Things will be great when you’re downtown

From our Big Yellow Ball Slated to Appear In East Department comes this headline from the Bibleburg Gaslight: “Study: Jobs are shifting from downtown to suburbs.”

Do tell. The source of this staggering revelation is a report by the Brookings Institution, the first in a series to include “Topless Dancing: Performers Mostly Female, Customers Mostly Male,” “Punching Cops: A Great Way to Get Your Ass Kicked,” and “Sticking Butter Knives Into Electrical Outlets: The Shocking Truth.” The upshot seems to be that when a metropolitan area spreads out like a fat ass sinking onto a barstool at a chain “pub,” the jobs do, too. Go figure.

Scenic downtown Bibleburg, at the corner of Walk and Don't Walk.

Scenic downtown Bibleburg, at the corner of Walk and Don't Walk.

Everything in Bibleburg has been rushing outward from the center like the Big Bang since before my family arrived in 1967. Urban renewal tried and nearly succeeded in croaking downtown in the Seventies, sprawl continued the pummeling in the Eighties and Nineties, and the Great Recession is getting its licks in as we speak.

We live just north of downtown proper, east of the snooty Old North End in an area called the Patty Jewett Neighborhood. But very few of our neighbors work here, and the shopping is iffy. Java (Dogtooth Coffee) and booze (Coaltrain) are within easy walking or cycling distance, as are The Safeway of the Living Dead and an Ace Hardware store at the Bon Shopping Center. But the closest reliable organic grub is farther off, at Mountain Mama or King Soopers, both on Uintah west of Interstate 25; the Vitamin Cottage-Natural Grocery outlet off Cheyenne Mountain and South Nevada; or the Whole Paycheck on North Academy.

Downtown is a short hop away, easily reached on foot, by bicycle or via scooter. But there’s not much reason to go there, unless you work there, because there just aren’t many shops selling stuff we need. Running gear from Colorado Running Company, check; bike parts from Old Town Bike Shop, check; scooter stuff from Sportique, check; outdoorsy gear from Mountain Chalet, check; bread from La Baguette, check; cooking utensils from Sparrow Hawk Gourmet Cookware, check. The other only reasons to go downtown are to eat something and/or get hammered, sort of a yupscale imitation of homeless people rising up out of the weeds around lunchtime at Marion House.

Is there a specialty grocer downtown? Nope. A solid local bookstore along the lines of the lost, lamented Chinook Bookshop? Nuh uh, though there are a couple of lightweight contenders, Adventures in Books and Poor Richard’s. A consistently solid yet affordable restaurant with a respectable wine list and a selection of the local beers? Nah. The closest thing is The Blue Star, especially on Sunday, when bottles of wine are half price; but it’s still expensive, and well south of downtown proper.

This being a military town, of course, plenty of the local jobs have always been far from the city center — at Fort Carson, the Air Force Academy and Peterson AFB. But these folks are transient, especially during wartime, and a vibrant downtown is probably well down on their lists of must-have items.

Selling stupid shit to tourists is another pillar of the local economy, and downtown takes its best shot at that, with any number of absurd knick-knack shops, but both Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs have the upper hand with their cutesy ambience.

Bottom line, if you want loft-dwelling hipsters, tourists and other dazzling urbanites downtown, plus jobs, there has to be a reason for all of them to be downtown. And these days, in this place, there just aren’t many. Unless they’re into the whole free-soup thing. So we got that going for us.

• Addendum: Another reason to go downtown (though you don’t really need to be downtown to enjoy it) is KRCC, Radio Colorado College, our local NPR affiliate. Right now they’re airing “Hearing Voices,” an episode called “Comedy With a Beat,” hosted by David Ossman of The Firesign Theatre. Greg Giraldo layered over Lazyboy, Charles Mingus jazzing up Jean Shepherd’s “The Clown,” and select bits from TFT — hey, what’s not to like?

• Addendum the Second: Now that I’ve decided to forgo healthful outdoor exercise in favor of cooking and drinking, the sun has come out. Perhaps it’s time for me to emulate Medium Ráre, our mystic chef and guru, and begin meditating on the pure white light of stupidity.

4 Responses to “Things will be great when you’re downtown”

  1. Bill Says:

    Pat yer Killin’ me. I’m listening to KRCC as I write this, and the Lenny bruce bit was phenominal. Oh, and I rode my Single Cross to the Res and back this morning. Freakin rednecks all over Rampart!

  2. Ben S. Says:

    I like the pure white light of stupidity. It warns me to get off the road just in time.

    Seder last night. Tomorrow a fast (for us flat landers over 50) group ride to Lake Forest College for their all you can eat Easter Brunch just $7. I’m gaining a pound a week since March. This is not good. Tasty, but not good.

    Seems there are some tallish office building in the background of your photo. Don’t those cubicle dwellers eat lunch somewhere or are those building the local jail?

  3. Patrick O'Grady Says:

    Hey, Bill, what shape was the road in? I haven’t been up that way in quite a while. Sort of lost interest in spitting out pieces of chipped teeth after a half-dozen years of riding indifferently maintained county dirt roads outside Weirdcliffe. That’s the main reason I bought that Voodoo Loa ‘cross bike with the one-off Marzocchi fork (still have the fork). I actually rode the MTB twice last week, which is some sort of record for me. Next thing you know I’ll have baggy shorts, a double-boinger and a distinct aroma of cannabis sativa.

    Ben, long time no hear from. Were you into the matzo and wine last night? Here it was a rice and spinach casserole with cheddar and Parmigiano-Reggiano, eggs, parsley and wheat germ, plus beer (wine for Herself).

    I hear you on the weight gain. I depend on my annual winter training camp in Arizona to jump-start my spring and am packing a few extra ell-bees as a consequence of missing out this time around. But we owe the taxman big time, so a diet of common groats and lentils should help slim me down in time for warmer weather.

    As to the tallish buildings in Bibleburg, yes, the cube farmers are let out to eat, but their choices downtown are unspectacular. Outside of downtown they’re even worse. It’s as if every chain eatery in the world got the same idea at the same time — “Hey, let’s open up a couple-three-four outlets in Bibleburg!” Ick and double ick. This is why we mostly dine at home — that, and the taxman.

  4. chris Says:

    Hey, Patrick. That is actually a pretty cool pic of downtown Bibleburg. You are turning into quite the shutterbug.
    Did you and Shannon ever crack that jug of Quivara zin? If you liked it, we can ride out to the winery from my house next time you’re out here. Probly need a taxi home, tho.

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