Ken Levine, the host of the Los Angeles Dodgers post-game radio show called Dodger Talk, is a comedy writer whose TV credits include Cheers, Frasier and The Simpsons -- good shows all. But Denverites may not be terribly amused by his latest offering, a blog headlined "Things To Do in Denver When You're Not Dead," in which he characterizes the place as a high-altitude Hooterville.
Levine starts out by whining about his hotel, because it offered a view of the bus depot, and the 16th Street shopping district, "where red oak trees and fountains line this showpiece pedestrian mall featuring a thousand Verizon and AT&T stores and great local dining from Chili's to the Cheesecake Factory." Next, he dismisses Coors Field as "a Camden Yards clone" and criticizes locals for caring more about a Broncos preseason game than the Rockies' playoff chase. Why? Because "John Elway is to Denver what Andy Taylor is to Mayberry and Jesus is to Rome."
Okay: That is pretty funny. But things go downhill from there.
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Levine offers compliments to Red Rocks and local thunderstorms before lapsing into yokel stereotypes: "Locals say the best way to prepare is to take note of the wind kicking up and the first cow blowing across the sky." From there, it's a short journey to attempted yuks-inducers about our supposed lust for firearms, the mayor's name (it's got the word "hick" in it: convenient!) and our lack of culture:
If you're driving from "LoDo" to the I-70 with kids and you're looking for a fun thing for them to do, have them count the number of gun shops they see. The kinder will be occupied the entire trip!
You gotta love the name of Denver's mayor -- Hizzonor John Wright Hickenlooper.
Things not to miss: The Butterfly Pavilion insect zoo, the "Mind Eraser" rollercoaster at Elitch Gardens, the giant cement slide at Bear Valley Park that looks like a vagina, the Buckhorn Exchange restaurant with 500 stuffed animals (it's how I imagine Elizabeth Hasselbeck's bedroom), the stone marker that claims to be the birthplace of the cheeseburger, the Dick's Sporting Goods Park, and any CVS pharmacy for contraceptives.
The Dodgers won two out of three and we beat a hasty retreat to the Queen City.
I lived in L.A. for five years, although I must've moved before the total ban on Chili's and Cheesecake Factory franchises went into effect. I enjoyed my time there for the most part, except on those days when I had to chew the air before I breathed it, so I don't feel any desire to trash the place. But for a guy who lives in a city whose greatest contribution to Western civilization is In-N-Out restaurants -- and I say that with reverence; they rule -- to come across as high-toned and snotty about cheeseburgers and other pop-cultural artifacts that are at least as prevalent in Southern California as they are here bespeaks some awfully lazy gag writing. Maybe that's why he's talking about the Dodgers these days.