Denver: The Rootin’ Tootin’ Murder Zoo

Sunday, June 30, 2019. Denver, Colorado.

Wynkoop did most of the job, but to really put a bow on this daydrunk, we headed to a ritzy bar called the ChopHouse. All the employees were dressed like butlers. I ordered their house dopplebock. It was like drinking Hershey’s syrup, but with 10% ABV.

We wrap that up and walk back outside into a throng of disappointed baseball fans, surging from the nearby stadium like a surly two-tone river. Children were crying. I would be too, if I had to watch baseball.

The sheer volume of humans made it hard to corral our Uber, and we had to backtrack a block or so to get in the car.

The driver was an old buck with a solid old buck name like Buck or Chuck or Grimnir.

“So, Buckhorn Exchange, huh? Dinner reservations?”

“Yeah,” Ladygirl said. When we travel together, she takes point on most of our smalltalk. It works as a nice social buffer, since she’s bright-eyed and bubbly, whereas I’m looming and caustic. “We’ve heard a lot of good things. We did Linger earlier today, too.”

“Yup, that’s a good one,” the dude said. “That’s right in downtown though, more for you young people, these days. You know what you’re going to get at Buckhorn yet?”

“I heard they have kangaroo,” I said. “I’ve never eaten a kangaroo.”

“Kangaroo’s pretty good,” he said. “Tastes a little like venison. You ever have alligator?”

We hadn’t.

“Get the alligator,” he said. “You won’t regret it.”

I hold to the old ways, and firmly believe that you gain an animal’s power by eating it. In modern times we call it “protein” or whatever. I’ve been lifting weights for many years, and I’m now strong. Strong as a bull, due to the sheer number of burgers I’ve eaten. However, it’s taken a toll on my agility, and I take great care when surrounded by breakable things or people, such as in a China shop.

Many have expressed difficulty eating quickly, or in great quantity. I’ve heard tales of resultant tummy troubles. I’ve never experienced them. In fact, I eat like a pig, likely due to my proud origin story whereupon I was fat as a pig. I am no longer fat as a pig, but nothing can stop the horrifying rate and quantity of my consumption. I’m a human black hole.

If I’m ever forced to run, or if it’s more than, say, 75 degrees outside, I sweat like a pig. It gets bad when I go full boar. You should see me on my sprint intervals (sprintervals); hog wild.

I’ve also got a bunch of totemic horse attunements, up to and including my health, hunger, and teeth, but I won’t get into that for fear of attracting the horse girls to the blog. I reason I got that from the near-daily McDoubles I’d put down in my wasted adolescence.

Never an alligator, though. Alligators are one of my only weaknesses, the others being redheads and bullets. They’re dinosaurs that drown you.

Did you know that? They only bite you to incapacitate you. Then they pull you into the water and just hold you under until you die. They’re bulletproof, too. Handguns usually don’t pierce their terrifying reptile armor. They’re the perfect weapon. I’m a zealous believer in evolution, except where crocodilians are concerned; they were intelligently designed by the Devil.

Buckchuck was right. I needed to absorb their power. It’s every man for himself, and I need to be ready. Steve Irwin is dead. No one’s coming to save us.

We pulled up to the exchange and thanked the driver. Ladygirl exited the car, but Buckchuck stopped me before I did.

“Listen here,” he said. “You gonna try the Rocky Mountain Oysters?”

“I wasn’t planning on it,” I said.

“A lot of people do, who come to the Buckhorn Exchange. Cowboy caviar. Don’t do it.”


“Well, you know they’re testicles, right?”


“They’re not that good, either. It’s not worth it. Trust me.”

“All right. Sold.”

“I didn’t want to talk about it with her in the car,” he said, chinning toward Ladygirl.

I thanked him for the many things he’d given me to think about, then entered into Denver’s foremost exotic animal murder zoo eatery.

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rootin and tootin

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The blood red walls were dense with dead animals. There were no blank spots, no room for pictures or art. Heads and horns and antlers protruded from every angle, watching with sightless eyes, waiting for us to decide what kind of obscure game we were going to eat.

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This place is insane #buckhorn #denver

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We were sat next to an elderly couple who spoke highly of the restaurant, but seemed to have an unpleasant experience once the food arrived. Their steaks weren’t cooked to medium-well. I considered this a bonus, but Ladygirl explained to me that Olds tend to be real scared of salmonella.

We ordered drinks we didn’t need at all. The menus were set up like newspapers, full of legends attached to the Exchange and cowboy tall tales in between actual available food items. I went to scout out the bathroom, gazing at the carnival of death around me like that one scene in Ace Ventura, but with suspended judgment.

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step up

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There were taxidermy displays on the way to the bathroom. I’ve got a soft spot for jackalopes. One of my earliest bands was a psychobilly disaster called Jackalope Poison. I built an “upright bass” for it out of wood, a big popcorn tin, and weedwhacker wire. Then amped it. It was named Humphrey.

I was garbage at playing it, but it was made of garbage, so it was appropriate. And it’s not like you play Victor Wooten on a cookie can in a garage psychobilly band. I miss that thing.

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My mans #jackalope #denver

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In the North, I’d see bears pretty often. They came down from the woods and liked to mess with the neighborhood garbage cans. I worked at a restaurant, pretty close to some woods, and a young black bear knocked over our garbage fry-grease barrel and just lapped it up in our parking lot. The whole staff was out back, just kind of staring. The bear stared right back.

Still, it was always from a distance. I never appreciated their sheer mass.

When I returned to the table, my Old Fashioned had arrived. Classy place like this called for a classy beverage, I figured. They didn’t give me a classy beverage. They gave me a drinking glass full of bourbon.

The dopplebock an hour before had also been a drinking glass of bourbon, although diluted. I was feeling somewhat loosey goosey.

They brought the alligator tail.

It looked and tasted like fried clams, if fried clams were made of chicken. I didn’t feel my hide thickening, but when have I ever?

The main course arrived. For me, that was “elk steak and two quail”.

There was power in this one. I don’t know what traits one can acquire from quail, but the steak was spectacular. Like buffalo venison. I still conjure it to mind if I’m going for a deadlift max.

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t remember what happened after that. Maybe it’s “forgetful as a quail”? Probably it’s too much bourbon. I did take a picture on the Uber home, though, of this bigass bear statue looking into the mall.

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Him peekin #bear #Denver

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Probably looking for his little brother, the lumbearjack bouncer on 16th Street.

Back at the hostel, they never fixed our goddamned toilet, but they sent someone up to reclaim the waterlogged instructions from the back of the tank.

Bunch of animals. The bad kind, I mean.


The Bastard

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