The Death of SkyMall: Why the Internet Can't Replace the Best Catalog That Ever Existed

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Bree Davies.
We could have never known that this would be the last-ever issue of SkyMall procured for my commune.
It was never about being in-flight entertainment. Since 2010 when my roommate purchased the home that would become the Witch House House, we have always kept a fresh copy of SkyMall next to our commode. Everyone likes to read when they are in the john; but even in a magazine rack full of copies of Vanity Fair, anarchist/feminist zines, local comics and self-help books, it was SkyMall that got the most toilet action.

When it was announced last week that SkyMall had filed for bankruptcy and we wouldn't be getting our usual crisp issue of the catalog-turned-household-amusement item come spring (as we have each season when someone takes a trip,) our Facebook feeds and group texts blew up -- even our friends knew how integral SkyMall was to everyday "witch life." The seemingly regular issue of SkyMall Holiday 2014 was now a collector's item. How were we going to collectively daydream about an inflatable log flume for the backyard? Or the FitDesk stationary bicycle-laptop holder? Or the armband that holds your iPhone on your wrist?

See also: Top Five Food and Drink Gifts We Will Miss from SkyMall

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In a Sentimental Mood: The Quest for Ambience in a Sterile, Modern World

Categories: Breeality Bites

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I wanted less Bastille and more Ella Fitzgerald while swimming.
Last weekend, as I was floating the length of the Olympic-size sulfur-water pool at Glenwood Hot Springs, I was rudely interrupted by Bastille. You know Bastille -- the rock n' whatever arena-boy band that has stepped into the Train/Coldplay/U2 position of bland, ubiquitous retail rock. My mini-vacation and Bastille just didn't jive -- and more important, the experience of swimming in a pool heated by nature nestled between mountain tops underneath a star-filled sky wasn't meant for Bastille. It wasn't meant for a random Pandora station at all; the experience needed sonic curation.

Whenever I go out to eat, stay at a hotel or do something that I couldn't do at home, I'm looking for an atmospheric experience. I know, this is a hefty request for the real world outside of my doorstep, but if I am going to spend money to do an activity that I could very well do at home for free like sleep or eat, I'd like an element of fantasy or escapism to go with my experience. I am an atmosphere junkie.

See also: The Denver Eye's Tom Lundin talks mid-century modern and Lakeside's Masonic roots

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Five Ways to Not Be a Jerk at the Gym

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Hi, we're waiting for you to get off the treadmill so someone else can use it.
New Year's Day is my favorite holiday. Resolutions are better than presents to me: I love to make them, and I love to hear about other people's plans for the coming months and champion them along the way. Like many people, getting in better shape was on my list for 2015 for sure. Though I'm a gym rat, I go through times in my life when I just can't bring myself to set foot inside my place of worship. But in 2015, I moved to erase that can-don't mindset and began an intense workout regimen and fairly sensible diet plan that I am now successfully five days into.

Over the five days that I have spent calorie-counting and planning my workouts, I have become reacquainted with the gym and all of my favorite fellow fitness freaks. But stepping off of the StairMaster the other day, I was startled by an older gentleman -- shirtless, wearing only cargo shorts and white Seinfeld tennis shoes -- flexing his pancakes in the mirror. In shock but motivated, it was this immodest public atrocity that inspired me to share five things that I think we can all do to make the gym a better place (and, yes, wearing a shirt is one of them).

See also: Fitness fads of yore, or ten ways to work out at home without anyone seeing you

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My Denver, My Dream for How to Keep It Great

Categories: Breeality Bites

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Earlier this year, I penned a love letter to Denver, the city I used to know. It wasn't meant to be more than a lamenting for a physical place that no longer exists -- a remembrance of the city that I have been watching change since 1980. Denver, like many cities, is experiencing a boom, but we are perhaps feeling it more than most: The Mile High City has outpaced the national rate of growth every decade for the past eighty years.

As we continue to see more humans populate our city-space, I worry a lot about how to keep intact the things that make Denver Denver. If you've just moved here from a smaller city, imagine going back to where you grew up six months from now and not recognizing it. This is the reality of Denver at the moment. But as 2014 comes to a close, here are some things that I'm dreaming about for 2015, things we can all do to keep Denver great.

See also: RiNo Is Not an Artistic Wasteland -- But What If the City Had a Hand in Keeping It Affordable?

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RiNo Is Not an Artistic Wasteland -- But What If the City Had a Hand in Keeping It Affordable?

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denvergov.org
A section of Brighton Boulevard in the River North district.
If you've spent any time on Brighton Boulevard in the last few years, then you know there's art happening there. A lot, actually. Since it opened almost a decade ago, Rhinoceropolis and its neighboring venue, Glob, have put hundreds of bands, performances, festivals and films before all-ages crowds in Denver. And there are dozens of other venues and gallery spaces in RiNo that continue to support the arts. But as in many other areas in this city, when the art and music isn't happening in venues that have been commodified and legitimized, they are treated as invisible. This isn't all bad, though; it works to the advantage of the venues, as DIY spaces are often run in an under-the-radar capacity.

When
Denver recently put out a call asking for input on creating live/work spaces for artists
in the River North area where these DIY art spaces (and many other venues that have come and gone over the years) exist, I was a little bit annoyed. I felt like the area was being treated as a "discovery" by Denver officials -- when arts enthusiasts had discovered it long ago.

See also: DIY or die: Why Denver needs under-the-radar, all-ages arts spaces


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Adopting a Pet is Easy, If You're the Right Kind of Human For A Furry Companion

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Flickr/Stefano Mortellaro
Puppies!
Back in the late '90s, when I was preparing to rent my first apartment, there were three things on my list that the potential home had to have: it had to be in Capitol Hill, I had to be able to smoke cigarettes in the place, and it had to be pet-friendly. I didn't have any animals at the time, but I wanted a cat. I eventually found that apartment -- a nasty basement two-bedroom off of Colfax Avenue by Scooter Liquors -- and I adopted a cat. I named him Scooter after the liquor store, because those are the choices a nineteen-year-old makes. Scooter was my baby.

See also: Photos: Cats Galore at the Denver Cat Company

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To Tweet or Not to Tweet: Should Police Departments Use Twitter for Social Networking?

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If I could have one and only one social network from any time in the history of the Internet, I would choose Twitter. Keep in mind, I'm saying this as a person who thought about writing a book about how awesome MySpace was in its heyday of the early 2000s. But there is no comparison between MySpace and Twitter: Nowhere else on the Internet can you interact with your friends and your idols simultaneously. Musicians, writers, actors, artists, politicians and pretty much anyone alive that you consider fascinating is on Twitter right now.

Corporate companies, news outlets and government agencies have also found ways to utilize Twitter -- which can prove interesting. If you're a Tweeter already, then you know the inherent perils these behemoths face when interacting with the public social network -- like when U.S. Airways accidentally tweeted a pornographic photograph to its millions of followers and an hour passed before the airline realized what had happened and took it down.

And how about when local police departments use Twitter? Is there a certain protocol that government agencies should adhere to, or do they get to use the Internet just like you and I do?

See also:15 Shocking Denver Brutality Incidents from the Marvin Booker Lawsuit, Part 1


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Being Grateful Seems Easy, Until You're Required to Be It

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Susan Nillson/Flickr
Being "grateful" for a cup of coffee is kiiiiiind of a cop-out in the game of gratitude.
A lot of new-age bullshit goes on in my household. I say that with the utmost love: I live in a place known as "The Witch House house." My roommates are all witches, astrological-chart readers and metaphysical experts who use their skills to guide us and our friends through many major life decisions. When one of us reaches a crossroads with a job or relationship, we are always instructed to "pull a card" (that's witch-speak for consulting the tarot deck) before doing anything.

So recently, when a few of us in the house decided to take on a 21-day challenge to get happier (I know, with all of this new-age bullshit going on, we should already be happy, but we're human), it seemed like a totally feasible, friendly competition. The challenge includes 21 days of meditation and exercise daily, which we witches all do daily anyway. That was the easy part of the challenge. The hard part? Finding three things to be grateful for each day.

See also: How to pick the right roommate for your witchy commune

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You Don't Have to Consider Yourself an Activist to Send a Message in the Streets

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Your peace is deadly.
I've never considered myself an activist. I've never thought that I have done enough, voiced enough of my concerns or actively offered enough public support to those in need to be considered an activist. I am like many people I know -- I don't make much money, but I donate several times a year to various organizations representing marginalized communities. I vote, I read and gather news daily from various sources and I engage in debates with my friends. I write a lot about current issues of social injustice that people like me and people I know face. But I am not an activist.

Like many, I have had my eye on Ferguson since Michael Brown was shot to death. Yesterday, I found myself tethered to my computer for most of the day, waiting for the Grand Jury's decision on whether or not to indict Darren Wilson. When the decision finally became public, I was mad as hell. I tweeted furiously, sharing my thoughts and retweeting activists, reporters and other people on the ground's shared thoughts of anger, outrage and despair. But after two hours of this I thought, now what?

See also: Ferguson, ISIS and the Ice Bucket Challenge: What Happens When We Choose Our News

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Marginalized Folks, Butts and Jokes: When Pop Culture Is Made to Laugh at Us, Not With Us

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As a feminist, why must I have an opinion on this existing?
Back in August, I went to see Dave Chappelle perform at the Boulder Theater with my boyfriend and a gaggle of our best dude friends. A longtime fan of Chappelle's work, it was the first time I would be seeing his standup live, and I was stoked.

But halfway into his set, I had to turn off. If you are a female-identified person, a person of color, a member of the GLBTQIA community or any other under-represented or marginalized group, you know what I'm talking about. It's that inevitable time during a pop-culture-oriented experience when the subject matter turns on you: You become the punchline or the subject of harm or are put into a position of submission. Suddenly, you have to filter what is being presented to you.

See also: Have you hugged your male feminist today?

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