You would have thought we'd landed on the moon the way people were falling all over each other at the opening of Southeast Light Rail last Friday, with every politician from Lone Tree to Denver -- as well as every administrator, router, bus driver and guy-who-cleans-the homeless-from-the-undercarriage-of-buses for RTD -- showing up for the inaugural ceremonies out in Bumfuck, Douglas County.
"All right, all right, fellas," I thought. "Yeah, you built a light-rail line. Brav-fucking-o. But you know who else we made build railroads? The Asians. And you don't hear them droning on and on about it every chance they get, do you?" But I was momentarily distracted from the bureaucratic tent revival taking place in front of me by the awesome legs of the reporter to my side. I wanted to lean over and utter my Asians thought in her ear, then ask her out for Chinese, but I figured she would not grasp my subtle humor. Women with great legs seldom do.
Although I didn't get much response from her, I did get a lot of free shit at the grand opening: a Southeast Light Rail pen, a Southeast Light Rail magnet, a Southeast Light Rail water bottle, an assemble-able cardboard light-rail toy that I was unable to assemble, three bottles of free water (hung over), all the brochures I'll ever need to start the greatest forest fire in history, a free cup of coffee shot out of a huge canister that a girl wore on her back like a jetpack, a hug from an old guy dressed as Santa Claus, bagel (no cream cheese), a Dixie cup full of gumbo from some New Orleans food place, and last, but certainly not least, a blow job from the reporter with the legs.
All right, I lied about that last one. I had to pay her for it.
Ronald McDonald was there, as were radio stations broadcasting live, not to mention the assorted derelicts who don't have to work and so can spend their idle time riding light rail and collecting free shwag: a bizarre assortment of oxygen-tank-toting geriatrics, recent retirees in cowboy hats, and liberally made up housewives.
The mayor of Lone Tree got up and thanked everybody, then told them to use light rail to visit Lone Tree. The mayor of Centennial got up and thanked everybody, then told them to come visit Centennial. The mayor pro-tem of Aurora got up and thanked everybody, then invited them to visit Aurora. And all I could think was: Who in their right fucking mind would want to visit these places? Lone Tree? Are you kidding me? I've got more timber in my front yard than that entire city. Why would I want to visit? The only good thing about light rail now going to these places is that it will make it easier for people to leave them.
Denver mayor John Hickenlooper bounded to the podium and did his best Howard Dean, screaming strange terms like "suburban density" and "transit-oriented development," and telling us that this new corridor will connect downtown to the Tech Center. And while that's all well and good for these Johnny Come Lately Suburbanites, what does it do for me? How about light rail to the airport? Or Coors Field? Or directly to the penguin exhibit at the Denver Zoo so that I don't waste time with all those less-funny animals? I pay taxes, too, goddammit.
Then I realized I was sounding like a Republican, so I headed outside to watch the maiden voyage.
While the masses queued to get into that first car, I retreated to an enclosed bridge over the tracks, waiting for the crowds to subside. And then I glanced out to the west, and saw that the Rocky Mountains looked absolutely stunning. It was one of those crystal-clear days when the peaks seem so close you swear you could throw a baseball all the way to them. And when you try, not only do you fail, but some asshole tells you that you throw like a girl. But then I noticed an ugly Marriott hotel, and next to it an uglier Aurora Loan Services building, and beyond these, creeping like a fungus all the way to the foothills, a clusterfuck maze of cookie-cutter, cul-de-sac'd suburban houses, terrifying identical housing developments sprung up like zits on the plains.
Then off the residents of those very developments zipped on the light rail below, leaving me with a very sobering thought: plenty more where that came from.
Thanks, light rail.