My first trip since COVID, Denver, Colorado, and … wow. Just wow.

Let’s get this out of the way: it is still dangerous to travel, and if you don’t have to, then don’t put yourself, and more importantly others at risk.

While everyone is hurting, and tourist destinations especially feeling the brunt of this lock down, it is a double edged sword to even mention tourism these days. Yes, the economy is important for people to survive, but so is their health. That said, what I found in Denver was inspiring; everyone very conscious of the world condition and doing their absolute best to minimize risk, while still being able to offer access to this amazing city. Open air electric tour busses, timed museum tickets, and tons of fantastic outdoor dining all offer some protection that allow tourism to happen safely.

Denver, the city with the least oxygen but the most love in the continental United States is definitely a magical place. I recently got to explore this and a few other Colorado gems, so lets get to the highlights.

First we descended upon the prim and polished Cherry Creek neighborhood which is full of shopping, fun eats, and our hotel, the Moxy.
This hip little Marriott owned boutique play-and-stay is a faithful rendition of your favorite hipster hotel right down to the reproduction vintage phot booth in the lobby.

One thing that you’ll notice (but not remember) is that the check in desk is actually the bar, a feature that I suggest be standardized in all hotels, and DMV locations. You immediately get that Denver is a beer town as the hotel is attached to a beer garden, you get beers in the elevator, and even beers waiting in the room for you. The rooms are cool and modern, with great views and great loo’s. There is a definite nod to being funky fun,
from the bath product, to the verbiage and even the funky windows. It’s a functionally smart hotel that makes maximum use of it’s minimal footprint with a surprisingly ingenious array of furnishing trickery.

Overall we were super comfortable in our new lil’ home but it was time to explore this cool city, so we headed to the famed Union Station in the heart of downtown Denver. Truly a charming and stylish building inside it’s art deco / beaux arts beauty will impress you making it a great place to chill out or check out the fun and funky art. One fun fact is that there used to be a great big arch at the entrance that said Mizpah, or welcome in Hebrew, and while the arch is no longer with us, Union Station now has Snooze, a must brunch place for anyone visiting Denver.

In this colorful-retro-casual brunch hot-spot you will find long waits for one of their coveted outdoor tables, and for good reason. The breakfast here is an event from their decadent flavor bomb pancakes to their elaborate savory eggs benny which require, for health reasons, one of their loaded Bloody Mary’s to make it all go down right.

Completely stuffed, we decided to be carted around in style while not leaving even one carbon footprint. Introducing ETUK Denver’s premiere fully environmentally friendly tour company sponsored by Bud Light Selzer which is White Claw for people with day jobs. These Denver made, fully electric Tuks come with heated seats and fantastic views of the city. In no time we were whipping around downtown taking in all the sites as our guide pointed out some of the finer features Denver had to offer, like the Cherry Creek pedestrian bridge perfect for morning runs, the decadent Cruise Room located in the Oxford Hotel, the lovely Larimar pedestrian mall and the opulent Performing Arts Center, which proudly showcases two giant Botero sculptures (which are miniscule compared to Denver’s giant blue peeping tom bear who’s origin story is so long winded and wildly convoluted I wont bore you with it but look it up).

Then across the street from a legendary house of ill repute, we got to adventure into the Brown palace. Despite a very unfortunate name, the Brown Palace is a very cool place to take in, with a simply cavernous atrium that will leave you spellbound. Denver’s old world origin charm drips from the walls to the floors here as you can see in every aspect of the lobby’s attention to architectural detail meant to impress even the most snobby of Easterners. Here’s a pro tip: head up to the top floor to get an entirely different view of the Brown Palace and test to see if your brunch at Snooze is still in your stomach. Perhaps the most interesting facet of the palace is its water fountain, where you can drink, get this, actual Denver artesian water from the original 1892 well dug 750 feet below the hotel. That’s something.

Leaving the old-school charm of downtown Denver we popped over to the River North or hip RiNo district famed for it’s abundant world class street art and super hobo-chic restaurants and cafe’s. A trip to RiNo isn’t complete I’m told without hitting up the Denver Central Market which is located in a beautiful reclaimed warehouse. Chuck full of anything you could possibly want to eat or drink, this is a great place to explore and even throw back a few before picking something up for dinner. Don’t forget dessert either. I mean look at these things! Do you eat them or wear them?

From RiNo We headed cross the Platte River to the hip Highland district, which has some very photogenic spots, like Happy Camper,
which is like an Instagram post that serves food. With its giant disco ball, garden nooks, and dripping bokeh it’s hard not to get a bunch of likes. There is also little man ice cream, which besides mixing up the craziest flavors, is housed in the largest milk pail I’ve ever seen. Photo ops aside we were here for lunch and to check out Avanti which is a collective eatery.

What’s a collective eatery you ask?

Well its like you die and go to comfort food heaven. This place is a foodies paradise, with amazing dishes from around the world to make it super easy to forget about your diet. Add in a killer space with lots of seating both indoor and out to nosh on you new favorite nibbles and you got it made. South American arepas, Kimchi scallion pancakes and Southern spicy fried chicken all washed down with local amazing beer will definitely satisfy.

Full on good eats, we decided to take in some culture at Denver’s world class art museum. This institution boasts some of the most outrageous exhibitions, this one was called simply Light which allowed for some
amazing artist interpretations of what light means to them. From Keith herring triptychs to skull riding cryptic this was a visual wonderland that gave good cause for Colorado’s stance on legal mamajuana. Minds properly blown it was time to take a quick trip out of the city to visit the infamous Red Rocks Amphitheater, which is by far the most
beautiful naturally occurring theater I’ve ever seen in my life. When not rocking out, locals use this breathtaking location as a giant gym. Try
that at Madison Square Garden.

It is a truly stunning place that will simply take your breath away, so unique and majestic, and when you consider its just a 20 minutes drive from downtown, it’s a no brainer to fit it into your itinerary.

As the sun set on the queen city of the plains, we submerged ourselves once more into downtown for dinner. Sure you could keep it low key and hit up Duffy’s Cherry Cricket who’s no frills charm is overturned by their delicious burgers and boozy milkshakes but we decided to class it up a bit and check out Rioja on Larimer. This class act of fine dining is one of the best restaurants to experience Denver’s cultured cuisine.

From delicate amuse bouche, to savory pork belly appetizers, and perfectly grilled Colorado rack of lamb to decadent deserts this my friends is the perfect way to end a perfect trip to the great city of Denver Colorado. Onward onto Telluride, possibly the best place to visit during COVID!


sorry ma… i got a new tattoo

My sweet mother still thinks the “VERITAS” that I got inked on my arm back in 199…. will one day wash off with enough soap. I mean, sure, with enough soap anything will wash off, but we all know it’s probably not going to happen.

So while in Denver my old friend Tom Taddeo and I both got new Tattoos. We see each other once a year, having once lived together for many years and being super close, best of friends, we take the time to see each other once a year and visit someplace new. This is super important for me, and in a life that zooms by faster than I can register sometime, I feel like it grounds me, forces me to check in with myself, and to take the time to really appreciate what matters in life, mainly, taking the time to appreciate what really matters in life.

Some people go to the mountain, some do yoga retreats, some people visit the holy pace. We go to random cities to eat steaks and drink beer. And yeah, get a tattoo I suppose.

I love tattoos, and tattoo culture. All sides of it. I love people who get the dolphins on the foot and the tribal band around their meaty arms. I love the sailor jerry hipster phenomena, and I love blind tattoos done by the brave/mindless. Do not be fooled; like other forms of writing, it is used for communication, and while a hand written letter might be “prettier” to some then a typed email, both serve the same purpose. In the end, it’s origin, author, and recipient all create a tattoo’s final meaning. This is why I think tattoos are wonderful.

I have a few tattoos on my body. Those that have “serious” work done will look at mine and probably pass judgement. They are not done by anyone notable, or in a historic style of any sort. Others will look at them and not really understand, since they aren’t familiar, nor can I say that anyone else has them on their body. To me a tattoo needs to have two things; a personal reason and a unique design.

So I was happy when Tom and I both wanted a similar tattoo. We’re old friends, have seen our share of fortune and folly, and the idea of another person sharing an indelible history with another was quite special. We drew our ideas on scratch papers and went to a little independent shop in Denver to have the artist help with the interpretation.

tattoo panorama

It couldn’t be more perfect. Tattoos, at least for me, are not body art. They are more like tags that you would find on a garment or fine suit; they tell you information about the article, who made it, where it comes from, what it is made from, and how to care for it. That’s what makes tattoos special for me, and that’s how I choose them. They are the sort of thing that should be always true, no matter where, when, or how you find them.



denver. how to buy pot in three easy steps.

So, Denver. You go away for the summer and come back a cool kid? Looks like someone discovered American Eagle and leather wrist bands. Good for you.

On our last post in a series about Denver, we take a good, hard look at pot. Marijuana. Mary Jane. Buds. Chronic. The Cheech to my Chong. I went to Denver to find out really what the deal was with dealing, how the processed worked, and if it was, at all, interesting. It was, but perhaps not for the reasons you might think.

Without further adieu, how to buy pot in Denver in three easy steps.

Step 1) Find a pot dispensary.

This may seem like an obvious step, but trust me, it isn’t. I thought there would be shops that sold weed that you would walk in and buy said weed. Not exactly. It’s not like “hey, I need a new pair of sunglasses, let me go into this sunglass shop and buy a pair of said sunglasses”… apparently it depends on what kind of eyes you have. (long way to go for a visual metaphor, but I’m the kinda guy that’s willing to do it).

First thing to do is go to your trusty ol’ smartphone and download an app for finding weed (read that sentence again, then think back 10 years and realize that half the words in said sentence wouldn’t even make sense … dear God the future is bright). I chose Weedmaps because I trust reviews. It’s a great little app, and it does the job. For your consideration:

You can see that Denver has a few more dispensaries then NYC to buy weed (my guy delivers though, so, sorry Denver, suck it.)

Now you’re saying “Rob. You just said that it wasn’t that easy to find places to buy weed. It looks like it’s easier to get some El Chronico then it is to get a Starbucks Espresso.” Well, yes and no. What I didn’t realize is that there are different types of dispensaries; some are medical, some are recreational. These, for instance, are not places I cannot buy pot:

2) Get freaked out.

Number two is a fun one. Not everyone has to do it, but you’re going to want to. Once you actually find a pot dispensary you can legally purchase the goods at, it is important that you get a bit freaked out. The process is in no way what I would call refined or even enjoyable. I expected something more along the lines of my Brooklyn cheese monger, who goes over the particular characteristics of each variety, where it is from, and what wine is best paired with it.

None of that here.

Entrance into the shop is nothing less than what you should expect from an underground rebel base in Eastern Europe. You have to hold up your ID outside a generic, steel reinforced door, into a tiny camera with a key pad. You then state your name. You then wait for the longest 5 seconds of your life, and be greeted by the grating rattle of a buzz as the door is electronically unlocked. Inside the shop everything is super clinical. White on white on white. Super organized, devoid of any character or personality. It kinda looks like Phillipe Starck opened a head shop, sans oversized flowerpots. What really got me was the staff; they don’t want you in there, or at least, it seemed like that to me. Although it’s “legal” they have a hurried air about them that makes it feel like you are doing something totally shady. Mind you, this is before we got high, so paranoid we were not. This was real.

Now, there are dozens of products here. Dozens of strains. Dozen of edibles. Asking questions about them went something like this:

me: “Hey. could you tell me a bit about the different varieties you have here?”
them: “do you understand the difference between sativa and indica?”
me: “sort of…”
them: “well this side is indica, and this side is sativa.”

Great. Thanks.

In the end we chose one gram of indica named Peaches and Cream, and a gram of sativa named White Truffle Hush, plus some cherry drop edibles. We paid cash, as this is a cash only industry. Here is something very interesting about legally buying pot in Denver; you see it’s totally illegal.  The federal government still considers it a drug, so things like credit card companies and banks cannot lawfully take money in from the businesses. Therefor everything is done with cash; you buy goods in cash, they pay their employees in cash, they take bags and bags of cash from the store to the banks. I guess that’s why they are so fucking up tight. It reminded me of that scene in Lock Stock if Lock Stock and THX 1138 had a film baby (Ill let you all draw your own comparisons between those films. THX George? Did you know something we didn’t. No, of course not. Go fuck up another Star Wars will ya).

All in all the total was 70 bucks, which isn’t bad, but for once NYC wasn’t the most expensive place on the planet. One of the reasons is because of the tax, a whopping 28% that garnished about 2 million just in the first month for the state. Amazing that while federally the sale of marijuana is not legal, it is legal to tax it. Taxation like that would surely lead to tea party riots, save the fact that tea is caffeinated, and pot heads couldn’t rally if they were giving away free churros.

3) Find a place to smoke it like you still live with your parents. 

So you’ve found a place to buy it, you’ve legally purchased your buds, and now you want to smoke it. Good luck! Denver, as far as I can tell, is a super clean, conservative city. You hardly see people smoking cigarets let alone lighting up a J on the street. We didn’t find any cafe’s like they do in Amsterdam, and I smell someone smoking weed on the street way more often in NYC then I did in legalized Denver. So, where to do it?


Yup. Like we never left college.

The thing about the whole process, besides having to find the right place, and the clinical/cold method to purchase, is that there really is no reason to smoke once you have it. That may sound weird, but I’ve been to so many other places in the world where smoking weed enhances your experience; the butterfly sanctuary in Santa Barbara. The Vondelpark in Amsterdam. The Natural History Museum in New York. For me at least, there is a recipe for life, and certain ingredients can be added to make a perfect meal. Denver, as a city, didn’t need pot. It had clean public spaces, fantastic breweries, and lot’s of great restaurants. While you can make the argument that pot could enhance all of these places, it’s kind of like adding Sriracha to any meal. You can do it… but… should you? Some things just go better together, and Denver with pot seemed like Yoga and Bowling. Sure they’re both fun, I just don’t see why you would do them together.

did we ever leave college?

So off in our room we smoked our weed and got high. The weed was good and did the job, and riding around on bikes all day was a pleasant experience. I personally really liked the edibles, because you’d have one in the morning and all day you just floated through the city. I guess what I missed was stimulus. Pot, for me, always makes me hyper aware; my mind works faster (at least, different…), I run down streets of thought versus stroll down them. Denver is a pretty laid back town, spread out, with a pretty common pallet of culture and color. Maybe I’m used to NYC, but it wasn’t frenetic enough to energize me, nor was it laid back enough to sooth me. Pot just seemed out-of-place here, and while it was legal, I don’t think one person spoke about it, smoked about it, or even bothered about it.

I asked one kid at the bar what the deal was with legalizing pot; if they noticed any change in the city, or the people. She said, “you know, it seems like its been legal for a decade, because you could get medical marijuana for so long. Making it legal “recreationally” just was another day in Denver”. I guess that’s what I didn’t expect. In another city, the possibility to capitalize on a new market would be evident; new restaurants that were pot-centric, special pot-head movie nights, and of course, pot mini-golf. From the outside Denver looked like any other quiet city in the world, who’s mini-golf had 9 holes just like it did in the Bible. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but if you’re looking for something different, the only thing that is really different about Denver these days is how much it was like yesterday.


P.S. Upon leaving we threw out our pot, most of it unconsumed, and we felt horrible about it. We wondered how much pot goes wasted for travelers who cannot bring their goods home with them. Our cabbie (who was ethiopian, and apparently, so are most of the cabbies in Denver, which I found super interesting) told us that we should have brought the pot with us back to New York, because, if they do find it they just take it away, no harm no foul. Of course this is not a recommendation under any circumstances, nor do I know if that is even remotely true, but he said that it happens all the time. He also said that most people give it to him before they leave, to the point that he is planning to open up his own shop outside the airport for people that are laid-over or snowed in. Now that is the American Dream if I’ve ever seen it and I wish Abdel-Alim the best of luck.

denver. sleeping with history.

Continuing the series on Denver, we move on to sleeping accommodations, a very important chapter in a stay. It is important to mention that hotels at one point in history were originally places you paid people to not kill or rob you when you sleep. Pretty simple. Sometime not too long ago a guy named Phillipe Starck came along and put glass walls in the bathroom and the boutique hotel was created, where you now paid people to let you into overpriced bars and drink very small bottles of liquor. Oh how things have changed. So it was super refreshing to stay at the Oxford Hotel in LoDo Denver. The Oxford is a beautiful timewarp back to a season where elegance and service were fresh and ready for the picking. While the Oxford is the oldest hotel in Denver, it certainly doesn’t look like it; modern amenities, deluxe bathrooms, and even a free hotel car await you at this refurbished relic. oxford hotel lobby Built in 1891, the hotel was a “city within a city” having a Western Union, Barbershop, Bar, Restaurant, Stable, and even a movie theater. Much of that can be seen in the layout of the building and it is amazing to wander the wide halls, or take in a cold drink at their original bar. The Oxford is sort of a living museum that you can sleep in; the art on the walls are all notable pieces, and many a famous guest, from the Dali Lama to Kid Rock have graced her with their presence. (would have loved to been in that elevator ride… oh the conversation.) One of the things I loved about the hotel was the old-timey key system; I felt like I was in a Wes Anderson film. oxford hotel denver keys Another thing I particularly enjoyed was the “day of the week” floor-mats in the elevator. I had to ask the desk about these because my travel partner and I got in a heated debate about exactly when do they change the mats. The desk was quite serious about it saying that one man alone has been changing the mats for the last 40 years. Every night right at midnight he brings both lifts down and locks them, and changes them out. No one knows where the mats came from or when the tradition started, but in a city where pot is now very legal, lemme tell you, it’s not a bad idea to be reminded what day it is. You will see that I forgot to take a picture one day. Case in point.

Finally, a hotel is nothing without rooms, and these were fantastic. Thick, comfortable beds. Modern amenities and wifi. Bathrooms that made you want to film a scene from The Untouchables. De-Lux!

It was a fine home, and a great base of operations for conquering the great city of Denver. Rs

denver. eat it.

Continuing on our series about Denver (sounds so very 60 Minutes right?) we come to a very important segment (for an Italian)… foods. When someone says Denver, the first thing I think of is John Denver. The second thing I think of is John Denver eating a Denver omelet. The third thing I think of is him ordering it saying “Bring me my omelet!” and the waitress rolling her eyes, and Cookie, the fry cook saying “is that Denver acting a fool again?” and them having a good laugh, perhaps wading in each other’s eyes a bit too long, and in that precious moment living a life of love together unreclaimed, only to go back to the steam and grease that binds them to this unfair world. But the food in Denver is actually really good.

The first night we hit up Williams and Graham, a dope little speakeasy with a simple, delicious menu and a vast libation selection. Just like we like it. When you arrive, you are greeted by a dandy pair, that pushes a faux bookcase aside to walk into the back room. Kitch and fun, this place is designed within an inch of it’s life, but done perfectly so you feel like you are having an experience, rather than experiencing something at Disneyland. Our barkeep was a fine gent, who used ice that was seemingly mined by an Eskimo Michelangelo, hand-picked and polished. Usually I tend to like my drinks liquid and in a glass, but do appreciate the care taken here. What’s more I had the Pork Chop, and when done right, juicy and full of flavor, it is a magical thing. We were certainly off to a good start, so good in fact, we didn’t take any pictures. Those ice cubes went right to our heads. I did take one shot, in the bathroom, which was of the wall of comments; basically a very lo-fi version of Yelp which I adored.

williams and graham yelp

W&G is up in the Highland section of Denver, which is, as far as I can discern, the Williamsburg of Denver. Yes, as a New Yorker I have the right, and the duty, to compare every city to my own as a point of reference. What I guess that means is that you will find chic, hipsteresque places and well-funded artistic types in your ranks when traveling these streets. We did. On our way back we got a fine view of downtown as Highland lives up to its topological name, and stumbled into a swank rooftop bar named Linger which, again, looked like we were in a Edward Hopper painting…


The next morning, feeding a well deserved hangover, we went to Snooze, which is a bit of an institution in Denver. It’s the kinda place that bellmen hate to recommend, and you know you’re there a block before you’ve arrived as there is a healthy line for pancakes. I will say this – it’s worth whatever wait you may have to endure. Having lived in both LA and NY I can say with certainty that I have a PhD in Brunch, and this brunch would have been a Breakfast Rhodes Scholar. May I offer exhibit A to the jury: their pancake menu.

Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes Buttermilk pancakes with caramelized pineapple chunks, housemade vanilla crème anglaise and cinnamon butter

Sweet Potato Pancakes Our signature sweet potato buttermilk pancakes topped with homemade caramel, pecans and ginger butter.

BanaNutella Pancakes Our Buttermilk pancakes filled with a molten, Nutella center and topped with caramelized banana cream and candied hazelnuts.

Literally cakes made in a pan. and you can get all three. On one plate. All three in your mouth if you want. Yes. Have your pancake and eat it too. They have an entire section entitled “The Art of the Hollandaise”. Finally, someone gets it. I had the Havana Benny which is shaved ranch ham and slow roasted pork served over a savory Swiss cheese bread pudding, topped with poached eggs, Dijon hollandaise and diced house pickles.  After I finished slowly rubbing my face in it (as I was making out with my brunch), I ate it, and was in heaven.


That evening, looking for something a little more posh to see how eclectic Denver dining went, we checked out Beatrice and Woodsley (what is with the double names Denver? Everything sounds like a hipster folk band. Mumford and Sons much Denver?). We went down to the Washington Park area of town which harbors lots of cool vintage shops, bars, and tattoo parlors, which made me feel like we were in the right place, although, we couldn’t find it to save our lives. We walked up and down the block, three times, once through an alley, and nothing. Finally, we realized the place we passed 4 times was it; a yellow windowed restaurant that we didn’t even notice. Inside, past the Hunter S. Thompson window treatment, is a wood and linen dining experience that would be more akin to South Beach then Denver, save the amazing chainsaws stuck in the wall.

The service was impeccable and the food fit the service. Pimento Cheesecake (have you ever?) and Crawfish Bignets (have you ever?) were followed by Butcher’s Steak and fresh Chicken Pasta. A fine meal, and great wine to boot.

After this delightful dining experience we cruised down the street hitting up all the bars and finally ending at a place called the Punch Bowl. What to say about the Punch Bowl…. hmm… its like a 20-year-old with unlimited funds built a place to hang out with his closest 500 friends. And yeah, there is a doorman, at a bowling alley. Gigantic, full of games, bowling, darts, archery, video games, hidden bathrooms, several bars, and Jägermeister comes out of the walls. It’s a mecca to making poor choices. And no, there are no pictures from this portion of the evening.

The next morning (afternoon?) we needed some greasy spoon surgery, so we headed over to Sam’s No. 3 which is like a Denny’s on steroids. Not sure what happened to Sam’s No. 1 and 2 but I have a feeling Sam’s  No. 3 beat the shit out of them, stole their woman, and their car, and came to Denver. This place was epic, the wait was a bit long for a greasy spoon, but the pot edibles were kicking in so all was good. Besides, they had crayons. Score.

Sam's No. 3

When we got to the table we ordered the thing in the middle of the menu with a big starburst around it. After years of professional drinking I have learned that whatever is in that starburst is the answer to all our problems. It was basically a wave of fried, fatty foods meant to numb and comatose your problems, and yes, they did. Of course the Bloody Mary had a full plate of food in it as well. Seriously in heaven.

One of the highlights of the morning was when I told Tom, who had all the pot we bought earlier in his pocket, that there were two big cops right behind him. Brilliant. In my head it went something like this:


To go out with a bang for our last supper, we decided to find a fantastic steakhouse and just be men about it. We settled on the Chophouse, which could not have been any better. Of course, like any other business in Denver, the Chophouse brews their own beer, which was delicious and cold, and helped sooth the amazing cuts of meats down our gullets. One of the highlights was the onion rings, which required scaffolding to serve to the table. Like any fine steakhouse the service was amazing, and it made it a perfect last meal in the mile high city.

With bellies full, and hearts open, we left that night 12 pounds heavier but with a spring in our step. Denver, our stomachs thank you.

denver. the city that doesn’t nap.

So, hey Denver. I had no idea what you were going to be like. I imagined you crossed with dusty trails, tread by cowboy boots, and every one of your townsfolk stoned out of their mind.

Shit was I wrong. (Like I was wrong bout Amsterdam. Sorry Amsterdam.)

Denver is a modern, clean, and quiet city. Super quiet. Everyone is polite. Everyone nicely dressed. The streets are wide and mostly empty. The architecture is a fabulous mix between modern innovation and manicured heritage. They have an entire shopping district where no cars are allowed to drive. There is just a free tram to bring you up and down the street. Free. Then there are the bikes. You can pick them up, drive along a river, cross town, and drop them off. It’s like someone made a model city, got a bunch of Canadians, and put them in said city to live. And yeah, legalized pot. Not so bad.


There is just something overwhelmingly different. Familiar yet very foreign. It’s a city that’s not trying to be something, yet seems to hum with individualism. It also has some very unique facts:

•It is exactly one mile high, in fact, there is a plaque on one of the steps of the Capitol Building that is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level. That means that golf balls go 10% further, water boils at 202 degree and you get drunk faster. Win win win.

•In 1858 you would have met no one downtown. No one. Not a person lived here. Thirty years later Colorado was a huge state with 200k people in it. Thank you gold rush.

•Denver has the largest city park system in the nation. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Unless you have allergies, because they have more than 25 formal flower gardens.

•Denver has 7 professional sports teams. (please take the Mets, please)

•Finally, Denver brews more beer than anywhere else. Anywhere. And Coors, is the worlds largest.

Despite all these fabulous records, Denver was pretty… empty. Everywhere I went I thought I was in an Edward Hopper painting. And it wasn’t because I was high as a kite, I swear.

It’s an artistic town. It has the feeling of Santa Fe meets Portland. There are a ton of street murals and street platals (You see, murals are painting on walls, since it derives from the latin word “murum” and platals are painting on streets, since it’s from the latin “platea”. Suck it Merrium. And you too Webster.)

Denver also has more breweries than any other city in the world. They also seemed to have more pawn shops then any other city I’ve ever been to. Coincidence?

One place we checked out was super interesting. It was a repurposed warehouse called “The Source” that they gutted, retrofitted with cool industrial material, and put a bunch of chic restaurants, bars, pop up shops, and of course, a brewery (Crooked Stave) who makes Kombucha Beer (have you ever?). Very smart city planning, and done in a unique way.

I was really taken back by you Denver. You were beautiful to ride around town on red bikes with baskets, eating good food in nearly every part of the city, and throwing back cool, delicious beer nearly on every street corner. I saw more people with tattoos then I ever have before (and I’ve been to a Rancid concert) and everyone we talked to had the calm, polite midwestern demeanor you hate to love. Denver, you stole my heart, and goddamn to you have the coolest train station.

denver. city of suds.

So, apparently, Denverinos (surely not what they call themselves) like beer. A lot. A whole fucking lot. 

This is good because I like beer too. I like beer so much, I actually invented a TV show. That’s right, invented. It’s called the Brewhaha and I’m still waiting for a call from Esquire apologizing for Brew Dogs. I’ll wait.

Right, beer. Denver. Back on track.

I like to think being from New York Fucking City that we have the best of everything. Beer culture in NYC is amazing no doubt, with Pony Bar, Alewife, and my fave, Jimmy’s No. 43 bringing it’s A game, but I never, ever, have seen something so amazing as the beer culture in Denver. Let’s put it this way; if beer was venereal disease, then Denver would be a 18th century cheap French prostitute named Rose-Marie. It’s got it all.

There for 3 days, I was on a mission to see some of Denver’s suds stars and sample some of the more unique nectar they produce, with my compatriot, Tom Taddeo, who is no fool in the subject of beer. Tom is owner of VBGB’s, Charlotte’s premiere craft beer house, and suffers no sappy suds lightly. It was like going to the movies with Roger Ebert, rather, like being at the Tribeca Film Festival with Roger Ebert. Shit was about to get critical.

In all we visited about 15 breweries. Let that sit in. 15. And that’s casually just walking round town. Everywhere we went, there was a brewery. Of course you hit the “famous” ones; Epic, Breckenridge, Great Divide. Then you just start running into them, tucked into corners, in residential areas, even in the back of bookshops. Everyone, everywhere, seemed to make beer. Even the DMV (although you had to wait in line for an hour for a pint).

While each had its own flavor (especially the Death Metal breweries we went to. Yes, that is plural, as in there was more than one Death Metal brewery), but one above all was my favorite by far … I give you…


Tucked away outside the pristine stuffiness of LODO (lower downtown Denver… stop trying to be NYC will’ya?) you will find this mecca of brew. Epic is vast, shiny, and new. The staff there are super cool, happy to chat, and what’s more, happy to leave you alone to sip your suds. It’s a quick ride from downtown on one of those little red city bikes, and there are some cool places to eat around the area, making it a win-win. Here are a few one phrase reviews of the selection we had:

Double Skull Double Boch (8.5%) • Butterscotch wool sweater with shorts, fireside. Fucking Rad.
Blackberry Saison (6.7%) • A sour citrus funky mistress.
Brainless Belgian (9.2%) • Um… sorry dont remember.
Brainless on Peaches Belgium (11.5%) • more like a Pilsner Noir.
Brainless Belgium IPA (6.6%) • A Creamy Capt’n Lawrence.
825 State Stout (5.6%) • Drinking fucking chocolate velvet.
Oaked Belgium (11%) • A luden’s lapdog by the fireside.
Coffee Baptist Imperial (10.5%) • Starbochs.

That’s not to say that there aren’t other great breweries in jolly ol’ Denver, but Epic was just the cremdelacrem receiving high marks all around. So you know who was in our little competition, lets run down the rest of the greats in Denver:


There wasn’t much of a divide between Epic and GD truth be told. Awesome beers like Collete and Hoss are hard to come by, and they are served up proper at the source. It’s also located in a funny part of town, surrounded by interesting little shops, dispensaries, and more pawn shops that I’ve ever seen in my life, so it’s a great way to spend a boozy afternoon.


Another cool brewery, except for that Bubba Gump corporate atmosphere it’s got going on. A little too polished and a little to clean, but the beer is damn good with some interesting concoctions like Patty’s Chili Beer, which was actually fantastically drinkable. Added points for the girl who looked topless across the bar while she watched the game on the TV.


Breck suffers the same fate of Wyncoop, but in spades. First, it’s more like a Cheesecake factory for beer inside this mega-brewsteraunt. Second, their website makes you answer if you are above 18 to enter (which I think is the equivalent to asking a murderer if he killed someone. Useless), and third, well, some of their beers really, truly suck. One note I have is “like accidentally pouring your stale morning coffee into your warm beer” and another is “most likely something that goes into the car”. That’s not to say that some beers weren’t good, they were, but it was definitely hit or miss here, kinda like waking up the morning after a rave meeting the person lying next to you in bed. Could go either way.


When you think beer you obviously think death metal, right? Of course… Danzig and doublebocks, Sepultura and saisons. Black Sky was one of TWO metal breweries we went to. The irony? All their beer was extremely light. I mean like O’Doul’s light. Still, points on the cross-over factor, and still waiting for a French Ya-Ya brewery. Investors call me when you’re ready.


Crooked stave is an interested lil brewery located way outside town, literally on the other side of the tracks, in a strange lil complex called “The Source“. It’s kinda like a pop-up destination; a modern strip mall, if strip malls were built by community conscious hipsters. What is different about Crooked Stave is pretty much everything. I’m sure it said “beer” somewhere, and the word “brewery” was outside, but this was not “beer” per se. What we had was an “infusion of brew” with … kombucha. Sit with that. Kombucha beer.

Let’s just say it was not for the faint of heart.

I tell you this… after 3 days we couldn’t touch another beer. Of course we did … our last night we went to the Chop House which was awesome, and yes, they too were a brewery. Like most places have ATMs inside, Denver seems to have breweries, and you know what? There is nothing wrong with that. Keep brewing the liquid gold my Denverinos… and we’ll keep drinking them.

Except you Breckenridge. You know what you’ve done.


dear cops. I bought pot.

That’s right fuzz. I bought pot. Lots of it. Pot you can smoke, and some you can even eat. And what’s more… I smoked it. In my face hole. Yup.

So whatchagonnadoboutit?

Nothing. That’s right. Mainly because it was legal, as I bought it in Denver, Colorado; the new pothead’s playground.


This is the first of a series of posts about the adventure I’ve had out mid-west. It was an eye-opening experience, and anything but sobering. I’m going to break it down into a few different chapters:

• The Beer
• The City
• The Food
• The Hotel
• and of course, The Pot.

First, a prelude.

Beyond just going to the mile high city to get stoned (yep, dodged the pun. You’re welcome) it was my yearly boycation with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Mr. Tom Taddeo. Tom and I lived with each other in a slick little Hell’s Kitchen apartment back when you could still smoke in the city. Since then we’ve been married, and some of us divorced, but  every year we set a long weekend aside to check in and check out a place we’ve never been. The choice to go to Denver went something like this:

Tom: “So where do you wanna go this year?”
Me: “Donno. Preferably somewhere with good food and beer. And pot.”
Tom: “So. Denver it is.”

And it was.


It’s important, perhaps more than anything, to make the time to take the time in life. The younger version of me would be proud that I do that now, cutting out a few precious days to reconnect with an old friend who’s seen you drink your share, make a decent amount of bad decisions, and has become a ring in the trunk of your existence.

So I crossed the great divide to meet up with ol’ Taddeo and watched the fabric of the country roll out its quilt 30,000 feet below me. 29,000 feet later I was on land, but frankly it could have been the moon.

Denver, I would find out soon enough, is a very strange place.