Denver and Points West

Falling through the universe at the speed of life

By David Glenn Cox

So, where have I been? A long story involving a U-Haul and four hundred miles of bad weather. How many guessed in jail? I caught rock in my windshield near Albuquerque, gusting high winds while driving a box truck towing a car with a black cat as my co-pilot. Other than that, it was a nice trip. Denver is in the rear-view mirror for me now. There are two Denver’s and I lived in the second one. In the first, glittering modern apartment homes fill the downtown skyline with rents sky high and parking extra. Nights in the clubs with weekends on the ski slopes, a travel brochure in living color come to life. It is the allure which creates the fantasy and the fantasy which creates demand. A starter home (starter) three amazingly small bedrooms one and a half baths $350,000 complete with postage stamp yard.

In the Denver I knew wages to make such a living possible required couples to scrimp and save just for the dream. The dream of owning a home that would someday appreciate to the point they could afford to sell it. Meanwhile, crack assault troops of the builder’s economy are busy churning out little boxes on the hillside and they are all made out of ticky tacky at a rate of several hundred per day. Readymade neighborhoods and ready-made schools financed with weed money. They also serve they who stand and toke. Trying to live an Atlanta lifestyle on Birmingham wages.

A pure builder’s economy as long as they are building homes, they’ll be paving streets, selling lumber and hardwood floors. A job a Walmart or Arby’s is no different in Denver than anywhere else except perhaps more futile. An underling class shilling for the masters, driving the bus to the ski slopes on Saturday. Denver is a genuinely nice place with a congenial climate but is too expensive for weather alone. Covid put me out of work, and Denver left me out of luck. It wasn’t Denver’s fault, but it wasn’t mine either. It either works or it doesn’t and in this case it doesn’t.

So today I reside among the settings of hundreds of Roadrunner and Coyote cartoons. Desert sands and mountains with faded tunnels painted onto rock faces. Rusting anvils half buried in the ground, exploded giant skyrocket carcasses liter the area as Acme crates decompose in the sun. But it got me to thinking. How come the generation of the Three Stooges, Bugs Bunny and The Roadrunner and Coyote grew up to host Woodstock and the Summer of Love? While the current generation raised on Sponge Bob Square Pants, the Wiggles and Peppa Pig dreams of mass murder and if White, a free cheeseburger!

Maybe a little Moe, Larry and Curley might have saved them? Moe: Remind me to murder you later. Curley: I don’t have a pencil. Moe: Never mind, I’ve changed my mind. I’m gonna do it now! Stupid senseless violence and smart aleck word play. And the children laugh because it is funny. Anger is a normal emotion and perhaps we shouldn’t try to repress it so.  Employer: Have you gentleman ever sold anything before? Curley: Certainly! Moe: He said sold not stole! Curley: My mistake.

The humor was aimed at taking down the big shot, the cop, or the mayor. Too many sacred cows today. There is a Laurel & Hardy short where an Army recruiter is going through the city park looking for volunteers. Hardy leans over his shoulder to tell Stan to let him do the talking but when he looks, Stan is gone like the cops are after him. How disrespectful to run from an Army recruiter; Who does he think he is, Colin Kaepernick? The Stooges punched, painted, or knocked over hundreds of police officers. They stole cars and went to prison made illegal liquor and robbed banks, but you will never convince me they were a bad influence on children.

We all respect law enforcement but as they write us a ticket the memory of a cop being punched by Curley or knocked over with beer barrels is comforting. There is justice in fantasy and love in comeuppance. King’s all lie but clowns all tell the truth.  The big shot getting the pie in the face will never grow old. It’s something primal inside of us…wait, wait, wait, here it comes, now! We knew going in the Coyote would never catch the Roadrunner. We watched for the ludicrous failed attempts and to see the coyote…get his.

A generation ago it was, “Why can’t Johnny Read?” Today it is “What makes Johnny Kill?” What has changed? What has made the children want to kill? From “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk,” to bang, bang your dead. Larry: Look it’s a V-8! Moe: Ever see a V-10? Larry: What’s that? A new car? Moe: No, it’s old sock! Growing up I was called fat, lazy, stupid, big ears, big feet and a host unrepeatable names in polite company. I, in turn called my friends similar adjectives and never thought once about shooting them. Okay, maybe once. We just didn’t take it seriously or take it to heart. “Listen here porcupine, am I gonna have trouble out of you?”

“I married your mother because I wanted children. Imagine my disappointment when you arrived. You better beat it! I hear they’re going to tear you down and put up and office building. You haven’t stopped talking since I got here. You must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle. I can see you standing over a hot stove, but I can’t see the stove. He’s what we call the crummy moronic type! Either my watch has stopped, or he’s dead! The gate swung open and in walked a Fig Newton.” – Groucho Marx

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