The Ghost Ride Chronicles

These are not the typical stories you hear in regards to bike riding. Hell, these are not the typical narratives that crop up when bicycles are discussed in general. Instead, these are the narratives of a time in my life where the peace of a middle of the night ride when I worked night shifts outweighed the paranoia of increased police presence during the beginning of the pandemic, the fear of being chased down by security guards, and the ultimate fear of the unknown. While the paths are known, the journeys on them when the hour is 3 AM vs. 5 PM are different, and the experiences were unforgettable. Welcome to The Ghostride Chronicles.

The longest 2 weeks of our lives

“This was unexpected. … And it hit the world. And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away”

– Donald Trump, March 10th, 2020

“Bottom line, it’s going to get worse.”

– Dr. Anthony Fauci, March 11th, 2020

Thursday, March 12th, 2020 was the end of the world as I knew it. It was the last time I was inside a restaurant for an extended period of time, the end of a steady stream of interviews I was getting for the job search, and the final day that any major concert would occur in Denver. Post Malone’s Thursday night show at Pepsi Center was widely panned for the proximity to what would be the last major event before the Stay At Home orders were put in.

At the time, I expected it to be merely a two week quarantine. I was naive thinking that beating a pandemic would simply mean staying at home and not going to restaurants, which were takeout only, during this time period. At the same time I was afraid. Rumors began to swirl in some circles online that the National Guard was going to be enforcing travel along I25, and I would have to carry papers around to justify getting to my job as an essential worker. At the same time, the internet was inundated with articles from various sources and scientific papers that made COVID-19 out to be a behemoth.

In a lot of ways it was, but not just because of the large reproduction rate coupled with the large amount of people that were asymptomatic and potential spreaders. It was an unstoppable behemoth because our country did little to combat it until the beginnings of the Biden Administration. When Trump began to use press conferences as de facto campaign rallies, relied heavily on rapid response tests to avoid social distancing and mask usage, and even downplayed the fact of COVID-19’s effect on him when contracted, I knew that it would take a sea change at the federal level to take this seriously.

Blaming everything on the Trump-sphere in DC shouldn’t acquit the rest of our leaders, however. Locally, the mayor of Denver, Michael Hancock, closed down dispensaries and liquor stores for 3 hours, sparking lines that could have potentially acted as superspreader events. His travel plans in December despite telling Denverites to stay home sparked further outrage. A “stop the madness” rally was held at Bandimere Speedway, as conservative figures such as Patrick Neville and Michelle Malkin championed their ultimately failed lawsuit against Governor Polis for his Safer at home orders. When our state legislature returned to session, Republican lawmakers refused to wear masks, with some even mocking the practice across from their Democratic colleagues.

And yet, as I reflect on the one year anniversary of this tragedy, my mind flashes back to the two week quarantine. In retrospect, it was a testament to our arrogance as a country, the exceptionalism and piecemeal response that we as a country have had in regard to our healthcare system going back to the days of the debates over its overhaul under Truman, Clinton, and Obama. It was a naïve proposal that received blowback from hyper-individualists and a segment of American society that believed things raging from herd immunity, a virus destroyed by a hot climate, or wrongly believing it was a hoax. For me, however, it continues to be the longest 2 week quarantine of my life.

We Need to Pee along RTD: A case for More Light-Rail Public Restrooms

Years ago on my 24th birthday, I was riding the bus the wrong way down Colfax to meet a friend at a bar. I was drunk, not completely aware of my surroundings, and realizing an unfortunate fact that would change the trajectory of my journey.

I needed to pee.

While I was able to pee that fateful night by buying fries and a shake at Burger King and using their restroom, I recognize that I had the privilege because I had the money to essentially buy access to the bathroom, which many people don’t have.

One thing I have noticed in Denver since moving here over five years ago is the lack of public restrooms. Outside of a handful of parks with public restrooms and the mobile restroom maintained by the city, its a fairly patchwork network that is Lower Downtown-centric and has about 15-16 facilities at any given time. A full map of the system can be viewed at the embedded map below.

As things stand right now, the one RTD facility in the city of Denver with a public restroom is Union Station, which has come under fire recently in tandem with RTD as a whole for implementing safety protocols that are seen by some as restrictive to the unhoused population.

With RTD looking to hire a homeless outreach coordinator to engage in a more meaningful way with the largely unhoused populations and the board to set to vote on a measure to allow more affordable housing at their facilities, it makes sense to throw an olive branch towards folks from all walks of life that have lost faith in RTD.

A public restroom along a handful of stops.

Given the fact that there are many stations that act as multimodal hubs, such as the Broadway Station in Denver or the Oak Station in Jefferson County, there is often a large amount of idle time that people have between waiting for a transfer. Rather than trying to find a nearby business to buy something from and hope to use their restroom or duck in a corner and hope a security guard doesn’t find you, wouldn’t it be better to have a semi-regularly maintained public facility that could be used?

Some may argue that building and maintaining public restrooms along light rail line is something that shouldn’t be a priority at this time and would be a drag on the system. After all, shouldn’t restoring lines and schedules lost to the pandemic be a priority?

While I would agree that recovery of lost service should maintain the top priority of RTD, building trust with ridership that returns after the pandemic by prioritizing rider experience and keeping passengers healthy and safe is invaluable. Public restrooms would be a facet of this, adding something that would be an extra “push” to get someone to use public transportation versus a single occupancy vehicle to get to their destination. At the very least, the RTD Board of Directors should research systems that have restrooms along their stops to see if its a viable option, as ridership increases once vaccination has been completed.

Down with Cyclists, up with People who ride Bikes: A Case for People First Language

Back in September of 2020, I was riding one night to get a decent loop in and to clear my head after having a rough conversation. I was going to the Platte River Trail on 13th Ave, which has a part before the underpass that crosses a major train line. I got stopped at the track behind a large coal train, headed northbound towards Wyoming presumably. As I was waiting for the seemingly thousand car train to pass, a person rolled up on their bike next to me, carrying what seemed like ingredients for their family in a bag from a Dollar Store. After 10 minutes of the train passing by, they reached for their phone. It was in that moment that I eavesdropped on their conversation that this was a working class person, coming home one their only form of transportation.

This is a person rides a bike.

The Railroad Crossing on 13th near the Platte River Trail

On my way back from a ride yesterday, a person went by me at what felt like 16 miles per hour, talking on his Bluetooth while doing so.

This person is a cyclist.

Defining Cyclist

Yesterday, I put out an open ask on several forms of social media what people thought of the term “Cyclist”.

The conversation that ensued conjured up many different interpretations of the word. From a person that rides exclusively for sport, to a Middle aged Male in Lycra (MAMIL), to the simple dictionary definition, the word brought out strong feelings in people.

As someone that rides a bike, I seldom use the word cyclist, and think its a bad way to define ourselves.

Growing up in the 2000’s, my exposure to cycling was mostly based on the perceptions of bicycle racing at the time. My parents gave me a Livestrong bracelet, and one of my favorite events to watch was the Tour De California, the closest consummate thing in the US to the Tour De France.

In other words, cyclists were the elite for me.

Major companies in the aughts took advantage of the popularization of cycling to sell riding a bicycle in the 2000’s as a lifestyle, with sales being high until the Great Recession. During the COVID-19 pandemic, where people have been encouraged by car free streets to ride their bikes, there has been a third “bicycle boom” despite another economic recession looming large.

I personally pride myself on the fact that I have never paid more the $200 for a bike in my adult life. While there are some overhead costs, including advanced maintenance, getting and replacing proper gear, and repairs from really dumb ride decisions, I have still kept things low cost by never buying into things that I can’t afford.

When people hear the term “cyclist” however, they don’t think of people like me.

They think of Lance Armstrong. The white, middle to upper class and middle aged dude that nearly ran them over on a multi-use trail. They think of people who own a bike as a fitness luxury versus a significant mode of transportation. Above all, as evidenced by the cover photo with the wordcloud, they think of spandex, lycra, elitism, and sports before anything else.

Lance Armstrong at the Tour De France, 2004. Getty Images

People first language is important in eliminating these stereotypes for casual riders. A “disabled person” is not defined by their disability, and is instead a “person with a disability”. Likewise, a “cyclist” should be a “person who rides a bike” to preserve their basic humanity. The faster the term cyclist is discarded for everyday riders, the faster we can advocate for infrastructure without conjuring up stereotypes amongst people on the fence.

When the crossing gates came up, I realized the person taking their groceries home had to navigate a part of town that was significantly hostile to people who ride bikes. Many Westside neighborhoods such as Barnum and Valverde have been neglected from an infrastructure, with paint and sharrows being the currency of the region. To kill the cyclist and elevate the person on a bicycle grammatically would benefit all riders, and is something we should push for everyday.

I’m Tired of Ads: The KFC Lifetime Short and the Era of post-advertising.

*Spoilers for A Recipe for Seduction*

Harland David Sanders was a lot of things in his lifetime. A soldier in Cuba in the early 1900’s, a midwest carriage painter, and a lawyer that literally ended his law career with a courtroom brawl, all of the things Mr. Sanders did up until 1930 would be enough to, at the very least, be a page in a book of oddities.

Then, the Great Depression hit,

During an era of rapid economic deflation, Shell Oil Company gave Sanders a location to work at in the state of Kentucky. With the skills he had built up over the years, he started serving food at his station, including steaks, country ham, and fried chicken.

Flash forward 20 years and a shootout amongst rivals later, and Harlan Sanders is now Colonel Sanders, re-commissioned by the Governor of Kentucky (who was also a friend). Sanders would then go on to found the business we know him for in 1952, Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Colonel Sanders near the end of his life

Flash Forward sixty eight years.

When the announcement came that Lifetime would be making a “steamy holiday love affair” based on the life of Harlan Sanders, I expected literally none of this to exist in it. As an off and on critic of advertising and cultural phenomena, I decided to check it out on its own merits, separating the blatant advertising from the actual content.

Mario Lopez to Play Colonel Sanders in Lifetime and KFC's A Recipe for Seduction Mini-Movie
Mario Lopez as Harland Sanders

The Story

A Recipe for Seduction stars Mario Lopez as Harland Sanders and Justene Alpert as Jessica, an heiress, as star crossed lovers. One Christmas-y night, a wealthy suitor named Billy Garibaldi (Chad Doreck), proposes to Jessica in front of her mother, Bunny (Tessa Munro), but faces rejection from Jessica while her mother and gay best friend Lee (Martin Murrow) fight to convince her either way for and against accepting the proposal, respectively. Harlan arrives on the scene, a chef from a culinary establishment that is named a few times and forgotten. What matters to Jessica is his personality, and a secret recipe for chicken that the cast mentions ad nauseum after his arrival on the scene. Jessica and Harlan fall in love instantly, while her mother Bunny tries to sabotage the relationship, as its revealed Billy and Bunny are scheming to force a marriage so the family can gain access to the Garibaldi fortune (and, for Bunny, to continue an affair Billy and Bunny are having). Jessica finds out about the sabotage from Harlan, and confronts her mother. The end of the story is comprised of a scene where Lee pushes a chair to help Harlan and Jessica to escape the capture of Bunny and Billy, and flashes forward to a year later. Harlan and Jessica are getting married in a picturesque, with Lee officiating the ceremony. Billy and Bunny are together too, with Bunny being a patient at a psych ward and Billy coming in with a drumstick of fried chicken, presumably a stick.

Story Analysis

If you knew absolutely nothing about what KFC, Colonel Sanders, or Lifetime was, this short film would play very much as a parody of the episode of a soap opera. As the myriad articles have mentioned since its airing, the term “soap opera”, was in fact made to sell soap, and this short film embraces that ethos. Besides the bulging muscles common in romance stories, Lopez’s Harlan is a tongue in cheek look at the “sexy-blank” trope in a lot of ways. The other characters hit on other stereotypes and bits from soap-operas, and the entire setting feels like the fantasy of a Nicolas Sparks novella.

Why it Works

Once context is inserted, the whole thing seems absurd. Its an ad anyway you shake it, and is the first piece of custom branded content that the network has put out. The important thing is it made the parent company money. Yum! Brands, the company behind KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, posted gains to their start price since both the announcement and airing of the short movie.

A graph going back to early December for Yum! Brands showing the gradual rise in stock.

While there are a lot of things to take into account, including increased business from holiday travelers and those on the economic fringes who can’t afford to eat out somewhere fancier, the trendline is still favorable for Yum. Long term performance of the stock is seen to be generally good, and it seems like it is the jolt the chain needs given the fact Americans are cooking at home more.

The more important and interesting thing to me is what A Recipe for Seduction symbolizes. While filming began in 2018, the airing during a pandemic where locally owned restaurants and chains are shutting down at a rapid rate due to a mixture of factors is not lost on me. It is an extended ad for a chain that is part of a company that, while having struggles many companies in the food service industry have, is still surviving. Even if the piece didn’t have the word of mouth popularity to drive sales for KFC, Yum would survive this pandemic, while places such as Racines, Armidas, and Milo’s Sports Tavern have permanently shut their doors in Denver.

The Era of Post Advertising

As the Millennial generation starts to age and Generation Z begins to have purchase power, advertisers are trying to build out profiles for them. In the era of targeting and building up detailed profiles on what a person buys, advertisers should have the inherent advantage. However, with an economic recession and financial lessons learned from millennials, Generation Z is incredibly skeptical of advertising despite constantly being inundated with it. Time and time again, authenticity is a major factor in why they buy things.

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A recent targeted Facebook ad

With Americans of all ages staying at home and looking at their screens more due to COVID-19, Generation Z is not the only group being marketed too. Baby Boomers, Generation X, and even Millennials are all inundated with ads, from branded content by influencers to meme driven content like the ad above. Advertising has become anarchic, and despite the fact that advertisers have built up nearly 2 decades worth of data on people my age, the skepticism of my generation and generation Z towards blatant advertising has caused companies to panic.

In walks A Recipe for Seduction

The mere announcement of the mini-movie got people talking. Similar to the gaming console that keeps fried chicken warm, people had their strong opinions. Regardless, it is an example of post-advertising that worked, as Yum got richer in the immediacy for it. And, in a landscape where consumers are cash strapped and less likely to spend out, that’s all that matters to companies.

*featured image is a still from “A Recipe for Seduction”*

Covid Withdraws: A Journey into a Pandemic era Denver

Around this time last year, my world was different. I was in the second month of working nightshift, was slightly fatigued and disheartened by what felt like a backslide at the time, and utterly devastated by the fact that I worked on Christmas Day.

In the last couple months, I feel like I have reversed that.

I started a nonprofit this year. Five years after receiving an advanced degree in Nonprofit Administration, I finally am living my passion. While tax exemption is likely going to be something that happens closer to 2021, I am in the midst of looking into microgrants and beginning the process of looking into the space necessary to make the Roll Anywhere Denver shop a reality.

That being said, the Denver I am coming back to is not the Denver of December 2019.

A couple nights ago, I rode my bike down to Capitol Hill to grab a DVD from an old friend. After a brief ride and catching up outside, most of which was us comparing the miseries of our years, I started riding home. On my way home, I stopped at the Capitol to look out upon what Denver had become.

While still a wonderful city, Denver had been fundamentally changed by the events of 2020. The skyscrapers of lower downtown are still visible, with tags from the George Floyd protests, text from another chapter of America reckoning with its racist past, up and down the first floors. As your gaze turns closer to Civic Center park, a more “traditional” winter Denver becomes visible.

An ad for a European Christmas Market in Civic Center Park

A winter market that feels very much like a relic of Pre-COVID Denver is in the center of everything, along with a city hall that is lit like the city was in the middle of an economic boom.

But it isn’t. The 2021 Denver will still be in a deficit budget wise, forced to take austerity measures during a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted people in the service industry, Denverites of color, and those already in precarious economic situations. While those in high tech arenas were quickly able to recover, the floor bottomed out, and tent cities comparable to Hoovervilles in the 1930’s were everywhere. Many people who are renting are also on the edge, crossing fingers hoping the federal government gives them aid. Businesses are counting their pennies, hoping for rental assistance and help as things stall in Washington.

Yet, the park seems like a Disneyland amidst a city on the edge.

When I took a picture of City Hall from the Capitol, the most prominent thing in the foreground was the graffiti on the statue. “Jesus Saves” a popular expression, caught my eye. A phrase often used to signify faith in god will make things all aright, Jesus Saves felt like only part of the story this year. Jesus saves, sure, but COVID Withdraws, and will continue to withdraw, even long after its completely gone. Or we are.

Featured image is of the former monument to the Sand Creek Massacre statue, which is being replaced in the New Year, with the Denver City-County building in the background.

2020: The Year I was Flattened, and survived

When I started this year, I wanted to get into swing dancing. A friend of mine who I met online said that she would go with me to the Mercury Café’s swing nights and support me in my endeavors. The first two sessions in early January were electric, and it was a morale booster that brought me into a better state of mind.

I was also applying for jobs at this time as well. With the economy still very vibrant in Denver, I was getting interview requests every other day, slowly chipping away at the possibility of getting a new job. I had heard on the news that a virus was spreading rapidly in China and Europe, but thought the myself “this won’t ever spread to the US, and if it does, we will contain it!”

Flash forward to today.

As I sit and type this down on my couch on a day when 3,000 Americans, more people than have died since 9/11, have been killed by COVID-19 I feel like I have been “flattened” by this year. Beyond the global pandemic, America’s racist history was brought to the forefront as George Floyd and Elijah McClain were murdered by police officers. As the election drew nearer, the sitting president, who tried several times this year to incite war with Iran and minimized the pandemic and protests, is challenging election results after they have been submitted, and shows no signs of conceding gracefully. There is no national strategy when it comes to COVID-19, and the vaccine distribution process looks like it won’t be complete until summer 2021 in Colorado.

Now, breathe in and breathe out.

This year, I have had to accept that there are things I can’t control in life. The “flattening” of this year was one of them. To explain what I mean by that, my “flattening” felt like loss of stability in everything in my life all at once. From the loss of the opportunity to dance, to an economic depression that ended my job search, to work becoming a warzone as police got into standoffs with protestors, I felt that this was the new normal.

It fundamentally changed me. Similar to how Judge Doom from Who Framed Roger Rabbits true form is shown to be a manic Toon after being run over by a steamroller, the flattening revealed my true self. A good self, but tired, on the ground, and wary.

Now, as the year ends, I start the process of getting back up. Realizing my values, including commitment to community, outspokenness on issues of injustice, and, a recent value, relentless advocacy for myself, I am ready to roar into the new year and all the new challenges in my way.

Featured image is of the author waiting at a light rail station with a towel he borrowed from his relatives.

Post Trump, what comes next? A journey into the abyss in the Centennial State

Note: This is a bit of divergence from my typical, non-political topics of discussion. I would like to emphasize that I am focusing on local elections and things that are Colorado-centric in my analysis. I hope you understand.

Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.-Friedrich Nietzsche

While focus in the national sphere is on the chaotic state of the Georgia Senate races possibly shifting the balance of power in the senate and the seemingly endless lawsuits of the Trump campaign against certification of state Biden won by a slim margin, local Colorado races and events are showing signs of a post-Trump GOP. Though he has shown no indication that he is going away, Coloradans rejected Trump soundly, voting by a nearly 14 point margin to send their 9 electoral votes to Biden. On a congressional level, Colorado stayed relatively stable, with one major exception.

During the primaries in the race for Congressional District 3, business owner Lauren Boebert defeated longtime congressman Scott Tipton in the Republican primary and ultimately defeated Diane Bush in the general election by a margin of 5 points. Lauren Boebert, who defied the state’s public health order by keeping her business, Shooter’s Grill, open during the worst of the first and second waves of the pandemic, is also a supporter of the baseless Qanon conspiracy, which in broad terms claims that Donald Trump is fighting against a deep state that has been housing pedophiles and an agent with Q level clearance is revealing information about this fight (1). Her biggest claim to fame prior to her ascendency to power was challenging then Democratic presidential candidate Beto O Rourke at a rally on gun control in Aurora, where a major shooting occurred nearly 8 years ago at the premier of The Dark Knight Rises. She is set to be sworn in with the next congress in early January, and has repeated the baseless conspiracy theories about the election being corrupt and rigged.

Lauren Boebert 117th U.S Congress.jpg
Lauren Boebert

Meanwhile, while Democrats held their majority in the state house and expanded it in the State-Senate, the special session called in regards to COVID-19 had a particularly viral moment, both literally and figuratively. Representative Larry Liston, whose district includes much of Northern Colorado Springs, chose to wear a mask on his head and mocked his Democratic colleagues.

Image
Representative Larry Liston wearing a mask on his head

Reelected with 56% of the vote, Liston has been in and out of power in the Colorado State House since 2005, and has been incredibly active in the Republican party before then, being involved in different roles on the campaign for George W Bush. Along with Liston’s dissent, half of the Republican delegation went mask-less as well.

The substantive votes on the spending packages were overshadowed by the behavior of the Republicans during the legislative session. Bills in regards to small business relief, a housing fund for disadvantaged renters, and increasing broadband capacity passed, with some Republican dissent.

A final event in Colorado politics focuses on Congressman Ken Buck. The current head of the Colorado Republican Party and a sitting US Congressman in a heavily Republican district, Buck defended Colorado’s election integrity from attacks from president Trump. this drew the ire of many rank and file, with a baseless conspiracy theory by the president himself that Dominion voting machines deleted millions of votes for him being tweeted out in mid-November.

So, what are some common trends emerge from this era of politics in the State of Colorado? A few, actually.

A complete lack of regard for scientific reasoning.

While this stretches as far back as the 1960’s with debates over water fluoridation and the candidacy of Barry Goldwater, Covid-19 has intensified some of the worst elements of the Republican Party’s distrust of science. Prior to outright defriending them, several of my more conservative friends shared a viral video about COVID-19 being a planned event meant to encroach on individual liberties. This slickly produced YouTube documentary formed the intellectual basis for not wearing masks, and, in some ways, led to the “debate” over widely established facts that masks prevent the spread of viral infections. Representative Liston’s refusal and mockery of wearing a mask is the height of an utter disdain for science and reason.

Deference to strongman*/spectacle driven politicians.

Though this seems to contradict my attempt to articulate what a party will look like post-Trump, this is actually a more deeply rooted aspect of Republicans that has its roots in the election of Ronald Reagan, who, during his own campaign, said he would Make America Great. Trump, far from being the beginning of deference to personality driven politics in the GOP, is only a symptom of it. While many names have been floated as successors to Trump at the federal level, including Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, and his own son, the Colorado GOP’s most likely candidate for that role is recently elected Boebert. During the Thanksgiving Holiday, Boebert hosted a large Thanksgiving Party/”Turkey Funeral” that had at least 30 attendees during a time when Colorado had 1 in 41 residents infected. Though she is expected to vote and carry herself as a staunch conservative as she enters the House of Representatives, her actions and words are more in the spotlight than her possible positions on the issues. Expect this kind of politics to be front and center in a post Trump world.

A conspiratorial disdain for “the elites”

Though this is a messaging tactic that was pioneered by Barry Goldwater and refined and polished under Ronald Reagan, it emerged in full force in the Trump-era. Q-Anon conspiracy theorist, including Lauren Boebert before her disavowal of it, pride themselves on believing that elite forces in both parties that have encourage pedophilia are being thwarted by Donald Trump. Note, this is a conspiracy that crosses party lines Ken Buck to a lot of rank and file is very much part of this elite class for claiming that the election was not rigged and that Colorado is fairly good when it comes to voter integrity.

A violent rejection of democracy/general inclination towards violence.

While this has a recent history in GOP history, including Bill O Reilly’s “Tiller the Baby Killer” rhetoric that contributed to George Tiller’s Murder by right wing extremists and Gabby Giffords Shooting being a byproduct of the NRA’s escalation of violent language, the appendage of rejecting and constantly attacking democracy relentlessly is new and a direct byproduct of Donald Trump’s continuous refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election and baseless attacks on the process by his personal lawyer is incredibly new. It also fits into a couple of other molds as well. Earlier yesterday, Ken Buck discussed the possibility of reopening an investigation in Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine, a conspiracy meant to discredit the incoming Biden administration. Some Republican state legislators have bought into the baseless conspiracy that the 2020 elections were rigged, and have unsuccessful attempted to overturn the results in Colorado. A Patriot Muster Rally, which resulted in a deadly shooting, was found to be directly connected to the Colorado GOP. The inclination towards violence has a storied past, and will have a devastating present and future in a party that refuses to accept basic principles of democracy.

A Photo from the Patriot Muster Rally

When I started my quote with the Nietzsche quote, I meant it as a warning. Though this piece does not mention the opposition to the Republican party, which is primarily composed of the Democratic Party, both its governing wing and its left leaning activist contingent, these elements play an important role in slowing the march of these destructive trends in the GOP. In a later blog (probably for next week), I will talk more about prescriptive elements the Democratic party and other groups concerned with the state of our democracy to fight these destructive trends. Until then, stay informed, but stay sane.

*Featured Image is from a February 2020 Colorado Springs Rally, the basis for the bulk of Donald Trumps support in the State of Colorado*

  1. During the election, Boebert disassociated with the Q-Anon conspiracy theories.

The Parking Lot Putsch

Went to an election watch party in 2016. I knew the historic opportunity to see our first woman president break the glass ceiling was something I needed to experience with a group after a contentious primary and general. An extension of the current administration seemed like something I could stand for, and I needed a lift.

Lifted to the party up the escalator, which consisted of two monitors and few chairs. Lots of people sitting.

Local races mixed and national results didn’t show up until later in the night, with mostly Coloradans staring at Midwestern counties.

US Wisconsin senate goes red. Florida, Pennsylvania, Indiana too. Conversation about expanding on previous administration’s success becomes chess match.

Eyes on executive.

Turning point for the room spiritually is Florida. Latino voters are not unanimously out for the Administration: in fact, older Cubans pulled hard for regime change.

I left the room, the parking lot to clear my head. You can see my flannel in election night photos. Head less clear.

People go to lot with me.Remember having a cigarette, realizing that, at the very least, we were defensive against an ascendant right wing nationalism worldwide that the Philippines and the UK had already experienced.

Battery low

Phone dying, get home. Leave the parking lot. Meet friends soon 

Never Meet. Hope Ok, Hope survived.

Some don’t 

Regime ascendant.

Train home. Tense. Hope path to victory for Administration. Health repeal discussed. Regime Speaks. Forgotten men speech. Black men in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin turned away polls. Law and Order. Get to Station, ride home. Bed.

Chess Board Knocked Over.

Mind drained.

November to January blur. Last ditch efforts by electors to vote their conscience, recount attempted to be initiated by minority party candidates across 3 states, and the sadness of outgoing Administration officials, towards what the Regime would do to the office.Go clubbing January 19th. Come out.

Minutes into Regime. Dismantling Administration. Express they had the largest inauguration size ever (and subsequently disproven by Regime’s own agency in later statement) begins to go to war with reason, a war that would ultimately result in an incoherent foreign policy, trade deals that made little sense, forming a 5th branch of the military purely out of ego, and, most infamously, a sluggish and conspiratorial response to a pandemic and racial protests that hasn’t been seen since 1918.

Regime overthrown. Qualified checkmark Twitter. While still active, the news media has gone Watergate, deplatforming and contextualizing Regime every chance they get.

Getting closure myself though, I needed to get back to the parking lot. The place where the Regime was born. The place I started panic thinking in regards to issues, and playing defense in my life.

I rode my bike through the back alleys of my apartment, realizing that the Hyatt was actually part of a larger complex of buildings that composed a large outdoor shopping mall. The spot was easy to scope from memory. I snapped a pic and headed inside.

Inside were 3 concierges, wearing black masks. I asked if there was a way to the second floor, and was told it was restricted due to COVID-19. I briefly chatted with a guy who was working the night of the election party, joking that “must have made a lot of alcohol sales that night”

I left the parking lot in a significantly better state of mind than in 2016. It was cathartic, feeling like leaving a weight behind that had built up over years of fighting for survival. It was freedom, and the ability to forge a new identity separate from that of the Regime.

While a lot of people will look at this and say “see, you did survive the Regime, it wasn’t that bad,” consider this:

The Hyatt nationally is now a company that provides lodging to COVID-19 healthcare providers. Beyond that, I was one of the few people out in general, due to the fact the city put in a 10 AM curfew. I have been COVID-adjacent two times, and that is a level of paranoia you never want in your life. Some people in that parking lot have had Covid, and there is the possibility that some in the party have died due to a strong 3rd wave and involvement in anti-Regime  politics. While I was able to escape the parking lot, the victims of Regime era deaths are buried in the concrete of fascism, negligence, and outright violence.

And I escaped, and I am better for it.

The Regime that Started and Ended in a Parking Lot

Prologue

Election night 2016,

Yes, 2016, not 2020. We will get to that.

I was madly refreshing my large laptop, watching with a friend as states were flashing blue and red, blue and red. We were in Downtown Denver at Union Station, and it felt electric. While many of us were not super enthusiastic about Hillary, we were about to beat Donald Trump, a womanizer that said that he would “grab em by the pussy” merely 10 years before.

The “party”

I went to the Colorado Democratic Hyatt watch party stag. Despite not knowing anyone, I knew the historic opportunity to see our first women president break the glass ceiling was something I needed to experience with a group after a contentious primary and general.

A Description of the Watch Party in 5280 Magazine

Then, the results came in.

Early signs were mixed. Morgan Carroll lost in Colorado’s-6th congressional district heavily against incumbent Coffman, but a social use amendment (AKA marijuana coffee shops) was approved in Denver overwhelming. A Bernie style healthcare plan was rejected at the state level, while Bennet was returned to the Senate and the minimum wage was increased.

After a flurry of wins and failures, however, all eyes were on the presidency.

The Takeover

While, in the final weeks of the campaign, Clinton had wanted to expand the map by adding Arizona to her column, she ended in Philadelphia on the night before election night in New York in a ploy to get a swing-ish state from Trump, results didn’t show up until later in the night, and activists were nervously looking at their phones as the TV was calling many traditional Midwestern states “Too Close to Call”

The first moral loss at the national level to me was Russ Feingold, a progressive force in Wisconsin politics who lost to Ron Johnson. Other possible pickups, including Rubio in Florida, Toomey in Pennsylvania, and a seat in Indiana did not come to fruition. What was once a conversation about expanding on progressive ideals during the Obama years became slowly became playing ball with Republicans to ensure stability.

Then, the chessboard was knocked over

Eyes back on the presidency.

The turning point for the room felt like Florida. True to the election night 2016 skit, the “Latino voters” did not come out for Hillary: in fact, some of the more conservative portions of Latino voters, including Cubans, pulled hard for Trump.

This is when I left the room, and headed to the parking lot to clear my head. You can see my flannel between the couple.

I was not the only one to do so that night. The way the event was handled was that the “party” was on the second floor, so large groups of people would go up and down a set of elevators to get to the parking lot to smoke/call relatives and friends in concern and semiprivate, and seek consolation from others. While I cannot remember much beyond that, I do remember having a cigarette, realizing that, at the very least, we would be playing defense against an ascendant right wing nationalism that both Duterte in the Philippines and Brexit in the UK had already experienced.

Battery low

My phone was dying, and I needed to get home. I left the parking lot and said my goodbyes to my newly found friends.

The Regime was ascendant.

On the train ride home, everyone was doom scrolling, doing the same dance I was doing in my head as to if there was any path to victory for Clinton. McConnell was talking ACA repeal, and Trump, once Pennsylvania flipped to his column, gave a speech about the forgotten man, as many black men in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were turned away at the polls in concerted voter suppression tactics. I got to a light rail station in Littleton, got a ride home from my uncle, and went to bed.

Trump Wins Pennsylvania in Stunning Defeat for Clinton - YouTube

The events of and leading up to the inauguration seem like ancient history. Last ditch efforts by electors to vote their conscience, a recount attempted to be initiated by green party candidate Jill Stein across 3 Midwest states, and the sadness of outgoing Obama officials, including Obama himself, towards what the Regime would do to the office.

Minutes into his Regime, Trump began the process of dismantling the institution. Tweeting that he had had the largest inauguration size ever (and subsequently disproven by his own Park Service in a later tweet) Trump began to go to war with Washington, a war that would ultimately result in an incoherent middle eastern policy, trade deals that made little sense, forming a 5th branch of the military purely out of ego, and, most infamously, a sluggish and conspiratorial response to a pandemic and racial protests that hasn’t been seen since Woodrow Wilson invited EW Griffith, the director of Birth of a Nation, to the White House (Trump would invite Kid Rock, Ted Nugent, and Sarah Palin who took a distasteful picture in front of secretary Clinton, which felt similar)

4 Hours at the White House With Ted Nugent, Sarah Palin and Kid Rock - The  New York Times

But its over. As I speak, Trump has an asterisk next to his name. While he is still active on Twitter, news media has completely abandoned him as a voice, and de-platforms and contextualizes him every chance they get.

To get closure myself though, I needed to get back to the parking lot. The place where, the one cigarette I had during the regime was had. The place I started panic thinking in regards to issues, and playing defense in my life.

I rode my bike through the back alleys of my apartment, realizing that the Hyatt was actually part of a larger complex of building that composed a large outdoor shopping mall. The spot was easy to scope from memory. I snapped a pic and headed inside.

Inside were 3 concierges, each wearing non-descript black masks. I asked if there was a way to the second floor (which is where the party took place) and was told it was restricted due to COVID-19. I briefly chatted with a guy who was working the night of the election party, joking that “they must have made a lot of alcohol sales that night”

I left the parking lot in a significantly better state of mind than in 2016. It was cathartic, feeling like leaving a weight behind that had built up over years of fighting for survival. It was freedom, and the ability to forge a new identify separate from that of the Trump administration.

Photo before leaving parking lot

While a lot of people will look at this and say “see, you did survive the Trump Administration, it wasn’t that bad,” consider this:

The Hyatt nationally is now a company that provides lodging to COVID-19 healthcare provider. Beyond that, I was one of the few people out in general, due to the fact the city put in a 10 AM curfew. I have personally been COVID-adjacent two times, and that is a level of paranoia you never when in your life. Some people in that parking lot have had Covid, and there is the possibility that some in the party have died due to a strong 3rd wave and involvement in politics. While I was able to escape the parking lot, the victims of Trump era deaths are buried in the concrete of fascism, negligence, and naivete.

And I did, and I am better for it.

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