Colorado, Italian-style: How the West was undone
As soon as Obama shells out enough cash to buy our economy back from the devil, do yourself a favor and book a trip to Italy. You deserve it. First, get the whole tourist thing out of your system: drink a few Bellinis, float around in a gondola and snag that picture of you holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Then get your ass to a real Italian city, sans tourists. A city like Bologna. In this stunningly well-preserved, medieval metropolis, you'll find the planet's best tortellini, mortadella and, of course, ragù alla Bolognese. It's even home to the world's oldest university, founded in 1088 AD.
Last month, while I was there visiting family, I discovered something else amazing: the Old West Pub. While I was briefly bowled over by the idea of anything calling itself "old" in a 2,000-year-old city, a closer inspection was truly stupefying.
The bartenders were dressed as frontier cowboys; the waitresses as
Native American Indians. But these weren't half-assed costumes -- they
knocked the Western stereotype on its caboose. The men sported
ivory-handled revolvers in flamboyant double holsters and shiny gold
spurs spinning on their boots. The women wore fringed buckskin dresses
with pink feathers sticking up from brightly colored, beaded headbands
that held down their braided hair. It wasn't until they turned back
towards the kitchen that I noticed the bow and furry quiver of arrows
slung over their shoulders.
The menu was equally outrageous, proudly featuring such items as
Boomtown Burgers & Bronco Fries right alongside Gnocchi alla
Gorgonzola and Lasagne Verdi al Forno. The music was a loud,
acid-tipped nightmare of pop country fusion, while every inch of wall
space was littered with what appeared to be the entire contents of the
Only in Colorado store on the 16th Street Mall.
Even more amazing, the place was packed. Every table was full of young,
stylish Europeans, drinking wine (?) and eating things like "Wild Bill
Chili" under the watchful eye holes of over-sized antelope skulls and
rusty, mounted shotguns.
Is this how the Italians interpret the first half of our country's
history? Had my cynical attempt to locate the most perfectly authentic,
tourist-free destination slammed into a bison-sized roadblock? I was
sure of only one thing: I needed to leave the techno-tinged Tanya
Tucker tavern immediately.
A few blocks down one of the narrow, cobblestoned streets, I ducked
into a quiet place to sit and think about what I'd just witnessed.
Sadly, it was only after I'd slid into a booth that I realized I was in
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