Sunday, October 16, 2005

Travel Log: 2 Oct - 3 Oct


Ibid: Colorado Blvd. to I-70 to I-25 to U.S. 36 and points therabout.

Travel Highlight

Westlands Park images.On Sunday we visited with my older daughter's Denver playgroup, which is still intact, though the girls are all five years older. We met at the multidimensional Westlands Park in Greenwood Village, south of Denver. The imaginative park is built into the side of a hill, with multilevel play structures, a soft outdoor climbing wall and shelves, a treehouse walk, giant climbable sculptures, and much more. It's been featured in Landscape Architecture magazine and has been named the top playground in the metro Denver area by local press.

Not only did our girls have an awesome time playing there, but so did I! And it was of course great catching up with old friends again (though it's really the moms' group; I was the only dad there).

Travel Lowlight

A rendering of Civano.Not so much related to travel, but to events that require travel: On Monday afternoon I gave a lecture titled "The Town That Wouldn't Be? Civano and the Rise and Fall of New Urbanism in the American Southwest." I set it up well ahead of time with the events coordinator at the University of Colorado at Denver's College of Architecture and Planning. I graduated from the program with a Master of Urban and Regional Planning back in 1997, moving down to Tucson and Civano just three years later.

I spent a lot more time putting that 63-slide presentation together than I'd like to admit, so I was pretty disappointed to find that the events coordinator didn't advertise the lecture at all. It was only because I contacted a number of my old professors, as well as the student planning organization, that anyone outside of the coordinator and one or two professors knew about it at all. The presentation---held in the school's nifty though tight presentation area called the Octagon---eventually drew a full house: about 23 people. So it turned out alright in the end, which appears to be the theme of this tour.


The Persinger kids and the Buntin kids.Op cit: Still with the darling Doolings. However, on both Sunday and Monday evenings we saw neighbors from our old Westminster neighborhood. Dinner Sunday evening was with Cheryl Peringer and her three children; Monday evening was with Bill and Kim Hayashi and their two children, plus a host of other friends.

Bill and Kim Hayashi with daughter.Is there some universal rule that children aren't supposed to grow up unless you're there to witness it? No, I thought not, but I still can't believe how big and smart these kids have gotten! I lived in an apartment above Cheryl when her firstborn was less than a year old. I was just out of college. Now he's in high school, and his sister, who we saw only hours old up at Boulder Hospital, is nearly a teenager! Ditto for the Hayashi's kids, who were our next-door neighbors in Westminster.

And yet their neighborhoods---though the trees are bigger and houses perhaps different colors, and maybe there's a new stoplight or two---haven't changed that much at all, even as the city of Westminster, where Billie and I lived for five years, where I served a one-year term on the Planning Commission, is sprawling to no apparent end around them.

The Reading

Not so long ago there was a legendary coffee shop on the east end of Boulder's infamous Pearl Street, where poets like Allen Ginsberg read, where Nirvana played a three-night stint when the band's van broke down, where the full eclecticness of the Nation of Boulder was evident. Unfortunately, Penny Lane is now closed, a byproduct of east Pearl Street's "renovation" and a long unresolved dispute with the landlord.

So in its place, Tom Peters of the Beat Book Shop, across the street, holds an open mic night the first Monday of every month at the trendy Camille's Sidewalk Cafe. It's not nearly the same, of course, but it's still a good place to give a reading: a friendly owner and crowd, good lighting and visibility, an actual sound system.

Allen Ginsberg.It turns out I was the first "featured" reader since the open mic moved to Camille's. It also turns out that Tom and cohorts were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Ginserber's "Howl:" October 5, 1955. He and more than a half-dozen others took turns reading the entire 19-page poem. Their reading created an undeniable energy, and I was excited and indeed honored to follow.

When I mentioned that my favorite Ginsberg poem is "A Supermarket in California," Tom jumped up, waving that he had that poem in his copy of "Howl," and wouldn't it be great if I started out with that one. So I did.

The energy continued from that poem into my set, and with the microphone and (I found out later) amplication so sidewalk passer-byers could tune in as well, the reading was a rousing success! Well, at least the crowd was really responsive and there was lots of chatter after the reading, though I didn't sell a single book, which is too bad but how it goes sometimes.

Regardless, I'll look back on that evening for years to come as the night I read, howling with the spirit of Allen Ginsberg in the room and in my soul.

Three Things I Think...

Civano.1. I think that for the longest time I thought I would write a book titled The Town That Wouldn't Be: Civano and the Rise and Fall of New Urbanism in the American Southwest. And I admit I'm still tempted, but in the end I suspect I'd feel like Jose Conseco: revealing a bunch of folks and then getting death threats for being too honest. It wouldn't be worth the angst, even to paint the successes, the incredible community that remains despite all the challenges.

2. I think I'm still trying to talk the Hayashi's daughter (above right), now 16, into coming down to Tucson to celebrate Halloween with us. Our tradition of "The Haunted Garage" started up in Westminster, and this year we'll be having our biggest and best community party yet, complete with a Harry Potter-themed haunted garage and between 80 and 100 of our closest neighbors and friends coming over. She says Halloween still isn't the same since we left. I say: Come on down---we'll put you to work and you'll have a great time scaring the locals!

3. I think that it turned out, even by this point, that I brought many more copies of Riverfall along than I would be able to sell, or even to give away to select folks (like the Beat Book Shop's Tom Peters). So, if you're now paying attention, my over-ordering may be a bonus for you: The first person who correctly guesses (by replying in the comments) what Harry Potter character I'll be dressing as this Halloween will get a free copy of the book, including shipping!

Closing Poem

Including a poem that I read for the first time at Camille's, because my friend (and lodging host) Joe said how much he liked it and it was the only reading he could make. I subsequently read it at the other readings, as well. Found on page 57 of my book:



When I became divorced
from my mother, the lawyers all
wore white—like the ceiling,

the walls. As they worked
out the details, pushing me
into a new life, I said

cut me so I will not dangle
like a curved leaf at the end
of a spider’s thread.

And the curved blade,
the silver-quick hand
of the attorney, left me

to meet the father
I never knew I had, except
the murmur that was his voice.


When I became divorced
from my father, like a branch
stripped in a storm,

I lay there, still
alive, suddenly aware of the sharp grass
bearing my weight.

Nothing was said
through three odd marriages,
but I knew like continental

drift that a line formed
along our fault. We walked it,
hands tied by the ribbon

of alimony, until a woman
taught me to look straight
into the mirror, past my father’s eyes.


When I became divorced
from myself, and stepped
onto the fragile tundra soil,

I began digging a grave
so the earth, piled,
would block the constant summer

light. The heavy sky,
under a bluff
of rain, was simply a veil

from within which my mother
and father could watch.
With the fault line stretched

like an umbilical cord still
uncut, and the shining silver
blade in my father’s

hand, I too watched the earth
grow higher, then fell into
the heavy sleep of a newborn child.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This comment is about civano. I know there are a lot of critics of new urbanism, but the fact remains that none of them can come up with a better model that trys so hard to address so much. Compared to most of todays development, Civano is better in so many ways. In fact, New Urbanism packaged with Smartgrowth and Sustainability will soon thrive in the desert southwest.