, lost all my money to online poker and have lost all self respect and have the sartorial elegance of a pig farmer on vacation, and then the world opens up and I’m into main street, or the village, or ‘flatiron street’, or whatever they’ve called the main drag in the mall which in the UK would have actually been a regular street for 800 years but now it’s got a marble tiled floor and an atrium roof and smells of cookies, but I suspect over here in Colorado used to be, well, probably nothing at all but a maybe a place where some animals roamed around or something athough I’m sure that’s completely inaccurate and actually it was a street for 300 years, but a street that had animals roaming all over it, and I know that I should take a left out of foleys, but there’s only straight on as an option, so I’m confused already. oh, but wait, I’ve come out 20 yards from PacSun, it’s just over there. bingo. I’ll be out of here in 20 minutes and then I can get a game sausage and pasta entree in flatz and spend 4 hours reading email and watching drew barrymore in some family channel film about bad love and driving cars up mountains blindfold etc.. brilliant.

‘hi there!’ oh dear. looks like I’m this evening’s customer. don’t they know I’m british? surely they can tell I’m not used to being communicated to in stores unless I’m complaining about christmas lights being put up too early or the rudeness of the staff. ‘my name is christy and i’ll be your server today. rashid is with us in mens today so if you have any questions today, then please today let me know and we’ll see how we can help today sir. is there anything I can help you with today?’ dammit. I was hoping to slip in quietly, pick a couple of tshirts that would be perfect for a 16-year old son but that I’m actually buying for my 38-year old self, bag them and slip away before anyone had noticed. they probably remember me from 6 months ago when I did the same thing. they’ve been brainwashed or something and they have some kind of sinister ESP that they use to gang up on shoppers and make them buy stuff they didn’t want. ‘er, no, i’m just, er, looking’. ‘ok sir, well, give me a holler if you’re needing anything, sizes or styles, ok?’. ‘right, sure’. a holler? what’s that? sure, I’ll give you a holler. I’ll find a tshirt that looks about right and I’ll come up to the counter and shout in your face I THINK I’LL TAKE THIS ONE BUT HAVE YOU GOT IT IN A LARGE, CHRISTY? I’m not sure about this at all. and they haven’t got any tshirts I like, even though rashid pulled a couple down from the ceiling with a huge stick, in case I ‘wanted to check the style’ of them. exit strategy. head down. move to the door, stealthy. nearly there. ‘YOU HAVE A GREAT DAY TODAY SIR’. jesus, she doesn’t have to shout at me on the way out the door, I mean, I was the only person in there. ‘YOU’VE A GREAT EVENING SIR YOU SEE US AGAIN SOON’. oh no, rashid has barked out to me as well. I’m nearly out the door. do I acknowledge them or something? I’m too far out to speak normally, and I can’t turn around without that looking just really awkward. maybe I’ll just ignore them. no, can’t ignore them, that’s just rude. dammit!

in the end, I just kind of weakly raised my hand and gave a kind of backwards wave with my knuckles while pulling a half smile that was only seen by a couple of teenage girls pulling gum out in strings who probably immediately classified me as a danger to the public. so that wasn’t quite how I’d seen this evening going. now I’ll have to do the walk along the ground floor and back along the upper floor because I’ve crossed the invisible threshold which means I’m too far in to simply turn around and walk out and I can’t just stop in the middle and decide it’s all over by looking at my watch and pretending I’m late for a meeting or something even though I appear to be the only person in the mall, which of course, is worse, because that means everybody is looking at me wondering what the hell I’m doing gibbering to myself in the doorway of PacSun waving my limp wrist about with a sickly insipid half-grin on my face. oh well. let’s get it over with. I might find something in the ‘mid thirties man trying to be 18 through inappropriate dressing in guess, stussy and levis’ section in nordstrum where I can have chat with dirk about whether I’m here on business and whether he’ll accept maestro cards or if I’ll have to put it on visa and I’ll wonder why he doesn’t take a pin number or a signature and I’ll go home alone as they pack up the rest of the ties until tomorrow when they’ll finish the spirals and start of the glove trees for christmas. except I don’t. I didn’t find anything anywhere. 40 minutes of my life has passed by in this place and I’m no closer to a purchase than I was during my globalization presentation on monday, where at least I got pizza and donuts. I’ve even been into crate and barrel and considered getting a set of kitchen knives for the hell of it, but homeland security or the tsa might have something to say about that. I know. I’ll just leave. go back to hotel without buying anything. perhaps I’ll go to denver on friday or something (which I do). so, where was the fucos? that’s right, back though the power tools in foleys. right, let’s go.

I was almost at the entrance to foleys when I took a quick look to my left for some reason. just baskets and things. but hang on, there’s something moving in that one. what is this place? oh. I see. aaaaaaaaaaaaah. it’s a pet shop. not the kind of pet shop you get in the UK which might have a fish and a couple of tired guinea pigs hiding under a shredded free advertiser. no it’s more like the ones in spain that the kids stick their nose up against. the kind of pet shop that has, well, pets in. I’m talking dogs. and cats. and big spiders and lizards and rats and gerbils and geckos and frogs and things that look like sticks that are probably insects, but actually, are just sticks in a spider case without a spider in it. there must of been about 12 glass-sided cases, each with a couple or three puppies in. and these weren’t just your average mixed up breeds of dogs, they were all those wierd ones you only ever see people walking around with under their arms plus a few which would eventually be about 10 feet tall and need their own house. and they were all barking. yapping, to be more accurate. little whiny puppy yaps that were somewhere in between very cute and instant migrane. in the top-right case, was the most striking dog of the lot. it was a white husky puppy which cost about a million dollars and was just kind of slinking about, outstaring everyone that came into the shop. I gave it a go, but after about 5 minutes I had to rush to the bathroom to pour water into my dried-up eyeballs. that dog had the most evil stare. and I swear it had human eyes. I mean, they didn’t look like dog eyes at all, they were bright green, piercing, human eyes, I’m sure of it. there was something strange going on in the back of the store. nevertheless, I stayed for about 30 minutes just watching puppies roll over on metal grills and biting each other’s ears off and I think every customer in the flatiron passed through in that time and stood there going aaaaaah and stuff, so maybe it was just a really nice shop that happened to have a devil husky in one case by mistake and I was reading too much into the little yelping and squelching noises coming from the backroom.

I went for a grilled beef skewered bar meal in the end and watched the bullets on cable in the bar with a couple of flat tires before retiring to the 6th floor and charging up the laptop before falling asleep in front of the scifi channel which had something on which looked like star wars but wasn’t.

things to do in Denver when you’re dead tired

denver 2
denver 2 by Tim Caynes

after 4 days in Broomfield after 1 day on a plane after 1 night in a hotel with half of the population Lagos after 4 hours on a national express coach with mr cheerful after half a day in the rain I was planning to take a day up in the rockies, seeing how far past estes park I could get in november in the rental ford fucos without any chains and as it had been in the low 70s all week and glorious sunshine when I dribbled out of the bed in the 6th floor executive suite, I figured friday would be splendid and I’d crack on after packing and be in the foothills by breakfast sharing bagels with a yeti and jibbering about software service plans and globalized ecommerce venues until the sun went down and the 777 lifted off from DIA with my ransacked (thanks Transport Security Administration) suitcase lurching around in the hold and me switching my sim cards between triband and dualband handsets which I can’t use

as it turned out, as I pulled back the curtians on a stick and looked over the flatiron crossing and the hills, the hills were nowhere to be seen, as thick grey clouds were just looming over everything like some hideous portent of doom, just kind of laughing in my face because they’d ruined my day already and might even drop some snow later to really get everyone thoroughly pissed. it took me an hour to pack everything extraordinarily carefully, making sure the talin was all wrapped up in a fluffy white renaissance towel I’ve just borrowed in between the jacket I got to wear once and the shoes I forgot I had and the tshirt with the uncomfortable neck I should never have bought anyway (all of which would be taken out, thrown into the air and caught like a stretched sheet at the bottom of the empire state and flung into the suitcase again before returning home anyway – thanks Transport Security Administration), and then I found some breakfast in the corner, turned the gas off, checked the back door, etc., and headed for reception to check out, by which time the clouds has moved into the foyer, like in The Fog, and crusty old seamen were rattling chains at me and asking for their money back.

I decided to go to Denver

I’d driven around it a couple of times, thinking that’s what you do with Denver, just kind of drive around it, trying to judge the distances between the refineries and opening and closing the window appropriately, but I’d never been closer than the highway, so maybe I’d just kill a couple of hours there before driving to the airport 6 hours early because I’ve run out of ideas and I can’t possibly do any work on a friday. so I made a mental note of cherry creek mall where I thought I’d buy some stuff that said ‘Denver’ or ‘Colorado’ on it and headed out of the car park in the fucos and turned left. no, right. hang on. I hate the roads in Broomfield.

it was midday by the time I’d managed to get the fucos pointed south and headed down 36, or 25, or whatever it was to the 70, or 25, or 275, or whatever it was. I knw I wanted to by south of the city, so I took to road that goes in that direction and passed every single intersection and turning until I could no longer see Denver out of my driver’s window and figured I must have ended up in Mexico or something. quick, take the next turn, whatever it is. ooh, there’s coors field. right, this is, um, University. right, and there’s the university. so. hang on. lets take a look at the Avis Denver street map from 1974 and see what gives. screeeeeeech! cherry creek. right there. sorry everyone. I’m a tourist, look! I got a rental fucos and a mad confused look on my face! I managed to negotiate a right turn into the car park, which isn’t as simple as it sounds when you’re used to street names being on the side of the street and not across the street so you’re always thinking you’re on the street you want to be on and not just driving over it and leaving it behind in the rearview mirror. again.

I kind of knew the moment I stepped into the mall that I’d made one those mistakes I make when I can’t really be bothered to think about things and I just drift into a mistake. it was like every other mall I’d been into, except it had a saks fifth avenue in it. there was about 5 people, barely audible elevator music, the smell of cookies and a water fountain going off in the corner that the security guard was just kind of looking at sideways. still, once you’re in, you have to walk up one side of the downstairs, take the elevator at the other end, and walk back down the length of the upstairs, occaisionally crossing the way to check out amazing instant sleep pillows in brookstone or ipods in the apple store. then there’s always that moment where you get stuck in mid-crossing and spy that victoria’s secret is on the other side and you’re not sure whether it looks like you’re deliberately crossing to check it out, so you stop and look at your watch or something and try to turn back, pretending that actually, you have forgotten something in gymboree, but realizing halfway that that’s just more stupid, so you head back across toward victoria’s secret anyway, but stare straight ahead with a look on you face that’s trying to say you’re not actually looking at bras but you’re really keen to get to the sony center. but it doesn’t work, and you realize your hands are deep in your pockets as you walk past the pandoras box of lingerie and you try and pull them out quick and look casual, but you’ve just thrown all your change over the marble floor again like you did in the flatiron, you idiot. don’t stop and pick it up. it’s american money, you can’t use it when you get back. just walk away. they’re not staring at you, its the security guard by the water fountain that’s now gushing all over the floor and cascading over the edge of the walkway they’re interested in. honest.

so after I’d escaped unscathed I hightailed it back to the fucos and burned some rubber out of the parking lot, careened over the central reservation and headed downtown on the wrong side of the road. downtown kind of creeps up on you. one minute you’re cruising past old car lots with piles of tyres outside and free lube offers from 1969 and the next you’re outside the convention center, dodging trams and 30-foot blue bears. I squealed round a couple of blocks and found a $12 all-day parking lot, right next to mcdonalds on the corner of 16th street. of course, I had no idea how the parking lots operated, so I had to ask the guy about 4 times how long I could stay (‘salldayman, allday’), and then gave him a $50 bill cos I is a tourist and he had to go to his stash in the back of his lincoln parked on 14th street or something. I mean, I waited for 5 minutes to get my 38 dollars change and then stuck an insignificant pink slip in the windscreen and said goodbye to my personal belongings that I fully expected never to see again and headed up 16th street mall, dodging the evil silent free buses and passing the shop windows that were closing because it was veteran’s day and I always come to the US on a public holiday and find everything closing around me for some reason.

anyway, I got a bunch of stuff that said either ‘Denver’ or ‘Colorado’ on it and also found myself a couple of john deere tshirts in PacSun (‘my name is kathy and I’ll be your server today so can I help you embarrass yourself into a stupid purchase because you look like a toursit dad who will make a really rash decision if I simply say ‘size’ and smile at you’), and even got some instant chicken stuff in an underground food hall that appeared to be full of extras from that film working girl. after that, I thought I might just cruise around the streets. the sun had come out and all the clouds had buggered off, so it has turned into a blisteringly hot afternoon, so I took a layer off, took it back to the parking lot, changed my regular glasses for my prescription shades, dumped the purchases, strapped on the W1 and went on the search for some shots of glass-fronted buildings I could turn into dektops when I’m bored back in the UK when it’s raining outside and I’m just watching people take their dogs to the toilet. it turns out there’s quite a few of those types of buldings in Denver, so I had a pretty good couple of hours pointing my camera at the sky. except for the embarassing security incident and the over-zealous car-park run

the world trade center and a couple of other glass-fronted tower blocks in denver overlap in a pretty nice way when you get the right angle. I found that angle a couple of times and took a few shots and was feeling pretty pleased with myself in a ‘this’ll look nice on flickr’ kind of way, when as I stepped back on the courtyard of another tower block and checked out the direction of the sun, a couple of fat guys in aviators came up behind me and flashed an official looking badge at me and suggested I accompany them into a dark corner. it goes something like this:

‘I’m sorry, is there a problem? I’m a tourist, you know’
‘what is your purpose here today sir?’
‘I’m a tourist’
‘do you have a reasonable cause to be taking photographs in Denver today sir?’
‘I’m sorry, is that a problem? I’m a tourist’
‘well, sir, we’re not permitted to let you take pictures of these buildings sir’
‘right. ok. well, I was just, you know. I’m a tourist. I like taking pictures of stuff. You have a beautiful city’
‘I’m from Encino. you’re going to have to cease sir and please leave the frontage of the building’
‘oh, right. I see. I’ll just, well, you know. put this away, right?’
‘please leave sir’
‘Encino, is that nice?’
‘please leave now sir or we shall escort you off, or engage with the local authorities’
‘bye then’
(50 yards later)

undeterred, I headed back toward the convention center which looked like the kind of place I could spend an hour of so looking at bits of curved metal cladding and glass archways. I figured I could probably get a really good straight-on shot of some of the office windows (I like those shots) if I went up to the roof of the car park I was just passing on my left, which looked like it had an open roof about 13 floors up. great, let’s duck in here and take the elevator up while the sun’s still out. damn, no elevator. ah well, let’s take the stairs, I’m not that unfit, and they’re pretty small. I’m quite excited by the prospect of getting a couple of my favourite kind of shots, so I bound up the stairs, a couple at a time and before I know it, I’m at the 7th floor. now, I knew that Denver was the mile-high city, and I always get out of breath coming from the Sun car park at broomfield 5 to the lobby, so I should have probably figured that what I was currently doing was a one brick short of a load kind of dumbass stupid thing to contemplate, but hey, I was already at the 7th floor. which is about where I thought I shoud stop and catch my breath. but, of course, in Denver, there isn’t any breath. you can’t catch any. so as I’m gasping away between floors and my heart is leaping out of my rib cage and I’m seeing my life flash before me (mainly images of trying to look like I’m not interested in victoria’s secret), I’m thinking I probably should have taken a more sedate approach. I walk very slowly up 2 more floors and things are still a bit grim. I’ve just remembered a couple of things from my childhood, so I figure I’m about to drop dead, but hey, I still haven’t got the shot I was looking for. ok, concentrate. just 5 more floors. slowly, quietly, long breaths. I think we can make it…

I did make it, and the top floor of the car park was empty so I walked to all four sides, took a few shots of the Denver skyline and folks in office windows calling the authorities about a lunatic on the roof of the 13th street car park who’s pointing a laser gun or something at the president, probably. I figured it was probably then that as I’d escaped some kind of uncomfortable internment by 2 fat blokes and death by altitude, I should probably get back to the car, head for the refineries, drop the fucos and check in with homeland security at DIA, where my fingerprints have probably changed into Reece Witherspoons. probably

not from round these parts

er, that’s a lovely pickup truck you have there. is that a gun in your pocket or are you just telling me this is a really crap place to stop and take a picture? I’m being ironic, you see? look, all this beauty. and then stuff like you. that’s a classic juxtaposition, ain’t it? it’s really purdy an’ all, but you ain’t from round these parts, are you boy?

well, no. if I was, I would know that you can’t get here from Nederland and then onto Denver Airport in 3 hours, but that’s where I find myself right now, so if you’d be so kind as to get that dog off my leg I really need to be tearing down the 70 at 80 miles an hour, wishing I’d filled up with gas somewhere closer to civilization.

anyway, the picture is here. it’s somewhere between here and here