Michael Mulhern would like you to know that he is "not a crack whore." Apparently, that's the first thing people assume when you're the mayor of the 15 Bus via East Colfax. "Yeah, I got a lot of weird comments when I posted that I got that mayorship on Facebook. Stuff about going to work at midnight, working the block. Disclaimer: I am not a hooker. I'm just a normal guy with some mayorships."
Those mayorships include the 10 Bus, Dixon's Downtown Grill (where he works as a waiter) and, weirdly, Ocean City, NJ. "I was just visiting there, and apparently, nobody checks in in Ocean City, so within about three days, I was the Mayor of Ocean City," he recalls.
But that was all just shits and giggles. Sooner or later, when you're accumulating mayorships and badges on Foursquare just because you have a smartphone and you can, it starts to mean something. Somebody gets that mayorship that makes you realize, after it's gone, that you were kind of attached to it -- and that's when, in spite of how little you thought you cared about it, it gets competitive. For Mulhern, it happened when he lost his mayorship of a location he himself created.
"You can create your own things, so I made one for my dog walk. And then someone actually stole my mayorship of my dog walk. Stole it!
"So I was like, 'okay, it's on now.'"
He doesn't intend to lose the 15 Bus. "Just because I think it's the funniest thing, I think I'll be trying to hold on to that one," he says.
And to that end, it would be pretty easy to cheat. Foursquare bases check-ins on GPS coordinates, and so the "location" of the 15 Bus is actually made up of a few pinpoints along the route. It would be easy to just check into the 15 just by being on Colfax. Nevertheless, Mulhern claims he's above all that.
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"There's an honor code there," he says, "and my friends and I keep each other accountable. Plus, it's just for fun, so there's no reason to cheat."
Still, it's easy to see that Mulhern is maybe a little prouder of his designation than he'd like to admit. And perhaps for good reason; like all Foursquare mayorships, Mulhern's makes him, in a way, an ambassador, a representative of one of the little oddities that give a city its personality. And in this town, the 15 is a long thread in that cultural fabric.
"You haven't lived in Denver," he boasts, "until you've ridden the 15 Bus."
For more on Foursquare mayors and the odd things they preside over, read Foursquare mayors reveal their territorial ambitions, our collective feature this week.