Foursquare mayors reveal their territorial ambitions

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"I think it's just to spite me," he adds. "He took my mayorship of my apartment building."

And in the end, that's really what's so funny about Foursquare: Lame as it may be, competition is competition and winning is winning — even if the only prize you get is King of the Mountain in the land of geeks.

— Jef Otte


Crawford Philleo


3553 Brighton Boulevard

Rhinoceropolis is one of Denver's most prominent underground music venues, playing host to acts such as Dan Deacon, Abe Vigoda, Matt & Kim and the Mae Shi. But the place is also the literal home of a group of musicians and artists who live and sleep in the warehouse. One of them is Travis Egedy, who performs under the moniker Pictureplane and has brought national attention to Rhinoceropolis.

But the mayor of Rhinoceropolis isn't one of its residents. Crawford Philleo plays drums for the Vitamins and co-runs a music blog called Tome to the Weather Machine.

"I've always been into social-networking things," Philleo says. Foursquare debuted at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin in 2009, and Philleo was there. "It just seemed like some stupid fun thing to do." But a music festival is the perfect example of how Foursquare can be functional. "It's such a clusterfuck down there, so many people. It's really easy to get lost and lose track of what bands are playing where." With Foursquare, you can find friends and bands that have accounts on it.

The problem, Philleo says, is that only a few of his friends use Foursquare; he is only connected to fifteen people on his account. So why does he keep it around? "It's not something I'm necessarily proud of, but, honestly, Foursquare is a thing where if I'm sitting there having an awkward moment with someone, I can pull out my phone and check in," he says. "It's something I'm going to do for ten seconds."

Philleo is also the mayor of T&R Graphics, where he works; and the men's room at Gabor's on 13th Avenue. He's not the mayor of Gabor's proper, though, and it's something of a sore spot. "When I first got Foursquare, I was like, 'This will be my spot to be mayor,'" he says. And he was, for a while. But after a few months, a stranger with the handle Colfax J swooped in. Philleo describes him as "this mystery bastard with, like, thirty mayorships." Try as he might, Philleo can't unseat Colfax J.

And Colfax J has even taunted him, leaving a tip for visitors to Gabor's that reads: "Crawford Pee spends a great deal of time in the men's room. Say hey to Crawford Pee. You can always find him..." Ouch.

So Philleo was surprised on November 6 when he checked into Rhinoceropolis during a Yoda's House show to find out that he had become the mayor there by ursurping the throne from another Denver musician, Jason Cain, who recently stopped using Foursquare. "It made me feel good, I have to admit," Philleo says.

Pictureplane's Egedy isn't familiar with Foursquare, but says his Rhinoceropolis cohorts are pretty tech-friendly. "I use Twitter all the time," he adds. Indeed, Egedy's account was recently named one of the Top 40 Artist Twitters by Pitchfork.

For now, Egedy welcomes the newly minted online head honcho of his house: "We should get him a mayor top hat."

— Kiernan Maletsky


Emma Garrison

City and County of Denver

1437 Bannock Street

Now that Denver mayor John Hickenlooper is moving across the Civic Center to the governor's chair, a host of would-be mayors are considering a run for office.

Lots of big names have been bandied about, but voters might want to think about one they probably haven't heard of: Emma Garrison is already the mayor of the mayor's office — on Foursquare — and it didn't take any campaigning at all.

"I haven't even checked in there since August," says Garrison, a 31-year-old lawyer who was unemployed at the time and volunteering for the City Attorney's Office. "It wasn't a major coup, and I'm kind of surprised I haven't been ousted yet."

Truth be told, Garrison, who now works for a small Denver firm, is actually an accidental mayor. She spent most of her time in another city building but kept checking into the wrong place. (There are several versions of city and county buildings on Foursquare.) "I thought it was kind of funny that it was one of the easiest to get," she says. "Maybe the people who work there aren't that tech-savvy."

A University of California, Berkeley, law-school grad, Garrison moved to Denver four years ago but didn't get into Foursquare until this past June, when she upgraded from her "rotary cell phone," as she calls it, to a Droid-enabled smartphone.

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