Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bax on the 'Fax

Master luthier Scott Baxendale (once long-time owner of the Colfax Guitar Shop and now has his own shop and lutherie academy in Athens, Georgia) has repaired or restored guitars for a ton of legendary players over the last four decades, including Billy Gibbons, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Jr., Steve Howe and Elvis Costello. Now he can add Elvis Presley to the list, as Baxendale was recently commissioned to restore and maintain the King's Graceland guitar collection. Here are some highlights from his days on Colfax Avenue, as told by the man himself!!

 BAX on the 'FAX
By Scott Baxendale
If you are smart you will look at Colfax like music: "If you don't C sharp you'll B flat". That is a quote from the great Charlie Louvin as he came into the Colfax Guitar Shop. This brings me to my pet peeve: DON'T USE THE TURN LANE as a place to stand while waiting for traffic to pass by. You are stupid to think assholes on cell phones at happy hour, in the bright sun will see you. In my decade on Colfax I have seen people hit and cars sideswiped over and over. Please use the cross walks or at least wait until you can cross all the way at once. Don't believe that you are somehow safe standing in the turn lane.

Have you noticed the red meters conspicuously place at the bars on E. Colfax? Under close inspection you will see that these aren't really parking meters, but are meters to collect money for the homeless. "Denver's Road Home" is the latest campaign by the city to make it easier for you and me to give away our hard earned "spare" change. Are the Homeless are now too lazy to collect their own change and have enlisted Denver's help so they don't have to stand in one spot for too long? Or has the City seen what a windfall these homeless people are getting and have decided to get their own piece of Colfax's lucrative panhandling business.

     Perhaps, some homeless entrepreneur has decided that having these devices all over town will make his job easier so he can collect change in several places at once and run the competition out of the area. What clever Homeless guy figured out that if the City can get you every time you park then why can't he get you every time you sit down to eat? First, the Denver Boot, then the Denver Homeless Meter...what could be next, vending machines for air? 

I woke up early last Sunday to get a prime seat on my Colfax Stoop to watch all the marathon runners run by. I waited and waited, thinking that I had the wrong day, I finally looked it up on the internet only to discover that for some reason, said to be based on comments from last years runners, the race completely bypassed the "Bluebird District" (Denver’s newest, hottest, coolest area?).

I discovered a map showing the race beginning and ending at City Park, with some runners running to Aurora and back and others running to Lakewood and back. WHAT THE HECK!!! I thought this was the "COLFAX MARATHON”? This, I thought, was supposed to be a premier running event where runners run from one end of Colfax to the other. The whole idea of Colfax being the longest straight street was the big attraction and whole point of this event in the first place. What makes more sense than a competition to see who can run from one end to the other? This was poised to become an event that could approach the stature of the Boston Marathon and other world class events.

The rumor is that some runners complained that the last couple of miles were uphill? Do the whiners call the shots? Those hills were in Golden not Colfax and Detroit. Do you really think that running in a circle should be called the COLFAX MARATHON? I mean tri-athletes run a full marathon after swimming and biking for several hours first, and I have never heard one of them complain about a few hills. I never heard Lance Armstrong complain that racing his bike up mountains making the Tour De France too hard.

I really don’t think it is much of a coincidence that this event was changed this year to start and end at City Park at the same time that Pretentious Towers is over running the park and neighborhood. This is about putting on a show to all hoity toities who have bought into the Fluorescent Gym atop the hundreds of half mil plus apartments who now think City Park is THEIR front yard!

Until they race from one end of Colfax to the other, the Colfax Marathon should be called the “Pretentious Towers Pansy-thon”.

I know that my last few columns have been on the negative side and as I was thinking about what to write for this month’s installment I began to think of what I like about living and working on Colfax. There is so much that is great about Colfax that it certainly offsets the negative things about this street that has such a rich history. I do believe it is important to know and respect the history of this marathon length avenue. The new breed of developers around here would do themselves a big favor to understand and respect the Fax for its rich history and diverse culture.

First of all I know more of my neighbors on this street than I ever did living in a subdivision or condo. Most of them are very nice and friendly from nearly all ethnic backgrounds. We like socializing with each other too. I like walking to work, never experiencing a traffic jam or rush hour. I still usually spend less than $20 a week on gas. There are small shops that provide nearly all my needs within basically walking distance. There are at least twenty excellent restaurants, an ice cream store, two cup cake shops, Caribbean bakery, coffee shops, Greek bakery, three or four hair salons, movie theaters, book and record stores, guitar shops, recording studios, comic book shop, bicycle shop, auto repair, used cars, computer repair, a nice park, zoo, golf course, museum with Imax, a Russian lady who sells really nice clothes for cheap, several art galleries, great concert venues,…….etc., etc.

I love to sit on my porch and watch the fax go by on a nice evening. I saw the Olympic torch pass within a few feet of my front door. To imagine how the Fax has evolved just since I have lived here has been interesting in both good ways and bad, but there is an old school sense of personal service that still thrives in nearly all the small businesses on this street that is becoming hard to find in other areas. I have seen about everything from hookers to the pope on this avenue, rock stars, politicians, pimps and weenie dogs, actors, comics, beauty queens and kids. I realized recently that I have lived here longer than I have ever lived in one place in my entire life, which says a lot for a wandering soul like me. Never boring…..that’s for sure.

     What is really on my mind is losing one of our neighborhood businesses "Barb's Flowers". Barb Probst closed down her flower shop last month. She had been there for 4 or 5 years and sold flowers to the people of Colfax and around the city. I used to love to go there in the summer because had the best air conditioning in town. This giant unit on the celing kept her shop nice and cool and on a really hot day you could go in there and cool off and hang with Barb and her cohorts. Then on the way out she would charge a dollar for the cooling fee. Ha! She had a great sarcastic sense of humor and we could always make each other chuckle with our comments and stories.

      She loved being on the Fax. It was fitting that at her closing party (which was on Aug 16th, 2008, the 31st anniversary of Elvis's death) that me and The Velvet Elvis performed all the early Elvis rockabilly classics in a tribute to the death of the King and the death of Barb's Flowers. It is sad to walk by every day and see the space empty and I just hope that someone else cool will move in there that has the neighborhood spirit that made Barb's Flowers a great place to visit.

      It is important that as residents of the Fax we need to support each other's businesses on the Fax, I try to do my businesses in the small shops here on Colfax and in the neighborhood. I will always pay a couple of dollars extra to shop at Fairfax Hardware than go to Home Desperate. You can always get someone to help you and they are family owned. I feel that my money means more there and I enjoy the friendly service. Life is good on Colfax.

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