Overheard in Boulder and other random observations

Categories: Culture

boulder_flatirons.jpeg
Due to some obligations I had recently, I somehow ended up spending a ridiculous amount of time in Boulder. For two full weeks, I lived, breathed and shopped in the city of hippie and yuppie coexistence, and in getting to know the customs, I walked away slightly confused and utterly fascinated by the local wildlife. Much of my insight came from overheard conversations and random observations. These are my records:

  • Standing in the cereal aisle of Safeway, I'm trying to choose which type of Pop-Tart best suits not just my current mood, but also my future cravings. S'mores sounds tasty, but would I get sick of them over time? While making my decision, a man in cargo shorts, a backwards hat and flip-flops walks up next to me, talking loudly on his phone. "I don't see the organic Pop-Tarts," he says. "Why the fuck don't they carry organic Pop-Tarts? I hate these stupid chain grocery stores." He walks off, in a huff, apparently dissatisfied with the Pop-Tart situation, but not disheartened enough to drop his case of Vitamin Water.

  • A man next to me at Mountain Sun is explaining Rocky Flats to a woman across the table using G.G. Allen as a metaphor. It's loud in the restaurant, but from what I can tell, he's using Allen's penchant to defecate on stage as an allegory for Rocky Flats' radioactive waste.

  • Nobody seems to wear shoes here. Regardless of the "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service" signs, people walk around barefoot on the hot concrete all day long. Sitting at a coffee shop, a man in khakis and button-up shirt is talking on an iPhone and sitting outside with no shoes on. His feet are black. I move inside. I can't enjoy a coffee with this man near me.

  • There are so many social media and technology start-ups in Boulder, you can't go to a restaurant or bar without sitting next to one of their board meetings at some point. I've somehow ended up next to one of these at the Lazy Dog, a sports bar on Pearl Street I'd accidentally wandered into hunting for a burger the size of my head. "We need to hire separate people to handle Twitter and Facebook," a man behind me says. "They need to have individual voices, and they can't sound like corporate speak." I glance back. He's clean-cut, wearing sunglasses inside and has his hair slicked back. As a sort of nod to his Boulder-tude, he's got a pair of Tevas on. He continues to lecture his group on social media for an hour and a half.

  • Boulder is a supposedly bike-friendly city, but it's not pedestrian-friendly. For most of my time there, I opt to walk everywhere, because it seems like wherever I try to go in my car, I can't make the left turn needed to get to my destination. Unlike in Denver, bikers tend to ride on the sidewalks here, which makes walking a perilous task. Every time someone refuses to shout, "On your left," I consider tackling them into the oncoming traffic.

  • A college student at another bar I can't remember the name of (I spent a lot of time in bars) is talking with someone on the phone about his plan to write Genghis Khan fan-fiction. I feel like correcting him, "It's not fan-fiction, it's historical fiction," but I decide to let it go after he begins describing the story. His plan, apparently, is to have Buffy the Vampire Slayer team up with Angel and Spock and travel back in time to grab Genghis Khan, bring him back to the present (their present? Ours? Spock's?) and unleash him on the vampires camped out on the Enterprise. I wish I were making this up, but I also hope he actually writes this story and gets a billion-dollar contract out of it.

  • Everyone is apparently assigned Boulder-clothes by the unseen hand of some omni-present fashion designer, or maybe it's just a checkpoint I missed on my way in. The stereotypes are, of course, just a passing glance at the city, but its hard not to believe them when you run into them so often. These aren't the dolled-up, pony-tailed dudes with Grateful Dead shirts I remember from when I was a kid.

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20 comments
Jennifoodie
Jennifoodie

As I've mentioned before I'm still fairly new to Colorado, I live in Denver, I've been to Boulder a few times, but I have a serious question that I'd really appreciate your help with, dear Westword reader masses: Why do people call this city "The People's Republic of Boulder?" It's funny, but I'm sure there is some sort of history/folklore/massive joke behind this that I'm not currently aware of. So why-for people do this?

Not From Boulder
Not From Boulder

Forget about building a fence on the Mexican border. We need to build a fence around Boulder !! Boulder = Arrogant, self centered, snobby, cranky, high strung, elitist, America hating, gentrification spreading, Prius owning, Croc wearing, tofu farting, microbrew quaffing, farmers market roving, Obama leg humping, yoga loving, Apple computer tapping, Public Radio blaring, marathon running, wine sipping, alternative medicine consuming, organic food munching, coffee shop mongering, non-profit proliferating, New York Times rustling, sushi eating, gay friend finding, bumper sticker covered Subaru driving, hummus gorging, Vespa scooting, Frisbee flinging, easily offended scarf wearing, free healthcare pushing, Asian kid adopting, rabid recycling, expensive sandwich consuming, film festival attending, art degree achieving, failed massage therapist, hyphenated last name creating, high priced kitchen gadget collecting, bottled water chugging, Whole Foods shopping, vegan dog owing, annoying as crap Freeeeeeks!!

Sarah Tye
Sarah Tye

but really? Sorry - but he was clearly seeking proof for his generalizations. You can find weirdos spewing weirdness anywhere... I prefer folks looking for organic pop-tarts over haters any day. And I've never seen a barefoot patron in my 16 years in Boulder.

Cindy Hill
Cindy Hill

"Unlike in Denver, bikers tend to ride on the sidewalks here"...  You don't walk in the same places that I do.  I've been nearly run over on the sidewalk a number of times, including once when I yelled at the guy to use the damn street and some random stranger scolded ME because the biker "didn't hit you, did he?"

Bridget Kenyon Meowma Wood
Bridget Kenyon Meowma Wood

I just spent some quality time in Boulder myself and found it to be lovely. I'm not sure if there is a good reason to worry about organic pop tarts and the people that eat them other than the fact that even if it's organic, pop tarts are still junk. Anyway, let people be weird, let them live peacefully and do whatever they want to do out there without ridicule. If the biggest problem you had was being grossed out by someones feet then I would consider it a good trip. You could have spent time in an inner city and been murdered instead.

Jennifer Newell
Jennifer Newell

I thought this mocking of Boulder is kind of a worn-down, old topic...

Zeeemeetobe
Zeeemeetobe

People from Boulder won't admit they are from Boulder when they are outside Boulder.......too embarassing and anti-American.

tim davids
tim davids

Everyone there is a goddamn Commie, that's why.

Jennifoodie
Jennifoodie

I'm still fairly new to Colorado, and I've only been to Boulder a few times, but you get mad props for this rant whether it's true or not.

Becca Hatcher
Becca Hatcher

This made me giggle. While I have no issues with those barefoot patrons (remind me to walk your way next time I'm in town and rub my dirty hippie feet on you) the pretentious college students drive me nuts. The "holier-than-thou-because-I-am-vegan" attitude gets old, fast. Yeah, you'll find there "weirdos" everywhere, but Boulder is a hub. I love it for that, and can attest to it being one of the more barefoot friendly cities out there. We love Boulder because it is a different kind of city, and roll our eyes at it's eccentricities. He's just poking a bit of fun, as the rest of us do.  Don't go and get your organic cotton panties in a twist.

Karin (an alien parisienne)
Karin (an alien parisienne)

NEVAH too old. :) I'm living overseas now, but grew up in the Denver/Boulder area, and reading stuff like this makes me think the more things change, the more they stay the same! I got a great laugh out of this, and it made me miss Colorado mucho.

Jennifoodie
Jennifoodie

I know, right? Where I grew up, asking for organic PTs would have gotten me thonked in the cranial cav with a roll of nickles.

Dsfklfe
Dsfklfe

Never! believe you will love it.

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Jef Otte
Jef Otte

Everything in Boulder = white people.

fraggle303
fraggle303

The "I-am-cooler-than-thou" because I don't believe in anything nor care about anything, and I'm-really-sick-of-all-you-smart-healthy-people-with-your-facts-and-crap attitude is ancient. Can I bum a cigarette?

Jennifer Newell
Jennifer Newell

OK, it did make me laugh! Though I enjoyed my time around tech startup people... I do *not* miss the Rastafarians though!

Sarah Tye
Sarah Tye

just like the rest of Colorado

tim davids
tim davids

Not me. I eat tacos and shit, man.

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