Writing 101 – Day 3

Building a writing habit. Celebrate three songs that are significant to you, and then write for fifteen minutes without stopping. Commit to forming a habit.

Beatnik’s have it wrong. You don’t have to be dark and moody in a smoke filled room to appreciate jazz. Flapper’s have it wrong too, cause you don’t have to have a seizure in order to dance your ass off.

Jazz, swing and ska, basically anything with a bouncy 6/8 beat, a lot of horns, and some drumming that would give an octopus a severe case of arm envy. That’s the kind of music that gets the blood pumping.

Good music should be able to be enjoyed quietly in the background, or cranked to eleven and begging everyone to shake what their momma gave ’em.

Places like The Mercury Cafe or The D-Note are the kind of places that really embrace this ideal. A place where they’ll teach you how to swing, give you good beer, and let you wail away the night with your closest friends. (Some of whom you’ve met that night.)

The Merc was where I first learned to dance. and I’ve spent the last decade I’ve been refining and leaving, and coming back like a wandering friend/ninja. Someone who disappears for YEARS, and walks back in like nothing has changed.

It hasn’t Changed a bit.

Spinning and Twirling, Moving and Grooving, Shaking and Skanking(yes, it’s a dance) those are the things that these wandering souls express themselves and embrace the emotions of the moment.

It’s funny, the first time I went to The Mercury Cafe, I was going to learn so that I could pass on what I learned for our high school prom. We were having a 40’s theme and wanted to be authentic.  Walking into the restaurant downstairs, clad in suspenders and fedora, hoping not to seem out of place. The hostess took one look at us and said

“You look good… but the party’s upstairs.”

And boy was it.

Everyone was there, 6 year old’s learning to dance with grandma and grandpa while 20-somethings either practiced routines for competition or just tried to dance with the cool drink of water on the other side of the room. And there was Frank. You know Frank. Everyone knows Frank. He’s the resident F.B.I at the Merc. (Full Blooded Italian) He was dancing when Benny Goodman was still playing, and he lived to laugh and enjoy himself on the dance floor. Later on in my experience, it became a right of passage, every date I took to the Merc HAD to dance with Frankie and get his approval before I could take her back. I last saw him there nearly four years ago now, and he was pushing a hundred years old and wasn’t quite as limber as he used to be, but darn it if he didn’t sit next to the stage and keep time with the band, watching the flickering Christmas lights and disco ball while Minnie the Moocher kept dreaming about her King from Sweden. (I think Frankie and Minnie might’ve had a fling back in the day, but that’s just conjecture.)

Dance and Music go together, and over the years I’ve learned that even as a guy, I NEED to get out that loosen up as often as I can. You can tell a lot about a person by how they dance; How comfortable they are in their own skin, how aware they are of what’s happening around them, (I can’t tell you how many times my partners would get a surprise barrel turn a dip to avoid getting stepped on by another couple not paying attention), and how they move with the world around them. I don’t know if the old phrase ‘Dance like no one is watching’ is really appropriate, but at least you should dance like you don’t care who sees.

 

Tell me about a time you went dancing and cut loose. I love good stories.

 

Marvelous Marlowe’s

Marlowe's on 16th StreetChristmas is a tricky time of year for my girlfriend and I, as it contains a holiday where couples are supposed to spend time with everyone’s families, (that means four different houses for us), it is also her birthday, (at least two different houses), and our anniversary, (can we just have a nap?) plus all the other rigors of the end of year parties, working crazy hours, and trying to wrap up school. December is a beast.

This past December, for an anniversary/birthday date night, I decided to take my lovely lady out for dinner and a show. Cirque de Solei was putting on a holiday special called Holi-daze. A musical where all of the different ornaments on your average Christmas tree begin to come to life and celebrate the holiday in their own way. A whimsical and breathtaking show, it maintained a fun atmosphere without being irreverent, although watching a clown conduct carol of the bells with stiffs picked from the audience was quite possibly the highlight of the evening.

The point of the night out was supposed to be a slowly escalating adventure down the Sixteenth Street Mall in Denver. However, being the penultimate procrastinator, (read: this happened around Christmas, and I’m writing about it within sight of Valentine’s Day.) I forgot to make reservations for dinner. Not to be discouraged, we left early and I introduced my girlfriend to the wonder that is Yelp. We had three rules: It had to be someplace we’ve never been before, It couldn’t be a chain or franchise, and it had to be rated at LEAST three stars.

As we walked along, looking at window menus, trying to decide what we felt like having, (there are a LOT of burger joints along that road.) we meandered up to Marlowe’s Saloon and restaurant, and seeing STEAK on the menu in the window, we went inside. Dressed for the theater, I can admit with a little pride, but no exaggeration that we looked GOOD. The place was quiet as the lunch rush had left and they weren’t yet serving dinner. A man in a sweatshirt, whom I assume was the manager or the owner, ushered us to a corner table, looking out over the street. It felt like we were being shown off a little. We began our three course adventure with stuffed baby peppers; I’ve never known grenades of delicious sausage and provolone crammed into something so small and delicate.

Stuffed Peppers!!!Next came our meals, a nice filet over green beans and pesto for me, with a buttery salmon on faro for her.

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The meat was perfection. The salmon buttered enough to have a flavor of it’s own, but not so much so that it tasted oily. My filet oozed the rich juices of a nice medium-rare and seemed to melt as I chewed. It paired well with crispy garlic green beans that had just the right amount of crunch.

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The meal itself was wonderful, followed up by a four cup french press of a very rich black coffee which they pressed right at our table. In fact the only let down of the event was the crème brulee. While it wasn’t terrible, I’ve been a firm believer that all dessert should be the fantastic conclusion of a meal, not a wimpy afterthought. And even though this was a free birthday dessert, I’ve always thought that crème brulee should be a candy coated fluffy cloud that evaporates in your mouth. Marlowe’s served almost a pudding with a graham cracker cookie triangle. Again, not terrible, but also not worth the instinctive picture-taking.

In my book, Marlowe’s is a fantastic destination. Well worth a visit, bring a pocketbook though, as our awesome experience was about $100 for two people. Here’s to your next adventure. Cheers!

The Larimer St crawl gets a Hot new addition!

This week marked another milestone for the Denver bar scene. Long time pub Scruphy Murphy’s has completed construction on their new annex, Hot Mixology.Originally opening eight years ago, Scruphy’s has been a staple to the community at every turn for its entire life. Hosting everything from Keg’s and Egg’s sponsored by Channel 93.3 to partnering with such events as the annual Zombie Crawl and Oktoberfest. It has brought the traditional Irish Pub back in style and is simply THE place to be on St Patty’s Day. Over the years it has also contributed to the local music scene by providing a venue for local artists, ranging from folk to punk rock, to perform in front of an enthusiastic crowd and bring excitement back into to local night life but without trying like so many others to become a ‘micro-club’. Sporting the traditional pub foods like bangers and mash, or shepherd’s pie, but what would any bar be without booze? Scruphy’s hasn’t let us down here either, sporting a wide variety of liquor and tap selection, as well as a unique assortment of infused vodka for the adventuresome. Friendly and fun bar staff, a laid back atmosphere, and reasonable prices (most drinks are under five dollars, and the average tab is between 15 to 35 depending on your group and level of indulgence) go a long way to making Scruffy’s one of Denver’s best bars.

Hot Mixology is the result of a nearly a year and a half of hard work and imagination. After originally being conceived in June from inspiration garnered attending a mixology convention in Las Vegas, the owners and operators of Scruffy Murphy’s have overcome a multitude of hardships all in the hopes of bringing a fresh, sexy feel to the Denver bar scene. Hot Mixology offers a taste of Vegas style, with chic decor and a large selection of drink concoctions delivered with a flourish from some very lively and entertaining Mixologists(part party host, part bartender). The minimalist furniture and red accents throughout have helped to bring what some patrons where calling “the perfect addition to the Larmier crawl.”

What really shines though, is the blending of styles. Since Hot Mixology and Scruffy Murphy’s were once a single bar, they continue to share a front smoking area and a pair sliding doors inside to join the two bars; marrying the old school Irish pub with the trendy cocktail lounge. For one customer though, what stands out most is the back patio. “It’s sells the whole experience! I love how they’ve updated the beer garden. It’s my first time here, a just rode by on my bike saw the search light and thought I’d stop in for a drink. I can’t wait to come back.” In fairness, he’s not far off. What was once little more than a parking lot with interesting graffiti and picnic tables set up for people trying to escape the noise of busier nights, the new garden has become an oasis with outdoor carpeting, classy long string lighting, a remodeled outdoor bar and comfortable outdoor furniture.

Overall, the Murphy’s Bar has brought three distinct feels to a single venue, offering something for everyone and infusing new life into a classic locale. We hope them the best and can’t wait for the next party at Hot Mixology and Scruffy’s.