Wednesday, January 28, 2004

being hugely lazy 

i'd be very grateful for the link if anyone comes across a praisie of the hutton enquiry...

oh and how can my crap telly tales compete with john lydon in the jungle? I had assumed that was all a terrible joke. I keep finding people talking about david icke whenever i channel hop. and outkast. and invitations to join the bloody low carb revolution. aaaaargh!


cultural difference #398 

Sometimes I think people are way too reverential about art and I love to hear people discussing what they see (the reader brings meaning to the text blah blah blah) I also think a lot of people are reticent to visit galleries and museums because of (understandable) class issues and fear of being stupid. Well, I'm common and stupid and I love tramping around such places and its great when people are moved by them and they don't have to be so goddam quiet. Its not a church. But why, in America, are such places always full of screeching and screaming and hollering and moaning that bares no relationship to the setting at all? and there is always, always a man of a certain age holding court to anyone who will listen (and he's loud, so thats everybody) saying what he likes but mostly what he doesn't like about whats on show.

see you after santa fe


sunday 25th - tuesday 27th 

The Garden of the Gods is yet another amazing site; awesome red rocks, atraditional Native American meeting place, now of course a park full of gawping tourists like me. Took so many pictures which of course I'll be delighted to share...

from the sublime to something else, we stopped at a ghost town place where they had reconstructed various wild west scenes, complete with decrepid and somewhat spooky waxworks. I love me a scary doll or 6... They also had some ace old arcade machines. I couldn't hear what the fortune teller told me but I could see the peep shows alright - lots of Victorian ladies in bloomers doing press-ups. Life without TV, eh? I was disturbed how much i enjoyed the shooting range: my score makes me annie oakley so y'all better me nice to me now.

The jouney home was hampered by a totally unexpected snowstorm, it took about 3 hours getting home (going it was 45 minutes) thats my excuse for staying in on monday. and i think that means i'm up to date now, yes? Oh, except yesterday afternoon. I went to the History museum to see the diaroamas, they were created during the depression as a job creation scheme for artists. Some of them are fantastic. They also have a creepy exhibit based on a trunk of stuff that a dead girls parents kept from the early 1900s and some huegly depressing accounts of miners strikers and Native American massacres. I felt sorry for the curator who cornered me on the way out to tell me i'd stayed a very long time (2 hours) I said it was because I like to read and really enjoyed the diaramas: she sighed and asked me to bring friends along. It occured to me then the place was practically empty, excpet for a very loud couple.


sat 24th 

back into the mountians, still there, still snow capped and beautiful and still can't think of adequate words. The air feels very crisp and fresh, its very disconcerting when you look down on denver and see the brown haze covering the city.

We stopped off at Lookout Hill to see Buffalo Bill's grave. the museum there is kind of cute, quite interesting and less jingoistic than i feared. In the absence of children i had to play on everything, of course. They have a life size fibre glass horse which I mounted oh so elegantly to try my hand at lassooing the accompanying model calf. Rather cleverly, and showing great imagination, I managed instead to attach myself to the light fittings and I'll be buggered I could not get the lassoe down. yeeee-hah.
the highlight of the visit for me was the special display of cowboy boots, including my favourite: nancy sinatras. and yes, they were made for walking (sorry.) although guven the heel on them I suspect she wasnt much help down on the ranch either.

afterwards we explored the mountains some more and drove through lots of beautiful places with cute or amusing names (including *the* south park) and found a great brewpub in frisco where i had my first proper drink of the visit (cue muted applause at my wholesomeness) Its just a shame all the buffalo were hiding from us. On the journey home i hurt my neck i spent so long transixed by stars before the light pollution of town kicked in



some interesting people i met, although i've not checked the site becuase (as i keep protesting lamely) i didnt come all this way to arse about on the interweb.

bbc america: www.boycottbushcheney.com

i have one of their t-shirts, its too long for me and it squashes my breasts so if anyone wants it, and thinks it might fit them (cos hey, you got a great idea of the size from that) email me and i'll forget to post it to you


variations on a theme 

the lady in the bus station said "manchester? that's where daphne from Frasier comes from, isnt it?" and last night in the supermarket a lady kept telling me all about her time in australia, becuase its practically england.


friday 23rd 

proving myself to be a hypocrite on oh so many levels today we went to the great western stockshow. I just felt I had to really.... It was full of cowboys and scary children and animals waiting to be sold and very many trade stands. It was fascinating, and oddly depressing too. I somehow aquired a stack of stickers imploring me to eat buff (no of course i havent) and I managed to scare people in the petting zoo. My love for goats has not been diminished; indeed the prospect of rescue goats living in 105 is one of the most compelling reasons I have for coming back.

anyhow, a kid comes up to me and says 'why do you have water in your ring? whats that shiny stuff?' I told him some gubbins about how its magic and it stops me feeling homesick when i'm a long way away (i'd just been through the classic 'where you from? do you know the queen? routine) and his mum says to him 'why don't you ask the lady where she's from, junior?' so the inevtiable occurs yet again and then he says 'and why do you have a cat with clothes on your shirt? he's playing guitar, why you got that?' so i say 'thats why i'm in america, i'm looking for singing cats, i heard you got them all over the place, do you know where I might find one? the goat told me theres some around here?' at this point mom starts walking backwards, away from me.

we saw some horse show shennanigans, tbh they were a little boring and one cow looks much the same to me, i wouldnt want to fight with any of them, and i'm sorry to say there was no muttonbusting action but i understand the kids where lots of protective clothing anyhow so its not as marvellous as i suspected. and i thought better of watching the rodeo; more than i can take. we went to eat salad instead (note to everyone who told me about it: yes, at sweet tomatoes. yes, its fanbloodytastic)



not sure why. prolly too much coffee but i'm in a bordering on meaningless panic kind of mood. Its also probably becuase I just bought a plane ticket to seattle, and I'm about to buy a ticket for south by south west. the latter costs more than anything i have ever bought ever. but at least i'll have stories to tell about how i got broke.

anyhow i'm going to go to a pretty park in a minute to watch geese and squirrels, yes, that'll be nice and calming. the squirrels here are red and pug faced and much cuter than the scrawny grey critters in our back garden. Tonight we're driving to Santa Fe (woooooh-hooooh! road trip!) becuase kellie has some time off work and I feel drawn to new mexico. But first i'll witter along here a bit, because its not like theres that much inanity in cyber space, is there?


Tuesday, January 27, 2004

what I've been listening to 

www.kcuvradio.com. They're good people too, I reckon.


In the news  

Some things I've found interesting:

Walmart have agreed to stop locking staff in stores overnight without access to a key...There's a debate about whether its right a teenager is in jail because her friend killed a policeman, and then himself, after they got caught speeding away from her ex-boyfriends house where they had broken in to get her belongings. She was handcuffed in the back of a police car at the time but has been convicted anyway because of 'cause and effect'...CU students have set up a website to report tutors who have a liberal bias... I hadn't realised the traditional English hunt - red coats, hounds and all - had been transplanted over here, exactly the same but with coyotes instead of foxes; there was an interview with the hunt leader with all the usual excuses...I have also discovered something called muttonbusting thanks to the Rocky Mountain News. Its like a rodeo, but with sheep. and children.


Thursday 22nd 

Its the 31st anniversary of Wade Vs Roe and so I went to pro-choice rally with some of Kellie's colleagues from Planned Parenthood. I met some very cool, and very cute, folk, but I was shocked and disturbed by the speakers. I didn't appreciate quite how bad things have got or just what the healthcare system here is like. I recommend seeing www.saveroe.com for more information.

Note to self: the NHS is something to be proud of, for all it's faults be thankful we've got it. Oh, and try to avoid tv cameras. Yes, I've been on the news here already. Oh joy.


Wednesday 21st 

Explored an area called North Cherry Creek, from what I'd been told I'd been expecting something like Oldham Street; it was much more upmarket and pristine. Lots of private galleries, ranging from the enchanting to the crap. Possibly the best, because its full of a wide range of local artists, is called the Show of Hands. Although some of it is a little shmaltzy for me I liked this guys stuff: www.storypeople.com (I've not checked the site tbh, but I wrote it on the back of my hand)

The artist whose work I enjoyed best today was Witold-K who has a show at the arte gallery; see www.witoldk.com. I was kind of embarrassed because it was only afterwards I realised I had been talking to him. As soon as I entered the gallery this very enthusiatic and warm man came rushing up, turning on lights for me, saying hello, then returned to a heated debate with a colleague. Then he turned to me and had an accent I found very hard to decipher and said "you paint, of course, you look like you do" Me: "er, yes, but I'm rubbish" "we are all of us rubbish when we paint. Its the doing it that matters, you have to do it"

After Lunch in an oirish pub (very strange method of pouring Guinness) I spend several happy hours in the tattered cover. I'm amused that all the tips about what to see and do in the states that I've been give by friends are all about food or record or book shops.... This is a truly great book shop. Wow. I read a pamphlet about the illuminati which scared me but then - oh joy- I found the country music pop up book. Remarkably, I left without buying anything

I had some bus kerfuffles; I got the bus I was told to home, double and treble checked it was the right one. It took over an hour, because noone thought to mention crossing the road and walking one block would save 40mins! Yesterday I got the wrong bus because I was stupid and forgot to check the number: I realised immediately and checked where I could change (the drivers here are much politer and more useful than I'm accustomed to) A very sweet old lady took it upon herself to escort me to the stop I needed, I didn't have the heart to tell her this was unneccessarry. This morning she was at the same bus stop as me: I knew we needed different buses but she didn't believe me and insisted we should ride together. Cue me, getting on the wrong bus. There's a moral there some where.


Tuesday 20th January 

Went to the library and then to Denver Art Museum. I was surprised how much I liked the Frederic Remington exhibition, but I spent most of my time on the fourth floor, which I was surprised was called American Indian Art. Some truly beautiful artifacts but it still feels so wrong to see cradles and tepees in a museum. I want to learn more about Native Americans whilst I'm here, its been pretty interesting already to see the way they have been appropriated by the tourist industry and also the way their history is dealt with at places like Lookout Hill: reverential with a tinge of guilt.

I've been reading a really interesting book called Kabina: Commodified and Appropriated Images of Hopi Supernaturals (Pearlstone et al, UCLA 2002)

I shall be heeding Chief Smohalla of The Nez Perce who replied thus when asked why his tribe would not be forced into working: "men who work can not dream and wisdom comes in dreams"


Sunday 18th  

We went to the botanical gardens, obviously a bit desolate in the winter but theres a really great rainforest zone. There was some strange wedding photoshoot thing going on in the midst of it but the orchids were beautiful. Afterwards we wandered around town a bit, I did the geeky tourist thing of climbing the steps to the capital building; its one mile above sea level and gives a beautiful view of the Rockies. Still grinning all the time.


playing catch up #1 

my fist day here was pretty much spent sleeping. a lot. and lounging around reading punk planet; Kellie has a stash. I've probably raved about it before but its a great magazine, probably my favourite and well worth seeking out.

On Saturday 17th we drove up into the Rockies, it was awesomely beautiful, I don't even think I dare try to put it into words, can't think what to say without descending into cliche. I was delighted to get close to a herd of elk, they were loitering by the roadside, waiting to cross at a time designed to hold up as much traffic as possible. I took some ace photos; convinced they should be an album cover. I also started to wish, for the first time ever, that i knew how to drive. I met Kellies parents on the way back; her mom is a total sweetheart. We discussed English sitcoms and CAMRA; Colorado is the brewpub capital of the states apparently; something I look forward to discovering more about. I'd like to dispell a few of my beliefs about American beer!


a warm welcome 

I wasn’t going to post this, because it left me feeling deeply paranoid and upset, but what the hell. I knew I was likely to get a few questions at Immigration; when I had my visa interview in London the (very helpful and polite) lady warned me as such. She advised me to take all the paperwork I showed her with me, viz: a list of contacts and letters of invitation; proof of residence and family and other ties in the UK; personal and professional references; bank statements and proof of financial solvency (hah!); a central contact in the USA; and an itinerary (of course I want to see which way the wind blows me but I concocted one anyway)

Anyhow, I stood in line for a little while; almost everybody was asked some questions about where they were staying and what they were doing. I wasn’t too concerned; I knew I was a lot more organised than the majority of the people in front of me and I knew Kellie was waiting for me in arrivals. Plus of course, I have a valid passport, no criminal record, and a 12 month visa which cost a lot of time, effort and $75.

I knew that I would have to have my fingerprints and photograph taken because of my visa; I remained pretty sanguine. In no way did I find this offensive or paranoia inducing; I had no fears about my civil liberties at all. I was a little surprised to be asked into a side room for secondary processing, but of course I was delighted to be invited to answer a few questions. I believe this makes me a ‘person of interest’ I would have been happier if there was water or toilet facilities available in the very hot and very crowded room, or if Kellie could have been told she would have to wait two and a half hours for me.

Eventually I was called to a desk – I was one of the last people on my flight to be seen, it was pretty interesting watching and listening to the others – the man who dealt with me was very brusque and effecient. I felt like a little child who is getting into trouble for something they know they didn’t do but lacks the power or the words to challenge the teacher. I kept remarkably polite and calm – no swearing or anything and I even resisted the urge to put on a sitcom voice and say “but I’m English!” He kept on and on asking me questions, trying to trip me up; he kept coming back to why I did not have a return ticket; he had an obsession with making me give him a precise return date. He had no interest in seeing my paper work and apparently flexible travel plans are bad. I also got a stern ticking of for still having my last visa waiver form stapled into my passport.. I was feeling tired and confused; I’m still not quite sure why but my visa has been revoked and I have to vacate the country by the 15th May.

The welcome here was so delightful the very first thing I did was struggle not to cry and turn right around; luckily Kellie saved the day by whisking me off for quesa and refried beans. I’m just glad to be here now.


more than a million miles away 

I just wanted to thank everybody who came to my party; it was a wonderful night although I don’t remember all of it…. A large cheer and some leftover booze to Mr. Matt Hill; the Quiet Loner album will be out one lucky day and I strongly recommend buying it and going to some shows. More information at www.quietloner.com; I think there’s an email list you can join.

I’m slightly shamefaced about the lack of twang; I’m so postmodern I like to launch invisible products. I actually feel pretty bad about this; I shan’t bore you with the technical issues but its all trapped inside my computer, I’ll prolly post a few highlights here and hope everyone that worked so hard doesn’t hate me. I promise it’ll happen one day; specifically when I get back to Manc and have no job or money and lots of time to fill.


fear of flying 

Um… almost scared to tempt fate by sharing this, but as some of you know I have been really terrified of flying and tend to get myself worked about in a ridiculous tizzy about it. Curiously, I made it over here in a calm and orderly fashion with out a single serious panic attack. I’m even planning on flying to Seattle (my next port of call) because it seems silly not to: it’s so much cheaper and quicker than the train. There was actually a point on the journey when I looked out of the window, we were flying over Wisconsin I think, and I found myself so transfixed by how pretty everything was I totally forgot to be afraid. Previously I only ever looked out of the window to reassure myself we were still moving. I even walked about a bit (just as well because I couldn’t have gone the distance without a pee)

I put my new found confidence down to a few things: Firstly my stubbornness that I was bloody well going to do this trip whatever; secondly I’ve been practising Chi Gong and meditating in a fashion pretty regularly; thirdly I read St Julian over Christmas and I found her words chimed in somewhere. I’ve also been taking a certain comfort in statistics, thus far without a counter fear about getting in a car… Fourth, and finally, and most importantly, I’ve been taking arg. Nit. I don’t suppose you can OD on homeopathic remedies because there's not really anything to take too much of, but if there was a blood test I’m sure I’d have been over the limit having taken heroic quantities of the stuff. Of course, after such a smooth (and to be honest boring) journey something had to go wrong. Immigration was a nightmare; I’ve had my visa revoked and have to leave the country by May 14th. Still, at least that gives me 4 months and may force me to be at least a little bit organised.


having a snow ball 

It was -8 in Denver yesterday; I was planning on whingeing about it but then Marie told me its -9 in Whalley Range, although I got to make snowballs. yay! When I went out it was icy and frankly I was scared to cross roads; there were a lot of SUVs skidding about in a menacing manner so I took it as a sign to stay in and keep warm and erm learn more about american culture.

I had planned to cosy down and catch up on my blog but I got distracted, mostly by the televanagalists who exercise a kind of morbid fascination over me; quite bewitching, but don't fear: they can't touch my pagan soul. (Freudian typo #1: I originally wrote exorcise)

I've been even more slovenly about posting than I realised; I was going to say sorry, but I'm on holiday and I've had better things to do; plus its unlikely the minutiae of my life are that thrilling to anyone.

Denver is a really beautiful place and very chilled out (Urgh. Don't like that phrase, but its so apt) I'm staying at Kellie's apartment and she has been wonderful and wonderfully tolerant of my geeky astonishment and dumb questions (most of which arise from my total lack of Spanish) As well as being great company, and endlessly helpful, she even bought me some proper tea bags and fixed me up with a cell phone.

I've been spending a lot of time wandering about, daydreaming and absorbing the wonderful colours - the light here is amazing - collecting things to read and drinking too much coffee. Words that spring to mind are 'mooching; and 'pottering' so basically not much different from home. But with better burrittos and no rain.


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