As airport security personnel goes, those doing it at General Mitchell International Airport, Milwaukee were by far the friendliest I’ve ever experienced. Hurrah for that. I flew with Midwest Airlines, who, refreshingly, haven’t re-branded themselves with a capital “w” in their name. Sadly, though, their planes suck. Well, not the plane itself which did an adequate job of making sure its passengers didn’t die, but the seats. They are very, very skinny. I was in the middle seat of three, and when either I or my neighbours moved a thigh, the arm rests moved with them. But, my new-found calmness when journeying kicked in fairly quickly, I listened to Coldplay’s wonderful new album, and giggled as I tried to think of desciptions for the stewardesses. There’s something slightly melancholic about air stewardesses who are beyond the age of 40. Like pornography, it seems that being an air stewardess is a young lasses market. And these older ones, who tend to look like waxworks of Dusty Springfield at various points of her career, but with faces made of bronzed scrotum skin wrapped around a broken goat skull, seem, to me, like they are desperately hanging onto a job. It’s an unkind way to look at them, I know; and I realise that women are put through way more crap for their appearance than men, but, rest assured, I did think the same when I saw a couple of older blokes doing the job on Copa Airlines amongst the young boys stewarding on the flights, looking for all the world like they’re fresh out of a Pet Shop Boys video.
Denver International Airport is confusing as fuck. They seem to have forgotten to put exit signs up. And there’s very little to help you decide if you’re going towards a departure gate or the place where you can a cab. And it’s a long way from town, too. Sixty dollars worth of cab ride away. Bugger that for a game of soldiers; I got on one of the shuttle minibuses and paid twenty. On the bus, I was chatting with Chad Businessman from Detroit, who tried to convert me to being a Detroit Tigers fan, and a woman from Los Angeles who looked like Liza Minelli’s drunk sister in a Dustin Diamond wig who’s neighbour’s son is Toronto Blue Jays catcher, Gregg Zaun. She was proud of this.
The hotel I stayed in was one of those that looks very American to a European person: a car park with a row of rooms all around the edge. Countless movies have featured this type of hotel, so I paid homage to them by looking both ways suspiciously before putting the key in the door. Aaaah, a smoking room without an ashtray. Perfecto. But, it mattered not, cos that’s what the loo is for, right?
Anyway, I was in, quick shower, and out again, heading to the Lower Downtown area in a cab. I had an excellent driver. He was an old fellow who’s grandfather was from Cornwall and came over to Colorado to work in the mines for better money than he was getting in England. Sounded like a grim job, mind: up before dawn, twelve hours down a mine, home after dusk. Six and a half days a week.
At a bar near Coors Field, the Colorado Rockies’ stadium, I met up with Amy. Yet another fine example of the nice people who I’ve got to know through doing a website. I’m lucky. We and her friends Elisa, Dom, Joe and Michaela were going to the game. Colorado Rockies vs. Cleveland Indians. While we were approaching the stadium, a bunch of black helicopters flew over. All of them going to the downtown area and hovering there. Apparently the Department of Defence were doing some military training exercises. And if the newspaper that’s next to me right now on this table in the cafe is correct, they’d not bothered to tell Denver citizens it was happening. Thus, lots of cameras and camera phones were pointing at the sky wondering what the heck was happening.
The Rockies are the first team that I’ve seen playing at home and away. Last Friday, I went against my plan to nominally support the home team at all the stadiums I’d be visiting by rooting for the Rockies against the White Sox. So I was happy to be supporting them properly on home turf. There’s something quite appealling about the Rockies. It’s kind of the opposite of what makes me like the Yankees. There’s no tradition, and their choice of colours (black, purple, and silver), logo, and uniforms are all ugly. But I can’t help liking them.
And, yet again, I was lucky enough to see something special in that game: an inside-the-park home run. The Rockies creamed the Indians. Hurrah. But more than that, this game was one of hanging out with new friends. I had a lot of fun just drinking and chatting with five people I’d not met until an hour before. After the Rockies had won 10-2, we went and had some more booze, then to a Mexican fast food place called Chubby’s. Their chili cheese fries were magnificent. Not that my rear-end thought so the next morning.
I had a hangover, and overslept. I’d wanted to visit Red Rocks, but by the time I’d woken up and got into town, I’d missed a tour bus by a few minutes. Dang. Red Rocks is only about 12 miles away, but there’s no public transport that goes anywhere near it. A cab would cost over $50 each way, and I’ve already spent way too much money coming to Denver. So instead I visited the Denver Art Museum. Pretty good it is too. It’s in some fancy modern schmodern building, and has a nice little collection. Lots of good cowboys and Indians-type paintings.
I spent some time mooching around in Denver’s thin air and hot heat, looking at the old buildings. For example:
Soon enough, I was back at Coors Field for another game. This time I bought their cheapest bleachers ticket. Just four dollars. Plus, the stadium is set up so you can walk around, drink a beer, stand and watch the game from the main concourse that goes all around the field, so one gets one’s four dollars worth. There’s even user-friendly smoking areas that are numerous and close to most seating areas. In the bleachers, you can even – shock! – see the game going on while you smoke. I wanted to sit up in the top tier of the main stand, cos there’s one row of blue seats amongst the regular dark green seats. That blue row is exactly one mile above sea level.
The ushers at the stadium were main
ly senior citizens. I wanted to get up there, but had the wrong kind of ticket, so I connivingly checked for an entry point where there was a woman, and turned on my Prince William-est of accents and before she could ask to see my ticket, exclaimed that the view was amazing (it was), that the stadium was great (it was), that Denver seems lovely (it does), and, oh, you’ve got the same name as my mother (she does). By the time I’d charmed her, she didn’t bother checking my ticket and even offered to take photos of me looking goofy on one of the blue seats. Another enjoyable game, another Rockies victory over the Indians (4-2).
I walked back to the hotel. The road is a six-lane affair that runs from the north-west into the city centre. There’s a pavement, there’s even a pedestrian crossing. But the pedestrian crossing gives you exactly seven paces before it turns red again. That’s about one-and-a-half of the lanes. Anyway, the pavement is deserted. And, well, sometimes I’m a pussy, and deserted pavements after dark in a city I hardly know put the willies up me a bit. Then I heard a noise. A noise on my right. A noise ahead of me. And a noise behind me. It sounded like hundreds of tiny rodents had suddenly woke up. But it wasn’t, of course. The buried sprinklers that watered the grass verge had all kicked in at the same time, and it was the sound of water flowing and pffffftting through the pipes.
Back at the hotel, I convinced myself that I should go to Red Rocks. Fuck the expense, I should see it. I should’ve remember to set my alarm, though. By the time I’d got ready, I would only have had an hour and a half there, before having to head to the airport, which is where I’m going right now.