The majority of my ancestors settled in Denver in the early 20th Century. My mother’s Italian relatives took refuge in the various brownstones of North Denver and my great-grandfather, an illiterate fruit peddler, was one of the founding members of Potenza Hall (an Italian lodge that is still standing today amidst a landscape of Rite Aids and Taco Bells). My father’s Slavic ancestors settled in the Globeville area; a hard neighborhood know for its rail yards, smelting and meat packing industries. My dad grew up in this community in a small house amongst Slavic kin who liked to drink, cuss, smoke and hate anyone who was not Slavic (my great uncle is still getting his “Gran Torino” on in a Globeville neighborhood that is now predominately Hispanic). The Western Slavonic Lodge was founded around the same time my great-grandmother arrived in Denver from what is now modern-day Russia. I think these lodges are indicative of the mindset of immigrants at the time. It was a place to gather with fellow countrymen, drink, offer support and learn about the idea known as “America.” Being “American” was important to all of my ancestors that settled in Denver. My great-grandfather, for example, when asked by his children to teach them Italian would reply, “We are in America, and in America you speak English.” I often ponder what happened to this mindset; where people identified themselves as American first and their ethnic background second. Perhaps it withered away as class systems divided. Or maybe it disappeared with our manufacturing base when we decided culturally that it was better to consume goods rather than produce them. Perhaps it vanished when people accepted that being friendly was merely waving hello to your nameless neighbor at Starbucks. It could be all these things, or it could just be that a fucking McDonalds became more important to us than a community center.
Nice work, Johnny Trombones. However, you are only true of heart if you owned The Final Countdown on vinyl. Or obnoxiously sing “Carrie” to every woman you know with the same handle twenty five years after the fact. For the former members of my design team, here is your point of reference. May I remind you that in 1986 a man could be pretty and awesome at the same time.
- Fetal Bites: America’s number one fetus cookie cutter. Upon purchase I foresee Scottish Shortbread fetus cookies in my future.
- A giant pregnant anaconda is slain. Seeing all those dead anaconda babies strewn about gave me a Temple of Doom vibe as opposed to a JLo/Ice Cube vibe.
- A preview of Steven Colbert’s “Another Christmas Song.” Colbert has a decent voice and I am guessing the album will kitschy and mildly entertaining ranking somewhere between Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics and The Star Wars Christmas Album (the latter of which I owned on vinyl in my youth).
As a youngster I would go for dinner at my grandparents house at least once a week. My Italian grandmother was an amazing cook and made some of the most glorious feasts (her lentil soup and pot roast can never be duplicated). After dinner we would retire to the family room to watch some Golden Girls. I recall my grandmother laughing hysterically at Sophia on a regular basis. Maybe it was because they had similar personalities. Or that they were both Italian. Or they were both five feet tall, one hundred pounds and intimidating as hell. Whatever it was, Estelle Getty will always hold a special place in my heart for being able to continually crack my grandmother’s iron resolve.
It is videos such as these that make me long for a time when MTV actually played music videos. A time when the Participation Ribbon Generation was not responsible for subjugating creative video ingenuity to an ancillary channel on digital cable in lieu of reality programming that long ago withered and died on the vine (please give me yet another reality show about former reality stars competing in the ultimate reality competition in order to win fabulous prizes that said former reality stars do not deserve). A time when Downtown Julie Brown and Kari Wuhrer filled my adolescent brain with impure desires. A time when one could easily cross the cultural void by watching Yo! MTV Raps and the Headbangers Ball in the same sitting. MTV sold out long ago and nothing short of a topless Audrina Partridge doing the Ed Lover Dance atop Spencer Pratt‘s dead body will make me cool with it.
The 1950s were a simple time. A time when a young man’s fancy turned to squeezing off a few rounds on a Winchester 22. A time when a blatant disregard for wildlife and being atop of the food chain was celebrated. A time when women thanked you for killing the hawk that got into the chickens.
When I was a youngster, my mom would always encourage me to go outside and play. I usually complied and got my bike out of the garage to ride around or met up with the rest of the neighborhood kids in the area vacant lot for a game of baseball. One a hot summer day, a neighborhood kid thought we should get a game of Dungeons and Dragons going. We briefly read the rules, made up our characters, rolled the 12-sided die and got our geek on. Within the hour my avatar was slain and I was out of the game. Two neighborhood kids proceeded to play that game for another three weeks. Little did we know at the time we were fucking around with dark forces, Satanism and the occult. Coincidentally those two kids grew up to be the biggest drug dealers at my high school. The dark influences of DnD or absentee fathers with a penchant for hardcore pornography and liquor? You be the judge.
There is nothing I love more than the ingenuity of a teenager in search of a buzz. Lighting bus shelters on fire and getting high on the fumes seems to be the pinnacle of ingenuity.
Inhalants never seem to go out of style with the kids. I spent countless hours in my formidable years assembling model cars in the garage and I took a pull off the glue bottle bottle every now and then but that was as far as it went for me. The kids I went to school with, however, were inhalant fiends. There was the kid who enjoyed huffing gas from the lawnmower can in his shed. There was the kid who used to douse screwdrivers in cans of paint thinner and then inhale the fumes from the tips of said screwdrivers. There was the kid who was found dead in his room after huffing too much gas from a spent SCUBA tank. Lastly, there was the freaky goth bitch that sat behind me in life science class who used to get cheap highs from the nail polish and Liquid Paper stashed away in her ESprit bag (inhalants were the least of her problems as her mother had a penchant for test driving her teenage boyfriends. Rumor is they were both on Maury a few years back). I am guessing all those kids (save for the dead one) have graduated on to meth.
At my high school we did not need slut teacher aides that molested male students. We had plenty of easy girls that would have sex with you if you gave them a bottle of Boones Farm Wine and a joint. That was the deal closer. Take my junior year Pom squad, for example. Three girls got knocked up in a span of six months. Two were sisters, ages 18 and 16, and they got pregnant within two months of each other. I think their mother committed suicide. Even though my high school was chocked full of depraved chemically dependent sex fiends (myself included), I do not think any of us were caught doing this.