streetlight in Denver
a beacon in the dark sky
Before I picked up photography I would avoid events such as these like the plague, now I can’t stay away. The energy of the crowd, the diversity, that subtle feeling of tension hanging over the park like a storm cloud. Looking at Denver’s “Official 420 Rally” from an entirely A-Political perspective, it was a crowd like any other, except on this day, the area of Civic Center Park was cordoned off, and inside its boundaries cannabis was being consumed in all variety of ways by an eclectic variety of people.
Just like the “Taste of Colorado” the park is filled with a throng of humans gnawing on giant turkey legs and churros, only today most of them are washing it down with some sort of cannabis soda instead of the customary craft beer or domestic swill (Coors Light, Bud Light, Milwaukee’s Best, PBR) There was alcohol, but it was relegated to a small “bar” in a distant corner. The majority of people today were only interested in smoking weed.
There was a a heavy and very visible police presence, bolstered by a private security company and park rangers. Scaffolding was erected in the center of the park manned with armed guardsthat constantly scanned the crowd with binoculars. Park rangers on bicycles could also be seen buzzing in and out of the crowd. At least one drone was being flown over the festivities, and the entire outer perimeter of the park was surrounded by a layer of black fences. Helicopters periodically flew overhead and I saw one land on the roof of a nearby building. Just beyond the perimeter of the fence along Broadway officers from the Denver Police Department congregated in a display of authority. They don’t usually smile when I take their picture, but I do it anyway.
This event is no place for children, although a small percentage of people with questionable judgement brought their children along. I ran across a mother pushing a child through the hazy smoked filled park, the kid literally looked green to me. There is a brashness to this event that one can’t ignore. The crowd swelled as the clock drew nearer to 4:20 on Easter Sunday. The cloud of smoke hovering over the crowd thickened as they counted down the minutes to the collective exhale. Marijuana is a part of the mainstream culture in Denver now more than ever. There is almost literally a pot shop on every corner, and it is not uncommon to catch a strong hint of the ganja as you are driving around town in your car.
The rally went off without a hitch in my opinion, except for the overwhelming sense of unease I felt with the extremely heightened security presence which is more of a personal thing. If I wasn’t taking pictures, I wouldn’t be here. These are the people that I observed.
bus, car, truck and bike
gold domed government building
The Gates Rubber Factory was once the largest producer of power transmission belts in the world. Operating in Denver since 1914, the site has been closed since 1991. The buildings have been abandoned for decades now and after 85 years of cranking out more transmission belts than anyone else in the world, the ground beneath the site is contaminated and requires an extensive environmental rehabilitation effort.
And so the iconic Gates Rubber Factory is being erased from South Denver’s landscape and another landmark that represented Denver to me for so long is disappearing forever.
riding a vespa
two Maryland Terrapins
cruising down Broadway
Boulder. The home of Mork & Mindy. Nanu Nanu! Shazbot!
one brief encounter
I pointed to his pendant
he showed me the sky
“Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” ― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
as I leaned on the door of my car
photographing the used book store doorway
I saw her approaching out of the corner of my eye
she was with a man pushing a cart filled with their belongings
she became aggressive
quickening her pace
she started to scream
an incoherent diatribe
and began running towards me
in her best zombie sprint
her one tooth glistening in the noon time sun
spittle flying every which way
I swear she was frothing at the mouth
I took a step towards her
and prepared to defend myself
she got as close as she dared
then backed down
laughing that insane asylum type laugh
the smell of stale beer was lingering
a wasp landed right on my glasses
as she and her companion walked away
the man said
what’s so interesting about this building anyway?
why are you taking a picture?
I told him I look for beauty in the mundane
he shrugged his shoulders and rolled his eyes
as I was getting back in my vehicle
this brave, drunk, and crazy woman
got right between me and the door
she asked if they could get a ride to Greeley
I impolitely declined
and barked out NO!
While she was in my face I took her photograph
invading her privacy
as she invaded mine
I showed her the images of her self
and I imagine her heart sank
and her anger softened
and I felt that she was ashamed
and bid her good day
A girl with pink hair
the man talking licks his lips
the shutter closes