Pop Quiz: Six Denver Entertainment Oddities and Obscurities

Okay, I did the research. Here are a half-dozen of the city's most significant and strangest claims to fame on stage, page and silver screen.
Denver's pop cultural history is more than a little offbeat. The city's brushes with fame include legends of rock and roll, children's literature, Hollywood and gonzo journalism -- and one great ape.

Where did Kerouac die in Denver?

Not literally, but Sal Paradise -- Jack Kerouac's avatar in his quasi-autobiographical On the Road -- perished in a spiritual and temporary way in the stands of the baseball diamond at Sonny Lawson Field at 23rd and Welton streets in Five Points. As he put it:

Never in my life as an athlete had I ever permitted myself to perform like this in front of families and girl friends and kids of the neighborhood, at night, under lights; always it had been college, big-time, sober-faced; no boyish, human joy like this. Now it was too late. Near me sat an old Negro who apparently watched the games every night. Next to him was an old white bum; then a Mexican family, then some girls, some boys -- all humanity, the lot. Oh, the sadness of the lights that night! The young pitcher looked just like Dean. A pretty blonde in the seats looked just like Marylou. It was the Denver Night; all I did was die.

What movie features Clint on Colfax?

Every Which Way But Loose, the 1978 Clint Eastwood vehicle about a tough guy and his loyal orangutan, featured East Colfax Avenue as a prominent location. Clint and his ape, Clyde, pound the pavement past Sid King's Crazy Horse Bar, the city's most infamous strip club of the era, and bunk at the Royal Host Motel. The critics hated every frame of it, but it was a huge hit, with an inflation-adjusted box office north of $300 million.

What legendary rock bands played their first show, last show and only non-sellout of their big U.S. tour in Denver?

Led Zeppelin played their first North American concert at Denver Auditorium (now the Buell Theatre) in 1968. The Jimi Hendrix Experience's last concert was here at the Denver Pop Festival at Mile High Stadium in 1969. And The Beatles didn't fill Red Rocks Amphitheatre in 1964, the only date on the summer tour that didn't sell out.

Who are Wynken, Blynken, and Nod in the statue on the east side of Washington Park?

The marble statue commemorates the three impish shoe-sailors fishing for stars from the poem of the same name by Eugene Field. The Dr. Seuss of his day, Field lived in Denver before he hit it big and "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod" blew up after it was published in 1889 and was later made into one of Disney's Silly Symphonies and covered as a somewhat psychedelic children's song by Donovan. Field's former house has been relocated to the park next to the statue.

Where does Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas end?

Everybody knows the Hunter S. Thompson classic starts in the Mojave:
We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.

But the ending takes place at the old Stapleton International Airport in Denver:
They looked at me, but said nothing. By this time I was laughing crazily. But it made no difference. I was just another fucked-up cleric with a bad heart. Shit, they’ll love me down at the Brown Palace. I took another big hit off the amyl, and by the time I got to the bar my heart was full of joy. I felt like a monster reincarnation of Horatio Alger . . . a Man on the Move, and just sick enough to be totally confident.

What is Fool's Gold Loaf? Is it good for me?

Elvis used to fly to Denver for a haircut and a fix of this local delicacy (pictured at left) from the since-shuttered Colorado Mine Company in Glendale. It is not good for you.

Here's the recipe: Cook up some bacon. Get yourself a loaf of Italian bread. Hollow it out. Put in a layer of bacon, followed by a layer of peanut butter, followed by a layer of jelly. Repeat until the loaf is full or the bacon is gone. Put the top back on the loaf and bake it for an hour or so at about 300 degrees. Let the peanut butter congeal and slice. Eat. If necessary, call a doctor.

Read more articles by Eric Peterson.

Eric is a Denver-based tech writer and guidebook wiz. Contact him here.
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