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Year of the Plague -1- A Walk in the Neighborhood

March 16, 2020

Trudene – in front of her run-down rented apartment on Zuni and 39th in Denver. Although no longer Zuni from 38 to 44 Ave used to be very much of commercial street, the house that Trudene lives is a former sausage factory.


She was putting out recycling in front of her rented apartment – the front end of a three unit building right on Zuni street. In a neighborhood where virtually everything is being “yuppified” and developed with contractors buying up any and all pieces of property, the place stood out. It was what I would call “tasteful ramshackle.”

As we walked by, Nancy and I, a little chihuahua behind a fence began to do what chihuahua’s do – bark “enthusiasticly”. But I noticed that, uncharacteristically it was also wagging its tail furiously, kind of torn between deciding whether it wanted to rip into my calf… or simply be petted.

“Ah he doesn’t even know how to bite – all he wants is to be petted.”

Thus spoke Trudene, who was, as the photo suggests was in the process of trying to put an old chair in her recycling bin. It didn’t quite fit. Maintaining our required distance of six feet from each other (more like ten), a conversation ensued. Trudene related how she was not stressed, that she was at peace with the world and she had her Bible that she could depend upon. She had gone shopping at a nearby “Dollar Store” – we have many of them in Denver – and was upset, that in the current pandemic that a young family had brought their two infant kids into the store. “Why didn’t they do the prudent thing and simply keep them in the car?”

Trudene is thinking cautiously about how to proceed as the virus spreads, both globally and here in Denver. We talked about how yesterday, with the city’s burgeoning young population, how the restaurants and bars were filled with people who – pandemic or not – were not going to miss their St. Patrick’s Day celebrating. It was all “business as usual” – or was it because, the city’s youth know that the virus effects them less than us more elderly folk and they simply don’t give a shit? But the photos of the downtown drunks and party goers were a bit too much. Interestingly enough, as noted below, the next day, today, Denver’s mayor closed all restaurants and bars for on-sight consumption.

Nodding at her abode, Trudene then went onto relate that the landlord did nothing  and let the place deteriorate, than any improvements had to be paid by the renters because “the property is worth more than the building.” But what can you do? Where can I move that I can afford?” Answering her own question  “Nowhere.” That said she related all this calmly, again commenting that she had her Bible to comfort her. And I believed her.

The Northside

Nancy Fey on our walk today… dropping off magazines, but picking up a book from a wwwlittlelibrary bod – of course for Grandson, Teddy.

“The neighborhood” is Northwest Denver, known for decades, if not a century as “The Northside” – a name hijacked by realtors, contractors, developers and other lowlifes and renamed “The Highlands” but for Nancy and me – and tens of thousands of others who call the neighborhood home – or who did and were displaced – it will always be “The Northside.” Period.

That said, we’re “self isolating” as a result of the Coronavirus. Nancy is 68, I’m 75 and we’re in the high risk group for this particular virus. We’re both in good health – Nancy more than me but I’m ok – but we both suppose that prudence in this case is advisable.

The Coronavirus is spreading worldwide as I write.

Considering that there are about 7.8 billion people on the planet, the fact that as of today, March 16, 2020, some 180, 000 have been stricken with the condition of which a little more than 7000 have died – it doesn’t sound like much. But it is spreading quickly and the estimates of those effected are limited to those tested, so more than likely the actual figure is higher. The virus is worldwide. It appears not to have effected those closer to the equator in the tropics as much as those of us in the temperate zones. A few countries have brought the virus under control, almost exclusively in East Asia – China, Singapore, Taiwan among them. In Europe, Iran and I would argue in the US of A, the virus is exploding however. The idea that schools and restaurants might open again in two weeks is ludicrous from where I am sitting.

Anyhow, I hope to cover – in no particular order – different aspects of this pandemic that we are experiencing, mostly but not entirely through the daily walks that Nancy and I intend to take while we are in isolation. I will look at some global aspects – where and how it all started (my starting point on this is quite different from what we are seeing in the mainstream media), the impact on the global economy etc., But mostly my focus is local – what we see and discuss on our daily outing in our fast changing neighborhood of ours which is already over the past two decades unrecognizable from what it was 44 years ago when we bought our “Denver bungalow”, so many displaced – I have no idea of the number but it must be in the tens of thousands who can no longer afford to live here. 

On these walks we try to avoid getting to close to others, although there really aren’t that many people out walking in Denver. It is not much a walking city in the best of times and now even less so. We come up with little pretexts. Yesterday it was a walk to the post office about a mile and a quarter a way, today, Nancy wanted to recycle some bubble wrap. There is a nearby UPS store that accepts to stuff. She dropped off several bags and then we took a circular route back home. Probably did a bit more than two miles.

New Denver Restrictions Put in Place. 

Today Mayor Hancock, whose main political skill is little more than  kowtowing to contractors and developers, announced new restrictions in the city. These decisions were related to me in an email from CIty Councilman Paul Kashman – not my council person by the way, but has shown himself to be more responsive than she appears to be  –

Mayor Hancock last week announced a number of 30-day closures and cancellations. Today, the Mayor will be extending that to 8 weeks for the:

Colorado Convention Center
Denver Performing Arts Complex
Denver Coliseum
Red Rocks
McNichols Building

Last week, we also cancelled for 30 days all city-permitted events of more than 250 attendees or participants. Today, the Mayor will be reducing the number of allowable participants to 50 and extending the time period to 8 weeks.

We also are closing restaurants and bars to any on-site consumption, allowing for drive-throughs, take-out and delivery, beginning tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. and extending for 8 weeks until May 11.

Starting today, all recreation centers and libraries are closed until further notice (we will continue to operate meal programs at participating rec centers).

Starting today, all five of the city’s Division of Motor Vehicle branches are closed to the public until further notice,

Starting today and for at least the next two weeks, Clerk and Recorder Lopez has suspended all in-person transactions for Elections, Recordings, Marriages, Public Trustee and City Clerk operations.

The Mayor has redirected sheriff’s deputies away from executing eviction notices until further notice, and we will also not be booking certain low-level, non-violent arrestees into the jails.

County and District courts are providing additional guidance for the public about when they do and do not need to appear in person.

We are working with all of our homeless service providers and Mile High United Way to streamline donations of supplies, cash and volunteers. Volunteers should be directed to Donations of cleaning supplies and other materials for homeless shelters should be dropped off from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Martin Luther King Jr. and Lincoln/La Alma Recreation Centers (3880 Newport St. and 1325 W. 11th Ave., respectively).

Both Xcel Energy and Denver Water have announced they are suspending utility shut-offs for non-payment while we remain in a state of emergency.

The Universal’s kitchen closed as a result of Mayor Hancock’s order to close all restaurants and bars. Local overpriced breakfast-lunch restaurant in the neighborhood. Food is ok – was there once with friend Doug Vaughan. But too many young hip looking people for my cynical tastes. Prefer “Nick’s” a few blocks away with its more relaxed and working class crowd, outside of which the prison system van drops off released convicts with a little bag of toiletries and $20 or so and where on occasion I run into old time neighborhood politicos like Dennis Gallagher and Gary Sully. .

One Comment leave one →
  1. Barbara Millman permalink
    March 16, 2020 4:05 pm

    Augie and I would be happy to go on any walk Rob with you and Nancy. What’s wrong with your health? We also do Jefferson County open space hikes this time of year. I hate Hancock for vetoing the end of the pit bull ban – his only council veto – and killing Park geese. He’s an arrogant corrupt jerk. That’s why I prefer your company. We could even get Shelley to come along with her cockers.

    Sent from my iPhone


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