"It's cool. I mean, not right now. But when the time is right, the view is amazing."
I was standing out in the back parking lot -- the smoking lounge of the Nob Hill Inn, the classic dive at 420 East Colfax Avenue that Westword writers staked out for a day -- and Randy Malone, weekend bartender at the Nob Hill, weekday regular, was hunching down, pointing to the dome of the Capitol visible over the roofs of the buildings along Colfax.
"See, right there. When the light is right, it comes through those little windows at the top. Just these beautiful beams of light. I've seen it. Never had my camera with me at the time, but I've seen it."
Randy and I got to talking about Florida. He has in-laws down there, near Tampa, and I spent a terrible year in the surrounding suburbs: Brandon and Plant City and Lakeland. "Hey, I got this joke..." he said.
There's this guy and he dies. Saint Peter tells him that he's been equally good and evil in his life, just as much bad as he's been swell, so he's got a choice. He can choose whether he goes to heaven or hell, and Saint Peter says he can visit each one first.
First, he checks out heaven. He gets in the elevator, goes up, and when the doors open, it's all clouds and harps, haloes. "Serene," Randy says. "Just like you'd expect."
Then the guy gets back in the elevator and goes down to hell. And when the doors open this time, there are white sand beaches. There's food and music. "And girls walking around everywhere," Randy says. Tits hanging out. Big nipples.
The guy, he goes back to Saint Peter and he says that he's made up his mind. "I want to go to hell," he says. Saint Peter asks him if he's sure, and he says, "Oh, yeah. Definitely hell."
So Saint Peter says okay, sends the guy back to the elevator. He goes down. The doors open. But this time, all he sees is fire and brimstone, devils and demons, people being roasted on spits. And real quick, the guy jumps back, rides the elevator back up, and asks Saint Peter what the fuck is going on. 'It's not like what I saw the first time at all,' he says. 'What happened to the beaches? And all the girls?'
'Well, what do you expect?' Saint Peter says. 'Everywhere looks better when you're just there on vacation.'
Randy laughed. So did I. "That's Florida," he said, looking up into the Denver night, the haloes of light and the snow falling down. "That's Florida to a T."
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.