About 6 months ago, when Tartley was finally booted out of the country, he
texted everyone he knew in Denver with "London best
ever place. Cant believe stayed so long in Denver." Today I received
an email from the same codger regarding my own departure: "Sigh. It's all the end of an era, and no mistake.
As if it didn't end three years ago - but all of us apart from Nick were too dozy to realise it."
The implication here was that aside from a period of amusing late 90s hedonistic
materialistic draw, Denver is not worth living in.
So, trying (not entirely successfully) to ignore the obnoxious lack of
diplomacy involved, does Hartley have a point? Has anyone in the suitably named
80s zipcode been wasting their lives? Should we all up sticks & bugger off
Back in Melbourne I remember a bloke called Jim Ewing who was from Palm
Beach, FL. He said that he had lived in Denver for 10 years but left because it
was a cow town & he hated the winters.
Certainly Denver is no bustling metropolis. The city seems to be
organised in a quasi-apartheid style fashion, segregated according to the
yuppies (Wash Park, Cheeseman Park), the yuppies-turned-puppy raisers (Highlands
Ranch, the dreadful Parker), Latinos (Highlands) and the have-nots (Five
Points). Downtown feels not just small, but also two dimensional in comparison
with Chicago (let alone SF/NY). And what's with most women here having no
ambitions beyond finding a man, and an 80s Dynasty/Dallas haircut (large &
blonde)? And the blokes? The sale of trucks alone gives an indication to how
redneck they can be.
No ocean means no surfing, and no cutesy Sausalito-style fishing
As something of a staging post for the middle of the country, and a
magnet for ski lovers in search of a couple of seasons, Denver is about as
transitive a place as exists. You can be friends with people, be they foreign
H1B visa holders or not, who are going to leave. In droves. Perhaps 25% of the
people I have hung out with have left in the last 6 years.
Having accepted not-very-cosmopolitan as a write-off in the debate, and
Ignoring the facets of America which are good/bad in comparison with the UK/OZ,
let's consider some of the boons of living in Denver versus
Physical Environment I: Weather. Living in London one gets the distinct
impression, Blur-GreatEscape style, that "Everyone's trying to get into the
blue." LA-aside, none of the aforementioned tier-one cities can compete.
And if you don't like snow, particularly a day when it's so thick that all sound
is muffled & the trees creek in agony then you have not lived. Absence of
rain, humidity (Sydney) and NY-style cold/London wind, as well as a real summer
(SF) means that playing any sort of sport outside is a nigh uncancellable
Physical Environment II: Physical Geography. Ever picked your nose in
London/NY/LA and examined the contents? Nasal mucus should be green, not
soot-black. Ski/hike mountains? Too far (London, LA, Sydney), too crowded (SF).
Vistas & skies that go on forever?
Business Environment: OK, this has been personal -- the mixture of doss,
ambition, friends & money that was Convergent Group. Do not tell me that
Linkspoint, Lambeth Council or Sema hold a candle to Cvg. And let's not forget about Resevoir Dogs-style lunches with yer mates.
Brit bands playing small venues: A small but sizable bonus that leaves
you with Radiohead at Redrocks, Blur at the Ogden, Primal Scream at the Bluebird
& Oasis at the Paramount.
Cost of life. Yes yes yes, very lame as a reason to choose to live
anywhere. Until you see Nick drowning in debt for a Manhattan 'mansion' of a
thousand square feet, JB living in a dingy flat broken into. Bob's subterranean
flat cost more than Steph's park palace. Don't get me started on the cost of my
$250 Canon camera in London (it's 400 GB pounds).
Safety: It may be extremely patchy, but ironically in the land of guns I
have not locked my car for 6 years. Neither Pearl St nor Gaylord were in any
Friends: As far as I can see, Denver is as good a place as my peers have
managed to find with regard to meeting new people and nourishing friendships
(even if they do all bugger off, there is the benefit of having a place to stay
in Chicago/Boston/NY/SF etc). JB, you would have left 3 years ago, would you?
Before meeting the empowered women crew (Steph et al) and the acting posse
(Lindsay's mob)? Interesting. Is that real air you're breathing?
Let's get personal for a while, JB. You
left 'cos you were kicked out. Your job had run its course. Your visa had
expired. Your cash sitch had hit debt collection agency stage. You even tried to
move to Atlanta. Atlanta for feck's sake. Land of lard & steamy weather.
Making the most of London is a good thing -- I plan on doing it myself very
shortly -- but rejecting your past is something for you & your psychiatrist
to explore. Or me down the pub (in about 2 weeks).
Glancing up, it appears as though you
should live everywhere & love it. For my part, the ranting (from both you +
me) can all be summed up by the Doves track (which you should listen to while
re-reading this), There goes the fear
"You turn around/And life's passed
you by/You look to ones you love, to justify."