March 13 & 14, 2009 Owsley’s Golden Road, Denver, Colorado
Moonalice poster by Chuck Sperry
According to Moonalice legend, the area now known as Denver was at one time a major hub on the Long Walk from the East Coast to the West Coast. In those days it was known as Village with a Mile High Buzz. For the tribe’s nomadic clan, the local was an important place to catch one’s breath, particularly on the West bound trip. Gigs in Mile High Buzz traditionally began with a major smoke out. The local hippie clan had long since adjusted to the thin air and they had no patience for flatlanders who couldn’t handle their environment. Over the centuries, Moonalice musicians underwent a Darwinian process and evolved Sherpa-like lung capacity, which added to their enthusiasm for – and capacity for – herbal entertainment.
According to Moonalice Legend, today – March 14 – is National Pi Day. For those of you who, like me, struggle to recall the details of high school math, Pi to two decimal places is 3.14, March 14. The Pi Minute was at 1:59 this morning, which was about the time we got back to our hotel after last night’s show. I bring this up because it is a Moonalice tradition to celebrating National Pi Day with the real thing: Apple Pie. We have brought some for you to share.
According to Moonalice legend, Denver was once home to a notorious con man named Soapy Smith. Last night I shared the basics of Soapy’s biography, but tonight I will explain how Soapy, the lifelong criminal, became a folk hero. When Soapy returned to Denver after a short period of exile, he opened up a series of businesses that were fronts for his con games. One store sold fake train tickets. Wikipedia tells us that Soapy also owned shops that sold fake lottery tickets, a stock exchange that specialized in “sure things,” fake watches, fake diamonds, and phony stock brokering. But Soapy had a silver lining. He was a big philanthropist, giving vast sums to help the poor. He also bought off the politicians and policemen in every town, providing these civil servants with the life style they felt they deserved. But our favorite thing about Soapy was that he believed he played a positive role in the community. He was totally unapologetic. His best line – quoted in the paper here in Denver – says it all: “I consider bunco steering more honorable than the life led by the average politician.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
According to Moonalice legend, the Rocky Mountains are very special. In the old days, before the white man came, the tribe shared the region with other Native tribes. They lived in harmony, due in part to the high quality hemp products provided by the tribe. I bring this up because the arrival of Europeans brought huge changes to the Eastern Slope. Soon gone were many of the open spaces that supported so many tribes. Also gone were the buffalo. Things were looking really grim until Teddy Roosevelt was elected president and created the national park system. This gave the tribe an idea! They could use the concept of national parks to protect their way of life. And so was born the concept of Tokalot National Park. Unlike other National Parks, Tokalot doesn’t have boundaries. It doesn’t even have a permanent location. It’s more like a state of mind. Whenever a member of the tribe feels the need to freshen the air, they look for a place where they will disturb no one, and declare that place to be Tokalot National Park. Then they light up.
We encourage all members of the tribe to support the Tokalot National Park System. These are your national parks. Leave nothing but your ashes.
According to Moonalice legend, the tribe’s nemesis was known as Red Barnes. The oldest of the Barnes brothers, Red was a cruel man who may have lived for centuries. He may even be alive today. Until now, Red was known entirely for his mean streak. Whenever the tribe finds itself in rural America, its keeps a watchful eye out for signs of Red. His telltale is a large red outbuilding found on farms. We haven’t heard tell of Red for several months . . . until we got to Denver and Hardwood went out for a walk. He came to an intersection in the downtown area and found a most remarkable plaque. It said (and we paraphrase): On this street corner in Denver in 1952, Mr. Henry (Red) Barnes installed America’s first automatic pedestrian crosswalk sign. The plaque went on to say that ol’ Red said felt his crosswalk signal would give pedestrians a 30% to 70% chance of getting across the street without being killed. Crossing that street was known thereafter as a Barnes Dance. What remains to be seen is whether the threat to pedestrians came from traffic . . . or from Red.
Listen to this show now at Moonalice.com.