Growing Up in Paradise or Long Live the Republic o - 12/31/2012
Boulder is an anomaly. I grew up in the Republic of Boulder (as the State Legislature called it) and lived there from 1963-1980. Even then I felt like a stranger in a strange land. I didn't know what "normal" America was until I moved from Boulder to the Midwest in 1980. I literally went through culture shock at discovering that the rest of the country was nothing like Boulder. I have since lived in Ohio, Kansas, Indiana, N. Carolina, California, Texas, Georgia, Arizona, Germany, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. Confirmed. Boulder is an anomaly.
Boulder is ultra-liberal which for some give it great appeal. For others like myself it makes Boulder seem like an unsustainable fantasy land. I can see why it's rated as the smartest and healthiest city in America - it most likely is. And those are the things I like about Boulder. Yet underneath all the warm, fuzzy imported-from-California & New York yuppie glow, is a reality as cold and as harsh as the winter in Boulder (slight exaggeration, the sun shines 360 days a year): life is life, and friends aren't any easier to make in Boulder than anywhere else. Unless of course your own river of destiny happens to run through Boulder.
For many, Boulder is a place of transition; one of the first stops in their own personal hero's journey; a rest stop on the road to finding oneself and spiritual enlightenment. When I was still High School age in Boulder, I would see this guy walking down South Broadway on his way out of town beating a strange looking drum and singing a chant of some kind. My older sister informed me that he was from Nepal (or was it Tibet?) and he was performing a spiritual ritual of walking the circumference of the city and blessing it and creating a spiritual vortex within it. All in all I think it must have worked. The city has a unique spiritual vibe all its own. Many people come to Boulder just to check it out and see if there's anything there for them. Many of these folks eventually move on to find themselves elsewhere.
I recently returned to Boulder to fix up my parents' home for renting. They built their own house for 30K in 1967. Now it's valued at around 600K. That's not unusual though in many places in America. Like many neighborhoods in Boulder, my folks had great neighbors. To one side live a member of the board of Regents at CU; on the other side, a city councilman. Behind us on the right and left lived lawyers. All really nice people. Many people in Boulder report having great neighbors.
Now, we rent the home to a young Korean-American family. He works for a small high-tech computer corp. based in Silicon Valley that does work with Apple. The current demographic seems more and more like this. Speaking of which, Google now has a significant presence in Boulder. In this same neighborhood (where I grew up) lots of the older folks have moved out and the yuppies have moved in. I was tickled at seeing a young mother jogging with a baby stroller down the street. In the evenings the street was rather busy with (mostly young) people out for a walk or a jog - at once a current trend and a throwback to a simpler era and lifestyle. Lovely.
My pet peeve about Boulder is with the professional peeps who fix things (plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc.), and to a lesser extent people who do things (house cleaners, landscapers, etc.) If you're not careful they will surely rip you off in a heartbeat. So many of these people feel entitled to charge you whatever it takes to send their children through an Ivy League University while keeping themselves firmly entrenched in a high wage-earning income bracket. It's ridiculous. The sense of wage entitlement is out of control. As a person who knows how to do a lot of fixing-type things, it irritates me.
We called an electrician to come to the house to check out the wiring. He stated that since he lives on the other side of town (an extra 10-15 minute drive) that he would have to charge significantly more to come out to the house. That's insane, or as I like to put it, "Only in Boulder." The average liberal citizen in Boulder is too timid to object and so the tradesmen get away with highway robbery. In most of America, people are just glad to get some work. Extortion it is, and Boulderites need to form an anti-extortion union. At the very least please use Angies List. We did that with great results. We found a guy who was perfect in every way, drove from Longmont to do our work, and as far as I know didn't charge extra for it. The good guys are out there if you first dismiss the ones trying to take advantage of you.
Some complain that Boulder is too white. I'm white and I'm not complaining. White is beautiful, and so are all the other colors. If you are hung up on being too politically correct and think that every community in America has to have a certain percentage of each and every color, then Boulder is probably not for you. But if you're white, please stop complaining about white people. It's not becoming, and makes you look foolish, not cool.
It is true though. Blacks are almost nowhere to be found, and hispanics are mainly found only working in fast food, roofing crews and landscaping. Again, just like a lot of places in America.
When I was last visiting, a wild animal had been hit on Table Mesa Drive. It was a skunk or raccoon or something about that size. The following day, someone erected a large sign on that spot expressing anger that the animal had been hit, and exhorting people to drive more carefully. Only in Boulder, but much appreciated just the same.
The University of Colorado is a big part of the city. Many Nobel prize winners hail from CU. On the other hand, I received a B.S. in Bus Ad. from CU and didn't learn a single thing that I can remember. For me it was a big waste of time, but I'm sure it was almost entirely my own fault - mainly for going there in the first place. It is a beautiful campus though, with lots of flagstone. If you want a solid education, find a land grant college like Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, or The University of Arizona in Tucson. Just my opinion, obviously, but based on good observation.
The biggest freaking surprise for me on my last visit to Boulder (summer 2011) was this - I got in my car in south Boulder at around 3:00pm and drove into Boulder, where Crossroads shopping center used to be. I used the Boulder-Denver turnpike (Hwy 36) to get there. What I saw floored me! The line of traffic leaving town at the end of the workday (workday ends early I guess) extended literally to the horizon going east in the direction of Denver. And, it was barely moving! It wasn't any different then traffic on a southern California highway. Up until then, I had no idea that so many people commuted to and from Boulder for work. [No wonder we got so much for renting my folks house.]
If you want to have a big shopping mall experience, you will have to drive out of Boulder and go to Broomfield. The folks in Broomfield were smart and built a huge shopping mall there. The folks in Boulder - as much as we all love them - weren't so smart and didn't build a shopping mall in Boulder. Actually, when I was growing up there was the Crossroads shopping mall. But, the 4 or 5 families that owned it quibbled amongst themselves and squandered the opportunity to create a new, big, and more modern shopping mall on the same spot of land. I'm not sure what the heck is there now. The tax revenue that Boulder is losing by not having a mall must be unbelievable. Only in Boulder. Now, Broomfield gets all of the mall shoppers from Boulder. Sweet for them.
I love Boulder, but I am one of those people who are not sure I'd want to live there (again). It certainly is a great place to visit though. One of my favorite places to go is the 80,000 sq. ft. Whole Foods store with a humongous food court. Muy delisioso!
Boulder is also full of beautiful women, many of them tall. These are, for the most part, highly sophisticated granola girls. Health is a highly respected virtue in Boulder. Aesthetically, Boulder is second to none, and I think the air is great. Lots of trees and very beautiful. Go to Boulder and enjoy. And always remember, let the game come to you.