Oct. 6, 2004 – Denver, CO
Colorado scares us. We know it’s a gorgeous place, full of exquisite landscapes and nice, well-educated people who do good things for the planet. The Centennial State also seems to be one of the world’s headquarters of weapons design and construction.
So, one would assume, Colorado includes a good percentage of people who have negligible attitudes about the unsolicited cancellation of human life.
NORAD, which controls the missile defense systems and airspace protection for America and Canada, looms up in the mountains near a humongous Lockheed-Martin production center in the town of Littleton, CO. And we all know what happened at that one high school in Littleton.
Yes, the Colorado countryside is breathtaking, but the cities, we’d rather just drive through.
Denver is quite a beautiful metropolis, aside from the ever-present layer of yellow smog so thick on the horizon that Koit (who lived there until he ran away with Cyclecide last year) was compelled to name the noxious cloud “Larry.”
Once again, as in most cities, we landed on the part of town where beleaguered shop owners do nothing all day but guard their merchandise from down-on-their-luck loonies who smell of piss. The “pre-gentrified” areas, if you will.
We parked on the hardscrabble street where the Bike Rodeo first took a vote and picked up new-guy Koit and all his worldly possessions almost exactly a year ago, and we spent the morning at a delightful coffee shop called “Oh My Goddess!”
Jarico called the venue where we were to perform the next day — an underground skate/cycle-people warehouse — and discovered its tenants had been evicted by the landlord the day before. So our show was cancelled.
Since we were there, and we didn’t have to be to Fort Collins until Saturday, we decided to try to set up another show. The gregarious, self-professed witch who ran the coffee shop sprang into action and phoned everyone she knew.
While we were inside, yet another car accident happened right next to the Shoo Shoo, in which two Goth girls got rear-ended pretty hard and sat there for an hour not knowing what to do until Jeremy went outside and discovered them.
One chick had about 100 nasty razor-slices and self-scars on her arm, and neither of them were nice when he fixed their car in under five minutes. They drove away without saying thank you.
“Low self-esteem is a bitch,” Jeremy said later. “It seemed to me like they didn’t even think they deserved my help.”
“Maybe they were on acid,” Moses offered.
Jeremy shook his head. “They would have been more lively,” he said.
We heard of an anarchist collective a few miles down the road called the Derailleur bike club. There’s one o’ those in every town — a nice group of young folks with self-styled haircuts, threadbare and studded black hoodies, and years-old Carhartts patched up with leather and dental-floss stitching.
They compost their own trash, they grow their own food, they attend meetings and rallies, they teach bike mechanics to whoever wants to learn, and they give away bike parts without asking anything in return. When Cyclecide is on tour, these people are our best friends. Goddess bless them.
We biked up to the old Derailleur house — picturesquely fenced in by rows of junked bike wheels — and introduced ourselves to a couple punks sitting on the front porch eating oat bran and reading The Sexual Politics of Meat.
They suggested we try another underground warehouse called Monkeymania. We biked back, and Jarico went to check out the venue and meet the leaseholder, who gave the thumbs-up to an outdoor renegade show in the for-pay parking lot next door that she didn’t own.
Again, the show would go on. Until the cops came, at least.
The Handsome Little Devils, a phenomenal, Denver-based vaudeville act that we’ve befriended on the Tour de Fat, invited us to chill at their place for the night.
The real-life brothers, Handsome Mike and Devil Dan, turned out to be even more multi-talented than their stage act lets on — the immaculate house they decorated themselves featured art they made on every wall and furniture they made in every corner.
It was one of those homes where the few things in every room were all well-chosen and incredibly pretty. If we didn’t already know they were straight, we would’ve thought otherwise.
The Devils’ garage and practice space out back looked like a gym, but with neat rows of juggling clubs and balls and other Vaudevillain paraphernalia where the free-weights should be.
Devil Dan climbed up into the crawlspace and emerged with a sturdy yellow 6-foot-tall unicycle he’d fabricated and didn’t need anymore. When he invited the boys to cut it up for their own alter-cycle-making purposes, they drooled and began formulating plans.
Meanwhile, in the living room, Linda and this writer coveted the Devils’ press-kits, which were so glossy and fastidiously constructed that we (as the Cyclecide press officers) felt like amateur dorks. No wonder the Handsome Little Devils are going to New Zealand this winter and we’re not.
Koit spent the evening on the front porch, catching up with his brother and his old friends Kirsten and Drew. Drew showed up in a Grateful Dead tie-dye, for which we all razzed him mightily, but he stood his ground, citing his born-and-raised Colorado Hippie status.
Kirsten, his girlfriend, offered her grandmother’s house in the mountains as a place we could rest after our performance. Alas, when we woke up the next morning, the forecast for Denver — which is sunny 300 days of the year — called for thunderstorms.
So the show got cancelled anyway. Koit’s friend Sean (who’s in a punk band called the Taliband, hee hee) took us thrift shopping, and security guards chased us around the store the whole time.
Fearful of overstaying our welcome, we packed up in the afternoon, said goodbye to the Handsome Little Devils, and headed for the mountains and Kirsten’s house. We were glad to keep away from Fort Collins for as long as possible, considering what happened last year (see next entry).
Lucky for us, Kirsten’s awesome grandmother Mary, in the course of her life, had married into money. We went from the rainy Denver ghetto to the lap of mountain luxury.
Koit took us to Mary’s garage, where under a dust cover sat a Cadillac that was once owned by Elvis. We saw the documents and everything. Mary’s late husband bought it at an auction just to have it, and he rarely ever drove it.
All the Bike Rodeo clowns took turns worshipping at the ‘Lac — possibly the most prestigious gas-powered vehicle we’ve ever seen.
Mary gave us a brief tour of the almost-mansion and then said goodnight and went to bed. We tiptoed and whispered, but Kirsten and Drew assured us Mary was thoroughly used to mobs of loud freaks invading her stunning home.
Turns out Kirsten’s mom used to go out with Mark Slaughter (yes, of heavy metal B-listers Slaughter). There was even a picture of her as a baby being cradled in Mark’s arms in an early ‘80s issue of Hit Parader.
For supper, Che made his special: Baltimore-style beer-infused franks and beans. It was quickly decided that we should have a beenie weenie formal dinner in the fancy-schmancy dining room.
We wouldn’t touch the massive silver and china collections, of course, and we’d make special effort not to knock anything over or spill beer on the floor or swing from the chandeliers. We busied ourselves setting up extra chairs, getting the expensive runners out of the way, and setting the table with paper towel placemats.
Then some of the twelve bulls in the china shop dressed for dinner. Koit wore his new thrift-score Halloween gangster suit hand-painted with white puffy-paint pinstripes; Linda donned the hat to a new kids’ fleece Care Bear costume (blue, with ears), and this writer sported a new red felt fake-tuxedo front, a yellow and orange tutu with red feathers, and a sequined something or other atop the coif.
Others who hadn’t had the privilege of getting stalked by the fine employees of the Denver Saver’s that day dug through their bags for the nicest things they could find.
Dinner was served, and Che tried to say grace, but the bad-mannered boys dove into their meals in the middle of the non-denominational prayer. Hippie Drew took some pictures, and we all ate our franks and beans and felt fancy.
Things were awkwardly quiet for a long minute as we chewed — none of us were used to eating at a table, much less one like this — then Big Daddy pointedly put his fork down, wiped his mouth, and cleared his throat. “So, how was school today?,” he said.
Che asked to be excused. He said we were seriously freaking him out and that he wanted just to go watch the movie on the big-screen TV in the other room. So we excused him.
Not two minutes later, he came back in and sat down again. “Y’all makin’ me feel guilty and shit,” he said. “I missed y’all, too. This is weird, man.”
“See, Che?,” Linda said. “It’s fun to hang out with Mom and Dad. We’re a fun family. Right gang?”
Big Daddy let out the biggest, longest, loudest burp I’ve ever heard him execute (and that’s saying something). The silver tea sets behind my head rattled, and everyone paused, waiting for a punchline.
“Now that,” said Shotwell, “is grace.”
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