18 weird Denver things we learned in 2018
Not all of them involve bugs. There were also illegal lemonade sales, stickers and too-big inflatable rabbits.
All years are weird. There’s nothing especially weird about 2018. But it is the year we most recently experienced so in honor of it ending we’ll all talk about how weird it was.
What we specifically want to talk about are all the weird things we learned about Denver in 2018. There were illegal lemonade sales, ugly fish, odd geese, a bench desert and so much more.
If you follow Denverite closely, you may be wondering now, “Is this going to be the Kevin and Ashley Show?” Yes. Yes it is. The Kevin and Ashley show feat. Allan, Andy and Esteban. Grab your truffled parmesan popcorn.
The guy who sold all those “NATIVE” stickers is a transplant
Eric Glade, a transplant from Utah, is the man behind the stickers. And as Andy learned, they sent him on a wild ride.
“We had some great hot-tub parties, from what I can remember of them,” said Sandy Glade, Eric’s sister. “All of a sudden, we just had all this money. It was a good time back then.”
Eric was renting limousines and a house next to Willie Nelson’s, he claimed, and doing things that newly rich oil-and-sticker guys did in Denver.
“It was the ’80s,” he said. “I had money, I was having fun. I don’t have any of that money left. Easy come, easy go.”
There’s a robot that eats trash and rolls around Cherry Creek
As I said before, when the robots come for us, they will remember we made them eat trash.
Related: We will be remembered by our trash
I mean this figuratively as well as literally.
Kevin just means it literally.
I took an archaeologist to the dump last week.
Dr. Chip Colwell — he’s the senior curator of anthropology for the Denver Museum of Nature & Science — and I geeked out on garbage for two glorious hours on a tour of the Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site, known fondly to those who work there as “DADS.”
Colwell has a special lens on this stuff. An expert in Native American history, he’s spent a lot of time excavating ancient Pueblo artifacts. The priceless bits he’s collected, he says, are actually garbage.
“Archeology is the study of trash,” he said, “that which does not perish.”
So a trip to the dump is actually right up his alley. “Landfills are the archaeology of us,” he said. “It’s our future history.”
All that trash, bits of our lives that are stacked in mountains at places like DADS, are likely to be preserved long after we’re gone. The archaeologists of the future will be able to learn a lot about us.
It was illegal for kids to run lemonade stands without a permit
Someone in Stapleton called the police on some poor kids just trying to be kids in May. (Which, what? Who hurt you?)
In September, nearly five years after Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, Denver legalized the sale of lemonade by un-permitted children.
There are some weird geese waddling around City Park
I became obsessed with these storybook-lookin’ geese within weeks of first spotting one, and quickly convinced Dave to let Kevin and me go on a literal wild goose chase.
Some days later, I saw the Weird Goose again. It was in the same spot, standing around a grassy area between Ferril Lake and 17th Avenue. Two sightings was enough for me to become obsessed. What kind of goose is this? Where did it come from? Why is it hanging out with all these Canada geese? Are there others of its kind? Is it lonely? I hope it’s not lonely.
Meanwhile, 2,000 miles away in my homeland, New York has fallen in love with an objectively more attractive bird — a Mandarin duck that arrived mysteriously in Central Park in early October. It’s a Hot Duck, and I’m in love with it too.
So these are the circumstances that led me to text my editor: “Denver’s Hot Duck is a Weird Goose.”
On a warm late November morning, I was in City Park again, this time with our photographer, Kevin. The Weird Goose wasn’t where I’d seen it before, but after a half hour or so of traipsing through goose shit, eyes trained on flocks on and around the pond, movement to north caught my eye. There, waddling toward us, were two Weird Geese.
After a series of emails, phone calls and text messages — many of which involved an exchange of goose photos and descriptions, and some of which were increasingly urgent — it was determined that the Weird Geese are either greylag geese or greater white-fronted geese or (and this is my favored theory) greylag-swan goose hybrids.
And apparently, rabid skunks were waddling around too
As Allan reported in March, there were nine sightings of the rabid stink-cats in Bear Valley, Harvey Park, Athmar Park and Overland.
Denver has an ugly fish pageant and it’s called CARPSLAM
OK it’s just called Carpslam but I think it should be said/heard in a monster truck rally radio commercial voice.
Naturally, Kevin attended.
On Saturday, beneath cyclists zooming by on the Platte River Trail, 30 fishermen waded through the South Platte in search of an ugly prize: German carp. The big-lipped fish has a bad rap in this country. It’s a non-native species and river advocates say people tend to look down at it as a “trash fish.” But you wouldn’t know it by the way competitors were seeking them out during Denver Trout Unlimited’s 12th-annual Carpslam.
It was a celebration of Denver’s river ecosystems and a fundraiser to keep all local fish in good health despite dry spells and future development.
“This is like their Super Bowl,” said John Davenport, who sits on Denver Trout Unlimited’s board. “They’re very competitive.”
“Grandoozy” was a thing we were going to have to type and say now
It’s still how I imagine someone’s very Western grandpa describing a large music festival. And now we’re stuck with it.
It’s now easier than ever to eat locally grown bugs in the Denver area
This is at least the second time Kevin wrote about edible bugs.
While the team is still working on “Chirpy Jerky,” a Clif-bar-like product made of both chopped and powdered crickets, “Insectables,” packs of whole, flavored crickets and mealworms, have already hit the shelf at the Butterly Pavilion. They’ll be available at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on Nov. 1, and DMNS is also hosting a handful of events that feature bug grub in the coming weeks.
A man named Enver visited Denver
While he was here, Enver Siddiky took a lot of photos near big Denver signs in such a way that the letter D was blocked out. We were so delighted we made him our first and probably last Denver Tourist of the Week. (Anyone want to take a shot at the title in 2019 is of course welcome. But you’re gonna have to get pretty weird.)
The RiNo Art District didn’t have a single public bench
Seriously. Not one place to sit down and hang out without buying something.
In an effort to fix it, Allan reported, they built a pop-up park.
There’s a great art collection inside a downtown Denver office building
Kevin was in the Colorado building to photograph someone at their office when we stumbled upon the Dikeou Collection.
I could see some large sculptures through office windows, but I didn’t realize how much art was on the floor until I made it through door around the corner.
And then I was inside and loudly reacting to two giant, inflatable bunnies. This was all very unexpected, and it felt like I’d been ripped from reality.
Entranced, I wandered deeper into the series of connected, snaking office spaces full of art. After being briefly startled by a life-size sculpture of a man on the floor, I stumbled into an office where I met Hayley Richardson, the Dikeou Collection’s director.
Siblings Devon and Pany Dikeou established their private collection in 1998 and opened it to the public in 2003.
Capitol Hill has a lot of stone lions sitting around because Denver was trying to be fancy
A reader asked, so Kevin went around asking: Why are there so many lion statues in Cap Hill?
So, I contacted the Smithsonian Institute. They were kind enough to indulge me.
Sharon Park, associate director of architectural history and historic preservation for Smithsonian, said via email that lions are indeed symbols of strength and security, “ever since the Egyptians and through all the classical periods (Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Assyrians, etc.)…”
She continued: “They are a classical feature at gateways, monumental stairs, state houses, museums, bridges and in any number of landscape and park settings. They also found their way as faces on Victorian grillwork, plaster panels, bas reliefs and other art forms, particularly as outdoor features on entry gate posts and as statues in formal gardens, even coat of arms.”
Many of the mansions around Capitol Hill were designed in a Victorian style. They were built at a time when Denverites were trying to use European architectural flourishes to show the world that they were sophisticated, not just a dusty cow town.
He also bothered the owner of Lion’s Lair about it.
I like to imagine a timeline in which Denver is referred to as a lion town instead of a cow town.
There are very deadly mushrooms just hangin’ around out there
They’re not even supposed to be here. But an Aurora man and his son found one. Then they found another.
It’s the first time the Destroying Angel mushroom has turned up here, that we know of, and finder Lazarus Bell donated his specimen to the Denver Botanic Gardens. He also told me he plans to get the mushroom tattooed on his body.
There are elves, leprechauns and gnomes hidden throughout the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Apparently a lot of people already knew this, but we did not, so Kevin and I went looking for them.
I also spoke to Kent Pendleton, who painted the little dudes into the exhibit backgrounds.
“It was just kind of my own little private joke,” Pendleton said. “The first one was so small that hardly anyone could see it, but it sort of escalated over time, I guess. Some of the museum volunteers picked up on it and it developed a life of its own.”
Dung beetles have some stuff to teach us about Colorado’s past, present and future
Or as Kevin called them, “charismatic little potty-mouths.”
One of the world’s leading dung beetle experts, Dr. Frank-Thorsten Krell, calls Denver home.
He has a lot of beetles and Kevin learned a lot about them. For example: Denver’s dung “isn’t their style.”
The planter boxes that house the trees at Red Rocks Amphitheatre are kind of a big deal
I learned so, so many things about the boxes I’m often relegated to standing on during Red Rocks shows. Mainly: there’s a battle over the best way to preserve them and make them safe, and it dates back to 1999.
One man really can make a difference
Er- one man and his buddy and some T-shirts.
We followed Rob Toftness on his quest to save the chile they once made at Breck on Blake after the restaurant closed and reopened as Cherry Cricket Ballpark.
Spoiler: He won.
Correction: this story originally said Devon and Pany Dikeou are sisters. Pany is Devon’s brother.