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2012 July

Barfly

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So I walk into Zipper’s….

By the time I get to the bar to order a whiskey, the bar is called C.J.’s, and by the time I actually get my drink, the place is now called Casa Bistecca, and it’s no longer a bar but instead it’s a “high end” steak house.

It was suggested that I check out The Anchor Bar because it would make for a good Barfly article, but by the time I got there, it was no more and in it’s place stood The Iron Horse bar.

Gino’s was also recommended, but that’s now Marguerite’s.

Phil’s Radiator is still Phil’s, but even they have changed ownership twice in the past year.

Mugsy’s, Club 101 and (one of my favorites) The Senate Bar are all closed for good.

Mugsy’s barely made it a couple of months and The Senate was shut down in its prime.

What the crap? Why is it so hard to keep bars open in downtown Pueblo?

There are a LOT of reasons…

For starters running a bar is not easy. It’s not like you can just order some booze, invite your friends down and have a successful bar. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. The hours you have to keep are mind-numbing and soul-draining. You have to be there every day at least an hour before you open so you can do inventory and order the libations that draw your clientele. Each night after closing, you get to stick around for at least an hour cleaning and washing dishes…Good times! And all the while in between you have to be cheerful, courteous and provide excellent customer service.

Friends can be your worst enemies. Buy a bar and suddenly everybody wants to be your new best friend. It’s funny how people will expect to get free drinks if they’re your friend and you own a bar. I wonder how many gas station owners have their friends drive up looking for a free tank of gas.

There’s a practice among bartenders in major cities called the “buy back” wherein, after a customer buys three or four drinks, the bartender will give them one on the house. Now that’s smart business! But…if you have a bartender who’s giving away drinks just so his or her friends will come hang out, your bar will soon see its demise.

Rent sucks! If at all possible, you would want to buy the building where you’re looking to put in your bar. Signing a lease is like signing a death warrant for a bar owner. You’d much rather be making mortgage payments than paying rent (and most of your profit) to a landlord. But, if you don’t have a current lease in place – as in the case of The Senate Bar, your landlord can kick you out at any time with no explanation – even if you’ve built up a solid business..

What’s good for some is not necessarily good for all. During the summer months when downtown bars and restaurants should be thriving, many actually struggle from the constant onslaught of street fairs and festivals every weekend. Bars and outside patios that should be packed to capacity stand empty while people meander around the streets drinking overpriced “cheap” beer and stuffing their faces with funnel cake. The Chamber might consider fewer fairs and more ways it can help develop a thriving downtown in Pueblo. Perhaps a bus that goes from CSU to the downtown area? I don’t know, I’m just saying.

In the meantime, I will do my best to support local businesses so that someday, maybe just maybe, Applebee’s won’t be Pueblo’s most successful restaurant/bar.

By Adam Gazzola

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1st Annual Community Issue

A few months ago, we had the curious idea of having a community issue. The talk ranged from a BEST OF issue to a community guide. Then we had this amazing thought: what if for August, our community issue wasn’t told by us but by you. What if the community stages a revolt and talked about building a better community in PULP?

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Every month, PULP comes together to decide the central theme and stories we should share with you. We want to curate some of the best stories you’ve never heard or narrate the ones you have, in a different way. Since January, we’ve focused on unique stories in every issue and we are proud this voice has been well received.
A few months ago, we had the curious idea of having a community issue. The talk ranged from a BEST OF issue to a community guide. Then we had this amazing thought: what if for August, our community issue wasn’t told by us but by you. What if the community stages a revolt and talked about building a better community in PULP?

In August, for our first annual community issue, we are letting you take over the issue.

Here’s what we are looking for:

  • Tell us a story of an individual or group that’s helping Southern Colorado.
  • Tell us a story of a voice that goes unheard in our community but needs to be heard.
  • Tell us a story of someone who embodies the idea of community either here in Southern Colorado or somewhere else.
  • Tell us a story of something so interesting that it needs to be printed.
  • Show us a great photo capturing the essence of our community.
  • Tell us a story in pictures.

How to begin:

Find a good story and start writing.

Submit your article no more than 600 words. Send all submissions to [email protected]. Please include your full name and phone number where we can reach you. We will not print political or partisan editorials. We reserve the right to edit any articles for content, grammar and spelling. Your name will appear in the article. The deadline is July 15th for final submissions.

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Arts & Culture

Destination Pueblo

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After venturing Westward to Nevada Territory in the late 1800s, author Mark Twain astutely remarked: “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.”
Obviously, Twain never stopped in Pueblo where we celebrate the precious, life-giving resource in very creative ways.

Water – not whiskey – is what I’m talking about.

There are many opportunities for you to make a splash in Pueblo. And the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo (HARP) is a great place to start.

You can test the waters first by taking a pleasure boat ride along the Riverwalk, learning a little history of our beautiful community as you float by lots of historical landmarks. Or, if you’d rather be the captain of your own ship, you can rent a paddleboat at HARP and try hard to leave a wake in Lake Elizabeth.

Once you’ve determined the water’s fine, take a stroll along the Riverwalk and view the wonderful monuments to water that local artists have created: Pueblo’s fountains.

You’ll discover a great water feature on HARP, between Union Avenue and Main Street, that was designed by Puebloan Ken Williams. This fountain is especially pretty after dark – lights sparkle through water droplets and make for a colorfully magical sight. Hugely popular with the younger set, Physician’s Fountain, near Angelo’s Pizza Parlour, tempts everyone to take off their shoes and splash around. Numerous waterfalls along the Riverwalk contribute to the relaxed and refreshing atmosphere of the park.

Venture a few blocks from HARP in almost any direction and you’ll encounter even more water features – from the fountain on the corner of Union and Grand outside El Pueblo History Museum, to the fountain in front of Vectra Bank on the corner of First and Main, to the thematic water fall and fountain located outside the Sangre de Cristo Arts & Conference Center. You can even make a quest out of it and visit the fountains on the grounds of Pueblo Community College and CSU-Pueblo. Be sure not to miss the historically significant fountain at the entrance to Pueblo City Park. It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression.

If you’re looking for a little more excitement, Pueblo’s urban kayak course – the Whitewater Park that meanders under the levee murals that have put Pueblo in the Guinness Book of World Records – just might fit the bill. Rated as one of the country’s top five urban parks, it features eight drops that can be mild or wild, depending on the water flow.

Pueblo boasts a number of outdoor pools where you can splash around, get a tan, or just people watch, if that’s more your style.

If you’re wanting to dunk a worm – or even an artificial fly – there are Gold Medal fishing opportunities along the Arkansas River west of town, and dozens of lakes within an hour or two from Pueblo, making for yet another great way to cool down and enjoy Colorado’s most precious resource.

By Karen McMahon

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Arts & Culture

The Reach of the Mill

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In 1881, William Jackson Palmer directed the first blast furnace to be blown into Bessemer. The industrious “iron hand” of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I) was always at work in Bessemer, erecting cottages for the workers, state-of-the-art medical facilities, opening a company store, and translating company documents into four languages. In 1902, the mill underwent an incredible expansion, hiring 2000 workers. Much of Bessemer’s housing dates to that period. Many of the cute cottages dotting avenues in Pueblo are from “Our Brief Spark” as I call it: a time of unprecedented growth in Pueblo, closely tied to the mill’s growth. It’s when we truly grew from a town into a Western Industrial City.
Little do most people know, the iron hand of Bessemer steel snaked out from the city on tendrils of rail, and sinuous streets and roads out into Denver, Salt Lake City, and small towns throughout the region. Bessemer literally built the West: its rail connected it, its barbed wire partitioned it, and the demand for labor populated it. Travel outside Pueblo and tell someone you’re from here; if they‘re over 40 they will tell you their grandfather worked at the mill, almost everyone’s did. CF and I was the largest employer in Colorado, and the largest landowner. In the 1950s, the mill employed over 8,000 people in a county that grew from under 90,000 residents to over 115,00 that decade – an increase due in large part to the jobs at the mill.

The Iron Hand touched well beyond our state line, too. It was present at the Paris Exposition of 1889 and the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Aside from the big-ticket visibility, the mill touched much more. It touched the lives of children across the state. Those early wire fences – the ubiquitous mid-century chain link fence that children peered through to watch their fathers walk home from the mill – were made in Bessemer. The nails that held together the homes, businesses, and schools across the region were made in Bessemer. The world was literally held together around us because of the work done on that smoky dark maw on the mesa.

That spot on the mesa was dirty, dangerous, and depressing for many who worked there. Abuses by the corporation helped usher in a new national labor policy, and if you’ve ever seen how steel is made, you can understand why Bessemer gave birth to so many bars and churches. The old way of making steel was like visiting another world: heat, noise, and commotion that few could imagine. Prayer, and sometimes alcohol, were common ways for those fathers to recalibrate and come home to their families who could never understand the sacrifice they made so that their children wouldn’t have to work in those conditions, though many of those children did work there as the mill got safer and the pay got better.

Those men, little cogs in a massive machine, churned out the rails and nails that kept us together. Walking along the tracks in Canon City, I still see “CF and I Pueblo” marked on the steel. That dirty assemblage of buildings along the interstate – that blast furnace – is probably the most significant historical and cultural property in the region. It’s one of only a few places to experience the industrial revolution, for better or worse. Instead of occasionally being embarrassed by it, we should proudly exclaim, “The workers of Bessemer built the West here; America was built here.”

By Wade Broadhead

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