Hit by a Pitch

Archive for the ‘life in the hood’ Category

Chickens and Letters to Neighbors

without comments

Chickie book, chickie cup

I went to chicken class last night. Chicken class involved three hours of solid information acquisition. I was totally going to live tweet that shit, but chicken class took place in a basement at our local botanic gardens and there was no coverage so I couldn’t. I’ve always wanted to live tweet something (just kidding). So much information was conveyed during chicken class (We even got to see some actual chickens!) that I now feel comfortable actually getting chickens.

I’ve had a bee in my bonnet (If I’m going to become a farmer, I might as well go all the way and start saying things like “bee in my bonnet,” although I say shit like that anyway) about getting chickens for a long time now, but it always seemed kind of overwhelming. There’s so much information out there! I mean, there are several options for even getting chickens in the first place. You can get eggs (bad idea unless you’re cool with roosters). You can get what are typically referred to as “pullets,” which are adult or adult-esque female chickens. This is what I thought I wanted to do, but after attending chicken class, I figured another option was better: itty baby chickies. Itty baby chickies are ridiculously cute, but the important thing is that if you raise chickens from the baby stage, they’re more likely to bond with you and your relationship will be closer. If that sounds totally ridiculous, that’s cool. I’m a weird animal person. I want to have a good relationship with our chickens. The hard part is going to be finding a place for the girls to live in our house for 8 weeks, which is when they can move to their coop, which we’ll be building soon.

Why do I want to get chickens? Because I’m an asshole hipster who wants to be a trendy urban farmer like everyone else. Well, that and honestly, if we’re going to eat eggs, which we probably are, I think having our own chickens is the kindest and most ethical way to go about obtaining them. I’ve heard too many horror stories about how eggs are produced — even the “free range” eggs we always buy. We’re going to treat chickens better than anyone involved in a commercial egg operation will. So that’s good. Plus it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch from stuff we do anyway, like gardening, making as much stuff as we can instead of buying, and being general hippies to the extent we can in our full-time-employment-having/urban-dweller lives.

One of my biggest questions going into chicken class was how to work it out when you have old chickens who don’t lay eggs any more. Obviously, as vegetarians and people who become ridiculously attached to animals, we’re never going to eat our chickens or give them away. The good news is that it’s possible to introduce new chickens to old chickens. In Denver, you can have as many as 8 chickens. So our plan is roughly this: Start with 3 chickens, but build a coop and enclosure that can house 8 chickens. In two years or so (hopefully a little longer), when our original chickens aren’t laying as many eggs, we’ll get two new chickens. In two years or so (again, hopefully a little longer), we’ll get two new chickens. In two years, we’ll see what happens. Chickens have an average lifespan of 8 years.

I won’t go on and on about chickens right now, as much as I’d like to. I’m seriously obsessed. I tell you, the ability of a person with ADHD to hyperfocus is a blessing and a curse.

If you’re interested in backyard chicken keeping, I highly recommend taking a class from someone who knows what’s up (the one I took was called “Backyard Chicken Keeping” and was offered through the Denver Botanic Gardens — you can see upcoming dates here). It’s so much easier (at least it was for me) than trying to assimilate the gobs of information out there on the internet and in books. Before the class, I was totally overwhelmed, and now I’m more like, hey, we can do this. Also, this site is amazing.

I hope to be providing some awesome chicken updates soon!
Today we received a letter from some random dude who lives in our neighborhood. It went something like this:

Hey guys, I saw your property at [address] and I wanted to see if you are interested in selling.

I am willing to offer you [price approximately $100,000 less than our house is worth], and I would be willing to pay all of the commissions and closing costs. I am buying with cash, so we wouldn’t have to deal with appraisals or lender issues.

Please consider my offer and let me know if you are interested in discussing further.


Random Dude

What? My first thought was that our house must have an appearance such that someone looking at it assumes it’s inhabited by crazy people who don’t know anything about anything. Crazy old people who’ve paid off the house and would consider an unsolicited low-ball offer out of nowhere? I have no idea. Ben thinks we should write back and offer him an insulting price for his house. That might be fun.

I’m kind of intrigued by the idea of writing letters to random people in our neighborhood, asking for whatever we want, just to see if anyone takes us up on it. Hey random guy, I’d like to buy your sweet El Camino for $100. Hi Ms. Neighbor Person, this summer, I would like to sit on your porch swing, drinking beer and eating peaches from your tree. If you could provide some Ranger IPA that would be great! Hi Hippies, I won’t complain about your chickens and your ridiculous barking dogs if you give me a dozen fresh eggs every week. Let me know if that works for you!

Written by Tracy

March 28th, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Speaking of hipster neighborhoods….

without comments

This was the tag I found on our garage today.

Today's graffiti

WTF? Is there a gang that drinks Pabst Blue Ribbon? Are they letting people know hipsters who might drink PBR live here? (We drink PBR very, very rarely, only when Ben is slumming or it’s 900 degrees outside and you want a little something in the middle of the afternoon or you’re doing that thing I used to do in college where you make a poor man’s bloody Mary with PBR, tomato juice, and hot sauce.) Professional Bull Riders (fuck those guys and their animal abuse)? I have no idea but as always, we painted over that shit right away. If you want your logo on our property you’re going to have to fork over some $$$ and at least design something that looks somewhat cool.

Written by Tracy

March 7th, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Posted in and life,Denver,life in the hood

Tagged with ,

Can I convince you that Cole is the new hipster neighborhood of Denver?

without comments

Denver neighborhood map

We’ve been living in our little house in Denver’s Cole neighborhood for 8 years now, which is kind of crazy because I haven’t lived anywhere for that long aside from my parents’ house. The neighborhood has changed a lot since we moved here, and it feels like things are starting to get a little crazy.

I think the normal course of a neighborhood’s transition often goes something like this:

Hood –> Hipsterville –> Yuppieland

I am, as you may know due to my well-documented hatred of the Highlands (Denver) and Lincoln Park (Chicago), not a fan of Yuppieland (ever, but especially not when cute little old houses are torn down and replaced by behemoth hideous duplexes). I’m fine with Hood and okay with Hipsterville, as long as it’s not getting too dangerously close to Yuppieland. I like my neighborhood to be diverse and have a little grit, a little edge.

I think Cole qualified as a little hoody when we moved here. We lived through years of car break-ins, burglaries, gang graffiti, and gunshots and murders. (This all still happens, but not as often.) We used to play “gunshots or fireworks” all summer. Still, the only times I really thought about moving were when a completely innocent man who had nothing to do with anything was killed a block from our house and when we heard a spray of gunfire that was so close to our house we saw people running in terror and I had to call the police.

Since then, a house on our block was featured on an episode of House Hunters and our hood was described as the “up and coming Denver neighborhood of City Park” (it’s totally not City Park). Houses have been fixed and flipped and sold for, well, a lot if you ask me (a fan of paying as little for a house as reasonably possible). That said, it’s been a slow process.

But it seems to be speeding up. A house on our block was just fixed up and put on the market for, well, a lot if you ask me, and two or three days later there are already people checking out the house and asking us about the neighborhood. In the Whittier neighborhood, which is just south of and fancier than Cole, houses are flying off the market.

So here’s the deal. If you want to move to Cole, you should probably do it now. My recommendation would be to buy a house that hasn’t been fixed up but that you can live with for a while — this way, you can still get a good deal and might enjoy some appreciation (not that we can count on it any more).

Why would you want to move to Cole? Well, it’s awesome — but you should only move here if you’re awesome. It’s pretty chill and close enough to cool stuff without being too much in the middle of it. Of course, it’s no Baker, where you can roll out of bed and walk into a bar. (The thing with Baker, though, is that everybody is talking about how it’s the hipster neighborhood in Denver, which, as far as I’m concerned, means it’s no longer the hipster neighborhood in Denver. I mean, it was pretty cool when we lived there back in 2004 . . . sorry, I’m the tedious asshole who always likes to tell you about how I lived in X hipster neighborhood before it was hip. Don’t ever ask me about Wicker Park/Bucktown.) But it is close enough for you to walk to all the cool shit over on the other side of Downing, like Our Mutual Friend, Black Shirt, Walnut Room, and the vegan market, while still living in a legit, non-industrial neighborhood that doesn’t smell like festering animal carcass where you can have a cute little house with a cute little yard instead of an expensive loft. It’s diverse and friendly and laid back without being boring. You’re like two minutes from downtown and within 10 minutes of pretty much everything you’ll ever need. The schools aren’t the best, but if you’re a young hipster you don’t care and there’s always the possibility of choicing in somewhere else. Starbucks hasn’t found us yet.

The thing with hipster neighborhoods is nobody knows they’re hipster neighborhoods yet. So don’t tell anyone about Cole. It’ll be our secret.

Written by Tracy

March 6th, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Posted in and life,Denver,life in the hood

Tagged with ,

The Long, Hot, Colorado Summer

without comments

Colorado is pretty much a total shitstorm right now. It’s been in the 90s and 100s for days, and the hot temperatures will continue into the foreseeable future (the current weather.com 10-day forecast has Denver in the 90s until next Tuesday). Wildfires are raging and people are being shot and killed in and around our neighborhood.

As you know if you’ve been reading here, Ben, Soren, and I go to City Park Jazz all the time. Everybody knows that if you want to find us on a Sunday evening, we’re probably there. Fortunately, we didn’t go last night.

Things have changed since we started going several years ago. Three or four years ago, we used to see well-choreographed gang displays. One week, a group of guys wearing red would get up and walk around the park. The next week, it would be a group of guys wearing blue. The next week, it would be both groups. I remember sitting there thinking, crap, if these guys wanted to start something, what would we do?

It’s been more crowded these days with less (or at least less blatant) gang activity and less potential violence — or so I thought. But last night, an off-duty Denver police officer who was trying to break up a fight as the concert was ending was shot in the head and killed.

A commenter on denverpost.com described the incident:

Since most of the news outlets are having trouble recreating what happened I can tell you what it was like to the South of the lake. If you’ve never been to Jazz in the Park before, it is a fairly segregated environment with the black crowd up to the North and the “wine and cheese yuppies” on the south side of the lake. There is some mixture around the stage area and around the boat house where there are a lot of people milling around. I think this is probably where the incident occurred.

We heard about 3 shots, then a couple more. People started looking around wondering if there was a shooting. The music stopped. We sat back down on the grass then the announcement came “Everyone needs to go to the South side of the park for your safety.” After about a minute, a crowd of mostly young white girls were running panicking towards our location, which is when people got really freaked out.

I figured it was probably some gang banger s*** and that we likely weren’t in any real danger. On the other hand, those bullets could have ended up in the crowd just about anywhere. The amount of emergency vehicles and police presence after the incident was unbelievable. Now I understand why. I think if they want to continue this event they will need to step up the number of uniformed officers in the area.

I, like a lot of people, won’t be going back to this event this year. RIP to the slain officer.

This is tragic and crazy. If you’re not familiar with City Park, it’s one of the biggest parks in Denver. It’s not, if you ask me, considered dangerous as alleged by some of the commenters on news stories about last night’s shooting.

This shooting happened just a month after two men, Deon T. Rudd and Justin O’Donnell, were shot and killed at York St. and Bruce Randolph in the middle of the day. The good news is that two suspects have been arrested and charged in that case. Another young man, De’Quan Walker-Smith, was shot and killed at 29th and Franklin in March.

What the fuck is going on, Denver? Shit like this always makes me wonder what we’re doing living where we live, where people get shot. But what do you do? So you live in the city, where people get shot. Or you live in the suburbs and you have Columbine. Or you live in an idyllic little college town and get Jerry Sandusky. Or you’re in or near the mountains and your entire neighborhood burns to the ground. Shit happens everywhere. I suppose the best way to deal with it is to be careful without being paranoid and live your life as best you can.


Update: If you’re looking for information on Rollin Oliver, I haven’t been able to find much. I can’t find him on Facebook (although apparently he is on there) and this could be him on Twitter. Apparently he resides in northeast Denver. He’s alleged to be a gang member.

Update: New article:

Written by Tracy

June 25th, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Posted in and life,Denver,life in the hood

Tagged with , ,

Gang Graffiti (SUCKS!!!!)

without comments

There’s a cool building near Curtis Park I often pass on the way home from the gym (the old Denver Enterprise Center, which appears to have never been renovated). Today, I noticed that the 30th street side of the building was covered with gang tags. That’s pretty lame.

Gang graffiti happens in our neighborhood all the time, but I think its heyday was in 2009, when I took these pictures.

Tagsblazer1???not sure about this oneShadow

As I said back then on Flickr, I’m not sure who these kids are, but this is pretty weak. Is it blazer or blaser? Either way, why? Does a 1 with a circle around it mean that was some guy’s first tag ever and, if so, don’t they train these people any more? What’s up with the lone D-looking thing? Is it a flag like one that would be used for golf? Is it a pointy boob? Did they get interrupted and, if so, why weren’t they bad ass enough to come back and finish later? Are they soft? Is Shadow someone’s little brother who tagged along (punny!) with his Crayolas? If you’re out tagging shit, isn’t your tag your logo? Wouldn’t you want it to at least look kind of cool? Where is the pride in workmanship here? I find this whole thing very disappointing.

Whenever we’ve been tagged, we just paint over it. The time we got tagged twice in one week, I said we should paint our garage and fence black, but we never did.

To tell you the truth, though, I’d like to be a little more aggressive in my response to gang graffiti. I’d like to make it better. I think this stems from the fact that I’m an editor. I want to edit gang graffiti.

For example, after “blazer” up there, I could add “sucks.” After “Shadow,” I could put “is an asshole.” An East Side Insane Gangsta Clown Posse tag could be followed by “MOLESTS CHILDREN.”

Eventually, because what good is anything these days if you can’t make money off of it, I could design and produce my own line of gang-tag-fighting Fatheads. The first product would be a giant version of this you could stick on any reasonably clean outdoor surface, including walls, garage doors, and fences:

I’ve never understood these Calvin peeing things, but now I see the appeal. Just slap one on the wall and have the pee stream end right above the offending tag.

The store would also carry black ski masks and other items to ensure any witnesses will not be able to identify you to the local gangstas, as well as red editing spray paint. I’m sure it’ll be a huge success, at least until I’m shot in a drive-by.

Written by Tracy

December 22nd, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Apparently, I’m unwelcome in my own hood.

without comments

Nothing makes my day like people talking shit about me on the internet. Here’s the latest, from a message board:

Just found a story about some bitch who took it upon herself to check out my neighborhood. Dumb bitch went to the most dangerous park and then had the nerve to complain that unsavory characters were shooting craps and looking at her while she was pushing her baby in a swing. This is what pisses me off about gentrification. Those fuckers come to our neighborhood, and then act like we shouldn’t be there. The park is basically the backyard to some projects, so um…what the fuck was she expecting? Three hours after she left, someone was shot in that same park. You don’t go the fucking Cage and play swing-a-baby like it’s the fucking suburbs. Just like when they took away the football field and turned it into a fucking dog park, and then had the nerve to be pissed about the Crip party there a couple of months ago. The fucking liquor store is gone, fuckers are jogging up and down our street like it’s disneyland and we now have a noise ordinance. I’m glad I moved recently, but I’m praying that our old house gets rented out to a crackhead just to piss them off.

Sorry for the rant, but that fucking bitch and that story…. I just checked in at Murder Park. at Hit by a Pitch

My favorite parts are in bold. There’s nothing I love more than Crip parties at the dog park (Why weren’t my dogs invited?) and running around like it’s Disneyland, whatever the hell that means. This neighborhood is way more awesome than I realized!

The best of all is that this person doesn’t even live in the neighborhood any more. Those of us who actually live here will miss you, your stellar reading comprehension skills, and your paranoia about white urban hippies with babies. We’re all totally out to get you. Stroller Disciples forever!

Written by Tracy

June 30th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Well, that was fun.

without comments

Soren and I were driving home from a lovely evening with some friends when, as we were on Bruce Randolph, I heard a guy yell and then the street light went out. It was weird because for a second I thought the guy yelling caused the street light to go out, even though logically you know that’s not really what’s happening. I wondered whether it was our pal from last week.1

As I proceeded down Bruce Randolph, I noticed that it was very dark. The houses were dark. I saw another street light go out and then the streetlights were dark. Our neighborhood was not the festive place it usually is (haha). As I pulled up in front of our house, I heard the tell-tale hum of the generator from the school across the street.

When you live in the hood and the power is out, you have a second where you kind of realize that if anything bad happens, you’re kind of fucked. I mean, here I am, getting the baby out of the carseat and then accidentally locking our bags in the car and unlocking the car and getting our bags out and navigating the janky, overgrown sidewalk up to our gate in the dark and, like, if someone wanted to come and jack us right then, there would be nothing I could do to stop it. I mean, it’s not like electricity makes me invincible, but somehow the darkness makes you (and by you I mean me) realize how vulnerable you are.

Inside the house it’s 900 degrees and I realize I’m carrying a toddler who hasn’t had his diaper changed in almost three hours (we don’t usually go that long but you pretty much know when he poops and many times when he hasn’t pooped it’s easier to just wait until we get home). I can’t see anything and there are dogs (the cats stay out of your way). I realize I’m totally fucked.

This is what you need

actual photo from actual blackout

I put Soren in his crib and tell him he just has to wait a second. I don’t want him to get mad. He doesn’t. It’s late for him and he’s either very tired or buzzed on the excitement of being out with a bunch of ladies past his bedtime and completely stuffing himself on corn and butt rub grilled tofu. It sucks that the power is out just now, when the person who has a lighter is out of town for the weekend (I normally wouldn’t tell you this but he’ll be back soon and we have a sophisticated alarm system and a dog who will kill you). I look in the drawer in the dining room where I think a lighter might be. There is no lighter. I find a pack of matches with a cat on it but it’s empty. WTF hoarder.

I can’t see anything and I’m trying not to trip over the min pin, who is stressed the hell out. I finally remember that we have one of those lights you wear on your head like Orbital or when you’re on the Amazing Race. I even know where it is. I put it on.

I don’t know how I’d respond if I were a toddler and I came home to a weirdly dark house and my mom put me in my crib with my shoes on and then came back with some weird-ass light on her head. Soren responded in the best way possible, by being somewhat loaf-like and not objecting to having his clothes and shoes removed, his diaper changed, and pajama pants (all pajama shorts are in the laundry and you can’t really leave him in there without something over his diaper because now he can remove even the snap diapers, not just the velcro ones) applied, even though it’s still 900 degrees in here. While this is going on, I try to call Ben, who is in a location with no cell phone service, to ask him where in the hell matches are in this house. That goes about as well as you’d expect. I carry Soren to the kitchen and get him a pacifier and a sippy cup of water, and then put him in bed. Usually, we read a story before bed (and usually, he’d have his teeth brushed against his will OMFG), but this is weird and he seems remarkably tired. I do my dorky tucking-in stuff, which I won’t bore you with here, wave bye-bye, and close his door.

He actually goes to sleep.

If you were wondering, it’s marginally creepy to walk around a dark house with a light on your head and then see a stressed-out Rottweiler’s beady eyes glowing back at you from the unknown beyond. I don’t know why two of three dogs are stressed out by this situation. It’s not like they’re the ones who don’t know what to do with themselves when they can’t get on the internet aside from a terribly spotty iPhone connection.

I find the box of Nag Champa (this is stored in Ben’s middle desk drawer) (I plan to use this to light candles) and try to light one using the stove. Even a gas stove doesn’t work when there’s no electricity.

I search the dining room drawer for matches and there are none. I move on to a drawer in the kitchen. Success! There is a book of matches and there are matches in it. This is remarkable. In the future, I’ll remember that there are matches in this drawer (when tonight’s ordeal ended, I put the matches back where I found them). I’m not that organized, but when it comes to where I put stuff in the house, I have a reasonably good memory.

I light the Nag Champa with a match and use it to light the candles I’ve collected from around the house. I  bring my computer to the kitchen and try to get on the internet, forgetting (duh) that our internet connection doesn’t work when there is no power. I sit on a stool in the kitchen gazing at my lifeless computer and several candles. What now? I hear the police copter flying around the neighborhood. I hope there’s no looting.

I grab a beer from the refrigerator as quickly as possible and stress out about our food all going bad.2 I realize that I could probably shower by candlelight, which seems less awful than sitting here doing nothing. I drink my beer and gaze at my computer and the candles. I can shower or read a magazine by candlelight. This is an awesome Saturday night.

Just then, the power came back on. That means I was able to write this groundbreaking post but also that I still haven’t showered and it’s been like 900 degrees all day.
1. Last week, Ben, Soren and I were driving on Bruce Randolph. A guy was sitting in a wheelchair in the middle of the street (in the turning lane) by Bruce Randolph and Marion. Right before we passed him, he jumped up out of the chair and aimed an imaginary assault weapon at us. Somehow I knew it was bullshit (I tend to be the one who freaks out) and Ben freaked the fuck out. As we drove past, the guy said, “I’ve got your number.” What the fuck? Ben was pissed. We went to Jenny’s Crackhead Market and then drove by again, but he was gone. Ben was going to call the police if he was still there. I’m going to write a short story about this guy.
2. Soren and I went grocery shopping today, which is quite a feat. I know how lame that sounds. Usually, Ben, Soren, and I go grocery shopping together. Sometimes, Ben and Soren go grocery shopping. Before today, Soren and I had never gone grocery shopping together without Ben. It was hard, and yes, I know how lame that sounds. Ben is the grocery shopping mastermind. I just do things like pick out ice cream and find my multivitamins. Ben knows what to get at Target and what to get at King Soopers and I just barely make it through Target before Soren has a meltdown and we run from the store with the cashier yelling “Ma’am!” (and I’m not even going to hate) chasing us through the parking lot with our bag of $4 beach towels (I’m tired of people using their bath towels for the pool).

Written by Tracy

June 25th, 2011 at 10:43 pm