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

Dresden: So It Goes

December 2, 2017. Dresden, Germany.

FlixBus is a bunch of filthy, mouthbreathing animals. They talk a big game about their bus internet, but once you get onto it, you learn it’s an elaborate German ruse. For some reason, the trap didn’t spring until I got into Germany, but I think FlixBus had been plotting it the entire time I was in Europe, earning my trust by degrees. Toying with me. Then, once I was in for a ten-hour bus ride, the unwashed, skulduggerous, drug addict hyenas that orchestrate these bus routes like some dark and deviant god pulled the plug on the so-called “bus internet”.

Ten hours, I rotted in that cell on wheels! Ten hours I languished in an Amish diesel nightmare, not so much as a scrap of Wi-Fi to be found. I didn’t even have the map downloaded. You want to take a guess how long I tried to download the map?

I’ll find the miserable, hoary, addled son of a bitch who did this to me one day, and I swear before all the saints and angels that I will dance in his blood.

Anyway. Deutschland. Ja, das ist fuckin kalt. It wasn’t nearly as kalt in Budapest, so fool that I was, I thought I’d be fine in just a t-shirt and coat.

I was not.

Fortunately, Dresden is presently devoted wholly to Christmas, and you can’t walk ten meters without hitting a Christmas Market. I’m sure we have these stateside — we do love markets — but never anything like this. It reminded me of the church picnics that would paralyze the townships of my childhood and herd all the adults into parking lots to drink beer and eat pierogies, but pierogies were conspicuously absent.

(I know pierogi is the plural, shut your goddamn mouth)

Instead, there were brats. This would be a running theme throughout the whole of my stay in Germany. No matter where you went or what you did, your only hope for food was some form of wurst. It was usually currywurst, but sometimes, specifically in Christmas Market times, it was bratwurst. And oh, the glühwein! It flowed like… well, like you’d expect.

Tremendous MacBeth cauldrons of the stuff, manned by grinning German men in hokey holiday dress, the whole square stinking of cinnamon and cloves. Glühwein is a Germanic holiday drink, mulled wine everywhere else. You take red wine, you heat it up, you slam-dunk whatever incense your grandma smelled like in there, and then you drink it in the cold. Immediately, you’re warm. It’s a Christmas miracle. Ein Weihnachten Wunder. +30 Frost Resistance, effective immediately.

The other stands sold fried dough covered in sugar, as did every other building everywhere in Europe. They love baked goods so much it’s uncanny. There were also souvenir stands, weird little trinkets with city or religious significance, and a distressing number of puppets.

This is something that isn’t talked about often, but central and eastern Europe are absolutely nuts for marionettes. You can’t get away from them. You’ll want to, believe me. They’re freaky. Freaky and omnipresent and watching you, judging you, with their bulging, painted, sightless eyes. Wooden demon’s eyes.

In typically understated German fashion, there was also Der Goldenerreiter, a dude made of gold riding a horse, also made of gold, in the middle of the town square. His name was Augustus the Subtle.

Strong, sorry. Augustus der Stark.

It was a scenic river overlook of four buildings, churches and municipal dealies with breathtaking architecture that I couldn’t get a picture of because it was dark.

I wound up in a brauhause, hopeful that what I’d heard about German beer was true. Dark news, kids. The weizen is the best you can hope for. See, the Germans, strong traditionalists, have had this grim law in affect since 1516 called the Reinheitsgebot. In English, it’s something along the lines of “The German Beer Purity Law”, and it stated in a tone that brooked no argument that the ONLY ingredients that could be in beer were water, barley, and hops.

Absolutely brutal. Just like that Harry Chapin song about the teacher who won’t let the kid color flowers anything but red.

Don’t worry, they’re not that draconian. They modified the law in 1993(!). From Wikipedia:

“The revised Vorläufiges Biergesetz (Provisional Beer Law) of 1993, which replaced the earlier regulations, is a slightly expanded version of the Reinheitsgebot, stipulating that only water, malted barley, hops and yeast be used for any bottom-fermented beer brewed in Germany.”

What I’m trying to communicate here, friends and neighbors, is that I’m an American boy, born and bred, and I’m used to exciting shit in my beer like frosting and cranberries and whatever else they had lying around the microbrewery. I like stouts! They’re full of chocolate and espresso and smoke. That’s the trifecta, infinitely better than that hyper-bitter quintuple IPA crap everyone pretends to like.

In Germany, what you get is lager. Sometimes the lager tastes more like wheat, sometimes it tastes a little darker and heavier, but at the end of the day, it’s nationalist PBR and I’m not out here for it. Still, when in Rome, gladiate, and when in Germany, drink beer until it’s not cold anymore.

Unfortunately, it was cold. Forevermore. I tried to do the sightseeing thing the following day, but everything was way too far from everything and I could feel my bone marrow freezing. Less than ideal tourist conditions. I eventually found a restaurant that would let me steal WiFi, and I ordered what appeared to be a giant bowl of cheese.


The menu assured me it was a traditional Dresden dish. It was sort of like a French onion soup thing, only instead of French, German, and instead of onion, pork. But it was warm, and calorically dense, and you best believe I inhaled it.

I was on the first bus to Berlin the next morning. Dresden was nice, but even the locals I knew warned me that it was not, perhaps, the ideal portrait of Germany. “The most racist city in Germany” was how it was described to me, due to the massive refugee population. The refugees themselves seemed nice; they were piss drunk in the streets, blasting reggae and dancing as though it weren’t 4 degrees out. More power to them.


Be A Bandit, my hostel insisted on the morning of my departure. Well, I do try.


The Bastard