Denver doesn’t offer anything as particularly spectacular as the Australian outback for rites-of-passage, but that’s for the better, since I probably wouldn’t have survived, despite the best intentions of Aboriginal passers-by.  But it does have some lovely brick walls, and judging from the opening and closing shots of Walkabout, I think Nicholas Roeg would appreciate them.

To each his own journey of self-discovery, though.  Mine was the discovering of the 15L, the bus that ran down Colfax, the nominal heart of Denver.  At my end of Colfax, the tail section of a long, straight snake, was innumerable motels, including the infamous Mon Chalet, which is a well-known “adult lifestyle” motel.  Yes, where swingers go to meet.  I didn’t realize this when I was 13, but I did like the Swiss chalet-style bungalows, with whitewashed walls and dark wood beams.

The 15L (L for limited) took me downtown, where my mother worked at the Federal Reserve Bank.  But I was less interested in the actual downtown (up to and including tourist-grabbing landmarks such as the 16th Street Mall and the glass mall of the Tabor Center) than the nearby environs of Capitol Hill.  There, just a stone’s throw from the gold-leaf dome of the Capitol itself was my two early haunts:  Capitol Hill Books and Colorado Comics — only the former of which still exist.

On sunny days, I had lunch with my mother in the cafeteria of the Federal Reserve Bank, where she introduced me to her co-workers.  I never knew exactly what her job was — but she was able to collect stamps from around the world for my quickly-adopted and just-as-quickly-abandoned stab at philately.  I gave it up because I realized I would never be able to collect all the stamps in the world — there were just too many of them (unlike, for example, a discrete and handily-numbered series of DVDs).  Plus, steaming and drying stamps seemed awfully onerous.  No, comics were much easier.

So I hung out at Colorado Comics, which was run by a curmudgeonly middle-aged guy, who would be played by Danny DeVito in my biopic.  He had poorly-spaced teeth and wispy black hair which circled around his bald spot.  I must have spent hundreds of dollars there over the years, and yet when I became enthralled by the deluxe collected editions of Tales from the Crypt, he yelled, “If you want to read, go to a library.”  There’s a scene near the end of Walkabout, where the girl and boy, having finally “re-discovered” civilization, come across a gentleman who waves them dismissively, the way civilized gentlemen do.   He doesn’t stop to hear their entreaties or care about their story; there are rules, dammit, and they’re to be followed.  The guy at Colorado Comics was sort of like that, except crabbier.

I should have bought those Tales from the Crypt books.  They resell for a fortune now.

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