Thursday, July 20, 2006

Boulder: Revisited


OK, gotta be fair here.


That last post was down on Boulder. I guess it comes from all the bad weirdness (vs. the good weirdness Boulder is famous for) that I've seen over the years. Things like the crossroads mall sitting nearly empty for a decade while tax revenue drained out of town to Superior and Broomfield because the city council couldn’t make up it’s mind. The requirement that any new house (or addition) to a house in boulder has to have a study done to make sure the shadow of the house doesn't impinge on the neighbors property (like, their tomato garden, I kid you not). The amazingly homogeneous population (I once brought a girlfriend to Boulder who was Japanese, she said she'd never seen anything as lilywhite in her life).

But, like any place that you've spent alot of time in, and gone deep with, you tend to, over time, see the faults and forget the good. And Boulder has LOTS of good.

The natural beauty is breathtaking. Literally breathtaking. When I'm gone for long periods and come back, I can't get over how it looks like some artists rendition of a perfect town in a perfect setting. And by god, it is.

It's full of passionate people. Some are passionate about things most of the US would consider offbeat, some downright weird, but man, they care. Some school back east (Harvard maybe?) did a study that had the number of 'activists' (people who have position and aren't afraid to say so, and act on it) in Boulder was 'the highest per capita in the US'. How the heck they determined that I don't know (number of people arrested protesting Rocky Flats maybe?). It says one thing though: We care about what we care about. "The 60's" started in San Francisco, Berkeley and Boulder. I personally know some of the ‘activitists’ from the period (now upstanding business owners, lawyers and professionals in town – which is damned ironic) These guys took over the bulldozers the police tried to use to force them off the highway into Boulder in the late 60’s and set them on fire. Some of that spirit, deep in the heart of these now ‘establishment’ activists still lives on in Boulder.

For 5 years Boulder was one of the few cities in the US with it's own underground pirate radio station (most last for a couple of months, get a visit by the FCC and shut down, pansies). Only 2 other cities (Berkeley and Santa Cruz) had longer running pirate stations. Why's this matter? It shows people are paying attention to the media, didn't like what they saw, and did something about it. They become the media.

The range of people you can meet on the aforementioned Pearl Street Mall (an amazing place as well: a multi block walking mall packed to the gills as soon as the temperature gets about 60 degrees) is incredible. Street performers, college students, families, punks, homeless people, beautiful people, music venues, world class restaurants with just about any type of food you can imagine, 5 star hotels, scammers, millionaires, blues musicians hanging on the corner, you name it. There's about 100 blocks of culture from the average town packed into that little 6 or so block area.

Ride bikes? This is the place to live. In Boulder, you have as much right to the road (at least in theory) as the cars, and the city has one of the most extensive bike path systems in the country. It's actually a lot easier to get around town on a bike than in a car. It's certainly faster.

And the open space. It's (one) of the big reasons housing pricing are so high, but it's also why the town feels like, well, a town. Not a suburb. Large parcels of land around Boulder are owned by the city. Purchased over the years to create a greenbelt around the city. Come into Boulder on US36 and as you reach the crest of the hill that leads down into Boulder Valley, you can't help but think: wow... what an incredible place.

We can't leave out the University. It has it's problems (the athletic department could use some retooling) but parts of it are world class and with time, attention and care, it could become one of the best universities around. And, of course, if you like party schools, well, not so much anymore, but it's still got the rep.

I could go on. There's so much here it would be impossible to list it a single post, or even several.

I miss some of the weirdness of Boulder (Penny Lanes coffee shop, hangout for some of the most interesting characters in town, around for 20 plus years, recently was replaced by yet another bike shop) but hey.. the Tridents still there. One of the original coffee shops (I remember sitting in there while in College getting completely wired on Quad Americano's and studying with friends).

I guess I won’t move to Longmont after all. I guess, naaa.. I know.. I’m already home.

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