Baer Simon Photography
On 17th Avenue, from Downing to Lafayette
Bus directions: Take the 12 or 20 down 17th Avenue from Market Street Station, or take the 15 up Colfax to Downing and walk to 17th Avenue
I used to think Downing was the edge of the known world, the kind of place you might go past and disappear. As if it were the edge of an ancient map.
My husband and I would occasionally venture as far into Denver as Downing to go to Chez Artiste, an art-house movie theater.
A week ago I walked right up Downing from Colfax, marveling at how nice the houses were. I had always thought there was a buffer zone of shabbiness around Colfax, but if it ever existed here, it has gone away.
I was in search of Dazbog coffeehouse, at 17th Avenue and Downing. It’s right across from Las Margaritas; I ate there once years ago, and had mole, one of my favorite foods. (“Mole,” by the way, means “sauce”; “guacamole” means “testicle sauce.”) I’ve driven by this corner many times on my way down Park Avenue to the Botanic Gardens or Free University. It’s one of those impossible corners where more than two streets intersect, where the map becomes full of less-than-90-degree angles. It’s also close to the “hospital district,” though some of the hospitals are migrating to the periphery where they’ll have more room to grow. It’s a little worrisome because there aren’t that many hospitals left in the main parts of Denver. Denver Health is still down on 6th Avenue, but otherwise you have to travel.
Dazbog (Russian-born, Denver-roasted coffee) is a nice little place, with walls partially plastered over brick to get that…rustic?… look. Or something. I bought one of their truffles, which was about as dry as a malt ball—I’ll never try one of those again. And I settled down in various seats to work. When I looked up again, there was a family of three at the counter, and the place was packed.
I won’t avoid Dazbog, but I won’t seek it out either. It doesn’t have as much character as some of the other coffee shops in town, and the baristas are not nearly as happy as at Illegal Grounds.
Maybe I was feeling persnickety after getting worked up at the John Lennon birthday celebration I wrote about earlier this month. Anyway, I was more interested in the rest of this particular part of Uptown, so I gathered up my unnaturally heavy laptop, etc., and headed east on 17th.
It’s a busy street here, still one-way but much more dangerous to navigate than it is farther west. I stayed safely on my side, investigating the shops. Baer Simon Photography was a bit of a mystery: the front was completely blocked off by a white screen, but the door was open and a bike was inside. I couldn’t see a good way to get from the front to the back of the store. Everything in there was so white and quiet; I felt as if I were rattling the door to a tomb, but the pictures were all of parents and babies.
As I stood there, a man unlocked a narrow door nearby and went up the stairs with his dog. Apparently people live above these stores.
Talulah Jones was my first stop. Although I have no children, I do have nine nieces and nephews, not to mention friends with children. There’s something about children’s clothing that’s so fun, especially the shoes—I always want to take a pair home.
It is exactly the kind of store that makes you afraid to have a bulky backpack like mine. There were so many displays I could destroy just by turning around. It reminded me of Marshall’s recent rant on How I Met Your Mother about how he’s too big for New York. How he gets bruised from bumping into things in tiny Manhattan stores.
But there was so much to discover there: clothes for kids, jewelry, home decor, books. I found a locally made poncho that I was dying to get for my niece, but she’s thirteen and I think it’s too small. I’m going to email a picture of it to my sister, though, just to make sure. I searched and searched for books with my nieces’ names in the titles, but couldn’t find any.
Maybe other people don’t care about names the way I do. I always note street names or shop names that remind me of someone I know. I often take pictures of them, as if I’m marking my loved ones’ presence in the world. Does anyone else do this?
Finally I bought a notebook and moseyed on down 17th to Ahimsa Footwear, billed as Denver’s vegan shoe store. It’s been around for about a year, though I really wonder how they get any foot traffic (pun intended) at their location. It seems easy to miss. (Ahimsa closed its Uptown store in March 2011, but it still sells goods online.)
I hope they stay in business, though, so I can buy shoes like this one. That heel is so cool! It’s made in India, which I doubt is any better than China in terms of sweatshop labor in general, but their website claims it’s sweatshop-free.
I did my best to help them, buying a purse and a wallet. They were made in USA, which will be the next theme on this blog, at the beginning of November.
If you visit, you can get your Vamp bag in time for Halloween. They’re made in Denver. That’s as close to emissions-free as you can get.
When I was done shopping (read: I couldn’t carry anything else), I went back to the Paint-In and watched the end of the show, stopping in at Indulgences, Etc., for a chocolate or two.
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